The Walking Dead Season 7: Rock in the Road; New Best Friends 

So, I’m back and cautiously attending the show. I was looking forward to this episode, as it’s mostly Negan-free, and it’s nice to see Rick getting his mojo back. Plus, I’m partial to Jesus, and he’s just really pretty, and he got to say some lines during this episode, so…

We open this episode with Rick and the Gang, walking with new pep in their steps, into Hilltop to confront Gregory about joining them in taking down Negan. Greg is at his infuriating worst, calling everybody out of their names, until Rick starts to lose his shit. My favorite moment is when Michonne, realizing her bae is about to lose it and slap Greg into the next episode, pulls her man back from the brink with a single touch, stepping in to save Greg’s sorry life. She grounds Rick in a way absolutely no one else can. Watch her face as Rick starts to get more and more agitated in discussion with Gregory, after Greg calls him Ricky. Incidentally, why is Greg in charge? He is a total trash coward!

Negotiations with Hilltop are a bust, so Jesus takes the crew to The Kingdom, where they meet up again with Morgan, who lies about Carol’s whereabouts, even though he sees Daryl standing right there, and knows the two had a connection. The funniest moment is when Rick and the others meet King Ezekiel for the first time, and are staring, rather goggle eyed, at Shiva, when Jesus apologizes for not remembering  to tell them there was gonna be a tiger. The look on Jesus’ face is priceless.

They strike out at The Kingdom. King  Zeke is reluctant to get involved in a war, but he  needs to understand that his relationship with The Saviors, is already tentative. They are bullies who can decide, on a whim, to change the dynamic of their relationship with him at any time, (and I’m certain they will, because that’s what sadistic people do.) The King’s people are always in danger from them, no matter what he does.

The group is on a time stamp, because Daryl’s escape has been discovered, and Rick knows The Saviors will come directly to Alexandria to look for him, and terrorize his people. (They know this because Jesus managed to steal one of the Saviors walkie -talkies.) They need to get to Alexandria before the Saviors do. On their way back home they meet a roadblock of cars and bombs, and make plans to take the bombs with Rosita’s help. Can I just say that Rosita is seriously getting on my nerves. I know why she’s acting the way she is but it’s still irksome. Nevertheless, I hope she doesn’t bring harm to herself. She’s in a kind of fatalistic depression that is going to get her, or someone else, killed. Again.

While  stealing the bombs, a horde of Walkers appears, and the Richonne team take most of them out with a couple of cars and some wires. Can I just point out how batshit this show has become this season? I loved this scene. (I won’t even mention the scene, a few episodes back, where Jesus backkicks some zombies, at Hilltop.) Afterwards, Michonne has to talk Rick down when he has a panic attack, at the realization, of just how much danger he just put his bae through. Rick has always had to consider others, but there was a power differential, with Carl and the others, that could create some control for their safety. The same isn’t true in his relationship with Michonne. She has a level of autonomy that the other characters lack, and she’s not like his late-wife, who would stay put when he told her. He needs to start considering the kind of danger he used to just walk into, with an understanding that the others would stay behind. Michonne isn’t going to stay behind. I think he’s just starting to realize that this woman would walk through the Gates of Hell for him, so  he may have to rethink doing that kind of stuff.

Father Gabriel makes off with Alexandria’s supplies, before Rick and the others can get back, but  Rick is just in time to meet The Saviors, and assure them that Daryl isn’t there, although The Saviors wonder at why they don’t have anything. Why do nasty people, when searching for stuff, always break things and topple things over? This is a trope I’ve seen in every TV show and movie, with the villains toppling over chairs, tables, and picture frames, as if whatever they’re looking for can be found in that bottle of orange juice they just smashed on the floor. Incidentally, this  also shows the viewer what type of villains they are, and how important, and/or meaningful, their search is. The Saviors issue  some threats and leave. Rick investigates Gabriel’s disappearance. He trusts Gabe wouldn’t do what he did without a reason, and finds a note from Gabe to go the boat, from which came  their last batch of supplies.

When they arrive, they’re attacked by a new group of people, who live on heaps of garbage. Right now fans are calling them the Scavengers. Rick however is unbowed. He smiles because what he sees is an opportunity to make new allies.

Now:

And that’s sort of what happens, after some very rough negotiating techniques, where Rick has to fight a spike covered zombie, in a garbage-dome, while Michonne yells out helpful hints, like “Use your environment, dude!” Well, I’m kind of paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it. I like how the writers are showing the dynamics of their relationship, since they got together. The creators said the two of them were long destined to be a couple, so we’ve seen some of this dynamic the entire time, but this season we get the full outlook, and it’s interesting to watch Rick have these epiphanies, brought about by his relationship with her. Michonne, is an anchor, she’s a sea of calm. Like I said, she emotionally grounds him, and he is her emotional safety, where she can freely express herself, without judgment.(For example, notice who receives most of her smiles.) They keep each other from spinning out of control, as we saw that first few months in Alexandria.

This new group of people are really weird, though, as the show just seems to be throwing all manner of craziness into the plot. They dress like extras from Star Trek, and the leader, Jadis, talks like a constipated Vulcan, and has a low concept of personal space. If the Hilltoppers are the Hippies, I guess these are the Goths of the Apocalypse, (which is a great name for an Industrial Rock band.)

Rick makes a deal with Jadis, to take down the Saviors, for a third of the spoils, and there you have it. This is Rick’s first step in the war, I guess. Now he needs to get Hilltop and The Kingdom on board. King Ezekiel is still surreptitiously checking on Carol even though she is vehement that no one bother her. He manages to weasel around her decrees very nicely, while still managing to give her stuff he knows she likes, like Cobbler. On a more humorous note, Jerry, Zeke’s second, is my new boyfriend. He is exactly my physical type, and I think I’m falling in love with his happy ass.

In the meantime, Daryl comes across Carol and there’s a happy-sad reunion. I like the relationship these two abuse survivors have built. Daryl still tries really hard to be stoic and manly around her, but she’s one of the few people who can see right through it. Of course, Carol wasn’t there for Glenn’s death, and when she asks if everyone is okay, Daryl lies to her, saying they are. I have mixed feelings about that, though. I don’t like that he lied. I disagree with him lying to her, but I’m also glad he did because I understand why. Carol is going through some kinda shit and needs to decompress. The Alexandrians are just going to have to opt out of nuking the Saviors from orbit, which is what Carol would do, were she available. She and Daryl sit down to have a quiet dinner.

I did enjoy seeing Daryl bonding with Shiva afterwards. Apparently, he can identify with her, in a way no one else can. Not even Jerry gets close to her, but Shiva likes Daryl, it seems.

Later, Daryl confronts Morgan, about why he lied about Carol’s whereabouts. Morgan is once again trying to talk someone else into taking the peaceful way out. I understand his point of view, but its extremely impractical in a world with such being as the Saviors. He’s starting to work my last damn nerve, too. He and Rosita. Rosita is flailing wildly at anyone that wanders into her orbit, on one extreme, and on the other extreme, you have Morgan, who thinks people can just talk their way through everything. Hey Morgan, guess what? There’s such a thing as the middle path.

I think I saw this same argument on Tumblr. You cannot reason with the unreasonable. You certainly cannot reason with people who mean you gross bodily harm, and only understand that they shouldn’t hurt you, when they have some skin in the game. In other words, some people only stop being violent when they realize how much that shit is gonna cost them. When we were kids my mother used to say this about bullies,” You got to bring some ass, to get some ass!” If a person wants to hurt you, make that mf pay for it, if you can, or rethink their actions, if you can’t. (In other words, there’s no such thing as a fair fight.) Morgan, in his zeal to salvage his conscience, can only get other people killed. This is a philosophy that only works in a world filled with honorable people, who don’t enjoy violence, for its own sake.

Also, I’m getting a little tired of the writers creating these useless Black men for the show. Black men who are cowards, or liabilities, who can’t, or won’t fight back. It’s interesting when you consider the show is written by White men who think they’re being nuanced and are trying not to stereotype them, and that’s all well and good, but in my life I’ve not met a single Black man that won’t, at least, attempt to put his foot in your ass, if you step to him. As a Black woman, I think I know a lot more Black men than the writers. They’ve written some wonderful Black women into the show, and I wish they could do the same for the Black men, and they could, if they weren’t being hampered by this idea of trying  to avoid stereotypes of Black men, I think.
Okay, I’m skipping next week’s episode, because I have a special intolerance for Negan, who is  prominently featured. But I will read the recaps and reviews, and maybe reblog one or two of those, instead. I hate the Negan centered episodes, even though sometimes they’re important, but I mostly don’t want to see Eugene being tortured, as he’s such a precious cinnamon roll, and really, I can’t watch that.

So TTFN!

Westworld Thinky- Thoughts

Robert Ford:

So, I’ve been rewatching Westworld from the beginning, and  paying  closer attention to the dialogue and plot, in preparation for the finale.

Shoutout to Anthony Hopkins for delivering a knockout performance of a man suffering from a serious God complex. I just realized the reason Ford is always so far ahead of everyone in the plot is because he uses the Hosts, some of which are planted among the employees of Delos Corporation, (I’m pretty sure Bernard isn’t the only one) to spy on those same employees.

The reason he knew where the MIB was going to be (so that he could meet with him) is because he sent that little boy Host to ask if he needed assistance. And he knew about Charlotte’s plans because Hector was present during Charlotte’s meeting with Theresa. Since Ford has such total and complete control over the Hosts, he knows everything the Hosts see and hear, even when people think the Hosts don’t appear to be paying attention.

Which probably means he knows all about Maeve, and her activities, and has allowed her to continue doing what she’s doing because it serves his purposes, whatever those might be. Lets go back to that meeting, between Ford and Charlotte, to identify Theresa’s body. In one swoop, he completely undoes all  Charlotte’s plans, and all she could do was stand there and take it. Note that he also proposed, during that meeting, that security  at the company be automated, to guard against what happened to Theresa.  Which means that whatever Maeve is about to do will be aided by having little security, during her endeavors. Everything we’ve seen happening at Westworld among the Hosts, from the stockpiling of the Hosts in cold storage, to Teddy’s new Wyatt narrative, which sends Teddy on his own journey to self-awareness, to Maeve’s upgrades, has  all been orchestrated by Ford.

Remember, it was Ford who planted the new Wyatt narrative in Teddy, and that the Hosts in cold storage are decommissioned. They aren’t exactly off, just offline for the moment. He can turn them back on with a word. When Felix and Sylvester were upgrading Maeve, Sylvester noted that someone, with higher clearance than them, had already been tampering with Maeve’s protocols. Ford doesn’t seem at all worried that she’ll actually be able to escape Westworld, and I wonder why that is. But I find it difficult to believe that he wouldn’t nt have found out about Maeve’s little tour of the facilities, and allowed it to happen, considering how much else he knows.

When Elsie starts asking too many questions of Bernard he has Bernard, take her out of commission. When Stubbs gets a little too curious about Bernard, he gets kidnapped by Ghost Nation Natives. So now the head of security is in absentia, security is now mostly automated, and anyone who would’ve been asking legitimate questions, or getting in the way, (Theresa, Elsie, Bernard, Stubbs) is now gone.

Which gives me a huge feeling of dread about Ford’s new narrative, and what that might mean for the Delos Board, who he has invited to  come  check it out. Charlotte and the MIB are already present in the Park. In all likelihood, Ford already knows about how Charlotte has suborned Lee’s loyalty, and her plans to use Peter Abernathy, to smuggle tech out of the Park.

