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      Monday
      Jul022012

      Falling Skies Season 2, Episode 4 Young Bloods

       

      Falling Skies Season 2 Ep. 4  Young Bloods
      Recap:
      The cold open shows Matt being stalked by Skitters.  Just about the time you start to think he might be dreaming, the Skitters’ heads explode all over Matt.  I guess Matt is now working as Skitter bait for two redneck doofuses, Tek and Boone.

      Ben and Hal get their bikes stolen, so Ben uses his super hearing to track them.  Tom and Doc share an intimate moment over a chocolate pie, until they are cockblocked by Lourdes.  Aw, it’s good that they didn’t spend too much time dragging out their relationship.  I think in any disaster scenario, you’ve got to take your joy where you can find it.
      Ben and Hal find an enclave of kids.  After the requisite dick-swinging with leader of this gang of malnourished ruffians, Diego, they decide to talk rather than shoot.  He accepts Hal’s offer to get the group some food.  Tom finds out that Matt was involved in the Skitter hunt and he puts both the doufuses on latrine duty.  Tek is respectful and apologizes; Boone is defiant.   Matt is embarrassed and runs off.  Later Tom tries to apologize, but Matt blows him off.
      Hal brings some of the ruffians back to camp, and in a pretty good surprise, the girl turns out to be Jeannie, Captain Weaver’s daughter.  He apologizes for not finding her before her mother and sister died.  Lourdes asks Diego about some family in Mexico and he tells her that the town was wiped out.  Diego bonds with Matt a little.  When they return to the ruffian hideout, the Skitters have been there and taken everybody.  Only one kid is left to sledgehammer the plot.  The 2nd Mass realizes that the new building they have been scouting is a harness facility.   Diego defies Weaver’s orders and Weaver flips out a little.  Jeanie takes exception, yells at Weaver, and leaves with Diego to rescue his people.  Matt, with something to prove, comes along for the ride too. 
      Weaver talks with Tom about his family and his regrets.  Tom tells Weaver that if he could just talk straight to her, he could change their relationship.  Weaver, Tom, Ben, Hal, Dai, Margret, and Tek go on the rescue mission.  In a plot turn that surprises nobody, Diego’s band was all captured and is now headed to the harnessing chamber.  Matt, Jeanie, and a redshirt kid are all tied up face down like on a massage table.  Even though this is really predictable, it is still pretty scary.  Being face down like that just adds to the helpless feeling.  The harnessing bug crawls down a chute—yes crawls!  The things are alive and sentient.  Double yuck!  It takes over the redshirt boy.  We see for the first time this season a matronly Skitter who runs the facility.  Also creepy.  Tom busts in and kills the Skitter, then the harnessing bug before it can get Matt and Jeanie.  Man, I thought for sure they would get taken.  J  Ben reacts to the pool of fluid where the harnesses are kept.  Hal sees his spikes glow blue, then Ben and the others destroy the harnesses.  One of the harnesses attacks the captain and bites his leg.  It’s not made out to be a big deal, but who knows?  Dai and Margret rescue all the other hostages.    
      Weaver gives his daughter the compass from episode 3 and apologizes for being a jerk.  Diego and the others are leaving, which surprised me, I figured they would be joining the 2nd Mass.  Jeanie talks to Weaver about saying goodbye to Diego, but it’s pretty clear she is saying goodbye to him.  Ben and Hal share a rare stick of gum.  Ben doesn’t want to talk about his glowing spikes and swears Hal to secrecy.  Ben is afraid that he will be killed by the survivors if 
                                                                                             they knew. 
      Tom puts Tek back on active duty and tells him to keep Boone in line.  Jamil comforts Lourdes.  Jeanie leaves a note for Weaver and takes off with Diego.  Weaver weeps.  Matt decides he could use a little comfort too, and sleeps in the same cot as Tom.
      Opinion:
      They are doing a much better job of breaking the tension in these episodes than they did last year.  It was still a really long, slow conclusion, but there were quiet, more tender moments in the middle too.
      No Red-eye or Pope at all in this episode.  Dai has no lines either.
      I love the scenes with the mother Skitter.  There was a really creepy one last year where a mother Skitter was cuddled up with a half dozen harnessed tweens.  The idea of a nurturing monster like this is really innovative.  Solid work.
      They show Tom and Hal helping the harnessed redshirt boy, but we never see what becomes of him.  He looks too similar to Matt to be on the series, I’d guess.  
      The battlin’ Mason boys all did pretty well this week.  Even Matt was good in his scenes.
      They are going with a very slow build on the Hal/Margret relationship.  I think that is working.
      Grade: 
      Another solid effort here.  The scene with the harnessing center was quite tense, even though the outcome was pretty obvious.  I was surprised that Diego and Jeanie didn’t become a part of the 2ndMass.  I’d like to see this episode as renewing Weaver’s desire to get the aliens off the planet, since now he has something personal to fight for.  B+
      Second Watch Review:
      Noah Wile and producer Greg Beeman are there with Wil.  He reveals that the harness creatures are mostly puppets with some enhanced CGI.  Noah and Wil discus the perils of giving your child freedom versus keeping them safe.  They then discuss the changes in Tom and Weavers’ characters.  Wil tries to get a spoiler on the return of Jeanie, but nothing is forthcoming.  Wil then asks about whether Tom can be trusted, and Noah refuses to give any real info, but he does reveal some insight into Tom’s character.  
      This episode is not live, which I think the others were, and the audience seems like a bunch of ringers.  However, that means that the questions are a little more coherent than usual, so I guess I don’t really mind.  Greg reveals that Connor Jessup, who plays Ben, was not a naturally athletic kid, and he really had to work hard to bulk up and be the warrior character he needs to be.  
      Wil seemed really comfortable on this episode.  He was not using cue cards and spoke with his hands in a very Wil-like fashion.  I enjoyed this episode more than the other two, but to be honest if I didn’t want to support Wil and write about it in the reviews; I doubt I would bother watching.  The info from the actors is just not that compelling.  They aren’t going to be able to join in on the speculation with us, since they know how it all ends, and that’s really the fun part. 

