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Matthew Fox (#110 of 31)

15 Famous Movie Emperors

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15 Famous Movie Emperors
15 Famous Movie Emperors

This weekend, Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox team up in Peter Webber’s Emperor, a rather listless historical war flick, which charts the investigation of Emperor Hirohito and his role in WWII. The film got us thinking about other movie emperors, who’ve varied in race, gender, and even planet of origin. From the animated to the animalistic, the perfect to the perverse, this list is one royally diverse bunch.

Lost Recap Season 6, Episode 5, “Lighthouse”

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Lost Recap: Season 6, Episode 5, “Lighthouse”

ABC

Lost Recap: Season 6, Episode 5, “Lighthouse”

After seeing four by Dorsky (more later, non-Lost fans), helping my bud Brian haul some keyboards, and fixing a supremely late dinner sandwich, I settled into the couch with the DVR for what amounted to a pretty basic episode with very few answers. But I guess I can’t expect the show to live up to the promos, cuz that’s what promos do: They whet the whistle. In any case, this lighthouse was cool, but hardly a revelation. Just another component in Jacob’s all seeing all knowing apparent benevolence. Okay, so Jacob’s been watching these “losties”—in particular Jack—for a while now; not too big a surprise given we’ve seen Jacob alive (and seemingly well) in the days of man’o’wars and unstylish smocks. Nor should it surprise that Jacob wanted the lighthouse inoperable after all. No, the biggest scare was: Is Jack going to fuck up Hurley?

Of course Jack wouldn’t hurt Hurley. Lindlelof and Cuse don’t want to lose even more good will with their audience. Besides, Hurley’s got to stick around to talk to Jacob’s ghost or spirit or whatever. What made the scene shake, though, was how uncool Matthew Fox was: He really got wild eyed. He really sold Jack at the end of his rope. But you’d like to think a dude who was willing to admit he came back to the island because he was broken and was wrong about just about everything since that return (and knows it) had already hit rock bottom. But no. The pile-on continues. Jack’s almost a Job. (I don’t want to admit the links between Shepherd and who in the bible was a shepherd, or simply what a shepherd is, just yet—but, there, I gave the thought a thought.) And don’t get me started on the off island junk of this episode, though there were wrinkles in the otherwise cornball “dad issues” plot. —The main wrinkle, of course, being not Jack’s memory problems, and that mysterious scar on his torso, but Dogen showing up at the recital hall; but that was too vague to draw any conclusions from at this point.

Lost Recap Season 6, Episodes 1 & 2, “LA X Part 1” & “LA X Part 2”

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Lost Recap: Season 6, Episodes 1 & 2, “LA X Part 1” & “LA X Part 2”

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Lost Recap: Season 6, Episodes 1 & 2, “LA X Part 1” & “LA X Part 2”

Though we got a glimpse of how good things would get early on with Jack looking into the mirror, tipping a hand to doubles, the real money came after that CGI plunge to reveal the foot, after the first commercial break: Kate, midair, hanging off a branch. There’s even a wide shot to show her in a space of branches, the frame all a zig-zag of lines around this lady. After last season’s record-skip start that saw our principals shuffled through time across the island’s 20th century, here we get time as a tree. It’s gnarled and knotty and nutty. It’s branching, manifest in the title of the episode, too, with that “X” sitting apart from the “LA” as a clever signpost of things at a cross, or overlaid, or collapsed yet separate. Every turn’s effect depends on a few different histories, including yours. Like any good soap opera, you’ve got to have your stories straight—and catch up is near impossible in the space of one episode. That fearless game of “stay with me” is what keeps amazing me with Lost. This show trusts its audience. However, it also asks a lot.

Yet my biggest complaint of the first night wasn’t the speed of plot—that’s the fun of the later seasons—but, call me crotchety, the frequency of the commercials. Were I not prone to front line fandom (I saw Avatar on opening day at the first IMAX 3D show possible after all), I would only ever watch Lost on demand/DVR. It’s such a compelling chiasmus—both twining and untwining the plot; that X goes along two lines—that I, like so many, get impatient and anxious. I need to know!

Lost Recap Season 5, Episodes 16 and 17, “The Incident, Parts 1 and 2”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episodes 16 and 17, “The Incident, Parts 1 and 2”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episodes 16 and 17, “The Incident, Parts 1 and 2”

Back when I reviewed the first part of the Battlestar Galactica two-part coup series, “The Oath,” I introduced a critical conceit called “8-year-old Todd.” Now, 8-year-old Todd comes from the idea that an episode of television can be so skillfully, perfectly, shamelessly entertaining that it leaves you feeling like a kid, grinning goofily at what just went down. There’s time for critical analysis, sure, but what you really want to do is just break down the episode in order of awesomeness. “The Incident” was so entertainingly winning for so much of its running time (a few minor character caveats aside) that I’m pleased to reintroduce the 8-year-old Todd rule and say that it is most definitely in effect. “The Incident,” written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and directed by Jack Bender, is a hell of an end to what’s been Lost’s best season, the perfect capper to a season that wandered all over the map of space and time and then wandered even more.