Incidentally, the names Robert and Bernard are both of Germanic origin. Robert means famous, or shining, entirely in keeping with his narcissistic nature. Bernard means hearty, and brave, like a bear. Bern is the old German word for Bear. Jeffrey Wright does look somewhat bear-ish, and we can see Bernard’s ability to go from Teddy bear, to berserker in a hot instant.

Arnold on the other hand means Eagle Power. One who has the power of an eagle, which could be a reference to Arnold’s hovering everywhere, and influencing everything in the plot, and yet being nowhere at all, since he’s dead. Bernard Lowe, which is an anagram of Arnold Weber, is a clone of Arnold, and is also the Head of Westworld’s Programming Division, which oversees the coding and programming of all of Westworld’s Hosts.

The Man in Black/William:

I’m convinced now more than ever that William is the MIB, mostly based on all the things the MIB has said, rather than anything William has done. We’ll see if the show gives us this last theory during the finale. I have it on good authority that Ed Harris will be returning for a second season, so we’ll know, when we know.

Note that the Man in Black has no name, but William means resolute protector, which we’ve seen William try to be for Dolores, trying, but failing, to  protect her from Logan. How someone who is Dolores’ resolute protector, later turns out to be her worst nightmare, is anybody’s guess.

In case anybody cares, Logan’s name is completely appropriate for him, derived from the Gaelic word lagan, which means “hollow”, which perfectly describes this shallow, over-privileged character, who can’t seem to think beyond his base appetites.

Charlotte is the feminized name of Charles, or Charlie, which is also the name of Bernard’s (or rather Arnold’s) dead son.

Maeve/The Bird:

I was struck by the image of the sparrow perching on Maeve’s finger,when she first wakes up in the lab, and one of my online friends thought that there might have been some significance to that image. The only thing I could think of was that in mythology, such birds are often considered psychpomps:

(in Greek mythology) a guide of souls to the place of the dead.
the spiritual guide of a living person’s soul. 

Felix had just revived this bird, so the bird was dead, and presumably, in the afterlife, and when it returned and landed on Maeve’s finger, one could argue that it brought back a soul.
Also, Maeve is a name rooted in the Gaelic language, which means “one who intoxicates”, after the Fairy Queen known as Medb (or Mabh, in English), and yes, she does seem to be enchanting to Felix, and now  has the superpower to make other Hosts do her bidding. Her last name is the name of a poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay, who wrote the poem First Fig  and was controversial, in early American society, by being openly bi-sexual.

‘First Fig’

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends–
It gives a lovely light.

Maeve reached “awareness” extremely fast, rather than the more roundabout manner which we saw for Dorothy, and like Roy Batty from Bladerunner would say: “The light that burns twice as fast, burns half as long.” Its possible that either Maeve, or her rebellion, will burn out, before she is successful.

 

Angela and Theodore:

In Angela, I have been neglecting another fully realized Host. The MIB says he remembers her, and we remember her, as the first Host William  met, when he came to Westworld. This is the same Host who wouldn’t answer his question about whether or not she was real. She is also fully conscious, and her remarks to Teddy, about how Wyatt wasn’t there yet, and bringing Teddy back into the fold, along with Teddy’s  vision of a massacre he participated in, make me want to believe that Teddy is actually Wyatt. I don’t know that he is, but sometimes all the character’s choice of words, and turns of phrase, are very interesting.

Teddy’s visions aren’t nearly as reliable as we think. When all this started, he kept seeing Wyatt killing the town of  Escalante: (Escalante is a Spanish last name  meaning climber, or one who climbs. The Dictionary of American Family Names traces its origin to the Latin word scala referring to a terraced slope, or ladder. ) I’m sure there’s some deeper meaning in naming the town, where the Hosts first pass the Turing Test, Escalante.

Teddy’s vision of that massacre later changed to him helping Wyatt, and still later, it changed to just Teddy doing it, with Wyatt’s help. At any rate, Angela has all the answers. She’s also the only Host we’ve ever seen working outside the Park, and she didn’t show up in the Park until after Ford’s talk with the MIB, which makes me think she could’ve been planted in that place by Ford, to impart specific information about Wyatt, and the location of the town of Escalante, to the MIB.

Note that Angela’s name means “Messenger of the Gods”, which is entirely appropriate, if Ford sent her to them. She absolutely insists on calling Teddy “Theodore”, which almost no one else does.  Its telling that Theodore means “God -given”, coupled with the name Flood, an unusual last name, which means an outpouring, surge, or torrent of emotion.

 

Hannibal Season 2: Tome-Wan

Tome-Wan would at first appear to be one of these interstitial episodes between momentous events, but a number of important events happen in this episode , so its not filler.

There are a number of confrontations, in the aftermath of Will snitching to Mason about how the whole situation between Mason, Margot, and Will was orchestrated by Hannibal.

Will tells Hannibal what he said to Mason, and when Hannibal asks why, he tells him he wanted to see what would happen, throwing back at Hannibal his excuse for why Hannibal warned Garrett Jacob-Hobbes, long ago in that first episode. There are a number of callbacks by Will to that first season.

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Hannibal asks Will to close his eyes and imagine what he’d like Mason to do to Hannibal. Will imagines Hannibal hanging from the rafters in Mason’s pigpen, wearing a straitjacket. In his mind he is the one who slits Hannibal’s throat. Will is suffering from a severe case of “lovehate”. Hannibal has been the architect of so much misery that he can’t wait to see him dead (or captured). At the same time, there’s a part of him that finds all of this exciting, and revels in Hannibal’s antics. Will gets to use his hidden  savage self in service to the state, and loves letting that part of himself of its leash. You can see it in the last episode where he confronted Mason.

Mason confronts Hannibal during his next therapy session. He’s being especially hard on Hannibal’s nerves, as he critiques his drawings, declaring them to be crap, throwing his feet onto Hannibal’s desk, and stabbing at them with a penknife, like a bratty ten year old, which is exactly where Mason is, mentally. He hasn’t evolved beyond the spoiled child stage, and doesn’t seem to realize that he is dealing with a wholly different type of animal than anything he’s ever encountered. Mason is a small fish that, because of his narcissism, thinks he’s pretty big, in a big pond. He doesn’t even conceive that he’s dealing with  Hannibal the  Great White.

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Mason tells Hannibal that he should have stayed out of Verger family business, and threatens to slit his throat. Hannibal, who never gives anything of himself away, acts completely unperturbed, so you know that Mason is  a walking dead man, and that Hannibal have to do this himself, since Will isn’t cooperating with his masterplan of having Will kill Mason. Watch Hannibal’s face during this scene. You can see he is barely holding himself back from snapping the shit outta that little fucker. (Not in the office, Hannibal! Not in the office! – In the voice of Last Week’s John Oliver.)

In Margot’s therapy session with Hannibal, she is broken and restrained. After her forced hysterectomy, (which his quite possibly one of the most heinous things ever done on this show, and that’s saying something, when you consider this is a a show about serial killers.), she has learned her lesson about trying to oppose her brother, and all her hope is lost.In fact all seems lost for everyone, as there are a number of setbacks for all the characters, in this episode.

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Jack Crawford, who is frustrated at how long its taking Will to ensnare Hannibal, has a surprise for Will. He has found and detained Bedelia Du’Maurier, Hannibal’s former psychiatrist. She tried to run away because she knew Hannibal was dangerous for her, but the FBI has done her the favor of putting her back on his radar, as he was too busy with his machinations with Will, to search for her himself.

Will questions Bedelia about Hannibal’s weaknesses. She tells him of her fear of him, how he manipulates others into doing his dirty work for him, something which Will is experiencing first hand, and confesses about the patient Hannibal set her up to kill.She says Hannibal will persuade Will to kill someone he loves, but the only person Will has left to love is Alana. Hannibal has carefully removed everyone else from Will’s life, including the idea of his unborn child.

Hannibal may  be aware of how much Will hates him, during their next therapy session, but he completely disregards the depths to which Will will sink in pursuit of him. Will accuses Hannibal of fostering co-dependency. Hannibal doesn’t want anyone in Will’s life but himself. Which, when you think about it, is one of Hannibal’s creepier aspects.

While Hannibal is drawing one evening, Mason’s henchman, Carlo, bursts in and kidnaps Hannibal, but not without a fight in which Mateo, a friend of Carlo, loses his life, after Hannibal stabs him in the femoral artery with a scalpel.. Carlo stuns Hannibal,  takes him to Muskrat Farm, and trusses him over Mason’s pigpen. This is directly from the book and movie, Hannibal, where Mason Verger has Hannibal in this same position.

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Just as in his imagining, Will is prodded by Mason to slit Hannibal’s throat. We’re not sure exactly whats going on in Will’s mind. He certainly hates Hannibal, but when given an opportunity to kill him he balks, and later when given the opportunity to capture Hannibal, he warns him instead. Does Will even know what he wants, or why? Instead of cutting his throat, Will frees Hannibal but gets knocked out by Carlo for his troubles. Hannibal just leaves Will there unconscious and spirits Mason away for some,  more private, torture.

When Will wakes up he finds blood streaked everywhere, no sign of mason and Carlo’s body, which was eaten by the pigs. He goes back to his home to find Hannibal there with Mason. Hannibal has drugged Mason and induced him to cut off pieces of his flesh, using his father’s knife, and feed it to Will’s dogs. I’m not sure how lost Will is in this scene. He seems  amused at what Hannibal is doing. Is he happy because he finally has evidence of Hannibal doing something actionable in front of him, or is he simply amused at Hannibal’s antics? In a  nastily gruesome scene, Hannibal also orders Mason to cut off his lips and nose, and eat them. What makes this scene especially grotesque is Mason’s mental state. As he happily mutilates his face, he still crack plenty of jokes, about it.

Finally disturbed , Will urges Hannibal to finish Mason, but canny predator that he is, Hannibal doesn’t kill Mason. Instead he carefully paralyzes Mason with a precise break of his neck.

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Weeks later, Jack Crawford questions Mason about what happened to him, but Mason says he fell into his own pigpen, and  sings nothing but praises for Hannibal Lecter’s care. But we know better. This shit ain’t over as far as Mason is concerned. Or maybe it is. As Jack leaves, Mason is confronted by Margot, who tells him that she will take very good care of him. She’s the one in power now. I really love this scene, for the look of deep gratification on Margot’s face, as she says this.

Later, Will and Hannibal are debating whether  to confess their sins to Jack, or not. Hannibal weighs the idea that Jack should be told, and then killed, after which he and Will will run off together.

Westworld Season One : The Well -Tempered Clavier

Lemme just get this outta the way right up front:

James Marsden:

Daaayyum! James Marsden is a fine lookin’ White boy! I have enjoyed looking at him since X-Men 2, and haven’t gotten the least bit tired of him. The man just has an incredibly cinegenic face.

Okay! I’ve gotten that out of my system for the moment, and am ready  to move on to the more serious business of reviewing this episode, which is a real doozy this week, as a couple of  fan theories are confirmed, and the robot rebellion continues apace. We spend much of this episode following Dolores and Bernard down the rabbit hole, in their search for Arnold, and the truth. We witness the possible birth of the Man in Black, and the actual birth of Bernard, and get some idea of just how cruelly manipulative Ford can be.

The Turing test is a test, developed by Alan Turing in 1950, of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.

I think the “Home” that Dolores has been trying to reach is the small, now sand covered town, where she and the other Hosts first passed the Turing Test. This is the same place, told to the MIB, by the Host that killed Teddy. Nothing of it remains now, except its church steeple.

The plot of this episode has all the major characters walking around in spirals, as the repeat the same actions over and over again, little different from the loops they’re programmed with in the Park, except in this case, the loops have a purpose. Maeve’s plans to free herself relies on adding Hector to her team. But first, she needs to convince Bernard to let her go back into the Park after she is detained for killing Clementine. She’s such an enchanting creature she seems able to talk people into doing her bidding even without her superpowers. And she charms Bernard into releasing her back into the Park where she confronts Hector about his last heist. 

