May 2007 Archives

Surface

Microsoft today announced Surface, its surface-based computing initiative. I had some hands-on time with this when it was called the PlayTable, and it's very, very cool. Click on that link and watch the demo videos to see a taste of what it can do. I immediately knew I wanted one-- no, needed one-- for my home. But the home market isn't a priority at the moment, so I'll have to wait. Just as well, since if the thing doesn't fizzle out completely prices will come down substantially from its current $5K-$10K price tag, and I've never been much of an early adopter.

The current model also has form factor issues for the home. The base is solid on all four sides to house its projector, and the acrylic surface doesn't overhang very far-- which means chaps like me with long legs aren't getting up close and personal with the table. With luck, by the time it reaches the home market they'll figure out a way to design one so that people can sit at it comfortably.

Why do I need one? Board games. They rock on this thing. The developers coded up a bunch during prototyping, and they spoil you for playing with physical pieces. You get all the convenience of a computer game, but maintain most of the pleasure of a board game. You still sit across the table from your opponents. You can manipulate physical pieces if you like-- the table can recognize dice patterns, for example-- or you can forego that and opt for the convenience of digital pieces. Hidden information can be preserved by using plastic shields, and since the table can recognize objects, when the shield is removed the private information can vanish. Slick. Clean-up's a snap, as is saving a game for later. Best of all, from my perspective, the whole shebang is based on Windos Presentation Foundation, the product I've been working on for the past umpteen years. So I'd be able to program new content easily. Some kind of multiplayer game show would be high on my list, but also generic tools for game playing. Lock-out buzzers, secret bid entry, start player selection, etc-- all of that could be encapsulated into the Surface. And just imagine the joys of playing Puerto Rico without having to set everything up and sort it all away afterward!

Microsoft's approach to surface computing-- camera-based recognition and rear projection-- feels inherently more limiting than Philips' Entertaible approach that encapsulates everything into the display itself. It's bulky, hot, and consumes a lot of power. That worries me. But a year and a half after Entertaible's announcement, we still haven't seen it deployed anywhere. MIcrosoft has real partners lined up for Surface this year.

I just have to hope Surface doesn't go the way of Ultimate TV before I can get one.

Comments (2) | last by Stephen Glenn, Jun 1, 1:59 PM

Shelby Logan's Trial

Last Sunday night I landed in Seattle around 11:30 PM after a weekend of sleep deprivation, and seven hours later I headed back to the airport for a day jaunt to Las Vegas to testify in a civil case against one of the organizers of Shelby Logan's Run. For some reason the idea of flying from San Jose to Seattle and then to Las Vegas seven hours later seemed better to me than taking an extra bag with me to No More Secrets and flying directly to Vegas from San Jose. It actually worked out fine, and I can report that the desert is far more allergy-friendly than California.

Shelby Logan's Run was a Game run in Las Vegas in 2002 by some Microsofties. It was, in many senses, the Game to end all Games. While this event had puzzles, the focus was on over-the-top experiences (and where better to offer them than Vegas?). In the course of the event some or all of us camped in a dry lake bed during a torrential thunderstorm; powerboated and scuba dived on Lake Mead; shimmied up a rock chimney; captured, cared for, and ultimately scanned a living rat; fired a semi-automatic weapon; drove ATVs across sand dunes in the black of night; rode a free-fall ride atop the Stratosphere tower; performed a song in drag at a gay bar; got pierced ears; explored an abandoned prison by flashlight; and more. It was my first Game, and no Game since has delivered anything close.

The Game ended prematurely when one player fell thirty feet down a mine shaft and became paralyzed from the neck down. A clue sent teams to a site where there were multiple abandoned mines, and in plain, unencrypted text told teams to enter a specific number and no others. This player entered the wrong mine (without a flashlight, I believe), and fell. A very real tragedy.

Inevitably, perhaps, lawsuits followed. I don't know who exactly sued-- the player, his family, or his insurance company-- but all organizers of the event were named in the suit, and all but one settled out of court. The last holdout finally got to trial, and I was asked to testify for the defendant which I was only too happy to do.

