The Wife:

Even with 12 dances to watch last night, I’m amazed that FOX still managed to find time for the judges to prattle on about nothing (see the segment after Randi and Evan’s samba where Mary and Tyce just made animal noises at each other like the crazy queens they are) and provide some video filler in the form of a producer package about what the dancers will miss about each other when their partnerships are broken up next week (most notable among these, I think, is the fact that Kupono will miss Kayla’s clammy hands and feet, because he finds them comforting). There are many things to discuss, so let’s just get straight to them.

The Excellent

This really is some of Kupono's best work right here.

This really is some of Kupono's best work right here.

Kayla and Kupono (Contemporary)
Choreography by Mia Michaels
Song: “Gravity” by Sara Barielles

Even without hearing Kupono’s story about the family member he lost to addiction, this piece would have moved me, and it truly did. It literally took my breath away when Kupono threw Kayla to the floor and they began the synchronized portion of their floorwork together. It was stunning, riveting to watch and brought tears to my eyes. And as beautiful as Kayla was throughout this piece, I have to give Kupono his due for acting the shit out of this. He was completely in his element in this Mia Michaels piece, and I’m glad to finally see him do something that shows me why he deserved to stay over flawless Max. This one goes on my list of favorite SYTYCD pieces of all time, for sure.

Jeanette and Brandon (Jazz)
Choreography by Wade Robson
Song: “Ruby Blue” by Roisin Murphy

Apparently Wade and the wardrobe department recently saw Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom because every single detail of this piece was reminiscent of that film. (Well, except for the Roisin Murphy song. That’s pure Wade.) The piece was about thieves, dressed in black and white with bowlers and red gloves, which lent both a nice cabaret-like feel to the whole thing, as well as providing the most direct homage to the costuming in Johnson’s film. (With the exception of two pieces Rachel Weiz’s character dons at crucial points in the film where she’s acting the part of the mark, the main characters all wear shades of black and white. Rinko Kikuchi’s demolitions expert Bang Bang wears red leather gloves throughout the entire film. Both Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo don bowlers. Also, they’re con men, possibly the most glamorous type of thief.) It was a great, funky piece with which to close the evening and Jeanette and Brandon danced it expertly. I had a hard time taking my eyes off Jeanette, all stuffed into those tight, shiny leggings, because she really can do anything. This might not have been as cool as the hummingbird, or “Cabaret Hoover” or “Rama Lama Bang Bang,” but it was 100% Wade and 100% amazing.

Jeanette and Brandon (Argentine Tango)
Choreography by Marian Larici and Leonardo (who performed that gorgeous tango a few weeks back)
Song: Libertango from Forever Tango

Again, Jeanette and Brandon make my top of the pops list, which clearly earns them the non-existent award for Couple of the Night. They learned a beautiful Argentine tango from the tango masters and performed it expertly. Once more, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Jeanette who transformed into a completely different person on that stage. I think her salsa experience prepared her for the fleet footwork in this number and it showed in her excellent flicks. Nigel clearly thought it was the best dance of the night and gave it a silent standing ovation. Mary followed suit, but added on three Official Mary Murphy Screams and two First Class Tickets to the Hot Tamale Train for the couple. Tyce then said something completely incomprehensible about orange juice to Brandon.

Pretty sure Jeanette is the world's sexiest loan officer right here.

Pretty sure Jeanette is the world's sexiest loan officer right here.

The Good to Very Good

Melissa and Ade (Disco)
Choreography by Doriana Sanchez
Song:  “Move On Up” by Destination

Even though Melissa fell out of her hold at the end of this routine, she and Ade played it off like it was supposed to happen that way, and I have to commend them for that. This one didn’t start out as well as other disco routines, and it certainly doesn’t hold a candle to Jeanette and Brandon’s from earlier in the season, but it did pick up a lot of momentum toward the end and was very enjoyable to watch – especially the combination of lifts and spins in the final third (i.e. everything after Melissa did that upside-down split lift). Ade was strong and Melissa was saucy, and that’s just what the routine called for. It also called for very, very shiny outfits and was awarded an Official Mary Murphy Scream with a supportive woo for backup.

Caitlin and Jason (Contemporary)
Choreography by Mandy Moore
Song: “Show Me Heaven” by Maria McKee

My husband and I like to play a little game whenever we hear Mandy Moore’s going to choreograph something. It’s a really simple game called, “What 80s song will Mandy Moore choose?” This one tripped us up a bit, because neither of us knew it, but from the vocals and the synthesizer (and with the help of the internet), we realized Mandy played it close to the vest again by choosing a song off the Days of Thunder soundtrack. I thought the choreography was very strong in this piece, and Caitlin and Jason danced it really well. I thought Jason was particularly good in his lead section, in which he showed excellent muscle control and some very strong lines.

Caitlin and Jason (Foxtrot)
Choreography by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin (YAY! Melanie’s back!)
Song: “Minnie the Moocher” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, one of my favorite bands

Caitlin’s silver and green dress for this piece gets my award for Outfit of the Night. Jason, on the other hand, has too much of a baby face to convincingly pull off a double breasted suit, which detracted from his believability in this number. The good news is, though, that he made up for it with his dancing. Both dancers were very graceful, and Caitlin’s leg lines served her well in this piece, especially in the voluminous skirt of that green green dress. Good all around.

Please buy me this. I'll find a way to wear it. Promise!

Please buy me this. I'll find a way to wear it. Promise!

Kayla and Kupono (Broadway)
Choreography by Joey Dowling
Song: “The Dance at the Gym” from West Side Story

What I liked about this piece was that Dowling chose to tell her version of the Tony-Maria meet cute through the pre-mambo segment of “The Dance at the Gym,” rather than the iconic portion with iconic movement and snapping. By doing so, she provided something that captured the spirit of the show whence it came, told a story and did so in a unique way. I can’t help but think that when Tyce complimented her on the number, it was tinged with bitterness, because I’m pretty sure he was just a little bit bitter at everything that graced the SYTYCD stage last night. However, I was extremely distracted by the fact that Kayla wasn’t wearing shoes. As Dowling explained it, two kids run into each other on a rooftop and fall in love. Why the hell wouldn’t you wear shoes to the rooftop of your Manhattan apartment building? That just doesn’t seem sanitary to me. And that dress with its adorable bubble skirt needed to be completed with some heels. That’s not Kayla’s fault, but I have to wonder if Dowling specifically told the wardrobe department not to give the girl shoes. And if so, why? That just didn’t make sense to me.

Melissa and Ade (Waltz)
Choreography by Ron Montez
Song: “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman” by Mary J. Blige

Melissa and Ade continued their strong showing tonight with this Ron Montez waltz. Melissa was allowed to be as graceful and beautiful as a ballerina is taught to be, and I thought Ade partnered her well. Mary commented on how Ade’s only fault was that his twinkles weren’t good enough, but I’d have hardly noticed. Critiques then rapidly descended into a discussion of English muffins and Brooklyn brownies. What is a Brooklyn brownie, Miss Deeley? Does it have weed in it?

The Mediocre

Randi and Evan (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by TabNap
Song: “Halo” by Beyonce

This one winds up in the mediocre category not because of its choreography or because it wasn’t danced well, but because, compared to everything else, it just seemed to fall short. It was a nice piece danced nicely. Nigel made an astute, if slightly culturally insensitive, comment about how TabNap allowed Randi and Evan to dance a hip-hop routine as themselves rather than being “urban.” I understand what he meant, but the way he said it definitely rubbed me the wrong way. What he probably should have said would have been something like, “It’s great that they gave you two a softer, more lyrical hip-hop, rather than asking you to do something very hard-hitting and edgy.” He also made another off-color remark expressing his dislike for people who have babies out of wedlock, which I’m sure didn’t gain him any fans. He was kind of a douche tonight in general, actually. And those are only two examples. But enough about Nigel! I enjoyed this number, but would find it wholly unforgettable if not for the awkward incorporation of the titular “halo” as Evan looped his arms around Randi’s body. That I will remember, which is unfortunate, because I didn’t like that part at all.

Randi and Evan (Samba)
Choreography by Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis
Song: “Ritmo di Bom Bom” by Jababa

I was very excited to see a Pasha and Anya number on the show, as I love when SYTYCD alums return to choreograph. However, the execution of this piece left something to be desired. Mary seemed to think that Randi was flawless in it and gave her a Hot Tamale Train ticket and an Official Mary Murphy Scream, but I didn’t think so. I thought she was better than Evan in it, if only because she had a little bit better extension and shimmied more easily, but she still wasn’t her best. My poor Evan was not at all comfortable in this style and his posture and extension left something to be desired overall. Tyce attempted to explain this to Evan by quoting the onomatopoeia from “Cell Block Tango.” Tyce made no sense tonight.

I think she's actually doing the Snoopy Dance right now.

I think she's actually doing the Snoopy Dance right now.

Jeanine and Phillip (Jive)
Choreography by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin
Song: “Stuff Like That There” by Bette Midler

My husband may have been way into Jeanine’s breast- and booty-shaking, but I was not into this piece. I think it showed of Jeanine’s ample talents beautifully, but also exposed Phillip’s weaknesses, even though Nigel declared that this was the best Phillip’s ever been out of his own style. (I dunno about that. I think Tyce’s Broadway hid that better than this jive did.) Chbeeb’s floorwork in the beginning was really rocky for me, and he did improve toward the end. It was definitely not their best, even if Jeanine got her own Official Mary Murphy Scream and a ticket to the Hot Tamale Train. (Man, there be a lot of ladies up on that train this week, no?)

Jeanine and Phillip (Kalinka)
Choreography by Yuri Nelzine and Lila Balenko
Song:  “Kalinka” by Barynya

And then there was the Kalinka, a Russian folk dance that I was pleased to see if only because you all know I’ve been begging for more ethnic dances on this show ever since Bollywood started cropping up. I’ve tossed this one into the mediocre category because I agree with the assessment that the dancers both could have been stronger throughout the piece, especially Phillip, who made several errors in his footwork at the beginning. However, I have to express my disappointment in Nigel’s reaction to the dance, a dance he, as executive producer, presumably greenlit to add to the mix because he knew what it would look like. Instead of saying that Jeanine and Phillip could have performed it better, he chose to possibly insult a whole cadre of Russian folk dancers (and the choreographers!) by calling the piece “childish” and not strong enough to be on the show. He kept comparing it to the trepak, which I think is also a conceptual mistake on his part because the trepak and the kalinka are different dances. For him to compare the two as though they’re the same style because they come from the same country would be like comparing a waltz to a jive just because they’re both in professional ballroom competition. So what gives? Yes, Jeanine and Phillip didn’t perform it as strongly as they could have, but I didn’t dislike the dance itself or its inclusion on the program.

