The two sisters climbed the steps that led to a large, Victorian townhouse on McAllister. "Nice place," Paige commented. Her eyes swept appreciatively over the three-story house. "I didn't realize it would be a lot bigger than our place."
Once the pair reached the front door, Phoebe rang the doorbell. "What do you expect? The woman is a best-selling writer. She can afford a place of this size."
"So can you," Paige added. Phoebe shot her a dark look.
Seconds later, the front door opened, revealing the townhouse's owner. Strains of 'Lady Marmalade' blasted from inside the house. The tall, dark-haired witch greeted the newcomers with a smile. "Paige! Right?" Nathalie and Paige shook hands. Then the former glanced at the older sister. "And this must be your sister . . . uh . . ."
"Phoebe," the middle Charmed One said with a brief smile. "Phoebe Halliwell." She paused, wondering if their hostess would recognize her name. When the older woman failed to respond, Phoebe added uneasily, "I . . . uh, nice to meet you. I've read some of your books."
A wide smile appeared on Miss Gleason's face. "Thanks. Nice to meet a fan. Now, c'mon in, you two. And enjoy the party." She flung the door wide open, allowing the two sisters to step inside. They followed her through the foyer and into a wide drawing-room, decorated with balloons and streamers. Phoebe's eyes took in the number of guests who were forming little cliques, sampling food and drinks from the refreshment tables or dancing in the middle of the room.
The song ended and another immediately followed. "Now that's new," Paige commented. "What is that song? Sounds like some disco song that was around before I was born."
Nathalie answered, "It probably was. It's one of my dad's favorite songs - 'Don't Leave Me This Way' by Thelma Houston." She faced the two sisters. "As for you two, why don't you go enjoy yourselves? While you're at it, try the punch. It's an old recipe from my grandmother. Raspberry Sunset."
A deep flush colored Paige's cheeks. "I'm a . . . recovering alcoholic. Sorry."
"There's nothing to be sorry about, honey. I understand. If you're thirsty, I have soda and bottled water, as well. Now, go enjoy yourselves, you two." Nathalie walked away to greet another guest.
Phoebe longingly glanced at the refreshment table. "I don't know about you, but I'm hungry. Let's get something to eat."
"You go on ahead," Paige replied. "I just saw Barbara and Bruce and want to say hello. I'll see you later." The youngest Charmed One walked away, while Phoebe went in the opposite direction.
Her stomach rumbled slightly, as she reached the refreshment table. Judging from the array of food on display, Phoebe found it difficult to make a selection. She finally settled upon an open-faced salmon and scrambled egg sandwich, marinated artichoke hearts and mushrooms and some Turkish bean salad.
"Try the Pepper-Herb cheese," a man's voice suggested.
Phoebe glanced up. Her heart did a back over flip at the sight of her ex-husband standing next to her. He was impeccably dressed as usual - a dark-blue suit with a royal-blue shirt opened at the throat. "What are you doing here?" Phoebe demanded.
One of Cole's dark brows quirked upward. "Attending a party?"
"I mean . . ." Phoebe flushed with embarrassment, recognizing the accusatory tone in her voice. "I mean, do you know Nathalie Gleason?"
Cole nodded. "Yeah. Olivia had introduced us, last fall." He dipped a spoon into a bowl of caviar, sprinkled with chopped boiled egg. "Hmmm, caviar. Nice touch."
Phoebe commented, "Yeah, I guess she can afford it." She paused. "So. You were invited. Right?"
Blue eyes bored into Phoebe's, causing her body to shiver. Damn. "To be honest, I managed to convince Nathalie to invite me. I plan to cast a spell over all of the witches here. Create my own following, so I can take control of the Source's Realm, again." His voice tinged with sarcasm.
"Never mind. Sorry I asked." Phoebe glanced away, feeling foolish. An awkward moment passed before she continued, "Did you say that the Pepper-Herb Cheese is good?"
Cole replied, "Yeah. You should give it a shot."
Taking up Cole's suggestion, Phoebe reached for a sliver of cheese. "What about the punch?" she asked. "Raspberry something. Have you tried it?"
"No, I hav . . ." Cole broke off. His attention seemed focused elsewhere. Phoebe turned around and saw who had caught her ex-husband's attention. Namely one Olivia McNeill, arriving with Paul Margolin. The jealousy stamped on Cole's face ignited a similar emotion within Phoebe's breast. She tried to remind herself that she was over Cole, and should feel grateful that he had learned to move on. Unfortunately for her, she only felt pain that he seemed more interested in another woman.
Maintaining a cool façade, Phoebe nudged Cole's arm. "You what? Tried the punch? Haven't?"
Cole's eyes snapped back to Phoebe. "What?"
"The punch. Did you try it?" Phoebe struggled to keep her irritation in check.
"No. Uh . . . I don't like raspberries very much."
Phoebe grabbed a handful of crackers and tossed them on her plate. "I think I'll try a cup of punch."
"That's nice," Cole murmured. His gaze returned to Olivia and Paul.
Realizing that her ex-husband's attention was not focused upon her, Phoebe heaved a frustrated sigh. And moved toward the large crystal punch bowl.
* * * *
"Olivia!" Nathalie greeted the red-haired witch. "Oh sweetie, it's good to see you, again! How are you?"
The two friends hugged. Olivia answered, "I'm fine. Welcome back!"
"Oh, it's good to be back." Nathalie turned her attention toward Olivia's companion. "And who is this?"
Olivia replied, "This . . . is Paul Margolin, a friend of mine." She noticed how Nathalie's gaze swept appreciatively over the good-looking ADA. "And he's also that witch I had told you about. He and I share the same whitelighter. Well used to, since I no longer have one."
