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Lost Discussion 10 Years Post-Finale: What Worked, What Didn’t, and What Should’ve

Lost/ABC - Photo by Mario Perez

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Lost finished airing 10 years ago on May 23, 2010. Join Jillian Pugliese and Tommy Czerpak as they take a look back at the groundbreaking series that helped usher in the golden age of television, and discuss why we love it (and what we think it did wrong).

Tommy:  Hi Jillian, fellow Lost lover. Thanks for joining me for this discussion. Can you believe the finale aired 10 years ago already? Did you watch it live?

Jillian: Nope, I’m a latecomer. I was only eleven when the show finished airing, and I don’t think anyone that age would’ve been able to keep up with it. I watched the series for the first time about three or four years ago and fell in love. It’s an insane show, but it’s incredibly addicting. I binged the series in a couple of weeks, and have rewatched it several times since. What about you? Were you always a fan?

Tommy: I was! I watched during its initial run. It was an incredible time to be a fan because internet discussion had just started to take off but streaming and DVR hadn’t, so while we had places to go online and discuss (may the imdb Lost message board rest in peace), everyone still tuned in at the same time every week. Each airing was an event we all watched together, which really promoted discussion. Television hype is so wildly different now. Not everyone watches everything at the same time with streaming and DVR, and I wonder how Lost is received by someone who was able to take advantage of the more recent methods of media consumption.

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Lost/ABC

So I’m curious, since you watched Lost right in the middle of the golden age of television that it helped launch – How did you decide to watch Lost amongst all the other great shows nowadays?

Jillian: I started watching Lost mainly because everyone always said it was too hard to keep up with. The legacy of the series isn’t its innovative forms of storytelling or usage of symbolism. It’s remembered for being the show that no one could follow. I took that as a challenge. So, I started to watch it on Netflix (sadly it’s been taken off since) and got lost in the world of Oceanic Airlines and The Dharma Initiative.

Lost can be quite convoluted at times, and there’s definitely plot holes within it, but because of how I watched the series I was never lost following it. I’d imagine if I had to wait months in between seasons I would’ve been much more confused. But getting to watch season four right after the big twist of the season three finale kept me invested. If Lost came out on a streaming service I think people would’ve stuck with it for longer. 

Waiting for episodes to come out would’ve been particularly frustrating when it comes to filler episodes that did nothing to move the plot along (think Nikki and Paulo). But instead, I was able to power through until I reached a compelling storyline that I cared about. 

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For 2004, the pilot of Lost still holds up really well. You can sense that it’s from the early 2000s based on how the characters speak to each other, but it’s not so dated it’s unwatchable for future generations. I don’t think some of the plotlines would fly nowadays, especially in regards to the way the show treats women at times, but it still manages to be an example of what a great television show can look like.

How do you think Lost holds up ten years later? Was it ahead of its time?

Tommy: I rewatched much of the series last year; parts of it hold up incredibly well, parts of it don’t. When Lost is at its best, it’s still unlike anything on television, even today. I think the pilot in particular is a masterpiece that has yet to be matched. It balances its large cast incredibly well, giving each main member a moment or two to develop while keeping the focus on Jack. It makes clear that the island and its mysteries are merely a gateway to explore the characters through, as each scene throughout the pilot provides some character revelation, whether it’s the kindness of Hurley passing out meals or Kate finding courage during their first encounter with the monster.

It’s a perfect mix of mystery for both the island and the characters, and has shockingly little exposition for a pilot. Most pilot episodes require the viewer to play a bit of catch-up, as they have to be introduced to the world the characters are inhabiting, but Lost has its characters getting introduced to the island along with the audience. Overall, I think it’s a phenomenal piece of work.

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Lost/ABC – Photo by Mario Perez

Ahead of its time, though? I don’t believe it was. I think Lost was an exact product of its time and naturally pushed network television forward. The medium had to evolve eventually, and Lost expanded the scope of character work and mythology that a network series could provide. With the rise of the internet and DVR, fans wanted to pause their favorite shows to look for clues and share them online. I think audiences were ready for something new and more serialized – something grander, and Lost filled that need. 

As for its story, it’s a series about redemption, loss, and human connection; age old themes that have existed for as long as storytelling. It’s a (mostly) well told story that has influenced dozens of series with its methods and brand of storytelling since, but I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as ahead of its time.