You may notice that I’ve left off a category this week, and that’s because we truly are at a level in the competition where we’ve successfully separated wheat from chaff and I believe that everyone left is good enough to make the top ten. Even the two couples that I think were the most mediocre of the bunch this week are fully deserving of Top 10 status, and I’d be happy to see any of them on tour as no one was bad this week. However, all things considered, I do have to make predictions and enter them in the EW Predicitify SYTYCD game, so here goes:
I think Jeanine and Phillip and Randi and Evan will definitely land in the bottom three this week. Ideally, I’d like Caitlin and Jason to join them. This is not because they didn’t perform well this week, but because of their general performances up until this point. If I had my druthers, Caitlin and Jason would both be gone. But I think that when you compare the guys, it will probably be between Phillip and Evan. I like them both. In fact, I love Evan. And as much as I like Chbeeb and what he does in his own style, I think he has begun to outlive his usefulness in the competition. I think this might be his last week with us. (But don’t worry! He’ll still be on tour as an alternate!) As for the girls, the judges love Jeanine, so we know she’s safe. Between Caitlin and Randi, I think Caitlin’s the weaker of the two dancers, and we already know that she doesn’t have as big of a fan base as Randi does. So my choices for the dancers that will be leaving us tonight are Chbeeb and Caitlin, who will both make fine alternates on the tour this fall.

But I’m still worried about Randi and Evan. I just don’t want to think Evan could be leaving me so soon!

Other thoughts:

  • I loved Cat’s very vintage LBD, but I think the makeup folks did her a disservice with that shade of red and the smoky eye. She needed a brighter red to liven up her face against that messy 40s-inspired coif and that austere frock.
  • I do not understand at all what Mary was wearing.
  • Most tragic moment of the night: when Nigel complimented Caitlin on being Grace Kelly-like in her foxtrot, followed by the completely blank look on her face because she clearly had no idea who Grace Kelly was.
  • Remember back in the day when the guest judge du settimane always choreographed the results show group number? I almost wish they still did that so I’d know what to expect, because now I never have any idea anymore.
  • So, following the theory that TabNap only choreographs about their marriage, should I assume that Tabitha is incubating a tiny little hip-hop choreographer in her womb? Yes or no?
  • Total Hot Tamale Train Tickets tonight: 4
  • Total Official Mary Murphy Screams: 6, plus an enthusiastic woo.
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The Wife:

This week has been a sad week for pop culture with the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. I’m glad that Nigel took a minute to address each of these figures, as each of their lives impacted the lives of others – perhaps none more greatly than that of Michael Jackson. I sometimes get very tired of our obsession with celebrities, but I certainly don’t find it in anyway trite or silly to mourn the loss of a beloved actor, musician or television personality. The reason these people were famous is because their lives created a product consumed and enjoyed by many people. They lived to entertain us and make us happy, to move us, and so it’s only fitting that we should be moved by their loss. I don’t generally listen to the all-dance station here in the Bay Area, but as I drove home from work yesterday, I had sincerely hoped that some stations would be playing Michael Jackson songs as a tribute to his long and varied career. Sure enough, I found that Movin’ 99.7 was doing just that, asking callers to request their favorite MJ songs and share the ways in which his music touched their lives. Me? I’m not the biggest MJ fan, but I do like to hear about how art reaches people, and I am grateful for every single one of his fans who called in to share a time when they got the courage to dance with a girl they liked because “P.Y.T.” was playing or how, as Nigel noted last night on Dancey Dance, so many people were inspired to take dance lessons because of the wonderful, memorable choreography in Michael Jackson’s music videos.

(Husband Note: I actually listen to Movin’ every day on my drive back from the office, and also enjoyed that they overhauled the St. John’s Playhouse 5 O’ Clock Happy Hour Mix and did a wonderful job sampling bits of his musical history. Once they upload the “podcast,” which should be later today, you can download the very mix in question at this link.)


I wish Nigel had more to say about Farrah Fawcett and how her career affected him, rather than telling a story about how the actress, while very ill, invited him over to teach him how to make pecan pie. (Although this does give me a great insight into the kind of woman she was – a kind, giving, sweet-toothed optimist with iconic feathered hair.) But I think the remembrance I appreciated the most from Nigel was what he said about Ed McMahon. Both Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien paid tribute to the former Tonight Show announcer earlier in the week (Conan showed a clip of McMahon riffing on the original Late Night with Conan O’Brien where Andy Richter challenged him to a rigged game of quarters), but Nigel actually reminded me of another facet of McMahon’s life I’d completely forgotten about: StarSearch. Half of the pop talents I grew up with were discovered on Ed McMahon’s StarSearch, a program that established the modern reality competition program genre, the televised talent show we’ve come to know and love in many incarnations from American Idol to Top Chef to Project Runway to So You Think You Can Dance.

But those necessary tributes aside, there was dancing for lives to be done and, even on such a sad day for the world of dance, dancers had to be cut from the competition. Ed McMahon would have wanted it that way. I think he (and Farrah and MJ) would have all enjoyed the opening number, a spicy club salsa number, the likes of which we’ve never seen before on SYTYCD, choreographed by season two’s Dmitry Chaplin and Tabitha and Napoleon. First of all, it is about damn time we had a group Latin dance number, especially one as writhing and sexy as that was. Chaplin choreographs some pretty hot Latin numbers (I remember season three’s cha cha for Lacey and whomever she was dancing with at the time) (Husband Note: It was Danny. Watch the video below), and I have to say that dancing on tables coated in water was a nice music video/vodka ad touch. (And also very Eastern European, considering I’ve seen Bulgarian all-male Romeo & Juliet that ended in an amazing, electric-light-laden-water-dance.) I’m not really sure how much Tab/Nap had to do with that, perhaps just the guys’ group section, but the whole thing was pretty damn cool. Please do on tour. Kthxbi.


Cat sort of did her own Farrah Fawcett tribute, surprising the hell out of me by wearing a palm-print halter jumpsuit that I simply can’t believe looks that good on any human being. Was that thing from the Michael Kors cruise collection? Does Michael Kors even do cruise? If he did, though, I bet it would look that chic. And as she towered over the dancers, looking even taller than she already does thanks to said amazing jumpsuit that I couldn’t wear in a million years, she announced the evening’s results.

  • Auska & Vitolio: Bottom 3
  • Jeanette & Brandon: Safe
  • Randi & Evan: Safe (“The butt made the cut,” Cat intoned. Good job, writers!)
  • Jeanine & Phillip: Safe
  • Melissa & Ade: Safe
  • Karla & Jonathan: Bottom 3
  • Kayla & Kupono: Safe
  • Caitlin & Jason: Bottom 3

He should have been immediately removed from the Top 20 for having this as his promo photo.

He should have been immediately removed from the Top 20 for having this as his promo photo.

Allow me to gloat for a moment that I am a very premium judge of dances, for I have once again correctly identified which couples will be in the bottom three. I really wish we got points for predicting the couples that would be in the bottom three in EW‘s SYTYCD Predictify game, because I would get hella more points that way. I am by no means very good at this game, but at least I’m beating two EW staffers, Alynda Wheat and Annie Barrett. So Cat sent the bottom three couples off to prepare for their dancing-for-their-lives solos and she brought on this week’s Special Guest from the World of Dance: a group of adolescent (and prepubescent!) boys called the Rage Boyz Crew, choreographed by Tiffany Byrne. First of all, the teenage white kids in this crew are hilarious because some of them went an extra mile to hit everything HARRRRDD. Second of all, I don’t think the teeny tiniest of the Rage Boyz was all that good as a dancer and the only reason they put him in dance captain position was that he was so tiny and cute, but when the older boys LAUNCHED THAT LITTLE DUDE IN THE AIR I was suddenly ALL ABOUT THAT KID. He is my hero. He has no fear. And a great fro. And is tiny and adorable. Please buy me one! (Husband Note: Stop trying to buy tiny African-American children! It sends the wrong idea.)

I’m not sure any of the solos lived up to the glory of tossing a tiny afroed boy into the air, but there were a couple of moments that I thought were great (although Nigel vehemently disagreed with me about these).

  • Auska: Girl phoned this shit in as she half-heartedly shimmied and shook that blue fringed dress across the floor to “Don’t Trust Me” by 30H!3. Sad.
  • Vitolio: He got points immediately for dancing to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because this shit is my jam. I thought he was extremely powerful, and I was floored by the height of his jumps, his lines, his strength and his carriage. I mean, when Chris Martin sang “feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes,” I fucking FELT THAT. Nigel, apparently, did not and later told Vitolio he didn’t do enough because all those powerful moments never built toward something more powerful.
  • Karla: Her solo last night to Radiohead’s “15 Steps” was officially more interesting than she has ever been. Ever. Nigel later said it was all over the place, and I kind of felt that, especially during the super-duper arm-twirly movement that came the fuck out of nowhere, but at least it was interesting in its awkwardness.
  • Jonathan: He chose to dance to a strong, Africanized beat with Kodo’s “The Hunted.” I thought this started strong as he leapt from the stairs to the stage, but then it rapidly descended into madness, and not in an intentional, artistic way, either.
  • Caitlin: Like Vitolio, I’m giving the girl props for interpreting lyrics with movement. She chose to perform to a version of “Que Sera Sera” by Jennifer Terran that sounded a bit like a dying cat, but she somehow handled the darkness of that minor-keyed rendering with grace, particularly the moment when she fell to her knees and drew her arms into her chest on the lyric “I asked my lover where should I go.” Plus, she didn’t rely too much on her gymnastics tricks tonight, earning back some points with me.
  • Jason: I think this solo might have been such a mess because of song choice, “New American Classics” by Taking Back Sunday, which gave him absolutely nothing to work with. That said, I thought his floorwork was nice. Nigel disagreed and told him later that whole thing was desperate.


In the end, the two dancers with the absolute weakest solos of the night were sent home, Auska unanimously, and Jonathan un-unanimously. I’m glad to see Jonathan go, as I don’t think he contributed anything to the show in the 3 weeks he’s been here, but I’m a little sad to see Auska go. Sure, she wasn’t great last night or tonight, but now we’ve ousted two ballroom dancers, which narrows our diversity field to having one salsa dancer, one ballerina, one popper, one Broadway baby and a whole bunch of contemporary/lyrical/jazz dancers. Now, this show has proven multiple times that dancers of the contemporary/lyrical/jazz styles are often the most successful on the show (if not winning, then placing in the finals), but there are at least three examples off the top of my head of ballroom dancers making it to the top . . . and all three of those examples are Schwimmers. So what gives this season? Where’s the love for diverse styles?