"Really?" Nathalie offered her hand to Paul. "Nathalie Gleason. Nice to meet you."
Paul took the offered hand and shook it. "Nice to meet you. And my name is Paul Margolin. I've . . . uh, I've read one of your books, by the way. 'THE NATURE OF MAGIC'."
"And how did you like?"
Paul hesitated. "Uh, very well written. And very unorthodox. You seemed to have a more . . . ambiguous view of magic."
Nathalie's eyes widened. "Ambiguous?"
Olivia nudged Paul with her elbow, before he gave the dark-haired witch a disarming smile. "Sorry. What I meant was that you seemed to view magic in an interesting way. As neutral. It's not . . . exactly how I've always viewed it."
One dark brow formed an arch. "Oh."
Realizing it was time to jump into the conversation, Olivia added, "Paul doesn't view witchcraft in the same way we do. He's not Wiccan."
"I'm a Methodist," he added. "Although there are certain aspects of Wiccan beliefs that I do practice."
Nathalie smiled. "Hmmm, a flexible man. I like that."
Sensing her friend's interest in her date, Olivia spoke up. "Down girl! You're starting to drool."
"Don't be silly, Livy! I'm not drooling over Mr. Margolin, here." Nathalie turned appealingly wide eyes upon the ADA. "Am I?"
A red flush colored Paul's face. "No . . . um, no you're not. In fact, you look perfectly lovely."
Nathalie threw her head back and laughed, attracting the attention of others. "Good grief, Livy! Your taste in men is absolutely delicious! And speaking of delicious friends, your Mr. Turner has arrived." A sly expression flitted across Nathalie's face. "Or is he still your Mr. Turner?"
Olivia immediately sobered. "Cole? He's here?" She noticed the scowl on Paul's face.
"He had arrived about forty minutes ago," Nathalie said. "I'm surprised that he didn't arrive with you two, considering that he's your neighbor."
"Where is he?"
Nathalie pointed to a large table, at the opposite end of the room. "Over there. At the refreshment table. Looks like he's with Paige's sister. What's her name? Phoebe?"
Olivia glanced across the room. Sure enough, there stood Cole and Phoebe - side by side. Cole's eyes met Olivia's. She glanced away. An arch smile formed on Olivia's lips. "Yeah, that's Phoebe all right. Did they arrive together?"
According to Nathalie, Cole had arrived alone, and Phoebe with Paige. Barbara, Bruce and Harry had arrived together. Olivia barely heard a word coming from her friend's mouth. She was too busy observing the divorced pair that stood next to the long table. Fighting the jealousy that threatened to arise within her. "That's nice," Olivia murmured, her thoughts still on Cole and Phoebe.
Nathalie added, "By the way, I've made my famous Raspberry Sunset punch. Your favorite. I suggest you sample a cup before it's all gone."
"Sounds like a good idea," Olivia said. She strode toward the refreshment table, with Paul and Nathalie close at her heels. First stop - the punch bowl. There, she found Phoebe sampling a cup of Raspberry Sunset. "So, how is it?" she asked the Charmed One.
Phoebe's eyes widened at the sight of the red-haired witch. She removed the cup from her lips. "Hi . . . uh, Olivia. The punch is great." She squirmed with discomfort. "You should try it."
Olivia turned to face Cole and noticed that he also held a plastic cup. Only it contained something different. Nathalie also noticed. "No punch for you?" the dark-haired witch asked. She reached for a cup and filled it with punch.
Before the half-daemon could answer, Olivia said, "Cole doesn't like raspberries." Again, her eyes met Cole's. "Raspberries and Coconut cake. Isn't that right?"
A frown appeared on Phoebe's face, as she glanced sharply at Cole. "Coconut cake? That's one of Piper's specialties. And Grams'. You never said that you didn't like . . ."
Nathalie thrust the cup of punch into Olivia's hand. "Here, Livy. Take a sip."
Olivia did as her friend ordered. The punch, as usual, tasted delicious. However, Olivia detected a flavor other than raspberry. "Say Nat, did you add something else into the punch? Like boysenberries?"
A sigh left Nathalie's mouth. "You noticed it, too? So did Bruce and Barbara. I had accidentally added some of my boysenberry cordial into the punch. I was on the phone, at the time."
"More cordial?" Cole said with a smirk. "You're a regular little moonshiner, aren't you?" Nathalie merely smirked.
Then Paul asked his hostess for a cup of punch. Nathalie filled another cup and handed it to him. Paul took a sip. "Hmmm, delicious. You sure you don't want to try a sip?" he said to Cole. "Or maybe you would prefer some Coconut cake?" A smirk appeared on his lips.
Olivia had to refrain from rolling her eyes at Paul's lame joke. Cole, on the other hand, merely responded with a cool smile. Then he turned to Nathalie. "By the way, I had noticed some old acquaintances of mine. I didn't realize you were familiar with any daemons."
"Demons?" Phoebe's eyes grew wide with alarm. "You have demons, here?" She scanned the room.
Nathalie shrugged. "Only a few. Along with one or two warlocks. I got to know them, while researching for my last book. They had provided me with some interesting stuff."
Olivia glanced around. She spotted a familiar face among the crowd. It was Riggerio, talking with a pretty young woman. "Well, look who's here," she said, nodding at the daemon.
Paul frowned. "Isn't that . . . what's his name . . . Riggerio?" He gave Nathalie a sharp look. "You really do have demons here, other than Turner!"
"Well, yeah." Nathalie's mouth stretched into a dreamy smile, as she regarded the Italian speaking daemon. "As for Riggerio, he's such a sweetheart. He gave me a lot of information on daemons known in the Stregheria world. Charming man."