Lost Recap Season 5, Episode 15, “Follow the Leader”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 15, “Follow the Leader”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 15, “Follow the Leader”

When I was a young kid, probably around 9 or 10, I was on the town baseball team (and the town I grew up in was small enough to field a “town” team), despite all evidence that I should probably give up on my athletic dreams. I sat on the bench through most of the games, and once they were over, the next-older team of kids would take the field and we younger kids would have to make our own fun. This usually involved watching the next game, but it occasionally took on other forms of general kid excitement. One week, somebody said, “There’s a CAVE in the woods behind the park,” so, naturally, we being young boys, we went to take a look. The cave was more of a hole in the side of a big hill, dirt encrusted on all sides, but it yawned before us, dark and foreboding and slightly terrifying. The idea of what might be on the other side, what worlds might be opened up by entering it, was, honestly, more exciting than the actual expedition, which only revealed that the cave (or, more accurately, a tunnel) opened up in the field behind the woods. When I think about why I like sometimes shoddy genre entertainment like Lost, I think it’s because I want, more than anything, to recapture that sense I had as a kid growing up in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by empty space and millions of possibilities. What makes the show speak to me, more than anything, is that sense of standing on the cusp of something unexpected, torch lit, ready to go.

Lost Recap Season 5, Episode 14, “The Variable”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 14, “The Variable”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 14, “The Variable”

One of my favorite American novels of the last 30 years is John Crowley’s Little, Big, a book that straddles the line between realistic fiction and genre fiction, between the mundane and the miraculous. Briefly, it’s the tale of a large, rambling family in upstate New York who seem curiously devoted to a strange belief system that they refuse to spell out in its entirety for either their baffled new son-in-law or his son (the two point-of-view characters). The reader gradually grows aware of just what’s going on inside the giant home, Edgewood (a house with its own secrets), but everything fantastical is kept just off the page, as it were, until the climax, which seems more like a post-apocalyptic phantasmagoria than anything else. It is, above all else, a story about faith. About people in thrall to a force beyond their power that they’re not even sure they can understand or control. It contains some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever encountered. And it reminds me a lot of Lost.

Lost Recap Season 5, Episode 13, “Some Like It Hoth”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 13, “Some Like It Hoth”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 13, “Some Like It Hoth”

Father issues are to the Lost flashback what cancer is to a diagnosis on House. There’s always a tumor somewhere on that show, and if someone has emotional trauma in their past on Lost, it almost always stems from their dad doing them wrong somewhere along the line. One could type up an exact recounting of whose father wronged them how, but that would take up the whole of this piece, and no one would want to read that. Suffice it to say that when Lost confirmed what we all suspected and let us know out front the parentage of Miles Straum, we longtime fans probably braced ourselves for another vaguely dissatisfying hour of a character working through a variety of complexes all linked to the man who walked out on them. Or, y’know, threw them out a window and paralyzed them. Whatever.

Lost Recap Season 5, Episode 12, “Dead Is Dead”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 12, “Dead Is Dead”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 12, “Dead Is Dead”

When Michael Emerson’s Benjamin Linus came along midway through Lost’s second season, the series was having a bit of an identity crisis. In its first season, Lost had been a show full of gently sweet character moments and goofy pulp excess. This became a recipe for a really big hit, a show that blended a big ensemble with a few sci-fi and action-adventure trappings. In the manner of most successful science fiction shows, it managed to build a genre show atop the trappings of a previously successful television template. In the broadest possible terms, Lost basically just took what made The Love Boat so successful (a huge ensemble with weekly storytelling that delves into various characters’ backstories), stripped out the guest stars and added a smoke monster.

Lost Recap Season 5, Episode 11, “Whatever Happened, Happened”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 11, “Whatever Happened, Happened”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 11, “Whatever Happened, Happened”

When I was easing my way back into the TV criticism game late last year, I started thinking about how many shows on the air right now balance a sense of inevitability against the unexpected to generate their conflict. A large portion of the conflict on, say, Mad Men derives from the fact that we, the audience, know what’s coming for the characters, but they do not. We also know that the characters are on the wrong side of history, and that throws most of their actions into a new light. Or look at Breaking Bad, where we usually know the end before we know the beginning, and the ride is all about seeing how the characters try to escape the fate laid out for them but are unable to. There are shows like this all over the dial. All of it had happened before on Battlestar Galactica, and all of it would happen again. Even something as disappointing and all-over-the-place as Damages balanced its storytelling with flash-forwards that let us know (sort of) what was to come. I tentatively grouped Lost in with these shows after its fourth season, since its flash-forwards also offered this sense of inevitability, but it was only a supporting piece of evidence in my case for the new TV fatalism. Interestingly enough, however, Lost’s fifth season is practically all about inevitability and fatalism, in a way that very much casts a new light on events from earlier in the show. A show that purports to be all about the unexpected has become very much a rumination on the futility of trying to escape your predestined fate.

Lost Recap Season 5, Episode 9, “Namaste”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 9, “Namaste”

ABC

Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 9, “Namaste”

At this point, midway through its fifth season, Lost is about as consistently good as it’s ever been. It’s not hitting the highs its capable of (no episode this season rivals anything like “The Constant” or “Walkabout”), but it’s also not sinking into the really stupid lows it used to alternate those highs with. It’s just a fun, poppy show, a blend of pulp, goofy sci-fi and basic character drama. I don’t know how long Lost can keep this up, but episodes like “Namaste,” written by Brian K. Vaughan and Paul Zbyszewski and directed by Jack Bender, have been among the most unbridled fun you can have watching TV. Lost, at its best, is just a terrifically good time, and “just a terrifically good time” describes most of Season Five to a T. When a title came up early in the episode reading “Thirty Years Earlier,” it made me giggle with glee because, c’mon, where else are you going to see that on a TV show?