And never again will I have to hear British people call her Oscar.

And never again will I have to hear British people call her Oscar.

I’m glad that the horrible Jonathan/Karla pair has been broken up, though. It’ll be good to see what Karla can do with a new partner. I think Vitolio’s emotiveness might just finally be the end of Karla, as it will show her weakness in that area of performance. I just hope it won’t be the end of Vitolio, as well.

The Wife:

This week has been a sad week for pop culture with the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. I’m glad that Nigel took a minute to address each of these figures, as each of their lives impacted the lives of others – perhaps none more greatly than that of Michael Jackson. I sometimes get very tired of our obsession with celebrities, but I certainly don’t find it in anyway trite or silly to mourn the loss of a beloved actor, musician or television personality. The reason these people were famous is because their lives created a product consumed and enjoyed by many people. They lived to entertain us and make us happy, to move us, and so it’s only fitting that we should be moved by their loss. I don’t generally listen to the all-dance station here in the Bay Area, but as I drove home from work yesterday, I had sincerely hoped that some stations would be playing Michael Jackson songs as a tribute to his long and varied career. Sure enough, I found that Movin’ 99.7 was doing just that, asking callers to request their favorite MJ songs and share the ways in which his music touched their lives. Me? I’m not the biggest MJ fan, but I do like to hear about how art reaches people, and I am grateful for every single one of his fans who called in to share a time when they got the courage to dance with a girl they liked because “P.Y.T.” was playing or how, as Nigel noted last night on Dancey Dance, so many people were inspired to take dance lessons because of the wonderful, memorable choreography in Michael Jackson’s music videos.

(Husband Note: I actually listen to Movin’ every day on my drive back from the office, and also enjoyed that they overhauled the St. John’s Playhouse 5 O’ Clock Happy Hour Mix and did a wonderful job sampling bits of his musical history. Once they upload the “podcast,” which should be later today, you can download the very mix in question at this link)

[EMBED http://www.movin997.com/pages/3701621.php ]

I wish Nigel had more to say about Farrah Fawcett and how her career affected him, rather than telling a story about how the actress, while very ill, invited him over to teach him how to make pecan pie. (Although this does give me a great insight into the kind of woman she was – a kind, giving, sweet-toothed optimist with iconic feathered hair.) But I think the remembrance I appreciated the most from Nigel was what he said about Ed McMahon. Both Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien paid tribute to the former Tonight Show announcer earlier in the week (Conan showed a clip of McMahon riffing on the original Late Night with Conan O’Brien where Andy Richter challenged him to a rigged game of quarters), but Nigel actually reminded me of another facet of McMahon’s life I’d completely forgotten about: StarSearch. Half of the pop talents I grew up with were discovered on Ed McMahon’s StarSearch, a program that established the modern reality competition program genre, the televised talent show we’ve come to know and love in many incarnations from American Idol to Top Chef to Project Runway to So You Think You Can Dance.

But those necessary tributes aside, there was dancing for lives to be done and, even on such a sad day for the world of dance, dancers had to be cut from the competition. Ed McMahon would have wanted it that way. I think he (and Farrah and MJ) would have all enjoyed the opening number, a spicy club salsa number, the likes of which we’ve never seen before on SYTYCD, choreographed by season two’s Dmitry Chaplin and Tabitha and Napoleon. First of all, it is about damn time we had a group Latin dance number, especially one as writhing and sexy as that was. Chaplin choreographs some pretty hot Latin numbers (I remember season three’s cha cha for Lacey and whomever she was dancing with at the time) (Husband Note: It was Danny. Watch the video below), and I have to say that dancing on tables coated in water was a nice music video/vodka ad touch. (And also very Eastern European, considering I’ve seen Bulgarian all-male Romeo & Juliet that ended in an amazing, electric-light-laden-water-dance.) I’m not really sure how much Tab/Nap had to do with that, perhaps just the guys’ group section, but the whole thing was pretty damn cool. Please do on tour. Kthxbi.

EMBED VIDEO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrgDPTc4sl4


Cat sort of did her own Farrah Fawcett tribute, surprising the hell out of me by wearing a palm-print halter jumpsuit that I simply can’t believe looks that good on any human being. Was that thing from the Michael Kors cruise collection? Does Michael Kors even do cruise? If he did, though, I bet it would look that chic. And as she towered over the dancers, looking even taller than she already does thanks to said amazing jumpsuit that I couldn’t wear in a million years, she announced the evening’s results.

Auska & Vitolio: Bottom 3
Jeanette & Brandon: Safe
Randi & Evan: Safe (“The butt made the cut,” Cat intoned. Good job, writers!)
Jeanine & Phillip: Safe
Melissa & Ade: Safe
Karla & Jonathan: Bottom 3
Kayla & Kupono: Safe
Caitlin & Jason: Bottom 3

Allow me to gloat for a moment that I am a very premium judge of dances, for I have once again correctly identified which couples will be in the bottom three. I really wish we got points for predicting the couples that would be in the bottom three in EW‘s SYTYCD Predictify game, because I would get hella more points that way. I am by no means very good at this game, but at least I’m beating two EW staffers, Alynda Wheat and Annie Barrett. So Cat sent the bottom three couples off to prepare for their dancing-for-their-lives solos and she brought on this week’s Special Guest from the World of Dance: a group of adolescent (and prepubescent!) boys called the Rage Boyz Crew, choreographed by Tiffany Byrne. First of all, the teenage white kids in this crew are hilarious because some of them went an extra mile to hit everything HARRRRDD. Second of all, I don’t think the teeny tiniest of the Rage Boyz was all that good as a dancer and the only reason they put him in dance captain position was that he was so tiny and cute, but when the older boys LAUNCHED THAT LITTLE DUDE IN THE AIR I was suddenly ALL ABOUT THAT KID. He is my hero. He has no fear. And a great fro. And is tiny and adorable. Please buy me one! (Husband Note: Stop trying to buy tiny African-American children! It sends the wrong idea.)

I’m not sure any of the solos lived up to the glory of tossing a tiny afroed boy into the air, but there were a couple of moments that I thought were great (although Nigel vehemently disagreed with me about these).

Auska: Girl phoned this shit in as she half-heartedly shimmied and shook that blue fringed dress across the floor to “Don’t Trust Me” by 30H!3. Sad.


Vitolio: He got points immediately for dancing to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because this shit is my jam. I thought he was extremely powerful, and I was floored by the height of his jumps, his lines, his strength and his carriage. I mean, when Chris Martin sang “feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes,” I fucking FELT THAT. Nigel, apparently, did not and later told Vitolio he didn’t do enough because all those powerful moments never built toward something more powerful.

Karla: Her solo last night to Radiohead’s “15 Steps” was officially more interesting than she has ever been. Ever. Nigel later said it was all over the place, and I kind of felt that, especially during the super-duper arm-twirly movement that came the fuck out of nowhere, but at least it was interesting in its awkwardness.

Jonathan: He chose to dance to a strong, Africanized beat with Kodo’s “The Hunted.” I thought this started strong as he leapt from the stairs to the stage, but then it rapidly descended into madness, and not in an intentional, artistic way, either.

Caitlin: Like Vitolio, I’m giving the girl props for interpreting lyrics with movement. She chose to perform to a version of “Que Sera Sera” by Jennifer Terran that sounded a bit like a dying cat, but she somehow handled the darkness of that minor-keyed rendering with grace, particularly the moment when she fell to her knees and drew her arms into her chest on the lyric “I asked my lover where should I go.” Plus, she didn’t rely too much on her gymnastics tricks tonight, earning back some points with me.

Jason: I think this solo might have been such a mess because of song choice, “New American Classics” by Taking Back Sunday, which gave him absolutely nothing to work with. That said, I thought his floorwork was nice. Nigel disagreed and told him later that whole thing was desperate.

In the end, the two dancers with the absolute weakest solos of the night were sent home, Auska unanimously, and Jonathan un-unanimously. I’m glad to see Jonathan go, as I don’t think he contributed anything to the show in the 3 weeks he’s been here, but I’m a little sad to see Auska go. Sure, she wasn’t great last night or tonight, but now we’ve ousted two ballroom dancers, which narrows our diversity field to having one salsa dancer, one ballerina, one popper, one Broadway baby and a whole bunch of contemporary/lyrical/jazz dancers. Now, this show has proven multiple times that dancers of the contemporary/lyrical/jazz styles are often the most successful on the show (if not winning, then placing in the finals), but there are at least three examples off the top of my head of ballroom dancers making it to the top . . . and all three of those examples are Schwimmers. So what gives this season? Where’s the love for diverse styles?

I’m glad that the horrible Jonathan/Karla pair has been broken up, though. It’ll be good to see what Karla can do with a new partner. I think Vitolio’s emotiveness might just finally be the end of Karla, as it will show her weakness in that area of performance. I just hope it won’t be the end of Vitolio, as well.

The Wife:

This week has been a sad week for pop culture with the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. I’m glad that Nigel took a minute to address each of these figures, as each of their lives impacted the lives of others – perhaps none more greatly than that of Michael Jackson. I sometimes get very tired of our obsession with celebrities, but I certainly don’t find it in anyway trite or silly to mourn the loss of a beloved actor, musician or television personality. The reason these people were famous is because their lives created a product consumed and enjoyed by many people. They lived to entertain us and make us happy, to move us, and so it’s only fitting that we should be moved by their loss. I don’t generally listen to the all-dance station here in the Bay Area, but as I drove home from work yesterday, I had sincerely hoped that some stations would be playing Michael Jackson songs as a tribute to his long and varied career. Sure enough, I found that Movin’ 99.7 was doing just that, asking callers to request their favorite MJ songs and share the ways in which his music touched their lives. Me? I’m not the biggest MJ fan, but I do like to hear about how art reaches people, and I am grateful for every single one of his fans who called in to share a time when they got the courage to dance with a girl they liked because “P.Y.T.” was playing or how, as Nigel noted last night on Dancey Dance, so many people were inspired to take dance lessons because of the wonderful, memorable choreography in Michael Jackson’s music videos.

