The Wife:

I’d be lying if I said that the pilot of Ryan Murphy’s Glee was perfect. It was far from it, but so much of the show is so winning that it’s easy to overlook its few flaws and fully embrace it. It’s not a silly musical in the slightest. Ryan Murphy has always treated music with much more respect than that, even when he’s being ironic or cheeky during surgeries on Nip/Tuck. On that show, the surgery music is used to dig deeply into something as seemingly superficial as plastic surgery. Sometimes it’s funny (such as the use of Don McLean’s “Vincent” during a surgery in which Rosie O’Donnell as Dawn Budge gets a transplant ear grown on a mouse’s back . . . it’s a long story), and sometimes it’s incredibly moving (to this day, I can’t hear Leo Delibes “Flower Duet” without thinking about conjoined twins Rose and Raven Rosenburg, who died after their separation surgery and asked to be put back together when they were buried).

On Glee, the music functions as it should in any great musical: it’s intended to give us an insight into the characters, and I can think of no better example of this than Lea Michele’s (Broadway’s Spring Awakening) audition song for the new glee club, “On My Own” from Les Miserables. I hate Les Mis, but to hear Rachel Berry sing it while hearing about her backstory was the most sublime use of that song. You see, despite the fact that Rachel’s two gay dads raised her to be an overachiever and to strive to be known in the world because “being anonymous is worse than being poor,” she’s lambasted by her peers for being talented, for being different. She posts daily MySpace videos of herself singing in her bedroom, all of which receive comments from her peers basically suggesting she should kill herself (cyberbullying that would probably destroy someone with less self-confidence). She also often has things thrown at her, because for as much of a type-A personality as she is, Rachel is, in fact, on her own. She might be a little cocky and a little dogged in her quest to be special, as evidenced by her claim that the former glee club director molested the boy he gave Rachel’s solo to, but there is something in her that deserves to be recognized for who she is. And there is a tremendous sadness in the fact that no one sees her specialness but her . . . and her two gay dads.

Glee: what this show will be filling me with Wednesday nights at 9 in the fall.

Glee: what this show will be filling me with Wednesday nights at 9 in the fall.

So with the former glee club director out of the picture and the club in danger of being shut down, Matthew Morrison’s Spanish teacher Will Shuster decides he should take over. After all, Will sees that these kids need a place where they won’t be bullied, and where they can cultivate their talent. But as usual, the activities in which the popular kids reign get more funding, especially The Cheerios, the cheer team coached by Jane Lynch, which receives the bulk of the school’s budget because they keep winning national competitions and bringing the school a lot of press, which ultimately means more funding. So Will is allowed to operate glee club, recently renamed New Directions (which is weird for me, because that’s the name of a counseling center that a friend I know from high school theatre works for), on a $60 budget, which struck me as incredibly realistic given the dire nature of arts education in America, by which I mean, the lack thereof. But even that $60 budget eventually gets cut and Will is asked to run New Directions with his own $60, something that is, for him, very difficult because he lives off his teaching salary and his wife’s 12-hours-a-week job at Sheets and Stuff.

We meet a lot of characters over the course of this hour-long pilot, but even though there are some of the glee kids we don’t know all that well, I’d say that Jessalyn Gilsig’s Terri is the least well-drawn. Terri is obsessed with an idea of womanhood that allows her to contribute little to her marriage and spend all of her time crafting and decorating. She’s largely just a stand-in for the thing that’s holding Will back from what he really wants from life. But that said, I think Jessalyn Gilsig, as always, turns in a brilliant performance of very little material. I mean, this is a woman who nearly suffocated her own daughter in a cargo hold (on Heroes) and, more importantly, a woman who got fucked off a building (on Nip/Tuck). I am certainly not used to her playing someone demure, and she creates a sort of quiet insanity in Terri that makes her seem both utterly unreal and yet absolutely the kind of woman who thinks her life should be what she sees in magazines. She is deeply shallow, and I think there’s something exceptional about placing a character like that amongst so many other deeply real people. She’s a wonderful contrast.

[Husband Note: Gilsig also did wonders with the quite poorly written role of teacher Lauren “The Nun” Davis on Boston Public, as well an incredible job as the oblivious sister-in-law-party-girl-way-past-her-prime on Friday Night Lights. She’s not the best actor, but she’s a serviceable television performer, and that’s good enough for me.]