For what doesn’t hold up? You nailed it – Lost has a problem with its women. I think Kate is at her best in the pilot and the finale, but in between she’s stuck in love-triangle hell with very little narrative agency. Even Juliet, my favorite female character on the show, gets shafted by the love-triangle juice.

Jillian: My biggest issue with Lost is how they handle Kate’s character. She had so much potential in the early seasons, and the episodes that focused on her backstory were some of the best of the show. But then she started to be written as just a pawn between Jack and Sawyer when they’re struggling for power. There’s some genuinely sweet moments between her and each of the men, but I would gladly scrap any sense of romance from the show to get back the character Kate was supposed to be. 

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Lost/ABC

As for Juliet, they did her character a great disservice by involving her in the love-square mess in the later seasons. I did really like her with Sawyer, but her final moments on the show surrounded him and specifically her jealousy of his relationship with Kate. She deserved better than that.

I’ve always found it interesting that originally Jack was going to die in the pilot. Kate was the one who was supposed to lead the group. Imagine how different the show would’ve been. 

But for better or worse, we’re stuck with Jack as our lead. I’ve never been his biggest fan. He became more self-righteous as the show progressed, which made him difficult to watch. What’s your opinion on Jack? 

Tommy: I’ve heard a lot of Jack criticism over the last sixteen years, particularly in regards to self-righteousness, and I have to admit that I’ve never agreed with it. I definitely think Jack has some flaws in how he was written, particularly in some of his later flashbacks (such as when he stalks his ex-wife and the obvious, tattoo propelled tragedy of “Stranger in a Strange Land”). His actions in those flashbacks are not pleasant and do him no favors with audience perception.

On island, though, I think Jack is a great character in most instances where the series itself isn’t floundering (such as the love-triangle shenanigans we discussed above). Lost is a textbook example of how to force characters into situations that challenge the specificity of each character: Kate has no where she can run on an island, Sawyer struggles to integrate with the rest of the survivors and overcome his self-imposed loner attitude, Jin and Sun are forced to address their failing marriage, etc.

Jack’s challenge is the strongest, however, because while the other characters’ flaws are challenged, Jack’s flaws are challenged along with his entire worldview. As a surgeon, his approach to almost every problem is through reason and science, and the island throws both of those approaches out the window, essentially giving Jack a crisis of faith (even though that faith is science).

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Lost/ABC

Jack is stuck in his beliefs because to accept that he is wrong is to accept that the island is more than “just an island.” I don’t see that as self-righteousness so much as I see it as fear. He doesn’t think he’s right, he’s living in denial, and I think that’s an important distinction. There are few stronger character moments in the series than Jack immediately denying that the island disappeared moments after he watches the island disappear.

I think this denial most clearly manifests in his desperate need to be involved in saving everyone; he personally has to be the one to hunt down Charlie and Claire, to find Michael – to be the man who gets everyone off the island. I never viewed this as a self-centric “I am the messiah” attitude, I viewed this as the desperate attempts of a man to regain some control over a situation that he doesn’t understand.

If anyone on this show is self-righteous, I think it’s John Locke. That dude sabotaged equipment, blew up the hatch and the submarine, and threw a knife in a woman’s back all because he was right and everyone else was wrong. Asides from trying to control Kate’s actions half the time (which contributes to the major problem in how the show treats its women) I don’t recall Jack ever forcing his worldview on the rest of the survivors – he doesn’t force anyone to leave the beach, he doesn’t actively stop them from pushing the button – so long as their actions don’t threaten the safety of the group.

I think that most people accept Locke’s actions and attitude because he is obviously right about the island, which also hurts the perception of Jack. The audience understands that there is something special about the island, so it’s annoying to see Jack deny it and exciting to see Locke thrive on it. (To be clear, John Locke is an amazing character and truly one of television’s greats).

Of course, Jack has a massive shift in attitude in the last two seasons when he becomes a man of faith and accepts the island for what it is, finally shifting his worldview and providing the show with a strong series arc and statement, which I believe proves his value as the protagonist.

Jillian: I started another rewatch of the show recently, and my goal was to go into it and give Jack a second chance. Sometimes you dislike the main character just because they’re the main character. I wondered if that was the case with him.

But as I got further into the show I was reminded of why Jack rubbed me the wrong way. He was presented to us as our hero, the selfless doctor who’s going to save everyone. That character would’ve been dull, but at least it’s someone you can root for. Instead, as the show went on, Jack went from the archetypal good guy to a man who desperately needed to be in control of everything and everyone.