(Husband Note: I actually listen to Movin’ every day on my drive back from the office, and also enjoyed that they overhauled the St. John’s Playhouse 5 O’ Clock Happy Hour Mix and did a wonderful job sampling bits of his musical history. Once they upload the “podcast,” which should be later today, you can download the very mix in question at this link)

[EMBED http://www.movin997.com/pages/3701621.php ]

I wish Nigel had more to say about Farrah Fawcett and how her career affected him, rather than telling a story about how the actress, while very ill, invited him over to teach him how to make pecan pie. (Although this does give me a great insight into the kind of woman she was – a kind, giving, sweet-toothed optimist with iconic feathered hair.) But I think the remembrance I appreciated the most from Nigel was what he said about Ed McMahon. Both Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien paid tribute to the former Tonight Show announcer earlier in the week (Conan showed a clip of McMahon riffing on the original Late Night with Conan O’Brien where Andy Richter challenged him to a rigged game of quarters), but Nigel actually reminded me of another facet of McMahon’s life I’d completely forgotten about: StarSearch. Half of the pop talents I grew up with were discovered on Ed McMahon’s StarSearch, a program that established the modern reality competition program genre, the televised talent show we’ve come to know and love in many incarnations from American Idol to Top Chef to Project Runway to So You Think You Can Dance.

But those necessary tributes aside, there was dancing for lives to be done and, even on such a sad day for the world of dance, dancers had to be cut from the competition. Ed McMahon would have wanted it that way. I think he (and Farrah and MJ) would have all enjoyed the opening number, a spicy club salsa number, the likes of which we’ve never seen before on SYTYCD, choreographed by season two’s Dmitry Chaplin and Tabitha and Napoleon. First of all, it is about damn time we had a group Latin dance number, especially one as writhing and sexy as that was. Chaplin choreographs some pretty hot Latin numbers (I remember season three’s cha cha for Lacey and whomever she was dancing with at the time) (Husband Note: It was Danny. Watch the video below), and I have to say that dancing on tables coated in water was a nice music video/vodka ad touch. (And also very Eastern European, considering I’ve seen Bulgarian all-male Romeo & Juliet that ended in an amazing, electric-light-laden-water-dance.) I’m not really sure how much Tab/Nap had to do with that, perhaps just the guys’ group section, but the whole thing was pretty damn cool. Please do on tour. Kthxbi.

EMBED VIDEO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrgDPTc4sl4


Cat sort of did her own Farrah Fawcett tribute, surprising the hell out of me by wearing a palm-print halter jumpsuit that I simply can’t believe looks that good on any human being. Was that thing from the Michael Kors cruise collection? Does Michael Kors even do cruise? If he did, though, I bet it would look that chic. And as she towered over the dancers, looking even taller than she already does thanks to said amazing jumpsuit that I couldn’t wear in a million years, she announced the evening’s results.

Auska & Vitolio: Bottom 3
Jeanette & Brandon: Safe
Randi & Evan: Safe (“The butt made the cut,” Cat intoned. Good job, writers!)
Jeanine & Phillip: Safe
Melissa & Ade: Safe
Karla & Jonathan: Bottom 3
Kayla & Kupono: Safe
Caitlin & Jason: Bottom 3

Allow me to gloat for a moment that I am a very premium judge of dances, for I have once again correctly identified which couples will be in the bottom three. I really wish we got points for predicting the couples that would be in the bottom three in EW‘s SYTYCD Predictify game, because I would get hella more points that way. I am by no means very good at this game, but at least I’m beating two EW staffers, Alynda Wheat and Annie Barrett. So Cat sent the bottom three couples off to prepare for their dancing-for-their-lives solos and she brought on this week’s Special Guest from the World of Dance: a group of adolescent (and prepubescent!) boys called the Rage Boyz Crew, choreographed by Tiffany Byrne. First of all, the teenage white kids in this crew are hilarious because some of them went an extra mile to hit everything HARRRRDD. Second of all, I don’t think the teeny tiniest of the Rage Boyz was all that good as a dancer and the only reason they put him in dance captain position was that he was so tiny and cute, but when the older boys LAUNCHED THAT LITTLE DUDE IN THE AIR I was suddenly ALL ABOUT THAT KID. He is my hero. He has no fear. And a great fro. And is tiny and adorable. Please buy me one! (Husband Note: Stop trying to buy tiny African-American children! It sends the wrong idea.)

I’m not sure any of the solos lived up to the glory of tossing a tiny afroed boy into the air, but there were a couple of moments that I thought were great (although Nigel vehemently disagreed with me about these).

Auska: Girl phoned this shit in as she half-heartedly shimmied and shook that blue fringed dress across the floor to “Don’t Trust Me” by 30H!3. Sad.


Vitolio: He got points immediately for dancing to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because this shit is my jam. I thought he was extremely powerful, and I was floored by the height of his jumps, his lines, his strength and his carriage. I mean, when Chris Martin sang “feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes,” I fucking FELT THAT. Nigel, apparently, did not and later told Vitolio he didn’t do enough because all those powerful moments never built toward something more powerful.

Karla: Her solo last night to Radiohead’s “15 Steps” was officially more interesting than she has ever been. Ever. Nigel later said it was all over the place, and I kind of felt that, especially during the super-duper arm-twirly movement that came the fuck out of nowhere, but at least it was interesting in its awkwardness.

Jonathan: He chose to dance to a strong, Africanized beat with Kodo’s “The Hunted.” I thought this started strong as he leapt from the stairs to the stage, but then it rapidly descended into madness, and not in an intentional, artistic way, either.

Caitlin: Like Vitolio, I’m giving the girl props for interpreting lyrics with movement. She chose to perform to a version of “Que Sera Sera” by Jennifer Terran that sounded a bit like a dying cat, but she somehow handled the darkness of that minor-keyed rendering with grace, particularly the moment when she fell to her knees and drew her arms into her chest on the lyric “I asked my lover where should I go.” Plus, she didn’t rely too much on her gymnastics tricks tonight, earning back some points with me.

Jason: I think this solo might have been such a mess because of song choice, “New American Classics” by Taking Back Sunday, which gave him absolutely nothing to work with. That said, I thought his floorwork was nice. Nigel disagreed and told him later that whole thing was desperate.

In the end, the two dancers with the absolute weakest solos of the night were sent home, Auska unanimously, and Jonathan un-unanimously. I’m glad to see Jonathan go, as I don’t think he contributed anything to the show in the 3 weeks he’s been here, but I’m a little sad to see Auska go. Sure, she wasn’t great last night or tonight, but now we’ve ousted two ballroom dancers, which narrows our diversity field to having one salsa dancer, one ballerina, one popper, one Broadway baby and a whole bunch of contemporary/lyrical/jazz dancers. Now, this show has proven multiple times that dancers of the contemporary/lyrical/jazz styles are often the most successful on the show (if not winning, then placing in the finals), but there are at least three examples off the top of my head of ballroom dancers making it to the top . . . and all three of those examples are Schwimmers. So what gives this season? Where’s the love for diverse styles?

I’m glad that the horrible Jonathan/Karla pair has been broken up, though. It’ll be good to see what Karla can do with a new partner. I think Vitolio’s emotiveness might just finally be the end of Karla, as it will show her weakness in that area of performance. I just hope it won’t be the end of Vitolio, as well.

The Husband:

I think the New York Times said it better than I ever could. (That’s why they’re the New York Times and I’m not.)


“It’s possible that American Idol viewers’ selection of Kris Allen over Adam Lambert says something about the mood and mores of the country, that viewers are too conformist to anoint a sassy, androgynous individualist. Then again, maybe not: Mr. Allen’s victory may merely reflect the voters’ conventional taste in pop music…Mr. Allen never fell out of character as the humble, earnest country boy from Arkansas.”


Oh, and besides Jordin Sparks (who is still from a Red State in the West), every single Idol winner has been from the South. It’s a hard trend to beak.

I don’t hate Kris Allen. If you’ve been following the show along with us, you know that I grew to love him. But I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed at the outcome. But the above quote shows that there were a lot of reasons Kris won, and some are more valid than others.

A formidble set of opponents.

A formidble set of opponents.

Personally, I think it comes down to more how Adam lost than Kris won. At the beginning of the Top 12/13, I don’t think anyone thought Kris would ever beat Adam, so here are a few items of interest.

Adam became too safe of a choice:

Yes, the wildly flamboyant and sexual Adam was actually too safe of a choice, the complete opposite of what a lot of people may cry about today, that America was being homophobic. (I think that while some Kris voting may be due to this very thing, it will turn out to be a minor blip on the bigger scale.) The bigger problem, and this was way more subconscious, is that everybody assumed Adam was going to win. Simon went on Ellen and said so. Entertainment Weekly did a friggin’ cover story on him most of the way through the competition. The judges kept on praising him until it felt like the end was preordained. Everybody said the same thing. And Adam, well, he did stop surprising us right around disco week. He was consistently passionate and bombastic, a competent performer. And he was humble about it. But after a while we could already imagine the song before he sang it. Which is a great trait, but not for the attention-craving America. America wants to reward the underdog, to keep things interesting, and Adam stopped being dangerous. He stopped reaching for the “holy shit” factor.

Adam was not Danny:

Last week, we already saw that Adam had lost his considerable lead over the rest of the competition when we were told that only one million votes separated first place and second place, while the remainder was lost on a losing Danny Gokey. But where did Danny’s votes go this week? They went to the other good ol’ American boy, Kris. And that pulled Kris ahead. If we’re going by DialIdol, Kris did not beat Adam by very much, so I’m surprised that some of Danny’s votes may have actually worked their way into Adam’s number — perhaps those who liked Danny for his voice and didn’t give a shit about his story or spirituality, but at the same time were originally afraid to vote for Adam — but I’m willing to bet that the majority of them went to Kris or disappeared outright. Kris was more Danny than Adam could ever be, whatever that may mean to you.

Adam strutted too much:

Yes, I actually believe that if Adam had performed “Mad World” like he did originally, sitting down and letting the music and his spoke speak for themselves, instead of descending a staircase into way too much fake fog, he could have won. He definitely could have gotten Simon to agree that he won all three rounds on Tuesday instead of merely two, but he had to indulge in his theatricality. Which is fine. But I think it rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, just like he got into the Bottom Two for performing “Feeling Good” in roughly the same way. But this is saying that his performance tactics are bad. No, they’re not. They’re fucking great. But not everybody is like me, and, for some indiscernible reason, there will still be millions of people out there who outright hate musicals and drama. (Then why are they watching television? I’ll never understand it.)

But let’s get down to the bottom of this: Adam is a much better singer than Kris will ever be. You know this to be true. He was damn near perfect. Oh, and that scream you Adam haters consistently complain about like a broken record? That is a perfect rock wail, a glorious sound you can find in all of the best rock ‘n roll music for the last 50 years. A release of sheer force, emotion and performance. All your complaints really tell me is that you don’t listen to rock music, and you wouldn’t know a good rock singer if it kicked you in the nuts and spit whiskey and glitter in your eye.