Because Terri won’t give Will an extra $60 a month to run glee club (as she’d rather spend it on trinkets from Pottery Barn and crafts), he tries to drum up more membership around the school, taking guidance counselor Emma’s (the lovely and talented Jayma Mays) advice to recruit a few popular kids into glee club, and the rest will follow. He tries to get a few Cheerios in the club, but Jane Lynch’s Sue refuses to give up her girls, setting up a rivalry between the glee kids and the cheerleaders that I’m sure will continue throughout the series. But then, by a stroke of luck, he catches football star Finn singing in the shower, and blackmails him into joining glee club by “planting” some weed from the Chronic Lady (the former glee club director’s new profession: dealing weed) in his locker and telling him that he can spend six weeks in detention (which Will is now running, unpaid, due to budget cuts) which will go on his permanent record, or he can join glee. There was a moment in this scene that I truly loved because it was very representative of how Glee likes to play with cliches from high school movies. Will tells Finn that if he chooses detention, it’ll stay on his permanent record and they’ll take away his football scholarship. Finn asks, incredulously, “I got a football scholarship? To where?” And because that’s just something Will said because he heard it in a movie, he continues on, “You could go places, son.”

With Finn in the club, Will takes New Directions to see the current national show choir champions, and Emma decides to chaperone, as Terri has already turned Will down for some crafting-related outing. Emma, who clearly likes Will, is something of a germaphobe, a trait Jayma Mays does not play up for comic effect, but rather allows into the open with a kind of reserved sadness. In addition to cleaning surfaces in the teacher’s lounge with disposable gloves before she eats off of them, she brings her own food, even to public events, ands he and Will have a conversation about the state of his marriage to Terri over a peanut butter sandwich prior to the choir concert. Over that sandwich, which he says he never gets to eat because Terri is allergic to nuts, he confesses that he’s not entirely happy with his marriage. There’s just something about his relationship with Terri that isn’t working, but he rationalizes that it’s okay because he does love her, and he does want to have children with her, even if they aren’t totally happy. If you want to know why they’re not happy, look at the scene in which Terri makes Will do a puzzle with her in her craft room while she tells him it’s important for him to have a creative outlet, while in the same breath telling him that she doesn’t want him to run glee club because they don’t make enough money with him teaching. She’d rather he be an accountant, the epitome of jobs that lack creativity.

The rival choir puts on a ridiculous performance of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab,” which is stunningly choreographed and sounds great, but is obviously wildly inappropriate for a high school choir to sing and is incredibly funny if you absolutely don’t ever take your mind off of the lyrics. You just can’t do choreographed lifts when you’re singing a line like, “I’m gonna lose my baby / so I always keep a bottle near me.” (On the other hand, though, I think you absolutely can sing “I Kissed a Girl” for a glee club audition, because that’s just funny.) Clearly, a performance of that caliber is intimidating, but that’s not all of the problems facing New Directions. Finn’s teammates find out that he’s been lying to them about where he had to go when he missed practice. They are not pleased that he pretended his mom was having prostate surgery, and pelt him with paintballs. (“Chicks don’t have prostates. I looked it up.”) Finn eventually stands up to his football teammates when he finds that they’ve locked the wheelchair kid in a port-a-potty, telling them that, like Troy Bolton in High School Musical, he’s not going to choose between being a jock and being a singer. He’s going to do both. “Because you can’t win without me, and neither can they,” he snarls.

And when Terri announces that she’s pregnant, Will quits, following his wife’s suggestion to apply for a job at an accounting firm, leaving his newly formed club without a mentor. Emma tries to talk some sense into him, setting him up with a guidance appointment with her when she catches him filling out an accounting application at H.L. Mencken (oddly, named after a writer and literary critic for the Baltimore Sun who had some interesting ideas on elitism within social classes, rather than a traditional class or race-based social hierarchy . . . I must miss Lost a lot if I’m looking for these kind of references on other shows). Emma shows Will a video of the year the school’s glee club won nationals. It was 1993, and Will was in that choir. And he was happy. She asks him if providing money for his wife and child is really the same thing as providing them happiness, but being a man of his word, he heads off, presumably never to return.

Meanwhile, Rachel and Finn have taken over New Directions and have recruited the jazz band to help them stage their first performance, with Mercedes doing costumes, Rachel choreographing and Finn doing vocal arrangements. As Will heads down the eternal hallway, he hears them singing strains of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” another instance of perfect music choice. Not only does it serve as a ballad for these kids who just want to believe they’re good at something, but for soloists Finn and Rachel, those opening lines serve as portraits of themselves. Never before have I been teary-eyed hearing someone sing, “Just a small town girl / Living in a lonely world” or the phrase “S/he took the midnight train goin’ anywhere” until last night. They took that song, and made it transcendent – enough to make me believe in the beauty, sadness, humor and joy of this little show and enough to convince Will not to leave, but to remain with New Directions.

