We had grown weary of Smallville, stopped laughing at That ‘70s Show, and couldn’t stomach even the thought of a third go-‘round for The Simple Life. By the autumn of 2004, we had no place to turn but to the mysterious island series that ABC ads had been pimping like crazy. Following our national love of sci-fi, of Survivor, of that bespectacled fella who made Felicity (ah, times were different then), we flocked to Lost, ill-prepared for the slew of questions, deficit of answers, and legion of unforgettable characters we'd meet over the course of the next six seasons. In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the dawn of America's last true pop culture addiction, we've decided to rank those characters — to celebrate the Oceanic Six, bemoan the Flight 815 tail section, and kind of sigh in bored confusion over the folks at the Dharma Initiative.
A quick qualifier: we aren't, and couldn't with any qualitative legitimacy, ranking all of the characters on Lost. We're ignoring the nearly anonymous Others, the one-line flashback extras, and that guy who was sucked into the jet propeller in the first episode. Remember him? I think his name was Gary. He's not on the list.
76. MILES STRAUMEThe most convoluted and out-of-place construct that Lost ever managed, which is saying something. Why can he speak to the dead? Who cares if he’s Dr. Chang’s son? Why did anyone think this character was a good idea?
75. SHANNONLess of a problem with the mythology than simply an annoying, corrosive onscreen presence.
74. KEAMY, FROM THE BOATUgh, this guy. This guy and his crew cut.
73. JACK’S NONEXISTENT SONDavid Shephard’s one saving grace is that he doesn’t actually exist. Three cheers for flash-sideways nullification!
72. LENNONIs… is his name actually Lennon? Or do they just call him that because he looks exactly like Lennon? And why, pray tell, does he look exactly like Lennon?
71. RICHARDThe irritation of the wholly useless Richard is maximized by the knowledge that he’ll be around forever.
70. ANNA LUCIAAnna Lucia acts as the epitome of everything that was wrong with the tail section chapter in maintaining the concrete belief that she is in any way a viable substitute for the main cast’s screen time.
69. GOODWINUgh, this guy. This guy and his wisps.
68. NIKKI AND PAOLONo explanation necessary for why Nikki and Paolo falls towards the bad end of the list, but a few extra points for the sadistic treat that was their final bow.
67. THE MOTHER“Hey guys, tonight’s episode of Lost has Allison Janney! From The West Wing! I love her! I bet they give her something cool and funny and totally pertinent to the contemporary storyline to do!”
66. ELOISE HAWKINGOne Farraday was more than enough, guys.
65. ILANAI have to be honest, I barely remember who this is.
64. DOGENDogen’s scenes were just one of many late series constructs that made us sigh wistfully and recount on the good old days when this show was about people trapped on an island.
63. MINKOWSKILadies and gentlemen, Fisher Stevens.
62. EMMA AND ZACKYou can really lump all the unaccounted for Lost children in one cloying bullet point: these two, the Kwon baby, Desmond and Penny’s kid, the deity twins, Aaron. They all just caused a whole mess of trouble, didn’t they?
61. LIBBY “What if — get this — what if we gave her a romance with a fan-favorite, and then closed an episode with a shocking stinger that revealed she used to be in a mental institution?“Sounds great! Then what?”“No, that’s about it.”
NEXT: 60 - 41
60. CHARLIE’S BROTHER“You all, everybody!” Ha. Remember that?
59. ABADDONEh, it’s Lance Reddick doing Lance Reddick, just without any of the interesting we were used to seeing.
58. JACK’S EX-WIFEHas anyone made a mash-up interweaving Julie Bowen’s Lost scenes with clips from Modern Family? I can’t imagine that anyone would have felt impelled to do so. And I certainly don’t feel impelled to check.
57. HORACE GOODSPEEDGoodspeed might have scored higher were not for his portrayer’s particularly creepy real life romantic exploits. Ech.
56. ALEX, ROUSSEAU’S DAUGHTERAw, she was okay.
55. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALTPuberty ruins everything. Self-esteem, probing storylines…
54. RYAN PRICE AND HIS TEN BEST MENI’d like to see a separate series about these guys. Or at least a few minutes of the pilot of one.
53. THE MAN IN BLACKHe really couldn’t have just talked things out with brother Jay?
52. ALDO, FROM THE TEMPLELadies and gentlemen, Mac.
51. THE PICKETTSNever was a story of more woe than this of… Colleen… and… Danny.
50. RADZINSKYHeh, this guy. This guy and his combover.
49. KATE’S BOYFRIENDWell this one just makes me sad.
48. SUN’S DADDitto. What a jerk.
47. HURLEY’S IMAGINARY FRIENDI never entirely knew what to make of Hurley’s bout of delusional psychosis… but I’m a sucker for that thing where it looks like someone is taking a normal photograph, and then that very photograph amounts as evidence of something spooky going on.
46. CASSIDYHell hath no fury like a stunt cast actress scorn.
45. INMANScratch the Ryan Price and His Ten Best Men pitch. I want to see Inman slowly lose his noodle.
44. DANIEL FARRADAYSomewhere between endearingly nuanced and gratingly overacty, there lies Jeremy Davis’ performance.
43. JULIETFor a late addition central character, Juliet never really achieved genuine interesting-on-her-own-accord status.
42. THE PILOTSure, he died within moments of being introduced, but he single-handedly set the tone and stakes for the entire first season. Way to go, Sean Blumberg.