Olivia smirked. "You're not the only one who thinks so." Her comment drew stares from both Cole and Paul. She ignored them.
Paul, on the other hand, seemed disturbed by the presence of daemons at the party. "I can't believe that you . . . I mean . . . aren't you disturbed by the idea of having demons here?" He shot Cole a baleful look.
"It depends upon the daemon," Nathalie replied shortly. Before Paul could respond, the doorbell rang. "What do you know, more guests." She smiled at the three witches and half-daemon. "Why don't you guys help yourselves to more punch and some food. It's time for me to play hostess, again. Catch you later." She immediately walked away.
Cole heaved a sigh and gathered his plate of food. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm going to have some fun. I have a few friends to get reacquainted with." He flashed Olivia a quick smile that seemed to bother both Paul and Phoebe.
As Paul watched the half-daemon walk away with hostile eyes, he grumbled, "What the hell kind of party is this, anyway? Witches and demons mixing together?"
"Don't forget warlocks," Olivia added. She reached for a canapé. "But that's Nathalie for you. Always the equal opportunity hostess."
* * * *
The Doobie Brothers singing 'What a Fool Believes' blasted from the nearby CD player. Paige sat in one of the empty chairs against the far wall, eating lamb kabobs and watching some of the guests dance in the middle of the room. She could not help but wondered if Nathalie Gleason had some kind of fixation for music from the 1970s. Or if any of the guests were aware how badly they danced.
At least two of the dancers did not seem lacking in talent. Paige focused on one particular pair - Barbara and Bruce. Not only were they dancing in rhythm, they seemed . . . Paige's eyes narrowed. If her eyes were not deceiving her, she could have sworn that Barbara and Bruce were grinding their bodies against each other. In a very suggestive manner. How odd.
Paige caught sight of another couple . . . locked in a sexual embrace. They seemed to be literally devouring each other's lips. Then she caught sight of a familiar figure - Riggerio. Paige frowned. What was 'he' doing here, and why was he crying? Before Paige could satisfy her curiosity, she saw Phoebe shooting wary glances at Cole, who was engaged in a conversation with a female witch. Poor Phoebe. The older Charmed One seemed torn between fear, wariness and desire. Weird. Then again, perhaps Phoebe's attitude was normal. Unlike a good number of other guests.
It took Paige a moment to allow that last thought to sink in. She realized that many of the guests - save a handful - have been acting very strangely over the past half hour. Emotions seemed to be running high. Exposed. Then Paige spotted Olivia re-enter the drawing-room, wearing a determined expression. And heading straight for Cole.
Paige dumped her plate on the empty chair next to her and stood up. She strode toward Cole and Olivia. Trouble seemed to be brewing in the air and she had to stop it. Stop it before Olivia caused a . . .
"There you are." A pair of hands caught hold of Paige's waist and drew her back against a man's body. What the hell? "What do you know? I've finally been able to catch you alone. Are you trying to stay away from me?"
Huh? Paige frowned. The voice sounded familiar. As if it belonged to . . . She whirled around and found herself facing a tall man in his mid-twenties. A tall man with red hair, green eyes and a light sprinkle of freckles on a handsome face. "Harry?"
The youngest McNeill grinned broadly. "The one and only. Miss me?" Hands still on Paige's waist, drew her closer to Harry.
"Harry, what the hell are you doing?" Paige cried. "Let go." She struggled to wrestle out of his grip.
"I'm facing the truth, for once." One hand began to travel up from Paige's waist. Slowly. "About us."
"What are you talking about? There's no . . ."
"Oh come on! Stop pretending! I admit I'm attracted to you. Have been for a long time." Soft lips planted a light kiss on Paige's neck, sending an unexpected thrill throughout her body. "And I know you've been attracted me."
Paige fought down her desire. What the hell made Harry attempt something like this? And how did he know about her . . . ? "Where did you get this delusional idea that I was interested in you?" she cried out.
"I'm a telepath," Harry replied smugly. "Remember?" And before Paige could protest any further, the other witch's lips crushed against hers.
Her first instinct was to escape from Harry's embrace. Push him away. Unfortunately, Paige found herself unable to resist the warm lips that pressed against hers. Or the surge of passion that suddenly sprang within her, as his tongue slipped into her mouth. Caught up in Harry's kiss, Paige was unaware of her arms sliding around his neck. As their lips parted momentarily for air, Paige heard herself murmur, "Oh . . . oh God! What am I doing?"
"Kissing me," Harry murmured back. Then he pressed his lips against hers, once more.
The kiss would have lasted longer, but the sound of voices penetrated Paige's mind. She gently broke away from Harry's embrace. "Wha . . . what's going on?" she asked.
Harry replied breathlessly, "Nothing. Just us." He tried to kiss Paige again, but she pushed him away. "Paige, why are you pushing me away?" Desperation tinged his voice.
"I thought I heard voices," she replied. "My sister." Paige glanced over Harry's shoulder. Her eyes fell upon a disturbing scene of her sister flying over the shoulder of one Olivia McNeill. Holy shit! "Oh God! Something has gone wrong between Phoebe and Olivia. I have to stop them." She quickly walked away, her mind no longer focused upon Harry and his tantalizing lips.
For the umpteenth time, Hollywood took a comic book series and adapted it for the screen. One of the latest comic book movies to appear in the movie theater happened to be an adaptation of a Vertigo Comics series created by Andy Diggle called ”THE LOSERS”.
Directed by Sylvain White, ”THE LOSERS” told the story of five members of an elite U.S. Special Forces team that is sent into the Bolivian jungle to search and destroy a notorious drug lord. But when their CIA handler, a wealthy man named Max, betrayed them with an attempt on their lives, the team made plans to even the score. They are joined by a mysterious woman who offered financial aid for an operation to ensure Max’s death and foil his plans to start a new high-tech global war.