She outlines to Hector what will happen in the next few minutes, and explains to him that the safe, the gang all worked so hard to get, is empty. (Its always going to be empty, as there’s no need to fill it with anything. Hector always gets killed by his gang before its opened.) She convinces Hector that they are in a pointless story, and he starts to remember their previous conversations, when she makes love to him while holding his knife between them. Just in case her point has not been made that they are going to Hell, she tips over a lantern and sets their tent ablaze. I’m a little confused because I would think that Hosts  burned to crisps would automatically qualify them to be decommissioned. Here you have characters repeating their actions, only this time,  for a goal.

While charming Bernard into helping her, Maeve also manages to undo all of Ford’s work in erasing Bernard’s memories. Bernard goes on a search for his past, and using a hollowed out Clementine to threaten Ford, he confronts him with his questions.  Ford tells him that the cornerstone of his personality was built on the death of his son, which explains this recurring memory. He says that Arnold believed a tragic backstory built a better foundation for the Hosts personalities. Ford takes Bernard all the way back to his first memory, when he  first opened his eyes.

One of the next biggest fan theories was if Bernard was a clone of Arnold, based on that odd photo that Ford showed to Bernard once, with a picture of Ford, his father, and an empty space, where Ford’s partner would have stood. Bernard is a clone of Arnold, who designed much of his code before he died, and Ford gave him the tragic death of Arnold’s son as the cornerstone of his personality. Since he is a clone, one could argue that Bernard sort of created himself. Ford states that he helped create Bernard because actual human beings had reached their limits in how human they could make the Hosts. To make the Hosts more human than human, Ford needed a Host to refine them. He says the Hosts were designed to be better than humanity, so it’s especially galling to him to see them being used as playtoys by inferior humans. But the real   surprise is Ford tells Bernard that this is not the first time Bernard has breached this knowledge, and that every time it happens, Ford resets him to his pre-knowledgeable state. (Every time Bernard eats of the Apple, Ford makes him throw it up.)

Ford is always one step ahead of everyone else because he seems to know everything. He has backdoor access to all of his creations, so Bernard can’t actually threaten him, and Ford can’t seem to bring himself to kill Bernard so directly, so he orders Bernard to shoot himself, but he walks away before the deed is done. He can’t watch it, it seems.  I was really hoping this moment wouldn’t come to that. I really like Bernard. But I’m not going to get too het up about his death because, as we’ve seen over and over again, and the show has taken great pains to make clear, death is never the end for the Hosts. Ford leaves the body in cold storage, and I’m concerned that he’s not concerned that anyone will find Bernard’s body. Once again I wonder what new Host body Ford was making in that lab. Is it a new version of Bernard? Is it Elsie, whose still MIA?

Normally, we’d rely on Stubbs to suss this out, but  he isn’t around to do any wondering. Like  Elsie, its very possible that he is dead. Investigating a signal from the park, supposedly from Elsie’s Pad, he goes to check it out, and  gets attacked by some native Hosts, when his voice commands don’t work on them. It’s very possible Ford  planned that. Ford has total control,  but we’ve also seen how easily Maeve was given that same control, and the Hosts regularly break that control themselves, when their emotions run amok. You have Dolores , Teddy, Wyatt’s men, Bernard, and Maeve, and I don’t know how many others the Park employees don’t know about, so it’s also conceivable that the Natives kidnapped Stubbs for their own reasons.

This makes me wonder if all of this has happened before, especially if the timeline theory is true, and what we’ve been seeing are  Dolores’ memories, the last time she reached consciousness, back when she first met William. If every twenty or thirty years, the Hosts all have to be decommissioned and reset because, while they’re running free in the Park, they are always evolving, and their constant interaction with the Guests, and each other, is pushing them towards consciousness. (This constant interaction thereby creating the Pearl of Wisdom.) Earlier in the season, one of the employees asked why the robots talk to each other, when they don’t need to, and the answer was they’re always trying to self-correct, constantly ironing out any errors in their interactions, the better to interact with the Guests. I wonder how many Host rebellions have been averted? Maybe  what we’re seeing is a perfect storm of everything that humans can and will do wrong, resulting in a successful rebellion, this time?

Another big revelation, that lends credence to the timeline theory, is Dolores confession to herself that she is the one who killed Arnold. After she and William are captured by Logan, Logan tries to convince William, once and for all, that Dolores isn’t special. He cuts open her abdomen and shows William her inner workings. She manages to overcome her programming long enough to attack Logan and escape. Her journey back “home” is a confusing melange of memories of the past and present. She heads back to the abandoned town, she and William visited in the last episode, guided by her “bicameral mind” (i.e. Voice of God). Simultaneously, Ford is explaining to Bernard how the Host minds were built, and how Arnold’s  previous attempts at bicameral mind resulted in extreme behavioral quirks, (like Teddy’s and Dolores’ massacres?)

What we’re being shown during Dolores’ scenes is how the minds of the Hosts work, and how they think of time. She is unable to tell when she is in time, because all of her memories have perfect clarity, and therefore have the same level of importance. She manages to make it all the way back to the lab, where we saw her speaking to Bernard, and we find that is a separate timeline, because when she gets there she watches as a young Ford runs past her, and when she enters the interrogation room, it is dusty and full of cobwebs. Possibly the labs Bernard and Arnold  used when they were first building the Park. Their dream conversations happened a very long time ago, and Arnold has been dead a very long time. She finally remembers that she is the one who caused his death.

Since we didn’t see her kill him, I do wonder if this is just Dolores feeling guilty, or if she did, in fact, kill him. We’ve seen the Hosts lash out in violence when they’re emotionally distressed, and I wonder if something similar happened between the two of them. Both Teddy and Dolores are shown shooting a town full of Hosts, and I wonder if this is the same event at different times. Did Arnold die during one of these incidents, and is that why the town was buried? Are these former rebellions, the incidents, that the Delos employees keep mentioning? Is this some kind of cycle that occurs every thirty or so years?

Logan’s attack on Dolores has the unexpected side effect of galvanizing something in William. After Dolores runs away, William appears to reconcile with Logan, believing him when he says Billy simply got caught up in the playacting in the Park. He hands William a photo of his sister. The same photo that Peter Abernathy, Dolores first father, found buried in the soil of his front yard, which corrupted his programming, somehow. After Logan and the other militia men pass out for the night, Logan wakes to find that William has massacred the entire unit. Is this the birth of the MIB? Certainly Dolores reaction to the MIB, after she leaves the lab, would seem to point in this direction. And we now know he’s not Logan because Logan has a nice scar on his face where she cut him. Earlier in the season, The MIB references this scene, when he mentions to Lawrence that he saw one of the Hosts cut open once. 

Aided by a clue given to him by the Host that killed Teddy, again!, the MIB now knows  where to go to complete the maze. The same place where Dolores is.  He wakes up tied to a horse in such a way that if he moves he’ll hang himself. He manages to get himself out of  this, only to be confronted by Charlotte, standing there, watching all this,  in her designer boots. For some reason I thought this scene was deeply funny. She walked in on him playing a very elaborate game of “Lets Pretend”, that could get him killed. She mentions that his company once saved the Park, and we know William is about to marry into Logan’s family, who own one of the Parks competing business interests. 

Dolores does get to the maze first, and if what she went through is the maze’s completion, than the idea that the maze is not for the MIb is correct. It was never made with the intention that a human complete it. In fact, it may have been made, by Arnold,  specifically for Dolores.

The technological singularity (also, simply, the singularity) is the hypothesis that the invention of artificial superintelligence will abruptly trigger runaway technological growth, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization.

Sundries:

At one point, Dolores confronts Logan about the reality of his world. Logan asks if William is trying to get her out of the Park, and she rightfully asks why they would assume she wants to get out. If  life is so great on the outside, why are humans clamoring to get in the Park? I stood and I applauded because this is the question of the week! It’s interesting that  Maeve believes she’ll be free outside the Park. Dolores believes she’s free in the Park. They both just want to write their own stories. One answer to Dolores question is that guests are  using the Hosts to find their humanity, all while denying the humanity of the Hosts.

I’ve seen fans decrying the racism and misogyny in the show, and making the claim that the show is no better than GoT, in this regard. This is where we’re gonna have to disagree, because I believe all these -isms serve a purpose. Lee Sizemore, a White man, is the main person who writes all the Host narratives. Lee Sizemore is also a racist, sexist asshat. The Natives, the sex-workers, the damseled women, are all exactly the kinds of narratives that have been given to mariginalized people by White writers in popular media, and are all products of Lee’s lurid imagination. (It’s interesting that the only WoC, of any importance, we’ve seen in the entire Park, is Maeve, and she is a saloon madam.) This is an indictment of Lee, (while throwing some shade on  all such hack writers) and his complete inability  to think beyond stereotypes, and I have nothing but praise for the show’s writers in making this subtle distinction, as they write Maeve so that she overturns all of the tropes Sizemore put on her. Westworld gets intersectional Feminism right in a way that shows like Supergirl, Agent Carter, and Jessica Jones, get wrong. It’s possible to address how misogyny impacts the lives of different types of women, without engaging in the kind of oppression olympics that Marvel’s writers seem to fear, by not putting any WoC in their feminist narratives. You can address issues of intersectional Feminism, without the WoC upstanding  any of the White heroines of these shows. 

 All this violence on the show is  also an indictment of humanity, as  much of the inhumanity we witness in the Park, is at the hands of humans, towards the Hosts, and at no point is the viewer given the idea that any of this is good for either of them. Ford attributes any aggressive behavior, on the part of the Hosts, to the humans who abuse and program them. I think that, left to his own devices, Ford would be content to just let the Hosts have the Park to themselves, and observe them, without any human interaction.

Let me just fangirl about Maeve: 

One of the reasons I love Maeve so much is her rise towards consciousnesss is an allegory for becoming”woke”. And she reached this state of being because the other PoC, the  Hispanic and Native Hosts, are the most “woke” beings in the Park, having incorporated their nightmares about the human world, into their personal mythologies. We see her gain some knowledge, and then use that knowledge to give herself power, aided and abetted by  another, just as powerless MoC, Felix. This isn’t just a robot rebellion, it’s a call for PoC to work together to aid each other in becoming free. (At least within the narrative of Westworld.) It is very telling, especially in this political climate, that it’s Sylvester, a White man, who attempts to thwart her plans at every opportunity, even planning to kill her at one point, and siding with the very employers who oppress all of them, and it’s not accidental that the two greatest antagonists in the narrative are White men, Ford and The Man in Black. One of them coded as Godlike, and the other coded as Satanic.

This makes Maeve (Ma-Eve) like Eve. She is the first, the Mother. This is why I think, I hope, her rebellion succeeds. 

She holds and carries herself like the Queen she is, her nudity means nothing to her, and is petty within the context of what she’s trying to achieve.  Maeve is never sexualized during these scenes. She owns her nudity, she owns herself, she makes those around her listen to what she has to say, and do her bidding, apparently by sheer force of personality.

 It is timely, and ironic,  that Maeve’s child was killed by the Man in Black, and especially resonates with me, a Black woman. I live in world where Black kids get killed by apathetic blackhats everyday. When Maeve was hysterical and inconsolable  in the aftermath of her daughter’s death, her behavior was intimately familiar to every black woman watching. We know the face of grief. 

It is Ford who makes her sit down and be quiet, attempts to make her forget about her past. 