Every player signed a waiver when they sent in their fee to participate. A scary waiver. It explicitly called out that players might be called upon to perform strenuous activities (and listed many examples), with possible consequences including death. I remember talking about that waiver with my teammates before signing it-- it was hardcore. I don't know how that waiver holds up under Nevada law, but it wasn't vague and it wasn't perfunctory. I took notice.

I was in the van when the unfortunate player's team arrived, and the defense wanted me to testify as to their behavior and to provide the jury with a first-time player's perspective about the Game. I agreed for many reasons, the most important of which being philosophical-- people in our society don't take enough responsibility for their own actions. Were there things the organizers could have done to prevent the accident? Yes. But ultimately, the tragedy was the man's own fault. Americans don't like saying that. We like pointing fingers and finding someone else to blame. But every single player signed that waiver. They knew the event involved operating on very little or no sleep. They knew physical activity was involved.

Earlier in the event I drove an ATV at night and opened up the throttle a bit-- until I hit the next dune. I sailed over the crest and my headlight illuminated... nothing. I had absolutely no idea where the ground was. I could have been catapulting into an abyss for all I knew. It was terrifying. Not in the casual sense the word is commonly used, either-- I mean heart-stopping, pit-of-my-stomach, images-of-snapping-my-neck raw terror. When my wheels touched down, I immediately eased up on the throttle and took a safer, more sedate pace. I took personal responsibility for my own safety. Nobody told me how fast to go. That was up to me. I chose the level with which I was comfortable.

Players were given specific, explicit instructions about where to go at the mine site. What happened was terrible and tragic, but ultimately someone didn't follow instructions, went somewhere he'd been told not to go, did so alone and entered a dark tunnel without a flashlight. People in our society need to accept more responsibility for their own actions, even when those actions are tragically wrong. And in this case, I didn't believe the event organizers should be held responsible.

Philosophically, I wish that all the organizers had gone to trial instead of settling. I understand the desire to just have it all be over with, though, and not wanting to endure the stress or risk of a trial. The one defendant who went to trial was mainly responsible for programming the hand-held electronic device used throughout the Game, which had nothing to do with that particular clue site. My understanding is that, while the plaintiff attacked the waiver, the defense strategy had nothing to do with it but rather that the defendant simply had no part in planning, organizing, or executing that particular clue or clue location. Yesterday I found out that the jury returned a verdict that the defendant did not act negligently, which I assume means he's off the hook.

I understand the plaintiffs are still going after the owners of the mine, and there I think they have a much stronger case. Why on earth wasn't that mine shaft sealed? It seems so obvious. And so, while I think the plaintiff bears responsibility for what happened, the mine company unquestionably shares in it. I hope the plaintiff has better luck going after those deeper, and more culpable, pockets.

Comments (3) | last by Brian, Jun 1, 2:34 PM

No More Secrets

I spent last weekend in the SF Bay area for No More Secrets, a Game ably run by first-time hosts Coed Astronomy. You may recall that at about the same time last year, I went down there for the Paparazzi Game and discovered that I was allergic to California. A few months later, however, I was fine during Hogwarts, so I hoped it was just a fluke.

No such luck. The reaction wasn't as brutal this time, but by midnight my nose was running freely and I was not a happy camper. I went through three travel-packs of tissues by the end of the Game. This has me very nervous about PiratesBATH three weekends from now. Are there any allergy remedies that work? I tried some pills (Claritin, maybe?) during Paparazzi, but they had no discernable effect.

Allergies aside, No More Secrets was a well-run, entertaining Game. It was particularly eventful for our team's captain, Jeff, who collaborated with the organizers to incorporate a marriage proposal into the Game's introduction. All the captains were asked to line up in a particular order, and then in unison reveal a page from their starting packets. Each page depicted a giant Scrabble tile which collectively spelled "JESSICA WILL YOU MARRY ME" with Jeff holding the "ME". It took Jessica a few moments to realize she was the one being asked, but she quickly said yes as Jeff got on one knee to present the ring.