41. LEONARDFour. Eight. Fifteen. Sixteen. Twenty-three. Forty-two. Repeat.
NEXT: 40 - 21
40. TOM FRIENDLYThe reveal that he was gay helped warm us up to Tom just a bit, but I always wanted to know more about this prominent Other.
39. NAOMII feel as though I remember Naomi being far more interesting than she genuinely was. Could just be the chutzpah.
38. DR. PIERRE CHANGSmart men make bad dads, so says Lost.
37. JACOBFor an omnipotent deity, Jacob’s kind of a dingus.
36. FROGURTOr “Neil.”
35. CHARLES WIDMOREA bit too faceless to be an effective super villain, but could teach a master class in menacing accentry.
34. BRAM, THE OTHERAnd next to Stoker, probably the best Bram in pop culture.
33. PHIL, THE OTHERAw, this guy. This guy and his widow’s peak.
32. KATE’S DADGood dad alert! We’ve got an actual good dad on Lost people!
31. MR. EKOIf only you didn’t hate Hawaii so much, Adewale, maybe your character would have gotten an appropriate send-off.
30. CLAIRESane Claire? Fantastic. Crazy Claire? Abysmal. They average out to pretty good.
29. MIKHAILIs it just me, or are eye-patches unconditionally cool?
28. ROGER WORKMANThe pressures of fatherhood, the anchor of alcoholism, the monumental stresses of the DHARMA Initiative… Roger, we feel you.
27. HELEN, LOCKE’S GIRLFRIENDShe was nice.
26. SAYIDHe wasn't that nice, but he had more on his plate.
25. CHARLOTTEIt was hard to watch the nose bleeds, but we can’t begrudge an archeologist hero, now can we?
24. MICHAELSo many bad decisions, Michael. And so much harrowed shouting.
23. ETHAN ROMNobody does a dead-eyed stare like E-Rom.
22. PENNYOne half of the greatest love story in television history.
21. HURLEYAudience surrogate, comic relief, beacon of pathos, resident geek, everyman, proficient golfer. A winner.
NEXT: 20 - our #1 Lost chracter!
20. SUNSun’s lows are low, but her arc to redemption is a particularly challenging and interesting one.
19. ANTHONY COOPERIn earnest, the best villain Lost ever produced. Next to the piercing human condition, of course.
18. DETECTIVE MARSA hard-boiled lawman who has one job to do, but a heart he’s forced to lug around while doing it.
17. BERNARDAww. (See Rose)
16. JIN’S DADSorry, Kate’s dad. Jin’s dad is the padre supreme.
15. BOONEWhat a nice fella. And an incredible impetus for the “anyone can die” phenomenon that carried through the bulk of the series.
14. CHRISTIAN SHEPHARDWhether or not you like Christian Shephard is entirely dependent on how you feel about the finale. And I love the finale.
13. ROUSSEAUAn extended metaphor for the loss that courses throughout each character’s story, and the crash-and-burn phenomenon that will ensnare them if they do not seek and attack their issues… or maybe just a loony French lady. Either way, we dig it.
12. KATEWay more than just the “runs into the woods and gets in trouble” shtick that people fault her for, Kate is the gumption and emotional core of Lost. And we love her.
11. ARZTWhat a delightful jackass.
10. JOHN LOCKEThe beauty of Locke is how much you just want to punch him right in the nose… until you realize that he’s not presenting adversity, but challenging solutions.
9. ROSEEven aww-er.
8. SAWYERThe wincing pain of aloneness and self-loathing, evident in everything that the gallant Josh Holloway does with his consistently engaging (the LeFleur era a slight hiccup) character.
7. FRANK LAPIDUSFrank Lapidus monument currently in construction in the South Bronx.
6. DESMONDThe other half of the greatest love story ever committed to television… and, no offense to Penny, the half with the superior ‘do.
5. JACKOur hero, flawed though he may be, was the perfect man to guide us through this story about the fragmented tenets of the human experience. Desperate, lonely, contentious, prickly, and a bit of a tool at times, Jack is and remains the essence of what man is.
4. CHARLIE…But Charlie, in complement to Jack, is the essence of what man wants to be. Given the finest send-off on the series, Charlie becomes the hero that he always wished he could be, embracing his passion for music and his love for Claire to save his friends and surrogate family.
3. VINCENTLess a symbol than a silent character in his own right, Vincent represents that one glimmer of hope to which even the most cynical of us hang tight: the hope that we aren’t, and don’t have to be, alone. With Vincent around, nobody does.
2. BEN LINUSIf Jack is Charlie’s complement then Ben Linus is his stark contrast: the badness that enwraps each of us, causing us to so selfish, maniacal, underhanded things… but all to the same end: not being alone. Not the more admirable guy, but one of most complicated and interesting characters.
1. JINThe very best character arc on Lost comes attached to Jin, who began as an alienating question mark and wound up a fan favorite, an in-universe hero. Jin’s slow climb to island glory, paralleling his flashback descent down the gruesome drain of desperation, makes for Lost’s strongest, most entertaining, and perhaps most emotionally engrossing individual story. And man that ending!
A24 via Everett Collection
There are two ways to look at Tusk. First, through the context of the Kevin Smith’s career: a return to the offbeat after a dissipation of his Gen X cred. The long-awaited redirection to genuine imagination that he exhibited in Dogma but never before or since. Perhaps even an autobiographical illustration of the probing qualms Smith might face as a result of his career choices and brand of comedy. If you have the pertinent knowledge and energy to afford Tusk your attention through these lenses, you’ll be granting it the favor of purpose. The movie is just a tad too lacking therein to function perfectly on its own terms.