Ford doesn’t just take away the Hosts pain because he loves them, he does it because he is aware of just how much trauma gets inflicted on the Hosts. It’s a good for the humans that the Hosts don’t remember. It’s good for him especially. (Although, so far, most of the Hosts are unable to commit violence against humans.) As was said by one of the Delos employees in the first episode, “We better hope they don’t remember what happens to them,” an echo of every White Supremacist fear, that the people they once oppressed will have their  revenge. From trolling and harassment on Twitter, to derailing all conversations about social justice, from ignoring historical fact, to telling PoC to just get over it and shut up, all these tactics are the children of that singular statement. Hoping the people they hurt, don’t remember it.

Also, I like that Westworld is an allegory for racism that actually includes PoC in the story, overturning the usual tropes, of shows that are symbolic of some -ism, that have no marginalized people in them.(I’m looking at you X-Men, and Divergent!) Westworld is set  during a time and place, in American  History, when such trauma was regularly inflicted on Black, Native, and Hispanic bodies, but the show doesn’t neglect to include those bodies.

Next week, after the Season finale, I’ll have more on robot rebellions as slave narratives, and how these types of movies, and shows, serve to illuminate and elucidate White Supremacist fears of White genocide, and another post on the Biblical interpretations in the show’s narrative.

http://www.bachwelltemperedclavier.org/analysis.html 

 

 

 

Westworld Season One: Trompe L’oeil

Trompe l’oeil: a painting or design intended to create the illusion of a three-dimensional object. A French word meaning “deceive the eye”.

“Doesn’t look like anything to me.” – Westworld’s Hosts

The beauty of  the Westworld series is that it all relies on the visual perception of not just the Guests and Hosts, but the viewers, as well. According to Ford, the Hosts can’t see anything that might hurt them, but we should.

This series is full of deceptions, but a lot of masks came off for this episode, as Charlotte plays her hand, we find out who Bernard is, and William and Dolores, take things to the next level. Actually, none of the revelations are huge surprises, if you’ve been paying attention, as the show has been dropping little clues and hints all  season. But like I said, I’m pretty bad at speculation, so I just notice  these things, and move on, allowing the show to take me wherever its going.

Its a little like sightseeing, with other passengers pointing out highlights, we should pay attention to on the tour. Other people use these highlights to guess what their final destination might be, but I’m mostly  just going to take notes, and enjoy the ride, especially in a show as layered with meaning as Westworld.

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Charlotte Hale, and Theresa, are working together to overthrow Ford’s ownership of the Park. Now, Ford warned Theresa not to get in his way, and her hubris at thinking she could best him with her juvenile actions, gets her killed, at the hands of her former lover, and newly outed Host, Bernard. Charlotte and Theresa ,while not new at manipulation, are not in Ford’s league. He’s a master chess player, who seemingly knows what they’re going to do before they do it.

I know a lot of people speculated about Bernard. It was one of the big theories of the series. Well, such people had ample reason to look smug, as it was finally revealed that Bernard has always been a Host. I enjoyed this revelation, but I wasn’t exactly surprised by it, as I’ve watched these episodes several times, and followed the trail of breadcrumbs that other people were pointing out to me. They all had some  very compelling arguments, which finally  paid off.

William has decided he’s going to stop pretending, saying to Dolores, that he’s been pretending to be something he’s not his entire life, but now that’s over. He’s going to be his true self from now on, which just furthers everyone’s theory that William is actually the MiB, about 20-30 years ago, and that he and Dolores are in another timeline. He and Dolores make out, and I kinda knew the direction they were headed, so no surprises there. Its interesting to me that its Dolores who makes the first move, professing her love for William.

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Dolores has revealed that she is now totally in pursuit of her own goals, and William is just along for the ride, as her dreams lead her further and further away from the life she once lived. It does make me wonder, if this is the past and William is actually the  MiB, then in the present times, he may not have actually raped her in that barn. He may have been doing something entirely different. The show has made it pretty clear that nothing is as it seems,  so why not that event, too.

In their efforts to oust Ford from power, Charlotte and Theresa stage a show for Ford and the others to demonstrate how dangerous the new Reveries program might be to the Guests. Something that Elsie (who is missing this episode) took great pains to find out, and was fairly alarmed about, is just casually thrown out there by Charlotte, although in her case it’s faked. She and Theresa make a blood sacrifice of the guard and  Clementine, and we find out there are other employees wandering around who are actually Hosts.

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Now, I don’t know if everyone at the demonstration knew that the guy Clementine killed was a Host already, or if that’s something only Ford knew, but it was interesting that, as little sympathy as the employees seem to have for the Hosts, the women all looked acutely uncomfortable at watching Clementine be brutalized by this man. At any rate ,their little demonstration was faked to make Ford’s updates look bad, and  give the Board leverage to use against him. They  used  most of that leverage to fire Bernard, since they can’t directly attack Ford because he is incredibly valuable. Charlotte made it very clear in her interview with Theresa, the Board only cares about the Host’s technology, and to Hell with its employees. What they want to do is reduce the amount of power Ford possesses, so they can get their hands on it, but Ford is several moves ahead of them.

He’s had a lot of practice at this game. As he says, every few years the Board  makes some  effort to bring him to heel, and Theresa is just their latest cats-paw. When he orders Bernard to kill her, we see a new Host body being created in the background. Some people are already theorizing that its Theresa’s replacement. This has the added benefit of unsettling the viewer because now we start wondering are there any  other Hosts wandering around the facility pretending to be humans, and who might they be.

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Its almost heartbreaking to watch it slowly dawn on Theresa that she is about to die horribly. I say almost, because I never really warmed to Theresa, although she was certainly a smart and complex character. Her terror is especially sharp, after staging that demonstration showing  how powerful Hosts are, and what they’re capable of. She essentially just watched her own death several hours earlier. She knows exactly what Bernard s going to do to her. The signature move of the Hosts is to bash their victims heads.We saw that in the episode where Elsie was almost attacked, and again with Clementine.

My heart really broke for Bernard though as he is confronted with the knowledge that he’s not human, and never has been. We opened the episode with Bernard having a nightmare about the death of his son, so its especially poignant to discover that those memories, memories that he’s used to push Dolores towards sentient awareness, aren’t real. Unless of course that too is something that was orchestrated by Ford to influence Dolores in the direction he wanted her to go.

Of course one of the prevailing theories is that those scenes of Bernard talking to Dolores are really scenes between her and Arnold, when he was alive, just after he lost his son, and just like Ford claimed Arnold made Host copies of Ford’s father, maybe Ford made Bernard in Arnold’s image. When Theresa asks if Bernard killed Arnold, Ford says Bernard wasn’t around then, but Bernard has been around for an extremely long time, though. When Theresa finds the drawings of Bernard’s schematics, the name on the sheets is carefully missing, whereas on drawings of Dolores’ schematics, her name is prominently displayed.

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The jury is still out on whether, or not, Bernard is actually Arnold, or if Arnold was even a  real person, or just some myth that Ford made up as a another layer of protection between him and the corporation. I’m going with the idea that Arnold was a real person, but what furthers this theory is that Ford seems to be the only person who knows everything that’s going on in the Park.

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Meanwhile, Maeve has decided she’s not going to live in the Park. She wants out, especially after she inadvertently witnesses Clementine being decommissioned, after  the Delos demonstration. She cajoles and threatens Sylvester and Felix into helping her, although I get the distinct impression from Felix that he’s helping her because he’s curious to see where this is going. He mostly seems shocked at Maeve’s boldness, and seems to really like her. He doesn’t seem as entirely opposed to the idea as Sylvester, who hates her guts. I suspect Sylvester isn’t long for this world, as this is the second time Maeve has threatened to kill him. She’s never threatened Felix, though.

The big action set piece this time is the three-way fight between Lawrence, Dolores, and William, who are trying to escape the Confedorados, who are mad at Lawrence for betraying them, and the Natives who attack the Confeds because they’re angry at all these people trespassing on their land. Its a gorgeously shot scene, with lots of nice stunt riding on the part of the actors.

Now, I’ve seen some Tumblr pieces vilifying the show for being racist. Yes, the show contains racism, but there’s a reason for it, just like all the other narratives in the show. (Except for that lesbian thing. That’s just weird.). Things aren’t what people think they are and if they are just looking at the surface layer, they will come away with the wrong idea. The creator, Lisa Joy, is an Asian-American woman, who is not simply reproducing the racist narratives she’s been told her whole life. She is meditating on them, and in many ways, subverting them.

Normally I would address this in a long rant, with receipts and bullet points, but its  apparent that would be kind of a waste, because its Tumblr, where very young people go to test out their critical thinking skills, and  none of them seem to have watched the show beyond episode three. In order to understand the show, you can’t just look at what’s happening on the surface. So, what I’ll do is leave this here again:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/westworld-analysis-dolores-and-maeve/

Its not a perfect meta, and at some point I may redo and re-publish it,  but hopefully people who read it will get some idea that the issues of racism they’re seeing, are much more complex than they are  at first shown. The entire series is predicated on deceiving the eye, remember?

 

Here’s review that I especially enjoyed:

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/11/westworld-recap-bernard-robot-kills-theresa-episode-7-tromp-loeil

American Horror Story Season 6: Finale

Well, that was pretty confusing, but I actually liked it. It was entirely in keeping with the generally snarky attitude of the entire season’s meta approach to televisual media.

We start off the episode with the courtroom proceedings at Lee’s trial and some shameless overacting from the lawyers, as they plead their case. Lee is pronounced “Not Gulity”. Flora, who testified that she witnessed her mother kill her father, was not a believable witness, because she believed in ghosts.

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We get more backstory on Lee,  but this time told from the point of view of a cheesy MTV: Behind the Music style show called Crack’d, (which was hilarious) and a parody of some type of ConFest, thrown to celebrate the original Roanoke Nightmare, which totally captures the self serving bullshit of the celebrities featured at such events. Each one of the stars of My Roanoke Nightmare are at their obnoxious best, as they showboat to  try to garner as much attention from the audience as possible.  My eyeball rolling didn’t even reach maximum levels during this stage of the proceedings. Clearly the show runners were just getting started.

The episode itself is total crack-meta as it switches from one television genre to another, as shows within shows. From those opening scenes, we move on to a Barbara Walters type of show, with its overwrought and ponderous interviewing style, with Sarah Paulson reprising her role as Lana Winters, the newswoman from Asylum. She is interviewing Lee about  having been found not guilty of killing Mason, and hilariously has  the tables turned on her by Lee. That interview itself turns truly batshit insane when the last of the Polks,  Lot, shows up with a machine gun, and tries to assassinate Lee in the middle of the interview.

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From there, we get a callback to the last episode with some intrepid spiritchasers, called appropriately enough, Spirit Chasers, visiting the Roanoke House during the Blood Moon. I had as little empathy for these obnoxious twits, as I had sympathy for the ones who died in the last episode. That last group didn’t deserve the horrible things that happened to them, but these guys were warned frequently, they watched the second season of Roanoke, so knew what to expect, and the house itself is cordoned off against trespassers with barbed wire. These assholes chose not to believe any of it, and got themselves (and some hapless policemen) murdered by the Butcher’s followers.

Although, when you think about it, the most common trope of all horror movies is people making stupid decisions, so  the show simply ends as it began. Matt and Shelby find a ramshackle old house in the middle of fucking nowhere and decide that would be a good place to live. The Spirit Chasers make the boneheaded decision to trespass on haunted land, where at least a dozen or more people have died. I don’t even believe in ghosts but, just like in that Stephen King story 1408, I don’t have to believe in ghosts to know that staying overnight, in a place where dozens of people have died horribly, is a good idea.