This is a show about lonely, sad people, trying to find something that actually makes them happy, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t made happy by music. So even for those of you who don’t really like or get musicals, know that Glee is simply about people trying to find happiness, and that happiness is achieved through music. I also take that last song as something of a plea to those of us who watched Glee and everyone at FOX, executives who clearly believe in taking a risk like this enough to promote it now and schedule it for Wednesdays at 9 p.m. throughout next season, picking up on SYTYCD results shows and Idol results shows as a built-in audience. FOX wants us to believe in Glee, and I do. Your Journey-infused plea has not fallen on deaf ears, Ryan Murphy.

I believe, I believe, I believe. Oh, I believe.

Some other notes:

  • “I’m Beyonce! I aint’s no Kelly Rowland.” – Really, Mercedes? Because you seemed so happy to be asked to do costumes later in the episode. Are you sure you don’t want to host The Fashion Show on Bravo?
  • For as much of a monster as I think Jessalyn Gilsig’s Terri is, she’s really funny. Two winners from her: “If my diabetes comes back I can’t get pregnant” and “Don’t go in the Christmas Closet!”
  • I’m told the first episode aired in the fall will be a re-edited pilot. My first edit: eliminating the references to MySpace and replacing it with something more culturally relevant. Like the word, “Facebook.” Or maybe even “YouTube” in some cases.
  • Spring Awakening fans, that last line was for you.

The Husband:

I honestly thought we were going to wait to review this show until the fall, but as it stands, here it is.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to find many parallels, mostly in tone and narration, between Glee and Alexander Payne’s biting 1999 high school satire Election. Not only do we get some wonderfully insightful yet overly self-centered internal monologues from our main characters at only the most opportune times, and also revel in both the show’s insistence on clichés and its subversion of them, but Cory Montheith, the actor who plays Finn, bears a striking resemblance to a young Chris Klein. (You know, before Chris Klein started sucking.)

This is quite a show, just from the pilot, what with its heightened emotions, its parody of high school affectations, its very focused jokes and, of course, the usage of Journey. True, there were some considerable lulls, and I thought the Finn transformation happened way too early, but there is definitely something special about this show. A dramedy of the highest order, I hope it helps brings even more respect to the musical form.

And on that, some might argue this isn’t a musical. Yes it is. It’s just not a “traditional musical.” People don’t have to break out into song, but simply have the music define much of the piece itself. And Ryan Murphy, as my wife pointed out, is very specific about his song choices, so “Don’t Stop Believin’” as sung by Finn and Rachel, knowing what we know about them, defines who they are, amplifies their backstory, and fits perfectly into this world. Sounds like a musical to me. Definitely as much of a musical as Cabaret.

The Husband:

Ahhh…the first Sunday in months where we got a new episode for each of Animation Domination’s four shows. How’d they stack up? Quite well, actually, and I’m all the happier for it.

The Simpsons 20.12 “No Loan Again, Naturally”

I guess the showrunners of King Of The Hill are either more prescient than those behind The Simpsons, or their episodes get made more quickly, because the former beat the latter into getting an episode about the housing crisis to air by quite a few months. It doesn’t really matter, because while both shows concern the plight of the middle class in fly-over America (yes, I know we don’t know technically where The Simpsons takes place, but it’s always felt Midwestern to me), they took somewhat different approaches.

After throwing yet another Mardi Gras party and putting the finances through their already poorly mortgaged house…

“Oh Mardi Gras, oh Mardi Gras, you see a lot of boobies.” — Homer singing to the tune of “Oh, Christmas Tree”

…742 Evergreen Terrace now has no choice but to be foreclosed and then sold to the highest bidder during an auction, thus putting the Simpson family out on their ass. But as a last minute reprieve, Flanders listens to his Protestant (but not Baptist) heart and buys the house, letting the Simpsons stay there and letting them pay him back the $101,000 whenever they get a chance. But now that Flanders is the landlord, it is his duty to fix every single one of the house’s problems at the beck and call of the Simpsons, something they abuse almost immediately.

Sorry, Homer!

Sorry, Homer!

Fed up, Flanders tries to kick them out of the house in order to sell it to somebody more worthy and less deadbeat-y, but Homer has a trick up his sleeve. Since you can’t evict anybody from a house over a certain age (65, was it?), Homer lets Grandpa live in the house. Grandpa is very happy to be used, but when the Simpsons go out for a good time, they come back to find all their crap on their lawn. (Grandpa had succumbed to living next-door with Flanders, who fed him “people food.”) But Flanders, in his great big googlyooogly heart, knows that no matter how horrible the family is, he just can’t be the one to kick them out, so he accepts them back, warts and all.

Like I said, this episode was a little late to the gate, but I also think it might have been their best story so far this season. It was more relatable than most of the shenanigans they’ve recently been put through, and while I don’t demand that The Simpsons always be more down-to-earth, I’m thankful when they are.