Tusk seems to rely on your familiarity with the Smith story — as did each of the director’s View Askew pictures, though much more overtly — in order to access its journey in earnest. We “observe” shock jock podcasters Wallace (Justin Long) and Teddy (Haley Joel Osment, whose real world cult appeal is inscrutably wasted on such a bland role in such a bizarre movie) trading gags at the expense of the desperate and accident-prone YouTube sensations, but are welcomed just barely into the understanding of what kind of men they are in truth, why they find it so easy to be so cruel, and how they got to this point from the humble beginnings that Wallace’s girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriguez) misses so terribly.
A24 via Everett Collection
So when we get to the weird part — the part we assume you must already know about by now — the emotional pulp is not readily available. Wallace’s visit to the Great White North lands him in the company of traveled gentleman Howard Howe (Michael Parks), a man whose nefarious intentions are as plain as the baculum on his mantelpiece. Once Wallace is in his possession, the movie derails to wild levels of body horror, black comedy, and garden-variety strangeness. The mood bounds up and down as we alternate attention between Howe’s demonic experimentations and Ally and Teddy’s quest to find their missing loved one. Along with the latter duo is a French Canadian detective straight out of a Jay Ward cartoon: Guy Lapointe, played quite endearingly by a heavily made-up Johnny Depp.
Although Depp's late-in-film contribution is sure to muster a few eye rolls, he provides the necessary occasional respite from the sincerely upsetting Cronenbergian nightmare games going on in the lower levels of the Howe palace. Although we're granted outright explanations of why what's happening is happening, both in-universe and in regards to the narrative, we're never beckoned far enough inward to experience what could be a haunting parable with any real intimacy.
Ultimately, Tusk winds up more interesting and enjoyable than not, landing closer to creative than commercial. But with too much confidence in the groundwork laid out by its writer and director's familiar and vivid story, the film winds up a more vacant version of what it could, should, and wants to be.
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Rapper Ja Rule is hoping his upcoming memoir about his time behind bars will help steer young men away from a life of crime.
The Always on Time hitmaker was released from prison in 2013 after serving a two-year stint for gun possession and tax evasion, and he has put his experiences to paper in his new memoir, Unruly: The Highs and Lows of Becoming a Man.
Ja Rule, real name Jeffrey Atkins, told Queen Latifah on her talk show on Monday (21Jul14) that he was inspired to write the book after an encounter with a young inmate in jail.
He explained, "There's a lot of young men that are going through what I went through in my life. Especially growing up in the 'hood (poor neighbourhood), it's kinda hard for a single mother to direct a young man in the right direction when there's so much temptation out there. There's so much more negative things for us to get into than positive things."
"So my book is really painting that picture and trying to teach young men that they can succeed. It's a story of breaking the cycle. I met a young man when I was in prison and he showed me a picture of me and his father that I had taken with (him) in another prison about 10 years previous to that."
"So now I'm like, 'Here I am in a bad situation after all the things I've done, all the success that I had.' That crazy cycle that we go through as black men - it's time for us to break that. It's time for us to be fathers to our children. It was a learning experience."
Ja Rule's memoir is set for release on 31 July (14).
Actor/rapper Will Smith made a surprise appearance at Scotland's T in the Park music festival on Saturday night (12Jul14) by introducing DJ Calvin Harris. The Men in Black star is no stranger to the music stage, but he stunned fans who were anticipating a closing set from native Scotsman Harris.
Before Harris entered, Smith walked out in front of the thousands in attendance to a roar of applause, and told them, "I said to Calvin Harris, I have two weeks free and I want an experience. Calvin said, 'Come home with me, come to Scotland... Ladies and gentlemen - Scotland's own Calvin Harris!"
Near the end of his gig, Harris told the revellers, "T in the Park, I brought Will Smith here so I could see a real Scottish reaction. I want to see you jump up and down for Will Smith!"
Smith took to the stage yet again, as Harris finished up his set and fireworks lit up the sky.
Smith and Harris have spent the past few days together - they hit the party scene in Ibiza, Spain, where Harris posted a photo of himself with the actor at Amnesia nightclub on his Instagram.com page on Wednesday (09Jul14).
Getty Images/Kevin Winter
The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony will air on Monday (oddly enough), August 25, and will be hosted by Saturday Night Live vet and Late Night host Seth Meyers. Here are the nominees recognized for their achievements over the course of this past year in television.