       

      Thanks to Fanpop.com, wn.com, tv.com, for the pictures!

       

       

       

       

       

      Tuesday
      Jun262012

      Falling Skies Second Watch


      Quick review of Falling Skies Second Watch



      I’ve now watched two episodes of the TNT web series Falling Skies Second Watch.  Wil Wheaton is the host of the show, which is following the format of Chris Hardwick’s Talking Dead show.  Wil and a studio audience watches the show live, then has a chat with stars from the show.  The premier episode was 45 minutes long and featured the whole cast.  The first shock to me was finding out that Jessy Schram plays the character of Karen, and not Brittany Snow.  I watched the entire first season assuming the girl from American Dreams was on this show, but she is a different girl.  Check these pictures out:
      Jessy Schram
       Brittany Snow

      The second episode featured Peter Shinkoda, Colin Cunningham, and Mpho Koaho along with the writer and is only 15 minutes long.  I would assume this is going to be the format from now on.  

      Wil is a great host.  He is conversational and friendly throughout, rarely fawning.  As an actor himself, he can talk to the other actors and get real conversation from them, not just the basic platitudes and moronic quotes.  Having the secondary actors rather than the main cast, gives the show a much breezier feel.  They are open to talk, and not jaded by the talk show format.  Everyone seems excited to be there and share their excitement of the show with Wil,each other, and the live audience.  

      The questions from the audience are hit and miss, as live audience members are want to be.  I think I like the Talking Dead format a little better where it is just fans geeking out over the show.  But if you are a Falling Skies fan, or a fan of Wil’s, you should check out the show here.             

      Tuesday
      Jun262012

      Falling Skies SEason 2 Ep 3 Recap and Review


      Falling Skies S2 Ep3: Compass



      The story so far:  
      Last season Tom was taken on the spaceship.  When he returned not everyone trusted him, including himself.  His boys have grown up and grown apart in his absence.  Tom brought back a parasite from the spaceship, but it escaped and disappeared into the eye socket of a Skitter, Red-eye.