Some other good bits from the episode:

  • “Boy, where are my zydeco records?!” — Homer (I know it’s not meant to be that funny of a line, but coming out of Homer’s mouth it kind of is)
  • Woman: What are you, some kind of talking dog?
    Moe: Uhh…yeah.
  • “Learn to make soup from rocks and grass.” — Mortgage Broker to Marge
  • Homer: he’s nailing something to our door.
    Lisa: Is it theses?
  • The DVD that Homer puts in to distract his grandfather: Dwight D. Eisenhower talking about golf

King Of The Hill 13. 11 “Bwah My Nose”

It seems that for Hank, he has been the shame of Arlen for decades now. But why? Well, back in high school during the big football game against their rivals the Mustangs, Hank let his fellow Longhorns down by getting injured and thus losing the game. And ever since that day, the former Mustang team has come around time and again to harass their archenemies with taunts and teases (even though, technically, they won entirely on field goals). Hank, no longer willing to be mocked, decides to get the gang together for one final, deciding game – although it’s going to be flag football, as each member of the team is well into middle age.

He goes far and wide to find his fellow teammates, including one who was so shamed that he moved to Phoenix (where it’s even hotter than Texas!). Now that the team is together, seemingly nothing can stop them. Even Bill is feeling some of his former glory as a ball player.

“Stay out of the Bill-dozer’s way!” – Bill

But when Bill gets a little too into a practice scrimmage, he accidentally breaks Hank’s nose, and his bloody appearance shocks his family.

“I don’t have to beat up someone’s son, do I?” – Bobby

This leads Hank to do something completely against his belief system – go to a plastic surgeon. But he is amazed to find that, with the surgery, he can also correct something he felt was always wrong with his nose – one of his nostrils. And his new nose, as he considers it, is beautiful.

“I don’t care if they had to use part of your butt. You look great.” – Bobby

But for perhaps the first time ever, Hank is now obsessed with his looks, and so he finds himself avoiding the football at practice, simply to protect his glorious new nez. He decides that to save face, he pretends that his nose is still sensitive, and that he can no longer play in the game. But Peggy knows when her husband is lying, and Bobby (who claims that he uses “I have the cramps” as an excuse to get out of gym class) knows a faker when he sees one. They bring him into the plastic surgeon to get him to fess up, but Hank throws a hissy.

“I love my perfect, perfect nose. Is it so wrong to be beautiful?” – Hank

But that sentence is enough to make Hank realize that he’s being a namby-pamby, and so he rejoins the team, and even breaks out of a vicious tackle to score the winning touchdown. Finally victors after all these years, the gang decides to give the Mustangs a taste of their own medicine and taunt them at work, because even if they are successful businessmen, they are losers in the eyes of the football gods.

A funny, decades-later look at the same general concepts behind the brilliant show Friday Night Lights. And it’s always fun to see Hank turn into something so stereotypical, as whenever he says anything like “is it so wrong to be beautiful” as if a teenage girl would say it, I fall down laughing. I’ve been with his character so long that I guess it comes with the territory.

But the best quote of the night?

“Come on, dad, you can do it. You may not be able to run, but you can flee.” – Joseph to Dale

Family Guy 7.8 “Family Gay”

FG takes on a controversial issue, whether homosexuality is nature or nurture and if it really is a choice, in a completely bonkers way and yet somehow does so with a weird mixture of vulgarity and understanding. (The answer: well, if you’ve ever actually treated gay people with any kind of respect and understanding, you’d know the answer. Now to get off my soapbox…)

When Peter is sent out to simply buy one can of beans, he comes back from Louisville having just bought a defective racehorse for the house. Why? No reason, really.

“Peter, I don’t think it’s wise to have a brain-damaged horse as a house pet.” — Lois

Just like The Simpsons, though, the first act of FG has progressed to be less and less about the actual story and simply acts as a catalyst, so when the brain-damaged horse ends up doing $100,000 of damage at the racetrack before dying, Peter has to pay off the family’s debts by being a guinea pig in some scientific experiments.

The Seth Rogan gene also makes you schlubby, but inexplicably attractive.

The Seth Rogen gene also makes you schlubby, but inexplicably attractive.

What kind of experiments? Why, genetic testing, of course. After receiving genes that turn him into a squirrel and then Seth Rogen (not at the same time, although I’d love to see that), he is injected with the “gay gene,” turning him into a ragingly effeminate and silly version of himself. While he goes overboard with the not-entirely-fair gay stereotypes (prancing, making muffins, being ridiculously sexualized), his family tolerates his new personality, until Lois is distraught to find that he just won’t have sex with her anymore. Brian decides to send him to a “straight camp” with very questionable tactics, until they all realize that they love their Peter, gay or not, because he clearly isn’t making the choice for himself.