Best Comedy SeriesThe Big Bang TheoryLouieModern FamilyOrange Is the New BlackSilicon ValleyVeep
Best Drama SeriesBreaking BadDownton AbbeyGame of ThronesHouse of CardsMad MenTrue Detective
Best Actor - ComedyLouis C.K. - LouieDon Cheadle - House of LiesRicky Gervais - DerekMatt LeBlanc - EpisodesWilliam H. Macy - ShamelessJim Parsons - The Big Bang Theory
Best Actress - ComedyLena Dunham - GirlsEdie Falco - Nurse JackieJulia Louis-Dreyfus - VeepMelissa McCarthy - Mike and MollyAmy Poehler - Parks and RecreationTaylor Schilling - Orange Is the New Black
Lead Actor - DramaBryan Cranston - Breaking BadJeff Daniels - The NewsroomJon Hamm - Mad MenWoody Harrelson - True DetectiveMatthew McConaughey - True DetectiveKevin Spacey - House of Cards
Lead Actress - DramaLizzy Caplan - Masters of SexClaire Danes - HomelandMichelle Dockery - Downton AbbeyJulianne Margolies - The Good WifeKerry Washinton - ScandalRobin Wright - House of Cards
Best Mini-SeriesAmerican Horror Story: CovenBonnie and ClydeFargoLutherTremeThe White Queen
Best TV MovieKilling KennedyMohammad Ali's Greatest FightThe Normal HeartSherlock: His Last VowThe Trip to Babylon
Best Actor - Mini-Series/TV MovieBenedict Cumberbatch - SherlockChiwetel Ejiofor - Dancing on the EdgeIdris Elba - LutherMartin Freeman - FargoMark Ruffalo - The Normal HeartBill Bob Thornton - Fargo
Best Actress - Mini-Series/TV MovieHelena Bonham Carter - Burton and TaylorMinnie Driver - Return to ZeroJessica Lang - American Horror Story: CovenSarah Paulson - American Horror Story: CovenCicely Tyson - The Trip to BountifulKristen Wiig - Spoils of Babylon
Best Variety ShowThe Colbert ReportThe Daily ShowJimmy Kimmel Live!Real Time with Bill MaherSaturday Night LiveThe Tonight Show
Best Reality Competition ShowThe Amazing RaceDancing with the StarsProject RunwaySo You Think You Can DanceTop ChefThe Voice
Best Supporting Actor - Comedy SeriesFred Armisen - PortlandiaAndre Braugher - Brooklin Nine-NineTy Burrell - Modern FamilyAdam Driver - GirlsJesse Tyler Ferguson - Modern FamilyTony Hale - Veep
Best Supporting Actress - Comedy SeriesMayim Bialik - The Big Bang TheoryJulie Bowen - Modern FamilyAnna Chlumsky - VeepAllison Janney - MomKate McKinnon - Saturday Night LiveKate Mulgrew - Orange Is the New Black
Best Supporting Actor - DramaJim Carter - Downton AbbeyJosh Charles - The Good WifePeter Dinklage - Game of ThronesMandy Patinkin - HomelandAaron Paul - Breaking BadJon Voight - Ray Donovan
Best Supporting Actress - DramaChristine Baranski - The Good WifeJoan Froggatt - Downton AbbeyAnna Gunn - Breaking BadLena Headey - Game of ThronesChristina Hendricks - Mad MenMaggie Smith - Downton Abbey
Best Guest Actor - ComedySteve Buscemi - PortlandiaLouis C.K. - Saturday Night LiveGary Cole - VeepJimmy Fallon - Saturday Night LiveNathan Lane - Modern FamilyBob Newhart - The Big Bang Theory
Best Guest Actress - ComedyUzo Aduba - Orange Is the New BlackLaverne Cox - Orange Is the New BlackJoan Cusack - ShamelessTina Fey - Saturday Night LiveNatasha Lyonne - Orange Is the New BlackMelissa McCarthy - Saturday Night Live
Best Guest Actor - DramaDylan Baker - The Good WifeBeau Bridges - Masters of SexReg E Cathey - House of CardsPaul Giamatti - Downton AbbeyRobert Morse - Mad MenJoe Morton - Scandal
Best Guest Actress - DramaKate Burton - ScandalJane Fonda - The NewsroomAllison Janney - Masters of SexKate Mara - House of CardsMargo Martindale - The AmericansDiana Rigg - Game of Thrones
In the past six months, we've said goodbye to a king and hello to another, met some new clones, traveled the flat circle of time, and had an old friend for dinner. So far, it's been a stunning year for television. We've seen so many wonderful, gripping horrifying, funny, and poignant moments blaze across our television screens in 2014, so it's hard to fathom that we're only halfway through the year. Here's a list of some of our favorite moments in television this year... so far. (Beware spoilers!)
The Mountain Crushes the ViperShow: Game of ThronesEpisode: "The Mountain and the Viper"
It was all too easy for Oberyn, who was doing backflips and chanting accusations while easily besting the Mountain in combat. But style, grace, and most importantly, honor have no place in the world of Game of Thrones. A lesson the show has painfully reiterated time and time again. What really gets things done in Westeros is brutal efficiency. So when the Mountain grabs hold of Oberyn by the scruff of the neck, unlike his competitor he wastes no time in gouging the prince's eyes out and crushing his head in horribly graphic fashion. The scene was a disgusting display of SFX wizardry and we've been wincing for weeks.
Three Years Later...Show: Parks and RecreationEpisode: "Moving Up"
For the past six years, Leslie has served Pawnee with moxie and unbridled enthusiasm, but it soon became clear that the devoted public servant was becoming too big for her little Indiana town. Pawnee after all, is somehow simultaneously the greatest town in America and hell on earth for anyone with more than two brain cells rubbing together. We knew Leslie would have to move on eventually, we just didn't know it would be so soon. In a brave gambit, Parks and Recreation jumps ahead three whole years and catches up with Leslie working a new job in Chicago with three toddler-aged kids. Ben is also inexplicably wearing a tuxedo. We've sometimes criticized Parks and Rec for growing a little stagnant formula-wise, and this was a brilliant shake-up for the series.