But Kris is good, and he’ll make a good album for 19 Entertainment. As I said, “his is the face that launched a thousand glittery posters taped to a teenage girl’s walls and ceiling, right next to her dolphin art.” He has a long career ahead of him.

And not to sound like I’m justifying a loss or acting like the battered wife/husband, but Adam losing might be the best thing to happen to him. As I was fine with the competition going either way (with me, of course, leaning toward an Adam win), I considered Adam’s future, and while he is still to cut an album for 19 Entertainment, he will be free of much of the Idol machine that tends to crush people. He has a better chance of making the album that he wants to make (for one, without Kara’s crappy song), he can more easily pursue acting on stage and screen if that is what he so chooses, and he can be a music star and not have to live up to or live down the label of being an American Idol, a label that often turns a lot of people off in the actual real world. And yes, I think if they make a movie version of Wicked, they’d be insane not to cast him as Fiyero. Some have said he would overdo the role. 1.) From the clips of him understudying as Fiyero, he does it just fine, thank you. 2.) If he does overdo it, it’ll definitely help define a horribly underwritten character in an overrated musical. He could potentially save the entire second half of the story.

I think that’s about it. What other stuff can I say to wrap this up?

Had Allison been in the Top 3 instead of Danny, perhaps Adam may have had a chance to grab her votes and win in the finale had she been voted out. The number of votes that would have gone to her despite her losing would have been far greater than her Top 4 votes, which in turn got Danny out in the actual Top 3.

I think Kara is a great judge and should stick around. She is the only one besides Simon who gives actual friggin’ advice to the contestants, advice that is mostly useful, instead of just being judgmental. She knows what she’s talking about, and I don’t know how that strikes most of you out there as “annoying.”

This is without much hindsight, but I think the finale was definitely one of the best they’ve ever had. And yes, they have done awards in the past. If you thought this was new, either you haven’t watched the show for too long, or you’re an idiot. But I will leave most of the finale talk to my wife. But I do have something to say to the Black Eyed Peas. If you guys really have that “future sound” and are “so 3008,” then why does your #1 hit single sound like techno music from 15 years ago?

I am, above all else, extremely grateful that the top two contestants were exciting, interesting, evocative and [mostly] original. It’s tough to get that on Idol, so despite my misgivings with the results, glad that this show can still surprise me. This was one of the best top 12/13s in the show’s history, with far more talented individuals holding on and only a few non-talented ones eking by. It’s nice to be able to pick on a singer for subtleties instead of just simply declaring that they’re bad, and sparking discussion, even on a show as cookie-cutter as this, is never bad.

And now, it’s time for So You Think You Can Dance, which is, in a lot of ways, a better overall show than American Idol. But if FOX’s decision to also create a fall version of the show right after this summer season ends up overplaying and killing the entire program, I’m going to be pissed.

The Wife:

I’m going to summarize my feelings about Adam Lambert’s strange un-victory per a text message I sent to my friend Magen last night after she had long since gone to bed over in DC:


“Fsdfhsdfgsdfshvgyugsdufh! I die. That outfit was bananas! I was clearly not mature enough to handle that fantasy duet between Adam and KISS because all I did was squee and figdet and wonder where the hell those epaulettes and those fucking boots came from. This was a great finale. KISS. Queen. Allison and Cyndi lauper. Amazing. Even though Adam didn’t win, I cannot wait to buy tickets on his first tour. He is now free to make the gayest, rockingest record ever, and no one will stop him. Glambert saved. Stevecrest out.”


As my husband mentioned above, I think Adam is better off without the Idol win, although I’d have liked him to have it because, well, I love him. He and Kris will both sell records and will both have long careers, and I can have no ill-will toward someone like Kris who is so humble that he conceded to America that he thought his competitor deserved the win more than he did. Both men are winners in my book, really. So now, let me talk about how thoroughly pleased I was with the finale, despite an outcome that didn’t actually go my way.

Idol Awards

First of all, I came late into the Idol game, having only watched since season 6, so the Idol awards were odd to me, but I actually found them pretty enjoyable over all. I never thought I’d be so happy to see Norman Gentle aka Nick Mitchell, and while I hated the idea of him being on Idol, he is funny. And weird. And I’d definitely see his cabaret show, so I’m glad to be reminded of why he’s likeable. I was not happy to see Bikini Girl, especially because she’s so tan now that she looks like she’s been living in South Florida since she was 22 and is now 60. Someone needs to give her the message that pale is the new tan . . . and someone kind of did, actually. Kara. Although I’m bothered by Kara’s pop culture solipcisms, I like her as a judge, and now I like her even more as a singer. Bikini Girl cannot sing at all by comparison and I now know that Kara also looks better in a bikini than bikini girl. She has some damn hard abs, that Kara DioGuardi. I would not be surprised if Bikini Girl has either tried to kill herself or developed an eating disorder after being upstaged by a woman in her 30s who sings better and has a nicer body than she does. As for Tatiana Del Toro . . . I do not know if that was real or not and I don’t care because watching security guards chase that crazy bitch around the stage was funny as hell!

I mean, really, Bikini Girl got nothing on this.

I mean, really, Bikini Girl got nothing on this.

Fantasy Duets!

  • I love that Allison Iraheta got to sing one of my favorite songs ever, “Time After Time,” with Cyndi Lauper. I also love that Cyndi plays the dulcimer. She just gets more amazing every damn day.
  • Kris Allen and Keith Urban are very similar in that they both have scruffy facial hair, play guitar, have a country twang and have blonde wives. I liked this duet because it proved that Kris Allen can easily transition into a country-rock artist if he ever wanted to.
  • Kris + Adam + Surviving Members of Queen = truly spectacular way to end the show. This is the point where I kind of stopped caring which one of them won because I saw that they had such an amazing camraderie while singing “We Are the Champions.” It was clear to me that these guys were having the fucking time of their lives, and that’s exactly what I want to see on Idol. Plus, I enjoyed watching Adam touch the guitarist several times during the performance, as though he couldn’t believe he was singing with fucking Queen. That’s probably what I would have done if I were singing with Cyndi Lauper.
  • But, of course, there was no greater fantasy duet (although, really, not a duet) than Adam Lambert in his King Henry VIII-from-Space outfit with the blinged out epaulettes and the giant gold platform boots he clearly borrowed from Gene Simmons’ closet singing with KISS. Magen was right; I straight up died. I mean, this performance was just the cat’s fucking pajamas for me. I had to cover half my face with a blanket because I was so excited that it was incredibly difficult to not ruin the whole performance with squeals of joy. I don’t even like KISS all that much, but Adam singing with KISS I FUCKING ADORED. I mean, this was a perfect moment for him and he performed the hell out of it, as he does with everything. If I had to pick a favorite moment from this performance, though, it would be when he delicately raised his eyebrow in innuendo when he sang the line “Me and the boys will be playing all night.” Oh, I know, honey. And I wouldn’t have you any other way.
Other performances:
  • At first, I hated the fact that the whole American Idol gang was going to sing Pink’s “So What?” as I adore Pink and never want to hear her stuff sung by anyone else, but I think this was one group number that worked really well. It had a ton of energy and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun.
  • I do not dislike Megan Joy, but she was kind of very not good in her duet with Michael Sarver over Steve Martin’s banjo music. Moreover, while I’m sure Steve was happy to be there, I don’t think he was happy to hear “Pretty Flowers” sung the way those two completely oversang it. My fantasy duet for that song? Dolly Parton and Anoop Desai.
  • Speaking of Anoop, I loved that he and Alexis Grace got to do Jason Mraz right by singing the intro solos to “I’m Yours.” That said, this group performance of the song with Mraz was way better than when one third of the Top 36 tried to sing it back when there was a Top 36.
  • Lil Rounds and Queen Latifah? Strangely disappointing. Although I should note that during this number, I sang a bit of “When You’re Good to Mama” from Chicago to my cat. And I changed the words to be about my cat. That’s how uninteresting this number was.
  • The minute Fergie came on, I screamed, “SING ‘BE ITALIAN’!” because she’s playing Sereghina the Whore in Rob Marshall’s adaptation of Nine and I all kinds of love her super minor-keyed version of a song that, in the stage show, is very bright and somehow not about molestation at all. Here’s the Nine trailer, so you can hear it and be just as excited as I am:
  • But once the Black Eyed Peas came on, I became very frightened of their strange cybertronic zebra dancers. Why were they putting their feet in will.i.am’s crotch? Not okay! (I bet that was choreographed by Shane Sparks, though.)
Fashion notes!
  • I’ve already talked about Adam’s KISS outfit, but in case you didn’t catch it, I fucking loved it. I die. I channel Rachel Zoe and I die.
  • Alexis Grace got to wear two pairs of very sexy over-the-knee boots. She is one hot mama.
  • Another hot mama? Adam Lambert’s mom, who gets a million extra cuteness points for wearing armwarmers!
  • I was very embarassed for Megan Joy’s pink hot shorts during “Glamorous.”
  • Oh, Lil Rounds. No one knows how to dress you. That top with the strange leaf-like skirt just accentuated your huge booty, and not in a good way. I do not understand why everyone is just a step away from making you into Josephine Baker, as you’ll never, ever be as good of a performer as she was.
  • Allison looked amazing tonight. Staight up.
  • I like that Anoop went for a seersucker jacket as if to say, “I’m from the South and you will all deal with my desire to drink sweet tea from a mason jar, bitches! Get me a fucking mint julep!”
  • Janice Dickinson was totally trashed throughout this whole show, or at least she looked that way.
  • I want my legs to be as shiny and toned as Fergie’s.
  • Matt Giraud looked his best during his Santana number. I think Abuelito shirts are really a good look for him, and they work with his obsession with cubano fedoras.
  • It was very bold of Rod Stewart to pair the Coach leather that is his skin with that faux Burbury jacket.
All of that stuff ads up to a wonderful two hours of television. I’ve been saying it all season, but I’ll reiterate: I can’t wait to see Adam Lambert on Broadway someday. If Constantine Maroulis can get nominated for a Tony for Rock of Ages (and let me say that I saw him in Rent pre-Idol, and while I thought he was the most Roger-looking Roger I’ve ever seen, he certainly wasn’t the best), surely Adam Lambert will one day win one. I will see him in anything. I will follow his ass around the country like my mother-in-law does with Clay Aiken because while he may not be the American Idol, he is my American Idol.