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Lost/ABC

He had a terrible savior complex that made him unlikeable. He’s not the worst character by any means, but he’s easy to hate. Especially when he’s with Kate. 

I’ll never understand the hype around that couple, when Jack consistently acted like Kate was a project he needed to fix. I know Kate’s widely hated, and as we spoke of before she didn’t really get the chance to reach her potential before being reverted to a plot device, but my main gripe with Jack was how he treated her. He was dismissive of other characters at times (Hurley and Locke especially) but his desire to “save” Kate from herself was nothing if not presumptuous. 

All the characters on Lost are deeply flawed individuals, which is what made the show so interesting. But, characters like Sayid and Sawyer who acknowledged their faults were far more compelling than Jack, who was in denial about not only the island, but himself.

My favorite character has always been Sawyer. He’s a fan-favorite for a reason. He has great character development throughout the series and provides much needed comic relief. 

But I would argue the best character on the show is none other than Ben Linus. He’s the original antihero. He’s introduced as an antagonist and pretty much remains one throughout the show (I’ll never forgive him for killing Locke), but he’s so entertaining to watch. Michael Emerson’s charismatic performance is captivating, and makes him well-deserved of the role of TV’s best villain of all time.

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Tommy: Ben is an incredible villain, and he invigorated Lost in ways no other character could due to the focus he provides for the series. He’s attached to so many of the sprawling plotlines, even if just tangentially, that his existence ends up connecting a lot of loose threads. The Others, the island pregnancy issues, Jacob, the smoke monster/Man in Black, DHARMA – Ben has a direct connection or hand in all of these plotlines, which helps keep the series together, or at least to seem together.

Because Lost can be a mess. Plotlines are picked up and dropped haphazardly at times, some due to behind the scenes logistics and some due to just plain poor writing. At times I think the only two things that hold Lost together are the thematic resonance that’s fairly consistent throughout the series and Ben barely holding the plot threads in line.

The show was frustrating to watch live at points. Mr. Eko is a badass and my friends and I all had so many theories on how his character would shake out, then NOPE.

Done-zo.

So much of the second season feels irrelevant in retrospect due to so many of the tail section survivors biting the dust. I enjoyed the second season my first time through but the lack of legitimate development that comes out of most the new characters that season really hurts it on rewatch, despite episodes like “The Other 48 Days” holding up as single serving episodes.

How do you feel Lost did with its plotting?

Jillian: It depends on the season. Season one was perfectly paced, and set up the storylines for the rest of the show. But, you’re right, season two was pointless. Ana Lucia was built up to be such an important character who ended up having very little impact on the plot as a whole. 

And then the longer the show went on the more filler episodes they included. We didn’t need to know about Jack’s tattoos, or why Nikki and Paulo were on the flight. But mostly, I feel like the show did pretty well with embedding the different aspects of their story together. 

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Lost/ABC

It can be messy at times. Especially in season five. The time travel storyline on the island was somewhat hard to follow, but it ended up furthering the arcs of the individual characters successfully. 

How do you think Lost did with establishing themes throughout its run?

Tommy: Some shows thrive in connecting their storylines to themes subtlety, some are more overt. Lost is more overt, and for a series as grand as Lost is, I think that mostly works. The show establishes its main themes very early on, with the pilot introducing the idea of two sides, “one is light, one is dark,” and just a few episodes later Jack spouts out his “Live together die alone” speech, which may be the most prominent theme in the series. And of course by the end of Season 1 Jack and Locke have the open discussion of what it means to be a man of science vs a man of faith.

No matter how ridiculous or tangential Lost’s main plots become, the show holds together thematically throughout its run. I’m still blown away by how the writers were able to come up with such an effective physical manifestation of the man of science/man of faith philosophies with the button. It’s so on the nose, but it works because it forces Jack and Locke to explore their beliefs. It’s not just a thematic tie, but a challenge for the characters and a plot point to further the narrative.

The flashbacks are also an excellent structural choice because it helps highlight the themes of redemption and letting go, as we see who these characters used to be vs who they are on the island. By using the flashbacks to show us how characters acted in similar situations previously in their lives, we are given hard evidence as to whether or not these characters are growing.

Characters like Sayid continue to torture people, consistently making the some mistakes, while characters like Sawyer seem to sway between improvement and regression, as we see in his decision not to kill the boar in Season 1, but swift disposal of the annoying tree frog in Season 3.