Helena ReturnsShow: Orphan BlackEpisode: "Governed as it Were by Chance"
At the end of the first season, Sarah shot her “seestra” Helena and left her for dead, but in the second, she found out that it takes more than a gunshot to take out the most unpredictable clone of all. Their reunion in the bathroom is one of Tatiana Maslany’s finest performances, a tense, terrifying moment that highlights the differences between all of the clones. As Helena, she’s creepy and otherworldly and desperate to be loved and protected; as Sarah, she’s terrified and traumatized, shaking uncontrollably and unable to breathe. It’s everything that’s exhilarating and mesmerizing about Maslany’s work on the show condensed into a powerhouse of a scene.
The Dinner PartyShow: HannibalEpisode: "Mizumono"
Season 2 of Hannibal opened and closed with a deadly dinner that was nothing short of a game-changer. The season's slow burning tragedy ended with a shocking, bloody, and audacious final 10 minutes that leaves Will Graham and essentially the entire principal cast bleeding out, dead, or dying, while Hannibal escapes into the night. It's hard to think of a moment of television in 2014 that left us more gutted.
The Long TakeShow: True DetectiveEpisode: "Who Goes There"
These days, television is on a definite winning streak, with some even proclaiming that the lowly boob tube has even transcended film. TV has certainly come a long way in the past 10 years, and even in the last five, but one area where television has always felt lacking is in cinematography. Directing on television can sometimes feel largely perfunctory, a means to an end. But then we saw the fourth episode of True Detective. And then we forgot what movies even were for a couple days. When undercover cop Rust Cohle is caught up in a white supremacist robbery gone wrong, he escapes in a breathtaking six-minute long take that's not only absurdly complex and seamless but so unflinchingly thrilling. We can't even begin to comprehend how Cary Fukunaga put this one together.
The Coming Out PartyShow: ShamelessEpisode: "Emily"
Generally, when characters come out as gay on television, they do so through a heartfelt confession underscored to soft piano music. But Mickey Milkvoich is not a typical character and Shameless is not a typical show. So when Mickey came out, he did so by getting into a bar fight with his abusive, homophobic, alcoholic father. It’s a testament to Noel Fisher’s performance that he’s not only turned Mickey from a one-off bully into one of the most sympathetic – if not necessarily likeable – characters on the show, but he also created a scene that it simultaneously touching and triumphant.
Ding Dong, the King is DeadShow: Game of ThronesEpisode: "The Lion and the Rose"
With the Starks scattered in the winds, Stannis virtually army-less, and Daenerys still tying to be the Abe Lincoln of Essos, we expected Joffery, the cruel boy king of Westeros, to sit on the Iron Throne for decades. to come. Luckily, Game of Thrones doesn't give a crap what we expect, and in the midst of Joffery's garish wedding celebration, right when Joffery was being his Joffery-est, the king is murdered. And when the big moment finally happens, it isn't triumphant or cathartic like we had always imagined, but horrifying. Watching the life slip out of this child (a fact that's so easy to forget) as he clutches for his mother, and seeing his terrified face go blue then grey, with eyes wild and confused, struggling to understand what was happening, the scene is actually deeply sad. We even felt pity for the poor monster. But we felt even worse for the people caught in the blowback of his assassination.
Mind Your MannersShow: Orange Is the New BlackEpisode: "We Have Manners. We're Polite."
You know all that catharsis we were missing from the death of Joffery on Game of Thrones? Well, we sure felt it in spades here. Vee spent Season 2 of Orange Is the New Black terrorizing and manipulating the inmates of Litchfield. So when Rosa crunches into Vee with her stolen prison van, extinguishing the menace for good... Let's just say we've never felt better about seeing someone get hit with a car.
Ginsberg Looses His S**t... and NippleShow: Mad MenEpisode: "The Runaways"
Most of Mad Men's psychological traumas occur beneath the skin. But Michael Ginsberg, the least "polished" of the Sterling Cooper & Partners troupe, found a way to bring his issues to the surface in one of the weirdest scenes in the series' history: he removed the valve. He cut off his own nipple, exemplifying a bout with what can only be presumed to be paranoid schizophrenia at the behest of a mechanical interloper. Mad Men is all about metaphors... and we're still clawing at this one to figure out what it means.
Emmett and Leanne's KillerShow: The AmericansEpisode: "Echo"
On FX, there is a show that is every bit as good as Game of Thrones, Hannibal, or True Detective, but only a scant few are watching. The Americans wrapped up its sophomore season in brilliant fashion, letting loose a twist that shocked to the core. After spending the season searching for the killers of fellow undercover KGB agents, Emmet and Leanne, Philip and Elizabeth discover that the real killer was none other than their friends' own son, who was admitted into the KGB behind his parents' back. As the young man revealed his misdeeds between bloody gasps and blind soviet patriotism, everything about the second season was suddenly turned on its head. The most frightening revelation: Paige and Henry, Elizabeth and Phillip's own kids, are next in line to become operatives. Is it 2015 yet?
All the way back in Season 2 of Game of Thrones, Maester Luwin of Winterfell tells Bran Stark, "Maybe magic once was a mighty force in the world, but not anymore. The dragons are gone, the giants are dead, and the Children of the forest forgotten." But so far, the late Maester has been mistaken on nearly all accounts: Daenerys' dragons are terrorizing the skies of Meereen. Jon Snow warded of giants in the battle of Castle Black. And as we saw in this week's Season 4 finale, the Children, while still forgotten, are still living way up in the North. It can be easy to forget after spending so much time mired in the messy human politics of King's Landing, but magic is still the real force turning the gears of Westeros. In "The Children," we are introduced (or re-introduced) to some of the most important magical entities in Game of Thrones. So who were all these bizarre creatures?
