American Idol: two go home

That sound you hear is me patting myself on the back, but more on that in a minute. Last night’s “American Idol” results show was a bit different than usual, as they had contestants perform in small groups rather than in those larger, pageant-type numbers. And I liked it.

They kicked off with the two country singers, Lauren and Scotty, performing “I Told You So,” and it was really, really good. Then Ryan Seacrest told them that they were both….safe!

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Lost 6.15 – Across the Sea

Ever since we were introduced to Jacob and the Man in Black at the end of Season Five, fans have been foaming at the mouth for more answers about their past. And with only two episodes until the series finale, it seems the writers have finally deemed us worthy of exactly that. Though it wasn’t as great as everyone was probably expecting it to be, tonight’s episode did fill in some of the gaps. In fact, along with shedding some light on the early lives of Jacob and MIB, it also explained why the latter is so damned obsessed with leaving the island… or did it?

Here’s what we do know. A pregnant woman named Claudia washed onto the island after surviving a shipwreck many years ago, and upon meeting another woman in the jungle, she gives birth to a pair of twin boys. The first is named Jacob, but because she wasn’t expecting to have more than one, the other is never given a name – and it remains without one after the woman kills Claudia and raises the two boys as her own. Flashforward to their teenage years and the unnamed child (who we now know as the Man in Black) finds a box on the beach containing white and black rocks that he fashions into a game to play with his brother, Jacob.

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When the boys come across some other people on the island, however, they run back to tell Mother, who tells them that the visitors are evil. She later explains that the two of them are on the island for a reason, and that she’s made it impossible for either of them to hurt the other. She then takes them to a glowing waterfall in the jungle to show them just what they’re supposed to be protecting, and though she refuses to say exactly what it is, she warns them that the visitors will try to take the light, and if it goes out, it will go out everywhere. Of course, if MIB had been paying attention, he would have caught this slip-up, as Mother had previously told him that there was nothing else in the world beyond the island. Of course, that’s quickly remedied when the ghost of MIB’s real mother visits him in the jungle and leads him the other side of the island where the survivors of the shipwreck live. She also tells him about her murder at the hands of Mother, and although MIB tries to convince Jacob to come with him until he can figure out a way to leave the island, Jacob stays behind.

Flashforward again to their adulthood, and though they now live on separate sides of the island, Jacob and MIB still get together to play their childhood game. MIB even admits that Mother was right about the other men being evil, but he needs their help in order to find a way off the island. And as it happens, he’s done just that by digging into areas of the island radiating electromagnetic energy (or as he calls it, places “where the metal acts weird”), in order to locate the source of the glowing waterfall. But when Mother finds out about his dig site – one that includes the yet-to-be-frozen Donkey Wheel that will allow him to leave the island – she throws him against the wall knocking him out. And you wonder why the guy has been holding a grudge against her for all these years.

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Lost 5.16 / 5.17 – The Incident

This season of “Lost” has been one of the best (if not the best) in the history of the series. The season finale? Not so much. While we’ve been hearing for weeks that the finale would prove to be a game changer – prompting many to even wonder how the show could go on – I just don’t see how anyone could come to that conclusion. Was tonight’s finale really better than the flash-forward of Season Three? Hardly, and though it may have changed the series more than we think, we still won’t know anything until Season Six starts up in 2010. After all, the show may have ended with a literal bang, but it felt more like a whimper with that fade to white.

Tonight’s episode also had way too much going on for me to even attempt my usual format, so instead, I’ve decided to break my recap down into more general ideas so that I can discuss each one in a little more depth. Hopefully it’s not too difficult to follow along and will make it easier for commenters to address certain topics without having to go into too much detail. I apologize in advance if it does the complete opposite.

1. Jacob – He certainly wasn’t at the top of my list of questions I was eager to see answered, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed by the lack of explanation we received for Jacob. Apart from the fact that we know he has some kind of magical power (including Richard Alpert-like immortality and the ability heal), Jacob remains shrouded in mystery. Oh yeah, and now that Locke’s convinced Ben to kill him, we may never find out who he really is, where he’s from, and how he was able to leave the island so frequently throughout the last 30 years. Which brings me to…

2. Jacob’s Flashbacks – Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof have always had fun trying to connect each character to one another, so it was cool to see Jacob pop up throughout the Losties’ history. Even more important, however, was that he seemed to always do so during a crucial moment in their lives. Okay, so I’m not exactly sure what significance paying for a stolen New Kids on the Block lunchbox has for Kate, but the others all made perfect sense. The funeral of Sawyer’s parents; the death of Sayid’s true love; Sun and Jin’s wedding; and the list goes on and on. The most important of the bunch, however, is Locke’s crippling fall from the apartment building. Many people called in to question how someone could possibly survive such a fall around the time that original episode aired, and now we know the answer – Jacob revived him. Which brings me back to my first point: just who the hell is Jacob?

3. Rose, Bernard and Vincent – The writers have been promising all season that we’d eventually get to see what happened to the beloved secondary characters, and as it turns out, they’ve been time jumping with the rest of the survivors all this time. That was pretty much a given, but the fact that they were able to do so without anyone the wiser is pretty impressive. Apparently, they’ve not only decided to retire in a nice beach house since the “flaming arrows three years ago,” but they’ve also become hippies in the process. I could have done without the whole “All We Need Is Love” speech that Bernard delivered, but seeing as this is probably the last time we’ll ever see him or Rose again, it was an admirable send-off for a couple that could have easily been excised from the series after Season Three.

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