The flash-forwards provided similar benefits in relation to themes, giving us a reflection of how the island changed the characters, but I’d argue that the flash-forwards were a little more dependent on twists and wild setups, such as Sayid working for Ben, than character development, as the skip in time hides what the character development actually is. I love the flash-forwards, and think they were a necessary change for the series that reinvigorated the show (Season 4 is my favorite season, after all, even if it contains my least favorite episode “The Other Woman”). They just don’t tie in to the themes of the show quite as nicely.

The flash-sideways, on the other hand, are almost too closely tied to the themes. I really believe that the final season and the finale of Lost would have been better received if the reveal that the sideways universe was a purgatory of the Losties happened much earlier in the season. Saving that reveal for the end twist may have kept audiences guessing, but it kept us from understanding the context in which these adventures were taking place.

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Lost/ABC Photo by Mario Perez

I enjoyed my re-watch of Season 6 so much more on the second go because I knew that these were really flash-forwards to the afterlife, and I had context as to why Jack was a believer and Locke a skeptic regarding Locke’s ability to walk again. Instead of wondering what happened in Jack’s other sideways life to make him so positive, I could reflect on Jack’s journey throughout the show. Desmond’s journey to reunite the survivors takes on a whole new flavor when you understand that he’s acting on the “live together die alone” philosophy the show spouted enough times to make Rose want to punch Jack in the face.

So while I think the adherence to the show’s themes hurt the flash-sideways in the series’ initial run because the audience lacked the context to understand it, I do believe they are a valid storytelling method and they hammer home the concepts of faith, togetherness, and redemption (Ben’s storyline in the afterlife is one of the best examples of redemption on the show). Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the concept, but I think it works.

Jillian: Lost definitely established itself as the benchmark series when it comes to utilizing flashbacks/flash-forwards to provide insight into their characters. I’ve always been a big fan of the flashbacks especially, because it helps you understand who these people are and how they got to the island. Sawyer wouldn’t be nearly as compelling of a character if we just heard about how he became the man he hated for ruining his life. Seeing him go through that made him much more sympathetic.

Likewise, seeing the heartbreak Locke experienced every time his father disappointed him was intrinsically important to the reception of his character. We can feel the desperation he felt in those moments, and his desire to matter to someone, or something, radiating from the flashbacks. We could never understand the depth of Locke’s devotion to his faith in the island without seeing where he developed that strong sense of faith from. 

When I watched the show I knew what the flash sideways was going into it, and that’s why I loved the final season so much. If I didn’t know, I’m sure I would’ve been more focused on figuring out what the hell is going on instead of appreciating the character details embedded within it. I loved how the series tied up, and I thought the finale was a great conclusion.

However, it left audiences divided. What’s your take on the finale? Did you like it?

Tommy: It’s so interesting to discover that you knew about the flash-sideways prior to watching Season 6. What else did you know of before watching the show? I know we are a small sample size but considering your love for the final season and my renewed interest in it upon re-watch, I wonder how many other people could have benefitted from knowing the deal beforehand.

I have a weird take on the finale, as I constantly find myself defending it despite not completely loving it. Part of this comes from what I said above – I think the flash-sideways emphasizes the themes and characters of the show nicely, but it’s not how I personally would have preferred they tell the story. My favorite part of Season 6 is the lack of information about the Man in Black and his effect on the world should he leave the island, as it truly defines Jack as a man of faith. To me, the fact that there is a definitive afterlife in the Lost universe sort of pulls that away, proving that faith is rewarded, which for me, hurts the theme.

In other ways, however, it strengthens the themes, which is why I find myself defending the finale despite my distaste for some of it. The Losties literally don’t die alone. That’s fairly beautiful, and we get to see characters like Ben make the right decisions in the afterlife because they grew as people in their actual lives. I can appreciate that, even if I don’t like it.

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Lost/ABC Photo by Mario Perez

Some aspects, though, I just don’t think work. Sayid reawakening because of Shannon? Really? The series depicts Nadia as Sayid’s strongest romantic connection by far, with his love for her spanning the time frames both before and after the island. I don’t want to deny Shannon’s importance for Sayid, but I think I’m just going to. Shannon’s loss was barely felt after her death, especially compared to characters like Alex or Charlie, whose deaths continued to motivate characters like Ben and Hurley long after their demise. Shannon’s death pissed Sayid off for a while, and then Sayid, from a story perspective, just moved on. None of Sayid’s choices or actions past Season 2 seemed to stem from Shannon in any way, so why is she the one he ends up with? 