The Husband:

It took me around a week to digest, in addition to wanting to wait to write this until I talked to a few friends/relatives/acquaintances who still haven’t gotten around to it, so here it is, my less-than-100% attempt to wrap up this season of Grey’s Anatomy, or at least to discuss some of the bigger facets of the big honkin’ two-hour finale.

There are two monsters to get to, so let’s run through the “lesser” storylines.

  • Mark asks Lexie to move in with him. I’m surprised as how much I ended up liking them as a couple after crying foul when she first fell into his arms.
  • Owen finally stops having nightmares about Iraq, and he and Cristina finally become a couple once again. It’s a good thing she took down her ceiling fan so as to not incite his wrath and another game of Choke the Cardiothoracic Surgeon. And thus, Kevin McKidd continues rocking the world.
  • Dr. Bailey receives her fellowship in pediatrics, but is faced with a tough decision when her continuing-to-be-a-douchebag husband makes a threat – accept the fellowship and he will divorce her. Realizing that she simply cannot participate in a busy fellowship as a single mother, she turns down the offer and goes back into the surgery path the Chief set out for her, thus making pediatrician Arizona do something we’ve never seen her do before – cry. It feels terrible to see Dr. Bailey give up her dream because Tucker is such a fucking asshole, and I would have really liked to see a new side of Miranda, but the Chief’s plan also makes sense, as we can see Miranda rise in the ranks and end up running the entire hospital. Think Dr. Cox on Scrubs, only less sardonic and more black.
  • Meredith and Derek finally get married, sort of, in the hospital’s locker room, trading cutesy demands on post-it notes, until they both say “I do.” I’m glad we didn’t have to get another weepy, overwrought wedding for them, and I’m also glad the show has deigned themselves worthy to have Meredith and Derek actually act like their characters instead of the pod people they have sometimes become over the last couple seasons.

Okay, the big stuff. Izzie is asked to make a choice between operating on the tumor, which would almost 100% likely destroy her memory (and maybe even her ability to speak), or get the experimental IL2 treatment, which may or may not dissolve the tumor. While everybody fights over what to do, Izzie chooses to go with the IL2 treatment (from Beloved’s Kimberly Elise) until her cancer survivor friend, who is on the IL2 treatment, suddenly collapses, dead, after two years on the stuff. And thus, Izzie has no choice but to go into surgery, but just in case she completely loses who she is or becomes a vegetable, signs a DNR.

Post-surgery, she seems far better than the test Derek performed that temporarily shut off the right half of her brain, but then she starts losing short-term memories, basically ending up having a Memento situation where memories only last mere minutes. And in continuing with the post-its motif, Alex and Cristina put up post-its with reminders to Izzie. (My favorite? “Your memory sucks.”)

After arguing with Alex once again, Izzie asks him to get everything off his chest, and finally he explodes, expressing his disappointment that this is definitely not how the marriage was supposed to go. This would seem a terrible thing, but Izzie manages to remember it later on, proving that she is getting better.

Until her heart stops, and as she goes into surgery (despite her DNR, as Alex completely ignores it), we see inside of her mind, and instead of all the Denny-on-the-beach stuff we’ve been privy to for the entire two-hour block, we see her get off an elevator, wearing what she was wearing when Denny died in her arms, only to see George, in full Army regalia, standing on the other side of the elevator doors.

If you’re reading this, you already know what George is doing there. It’s because he was John Doe, the patient who had, in trying to save a woman from certain doom, gotten hit by a bus and dragged down the block, rendering him unidentifiable.

If this were Nip/Tuck, theyd be playing Bowies Eyes Without a Face over this scene.

If this were Nip/Tuck, they'd be playing Idol's "Eyes Without a Face" over this scene.

As I’ve mentioned, I tend to steer clear of spoilers, but I do read what is reported as actual news, and this includes Michael Ausiello’s weekly write-ups in Entertainment Weekly. Since it was unclear (and still is) whether or not T.R. Knight was coming back for another season, I knew that they were leaving his story open-ended, with him joining the Army and getting injured. But oh, Shonda Rhimes and the rest of her GA writers pulled a fast one on us, using the press to both inform and mislead, and I have to give them a lot of credit for this. Just as it was reported that Brennan and Booth were going to finally hook up on Bones, only to be ambiguous about it in the dream state season finale (and, from my understanding, something similar happens on House, although my wife and I still have two episodes left but some things are just hard to avoid on television blogs), we were completely thrown for a loop. Yes, George did technically join the Army, and he did get injured, but not in the way that anybody expected.

And no, I knew just about as much as Meredith did, which would be the fact that I had no idea that John Doe was George until the moment he traced “007,” his nickname, on her palm. And it was the moment that this show has been aching to have for its entire season, something buzzworthy in addition to being emotional, and playing with our heads without being assholes about it. I was dumbstruck.

Are Izzie and George dead? Well, just like, say, the end of The Sopranos or the final moments of the movie Limbo (to give only two examples), the point is that it’s ambiguous and there’s no way of knowing if they’re going to live or going to die, and to cite evidence to prove one side or the other is simply your emotional perspective and not the actual truth. It’s the Schrödinger’s Cat finale, where they are both alive and dead. And if you think you have the answer because of some bullshit, you’re only going to disappoint yourself and look a fool to others.

Overall, I really ended up liking this season, and while I can understand it simply doesn’t live up to the memories people had about the first two seasons (and some of the third), I would prefer that people live in the moment and enjoy it for what it is now – something a little more grown up, something a little more bitter, and something a little more depressing. (But not as depressing as it was in a good deal of s3.) But, then again, I’ve never been 100% involved in this series and have always considered it a guilty pleasure with a lot of fluctuating quality. But the big stories really paid off (even Ghost Denny), the three-week events were completely addictive (both the Eric Stoltz story and the Archer Montgomery craziness) and I’m finally happy with where Meredith and Derek ended up, even if Derek turned into a major fucknut a few months ago.

So good job, Grey’s Anatomy. I really enjoy a lot of what you’re doing right now, and I hope others feel the same way. And goddamn, did you do a good job of making me love Karev after years of hoping he’d quit the show.

The Wife:

I’m not sure if Fringe was trying to reference The Matrix, The Butterfly Effect or I Know Who Killed Me this week with its storyline about Olivia’s visions of alternate paths on the timeline of one’s choices (see episode title!) and twins who didn’t know they were twins who were made into weapons by ZFT when they were trained to become firestarters in childhood. (They kind of ended up referencing all three.)The only problem with this is that, like Olivia and apparently all other children experimented on by ZFT, these people are unaware until recently (their “activation”) that they possess these powers, which leads one of the twins, Susan, to burn up from the inside and spontaneously combust. As Olivia tracks down Susan and tries to discover why she may have blown up (as Peter so tactfully likes to put it), she keeps having visions of things being slightly different than they actually are. Where one charred body lies, she sees two. Where Broyle’s desk once was, it is not. In fact, she has glimpses of entire conversations with people before/differently than they actually occurred. This déjà vu, Walter supposes, is an ability given to Olivia by ZFT as a child, an ability to look into an alternate reality. I don’t feel like this side effect of the Cortexafam really adds much to Olivia or to her struggle, but it seemed to be marginally helpful to her here, once the confusion stopped, of course. By peering into the alternate reality, she was able to discern that Susan had a sister who might meet the same fate without some intervention.

Yup. That's a real live dead alien.

Yup. That's a real live dead alien.

In their search for Susan’s twin, Peter and Olivia pay a visit to conspiracy theorist Clint Howard, who proceeds to tell them about an American graduate student in Budapest that spontaneously combusted and blames it all on William Bell and Massive Dynamic, the latter of which he purports is merely a cover organization for all of Bell’s wholly unethical activities. He suggests Bell is activating his ZFT soldiers for an upcoming war, which is why, we’re supposed to infer, the events of The Pattern are occurring. And whom will this war be fought against? Why, only the Romulans! Because this show is produced by J.J. Abrams! And Star Trek is coming out this Friday! So, naturally, crazy Trekker conspiracy theorist believes the Trekverse is real and that he is, in fact, Spock. But he cannot be, you see, for Leonard Nimoy is William Bell! My exclamations of these facts are meant to mock the completely unwarranted, unnecessary and wholly unsubtle tie-ins to Abrams’ next project. Look, ya’ll, I will be seeing Star Trek this weekend because I grew up on that shit and I’ve been squeeing at the trailer every time I see it. I’m even okay with turning the Lost titlecard into the Enterprise beaming itself into a commercial (because that’s kind of a neat transition), but this was a moment that, while amusing because it’s Clint Howard, totally drew me out of the show. There were other ways to show us that Clint Howard wasn’t entirely right in the head without beating us over the head with Trek. Bad Robot, we’re watching Fringe. We’re excited for Nimoy. Chances are, we’ll be seeing Trek this weekend and giving you all of our hard earned geek dollars. You didn’t need to be so obtuse about this.

Anyway, while I was busy rolling my eyes but smirking at the Trek monologue, Harris is back and rubbing Olivia the wrong way by asking her to do things like take psych evaluations. She refuses, particularly because, in an alternate reality, Olivia is able to track down Susan’s missing twin who is still alive, but unfortunately, an Isaac Winters gets to her first in reality reality. At her apartment, there are signs of a struggle, and Peter notices that the glass has been melted on one of her windows, indicating her firestarting abilities. He pops out a nice little disc of glass and reveals his plan to use the new machine he’s been making out of Walter’s old machines to read the sound imprinted on the glass like a record. (Abrams is fond of comparing things to records, no?) This is a gift to his father, so he can copy all of his jacked up old albums, which truly pleases Walter. After adjusting the white noise and a bunch of other sound-related tinkering, they’re able to play the glass record and hear Susan’s twin Nancy being abducted. They also hear a phone being dialed, so Olivia asks Peter to clarify the sound so she can use her tone-dialing app to connect her to whomever the kidnapper called . . . and it’s Harris. That scene was really cool, and filled with the kind of super-fringey fringe science we were promised. This is probably my favorite use of weird science on the show, right alongside using homing pigeons as a GPS.

Olivia and Francis track Nancy to the warehouse where Harris has taken her and while they search for the girl, Olivia finds a board with pictures of various former ZFT experiment participants, including the twins and herself. Harris manages to surprise her and locks her in the conflagration room with Nancy, who, agitated, starts heating up. Olivia tries to calm her down and tries to get Nancy to direct her energy elsewhere, so that she doesn’t blow up. Nancy fares better than her twin sister and is able to light Harris on fire, killing him while saving her own life. Remember that light box Olivia had to know how to turn off with her mind? That was attached to Nancy, and I wonder why Olivia didn’t have to turn it off in order to remove Nancy from the machines she was hooked to in the conflagration room. It seems odd just to have it appear there and not be used.