”THE LOSERS” is obviously one of the latest in a never ending line of movie adaptations of comic book series and graphic novels. In other words, these adaptations are becoming a dime-a-dozen. But I had no idea that the movie was based upon a comic book series when I saw the trailers. Had I known, would I have avoided the movie? I rather doubt it. The trailer struck me as rather appealing, if I must be honest. Do I regret seeing the movie? Not at all.
I had expected to be mildly entertained by ”THE LOSERS”. Instead, I found it a great deal of fun to watch. Mind you, I had some problems with it. Sylvain White’s use of slow motion action became worrisome at times. The most annoying use of slow motion involved a love scene between the two leads – the leader of the Special Forces team and the mysterious woman. I mean . . . honestly. Slow motion sex? It brought back memories of certain love scenes from television dramas and miniseries in the 1970s and 80s. I was not particularly impressed by John Ottman’s score for the movie. And I never understood the need for a fight scene between the two leads – when the mysterious woman approached the team leader in order to form an alliance against Max.
Quibbles aside, I still enjoyed the movie very much. One, screenwriters Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt created a very entertaining story filled with sharp humor and plenty of exciting action. Even better, Berg and Vanderbilt provided plenty of angst, revenge, mistrust and betrayal that gave extra bites to the movie. The action featured in the movie struck me as pretty first-rate. I was especially impressed with the action sequences in Bolivia and the movie’s final showdown in Los Angeles.
By the way, I have to say that the cast turned out to be the movie’s best asset. Jeffrey Dean Morgan led the cast as Lieutenant Colonel Franklin Clay, leader of the Losers. Morgan’s Clay is as tough and ruthless as they come. Yet, the actor did a great job in balancing his character’s ruthlessness with streaks of idealism and compassion that sometimes proved to be his Achilles heel. Idris Elba portrayed Captain William Roque, the team’s second-in-command. Elba’s subtle portrayal of Roque is a cooler personality with a dangerous and self-serving edge that made him quite unpredictable. And his screen personality proved to be just as strong and dynamic as Morgan’s. Chris Evans proved to be hilarious as ever, portraying the team’s computer expert, Corporal Jake Jensen. Evans also created a funny screen chemistry with Columbus Short, who portrayed Sergeant Linwood 'Pooch' Porteous, the team’s transportation expert. I was also impressed by Short, whose performance struck me as wry and very witty. And Óscar Jaenada gave a charismatic performance as Sergeant Carlos 'Cougar' Alvarez, the team’s gifted marksman with only a few lines. But the most impressive performance in my book belonged to Zoe Saldaña, who portrayed Aisha, the mysterious woman who recruited the Losers to seek revenge against Max. Her Aisha was not only a skilled arms handler and fighter, she was also intense and extremely complex. However, she certainly had stiff competition from not only Morgan and Elba, but from also Jason Patric. Who, by the way, gave a sardonic, yet off-beat performance as the team’s murderous, yet manipulative CIA handler, Max.
While watching ”THE LOSERS”, it occurred to me that its film style strongly reminded me of another comic adaptation, 2008’s ”WANTED”. Granted, the older movie seemed to have superior production values and bigger stars. But I still found ”THE LOSERS” more enjoyable. Why? Aside from the hotel fight scene between Morgan and Saldaña, Sylvain White did not indulge in too much over-the-top action sequences and graphic gore. Also, ”THE LOSERS” definitely possessed a sharper sense of humor and a more solid story, thanks to Berg and Vanderbilt’s script. Those traits, along with a strong cast made ”THE LOSERS” one of my favorite movies of this year’s spring season.
In past articles, I have complained about the willingness of some ”LOST” fans to make excuses or dismiss some of Kate Austen’s more serious mistakes and crimes. But after a debate on the ”TELEVISION WITHOUT PITY” about the character of James “Sawyer” Ford, I now realize that Kate was not the only popular character that fans tend to defend. One other character has been defended just as much, or perhaps even more than Kate. And I am referring to one James “Sawyer” Ford.
I suppose it made sense that Sawyer’s profession happened to be a con artist. Several years following the deaths of his parents, he proved to be quite adept at deceiving and swindling a good number of people for his benefit. After surviving the crash of Oceanic Airlines Flight 815, it did not take long for the series to display Sawyer’s talent for deceiving his fellow castaways, several other inhabitants on the mysterious island, and more importantly, himself.
As a child, James had endured a traumatic tragedy after another confidence man had swindled money from his family. That tragedy soon followed when his father murdered his mother (who had an affair with the con man) before committing suicide. These tragic events not only led Sawyer into eventually becoming a con man, himself; but also a very unpopular character with the fans – especially during Season One. He was a surly and sardonic man with a tendency to antagonize other characters, think only of himself and dump some of the silliest nicknames upon the other castaways. However, once the fans became aware of Sawyer’s childhood tragedy in episodes like (1.08) “Confidence Man” and (1.16) “Outlaws”; he became something of a fan favorite – especially in his relationship with Kate. Fans soon began to appreciate Sawyer’s nicknames for others (why, I do not know), his sardonic sense of humor and Southern charm. When Sawyer began displaying signs of heroism in Season Four episodes like (4.09) “The Shape of Things to Come” and (4.12-4.14) “There’s No Place Like Home, Parts I and II”, certain fans began to view him as the overall hero of the series . . . or perhaps someone who should be the series’ hero.