The reawakenings also reek of clip show to me, which I’m never a fan of. I can understand some fans liking them because they provide a bit of nostalgia but I find them uninteresting for the most part. And the final scene of the church. . .it’s nice to see everyone so happy and together but it also feels a bit preachy to me just by the nature of taking place in a church, even if that church is purposely nondescript. It lasts too long as well, giving me plenty of time to ask where Mr. Eko is and wonder if Walt would be a kid or an adult if he showed up.

My absolute biggest gripe with the finale is its lack of closure for the island itself. I don’t mean answers, I actually think they tried to answer too many mysteries in the final season (the whispers and donkey wheel explanations were lame and I think should have been left unanswered. It’s a magic island for God’s sake. Magic things happen there. End of mystery). I mean the island doesn’t get a goodbye. It’s such an iconic piece of television history that to this day it only needs to be referred to as “the island” to be recognized, and there isn’t even a wide shot of the place in the final 104 minutes.

It irritates me every time I watch it. It makes me want to scream. I can’t understand what happened where the island doesn’t get this final shot. Several characters are flying away from it on a plane and it doesn’t lead to any full view shots of the place????? AUGH. Would this have been so hard???

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Lost/ABC

All the on island stuff, though, I think is pretty solid. I love the ridiculous cork in the center of the island. It makes no sense at all and I love that, because magic island and story about faith. It all works to drive the themes and story home.

Love Hurley taking over the island. Love the numerous callbacks that come about the narrative naturally. Love Christian’s speech to Jack, and love the final shot of Jack’s closing eye. It’s a beautiful wrap up to a story about life, death, and what it means to find faith in others, to let go of your past, and try to be better moving forward. I think the finale holds true to everything Lost as a television show is. Character driven, thematically over-rich, nonsensical, and grand.

I just personally wish it could have found a way to be all of those things without the flash-sideways, but I can’t fault it for not being what I would have preferred. Overall, I don’t think “The End” reaches the heights of Lost at its best, but I also don’t think it’s Lost at its worst. It’s just the end of Lost, and I’m happy with that.

What about you? Did you find any missteps in “The End” or did you love it front to back?

Jillian: Since I knew going into the show there was some type of afterlife aspect in the final season, I didn’t feel “The End” was too rushed in explanations because I understood where we were headed all along.

There’s definitely a level of cheesiness when it comes to the reawakening moments with the couples, but I still loved it. It was sweet to see the characters find each other again, and for all of them to finally find some version of peace. It’s nice when you’re rewatching the show to know that no matter who dies or what happens, they all end up in the same place at the end. 

While that could take away from the narrative impact of character deaths, it’s comforting as a fan. I like being able to watch the great “Not Penny’s Boat” moment and know that Charlie eventually finds his way back to Claire. The choice to have them all literally “die together” was a great way to drive home the central theme of the show, a sense of community. Of course there’s struggles with morality and faith that are more often discussed in analyses of the show, but what makes Lost so great is the relationships between the characters. 

It’s a character driven show, and over six seasons you can become easily attached to your favorite ones. So seeing almost all of them reaching the end of their journey together was very cathartic. 

I also really loved the full circle moment between the final shot of Jack dying and closing his eyes compared to him opening his eyes in the same place in the pilot. It felt like the writers had been planning that closing shot since the beginning. 

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Lost/ABC

I agree about Shannon and Sayid. It didn’t make much sense for them to end up together. All the other couples that had their reawakening moments were much more central to the show. Shannon was barely even in the show, and had very little impact on Sayid’s character arc. 

But otherwise, I think the finale was done really well. It wasn’t perfect, and I still don’t love how Claire was dealt with in the final season, but there’s nothing about it that I have resentment towards. Everyone ended up where they should’ve, and found closure together. 

Except for Ben. But I think it was a really smart choice for him to work to redeem himself further. It wouldn’t have felt right to have him in the church with the rest of the group. 

All in all, “The End” was the perfect end for me

What did the rest of you think about “The End?”Join us in our discussion and comment with your insights, critiques, commentary, and whether or not Jack is the worst!