      Recap:
      Ben and Jimmy are out sniping Skitters.   Tom and Captain Weaver discuss their next move.  Weaver wants to hide out in the Catskills for the winter; Tom wants to continue the fight. 
      Leave or die
                      Pope and the Berserkers (minus Anthony) kidnap Tom and take him out in the woods.  Pope tells Tom he needs to leave or die.  Ben and Jimmy attack and disarm Pope and the Berserkers.  Weaver wants to kick out Pope but Tom argues for them to stay, and is assigned to the Berserker group.  Somehow I doubt this will end with a show of mutual respect.

      Bad day for Jimmy
                      Ben and Jimmy are out sniping again.  The first two go down with no trouble, but the third is Red-eye.  He smashes Jimmy into a tree, and then paralyzes Ben somehow with the remnants of the harness on his back.  Red-eye leaves rather than killing Ben, but Jimmy is impaled on the tree.  That is not good.  Ben gets Jimmy to the Doc and she goes to work on him.  With the fit that Weaver throws in his tent, I was reminded how close he and Jimmy were in the first few episodes of the show. 
                      The Berserkers go to the kill site and Tom finds Jimmy’s compass.  Tom also overrides Pope’s authority, and he’s right, of course.  Surprise, surprise, surprise.  Ben is acting all surly and talks back to Hal.  Tom gives Ben Jimmy’s compass.  An airplane arrives, and with an overdramatic reveal…the pilot is a girl!  J    Avery Churchill tells the 2nd Mass about the new government and resistance that has formed in Charleston.  Tom wants to head that way, but Weaver thinks it might be a pipe dream. 
                      In a truly shocking moment, Jimmy dies.  Quietly, with no big dramatic moment.  I kept waiting for a hero save, but none came.  Weaver digs Jimmy’s grave by himself.  As Ben dresses Jimmy’s body for a funeral, he notices that his compass is missing.  Tom finds Jimmy’s compass around Pope’s neck.  When Pope refuses to take it off, Tom beats the holy hell out of him.  I did not expect the alpha dog problem to be solved so quickly and so definitively.  Pope is thrown out of the 2ndMass, when the rest of the crew refuses to leave with him, Anthony leaves with Pope—ostensibly to keep an eye on him.
                      Tom meets with Doc in the medic bus and they share a little smooch.  All 176 members of the 2nd Mass come to Jimmy’s funeral.  Weaver gives a very stirring speech.  He and Ben remain at the gravesite and Ben finally breaks down, showing Weaver his grief.  It’s good to see Ben acting like a human, and a kid, rather than a cold, alien-killing machine.  Weaver decides to take the 2ndMass to Charleston, as if there was any other real choice to be made.  Ben is still at the gravesite when he is again paralyzed by Red-eye, but Hal interrupts before he can do much more than look at him.  Again, Ben refuses to admit that it is happening.
      Red-eye and Ben


      Opinions:
      I’m really upset about the misuse of the Jimmy character.  I really liked the dynamic of a child soldier that Jimmy presented in the first few episodes of the show, especially since he was of the age that he should have been harnessed by the Skitters.  However the soldiers of the 2ndMass treated him like an equal and he was.  His dynamic with Weaver was really interesting too.  Weaver treated him like a soldier, but also a little like a son.  By the middle of the season Jimmy had been relegated to hostage and “child in peril” duty, which really weakened his character.  I wish instead of being killed, Jimmy would just have been badly wounded and had to be taken out of active duty, like have him lose an arm or something.  Then he could have been used as a drill sergeant or something.  It would have been funny to see him training the kids of the 2nd Mass, like a tired old drill instructor, even though he was only 15 years old.  RIP Jimmy, you deserve better.

      The other interesting plot turn was Avery Churchill and the Charleston government.  Mymissy thinks that she is a double agent, sent to bring people to the camps.  I suggested that she was being controlled by the Skitters, but she thinks she speaks too plainly to be being controlled.  However, I would think that ANYONE who shows up on the door of the 2nd Mass would at least be inspected for a harness.  With all of her long hair and bulky jacket, she could easily be wearing one.  I hope I’m wrong, but I just don’t expect any good luck for the people of the 2nd Mass anytime soon.  The Charleston plot at least gives them a sense of purpose.
      The Hero Reveal of Avery Churchill


      Grade:  The episode itself was pretty good.  I’m excited about the Charleston plot.  I’m sad about the death of the Jimmy character that never was.  I hope eventually Ben stops being a surly shit, but I’m not counting on it.  B-

      Thanks to Three if by Space and Seriable for the pictures!