Coed Astronomy took our Pit Stop idea from The Mooncurser's Handbook and tweaked it, replacing an assortment of activities with a single linear track of paper puzzles. I'd call the approach a success. It accomplished GC's main goal of slowing down leading teams while still providing them with something fun to do, and as a player it was often welcome to have a place to hunker down for a while and collaborate on puzzles in a setting more conducive to group-solving than a van. The final pit stop was, I think, an unfortunate choice, creating a sense of anticlimax. You really want the event to end with a triumphant surge of van-based puzzling, giving teams the sense of closing in on a finish. Instead, teams wound up staying at one location for hours, first doing a clever and fun series of puzzles (see below) and then killing time at the pit stop before moving on to the wrap party. Briny Deep was inexplicably on fire at this point, burning through the pit stop puzzles with criminal intent while esconced in comfy chairs, so in that sense we didn't mind...

I wasn't crazy about the answer submission system, which had teams phoning in the answer, receiving a new code word in response, and entering that code word into a laptop app to receive instructions on where to go next. It enabled GC to tweak the route and timing on the fly, so I can understand why they chose that approach, but the two-tiered system felt cumbersome. I suspect I'd have objected less if the app was on a Palm instead of a more-awkward-to-carry laptop.

The event's theming and story did nothing for me. The narrative was more of a distraction than a feature since it had no bearing on anything we were actually doing and wasn't particularly compelling. Narrative is hard-- I've only seen two games, The Apprentice: Zorg and Hogwarts, really nail it-- so that's not a knock against Coed Astronomy.

As in so many Bay Area Games, most of the locations were just clue drops with no correlation between the site and the puzzle, either thematically or mechanically. There are some teams who claim not to enjoy conference room-based puzzle events, but I'd argue that if the locations don't matter I'd rather just stay in a conference room. What's the point of sending me from one place to another if I don't need to interact with the location somehow, either in discovering the clue in the first place or solving it once I've got it? Why not just let me sit in a comfortable environment and solve a serialized set of puzzles instead? For Mooncurser's, most of our puzzles were tied in some way to their location. Players bowled at the bowling alley, watched a movie at a movie theater (and got a science fiction movie / theater - themed puzzle at the Galaxy 12 theater), traversed the corn maze, used statues as decoders at a sculpture garden, assembled a sign post at a sign post (well, they would have it they hadn't been skipped over it for time), played food Boggle after lunch, floated down a river to decode nautical flags, solved a song titles puzzle at the Experience Music Project... the locations mattered. Sometimes they can't. Sometimes you just need to get people from point A to point B, and the drive is too long so you need to put a clue somewhere between them to break up the drive. I get that, and that's fine. But most of the locations in a Game should, IMHO, fall into one of two categories: someplace cool or unusual and therefore interesting in its own right, or someplace thematically or mechanically linked to the puzzle found there. Otherwise, what's the point?

GC was friendly and helpful throughout, and we had no glitches either in puzzles or in logistics. We had a great time, and greatly appreciate all the effort that Coed Astronomy put into planning and running the event. I know how much work it is. Thanks!

A clue-by-clue rundown after the jump...

Comments (10) | last by Red, May 31, 3:51 PM

Sorry, Charlie

Well, things certainly happened tonight! Not a lot of questions got answered, of course, but the pieces sure moved around a lot.

I thought everything in the Looking Glass station was terrific. It hit all the right notes, with Charlie moving from confidence to hope to determined acceptance. I loved that as the water closed in around him, he had the presence of mind to communicate a key bit of information to Desmond. It was a good, noble death, and I thought the writers did a fine job here.

Hurley's cavalry charge was telegraphed, but I didn't expect the bus-- a great touch. Likewise for Sayid's thighs of death. Walt's reappearance certainly raises questions-- was it Walt, or was it the island? And if it was the island, does that mean Walt is dead (since all the other apparitions we've seen have been of dead people)?