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    Editorials

    Chicago Med Season 9 Episode 6 Review – I Told Myself That I was Done With You” Episode

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    Chicago Med Season 9 Episode 6 Review - I Told Myself That I was Done With You" Episode

    Chicago Med zeroed in on some personal situations for the doctors working in the ED, including Ripley (hey, Rip!), who treated an old friend from his past life, and Sharon, who was forced to come to terms with Bert’s diagnosis. 

    Ripley’s past continues to haunt him, but it’s actually illuminating for audiences who are trying to get to know him on a deeper level. I feel like I know more about him than some of the other docs who have been here for years. When a drunk man waltzed into the emergency room, Ripley didn’t expect to have a run-in with an old friend he used to hit the streets with. However, while treating his friend, he also found the beginning signs of lung cancer, which was a diagnosis that he didn’t take too lightly. When Ripley pressed him to seek out treatment, things got tense, and a fight broke out in the ED, with Ripley’s impulsive behavior rearing its head. Eventually, Dr. Charles, without casting judgment, came to save the day, informing Ripley that his friend didn’t need a doctor in a white coat but rather a friend to look out for him. He wasn’t ready to accept his diagnosis now, but hopefully, after feeling supported, he’ll come around and get the necessary treatment. 

    Zola is still finding her footing at Med, but what we’re seeing is that it’s not necessarily a bad thing because she feels strongly and passionately about taking down the corrupt system around her and fighting for her patients. She’s been told that jumping headfirst is a bad thing, but acting on instinct has proven to be beneficial, even if it does seem reckless at first. She’s prioritized her patients at every turn, she’s confident in the diagnosis she makes, and she saves lives, despite some unconventional methods. When the drug that she recommended was finally shelved, she viewed it as a win until Archer tore her up about it because it was replaced with a very expensive drug that would burden patients. It’s an odd approach considering a doctor should be happy if a drug that’s harming people or has adverse effects is taken off the market, right? Archer also didn’t stop to think about the consequences of his actions—bashing Zola and making her feel like she can’t trust her gut in situations where she’s seeing things clearly. It’s a skill to have. But her tenacity proved even more useful when she did a little more research and found the person who helped pull the drug was working for a company that produced the pricier one—thus piecing together that it was a sweetheart deal. It’s not exactly illegal, but being as perceptive as Zola is can be really useful to the hospital. 

    Also, the chemistry between her and Crockett is getting heavier and heavier, especially as he begins to realize how much of an asset she is. Let’s get this romance going! 

    Archer and Maggie teamed up amid Hannah Asher’s absence, and while he can rub people the wrong way, his advice about not holding on to a reality that didn’t exist anymore was crucial in helping Maggie move on from her divorce. She was avoiding going home and confronting the fact that Ben was gone, but it was necessary for her to move into the next phase of her life. Maggie was also inspired by a patient, who she helped convince to get her son a needed surgery so that they could both move into a more promising future together. It was sweet how the writers connected their stories—although they were so different, they both learned a great deal from each other.

    And finally, Sharon Goodwin learned the truth about Bert’s diagnosis, and it was as everyone feared—he had Alzheimer’s dementia. The news is always difficult for everyone affected, from the patient all the way to his family, who will now be responsible for taking on the care. In this case, the burden was going to fall on Sharon, even though she was his ex-wife, and she knew it would take a toll on her personal life. Trying to navigate a new relationship while getting pulled into an old one is tough, but hopefully, her new partner will understand that this is something she has to do for her former spouse. The good news is that she has Charles, who has a history with Bert, and will be a good source of support as not only a friend but a therapist. This is going to be a long road for Sharon, but hopefully, a storyline that brings more awareness to the heartbreaking disease. 

    What did you think of this week’s Chicago Med?

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    Death and Other Details

    Who Is Viktor Sams on ‘Death and Other Details’?

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    Who Is Viktor Sams on 'Death and Other Details'?

    Who Is Viktor Sams? As the headline on this post reads, it’s the questions on everyone’s lips as we enter the middle half aboard Hulu’s luxury yacht murder mystery—but saying his name is likened to that of Voldemort’s. Anyone who utters “he who shall not be named’s” name finds themselves six feet under… or with their high-tech car malfunctioning and driving off of a cliff.

    Viktor Sams, the man said to be behind the murder of Imogene’s (Violett Beane) mother, is said to be everywhere and nowhere all at the same time. He’s also the man said to be responsible for the death of Keith Trubitsky/Danny, and the one who instills all too much fear in Anna Collier’s wife, Leila (she’s the only one who has ever gotten so close to figuring it out, so how she’s still breathing is beyond me), and the one who ruined her informant’s whole life, making him go from a respected federal employee to nothing more than a “sick freak.” 

