Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Final Cut

I may have given up on Nip/Tuck last fall (which was still at least 2 seasons too late), but I still wanted to see how it would end (even if it took me a week to get to it). It's only every so often a show gets a chance to air an actual series finale, and I'm always fascinated to see how it will play. Will it satisfy, like Battlestar Galactica and Scrubs did last year? Or will it be totally lame like Alias?

Turns out the answer was the least thing I'd suspect from a show that began by feeding a dead gangster's body to crocodiles: boring. Nip/Tuck has always prided itself on being absolutely outrageous, trying so hard to shock that it couldn't really do anything else. Yet for its finale, the big episode to end everything, there was probably less going on than any given episode from its entire run. Nip/Tuck would have never ended a season like this, but somehow did for the series.

So what happened? Well, if you're like me, you probably need the "previously on." Had to watch a couple times, but the highlights seem to be Julia's moving to England, Liz is having a baby using Sean's sperm (and is somehow friends with Christian again even though they were going through a bitter divorce last time I watched), and Matt tricked someone into marrying him only to leave her at the altar for Ava, the tranny from season 2. Got it? Didn't think so.

Aside from a traditional patient-of-the-week story about an old Japanese porn star that didn't in any way scream series finale, the main plot here is, of course, the bromance between Sean and Christian. With Julia leaving and taking the kids, Sean's free to do whatever he wants. But dead Kimber says Christian is a negative force on him and needs to let him free. So the episode mostly consists of a series of downbeat goodbyes. Liz leaves Sean so the baby won't know him. Julia leaves for England. Matt lies about reconciling with his ex so he can leave with Ava. And Christian convinces Sean to leave plastic surgery and the country with some baby Ava left behind because...well, I missed that part.

And throughout the cheese factor was cranked to the max. From a very serious talk about the morality of plastic surgeons (to remind us we were indeed watching the end) to the final line, Christian telling a woman at an airport bar, "I'm a plastic surgeon," everything was super dramatic and hyper emotional. In a show where the characters hadn't gone off the rails years ago, sad goodbyes could have been emotional and heartwarming. But emotional and heartwarming aren't what Nip/Tuck does well. Nip/Tuck was, at its best, a crazy soap that was outrageous but fun. Its end was just blah. At least it's over.

On a completely different note, I also just caught up on last night's Lost, which was something I wouldn't have expected to see a few seasons ago: a heart-warming Ben episode. I've heard complaints about this season that it's too much leading up to answers or just not enough answers, but as long as they keep delivering episodes like this one I have no complaints. I don't know what the sideways stories mean, but the past few weeks they've been every bit as resonant as the original season 1 flashbacks.

Off-island, Ben's a European history teacher who eats lunch with Dr. Arzt and tutors his prize pupil Alex. When Locke takes a move from the being inhabiting his body on-island and convinces Ben to claim power, he makes a grab for the principality (yes, I'm calling it that). But power comes with a cost: the principal will torch Alex's chances at Yale if Ben goes through with his plan. So what does he pick, power or Alex?

On-island, Miles exposed that Ben killed Jacob, and now bodyguard and maybe adoptive daughter Ilana wants vengeance. Locke Monster still wants Ben on his team, so he offers him an escape. But Ben just wants to explain himself, in a speech so moving you completely forget he's the guy who pretended to kill a bunny in front of Sawyer. Aww. And off-island he picked Alex, giving up his plans for power for a glowing recommendation and the return of his history club. Double aww. On any other show the villain going cuddly would be a cop-out. Maybe it still is, but at least it's a very satisfying cop-out.

As for the bigger stuff, once again we've moved a little bit further to that war that's brewing. All of Team Jacob has rallied together, and Widmore's back to make some mischief. I was minorly worried he might sit this season out, making his significance the past few seasons kind of irrelevant, but of course the writers are ahead of me. We know he helped Locke in his efforts to bring everyone back to the island, but does that make him Team Jacob or Team Man in Black? Can't really see him siding with Ben. And where's Desmond?

We also got further confirmation that Richard Alpert did indeed come over on the Black Rock, as well as an interesting continuation of a previous plot point. Richard can't kill himself, the same way that Michael couldn't kill himself when off the island. Should we assume Michael was touched by Jacob as well, even if he didn't appear in the flashbacks from last year's finale? His name must have been somewhere on that wheel, right? And if Jack's "Man of Faith" stuff got a little annoying last year, it was a lot cooler when he was making his bet with a stick of dynamite.

So to me, this season of Lost just keeps getting better and better. From the Locke ep to the Jack ep to Sayid to Ben, we've had a steady string of great episodes, all of which moved the pieces a few steps forward to their endgame. Clearly most of the action is coming later this season, but I'm not worried about guessing how it will go down. I'm just along for the ride, and Lost is still the best one in town.

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