But when the gay gene wears off after only 2.5 weeks (right in the middle of Peter having an 11-way), Peter comes running home to his family, who would love him no matter what.

I’m not sure if 100% of FG‘s audience is going to get some of the sarcasm of this episode, and some would say that its remarkably silly approach to the subject might actually do some damage within the brains of those not paying attention, but I’m just hazarding a guess, really. It was a particularly funny episode, and maybe I’m just underestimating some viewers. Prove me wrong, but if you came out of this episode simply thinking that gay sex was gross, brother, you missed the point.

A whole lot of random funny, comin’ at ya:

  • The Dragon’s Lair reference during the show’s first few minutes was excellent, so esoteric I had to explain to my wife what the hell it meant
  • “Is Paul Sorvino standing behind me?” — Stewie re: hard-breathing brain-damaged horse
  • How many times has Cleveland’s house been destroyed while he’s in the tub?
  • The racehorses all being named after canceled FOX shows is a recycled joke from FG‘s first episode back from cancellation, but it was still damn funny. (Especially the dig at still-on-television-for-no-discernable-reason ‘Til Death.)
  • “Penis for your thoughts.” — Peter
  • The Lifetime movie: Meredith Baxter in Raped By A Clown
  • “Take back your f@#&ing horse!” — Mort

American Dad 4.12 “Roy Rogers McFreely”

If we’ve learned anything from this show over the years, it’s that hell hath no fury like a Roger scorned. (Remember what he did to Steve when simply told, “You snooze, you lose?” I rest my case.) When forbidden from having him simple coke-and-grenadine concoction of a Roy Rogers, Roger takes on the persona of Roy Rogers McFreely, a cowboy-hat wearing son-of-a-gun, and becomes president of the Langley Falls homeowner’s council and proceeds to turn the monotone and rigidly structured community into a mess of self-expression, wild paints jobs, bight motion-sensor lights and…oh god…

“Oh no, Steve — non-native ornamental grass!” — Stan

For once in his life, Stan is being put down by The Man instead of simply being The Man, and can no longer take it. Finally able to relate to the plight of his daughter Hayley (although without the hippieness, the drugs or the shitty Ghostbusters II body paint), Stan bands together with Steve, Hayley, his gay newscaster neighbors, and old man and an agoraphobe communicating through a Charlie’s Angels speakerphone, to take to the streets and secretly do some “constructive vandalism” in order to return the community to its former glory.

It’s a battle amongst giants, and Roger won’t take this insubordination lying down, especially not with his band of fighting Mexicans, but he is no match for a backed-into-a-corner-while-wielding-a-firehose-from-the-newly-installed-hydrant, so Stan is ultimately the successor. Silliness abounds.

I have to agree with the AV Club that some of the episode’s points had already been covered just fine so far this season, but if it can make me laugh, I care far less. It was a good night from each show, and American Dad capped it off nicely.

Funny stuff! You know you wanna:

  • “Absolutely not. I’m zombie-dancing with my son.” — Stan
  • “Humans are talking!” — Francine to Klaus before breaking his fishbowl
  • “Sergei don’t need to go on another treasure hunt.” — Sergei
  • “To the bathroom, princess style!” — Roger
  • The elementary school Spanish-level lyrics of the Cilantro song that Stan hates so fervently.

The Wife:

After two weeks with the Oceanic Six, we return to those still on the island this week right where Sawyer, Faraday, Miles, Juliet and Jin left off: at the well, waiting for John Locke to return. When Locke fell down the well, the group was cast back to a time when the four-toed statue loomed large over the island (to me, it looks like a statue of Anubis, who weighed the hearts of the dead against a feather to determine where they would reside in the afterlife – could this be a hint about the function of the island?), but when Locke turned the wheel, they were launched into the 1970s. Charlotte was gone, but their headaches and nosebleeds stopped. Without a real leader, Sawyer becomes the de facto head of this unit of survivors, suggesting that they all head back to the beach to make camp and wait for Locke to return.

Sawyer: Now we wait for him to come back.
Miles: For how long?
Sawyer: As long as it takes.

Utilizing the strangely out-of-place title cards from last week, we jump to three years later, where Mad Men‘s Jimmy Barrett interrupts the good time grooves of his Dharma partner and his girlfriend when he noticed that Horace Goodspeed is out doing drunken dangerous shit, like blowing up trees with dynamite. They insist that the only way to calm Horace down is to go get LaFleur, Dharma’s Head of Security who, as it happens, is James Sawyer. 70s Sawyer and 70s Miles (now called Ennis, I think) head out to grab Horace and put him inside where he can’t blow shit up and hurt anyone. Meanwhile, Horace’s wife, Amy, goes into labor, telling Sawyer that the two of them had had a fight.