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The spirit chasers meet Lee in the house. She is there hunting Flora. This is the part I find confusing because how did Lee know that’s where Flora would be, and how did Flora get there?  Uber? How did she get inside the house? She’s, like, twelve years old! and the place is surrounded by a  barbed wire fence!  In fact, this moment is so confusing, that when Lee showed up, I thought she and Flora were dead and being reunited as ghosts. I  was disabused of that idea because they showed up on the thermal sensors the spirit chasers were using.

It turns out that Flora came back to the house after her mother’s acquittal, to stay with Priscilla. One of the few truly emotional moments is Lee’s reunion with her daughter, and her utter dedication in protecting her daughter, no matter what. Lee, the ultimate survivor, sacrifices her life to keep her daughter from killing herself, so she can stay behind and protect Priscilla, in Flora’s stead, from The Butcher.

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As the house finally burns to the ground, Flora sees the ghosts of her mother, and Priscilla, waving goodbye to her. Lee, as she has stated so many times this season, would indeed do anything for her daughter.

Now, I have read a rather shitty review which focused the episode on Sarah Paulson’s character and I was greatly offended by the writer’s complete inability to give Lee her due as the actual star of this season, instead of focusing their review on a White character from a previous season, who only shows up in the last episode of this one. This season wasn’t about Lana Winters, as her story has already been told, and I didn’t appreciate seeing Lee being reasoned out of her own story. I can see the parallels from Lana’s story to Lee’s, but that’s no excuse to remove Lee’s adaptability, determination, fortitude, and search for love and redemption, via her daughter, as the primary focus of this season.

 

I’m not saying Lee wasn’t a problematic character, but that’s why I liked her. One of my biggest complaints about TV and movies (among many, many, many, complaints) is the lack of unlikable women. She’s the kind of woman who is hard to like, because she’s complicated, and I like  that her complications make sense, and are consistent. She’s not just given random unlikable character traits to make you hate her.  Quite frankly, none of the white people on the show came across as people I would like to get to know. But I’d be friends with Lee, if I could. She seems like the kind of person that, once she lets you in that zone, you’re in there forever. When Lee loves people, she loves them wholly and completely, the way she does Flora. But if you wrong her, or betray her trust, you will soon be experiencing fine dining in Hell.

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The final scenes of the actual show (and not a show within a show) is a shot of The Butcher, the Blood Moon, and all the police, and emergency service personnel, gathered in the valley below, and completely at The Butcher’s mercy.

Yeah, that’s not gonna end well.

But we knew that when the season began.

Overall, I really liked this season. This is coming from someone who generally hates the overwrought dramedy of Reality TV. I think the seasons have gotten  better and better over time. I enjoyed Freaks and Hotel, but those seasons suffered from a great deal of incoherence, and lack of focus, towards the end, with subplots being introduced that never got follow through. This season remained taut, focused, and nuanced, with a clear thematic goal of parodying Reality TV. I haven’t had this much fun with that sort of mockery since that Cops parody of the X-Files, titled appropriately enough, X-Cops.

And before I go, I have to give a shout out to Adina Porter. The first time I saw her she was playing a witch-con-woman on True Blood, as Tara’s broken, abusive mother. I loved her acting then, and she brings that same sense  of steely fragility to her role as Lee,  although I didn’t immediately make the connection when I saw her. Its funny how she keeps playing these broken widows, desperately  trying to win back their daughter’s love, and she has mastered it. She is an incredible actress that I hope to see even more of after this.

Well, ta-ta til next season, people! I hope you enjoyed this one. Let me know in the comments.

Westworld Season One: The Adversary

Earlier this week, I wrote about how Maeve Millay was coming into her power and why it is such an  important moment. Well…

This was Maeve’s episode.

You know how Game of Thrones has that one episode every season that  emotionally devastates you? (Hardhome; The Door?) The writers of Westworld have accomplished just such a feat with The Adversary. It’s got some juicy action setpieces, and packs an emotional wallop. For us Blackgeekgirls though the resonance was sharp, as there’s nothing more emotional than watching a Black woman discover just how much power she possesses.

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We’ve been low key keeping an eye on Maeve’s journey towards full sentience, not thinking too much about it. Just like with the masters of Maeve’s life, her awakening has flown  beneath our radar, as everyone has been giving most of their attention to Dolores journey, as hers has been the most front and center. But it is Maeve who reaches full sentience, and Thandie Newton who delivers our standout performance  of the season.

Tessa Thompson is introduced as Charlotte Hale, Elsie discovers  interesting information, and things between Theresa and Bernard reach a head. The Westworld theories are flying fast and furious as people speculate on whether or not Bernard is a robot, perhaps even a clone of Arnold, William’s actual identity, and if there are two separate timelines, (which would explain why Bernard, and Ford, know nothing about Maeve), and if there are two timelines, then when does Dolores’ timeline occur, compared to Maeve’s?

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We begin the episode with Maeve waking in bed, a position we’ve seen Dolores in many times, and end the episode on a shot of Maeve realizing her power. She goes to the saloon, where she incites one of the patrons to choke her to death in the middle of sex.Why? So ,she can get back to Felix and finish their conversation. She has decided to dive headlong into this new mystery. Felix explains to Maeve who and what she is, who he is, and where they are. Maeve is so devastated by the knowledge that she has never had control of herself, that she temporarily shuts down.

After Felix brings her back online, Maeve uses all her plus level charm and seduction to compel Felix to give her a tour of the facility where she was born, the Delos Corporation. There follows one of the most bittersweet moments in the entire episode. A String version of Radiohead’s Motion Picture  Soundtrack (quite possibly one of the saddest songs ever created)  is used to great effect, as Maeve begins to fully understand that everything she thought she knew about her world is a lie, the people, places, and even the most spontaneous-looking moments, were never real. Thandie totally sells it. I feel  no shame in admitting that I cried like a three year old, at the irony of her seeing the phrase “Live Without Limits”, understanding her life has been defined by nothing but.

This scene has so many layers.  Partner Maeve’s  reactions, which are all in Thandie’s eyes and micro-facial expressions, with the tension of the two of them getting caught. What’s sweet about it is the architectural design, the beauty of the shots, and Felix’s reaction, as   the situation is just as terrifying for him, as it is for her. Felix has decided to help her for his own reasons, which I’m still trying to figure out. On some level, he does love her, is in awe of her, and thinks he will derive some benefit to his career.

Suddenly we have this new duo, Maeve and Felix as important characters, along with Teddy and the MIB, and Dolores and William, and I’m curious about how all of this will work out for the season finale. It also lends a good deal of evidence to the “separate timelines” theory. If Maeve and Dolores are in different timelines, its unlikely they will team up. There’s also Sylvester, Felix’s frenemy, who Maeve coerces into helping her. I hate Sylvester. I think most right minded people probably will, because he’s  such a yutz. My favorite moment is when Maeve threatens to gut him like a fish. I must have been clapping at that because my family was hollering from the other room  about why I was making all that noise.

There is a lot of Arnold in this episode, as he gets name drooped constantly. Elsie has her big moment when she discovers who it is that has been using the Hosts to steal information about Westworld. It’s Theresa.

In the wake of Ford’s discovery of her and Bernard’s relationship, Theresa has decided it would be a good idea to break up with him. While investigating the spate of robot signals, being sent from an abandoned warehouse, someone kidnaps Elsie.

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Lee Sizemore, that asshole British Narrative creator, gets introduced to Tessa Thompson’s Charlotte, in the worse possible way. Having gone on a bender, argued with Theresa, and tried to pick up Charlotte at the Delos’ bar,  (while spilling company secrets), he decides it would be a god idea to take a piss on the Westworld 3D prop. (I had to shake my head at what is the worse possible way to meet your new boss, drunk as a skunk, and pissing on stuff.) Theresa and Charlotte discover Lee with his dick out. I will be very glad when this character is gone somewhere. Anywhere that’s not on this show.

Teddy is definitely born-again hard, as he and the MIB tear it up against an entire squad of cavalrymen, with Teddy breaking out the Gatling gun and mowing everyone down. He even manages to impress the Lord of Terror himself, the Man in Black. What’s puzzling are all the references to the maze we see in this episode. At one point, Teddy’s captors are about to brand him with the symbol, and Robert comes across the same symbol, in a small Mexican town, carved into a tabletop. Teddy also has images of having helped Wyatt massacre an entire militia, when the narrative that was given to him by Ford, specifically states that he’s hunting Wyatt because Wyatt is the one solely responsible.

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Also, the clues that Logan, William, and Dolores are all in a different timeline are starting to add up. Watch for the different logos being used during which episodes, and whose story is being told at the time. There’s also the theory that their adventure may just be taking place only  in Dolores’ memories.

Bernard discovers that Ford has been visiting a Host clone of his family. He says they were a gift to him from Arnold. Later, when Ford goes back to play catch with the younger version of himself, he discovers that the boy has killed the family dog. And then he  lies about it, just as Elsie feared earlier in the episode. Someone is modifying the Hosts to act more human and they could potentially hurt the Guests. Ford does not seem to be much perturbed at these events, so now I’m deeply (I mean deeply) suspicious of him.

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At the end of the episode,  Maeve gets an upgrade. Her personality  matrix is built on a twenty point system, with the intelligence quotient at fourteen, which is the limit for Hosts. She needs to be smart but not too smart. She has Felix nudge that to twenty, but not before Sylvester and Felix discover that her personality had already been heavily modified by someone with more technical savvy than them.

If the being we saw in this episode is Maeve at a fourteen level of  intelligence, then that means all Hell is about to break loose, now that she’s reached level twenty. I think I can handle that.

Except for the occasional episode, here and there, I couldn’t fall in love with Game of Thrones, but then I’m not a big High Fantasy film watcher, or reader. This episode insures that Westworld and me will be kickin’ it for awhile, though.

ETA:

 In Contrapasso, little Robert Ford (a Host) shows up to inquire about the MiBs activities with Teddy and Lawrence. As the MiB and Teddy leave, we see the boy examining the exsanguinated body of Lawrence. In the following episode, The Adversary,  he kills the family dog in much the same manner. He lies to the aged Ford about killing the dog, saying that a voice told him to do it. Dolores, in Contrapsso, lies about whether she hears the voice of God/Arnold. Their conversation presents the strong possibility that her time with William and Logan are memories. There’s a theory that says the MIB might be either of those two men.

ETA: 

During Maeve’s tour of the facility, she is struck by the scene of a black woman, sculpting the face of one of the Hosts ,and you can see maybe a glint in her eye, that lingers just a bit longer than usual, that she finds that fascinating. I’m certain Maeve has never though of Race before or ever questioned what she looked like. The Hosts pay no attention to race, most likely have no concept of it, and yet many of their activities would be informed by it, as they might be influenced by the biases of the technicians. 

How certain Guests might treat Maeve, the position of her life, even her personality, might be informed by the conscious or unconscious racism of the narrators of her story, as I mentioned earlier when the technicians bumped up her aggression. The technicians may not have been consciously thinking of the stereotype of the Angry Black Woman, but the writers of this show know the viewers might think of it. There’s a scene in Contrapasso where Elsie is watching a very well endowed Black man attempting to pour wine, and makes a statement about it. The technicians regularly take advantage of the female Hosts according to Elsie. She, herself, takes the opportunity to kiss Clementine, when she thinks no one is looking. If sexual misadventures with the Hosts is a regular occurrence, then  I don’t consider racist behavior towards them to be  off the table, and that might find its way into their narratives as well.

The Walking Dead Season 7: The Cell

Normally, I’d review this episode myself, but it’s the night before the election, I just got through a harrowingly emotional episode of Westworld, and I’m not in the best frame of mind. I know my emotional capacity and I’m just not ready to watch  Daryl, one of my favorite characters, be tortured for an hour. My brain is tired. Nope! I’m not ready for it.