The Children of the Forest First Mentioned: Season 2In This Episode: Bran is saved from a gang of Wights (more on that later) by a fairy-grenade chucking member of the Children named Leaf.What Are They: These diminutive, human-like creatures were the original inhabitants of Westeros, and they predate the arrival of the First Men by thousands of years. The children inhabited the great stretches of forests that made up much of Westeros before men arrived to create their own civilizations. They are believed to be the ones that carved the faces into the weirwood trees seen in different locations throughout the continent. They are also believed to have supplied the Night's Watch with weapons made of dragonglass, a substance akin to obsidian and the only material proven able to kill a White Walker (Sam uses a dragonglass spear tip to kill the White Walker in Season 3). Over the years, the children have faded into myth and legend, but a few (such as Maester Luwin) believe that they really did exist once upon a time, but are long gone.
The Wights First Seen: Season 1 In This Episode: The Wights are the skeleton creatures that attacked Bran, Jojen, Hodor, and Meera near the big weirwood tree.What Are They: There has been much confusion among TV watchers about the difference between White Walkers and Wights. The White Walkers are a mythological race entirely separate from humans, while the wights are the reanimated corpses of dead humans that serve as minions to the White Walkers. Wights are brought to life by White Walker magic, and any dead person is susceptible to the transformation unless his or her body is burned (which is why Jon Snow has been so burn-happy with all the dead bodies as of late). Their bodies exhibit various stages of decay that correspond roughly to how decomposed one's corpose was when transformed. The Wights are largely mindless, but are not susceptible to dragonglass weapons like their White Walker masters.
The Three-Eyed Raven First Mentioned: Season 1 In This Episode: The three-eyed raven is the old man seen in the cave after Bran escapes the Wight attack.What is he: Getting into exactly who and what the three-eyed raven actually is would border on spoiler territory, but we can tell you that the raven is an entity that has been watching Bran with interest for a long time now, and that he has a very close connection with the Children of the Forest. After Bran loses the ability to walk in the first season, Much of his storyline has involved the presence of a three-eyed raven, an image that has visited him multiple times during his dreams. It was the raven that led him to the Stark family crypt right after his father died. After meeting Jojen and Meera Reed, Bran is spurred north by visions of the three-eyed raven and a giant weirwood tree, which he reaches at the end of last night's episode. Let's just say that the three-eyed raven has huge plans for Bran going forward.
On this week's Law and Order: Westeros, Tyrion Lannister finally gets his day in court for the murder of King Joffrey.
Much like the episode in which that murder took place, "The Laws of Gods and Men" spent much of its time on a single event, with all of King's Landing's biggest schemers showing up to offer testimony against Tyrion, who had resigned himself to execution in weeks ago. It's not entirely clear whether Tywin actually believes that his son killed Joffrey, but the second Ser Merryn takes the stand, it becomes clear that it doesn't matter what Tyrion did or didn't do. It's a sham of a trial designed only to humiliate Tyrion before finally sending him off to the executioner.
But Tyrion isn't the only one dealing with the consequences and trappings of justice: over in Mereen, Daenerys is discovering that being queen is slightly more complicated than building an army. As she meets with a nobleman whose father she had crucified in payment for killing those slave girls — a crime which he vehemently objected to and campaigned against — the discomfort of learning that she might have been unjust herself is clear on Emilia Clarke's face. Dany has always seen things in relatively black and white terms, punishing all those who have done something wrong, which means she has a lot to reevaluate if she's going to rule the morally grey King's Landing. Forcing Dany to deal with the actual day-to-day politics of ruling is a welcome development for the show, as it not only breaks up the repetive nature of her story, but it also puts her in the uncomfortable position of having to take judge her own policies and see what she needs to change about the way she sees the world in order to be the right queen for Westeros.
Meanwhile, in Braavos, Stannis is also in an uncomfortable position, attempting to convince the Iron Bank to fund his planned attack on King's Landing. The King of Dragonstone has never had strong people skills, a flaw which comes to the forefront in this conversation. His worst quality is that he seems to believe that everyone else in Westeros will simply do whatever he says becuase he has the right to the throne, which means that he is terrible at politics and coersion. And since the only thing Dragonstone exports is shadow demons, he needs all of the political savvy he can get to convince the Iron Bank to help him out.
Luckily, he has Ser Davos at his side, who is quickly proving himself to be an adept Hand of the King, despite his humble beginnings. Not only does Davos know the right way to approach the Bank, but he's also a suprisingly smooth talker when the situation requires it, showcasing his severed fingertips and advocating for Stannis as a just and fair man. It's a rare quality in Westerosi leaders, and it's clearly something that intrigues the Iron Bank enough to win them over. Stannis doesn't seem to know the advantage he has with Davos, as he's still relying far too much on Melisandre and the Lord of the Light. But after the fires burn out, he'll need someone smart enough to help him run the country, and Davos is clearly the best man for the job.