Afterward, Olivia interrogates Walter about his involvement in ZFT and why there are so damned many kids from Jacksonville who are either dead or super fucked-up. Walter, who earlier finally showed Astrid and Peter his wonky y-ed typewriter and has spent the episode searching for a missing chapter of the ZFT manifesto which would prove the organization had some honorable intentions, insists to her that they were trying to prepare the kids in their experiments for something terrible coming. When pressed, Walter can’t remember what and breaks down, from a combination of Olivia’s bullying and his own terrible guilt. Later, in his lab, he finds the missing chapter, which proves that ZFT’s intentions were to better prepare humanity to survive the coming war (against persons from another dimension, we have been told), by producing stronger, better-equipped children who, when the time comes, will be the humanity’s hope. But Walter is given no chance to present these findings to his colleagues, as The Observer has come for him, simply stating, “Walter, it’s time to go.” Without questioning him, Walter goes to get his coat.

Nina Sharp drops by Broyles’ house to deliver a packet of photographs of The Observer, stating that something ominous happened the last time he appeared with such frequency. When she returns to her office, she is shot when she steps off the elevator. Which kind of sucks, because I think every Fringe viewer loved Nina Sharp and (maybe, secretly) hoped she would be revealed as Peter’s mother. I’m assuming Bell had Nina killed because, with the war coming, he no longer needs Massive Dynamic as a front, and, clearly, she’d caught on to some badness and needed to be put asunder. As for The Observer, I believe he’s taken Walter to meet with his former partner, at long last bringing ZFT back together.

So what do we make of this? On the whole, this episode was middling at best, plugging the mytharc forward by following a largely uninteresting Freak-of-the-Week story and giving Olivia a serviceable (though I presume not entirely always this helpful) power to see the other side of a timeline. It certainly wasn’t as strong as “Bad Dreams,” but was less engaging than “Midnight.” The revelation that ZFT was experimenting on children to make soldiers for good wasn’t all that telling for me, as that’s the vibe I’ve been getting from the kiddie experiments all along. The Observer taking Walter and Nina’s death were both good, surprising and eerie moments, and are probably the most memorable bits of this episode. I did, however, think John Noble was brilliant as Walter this week, digging right into the sadness of a man who knows he has done questionable things but is looking for something, anything that can exonerate him. More than anything, he needs to believe that his involvement in ZFT was for a good, if mad scientist-y, reason. And when he finds that missing chapter, he is assured of his own belief, after having it doubt casts upon it only hours earlier by Olivia, doubts so haunting it reduced him to tears.

I told you I'd be Drew Barrymore for Halloween! I told you!

I told you I'd be Drew Barrymore for Halloween! I told you!


On another note, how happy do you think Stephen King is to hear his name and invention of the word “pyrokenetic” used on the show? I fully expect him to write about it in EW, because he loves, loves, loves pop culture and being a part of the zeitgeist.


The Husband:

While all the Trek stuff was, indeed, eye-rolling, I was satisfied enough in my head to know that Clint Howard, brother of Ron, also happened to be in one of the first episodes of the original Star Trek series, “The Corbomite Maneuver,” one of my favorites from season 1 of TOS, excluding, of course, the Athens-looking planet episode with the stationary gigantic ghost finger in the sky, as well as the Khan-focused season finale.

In it, the crew is toyed with by a silly, fake-looking alien on their monitor (or whatever it is you nerds call it), commander of a vessel intent on destroying the Enterprise, but by episode’s end, the Enterprise crew finds that they’ve been had – the alien was just a puppet, and the enemy ship is piloted only by a smart, tiny child who was testing the merits of the crew. Silly Clint Howard. The image of the puppet would be used frequently in the end credits of the show, and would be a super-inside joke during the credits of the Futurama episode “Where No Fan Has Gone Before.”

The Wife:

OMFG, ya’ll. I think my usual 90210 column “9 Lame Things About This Week’s 90210” is going to become “9 TOTALLY RIDICULOUS Things About This Week’s 90210.” I mean, seriously, way to come back and be totes ridic, 90210. At least I’m actually interested in the absurdity that’s happening in BevHills right now, so let’s take a look at how completely insane this show has become:

1. Naomi’s sex dream about Liam. Wow, I guess that really was a banana in his pocket.

2. Silver the sexual exhibitionist. While her desire to have sex in public/dangerous places is only one manifestation of just how crazy Erin Silver has become, I’m surprised that Dixon is so willing to go along with this when, just a few episodes ago, he wasn’t ready to swipe that V card. Wanna know some of the places they’ve fucked? Under the bleachers, in the media room at school and, strangely, somewhere at the Peach Pit. I don’t know about you guys, but I’d stop eating at a place where a crazy girl walked in and ordered a man, with dressing on the side. That’s dirty talk! You can’t order a man with dressing on the side at 16! If you do, you’re likely to end up like Adriana!

3. The dissolution of Ethan and Annie. I heard that Dustin Milligan will be leaving the show next year, so I’m not totally surprised that these two are breaking up. I am, however, completely baffled by the reasons why. Ethan claims that it’s not because Annie stole Rhonda’s suicide story for her acting class, but because she was such a good actress that he doesn’t know when she’s being real anymore. Um, thanks for the compliment, buddy, but you are not Keanu Reeves and this is not the Matrix. Besides, Annie’s not that good of an actress. This is probably the most insane reason I’ve heard to break up with someone since a high school boyfriend broke up with me over Moulin Rouge and e.e. cummings. (This fight was later summed up by a friend as, “You broke up over e.e. cummings? What, he wanted to capitalize the Es and you didn’t?” Yeah, Ethan and Annie’s breakup is as insane as that.)

4. Annie quitting the play to salvage her relationship with Ethan. Incorrect decision, Annie! Incorrect! You just single-handedly destroyed feminism!

5. Silver’s complete over-enthusiasm for poetry. Yes, yes – poetry is enriched when you have personal emotional access to what the poet is trying to convey, but the minute you start making up your own ridiculous metaphors (my favorite? “Your eyes are like a dirty swimming pool”) and crafting elaborate films about love, you’ve gone off the deep end. I’m glad you’re inspired, I really am. And I’m sure it’s nice for Matthews to hear that his English class has made you realize you want to be a filmmaker, but this was all too much. As I’m about to start teaching in the fall, let me say this: I hope I can inspire and lead my students, but never this much. Never, ever this much.

Im inspired! Look at me committing to my artistic (re: crazy) vision!

I'm inspired! Look at me committing to my artistic (re: crazy) vision!

6. Speaking of that film . . . that was the most hilarious, pretentious artsy-farsty student film I ever done did see! It was so incredible, I want to see it shown as part of a double bill with Tommy Wiseau’s The Room! And I really get what she was going with the emphasis on the eyes. I mean, they are the window to the soul, after all. Just . . . wow. Erin Silver is an arteest. An arteest, I say!

7. Annie’s confrontation with Rhonda, specifically this line from Annie: “Little did I know that ‘expanding your horizons’ was code for becoming a lying, cheating whore!” Oh, Annie. So dramatic! Also dramatic? Ethan’s subsequent confrontation of Annie when she’s hanging out with that drama club tool, who knows when to back off of a tense situation. This whole tiff/love triangle is all very silly, but, in the tradition of high schoolers everywhere, gets totally blown up to ridiculous proportions. And I laugh at their pain.

8. Liam’s whole drag racing thing. Because . . . why? More importantly, why wasn’t Liam’s car branded with Dr. Pepper?

9. This clearly takes the cake for the fucking craziest thing on this show: Silver’s final downward spiral into crazy town. After Dixon grows angry with her for filming them having sex and putting it in her movie (btw, if she put her camera down behind her in that locker room, how’d she get that front-facing shot? she’s a great filmmaker!) and Matthews’ shuts down the theatre she rented for her screening, she becomes totally nuts and, in an effort to salvage her relationship with Dixon agrees to burn the film. And by burn the film, she meant burn it in a garbage can in his backyard. Oh, but wait! The crazy doesn’t stop there! No, no. Thinking Matthews is behind all of this and that he engineered her downfall by encouraging her to make a film that he knew she would show publicly, thus completely embarrassing her the way she did to him on her blog, she fucking BREAKS INTO HIS HOUSE and demands that he fix things. How did she figure out his grand scheme? Oh, that’s quite simple, really. See, when she wanted to make a 45-minute film, he asked her if she was out of her mind, which is the same thing Dixon asked her when he saw she had filmed them having sex! Matthews totally got to Dixon! All to ruin her! ALL TO RUIN HER!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow. Just . . . wow. It’s really interesting to suddenly know that Silver has a serious mental illness. I mean, we saw the seeds of crazy when she got that Dixon tattoo, but now those seeds are growing into a full-fledged crazy bush. I hope that when she gets out of the mental hospital she will inevitably be in at the end of this season, that she turns that Dixon tattoo into the Dixon-Ticonderoga tattoo that I suggested. Then she could justify her craziness by being like the Marquis de Sade. Ooooooooh . . . wait . . . actually, let’s do a spin-off about Silver in the mental institution where she writes plays and makes movies starring the inmates! I’d watch that.

The Husband:

So it seems that the body snatcher situation I mentioned in re: Ethan so many times during earlier episodes of the season has spread, because now most of the characters are acting like completely different people. More specifically, the women. (My wife suggested we create a kind of flow chart to track this body snatching situation, but 9fneh doesn’t need that much time dedicated to it.)

So…Naomi, in her Liam love, has finally learned to let go and stop being such a control freak, and even if the drag racing stuff added up to virtually nothing, it did technically represent her literally being the passenger in someone else’s life, something she struggled to attain for most of this season. Naomi is, for all intents and purposes, becoming Annie.

Annie, on the other hand, is becoming a very shrewd player in the game of love, pitting people against each other and setting up way over-the-top situations (i.e. her and the drama club tool hanging out, which would piss off Ethan and thus lead into a mega-confrontation) and screaming nonsensical insanities at poor Ms. Teegarden. She is becoming bitchier by the moment. Annie is, for all intents and purposes, becoming Naomi.

Silver is losing her mind in a way that has absolutely nothing to do with her personality in the front half of this season. Read over my wife’s #9 list item and you will see that who was once a bold, cool, controlled person is becoming a complete wackjob, one who is completely blind to the effect she has on others and raises her selfishness to extreme heights. Silver is, for all intents and purposes, becoming Adrianna.