Transforming the flashback to a flashforward was an unexpected twist, but that was a loooooooooooong way to go for that conversation with Kate and the revelation that the phone call was a mistake after all. So was Sawyer the man Kate was in a hurry to get back to, or was Sawyer in the casket?

I wonder, will they continue to flashforward next season, pulling a Galactica and jumping everything forward? Will the Oceanic survivors team up with Ben and the Others to fight the freighter occupants? If Penny's not associated with the freighter, who the heck is on that boat? What's the deal with Jacob anyway? And the real question: why the hell didn't the Others just talk to the Oceanic group in the first place and tell them what's what, instead of all this cloak and dagger nonsense? Well, the answer to the last question is "Then there would be no show." But I hope there's a reason for the characters to act stupidly beyond the requirements of the plot.

While Lost could definitely learn some lessons from Heroes in the moving-the-story-along-and-give-us-answers department, Heroes could learn a thing or two about finales from the Lost crew.

Comments (3) | last by Stephen Beeman, May 24, 12:31 PM

Heroes Season Finale

I've had a very busy three or four days-- about which, more later once I'm better rested. How busy? I'm so tired right now, I can't even bring myself to watch the Heroes finale because I want to enjoy it and not fall asleep partway through.

But I expect most of you have already seen it, so here's the place to comment. I'll follow up with my thoughts once I'm capable of having them again.

UPDATE: What a stunning disappointment.

There's a laundry list of failures for this episode, the most glaring of which is the anticlimactic final confrontation. In the alternate future episode we got a glimmer of what a fight between Peter and Sylar would look like, and it rocked. It was a tease, but we were OK with it because we knew the real show was coming in the finale. And then... fisticuffs? Really? With all the powers they've absorbed, Peter justs uses the super-strength he just picked up from Niki moments earlier, and Sylar just uses telekinesis? As viewers, we're entirely justified in feeling ripped off here. The show promised much, much more and failed to deliver. Other items on the list:

  • After all the shuffling of chess pieces the show performed to get everyone to the same place for the finale, virtually none of them needed to be there. Only Peter and Hiro, and finally Nathan, mattered. Why move everyone into place and then have them stand on the sidelines? Why didn't everyone join in the fight?
  • Why didn't Peter just fly into the stratosphere himself? Even if he didn't think of it first, once Nathan arrived he should have done it himself to prevent his brother from needlessly sacrificing his life.
  • Speaking of Nathan, WTF? Claire throwing herself out a window gave him an epiphany? He was a deus ex machina in the ancient sense of the term, literally descending from the heavens to resolve the story.
  • Parkman knew how powerful Sylar was, yet he recklessly charged into battle against him? I just don't see it.
  • D.L. gets seriously wounded and loses a lot of blood, but after brief ministrations from Mohinder he's up and walking in minutes?
  • "Save the cheerleader, save the world." Umm... how, exactly? Peter was the threat, not Sylar, and Claire played no part in the final showdown. I suppose the answer is that future-Hiro thought Sylar was the bomb, and that by preventing him from taking Claire's power Sylar would become killable. Except he apparently didn't die. The writers completely failed to explain how that catchphrase made any kind of sense.
  • What the hell was that time-travel experience / vision that Peter had, with Devoux telling him all he needs is love? What did Peter's big heart have to do with anything in the end? It was Nathan's change of heart that saved the day, after all. Again, that made no sense.
  • Hiro teleports in, announces his presence to Sylar, and then charges at him with his sword... and Sylar doesn't stop him? The man was quick enough to telekinetically stop bullets midflight, but he can't stop a charging Japanese geek, say by melting his sword? Why did they even bother spending an entire episode showing Sylar gaining the ability to melt metal with his mind if they never planned to have him use the ability? Why didn't Hiro just teleport right behind Sylar and slice off his head?
  • Ok, so Peter's gone nuclear and presumably survived. What's to stop him from going nuclear again tomorrow? How is the world any safer now? For that matter, why did he go nuclear in the first place? He seems perfectly capable of controlling all his other powers, so why not that one? I always assumed there was some external factor that would cause him to explode, but there wasn't any.
  • Niki knocks Candice unconscious, and the illusion of Niki disappears to reveal... the illusion of Candice? Based on the comments Candice made an episode or two ago, we should have seen a fat woman on the floor.
  • Nobody notices the big bad villain everyone's been hunting for weeks lurching his bleeding body across the ground towards the manhole, removing the manhole, going down, and then moving the manhole back? Sure, the pyrotechnics in the sky were impressive, but... nobody?