One of the results from the Ford family tragedy was James’ search for the real “Sawyer”, the man who had swindled his parents. Young James had dumped the blame for his parents’ deaths completely on this con man’s shoulders. Not only did he write a letter to the man (which he kept on his person) at the age of eight, promising revenge for his family’s tragedy; he finally got the chance to exact his revenge. In the Season Three episode, (3.19) “The Brig”, fellow castaway John Locke was ordered by Ben Linus of the Others to kill his father – a confidence man named Anthony Cooper – in order to prove himself a worthy member of their group. Unfortunately, Locke could not get himself to kill Cooper, despite the latter’s taunts. But when Locke learned more about his father’s past, he found someone who could do the job for him. Namely, one James “Sawyer” Ford.
I suppose no one should have been surprised that James would end up murdering Cooper. I certainly was not surprised. But I also felt a great deal of disappointment and contempt toward the con man. For 28 years – since the age of eight – James had solely blamed Anthony Cooper for his parents’ deaths. In other words, he used Anthony Cooper as a scapegoat for all of the hurt he had experienced during that troubling time. Yes, Cooper had been guilty of swindling the Ford family and having an affair with Mrs. Ford. But that was the extent of his guilt. As he matured into an adult, I wonder if James ever bothered to wonder about his parents’ action. Look at Mr. Ford. How did he expressed himself after realizing that he had been swindled by Cooper and cuckolded by Mrs. Ford. He murdered his wife in cold blood and then committed suicide; instead of reporting Cooper to the police and divorcing his wife. Sawyer could blame Anthony Cooper for swindling his family. But apparently, he seemed incapable of realizing that his mother was guilty of adultery with Cooper . . . and his father was guilty of murder. Even worse, James refused to admit that his father had reacted to his wife’s infidelity and Cooper’s deception with vindictiveness and cowardice.
When you think about it, one could say that Sawyer is almost a chip off the old block. His determination to solely blame Cooper for his parents’ deaths not only led him to eventually murder the con man on the island, it also led him to commit another murder before he had boarded Oceanic Flight 815 in Sydney, Australia. Back in the United States, a fellow con man named Hibbs informed James that Cooper is living in Australia, under the alias of Frank Duckett. After catching up with the man in Sydney and shooting him, Duckett revealed that his name was not an alias and that he owned money to Hibbs. In other words, Hibbs had used James’ desire for revenge to murder an innocent man. And in ”The Brig”, Locke used that same desire to manipulate the Alabama native into committing another murder. Many fans have claimed that James’ murder of Cooper allowed him some form of solace over his parents’ deaths. For me, his solace is false. The murder only allowed James to ignore the fact that his parents – especially his father – was even more guilty for leaving him in an orphan state. In fact, James’ desire for revenge allowed two men to make a chump out of him.
Around the end of Season One, James managed to win a seat aboard a raft constructed by another castaway – Michael Dawson. Along with Michael, the latter’s ten year-old son Walt Lloyd, and a fourth castaway, Jin-Soon Kwon; James sailed away from the island in (1.23-1.25) “Exodus: Parts 1 and 2”. As everyone knows, the raft passengers failed to get very far after young Walt was kidnapped and James was shot by Tom Friendly and the Others. James, Michael and Jin washed up on the other side of the island; was briefly held as prisoners by surviving Tail Section passengers led by Ana-Lucia Cortez. The three men and the Tail Section survivors eventually reached the Fuselage passengers’ camp. After James was nursed back to health, he noticed that a good number of belongings had been taken by the other castaways. But he did or said nothing . . . until Jack violated his privacy by taking a bottle of aspirin from his tent in (2.13) “The Long Con”. What happened? Sawyer decided to take control of the guns through a con job that involved Charlie Pace’s assistance and scaring the hell out of Jin’s wife, Sun-Hwa. Not only was he pissed at Jack for entering his tent without permission, he was angry at the other castaways for going through his things after he left the island on Michael's raft:
”That's right, Jack. He's as stupid as you are. You were so busy worrying about each other you never even saw me coming, did you? How about you listen up because I'm only going to say this once. You took my stuff. While I was off trying to get us help -- get us rescued -- you found my stash and you took it, divvied it up -- my shaving cream, my batteries, even my beer.”
One, Sawyer could have simply taken the pills back from Jack, through a fist fight, if he had to. But his anger at the other castaways bordered on the ridiculous . . . at least to me. Sawyer originally had no intention of returning to the island in the first place, when he left on that raft. Why on earth did he expect the other castaways to keep their hands off his belongings, when he had left them behind without any intention of using them again? Did he expect them to erect some kind of shrine in his memory? Not only could the entire con could have been avoided, it initiated a storyline that went nowhere.
The events of ”Exodus” led to another result – Sawyer’s murder of Tom Friendly in the Season Three finale, (2.22-2.23) “Through the Looking Glass”. Some fans had claimed that the death of Tom, one of the Others that followed Ben Linus’ lead, had been necessary measure to prevent Tom from becoming a possible threat. Others claimed that the castaways were in a “war” and Sawyer had every right to murder Tom in cold blood. I find the last argument a joke and a horrifying example of excuses human beings will use to condone violence. The argument that Sawyer had defended his fellow castaways from the threat of Tom did not resonate with me. As far as I am concerned, Sawyer was defending squat. A former member of the Others who had joined the castaways, Juliet Burke, had already prevented Tom from grabbing a gun. Then Tom surrendered. And what did Sawyer do? He shot Tom in cold blood, when the guy was defenseless. And Hurley protested his act of murder. Which did not strike as an act of defending friends to me. The murder seemed like an obvious act of revenge, sparked by Sawyer's own vindictive personality. He eventually admitted it seconds later:
SAWYER: That's for taking the kid off the raft. HURLEY: Dude it was over, he surrendered. SAWYER: I didn't believe him.