What the eff balls? I know that Entertainment Weekly made a point in their last issue to declare this episode a true personification of the original 90s series, what with its ridiculous histrionics and I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened nonsense. I mean, the episode was hilarious, if that’s what they meant. I guess that short article answers my question of whether or not the original 90210 was a quality show. Apparently, it wasn’t. It was just insane. Why didn’t people tell me this sooner?

The Wife:

I don’t know why, but “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” is the first episode I haven’t been all that jazzed about this season. (I’m not a fan of “The Lie,” either, but that one’s more like a coda to the season premiere, so it functions.) John Locke is one of my favorite characters, actually, and I was initially excited for this episode to flesh out the hows and whys of his collection of the Oceanic Six, but the actual execution of this conceit left a little something to be desired. Maybe it was a lack of a real on-island story, necessary to balance this off-island stuff out. I’m also starting to feel like Lost, in general, is answering a few too many questions or, at the very least, saying things too plainly. Like the scene where Widmore christens John Locke as Jeremy Bentham by explaining who Bentham is and how it’s funny that Locke is reborn as a different philosopher. Most of us knew this already. It didn’t need to be said.

This right here? Mostly just the death part.

This right here? Mostly just the death part.

There is, however, one very valuable thing that I take away from this episode. My allegiance before as to whose side of the impending war would be the right side was in favor of Ben and those of the island, but after seeing Ben’s machinations in this episode and hearing certain pieces of information from Widmore, I no longer know who to trust. As pointed out by EW‘s Doc Jensen, Lost is constantly exploring problems of epistemics: how do w know what we know, and how can we trust that knowledge? I, and possibly some of you, have been willing to believe up to this point Ben’s claims that Widmore is evil and has ill designs for the island and its people should he ever find it. This claim started to be problematized when Locke met Widmore back in 1954, leading us to questions Widmore’s alleged intentions if his association with the island goes back further than Ben’s. It’s even further problematized when Widmore tells Locke in his Tunisian hospital bed (because the Frozen Donkey Wheel always dumps its turners in a Tunisian desert) that wily Ben Linus tricked Widmore into leaving the island, which we know means exile. Until that time, Widmore was the leader of his people. He instructs John that he must go back to the island because “there’s a war coming, John, and if you’re not back on the island when it happens, the wrong side is going to win.”

From there, Widmore rechristens Locke and gives him Matthew Abbadon as a chauffer/assistant. The travel to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic where Locke pays a visit to the new-and-improved Habitat for Humanity Sayid, which is drastically different than the assassin-for-hire Sayid. Locke tries to convince Sayid to return to the island, but he refuses, informing Locke that leaving the island allowed him to be with Nadya, until her death, and that he likes building things and doing good for the world. (Did anyone else notice that the school Sayid was building was called “Escuela de Isla,” or “School of the Island?”) From then, Locke and Abbadon head to New York to see WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALT! Walt informs Locke that he’s had some prescient dreams about the island’s impending war and seeing Locke return to the island in a suit, but despite this information, Locke does not ask Walt to join him on the return trip to that mysterious island. Abbadon chides him for this and, in the distance, Ben Linus spies on the conversation. (Man, Ben sure gets around, doesn’t he?)

Next, the Locke and Abbadon road trip heads to Santa Rosa, California, which I always thought was just the name of Hurley’s medical center, but it turns out that it’s so named because it’s actually in Santa Rosa. There’s a bit of levity where Hurley assumes he’s seeing John because he’s crazy, until a nurse confirms that he is, in fact, talking to a bald dude in a wheelchair. Hurley seems alright with the prospect of going back to the island, until he sees Matthew Abbadon watching over their conversation and freaks out, screaming about how he once saw Abbadon at Santa Rosa, claiming to be a representative of Oceanic Airlines. The orderlies take Hurley inside. Locke has struck out on yet another attempt to bring the O6ers back together. With some doubt planted in his mind about Abbadon, he asks the man exactly what he does for Mr. Widmore, to which Abbadon replies:


“I help people get where they need to get to, John. That’s what I do for Mr. Widmore.”


From Santa Rosa, the odd pair of bald men head down to Los Angeles, where Locke fails at getting Kate to come along. Frustrated, Locke demands to be taken to see Helen, his lost love. Abbadon refuses to take him, but eventually caves and shows Locke to her grave. There, Abbadon tells Locke about how he’s helped Locke get where he was supposed to be (suggesting Walkabout, for instance), and asks him if his death, his instruction from Richard Alpert, will be inevitable or a choice. Suddenly, Abbadon is shot and Locke speeds away on his broken leg, landing himself in a massive traffic accident that he miraculously survives under the care of Jack Shepard. Indeed, Abbadon gets people where they need to go.

Locke tells Jack about his mission, their mission, but Jack is less than receptive. He thinks Locke is delusional and wholly un-special, until Locke tells Jack that he has a message from Christian Shepard. Even then, Jack refuses to believe, and Locke, once discharged from the hospital, returns to his hotel to write that fateful suicide note. He prepares to hang himself with some electrical cords, and I was more than surprised to see that for all the things John Locke knows, he doesn’t know how to tie a noose. That knot he tied wouldn’t hold a human body long enough for it to hang by the neck until dead. Surely, this is something Locke would have learned in Boy Scouts, no?

It doesn’t matter how poorly Locke ties knots, though, because Ben knocks and lets himself in. He reveals that he killed Abbadon to protect Locke and the O6ers from Widmore. He proceeds to contradict the information given to us by Widmore earlier in the episode, claiming Widmore is indeed bad and that Ben moved the island to keep Locke and friends safe from that terrible man. He begs John to let him help collect the O6. Locke breaks down and tells Ben, the man he has trusted as one who groomed him to take his rightful place as leader of the Others, that he is a failure, unable to convince anyone to return with him, and probably because he turned on Jack back in season three. Ben assures him that whatever he’s said to these people is working, because whatever he said to Jack caused Jack to buy a round trip flight to Sydney. All Locke had to do, Ben suggests, is convince that one person. He suggests they go to Sun and start again with her, but Locke tells Ben that he promised Jin he wouldn’t bring Sun back, explaining that he planned to give her Jin’s ring as proof that he was gone. Ben goes to comfort the heartbroken Man of Faith, telling him:


“You can’t die. You’ve got too much work to do.”


But then Locke mentions that he needs to find Eloise Hawking, and the very mention of her name sends Ben into a rage, causing him to strangle John, only to hang his lifeless body from the rafters in an attempt to make it look like John did what he had set out to do. This was the best scene in this whole episode for me, especially the ghastly shadow of Locke’s body looming over the scene as Ben frantically runs about, cleaning his presence of off the hotel room. I like this image not only for its grotesqueness, but because it shows Locke for what he has been constructed as: a puppet, his strings pulled by his considerable faith into many directions by as many masters – Widmore, Richard Alpert, Jacob/Christian Shepard, Jack. He’s a tragic figure, lead into ruin by his faith and believe in what he’s told. The only thing that’s certain about the various problems of epistemics we’ve been presented in this episode is that, whichever side is correct, John Locke had to die. That was always an absolute truth.

But true to Walt’s dream, Locke does return to that island in a suit, brought back to life as he touches that holy ground, much to the confusion of new castaways Ilana and Cesar, who are very confused about this whole situation. It seems they’ve crashed near the Hydra station, and Cesar is looking for something. Ajira did in fact crash, but as Cesar tells Locke, Hurley and two other people (Kate and Jack, presumably) disappeared when the light flashed, and two others (Sayid and Sun, presumably), took off in a catamaran the first chance they could get. Cesar the leads John to inspect the bodies of those who were injured, and among them, is Ben Linus. I like that Locke, reincarnated on the island, has become sort of deity figure, appearing from nowhere and yet being implicitly trusted by those around him. His reaction upon seeing Ben Linus?


“That’s the man who killed me.”


In writing about this right now, I’ve grown to appreciate the episode more than when I started this post. Though I stand by the issues I mentioned at first, the more subtle aspects of this episode really shine through all that, especially the deity Locke on the island and the puppet Locke body hanging from that hotel room ceiling. As always, for every answered question and spelled-out piece of dialogue, the writers throw something new at us: why were only some of the 06 zapped from the plane into time travel land, while others were left behind? Are only some of them necessary for the upcoming war? And why the fuck is Cesar so curious about everything? What made Sayid turn from killer to habitat builder? And why was Locke not supposed to meet Eloise Hawking? I have no theories on any of this. I’m just going to think about the grim spectre of puppet Locke until the next episode.

The Husband:

I’m very big on the Lost episodes that people seem to dislike when it comes to the ones that simply exist as backstory and exposition and not much else. That’s why I like s4’s “Confirmed Dead” more than “The Constant,” not because it was more emotional (that would be the latter), but because I loved how economical the entire story was in our introduction to the Freighties. It was mysterious, it was confusing, and it was informative.

The issue with “The Life And Death Of Jeremy Bentham” is that it simply didn’t pose that many mysteries. I think I like the episode far more than my wife does, especially the implication, via out-of-the-ordinary-for-Lost place cards over black screens, that we’re in the midst of an epic journey, far greater than the episode may indicate. Yes, we followed Locke from his island jump all the way to his death in one single episode – a disappointment, to be sure, to those like myself who wanted that story to last a little longer – but there are little bits and pieces that are going to be filled in later, just like every other damn thing on Lost.

I find, the more I think and read about this episode, that most of my disappointments can be blamed more on my overactive imagination than the show itself, and so I give Lost the benefit out the doubt. For instance, once Locke’s minute-long talk with Walt was over, I thought that it was underwhelming and didn’t really fit with how we see Walt later, talking to Hurley in Santa Rosa. But this morning I popped in that episode from s4, and found that Walt really didn’t really say much to Hurley beyond that Locke saw him briefly, and that Walt’s big conversation piece with Hurley, asking why the O6 were lying, was based on his own objections and not Locke’s.

I give Lost credit for really giving us a slow burn this episode, because we all know that these past few episodes are really revving up to something huge, and that’s okay. The Wire, a show I refer to so much as the great recent example of top-notch quality that I’m surprised our readers still haven’t figured out that they should watch it and tell me how much they like it, was the master of the slow burn, even spending whole seasons building up to something bigger but, if viewing episodes on their own, they may be confusing or even boring.

Lost didn’t pull it off as well as The Wire, and the last two episodes haven’t been the best the show has ever seen, but goddamn if it isn’t leading up to the fucking mother lode.

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