    He’s also the man that Rufus Cotsworth (Mandy Patinkin), along with the late Danny, spent 18 long years searching for without the slightest trace. The man, as it stands, is untouchable. And he might not be a man at all. 

    The latest episode, Death and Other Details Season 1 Episode 5, seems to hint at the possibility that Viktor Sams is an AI, which is very timely but takes the fun out of the whole murder mystery. Is it possible Viktor Sams is the name of the program that’s being run and keeping tabs on everyone?

    But even then, someone has to be responsible for the murders, unless the AI works in such a way that it blackmails those around him (dubbed his followers) until they do what he needs them to do. And, in that case, maybe Winnie did really murder Keith as she followed Viktor Sams’s directions to protect her sister’s dominatrix secret. And it’s possible that Llewellyn (Jere Burns) carried out Imogen’s mother’s killing at the request of the AI. But who is behind it?

    Of course, when it comes to human suspects, it’s not looking too hot for Sunil (Rahul Kohli) right now as the murderer’s liar (which revealed only a blue light emitting from within—possibly where the Captionem Blue was stored?)—is on his dream ship. Not only that, but he’s the one who knew about the Captionem Blue after going through the Colliers documents and coincidentally knew someone who could help Imogene track down more information about the shipment (and Imogene just handed over the document—her only shred of evidence against her mom’s killer–to this mystery woman). Doesn’t all of that just seem super suspect? Not to mention his ship was charted by the Collier family, so it’s unclear how deep his connection to them really is, but maybe he’s holding this Captionem Blue secret over them and just demanding payment to keep quiet. He’s also pretty skilled with technology, which would be required with all the surveillance necessary. 

    Maybe he’s not the man he says he is—and he’s simply gained Imogene’s trust so that he isn’t one of her suspects? Working in his favor is the fact that he was being followed along with Imogene, and the man could’ve been one of Viktor Sams’ goons (or he’s someone Sunil hired to keep Imogene’s suspicions off of him), and that he’s quite young for someone who orchestrated a whole hit on Imogene’s mother. The “why,” in general, is just a bit shaky, but extortion and blackmail seem to be a common trend. 

      Viktor Sams is also someone who’s very well connected, and there’s only one person aboard this ship who matches that description—Father Toby (Danny Johnson)—who has so much pull when it comes to Alexandra’s (Tamberla Perry) donors. However, if Viktor Sams is tech-savvy, it boils down to Toby’s son, That Derek (Sincere Wilbert), who has full access to the ship. He’s also a little young to be the suspect, but you can’t count anyone out. I wouldn’t even be surprised if Celia Chun was responsible considering she’s not above a little blackmail.

    There are also characters we’ve yet to meet, including Charlie, the trustee of the Collier Trust. Not to mention Alexandra is being blackmailed with a sex tape, which has prompted her to dig up all the dirt she has on the Colliers, which could be the work of Viktor Sams or someone in cahoots with the Chuns. They now own a majority stake in Collier Mills, and if something wicked comes to light, it would only work to their advantage. Celia is also the person who knows about Toby’s affair with Lawrence’s wife, which could also work to her benefit. If Alexandra survives until the next episode (she’s awfully sick and stumbling, which could point to poisoning), she may be the person who takes down the Colliers, an already crumbling dynasty. 

    Hilde (Linda Edmond), the Interpol agent, also took a very drastic turn as she loosened up after feeling confident that they found the murderer and accepted Llewellyn’s flirtatious invitation to punish him. Could she be Viktor Sams, who hopped aboard to steer the investigation in her favor?  No one ever said Viktor Sams had to be a man, right?

    And on that note, if Viktor Sams is a woman and someone who has their control room on the ship year-round, then it’s very much giving Teddy (Angela Zhou) vibes. She’s part of the trusted inner circle now, she has full access to the ship, and she seems to be very good at hiding secrets—plus she harbors a connection to both the Collier and Chun families. 

    Not much is clear about Viktor Sams at this point as the investigation takes so many turns (likely purposeful in hopes of confusing the audience), but whatever or whoever it is, it or he/she/they are stopping at nothing until they get what they want and shut everyone up who might even reveal a smidge of their identity.