Back three years earlier, a mournful Daniel tells the rest of the group that after the second flash, Charlotte just disappeared. That lent some credibility to the theory that his tampering with the timeline had begun to write her out of existence. As Faraday puts it, “She moved on. We stayed.” Moved on to where? I’d like to believe that that statement fits with the Charlotte-written-out-of-time theory, but that’s later disproven when Faraday sees a little redheaded girl playing in the Dharma camp, calls out Charlotte’s name and the child looks back at him. So, maybe the island was just done with her? Where does it put people it’s done with? Wherever Charlotte may be, Faraday isn’t all here, either, his mind clearly somewhat fractured by the grief of losing yet another loved woman to time travel.

On their way back to the beach, the group hears shots and they see a woman with a sack over her head, about to be kidnapped from the lovely picnic she was having by two hostiles with guns. Sawyer and Juliet go play hero, rescuing Horace’s future wife and killing her assailants. Amy starts to freak out about the dead men, insisting that they bury the bodies and bring back the body of Paul, her dead Dharma companion that she reveals to be her husband. She is afraid that the death of her assailants means a truce between her people and theirs has been broken.

On their way back to Dharmaland, Sawyer convinces his friends to let him create their cover. He tells Amy that he and his friends shipwrecked on this island on their way to Tahiti. In a daze, Faraday almost walks through the sonic fence, until Juliet pulls him back. They ask Amy to turn it off, and she appears to, only to zap them all when they cross the line, slyly revealing the earplugs she’d popped in to protect herself.

Another great time to wear earplugs: pretty much every moment of the day after this kid is born. (Just kidding! Babies are great!)

Another great time to wear earplugs: pretty much every moment of the day after this kid is born. (Just kidding! Babies are great!)

Three years later, Amy’s baby is both early and breach. The Dharma obstetrician tells Sawyer-as-LaFleur that she was meant to get off the island days ago in order to prepare for her delivery. Worried that Amy will die, Sawyer goes to find Juliet, now the island mechanic in charge of fixing up all those sweet-ass VWs, and convince her to come out of retirement and help deliver the baby via Caesarian. Juliet is reluctant, considering what little luck she had saving women and children when she was brought to the island under the cover of Mittelos “Lost Time” Bioscience. Sawyer wins her over by suggesting that maybe the thing she was brought here to correct hadn’t happened yet. As Juliet takes over the labor and delivery, Jin approaches (still named Jin, by the way) to give Sawyer the daily “looking for their people” report. He once again asks Sawyer, “How long do we look, James?” To which Sawyer replies, “As long as it takes.”

The AV Club’s Noel Murray wrote last week about Lost‘s reliance on repeated lines such as “live together, die alone,” “we need to go back!” and so on. I definitely kept that in mind this week while watching and noted the frequency of times the other Losties would ask their new leader LaFleur how long they should keep looking. It seems that, in Locke’s absence, Sawyer became the man of faith this week, assuming the Creole moniker of LaFleur perhaps to assume a little of the magic and mysticism that comes with Cajun culture. Or maybe he just thought it sounded pretty and believable. Nonetheless, his new name makes me think of the fleur-de-lis, a symbol widely associated with both monarchy and Boy Scouting. (Husband Note: And the celebrity-lookalike hooker service in the great film L.A. Confidential.) The symbol’s name literally means lily flower (like the last name of an actress who plays a certain flame of Sawyer’s), and is associated with the Virgin Mary, symbolized by the white lily – a woman who’s shown up on this show not only in the figure of Claire, but also as a placeholder for some heroin. However, in England, people mistook the name (because the English do not spell things well) as fleur-de-luce, or flower of light, and began associating it with the Holy Trinity. For me, the choice of name represents Sawyer’s faithful commitment to believing his friends will return to the island as Locke had, for lack of a better term, prophesized. It is appropriate to me that LaFleur would care so much to see Amy’s child be born, and also appropriate that he should keep such vigilant watch and a hope-against-all-hope that his friends will return. Without Locke, someone on the island has to be a bastion of faith. And Sawyer became that when he became good ol’ Jim LaFleur.

Juliet, by the way, is able to successfully deliver Amy and Horace’s baby boy, which made me immediately ask: who does that baby boy grow up to be? We know it’s not Ben Linus, which immediately made me horrified for the fact that whoever that little boy is, as he might not grow up at all, but might suffer the fate of being killed by Ben in the purge. How weird would it be for that kid to grow up to be Juliet’s lover, Goodwin? I don’t think the timeline is right for that, but it would be weird . . . like . . . Cordelia-fucking-Connor-on-Angel weird.