Bullshit!! I suspect that Sawyer believed that Tom’s surrender was genuine. He simply wanted revenge. And I am beginning to wonder if he only wanted revenge for Walt’s kidnapping. After all, the moment he, Jack, and John Locke had encountered Tom in (2.11) “The Hunting Party”, the first words that came out of his mouth were:
”He's the son-of-a-bitch that shot me on the raft.”
One, Sawyer did not even mention Walt. Two, Tom never shot Sawyer. In fact, he never ordered someone to shoot Sawyer. The latter got shot, because he was stupid enough to try something when Tom and the Others had guns trained on him, Michael and Jin. Tom did not even have to say a word. The same thing occurred in ”The Hunting Party”. Even worse, James was determined to use Tom as the scapegoat for Walt’s kidnapping. Yes, Tom did lead the kidnapping mission. However, by ”Through the Looking Glass”, both the fans and the series’ characters that Ben had been the one who ordered Walt’s kidnapping. And was Ben who decided when and how Walt would be returned to Michael. Tom was guilty of following orders. Yet, when Sawyer had the chance to attack Ben for Walt's kidnapping, Sawyer did NOTHING. Instead, he attacked Ben for making innuendos about Kate preferring Jack's company to his in the Season Four premiere, (4.01) “The Beginning of the End”. Did that mean Sawyer was afraid to force Ben to pay the price for Walt’s kidnapping? Or did he allow his mind to focus upon the illusion that Tom was solely to blame, because he needed a convenient scapegoat to feed his vindictive nature?
I am sure that many ”LOST” fans are aware of the latest tragedies that occurred in the most recent episode, (6.14) “The Candidate”. Due to a bomb planted on a submarine that the remaining castaways had planned to use to leave the island, Sayid Jarrah, Jin and Sun Kwon and pilot Frank Lapidus lost their lives. In (6.01) “LAX – Part I”, thirteen episodes before this tragedy, James’ then lady love, Dr. Juliet Burke, had lost her life after triggering Jughead – an atomic bomb that the U.S. Army had brought to the island in 1954. She had followed a plan originally initiated by Daniel Farrady and followed through by Jack after Farrady’s death to use the bomb to change the timeline in the hopes that Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 would land in Los Angeles. The bomb did three things – create an alternative timeline; sent the time traveling castaways back to the early 21st century (2007); and slowly killed Juliet. Sawyer resorted to his old game of using convenient scapegoats and solely blamed Jack for her death; completely ignoring the fact that Daniel had created the plan in the first place, Sayid was just as enthusiastic to carry out the plan, and Juliet changed her mind and made the decision to trigger the bomb herself. Was Jack guilty of Juliet’s death? Yes. Was Jack solely guilty of Juliet’s death? No. But Sawyer did not care. With both Daniel and Juliet dead, he needed a scapegoat for his pain. The surviving Jack Shephard was that scapegoat.
For the next thirteen episodes, James harbored a deep and lingering anger and resentment toward Jack. It all came to a head aboard Charles Widmore’s submarine, when the castaways discovered that the entity known as the Man in Black (MIB) had planted a bomb. Most of them aboard were candidates to replace another entity known as Jacob, who had ensured the MIB’s presence on the island. With Jacob and his candidates dead, the MIB would finally be able to escape. What happened after the discovery of the bomb? Jack realized that if they allowed the countdown to continue, nothing would happen. After all, the MIB – for some reason – could not directly kill any of Jacob’s candidates. But due to his lingering distrust and anger toward Jack, James refused to believe him and tried to deactivate the bomb. Instead, the bomb’s countdown accelerated. Realizing that they were all about to be killed, Sayid grabbed the bomb and raced to the other side of the submarine to ensure they would not be in direct fire of the blast. Sayid was immediately killed. Frank was knocked out cold from the blast and no one could find him. Sun found herself trapped by wreckage. But since James was knocked out cold, Jack had to help him escape from the submarine (Hurley had already assisted a wounded Kate into the water), while Jin tried to free her. Unable to do so, he decided to remain by his wife’s side, until their deaths. The episode ended with an unconscious James and the grieving Jack, Kate and Hurley on a beach.
Some fans supported James’ decision not to trust Jack, claiming Juliet’s death as a good reason for him not to do so. Perhaps. But James and Jack have been enemies ever since Flight 815 first crash. A great deal of their enmity had to do with their rivalry for the affections of one Kate Austen. And the two have a history of rarely trusting one another in the first place. And considering all that has occurred on the island, I believe that James could have tried to put aside his remaining feelings and realize that Jack could have been right about the MIB. He also could have opened his mind and realized that Jack was not solely responsible for Juliet’s death. But due to James' habit of using someone as a scapegoat for his pain, he solely blamed Jack for Juliet's death. James was also a pragmatic man. Perhaps too pragmatic for his own good at times. He has never been in the habit of immediately giving anyone the benefit of the doubt. And it is possible that not only did he not trust Jack, he was unwilling to consider the supernatural as an excuse for anything or anyone they had encountered on the island. It is possible that he wanted to flee the island and his memories of those three years with Juliet so badly that he was unwilling to listen to anyone – except for the Man in Black, who insisted that he could get all of them off the island. Perhaps Jack’s willingness to carry out Daniel Farrady’s plans regarding Jughead may have led to that moment when James pulled the wires from that bomb. But I believe that James’ own emotional demons, his desperation to flee the island, his unwillingness to face that Daniel Farrady and Juliet were just as responsible for her death as Jack; and his inability to instinctively give others a chance may have sealed the Kwons, Sayid and Frank’s fates.