In an episode filled with sudden betrayal and underhanded deals, Davos' display of loyalty is one of only two, although the other one — between Reek and Ramsay Snow — is less rewarding. Yara Greyjoy has finally made her way across the sea in order to bring her brother home. But the person she finds in his place is no longer her brother, and instead of running to her side, he cowers in the corner of his dog cage. Alfie Allen's performance as Reek is one of the show's higlights, although it's hard to watch how sad and broken he is. His shuddering and screaming is a great contrast to Gemma Whelan's steady determination, and even when she heads back to the ships to leave the shell of her brother behind, it's clear that she won't let this development break her down. But the scene truly belongs to Iwan Rheon, who changes the whole nature of his face with a shift of his eyes. It's a slightly terrifying performance, as he easily moves between wide-eyed innocence and grinning madness, and while it's never easy to enjoy his scenes, he's always difficult to look away from.
However, all of that is just leading up to the real focus of the hour: Tyrion's trial. The concepts of justice and fairness established by the other characters are offset by how obviously the deck is stacked against Tyrion for a crime he didn't commit. From Tywin's hilariously pointed opening line — "Did you kill the king?" — things begin to go downhill for everyone's favorite Lannister. The writers' choice to have the witnesses recount the various times that Tyrion had threatened the "sainted" king, moments that we, as the audience cheered him on for, divorced from their original context give the trial a nice twist. Without Joffrey's behavior to balance out Tyrion's actions, those tiny moments of pride we felt when the first occured now seem monstrous, and only help to dig him a deeper grave.
Which makes Jaime's bargain with Tywin less satsfying than Tyrion's own desperate attempt at ensuring justice. Though Jaime manages to negotiate Tywin down to sending his brother to the Nightswatch (and why Jaime thought he could out-manipulate his father in the first place is mystifying), Tyrion throws the deal out the second Shae returns to take the stand. It's less about proving Tyrion guilty than it is about humiliating him totally and completely in front of the people of court, and Tyrion recognizes this. Peter Dinklage has had some great scenes this season, but the second Shae walks into the throne room, he unleashes a tour de force that begins with him half-collapsing in his seat at the sight of her.
Her arrival livens up what had thus far been a standard courtroom scene, with the tension building and building as she reveals the intimate screts of their relationship. Finally unable to bear the shame and hurt that Shae's testimony is causing him, Dinklage unleashes everything he has with a monologue that reveals every bit of fury that he's been carrying around his whole life. Watching it, you can practically hear the scene being shipped off to Emmy voters, because it's probably the best bit of scenery chewing that Dinklage has gotten to do since Season 1.
It culminates with Tyrion's desperate attempt to take his fate in his own hands as he demands a trial by combat. It's not done out of a hope of winning, as Tyrion seems to believe that he's living on borrowed time at the moment, but calculated to throw his father off-balance, and take the power out of his hands. It's clearly not a move that Tywin anticipated, nor one that Jaime appreciates, having just given away his life to Tywin in exchange for Tyrion's, but it's a last-ditch effort to go out on his own terms. Tyrion's right in that he's really on trial for being a dwarf, for killing his mother in childbirth, for the millions of other infractions that Tywin has counted against him all of his life, and after being humiliated by the woman he loves in front of all of the people he's ever hated in his life, Tyrion will be damned if he goes down without a fight.
This season of Game of Thrones has spent a lot more time on the events unfolding in King's Landing, but it's hard to be upset about it when the result is scenes like Tyrion's trial, with all of the scheming, dealing and snarking coming to a head in one, incredibly acted moment. Sure, the dragons are cool, but in the end, they've got nothing on Dinklage.
Episode grade: A-, or Two Whispering Varys', who made a much-welcome return this week to banter with Oberyn Martell. It was exactly as awesome as it sounds.
Out with the old king, in with the new one.
"First of His Name" opens at the start of a new reign for Westeros, that of King Tommen, although instead of signaling a time of peace or a few months of stability for the realm, it really means that everything is more precarious than ever. The Lannisters are hoping to rectify this by solidifying their alliance with the Tyrells - looks like Margaery might get another shot at being queen after all - which they need less for political reasons than financial ones.
The main thread of the episode seems to be power, and it's one that's told primarily through the show's female characters, who get most of the focus this week. Even though Tommen is the one being coronated, the scene quickly shifts its focus to the battle of wits happening in the balcony between Cersei and Margaery. Both women are aware that the other is their only true rival, with Margaery angling for the throne that Cersei has always coveted. Lena Headey and Natalie Dormer play off of each other fantastically, Margaery all light sweetness and Cersei pure steel.
With a new, more malleable king on the throne, the stakes for this contest have been raised. Sure, it was more of a feat to attempt to tame Joffrey, but he was the kind of king who would only really love himself in the end. They could influence him, but neither woman would ever be able to control him, to rule through him, which is ultimately what they want. It's an interesting position for Cersei, who has spent so much time trying to hold as much power as possible. Now that she is finally in a position to rule the kingdom vicariously, she's losing a grip on all aspects of her power.
Much of the Lannister's influence comes from their wealth, which Tywin reveals is completely gone. They need the Tyrells now, which means Cersei is facing down yet another unwanted marriage, one that would ultimately place her in a lower position than she currently holds. There's no way that her marriage to Loras will ever become a reality, but it's forcing Cersei to face the fact that her influence in King's Landing is waning. It surely doesn't help that neither Tywin nor Oberyn Martell is outwardly willing to let her decide their verdict at Tyrion's trial. (Both Tyrion and Peter Dinklage were dearly missed this week, which was sadly light on witty banter.) The fact that he's allowed a trial at all is upsetting enough to her, but her inability to convince her father to vote in her favor seems to be a harsh reminder of how quickly she's falling in rank.