    I could go on. This finale failed on nearly every level. Feh.

  • Comments (13) | last by ryan, Sep 21, 11:25 AM

    9-0

    There was a lot of talk last night about Dreamz being smart, but come on. The guy can't string two thoughts together, let alone articulate them. You don't have to be educated to be smart, and you certainly don't need to be educated to realize that reneging on a public promise to a popular player will win you no friends. I'd wonder what he was thinking, but I know the answer-- he wasn't thinking. At least not coherently. When asked simple questions, the guy couldn't even give a simple answer. And when he did finally answer Probst's oft-repeated question, it was revisionist history and a blatant lie. It was clear from his interviews at the time that when he made the deal with Yau-Man, he fully intended to honor it. He understood the consequences, but he wanted the car and he claimed to value his integrity. But when the moment came, greed trumped honor. I certainly understand the dilemma, but a truly smart man would have realized that by reneging on the deal he was burning any chance of beating Earl in the finals. He simply couldn't win. A smart man would have realized that the winning play was to honor his deal. It wouldn't have been a million dollar win, but it would have allowed him to walk tall and possibly parlay that display of integrity into further opportunity as the man who decided his honor couldn't be bought. Instead, he revealed himself to be callow and untrustworthy and became one of the biggest losers in the history of Survivor.

    In a world where the best player wins the money, Yau-Man would be a lot richer. His gameplay was brilliant, from sending himself to Exile Island to secure the second immunity idol, to sensing the trap his opponents had set for him and deciding on the fly to use the idol he had when he most needed it. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the show's automobile sponsor decided to give Yau-Man another truck for the positive PR value.

    The jury was particularly bitter this season, notably-- and bizarrely-- Lisi. She practically voted herself out of the game, so where the hell is all that venom towards Cassandra coming from? News flash: EVERYONE's there for the million dollars. EVERYONE on the show is motivated by greed to some extent. Get over yourself. Another news flash for Boo: Tribal Council isn't exactly the forum for holier-than-thou Christian rhetoric. You all knew how the game was played when you signed on, and I don't recall anyone appointing Boo as Dreamz' spiritual guardian. I never got a good sense of who Boo was during the show, but that glimpse last night made me understand why everyone else wanted him gone.

    If Yau-Man couldn't win the money, Earl was the right second choice. He may not have won any individual immunities, but he was definitely playing the game (unlike Cassandra, who was flying so far below the radar she had grass in her teeth). That he did so without ruffling any jury feathers is a remarkable accomplishment. Normally they show some of the voters' commentary during the final vote, and when they didn't do that this time I suspected it might be a sweep.

    One of the more satisfying seasons of Survivor. Next, we'll see if Burnett can work his magic with pirates.

    Comments (6) | last by Yau fan, May 15, 10:20 AM

    The Invisible Man

    Leave it to Lost to answer some of the big questions about the island with a Ben flashback, but replace those questions with even bigger ones. Yes, Virginia, here there be spoilers.

    We learn that contrary to what Ben's been telling everyone, he wasn't born on the island. Like seemingly everyone else who got marooned there, he had some serious issues with his parents. Loved the explanation for the VW bus and the skeleton (and beer!) inside it (and the fact that the writers thought ahead and gave us the bus episode in the first place to make this flashback more resonant). We didn't really find out more about what the Dharma Initiative was up to, and we know conclusively that Ben's group are the so-called Hostiles, but we have no idea who the Hostiles are and why they're, er, hostile. And how exactly was Nestor Carbonell seemingly unaged between the time he first met Ben and today? Or can we just chalk that up to not being able to make the actor more youthful?