Three years earlier, Sawyer wakes up on Horace’s couch and, with Sawyer’s friends deferring all questions to him, he starts spinning the tale of how his current group of people found their way to the island. He tells Horace they were on a salvage mission to find the wreck of the old slave ship The Black Rock and wound up in the woods when they went looking for their missing crew member. Horace offers Sawyer and his people safe passage to Tahiti on the Dharma sub, but, ever faithful to his people, Sawyer tries to finagle another week out of the deal. Then the Dharma Alarm sounds and everyone is rushed inside as a torch-bearing Richard Alpert approaches. He demands to speak to Horace and wants to recover the bodies of his people. Sawyer demands that Horace let him take over negotiations, and the con man proceeds to swindle the immortal Alpert. Sawyer tells Alpert that he isn’t Dharma and so no truce was broken when he killed Alpert’s people in self-defense. Sawyer then tells him about Jughead and asks if Alpert remembers John Locke, for whose return he is so diligently waiting. Satisfied by Sawyer’s silver tongue, Alpert agrees to leave once he is given the location of his people’s bodies. However, he also asks for the body of the man his people killed. Amy, broken hearted over the loss of her husband, Paul, doesn’t want to give up his corpse, but agrees after taking his ankh necklace for herself. As a reward for saving everyone’s ass, Horace lets Sawyer and friends stay for two more weeks, which will clearly turn into at least three years. Juliet wants to leave immediately, but Sawyer convinces her not to go because its 1974 and her life will not be there for her.

I love seeing both of these miserable bastards actually be happy for a change.

I love seeing both of these miserable bastards actually be happy for a change.

Three years later, she’s still there, saving babies, working on cars and shacking up with Jim LaFleur. After three years together in Dharma bliss, the two are saying, “I love you’s,” which are basically just like saying, “Fuck you, Kate Austen.” In yet another nice bit of repetition, Horace wakes up on Sawyer’s couch after his night of drunken dynamite danger. Sawyer tells Horace the good news: he has a healthy baby boy, with the bad news being, of course, that he missed it. Sawyer asks him why he and Amy had fought that night, and Horace tells him that they got into a fight because he found Paul’s ankh in the back of Amy’s sock drawer (what man borrows socks from his wife?), and took it to mean that she never got over her first husband. He asks LaFleur if he thinks that three years is really enough time to get over someone, and Sawyer launches into a tale of regret about the one that got away, but assures Horace that he’s moved on.

“Is three years long enough to get over someone? Absolutely.” –Sawyer

Later, LaFleur gets a call from Jin. He leaves Juliet’s naked backside and rushes out immediately for the inevitable reunion with Hurley, Jack and, yes, that girl he totally thought he was over. I’ve never really given a shit about Kate and I much prefer the person Sawyer is when he’s with Juliet, but I really like the look on Sawyer’s face when he sees these people he thought he would never see again. Yes, he had faith that they would return, but I don’t think he knew how it would affect him when they did return, and what it would be like to see that woman he had loved for so long come back into his life. Poor Juliet. I hope that her three years of happiness doesn’t fall away because of Kate’s return and become a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young lyric (“If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with”).

This was a good episode to remind the fans who aren’t that much into time travel about the show’s emotional core and its reliance on human drama, as well as a nice segue back into on-island stories, which are always, always, always better than Oceanic Six stories. I like it. And I hope Kate kept her promise and has news about Sawyer’s darling Clementine, which I maintain is what he asked her to do before he jumped out of that helicopter.

The Husband:

I think this was a wonderful episode. Yes, it explored the emotional core of the show, and as I learned from the beast known as the LindelCuse on that pre-s5 premiere special a couple months ago, this is what they spend at least 80% of writing sessions thinking about – not the sci-fi/fantasy aspects of the show, but character motivations and their own personal, emotional arcs. Yes, it did a great amount of summary for what happened in those three years between the end of the time traveling and the “present,” with the rise of LaFleur as its own tiny story. And yes, it, like last week, took a step back in order to give us as much backstory as necessary before it blasts off into insanity in the coming weeks.

But what I loved was that it gave Sawyer, for once, his first uplifting storyline of the entire series. We’ve been smacked with his terrible life again and again – his dead parents, his bloodlust on his search to find the original Sawyer, his destructive cons, and all the bad decisions he’s made on the islands – so it’s just such a breath of fresh air to see a happy, productive, non-thieving, non-growling James Ford/James LaFleur. His redemption as a person, or as much as what can be called redemption, drove my emotions in this episode more than most of Jack’s entire arc, and that’s impressive.