Meanwhile, across the seas, Daenerys is just rising to power. Now that she's fought her way across the land, she seems poised to head to King's Landing and attempt to take back her throne. But after finding out that much of her work in Slaver's Bay has been undone by slave masters and opportunistic leaders, she decides to rule the land as Queen, in order to prove to the people of Westeros that she is capable of reigning over them as well. It's a smart move for Dany, whose desperate desire to take back her throne has sometimes blinded her to the realities of what's going on. Establishing herself as queen not only gives her the practical experience of ruling, but it also makes it harder for the assassins of Westeros to take her out. Nobody but her khal would have noticed if she disappeared before, but now that she commands armies and rules over a nation of her own, there's a bigger chance that people will rise up against anyone who harms their queen. It's also a much-needed shot in the arm for Dany's plot, which had started to become stale over the past few weeks.
But "First of His Name" is not just about the queens and Khaleesis of Westeros, but about all women's relationship to power. Over in the Vale, Sansa has given hers up almost entirely, hiding out with Littlefinger and her aunt Lysa Arryn in their fortress. Just because she's safe from the Lannisters, it doesn't mean that she's entirely safe, as her aunt seems to view her as a rival for Littlefinger's affections, since she looks so much like Catelyn. It's a wonderful scene, one that turns from familial affection to bitter contempt in a second, as Kate Dickie reveals Lysa's desperate need for Littlefinger's love, and the lengths she's willing to go for it, while Sophie Turner wonderfully handles the shock and terror that Sansa feels at finding out that the Vale might not be the safe haven she thought it was.
Lysa holds power of Sansa, who is not only pretending to be a lower rank than she is, but is also entirely reliant on her aunt's protection. However, the real power in the Vale is wielded by Littlefinger, who told Lysa to poison her husband, Jon Arryn and tell Cat that it was the work of the Lannisters - you know, the little event that kicked this whole thing off in the first place. Littlefinger has manipulated his way up from a commoner to Lord of the Vale, but something tells me that now that he's lord, his reliance on Lysa will end badly, either for her or Sansa. He's got his power now, so it's only a matter of time before he starts to wield it.
"First of His Name" also plays around with some other depictions and definitions of power: Arya, still travelling with the Hound, learns that sometimes all the preparation in the world isn't a match for brute force, and Bran comes to rely on his power to save himself and his friends from Locke. Arya has very little control over anything right now, but what she can control is herself and her knowledge of combat, so when the Hound knocks her to the ground and that illusion out from under her, she's forced to re evaluate what power she actually has. Bran, tied up in Craster's Keep and being threatened by Karl, seems to have the least amount of agency of all the characters. Even if he could free himself, he's unable to get away from there, and so he taps into what he does have: his ability to warg.
Having Bran inhabit Hodor's body and kill Locke before he could hurt anyone was a bit of a surprise for a show that usually prefers to double down on the misery. It's a victory, even if it's a slightly twisted one, but more importantly, it gives Bran the ability to choose where his story goes next. He could call to Jon and go to Castle Black, where he would be safe and reunited with his family, or he can continue on his quest and discover something important about himself. The story gives Bran, a character who is almost wholly reliant on other people now, the agency to control his own story, to make his own decisions and pursue what he chooses.
Craster's Keep also gives a different look at female power when the Nightswatch successfully defeats Karl and his merry band of mutineers. After Jon Snow and his brothers raid the keep, it's one of Craster's wives that ultimately wins the battle, stabbing Karl to keep him from killing Jon, and giving John the opening to pierce Karl through the mouth. But when Jon offers to bring the wives with him back to Wall to protect them, they decide that they're going to make their own way in the world instead. It's a dangerous choice, considering the rising threat of the imminent Wilding raid, but these are women, who have been mistreated by men for so long, decide that they're going to revel in the little bit of freedom they now have. They would rather die on their own terms than live under another group of men that they will never trust, and so they're exerting their power in whatever small ways they can. It's the emphasis on power that makes the final image of Craster's Keep burning to the ground so cathartic, a hard-earned victory for the characters on the show who needed one most.
Episode grade: B, or three Podrick Paynes burning dinner. HBO, I'm still waiting on that road trip sitcom spin off with him and Brienne.
Rapper Meek Mill has lost his civil rights lawsuit against authorities in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania following an arrest in 2012. The Ima Boss hitmaker, real name Robert Williams, sued city officials and the two arresting officers after claiming that he and his three friends, also black males, had had their car pulled over in October, 2012 due to racial profiling.
Cops claimed the Range Rover was stopped because its tinted windows were too dark, and they were given cause to search the car after a sniffer dog smelled marijuana.
The four men, one of whom was an armed, off-duty Florida policeman, were arrested and detained for several hours, even though no drugs were found and no charges were filed, and the incarceration forced the hip-hop star to scrap a scheduled appearance in Atlanta, Georgia.
The 26 year old was seeking $400,000 (£250,000) in lost income and additional damages for emotional distress, but on Thursday (01May14), a jury decided against his claims, reports the New York Post.
However, they also placed the blame for the incident on both sides, stating in the verdict, "Although we voted unanimously that Mr. Williams'... rights were not violated, we feel strongly both the plaintiff and defendant were in the wrong and made mistakes. Any reasonable officer faced with those circumstances would have conducted an investigation."
Speaking after the civil trial wrapped, Williams said, "They ain't (sic) from where I'm from. I (don't) really expect them to understand what I go through. I respect their decision, though."