    The big question, of course, is what's the deal with Jacob? He clearly wasn't a figment of Ben's imagination. Locke heard him, and he definitely moved. But Ben didn't hear what he said to Locke, so he's not just invisible. I feel like we've crossed over into Heroes.

    Ben is clearly threatened by Locke. Leadership of his little group seems to be dictated by the level of communion one has with the island. Locke's brand new to the group, and yet nobody interfered with his pummeling of Mikhail. They deferred to him. Ben is clearly not happy with the idea of losing control. Did his daughter know Locke was in danger from Ben? Is that why she gave him the gun?

    We've seen a lot of ghosts on the island: Jack's dad, Kate's horse(?), Eko's brother, Ben's mom. Is Ben right about the "magic box"-- does the island provide people with the things they most desire?

    Questions, questions, questions. But last night's episode cooked, and proved once again that the show's at its most interesting when it fills in the holes.

    Comments (5) | last by Don, May 11, 2:18 PM

    Million Dollar Gossip

    I missed the first half of the Amazing Race finale, but unsurprisingly it didn't matter-- all teams were on the same flight to San Francisco. I don't mind that, per se... but for the final sprint to a million dollars, I want the last leg to be the hardest leg of all. I want teams to have the chance to come back from behind, to make big mistakes that cost them the victory, to use their wits to gain an advantage. What I want is for the whole shebang to be decided on the basis of which partner knows how their teammate would gossip about other teams.

    That was a horrible, horrible final challenge. It would have been fine as one step of a longer chain of challenges, but as the last, winner-take-all obstacle, it was poorly conceived. First, the content. The answers for 2 questions were obvious (Rob and Amber), leaving only 2 real questions on the test. For each question only a couple of choices were viable. Assuming you went with Rob and Amber for the others, that leaves, say, 16 possible combinations to try. A smart team should have been out of there quickly. But it wasn't a test of intelligence, it was a test of how much each team gossipped about the other teams during the race. THIS is what we want to reward them for? Past final challenges have involved travel knowledge-- assembling a map, ordering national flags, and so forth-- which is in keeping with the show's theme. Once the challenge was completed, there was little chance for a trailing team to catch up-- it was just a straight shot to the finish (or so it seemed; these situations would benefit from a map graphic showing the origination and destination points). This was just an anticlimax on every level, including the identity of the winners, neither of whom displayed any redeemable traits over the course of the entire race.

    The Amazing Race may be an impressive logistical feat that generates some great travelogue footage, but as a competition it is so seriously flawed that it boggles my mind that it consistently wins the Emmy for best reality show ahead of the far superior Survivor. But the Emmy is for the show, not the game. But really, would it hurt them to put a little more thought into the game before they throw a million bucks at someone?

    Normally a show saves its big punches for the season finale, so you can imagine my shock at Parkman's cranial buzz-cut courtesy of Sylar in tonight's Heroes. I know some people don't care much for Parkman, but I have a soft spot for Greg Grunberg so I've always been rooting for his character. It saddens me to see him go.

    Except, of course, that he hasn't. I'm lying. Parkman didn't have a run-in with Sylar. Nobody was killed in tonight's episode. A couple of people have told me that they were taken by surprise by my Heroes spoilers last week, so I'm just having a little fun at their expense.

    This week's Heroes would have been a massive disappointment even if it didn't follow last week's tour de force. It didn't feel like anything really happened. I liked the scene in Isaac's apartment, but we got a lot of filler with Micah, Jessica and DL, Peter and Claire... it should have been called Contractually Obligated Filler Episode. Boo, I say!

    Comments (11) | last by Steve, May 9, 6:27 AM

    Master of Deception

    The Amazing Race's less confrontational gameplay helps it bring home the Emmy year after year, but last night's Survivor illustrates why Mark Burnett is the true master of the genre. For the first time in a long while, they got me. I was absolutely sure Yau-Man's number was up. The carefully-edited conspiratorial clips, combined with the genius of putting all Alex, Stacy, Cassandra, and Dreamz on one side of Tribal Council sold it. With all four of them framed together in a close-up shot, it was hard not to believe they were banded together to oust Yau-Man.