I can only wonder how James will react when he learns of the four deaths following his action aboard Widmore’s submarine. Will he ever learn to let go? Will he finally learn to at least give others a chance, if not immediately trust them? Will he finally realize that he has acquired a great deal of blood on his hands over the past three years, due to his own demons and a tendency to form immediate scapegoats for the problems and pain he has experienced over the years? Will he ever learn to finally learn to let go of his illusions and face the reality of his situation . . . and himself? I hope so for his sake. Especially since there are only four episodes left before the series ends.
Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the landmark "BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER" episode called (4.22) "Restless". Written and directed by Josh Whedon, Nick Marck and written by Tracey Forbes, the episode is about a series of bizarre dreams that illustrated the four main characters' overall themes as well as provided extensive hints about future developments. Below is a photo gallery marking the anniversary of "Restless":
"BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER" (4.22) "Restless" 10th Anniversary Photo Gallery
RATING: PG E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org FEEDBACK: It would be nice to receive some. Please, no flames. SUMMARY: Steth finally talks back about which alien was really responsible for the events in "Vis-à-Vis". DISCLAIMER: Sigh! All characters and etc. pertaining to Star Trek Voyager belongs to Paramount, Viacom and . . . well, you know who.
NOTE: After reading tons of stories and codas, blaming Steth for the havoc caused in "Vis-à-Vis", I had to write this story. Just to get the facts straight. By the way, Steth's observations of B'Elanna are my observations of her at the end of the episode. For a woman who may have realized she slept with an alien impersonating her boyfriend, she seemed very unconcerned about it.
". . . taken over by Steth, that DNA snatching alien . . ."
". . . that creep Steth take over Tom's body . . ."
"Steth took over Tom's body sometime after he left the messhall. . ."
* * * *
Enough! That is it! I have had enough of these scurrilous attacks upon my character! It is time to tell the truth!
At this moment, I am sure many of you are wondering who I am and what I am talking about. Well, I'll tell you. My name is Steth. Now wait a minute! Back down! There's no need to send a lynch mob after me! I'm not who you think I am. I mean . . . my name is Steth, but . . . Sigh! Let me start again.
My name is Steth. I am a pilot from the Benthan system, somewhere in the Delta Quadrant. I have been receiving some interesting subspace transmissions from another star system. These transmissions came in the form of literature or what is called fan fiction stories. Anyway, these stories have accused me of creating havoc aboard a starship from the Alpha Quadrant I had encountered several years ago, called the U.S.S. Voyager. I am here to correct these misconceptions of my character and reveal the truths behind that event.
Apparently, many believe I am the alien who had encountered VOYAGER, requesting help to repair my ship. It seems after becoming acquainted with VOYAGER's crew and its Chief Pilot; I allegedly traded my DNA with this Tom Paris, before rendering him unconscious. I supposedly then sent Lieutenant Paris away on my ship and proceeded to take his place on VOYAGER - including his positions and his woman, a Human/Klingon hybrid named B'Elanna Torres. I have even been accused of tricking this B'Elanna into having sex with her, consuming non-regulation alcohol, threatening VOYAGER's Borg crewman and stealing the body of the ship's captain, Kathryn Janeway.
All of these accusations are false! I didn't do a damn thing! Pardon my language. I meant that I am completely innocent of these charges. And quite frankly, I am sick and tired of these fan fiction stories that blame me for what happened on VOYAGER. The following is a TRUE account of what really happened.
Several days before my encounter with Lieutenant Paris and VOYAGER, I was testing a new, state-of-the-art shuttle I had designed. I came across a beautiful female alien named Daelen. She claimed that her ship needed repairs and requested my assistance. Since I am fully trained not only as a pilot, but also in starship design, I offered my help. Before I knew what happened, Daelen . . . that creature . . . sigh! Anyway, in a blink of an eye, she managed to assume my form and steal my ship, leaving me with her body and a trash heap badly in need of repair. This is what I get for being a gentleman.
Daelen, now disguised as me, must have encountered VOYAGER at least a few days later. She . . . uh, he . . . Sigh! Since the alien was now in my body, I'll refer to it as he/she. Anyway, the scoundrel introduced him/herself as Steth. Me. From what I had later discovered, he/she proceeded to befriend this Lieutenant Tom Paris of the Federation, before committing another act of theft. Daelen/Steth was now Daelen/Steth/Paris. And the poor lieutenant found himself stuck with my body.
After Daelen sent the real Paris away from VOYAGER in my ship, he/she proceeded to take over the pilot's life. He became VOYAGER's chief pilot and medical assistant. He/she also assumed Tom Paris' love life. Whether he/she and the ship's chief engineer actually had sex is mere conjecture. When I finally met Chief Torres, she seemed unconcerned with the possibility of a romantic liaison with the imposter. She seemed more concerned with Tom Paris' health and mental state. No one really knows, aside from Daelen and Chief Torres. Yet, these fan fiction writers have assumed the worst.
Meanwhile, imagine my surprise in encountering my body again! It happened two days after being abandoned by Daelen. I was quite prepared to demand my body back, until I discovered that the Human, Tom Paris now possessed it. After he convinced me of his real identity, I introduced myself as the real Steth, former victim of that body thief, Daelen. Both Tom Paris and I decided that the only way to recover our rightful bodies was to confront Daelen. It was not long before we plotted a course for VOYAGER.
True to character, Daelen became bored with Tom Paris' life and placed his/her sights upon another body - namely the one that belonged to Captain Janeway, VOYAGER's commander. He/she succeeded on the second attempt, stole a shuttle and proceeded to make his/her escape. Fortunately, Tom and I arrived in time to stop him/her.