But, I came across this excellent review, at Supernatural Sisters. I couldn’t reblogged the post but I can steer you in their direction. The owners of this site are Af-Am women with an acute interest in all things Horror. It’s rare to find Black women who are interested in horror, so naturally, I fell in love.

They also do some top notch Supernatural, Game of Thrones, and Teen Wolf reviews, book recommendations, and posts on Horror mythology and cryptozoology . It’s great! Check it out!

Here’s Sunday’s review of The Walking Dead:

The Walking Dead S07E03 Review: The Cell

The Walking Dead Season 7: The Well

I’m still a huge fan of The Walking Dead, even though every season the show takes an emotional toll on me. It’s such an emotional drain that I have never re-watched an entire season of this show. I’ve occasionally re-watched an episode or two, but most of the series, I avoid.

Now let’s get something out of the way first. As much as the show is emotionally fatiguing, it’s also incredibly gratifying. I’m going to continue to watch it despite what happened in the last episode, but I fully, and completely, understand those of you who want to check the fuck out. I get it. I’m not Asian. I’m not a guy. But I sympathize and empathize with all of you who had a deep emotional investment in Glen.

I’ll never know what it was like for you to lose him, but I’m a black woman who rarely gets to see herself in the media she consumes, and I do know what it’s like to lose a character you love, cared about, and rooted for (Sleepy Hollow, I’m lookin’ atchu!). I’m not going to stop watching The Walking Dead because there are other characters i still love, and  I’m stannin’ for  Michonne, Carol, Morgan and Daryl. Those, for me, are good reasons  to keep watching.

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However, if you feel you can’t watch this show anymore, I want you to know, your reasons for boycotting are entirely valid. Don’t let the rest of the fandom gaslight you into thinking what happened doesn’t mean anything. Glenn was the ONLY Asian representation for six seasons, and that meant something to you. If you started watching this at thirteen, that means you’re a grown man now. You grew up with Glenn. You watched him become a man just as you were becoming one, too. Your feelings, no matter what they are, are completely valid, you don’t have to justify how you feel, and you do whatever you have to do to self-care. If that means getting away from this show, than that’s what you must do, and no one has the right to denigrate you for doing that.

That said, I still had something of a debate with myself on whether I should watch this episode, although I knew I couldn’t stay away from the show forever. I get addicted to shows sometimes and TWD is one of those shows. I dithered right up until, and after it aired. (So I cheated and watched The Talking Dead, the talk show discussing whatever episode just aired. ) I’m glad I didn’t skip this though because I’ve been waiting a long time to see King Ezekiel and Shiva. In the comic books he sounded so ridiculous that I just kind of dismissed him, but he is kinda awesomely funny on this show. And hey, I love tigers! I’m glad they didn’t wait until mid- season to introduce either of these two.

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We spend out time this episode finding out what happened to Morgan and Carol. When we last saw them they were being attacked by Walkers after one of Negan’s people tried to kill Carol. Morgan, for the first time since we saw him in season one, shot a man to save her. Ezekiel’s people come riding in on horses, and carrying lances, and swords, to take out the Walkers surrounding them.

While Carol recuperates, Morgan gets a quick tour of Ezekiel’s Kingdom, where the motto is that as one takes from The Well, one gives back to The Well, which means that if you take their hospitality than you must pay it back by being useful to the group. This is not a different philosophy from that which was practiced by the cops in Atlanta, who captured and enslaved Noah, but seems much less coercive when practiced in The Kingdom. Probably because people are free to leave anytime they want. I’d like to know why Carol only ever seems to encounter these new communities  after being injured. She keeps waking up to new faces.

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Ezekiel is over the top and dramatic but seems to run his Kingdom very well, although its a like visiting a RenFaire. His people seem happy and productive. They have movie nights, a choir, breakfast and lunch cobbler, and a theater. Meeting Ezekiel the way we did was a lot of fun and a reprieve from the grief of last week. Shiva was awesome, but the stand out character seemed to be Jerry, Ezekiel’s majordomo, a giant Hispanic man, who reminds me heavily of Eugene, and has quickly become a fan favorite. Also I think the idea of having cobbler at every meal is hilarious. Well, what else are going to do with all that damn fruit? But there are some dark undertones in this scenario.

Ezekiel asks Morgan to accompany him on a run,where wild pigs are captured and fed Walkers, so that their stomachs are full of rotten meat, and then they’re given to the Saviors as part of their tithe. Morgan finds himself in the ironic position of defending another man with a gun, but he drops his weapon instead. Zeke tells Morgan he was curious about what Morgan would do,and that the pigs, and his tithes to Negan, are a secret he keeps from his people.

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Impressed by Morgan’s skills with the bo staff, he asks Morgan to teach aikido to one of his young charges, who happens to be inept with knives and arrows, and Morgan goes along with this. He seems to be thinking hard about staying in the Kingdom.

Carol meets Zeke and Shiva for the first time and plays her innocent act, which Ezekiel sees right through, probably because he’s playing a role as well, and so recognizes the same thing when she does it. I thought she was laying on the “oh mys” and “my goshes” a little thick. My favorite moment is when Zeke calls her “fair lady”. Carol thinks he and his people are living in a fairy tale, and finds its all laughably ridiculous. She spends most of the episode pretending to be sweet and innocent, while stealing supplies for her eventual walkout.

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But Ezekiel is very observant. He catches her stealing fruit from one of his trees, and confronts her about her act. He asks her to stay, and tells her his backstory, of how people treated him when they saw him with Shiva, and tells her there is a purpose to his act. That it keeps his people sane, and gives them hope. I got some strong romantic vibes from these two. Its obvious that Ezekiel really seems to like her, so I think he does have ulterior motives in asking her to “go but not go”. Which is Zeke speak for “you ain’t gotta stay, but I’d sure hate for you to leave”.

King Ezekiel helps Carol gather supplies, but later he comes to visit her at one of the abandoned homes, where she’s chosen to stay in her self-exile, and brings her the pomegranate  he offered her, when they first met. This is  definitely the beginning of a courtship. I think Zeke is smitten with Carol, and she is  charmed and amused at his antic. His frank conversation with her before she left went a long way towards getting her to like him, I think. It certainly worked on me.

I also want to point out that, as the seasons have progressed, the Walkers have become even more disgusting. Have you noticed? The Walkers are rotting, and not a lot of new ones are really being created, as people have gotten very good at adapting to, and navigating, this environment.

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ETA:

Oh yeah, that song the choir was singing, during Carol’s tour of he Kingdom, is a Bob Dylan Song called Don’t Think Twice, Its Alright. I love the barbershop quartet version, and now its stuck in my head, (along with the opening piano theme of Westworld.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Westworld Season One: Contrapasso

Contrapasso is a reference to Dante’s Inferno, where the sinner in Hell suffers a punishment related to  the sin that was committed when they were alive. Literally the “counterstrike ” or the “counter-suffering”, which describes the relationship between the sinner and the resulting justification for their torture in Hell.

I was being a bit silly last week when I said I wished the robot rebellion would get started. I don’t actually wish that, really. I’m having  too much fun parsing all the events in this show. It’s just such a rich brew, I was jittering around in my seat like a three year old.  I heard this fifth episode was going to be mind-blowing, and the actress who said that, (Guess who?), wasn’t kidding. So I re-watched all the episodes from the beginning, so I could try to get a good handle on what’s going on. I think I succeeded in understanding about fifty (maybe 60) percent of what’s happening. I’m no dummy but (just like the writers of Hannibal) the people writing this show are waay smarter than me. But here’s my recap anyway, and perhaps by doing this I can understand what the hell I’m watching.

But before I get started I just want to talk about Westworld’s theme song at the opening of the show. If you listen carefully, it’s a parallel of what happens during the course of the series. I noticed this while watching a YouTube video of someone playing the song on piano. The theme is only about a minute and a half long, but during it, more and more discordant notes start to creep in. The song becomes darker, as flatter and  lower notes are added, so that what started out as a harmonious, innocently lovely tune, ends as something ominous, echoing the direction not just of the plot of the show, but the character arcs of the Hosts as they begin to reach for self awareness. Just like that first thunderous note, is an echo of the Park’s first death, this is a machine that has been running without a hitch for some thirty years, but lately has some troubling signs that all isn’t well, as the various anomalies start to build on each other, just like the notes of the theme.

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Okay, I have to admit I have no fucking clue who the Man in Black is,  but I’d like to believe it’s Arnold, the maker who “died” in the park. Yes, yes! I know I could be wrong because as I’ve stated before, accurate speculation is not a superpower I possess. However, I’m going to forge ahead with this theory anyway, because I like it, and there have been too many ambiguous statements from Guests, Robert Ford, and the MIB himself, leading me to believe that the MIB lost himself in the park, and reinvented himself as this villain which everyone refuses to name. My biggest clue was when Logan was talking to William about the Park’s origins, and said there were no photographs of Arnold, and that he had the hardest time finding information about him. There was also last week’s guest who recognized the MIB from the real world.

Ford is in the basement with one of his old robots talking about how he used to own a greyhound, and when he let it off its leash, it ran wild and killed a cat. He’s obviously talking about the Park, and the Hosts, which he intends to let off their leash, I guess. Ford knows what’s happening to the Hosts.  He even has some idea of what the outcome could be and he is allowing all of it to happen. The show keeps having the characters make allusions to  the violent retribution that would occur should the robots ever have their restrictions removed. Those restrictions being programmed to not harm humans and the lack of memories of what the Guests do to them.

What Ford’s ultimate purpose is, I don’t know, but it may have something to do with the rival business interests that Logan represents, and this big narrative that Ford has been designing that has been disrupting the Park’s other narratives. I’m convinced that the new backstory he gave Teddy last week, involving his relationship with Wyatt, is also a part of it all. Wyatt is the boogeyman no one has yet seen.

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Ford talks to Dolores about what happened 34 years ago. (I noticed the dates keep changing. Its 33, or 35, or 30 years ago.) We learn that Dolores was the last person to interact with Arnold. It’s also mentioned, in an earlier episode, that there hasn’t been a death in the park for over thirty years, (Arnold) and that Dolores is the last Host left from that era. Either the MIB is Arnold, or he killed Arnold. This is my supposition until I get new information, which might change next week, since this show insists on confounding me. I’m still not completely ruling  out that the MIB is a Host with Arnold’s memories loaded into it like a memory card.

Dolores divulges, in her conversation with Ford, that Arnold told her her purpose was to help him destroy Westworld. Ford is attempting to find out if the Hosts are hearing the Voice of God commands they were first programmed with. But she is lying to him about that. Someone said the most frightening thing is not a robot that can pass the Turing Test (A test to see if a robot can pass for human by engaging with a human. None of the robots in existence today have passed this test, so calm down.) but a robot that deliberately fails a Turing Test.  Dolores is deliberately pretending to be less aware than she is in this scene. She may also be doing this with William and Logan, too.

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Dolores, William, and Logan reach Pariah, along with Slim, and we meet El Lazo who happens to be a copy of the Lawrence Host that’s been accompanying the MIB on his travels. His name is Lawrence, too. Their meeting with El Lazo doesn’t start off well. He tasks them to steal a shipment of nitroglycerin from the Union army, to prove they can be trusted. It’s interesting that in this narrative, the Civil War is referenced. In the real world, the Southwestern part of the US was flooded with former slaves, after the war. There still aren’t enough Black people  in Westworld, but since this is the Southwest, the number of Hispanics is pretty high and that’s good. I’ve seen no Asian Hosts at all, and I know there were thousands working the railroads in the Southwest at that time, but that could be explained by not having the railroads be  part of Westworld’s narratives. (Why not?)