      Monday
      Jun252012

      Falling Skies Season 2 Ep. 1&2 Recap and Review


      Falling Skies S2 Ep1&2 Review

      Last summer I started watching Falling Skies on TNT, and it quickly became one of my favorite new shows.  I thought this summer I would write recap/reviews of every episode.

      The story so far:
      The Mason Men
      Falling Skies takes place in the aftermath of an alien invasion.  A small band of militia, called the Second Massachusetts, a group of about 100 men, women, and children, carry on the fight.  The main character is Tom Mason, played by Noah Wyle.  He has three sons, 20-year-old Hal, teenager Ben, and child Matt.  Ben, along with most teens, was at one time “harnessed“ by the aliens (called “Skitters” by the Second Mass).  Ben was freed from the alien mind control, but he has been given super-human abilities from his time with the aliens.   In last season’s finale, Tom was taken aboard the Skitter craft.



      Episode 1: Worlds Apart
      Recap:
      Three months have passed since Tom got on the alien craft.  The Second Mass sets up an ambush for the Skitters and their Mechs.   We see Ben with a little super-human hand-to-hand combat with a Skitter, and then he accidentally shoots his long lost father.  Whoops!  Doctor Glass begins the patch up job on their mobile surgery bus.  While under anesthesia, we see flashbacks to Tom’s time in the ship.  We see him being tortured by a red-eyed alien; then he is rescued by Karen, Hal’s former girlfriend, now a harnessed Skitter psychic translator.  She takes him to the Tall Alien, presumably the leader.  TA offers Tom the opportunity for humanity to surrender and go to a concentration camp. 
      Back to the future, Ben promises to show Matt a thing or two about fighting, then gets snotty with Hal about who is in charge.  On the next raid, the aliens blow up the truck and Pope’s Harley before they can begin.  They realize that the alien airships (beamers) are targeting the heat of the trucks.  Enter a new character, Jamil, who has convenient engineering skills, useful to camouflage the heat of the vehicles.
                      Back on the ship, and Tom has a debate with the TA.  He refuses the offer of the camps, grabs Red-eye’s shock stick, and zaps TA with it.  He is quickly subdued and dropped off in a field with a dozen other survivors.  The Skidders then proceed to massacre the lot of them, except Tom, who is allowed to go free by Red-eye. 
                       Back home Ben baits Hal into a fight by teaching Matt to shoot and mentioning Karen in front of Hal’s new love interest, Margret.  When Hal takes a swing at him, Ben demonstrates just how physically dominant he is over his big brother.
                       


      Karen?



      or Margret?
                       Flashback to Tom, walking back to the Second Mass from Michigan.  He rescues a young girl from attack.  The girl’s mother is dead nearby.  Tom and the girl escape on her motorcycle.  I figured she would be another new character, but she dumps Tom and heads to the mountains once he gets to Boston.  This is good.  She was annoying and had green teeth.
                      Back at camp, the Skitters are closing in, but they can’t move the bus because Doc Glass is still doing surgery on Tom.  Hal, Ben, Margret, and Dai stay behind to guard the bus.  The mechs pass by without incident, and Doc finishes her surgery.   There is a final flashback showing Tom getting shot, then he wakes up to the loving sight of Doc Glass, aw how sweet.  Their hand-holding is cockblocked when Ben and the other boys enter and we get our typical happy ending.  Tom is welcomed back by everyone, save Pope, who is suspicious as usual.  He plants the seed in Captain Weaver’s mind as well as the episode ends. 