Hell, I teared up twice during the last ten minutes of the episode, first when he and Juliet kiss and the second when Sawyer spots Kate Austen coming out of the blue VW van only moments after revealing that he couldn’t even remember her face anymore. And these tears are for the guy who stole items out of people’s luggage for bartering purposes in s1. Come on, man. Give some respect.

I also appreciate any show that gives me a mixture of some great character actors from some of my favorite shows, including 24 (the beautiful Reiko Aylesworth), Mad Men (Patrick Fischler) and Friday Night Lights (Kevin Rankin). Oh Lost, you know how to please the cult TV show viewers.

The Wife:

I’m going to start a little differently this week by actually praising the time and effort the writers took to create two strong plots for this show that up until now has been a hot tranny mess, and not in a good way. Adriana’s plot with Ty’s parents, though indeed a rehash of a bajillion things, was actually pretty cool. I could relate to it. It felt realistic. Also good? Ethan’s relationship with the girl he hit in that accident. I’m glad they found an effective way for him to exercise his guilt not only for hurting her, but for not knowing who she was even though they share a class. What’s even better about this plot is how Rhonda makes herself seem worse off than she is just to spend more time with this guy who has suddenly taken an interest in her. Props to that stuff, 90210, but you are not off the hook with me yet.

  1. You know what’s yet another bad place to tell someone you’re pregnant? A cast party for the show you two are going to have to do together.
  2. What genius decided that Ty Collins needed a weird rat ‘stache? That thing is a major no. He’s a fine looking fellow. He doesn’t need to look like a fine looking fellow who may and or may not do porn. (Also, the actor who plays Ty has the whitest teeth in the world. I think they were literally blinding me.)
  3. Is tossing a football around while you share your feelings about how you don’t have girls really the best way to protect your masculinity, Dixon and Navid? I am convinced that men do not do things like this. Football tosses just punctuate the conversation awkwardly, dudes.
  4. Can anyone explain to me why pregnant teenagers are shoved off to New Mexico to have babies? This is not the first time I’ve heard this. It is a specific lyric in the musical Zombie Prom, for one. Is it just because the American Southwest is remote? Because I’m really not sure which situation would be more embarrassing: going missing for six months and suddenly reappearing with a constant lactation problem or actually letting people know you’re pregnant. I vote that lactation stains are more embarrassing than a baby bump.
  5. There are now Dr. Pepper signs on every fucking table at the Peach Pit. And that giant one on the wall. And one behind the door on the inside of the restaurant. And the one on the soda machine. And yet another on the bar. Someone needs to get those Dr. Pepper signs neutered because those fuckers have a serious population control issue. They’re like fucking tribbles.
  6. Oh yeah, you know what’s another bad place to tell someone you’re pregnant? Under a Dr. Pepper sign.
  7. I’m glad this episode proved that using a lame knock-off of Neil Strauss’ The Game to get yourself some ladies is indeed lame. Props to Navid for hooking a cute Persian girl by simply being his sweet, dorky self.
  8. I still don’t understand why Silver can’t say, “I love you,” but at least she and Dixon won’t be having stupid fights about it anymore.
  9. I was also unaware until Rhonda mentioned it that there was any kind of popularity structure at WestBev. These kids are the popular kids? Really? Because these kids are kind of lame.

I did really, really dig Adriana’s video announcement of her pregnancy to the whole school, and her decision to leave Ty’s name out of it. She really is turning over all kinds of new leaves.

The Husband:

One Awesome Thing About This Week’s 9fneh:

Get her out of my heart.

Get her out of my heart.

Aimee Teegarden as Rhonda, the girl that Ethan nearly killed. I think she’s one of the few realistic things about this show – then again, I think that until Rhonda showed up, Annie was the only one in the cast who actually acted like a teenager, goofy faces and all – but if you know me, you know that I really like her because she’s one of the regulars on the extraordinary NBC rural drama Friday Night Lights. As Julie Taylor, the young daughter of Coach Eric Taylor, she has been the innocent center of the show, starting off the series upset to restart her life in a new city, only to rise in the ranks of popularity and maturity in Dillon, Texas upon dating quarterback Matt Saracen.

I haven’t watched the third season yet (I have Comast, not DirecTV, so I’m watching the NBC “reruns” now), but even during her most immature, childish times, she’s still an extremely compelling and down-to-earth character. Her scenes with mother Tami (Connie Britton needs an Emmy nomination!) are some of the most heartrending scenes in the series, and she is such a beautiful girl (even dressed down like here on 90210) that I can understand her father’s opposition re: her social life.

If you’ve ever watched 9fneh and was curious what a great show regarding teenagers actually looked like, please for the love of God pick up the first two seasons of FNL on DVD. The cheap sets have a money-back guarantee of quality, and I haven’t heard of one return yet.