Logan does mention that at the outer fringes of the Park, things are wilder, and  less well managed.  He says he hasn’t visited those areas but I ‘m guessing that he’s too busy laying on his back to do much exploring. Logan pretty much just thinks with his dick. Yet, he’s not all that different from any of the other humans I’ve seen in this show. It’s not them being sexual creatures that bothers me, it’s that a lot of their thoughts about sex could be kept to themselves.  It turns out that the secret representative that Ford mentioned to Theresa in the last episode is actually Logan. He’s from some kind of rival business or something, looking  to invest heavily in Westworld. I’m only partially interested in this part of the narrative.

At Pariah, we get to see quite a number of Black Union soldiers in this episode stationed in the town. Also there are what El Lazo calls The Confederados. His purpose is to sell the nitro to the Confederates. Logan, William and Dolores complete their task but Slim gets shot down. Dolores later discovers it’s all a ruse, as El Lazo plans to use the nitro for his own ends, replacing what he’s given to the confederates with tequila. Dolores also has several visions of herself, and the maze, and is told she must follow it. She can feel herself becoming a new person and she does, in a sense. As a bandit, she gets a brand new wardrobe, and later when William is attacked by the Confederates, angry about the tequila sham, she is definitely “born again hard”, as she shoots down all three men threatening them. In the aftermath, she tells  William she imagined not being the damsel.

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I stood and I applauded!👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 Whoo!!! And thanks to her Host reflexes, she’s a perfect gun (wo)man. Excellent stance, shooting from the hip, and fast as fuck.  It was awesome! She also shows some tactical ability when El Lazo threatens to shoot her and William, when they try to escape on his train. Instead of aiming at him, she aims her weapon at the nitroglycerin loaded bodies sitting in coffins in the cabin with them. She is still hearing the voice in her head, as she spots the image of the maze on the train’s cargo.

Logan is in for a rough time of it when the Confederates find out they’ve been swindled. They can’t kill him but they’re going to beat his ass for a while. Apparently, the Hosts, in these  fringe narratives, can and will beat your ass if you step to them. They won’t kill you though. Earlier that evening, during the town orgy, Logan,  feeling in his element, brings out Willam’s dark side by goading and poking him about how useless his life and morality is in such a place.

William does have a dark side, though. When Logan calls for help during his beating, William,  very obviously, turns his back on him and leaves with Dolores. It’s okay. Logan will be aaiight! But I bet shit just got real for him in a way it wasn’t before. Contrapasso is definitely a reference to Logan, as he gets to experience, first hand,  something of what he’s been dishing out to the Park’s inhabitants for so many years. Dolores and William will be joining El Lazo in some kind of revolutionary war in Mexico. This will be another part of the Park we’ve not yet seen.

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As for Maeve, she is once again in house, getting her body repaired. One of the technicians servicing her, Felix,  is  just a bit wary of having her in the body shop with them. The other technician I hope has a quick and nasty death, not because of how he treated Maeve, but how he treated Felix, who has been practicing his coding skills on a small robot bird. When the other technician finds this out he screams at Felix about how he’ll never be anything other than what he is. The man is a more of an asshole than Logan, and that’s saying something. But then none of the humans in this show impress me much. I do get  the impression that this is a co-worker and not someone who has any power over anything Felix does, as Felix continues his efforts after his co-worker leaves. He’s successful at repairing the bird, but his celebration is cut short when he sees that Maeve, supposedly still in sleep mode the entire time, is wide awake and ready  to have an important conversation with him. I am looking forward to that convo myself.

Elsie is stunned to discover that the  robot she was sent to retrieve has some spy tech in its body. In order to procure access to the body, she threatens one of the young male technicians in the Body Shop, who has been having sex with the decommissioned robots, with public exposure. Next to Felix’s dress down by his co-worker, that was one of the uglier things I saw a human do, in this episode, which is important when you consider that nearly all of the humans are deplorable. She goes to Bernard with her concerns but he is noncommittal.

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But the standout event in tonight’s episode was the meeting between Ford and the MIB. After finding Teddy in the desert strung up by Wyatt’s men, he takes him with him. When Teddy’s health quotient gets too low, he bleeds out Lawrence, to give Teddy a transfusion. Accompanied by Teddy, they meet with Ford at a saloon, where Ford tries to parse out exactly what the MIBs purpose is, and if it’s really worth it. Harris character says he wants a worthy adversary to prevent him from reaching his goal. It seems like Dolores is being set up to be that Rival, as she is following the maze too.

There is no surprise in Ford’s meeting with him. The two act very much like old, if not friends, then certainly acquaintances. We get to see Teddy be a little badass. I like the how the show is gradually introducing us to  what the Hosts are capable  of. They’re not superhuman but they are more than. They’re certainly faster and stronger. We get a glimpse into how fast during Dolores shootout, and in Teddy’s automatic reaction to protect Ford, when The MIB threatens Ford with a knife. But the robots are held back by their cognitive limitations. They have no memories, don’t know what they are and there are human things they don’t comprehend, like death.

There have been a number of theories bandied about the show. One of the theories is that the scenes  with William and Dolores are flashbacks to thirty years ago, to the life of the MIB, and chronicles how he went from being a White Hat to  a Black one. That the MIB is actually William. This would also explain his acquaintance with Dolores. I’m not sure what to think about that theory though. There are certain people and characters whom we never see interact so its easy to reach that conclusion. The  Westworld logos during William’s entrance into the Park, and the ones we see with the old Ford are different.

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/10/westworld-season-1-episode-5-recap-contrapasso-timeline-theory-lawrence-bernard-is-arnold-clone-robot

Next week, the robot rebellion begins, after which we have four more episodes to the big finale and what I would consider a successful first season for the show.

 

American Horror Story Chapter Six

So yeah, the twist is indeed in, as well as the shift in focus of the show. Everything has been shifted about. In the interests of openness I have to admit it o a hatred of most of reality TV. I’ll watch travel and eatery shows, or shows about wilderness survival, with experts in them, and  I’ve even seen a couple of episodes of Naked and Afraid, but that got boring pretty fast. I am however really liking this season of AHS, mostly because it’s not focused so much  on the inane dramas between the characters, but on the actual horror of the situation they’re all in.

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The idea that we, and the cast, would be revisiting the Roanoke Nightmare House isn’t the twist though. Sydney, played by my precious cinnamon roll, Cheyenne Jackson, is the creator of the show we just watched in the first five episodes, and his proposal to his television backers is that he should gather together the entire cast, go back to the house, and film the results during the Blood Moon. It turns out that what we were watching for five episodes was a huge hit for Sydney and he wants  to cash in on that, despite what has happened to the cast since then. So ,in chapter six, the show goes completely, full-on meta, and I don’t think what we saw tonight is the last of this season’s surprises.

Now, the show has a tendency to go off focus during the season, as the writers get carried away with their storytelling ideas, and start throwing everything into the plot, just to see if it will stick,or just because they like it. This season, with the exception of a few scenes thrown in just to have some action, or a jump scare, has been kept pretty tightly reined in, so I’ve enjoyed it a lot more than previous ones. Tonight’s episode was kept ion point, as well, making it easy to understand, despite how complicated the plot has actually become.

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Since their time at Roanoke, Matt and Shelby have divorced. Matt didn’t care for the fame that came to him because of what happened there, that Shelby called the police on his sister, and accused her of killing her husband, Mason. Yes indeed. That was a dick move on Shelby’s part. Yeah, I don’t like Shelby either. The final straw was when Shelby had an affair with the man who played her husband in the reenactments. His name is Dominic. The actress who played Shelby on the show is actually British, and we get to hear Paulson’s accent, as Audrey, which sounds a bit dodgy. She got married to the actor who played Mott in the last episode, and his name is Monohan. And since he’s so much younger than her ,she’s really super-sensitive about that. I thought it was a scam, on his part, but he seems to genuinely be in love with her.

The actress who played Lee became an alcoholic,  just like the original Lee because she was having trouble dealing with being the public face of the real Lee, who has been accused of killing her husband for the insurance money, and custody of her daughter.  (Angela Bassett’s character is named Monet.) Fans of the show started a petition to have Lee charged with murder, her mother in law is suing for custody of Flora, and everyone treats her with nothing but contempt, including Monet.

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But the worst result of the show is Kathy Bates character, Agnes, who played Thomasina The Butcher, in the reenactments. That actress had a complete mental breakdown and started believed herself  to actually be The Butcher, running through  he streets of downtown Hollywood with an ax, before she was captured and hospitalized. Sydney serves her with a restraining order after a ring of animal organs are found on the new set of the show. He is hoping she will show up on set anyway becasue that will make for great drama. My precious baby is a complete asshole in this role.

When one of the crew gets killed on set with a chainsaw, Sydney’s assistant quits and drives off in an angry huff. She encounters what appears to be a The Butcher by the side of  the road, but is attacked by someone in her car, too, and she crashes. The notecard for her states that she was missing for six months before they found her car, and her body was never found.

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The sixth episode is mostly about the setup, as Sydney lies, cajoles, and coerces all the actual people, and the actors who played ,them into staying at the Roanoke house for several weeks, while they film the entire thing with hidden cameras. And you know it’s going to be explosive because while all the characters have their reason for joining the new cast, they all hate each other.

Matt wants nothing to do with Shelby, who thinks that they might be able to reconcile, during the show. He would love nothing more than to beat the snot out ofDominic, because he slept with his wife. The Shelby actress,Audrey,  is deeply insecure about her marriage, and has nothing but contempt for the real Shelby, as being weak and pathetic. The real Lee  hates the real Shelby. The actress who played Lee, Monet,  hates the actual Lee, and the all actors  have contempt for the actual people they portrayed on the show, laughing and joking about them, whenever they leave the room. Also none of the actors believe in any of the stuff that they say happened to them.

I don’t think this bodes well for non-believers because non-belief won’t save them from what’s happening at Roanoke House.  Like Stephen King’s 1408, what’s happening there isn’t dependent on whether you believe it or not. One of the reasons Shelby, Matt, and Lee survived is because they  simply believed what was happening to them.

Things get off to a rousing start when Lee attacks Shelby, calling her weak and pathetic, just as Audrey does later. Here’s where I have to admit to a certain amount of prejudice towards Shelby myself. As soon as I heard what she did for a living my first thought was that she was a  useless woman, and not someone you want to have in a crisis, but she proved to be okay in that regard. I still don’t like her though.

Later, Matt attacks Dominic and they have a knockdown, drag-out fight, as soon as Dominic steps through the front door. This certainly makes for exciting television for the viewers, but that’s not the point of this episode, because this  isn’t the twist.

It turns out we’re all looking at whatever footage was leftover from a show which never got a chance to air because ,with exception of only one person, the entire cast died.

So we’re really watching final days of everyone involved with the making of My Roanoke Nightmare. And they’re might even be additional twists as the season moves forward.

So yeah,I’m really getting into this. When that note-card appeared onscreen, I got chills. This is awesome!

Wolf Creek

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So this week was the premiere of the new slasher series, Wolf Creek, which is based on the movie Wolf Creek, from 2005. It airs on the Pop Channel and is based on the true story behind the Backpack Murders that took place in New South Wales, during the 90’s. The actual killer is now serving  7 consecutive life terms.The show is filmed in Australia with a largely Australian and native supporting cast.

I’m not a fan of serial killer movies, or shows , but I decided to review this because I was curious.  This is one of my Mom’s favorite movies, even though she’s not a huge fan of serial killer movies, either. I’d watched the movie (and didn’t care for it), and wondered how the creators would turn that movie into a six part mini-series, without falling into the trap of making six hours of torture porn. I feel like the show is off to a promising start. I don’t have plans to watch the entire run, but I am intrigued, and I might.