      Opinions:
      The effects and CGI in this show is really well done.  I don’t know what kind of budget the show has, but compared to say, Terra Nova, which I know was a very expensive show, this looks much better.  I also want to mention the scene on the bus where the Skitters pass by.  There is no CGI in this scene, only lights and sound effects, but the tension is played out wonderfully.  They did a great job doing a scene like this on the cheap.
      I like Jamil, the new engineer character.  He’s got great dreads.  He brings a slight comedic touch to the show.  This show needs a break or two in the despair. 
      The fighting Mason brothers’ subplot is going to problematic this season.  None of the three of them are good enough actors to make this interesting.
      Grade:  I thought this was a good re-introduction to the series.  The CGI scene with Tom and TA was a highlight, as was the scene with no CGI on the bus.  Great acting and tense plotting will continue to make this show great.  My major complaint with this show is that every episode last season ended with a drawn out, calm ending.  I would like to see some of those moments of calm and levity throughout the episode, not exclusively at the end of EVERY one.  A-
      Episode 2:
      Shall We Gather at the River.
      Recap:
                      The show opens with Tom having a nightmare about the red-eyed alien.  He goes to see the Doc, worried that the Skitters might have messed with his mind.  Doc thinks he is being paranoid.  Jamil finds a bridge the Second Mass might be able to use to cross the river, where they’ve been trapped.  Dai shoots down a Skidder ship which falls to the other side, but not after slicing the bridge in half.   Tom reveals to Captain Weaver that he doesn’t think he should be trusted.  Weaver also thinks he’s being paranoid.  I know a foreshadow when I see one.
                      Weaver tells Jamil to rebuild the bridge, while Ben swims across the river on a scouting mission.  Hal and Tom discuss Ben’s changes and start to reconnect.  Tom makes Hal promise to “keep an eye on” him.  Hal also thinks Tom is being paranoid.  Matt overhears; then Tom collapses.  Matt is not convinced Tom is being paranoid, as the sledgehammer of plot drops hard.
                      Doc Glass looks in Tom’s eye and finds something.  In the scene of the week, she finds a worm in his eye and pulls it out with forceps.  
      ARRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!

       Even the second time, it is really hard to watch.  Tom insists that Weaver zip tie him to the bus until they get across the river, just in case. 
                      Ben swims across the river and finds the Skitter ship.  Inside the wreckage is a live creature, who is making a noise only Ben can hear.  He stomps the small creature to death then follows the noise in his head until he finds the control tower for the beamer ships. 
                      Back at camp, Matt won’t have anything to do with Tom, and Pope shows up to gripe and complain about Tom being allowed to stay in camp.  Pope is a cool character when he is fighting, but the rest of his whining and complaining is getting old already.  Even his fellow Berserker, Anthony, pulls his gun to prevent Pope from killing Tom.  
                      Ben and Tom have a discussion about mind control.  Ben says that he uses hate to keep the Skidders from taking over.  Tom, predictably, argues that love is more powerful than hate.   Ben doesn’t want to hear that though.  Ben lies to Weaver, Jamil, Hal, and Anthony about being able to hear the Skitters, but Weaver suspects he is lying. 
      The summer's cutest new couple
      As the 2nd Mass prepares to bug out, we have a lighter moment between Pope and his Berzerkers, then Jamil and Lourdes where she kisses him, then Margret and Hal.   
      As they prepare to cross the bridge, the worm taken from Tom’s eye burrows its way out of the container.  It starts to crawl up Lourdes, but instead of infecting her, it turns into a moth thing and flies off.  Good fake out, Falling Skies!
      As Ben, Hal, Margret, and Dai move in to blow up the beamer tower, the 2nd Mass bugs out across the repaired bridge.  Dai blows the tower before the beamers can re-blow the bridge.  As the vehicles cross, Pope and the Berzerkers retreat from the oncoming Mechs and Skitters.  The bus breaks through the bridge stranding Doc, Tom and Matt.  In the big drama moment of the night, Matt decides to trust his father, freeing him to fight while the others push the bus across the bridge.  All that foreshadowing is for naught, as Tom is fine and climbs a 50 cal, helping to hold off the Skitters while they push the bus across the bridge.  A Skitter climbs the 50 cal and is threatening Tom when Matt grabs a gun bigger than he is and kills the Skitter.  I don’t know enough about firepower to know if that is feasible or not.  It seems not.
      Tom waits too long killing Skitters, and Pope grabs the detonator from Jamil blowing the bridge with Tom still on it.  I bet he dies here.  As Hal comforts Matt, Pope comes over to apologize.  Hal punches him just as Tom comes walking out of the river.  Ben pulls his gun, but Tom says, “Once is enough I think.”  I’m shocked.  I thought for sure he was dead. 
      Lourdes notices the empty specimen jar as the moth flies to Red Eye the Skitter, and crawls into his other eye socket.  Yuck.  Cool, but yuck.
      Opinion: 
                      The eye scene is an early contender for summer gross out of the year.  Time to step it up True Blood!
                      I thought we’d seen the red-eyed Skitter too many times.  I really like the idea of creating specific Skitters with specific personalities.  It’s hard to do when the characters don’t talk.  He (She?) is officially a character now.
                      I appreciated that they put the moment of Zen in the middle of the episode, rather than at the end.  A good change of pace.
      Opinion:
      This episode was fairly typical of the show.  It was fairly predictable, but very well done.  If you didn’t like this one, you don’t like Falling Skies.  This is pretty much all you get from it on a week-to week basis.  The eye scene and the dawning of the Red Eye era push this to a little better than average.  B+
      RED EYE!!!!!!!!!!