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    8 Murder Mystery TV Shows to Watch and Solve

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    8 Murder Mystery TV Shows to Watch and Solve

    Do you fancy yourself a little crime sleuth? Well, throw on your trench coat, grab your magnifying glass, and set out to solve the biggest murder mysteries to hit networks and streaming services!

    The murder mystery genre, while always popular, has been skyrocketing in recent years, with plenty of new TV shows and movies to capture the thrills and chills. 

    There’s nothing like a whodunnit to get you through the day and keep you on your toes. But while some classics date as far back as the 1985 Clue movie or all the Agatha Christie novels now getting new life as films (Murder on the Orient Express or A Haunting in Venice, for example), others, like Knives Out and Glass Onion have revitalized the genre and gave us some of the most captivating shows. 

    There’s no shortage of content for mystery enthusiasts to enjoy—but here’s 8 of our favorites! 

     

    High Seas – Netflix (3 seasons)

    Netflix allows audiences to dive into the world of suspense on the high seas with its Spanish mystery series set on a luxury cruise ship in the 1940s. A web of love, deceit, and, of course, a string of murders will keep you on your toes as two sisters investigate all passengers onboard and try to piece the clues—and plot twists—together. 

     

    Nancy Drew – The CW (4 seasons) 

    Who killed Lucy Sable? That’s the question on everyone’s lips as Nancy Drew kicks off its first season with Kennedy McMann taking on the iconic role of the teenage detective. As the seasons continue, she and her Drew Crew become the lifeline to solving crimes in the mystical small town of Horseshoe Bay (much to the dismay of local officials). The intrigue is elevated with supernatural elements and plot points that bring the beloved character into the 21st century.

     

    Only Murders in the Building – Hulu (3 seasons… so far)

    What happens when you mix murder with comedy? Thankfully, the series has tapped the right people to find out with Selena Gomez, Martin Short, and Steve Martin making up the brilliant (though not always the brightest) trio of true crime podcast enthusiasts-turned-amateur-sleuths who set out on a suspenseful journey to find the killer. The quirky series has become such a global phenomenon that it’s even been able to nail some rather impressive guest stars, like Paul Rudd and Meryl Streep. 

     

    Death and Other Details – Hulu (Premieres Jan. 16, 2024)

    The newest addition into the fold is Hulu’s mystery drama that takes place on a lavish Mediterranean ocean liner amongst the glamor of the “global elite” (we’re getting some Knives Out and Death of the Nile vibes, but we’re not complaining) and finds Imogene Scott (played by God Friended Me’s Violent Beane) at the wrong place and the wrong time, becoming the prime suspect in a murder mystery. To prove her innocence, she has to partner with the world’s greatest detective, Rufus Cotesworth (Mandy Patinkin), whom she, by no coincidence at all, despises. 

     

    The Traitors – Peacock (1 Season – Second Premiering Jan 12, 2024)

    Murder mystery games are a party hit, so naturally, they’re a fit for reality TV. The competition, hosted by Alan Cumming, features 20 contestants, a mix of famous people and everyday Americans, as they work through missions in an ancient castle in Scotland. Amid those “Faithfuls” are “Traitors,” who try to eliminate the good guys for the top prize.

     

    Pretty Little Liars – Freeform (7 Seasons)

    If you by some chance missed the pop culture phenomenon that was teen drama Pretty Little Liars (where have you been?)and you consider yourself a very patient person–then it’s time to give it a whirl. The series follows four best friends whose deepest darkest secrets not only come to light but are used against them by someone calling themselves “A” when investigating the death of their good friend, Alison. 

     

    The Outsider – HBO (1 Season)

    Based on the chilling best-selling novel by Stephen King, the HBO series finds a detective investigating the gruesome murder of a young boy, with all clues pointing to a family man played by Jason Bateman, all before the case takes a supernatural twist, adding horror and paranormal to your typical murder mystery. 

     

    Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries – ABC (3 Seasons)

    The Australian drama series infuses the murder mystery genre with glamour and 1920s charm. With a flair for solving crimes and an impeccable sense of fashion, detective Phryne Fisher and her pearl-handled pistol take on murder cases that baffle the police, all while making sure Murdoch Foyle, who she thinks is behind her sister’s disappearance, stays behind bars. 

     

    Whether you prefer classics, those with a modern twist, or a dose of comedy with your crime, these shows are sure to keep you guessing until the very end! 

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