All of us - myself, Tom Paris and Captain Janeway recovered our real bodies, thanks to the ship's holographic medical officer. Daelen was also returned to his/her body. However, I did inform Captain Janeway that the body of Daelen might be another stolen identity. And that the real Daelen might be stuck in either the thief's real body or one belonging to another victim. The best I could do is return Daelen's body back to the Benthan system. I decided to return this body to the authorities and let them deal with the confusion.
Well, that's it. That is my full and accurate account of my encounters with the DNA thief, Tom Paris and the VOYAGER crew. Hopefully everyone, especially these fan fiction writers, will finally realize that I, Steth, was not the DNA thief. Instead, I was another victim, just like Tom Paris, Captain Janeway and possibly even the real Daelen. I only hope that there will be no future accounts, accusing me of being that . . . that vile creature. If I do receive any in the future, I promise that I will sue. With extreme prejudice. Good day to you all.
Below is a list of my top twenty (20) favorite period dramas:
TOP TWENTY FAVORITE PERIOD DRAMAS
1. "North and South: Book I" (1985) - This six-part miniseries is the first and, in my opinion, best in the miniseries trilogy about two wealthy families before, during and after the Civil War. Based upon John Jakes' first novel in the trilogy, this miniseries is set during the nineteen (19) years before the war. Patrick Swayze and James Read starred.
2. "Pride and Prejudice" (1995) - This outstanding miniseries is an adaptation of Jane Austen's 1813 novel of manners set during the early 19th century England. Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle starred.
3. "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1936) - Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Patric Knowles co-starred in this loose adaptation of Alfred Tennyson's poem about the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade that occurred during the Crimean War.
4. "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (2006) - This second movie in the "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN" franchise focused upon Captain Jack Sparrow's efforts to evade the consequences of his debt to the villainous Davy Jones, and the wrath of the East India Trading Company. Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley starred.
5. "The Buccaneers" (1995) - This colorful five-part miniseries, directed by Philip Saville, is an adaptation of Edith Wharton's last and unfinished novel about four American heiresses who marry into the English aristocracy in Victorian Britain. Carla Gugino, Alison Elliot, Mia Sorvino and Rya Kihlstedt co-starred.
6. "Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad" (1994) - Produced by Tim Reid, this 90-minute teleplay told the story of four North Carolina slaves who attempt to escape to Canada and freedom in 1850 America. Courtney B. Vance and Janet Bailey starred.
7. "Gosford Park" (2001) - Robert Altman directed an ensemble cast in a movie about a shooting house party in 1932 that is capped by the murder of the host. Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Clive Owen and Kelly MacDonald co-starred.
8. "The Four Feathers" (2002) - Shekhar Kapur directed this exciting adaptation of A.E.W. Mason's novel about an Army officer who receives four feathers (signs of cowardice) from his friends and fiancée after resigning his commission on the eve of his regiment being sent to the Sudan. Heath Ledger, Kate Hudson, Wes Bentley and Djimon Hounsou.
9. "North and South" (2004) - This excellent four-part miniseries is an adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel about the culture clash between the industrial North and leisurely South in Victorian England. Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage starred.
10. "The Sea Hawk" (1940) - Michael Curtiz directed Errol Flynn in this exciting adaptation of Rafael Sabatini's novel about an Elizabethan privateer who raids Spanish ships on behalf of Queen Elizabeth I. Brenda Marshall, Henry Daniell, Alan Hale and Claude Rains co-starred.
11. "The Chisholms" (1979) - This three-part miniseries about a western Virginia family's trek to California in 1844-45 is a big favorite of mine. Based upon Evan Hunter's novel, the miniseries starred Robert Preston, Rosemary Harris and Ben Murphy.
12a. "Band of Brothers" (2001) TIE - This excellent ten-part miniseries is based upon Stephen Ambrose's book about a company of Army paratroopers in World War II. Produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, the miniseries starred Damian Lewis and Ron Livington.
12b. "The Pacific" (2010) TIE - Spielberg, Hanks and Gary Goetzman produced this superb, ten-part companion piece to "BAND OF BROTHERS" about the experiences of three U.S. Marines during World War II. James Badge Dale, Joseph Mazzello and Jon Seda starred.
13. "Sense and Sensibility" (1995) - Ang Lee directed this adaptation of Jane Austen's 1811 novel about two sisters in Regency England who deal with their reduced financial status, while finding love. Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant starred.
14. "A Woman Called Moses" (1978) - Cicely Tyson starred in this excellent two-part miniseries about the life and times of runaway slave/Underground Railroad agent, Harriet Tubman, before the Civil War. Robert Hooks, Dick Anthony Williams and Will Geer co-starred.
15. "The Painted Veil" (2006) - Naomi Watts and Edward Norton starred in this adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's novel about a loveless married couple caught up in a cholera outbreak in 1920s China.
16. "The Mark of Zorro" (1940) - Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell and Basil Rathbone starred in this adaptation of Johnston McCulley's story about a masked vigilante who helps the poor populace of Old California. Directed by Rouben Mamoulian.
17. "John Adams" (2008) - Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney starred in this superb seven-part miniseries about the 2nd U.S. President John Adams and his wife, Abigail.
18. "All This and Heaven Too" (1940) - Bette Davis and Charles Boyer starred in this adaptation of Rachel Fields' novel about a forbidden romance between a French aristocrat and his children's governess in 1840s France.
19. "Thirteen Days" (2000) - Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood and Steven Culp starred in this account of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. Directed by Roger Donaldson.
20. "Infamous" (2006) - Toby Jones, Sandra Bullock and Daniel Craig are all outstanding in this account of Truman Capote's research behind his most famous book, "In Cold Blood". Directed by Douglas McGrath.