      Thursday
      Jun212012

      The Lego Death Star

                      As I tossed the last piece of my Lego Death Star into the box, I am filled with a series of memories.  That 3803 pieces of plastic could be imbued with such emotion shocks even me.   I’m typing this with a sore thumb, and a heart filled with joy and sadness.
                      The saga of the Death Star begins and ends with my oldest daughter, Lilly.  When Lilly was five years old, she begged me to tell her stories as we drove in the car.  Quickly she tired of ones that started “There once was a five year-old girl named Lilly, and she had a mommy and a daddy and a sister named Katie…”  So I started burning through every one I could think of that began “When I was a little boy…”   After those were exhausted, I had a breakthrough.  The next time Lilly said, “Tell me a story Daddy.”  I began with, “Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away…”  It took me three car rides to get to the climax of the story, and as I pulled up to the curb, shut off the car and helped Lilly out of her seat belt, I told her, “I guess if you want to see the end of the story, you’ll just have to watch the movie.”   Lilly’s eyes bugged out of her head and she squealed and clapped with delight.  “There’s a MOVIE daddy!?”  Needless to say, dinner and bedtime was a little late that night.
          What could make a dad more proud than having his five-year-old daughter become a Star Wars nut in front of his eyes?  We tore through all three movies by the weekend, and soon got the Lego Star Wars game for Playstation 2.  Around the same time we started receiving a Lego catalog which I threw in the backseat of the car to amuse the girls along with the other junk mail.  Lilly was amazed by the Lego Death Star.  A $400 piece of Danish craftsmanship, it really was a thing of beauty.  Literally, the most expensive item in a very expensive catalog.  Lilly wanted it with the passion that only a five-year-old can muster; I figured it would be out of favor within a few weeks.  However, months went by and the Death Star was all she talked about.  Gone were the Disney Princess movies, and Barbie dolls.  Lilly was all Star Wars all the time, and about 50% of the time was focused on the Death Star.
                      At Christmastime she was just sure that she would be receiving it.  My wife and I had fallen into a bad habit of referring to ourselves as “Santa” when we were talking amonst ourselves and our friends about buying gifts for the kids, and Lilly caught me off guard one afternoon, again as I was pulling up to the curb. 
                      “I think I’m going to ask Santa for the Death Star,” she said from behind the now-battered catalog.
                      As I gathered my briefcase and the girls’ lunch boxes I replied casually, “I don’t think Santa can afford the Death Star for you honey.”
                      The trap snapped shut.  “Daddy, Santa doesn’t need money.  He makes all the toys.”
                      Thinking quickly, I turned around and looked at Lilly in her car seat.  I used the most mocking and disdainful voice I could muster without laughing, “Lilly, are you serious?  Do you really think Santa has a Lego factory at the North Pole?  Of course he has to buy the toys.  Sure, he makes the wooden ones and stuff, but he’s got to buy the rest.  I’m sure Lego cuts him a deal, but come on.”
                      This was enough to chew on that it shut her down long enough for me to escape the car and escape into the house.  But the seed had been planted, not with her, but with me.
                      That summer my buddies took me to the casino for my birthday.  I won a poker tournament for $500, I used some of the winnings to fix the transmission in my van.  I went back again in the Fall and won another $300, I spent some that money on a fire pit my wife wanted.  The third time I went back I told myself that if I had a really good trip, I would use some of the winnings to buy the Death Star for Lilly.  Almost a year after she had seen if for the first time, it was still her heart’s desire.  I left the poker table up $1200, so excited that I could make my daughter’s dream come true.  I mean, how often does that happen?  Think about the object you want more than ANYTHING in the world.  A house, a car, a piece of art, whatever.  Will you ever have the money to make that happen?  Probably not.  But here, this one time, I could make my daughter’s greatest dream come true.