    Everyone keeps harping about how Yau-Man's idol makes him a target, but there's a simple solution: don't vote for him. Let him get to the final four, then worry about him. The real problem is letting Earl get there along with him. If Cassandra, Dreamz, and Stacy were smart (Boo is clearly the next target), they'd blindside Earl to isolate Yau-Man and make him vulnerable when it's down to four. Nobody can afford to bring Yau-Man to the finals, because he'd be a shoo-in for the money.

    Meanwhile, the question of whether or not there is a God may well be settled this Sunday when we discover if the horrible Mirna and Charla are allowed to win The Amazing Race.

    Comment (1) | last by Travis Eberle, May 5, 8:54 PM

    Payoff's a Bitch

    Damn! First Heroes makes with the stellar, now Lost. This is how the show should have been all along-- pay off on one storyline (Sawyer's quest for the con man), introduce a mystery on another (Jack and Juliet's secret). Most of had already connected the dots between Locke's father and Sawyer's quarry, of course, but Josh Hollaway and Terry O'Quinn are two of the show's strongest performers, so any show focusing on them has a leg up.

    I really hope that before the end of the season, they explain what the hell the Others are up to. A conclave of people-- men, women, and children-- willing to not just allow a man to be tortured and killed, but to gather around and watch it happen? That needs some 'splainin'. "You're not the man we thought you were?" You mean a cold-blooded murderer? That whole sequence made no sense to me. They went through a lot of trouble to capture Locke's father and bring him to the island so Locke could make that grand gesture, a gesture than Ben apparently didn't even want him to make. I need some Cliff's Notes.

    Meanwhile, I'll take Character Actions That Make No Sense for $800, Alex. No matter how ticked off she is at Jack, there's no way Kate would blab about a possible rescue in front of Juliet, who Kate clearly neither likes nor trusts. There are dozens of ways the writers could have had Jack find out about the former Las Vegas chickadee without making Kate do something stupid.

    Quibbles, really, because the show as a whole was riveting. That's what comes of actually paying off the audience instead of stringing them along.

    Comments (3) | last by Nikki, May 19, 8:05 PM

    Save th-- Whaaaa?

    I was so smug.

    Weeks ago, I'd already figured out that the exploding man on Heroes wasn't Peter. It had to be Sylar. The price of his wanton gorging on other people's powers. Somewhere along the line he'd meet up with Ted, slice off his skull, and absorb a nuclear meltdown he hadn't counted on. The heroes would have to kill Sylar before he could go Hiroshima, and it would take Peter's yin to defeat Sylar's yang-- but perhaps at the cost of Peter's life (you can't leave someone as powerful as Peter wandering around in your universe unchecked-- there has to be some price to pay to rein in his abilities). That was the logical conclusion to all of this season's storylines. So when this week's episode revealed that Sylar was the bomb, I nodded sagely. I knew it.

    When Nathan explained to Mohinder that he understood how things worked, that killing all the special people would unite everyone else, I was a little slow on the uptake. Knowing how things work is Sylar's trick. "Nathan's starting to sound like Sylar," I thought. I thought it was supposed to suggest that power and fear had twisted Nathan. So when Claire froze in her tracks and started bleeding, I was stunned. I didn't see that coming at all, and I loved it.

    Alternate history stories are already among my favorite genre, but the success of this twist sealed the deal: Best. Episode. Ever. Even with Parkman's poorly-justified character transformations in service of the plot.

    But now Hiro's got a problem. The comic book pages suggest that Hiro has to kill Sylar (and kudos for the completely sensible payoff to "Save the cheerleader, save the world"), but Peter's the one who actually blows up. Does Sylar somehow push him into it? Did saving Claire wind up saving the world both because Sylar can't heal and Peter now can?

    I'm back to not knowing how this is going to end, which is exactly where I want to be.

    Comments (8) | last by Brian Leet, May 6, 8:26 AM