                      When I got home and ordered the toy, it was backordered and took several months to arrive.  In the meantime, I lost all of my bankroll, about $1000, in my final casino trip.  Shortly after that, my wife and I divorced.  Money was very tight of course, and I considered cancelling the order several times.  I had never told Lilly I was getting it for her, and she would never know how close she came.  But every time I tried, I just couldn’t do it.  Lilly was handling the divorce very well, better than I was for sure, and knowing how happy this would make her feel, I just couldn’t cancel the order.  It was connected to those happier, hopeful, times and I suppose I needed that as much as she did.
                      When the package arrived, the hugs, kisses, and screams were appropriately ecstatic.   But once the packages were opened, and the mini-figs put together, the magnitude of the project started to wear us down.  Online sources said that it was a 25-30 hour assembly.  Lilly’s “help” and my own stupidity (I didn’t realize that each bag represented a specific step, so I ripped them all open at once to get the mini figs and weapons out and had to resort all 3803 pieces.) added at least 10-15 more hours.  Since Lilly was only with me every other week, and we could only really work on it in the time after her younger sister went to bed, we only got a third of it done in a month.  I finally started doing it myself on the weeks when she wasn’t with me before I went to bed.  I made quicker progress that way, and it was a great way to focus and relax, but I was so melancholy during those months.  As I was tearing it apart today, the tactile sensations in my fingers made me really sad.  At one point I thought I might take up Lego building as a relaxing pastime, but after today, I don’t really think I’ll be able to do a major project without dredging up those feelings.
                      Even after it was done, and the initial feelings of accomplishment wore off, the thing only had a few months of play value.  Lilly still loved it and played with it a lot, but her little sister was just too young and reckless…even now she has a penchant for throwing things when she is upset.  So I had to keep it on a high shelf and would only get it down for her if her sister were napping or otherwise occupied.   The Death Star sat in my bedroom getting regular, if sporadic, play for about a year.  But by the time I was ready to move in with my new fiancée, Lilly had moved on to other things.  She was now hooked on Harry Potter.  The Death Star still has a lot of monetary value; Legos don’t really depreciate, so I asked Lilly if she would be upset if I sold it.  She said, “Can we buy Hogwarts with the money?”  I told her no way, because she would want to play with it all the time and I didn’t want her to lose any pieces for such an expensive set.  I was meticulous with the Death Star and 2 years later I’m pretty sure all 3803 pieces are accounted for.
                      However, last weekend, my friends Tim and Tony made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  They are both huge Lego fans, and had been trying to buy the Death Star from me for a while.  We were at the Lego Store in Castleton, and Lilly was ogling the Hogwarts Castle.  They were wanting to buy it for her as a gift, but I was balking, saying it was way too generous.  Tim said, well sell me that Death Star for $200, and let me buy the Castle for Lilly.  That way you can say that part of the castle came out of the sale of Death Star.  While the logic is weird, it made perfect sense to me.  Lilly gets an amazing gift that she absolutely adores (she built the whole thing in less than 24 hours) and my friend gets an amazing toy that he and his family will enjoy a lot.
       As I was finishing deconstructing the final layer this morning, I got a message from my new wife.  She said, “Are you sad to see it go?”  I replied, “A little.  It served its purpose though.  It’s time to move on.”