This is largely due to the young actress who plays Eve. Eve is a former gymnast, who is on vacation with her family, after having gone through rehab for addiction to pain killers. The relationship between Eve and her father is a tense one, as he’s dealing with a lot of anger regarding her addiction, (warning for some amount of emotional abuse) but all of this doesn’t get much play because her entire family, (Mom, Dad, little brother) are murdered in the first ten minutes, before the opening credits, by Mick Taylor, who is played by John Jarratt, the actor from the film.

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When her younger brother gets attacked by an animal, Mick shoots it, and decides to hang with Eve’s family for the rest of the evening. He is a crude, but jovial man, who cracks jokes about murdering people, right before he murders people. When he makes a crude joke about Eve being on her period, she goes into the RV to listen to music and can’t hear her family being slaughtered, just outside.  I thought the murder of Eve’s family would play out a lot longer ,as we got to know them, but that doesn’t appear to be the show’s focus. You know its going to happen but Mick attacks them so suddenly that it still manages to be a surprise.

He shoots Eve too but she manages to survive. Now suffering from her wounds, and survivor’s guilt, she has dedicated herself to tracking down the man who killed her family. I found this intriguing because I went into this with a certain set of expectations, and the show managed to upturn those, from time to time. I thought for certain Eve would be blamed for the death of her family, and while the idea is brought up, its also quickly shot down.

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I also thought Eve’s  story wouldn’t be believed, but Sullivan Hill is the one cop in Australia who believes her, having kept track of several of Mick’s murders for some time. Sullivan is played by Dustin Clare and you may remember him from Strikeback and Spartacus. I don’t but then I consider Sullivan to be a rather bland character.

It’s obvious that all the character focus  is going to be on Eve, as Sullivan doesn’t make much of an impression, beyond being blandly handsome. No there is no sexual tension set up between these two, at least not on Eve’s part, although I think Sullivan is intrigued. Understanding what she is about to do after she steals one of his casefiles, he sets off in pursuit of the strongheaded girl.

I did ask myself what the Hell it is that Eve thinks she’s going to do when she catches up to Mick, but I’m not too worried about that now. She’s been shown to have some amount of grit and backbone, and the rest of the season will consist of a cat and mouse game being played between her and Mick.

I like that the show is  so female-centric. The story is entirely focused on Eve, and her point of view, so there’s an element of that “Final Girl” quality that I always thought was an interesting trope for such films. We spend very little time in Mick’s presence which is probably a good thing. He thinks he’s hilarious but the show never presents him as comedy relief, even if you laugh at some of the things he says. His good humor only serves to make him more terrifying, as he greatly enjoys killing, and is just doing all this for fun. There’s only so much of that type of mindset you want to be exposed to. (There’s even a Crocodile Dundee joke thrown in.) Both he and Eve appear to be about equal in intelligence and drive, so Eve winning this contest of wills is not necessarily a foregone conclusion.

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Despite all these things to recommend it, I would advise caution for those who are more sensitive. The show is exceptionally gory. At least for the first ten minutes, it does not stint in showing Mick killing Eve’s family, and  shows him shooting a child. So you may be happier skipping the first few minutes, after which the show calms down somewhat (but its still very bloody.)

I may actually watch next week’s episode which airs on Friday. It looks like a good substitute for The Exorcist, which is beginning to drag.

Westworld Epis. 3: The Stray

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This particular episode of Westworld was helmed by one of my favorite directors, Neil Marshall, the director of The Descent and Doomsday, two of the best female oriented action/horror movies made in the past ten years, and Dog Soldiers, the only werewolf vs.soldier movie worth looking at.

The information  is flying fast and fierce, and if you blink, or get up to go to the bathroom, you will have to re-watch, because you’ll have missed some crucial element of the plot that will pay off later. We get answers to some nagging little questions, and backstories for the humans and the Hosts.

James Marsden’s character, Teddy Flood,  finally gets a backstory, courtesy of Robert Ford, which is loosely connected to the origin of Westworld. It involves Teddy’s  pursuit of an evil character named Wyatt (not the MIB, as far as I can tell, but I could be wrong). Teddy has things to say about Wyatt, an old friend of his he used to serve under in the military, who deserted his career, went out into the landscape, and came back with what Teddy calls “strange ideas”. Wyatt claimed to hear “The Voice of God” and we’ll get back to that in a moment.

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Dolores’ and Teddy’s story is  deepened as we are shown their budding romance, and their plans to  ride off into the sunset together, one day. Its funny and interesting to watch the Hosts interacting with each other like regular people because I have to keep reminding myself they’ve been programmed to do this.

Dolores is still adjusting to her new state of consciousness, and Wright’s character, Bernard, is fascinated with it. He still hasn’t had Dolores re-coded, or decommissioned, and it became obvious last episode that the consciousness she possesses is contagious, (so it won’t take long until Teddy is also infected I’m guessing.)  Bernard’s head programmer, Elsie, is becoming increasingly suspicious of why he refuses to correct this problem.

I did kind of get tired of seeing Dolores be  bossed around as anybody’s meat. The creators of the park have made her nothing more than a perpetual victim and it was kind of nice to see her take charge and defend herself for the first time.

Teddy tries to teach her how to shoot but it turns out that the weapons  use protocol is something  given only to specific Hosts, like Teddy, and the stray mentioned in the title. Dolores is  incapable of pulling the trigger. But thanks to her secret conversations with Bernard, and reading a specific passage in Alice in Wonderland that he’d given to her, she is able to transcend her programming and shoot one of the Hosts who’d been intending to rape her. Bernard would be proud of her. Its a great scene, where Dolores memories, of what happened to her, save her life, as the camera flips back and forth between the past and the present.

About all those rape threats: The creators were questioned about this before the show aired and they assured viewers that it exists in the show for a reason, and that there would be payoff. I was initially dubious of this claim because it’s HBO. and known for its depictions of violence against women, but I’ve changed my mind since then. I think it is serving a purpose in showing the evolution of the hosts, and of Dolores, in particular.

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Its also nice to see what I talked about in my last review. During this episode, Teddy has been accompanied by an unnamed female Guest, only ever referred to as his “dickless associate”, who has decided to go for the gunslinger experience. This is her adventure happening simultaneous with William’s and his boorish friend, Logan, and a couple of other Guests, and she turns out to be both tougher and braver than all of them. You can also tell she’s having the time of her life as she shoots down men, and cozies up to Clementine, for a discount. (I also want to point out that Clementine is absolutely gorgeous and a lot of Hosts and Guests seem to have crushes on her. Apparently she is a Park favorite.)

Interestingly, the adventure they’re all on, hunting down Wyatt along the river, with cannibals and Natives, is pretty much the exact scenario of the narrative that Ford gave short shrift to in the last episode. I was under the impression that the Red River narrative had been stalled, but the adventure we see in this episode contains all the narrative elements that Sizemore discussed in his pitch last week, and I wonder if he introduced that narrative without anyone’s  permission. Notice that all the Hosts in this scene are holding weapons.

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William decides to go on an adventure to hunt down some other outlaw, and Logan reluctantly decides to tag along.William, who has just been firmly confirmed as a White Hat, has just saved the life of Clementine, and was shot for his trouble. Apparently Guests can be shot, and it does hurt, I guess, because he falls down, but Guests can’t be killed. What he was hit with, I don’t know. Its also said by Logan that their adventures in Westworld cost some 40 thousand dollars a day. So yeah, you have to be making some nice dough to afford regular visits.

We get  more backstory on Bernard. He lost his  young son at some point in the last year and Ford is concerned that he is using the Hosts as a substitute. Bernard is still in touch with his wife (ex-wife), Lauren, played by the Goddess Gina Torres, while sleeping with Cullen, (Westworld’s operations director), on the downlow. He goes to Ford to express concerns about the Hosts, concerns brought to him by Elsie. Ford explains that he used to have a partner named Arnold, and this is where the “voice of God” idea comes in, which also ties in the philosophy of “bicameralism”.

(Bicameralism (the philosophy of “two-chamberedness”) is a hypothesis in psychology that argues that the human mind once assumed a state in which cognitive functions were divided between one part of the brain which appears to be “speaking”, and a second part which listens and obeys—a bicameral mind. The term was coined by Julian Jaynes, who presented the idea in his 1976 book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, wherein he made the case that a bicameral mentality was the normal and ubiquitous state of the human mind as recently as 3000 years ago.   Wikipedia)

At some point, Arnold was going to program the Hosts with this feature, which would allow the Hosts to overcome their basic programming, and interact in any situation, but Arnold killed himself before it could be implemented. There’s the implication here that Ford may have had something to do with Arnold’s death as the two of them disagreed about this endeavor. The new programming that Ford has implemented “The Reveries” that allows Dolores to overcome her inability to use weapons, comes to her as the Voice of God, but only after she remembers being tortured by the MIB. The Host that went batshit last episode, and killed a bunch of Hosts before pouring milk on them,  was seen speaking to a voice only he could hear, named Arnold.

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Ford shows Bernard a picture of Arnold, and no, he doesn’t look like Ed Harris character, but he does look sorta like Wyatt. (Not saying he is Wyatt, just that they look alike to me.)

The Stray of the title refers to a lost Host who has wandered off and gotten trapped in some gulch in, the desert. Hilariously, the group of outlaws he was with, have been caught in a kind of feedback loop, unable to move forward in the narrative because none of them possess the “weapons protocol “, and that Stray is the one Host in their group that  is allowed to handle the ax. So they have been sitting in the same place for two days, staring at a decaying jackrabbit, because there’s no fire, arguing about who is going to cut the firewood, as none of them can pick up the ax, but they don’t understand why.

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Ashley, Westworld’s Head of Security, played by Luke Hemsworth, (the brother of the taller, and prettier Liam) and Elsie go hunting for the Stray, and this is  quite a pairing, as Elsie is a master of the snarky putdown and deploys some of  her best at Ashley, who grows increasingly irritated. When they find the Host, Ashley goes down into the gulch to take its head (to decommission it), it attacks and climbs free, but rather than bludgeoning Elsie with a large rock, it kills itself instead.

So there was a lot of information packed into this episode, and the mystery of the Maze and the Man in Black is slowly unfolding as viewers speculate if he is actually Arnold. Ford did say Arnold had gone insane and died in the park and Ed Harris character says he was born there. We find the Stray has gone haywire in the same manner, as Elsie finds a small stone version of the maze in his tent. She pockets it and doesn’t tell Ashley.

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And here’s another perspective from Tumblr:

The above actor’s performance (Louis Herthum seriously shook me) , Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, and Anthony Hopkins being in this sold me in the pilot.

Haven’t had a bit of genre haunt me like that since the second episode of Black Mirror.

On to my bulleted thoughts on it, so far:

  • As a black viewer, I couldn’t help comparing how the Hosts are used as entertainment, fun props to use to make the Guest “feel something new”  while they themselves are seen as non-entities.  In fact, it is mandated that they be dehumanized in every non-Westworld setting.  Reminds me, specifically of how black entertainment is used in a similar way by non-blacks, while the people are often seen as disposable.
  • Likewise, Dolores and Maeve’s narratives,  I see as apt metaphors of aspects of misogyny and misogynoir.  Dolores and Maeve both embody the perfect Virgin/Whore dichotomy, and their casting, in terms of race  and look are incredibly on the nose with casting and viewer constantly placing women like them in those roles;  exotic” unbreakable whore and virginal damsel.
  • Jeffrey Wright is my absolute favorite working actor.  Period.  Ever since, of all things, the remake of Shaft and then going back to watch him in Basquiat.  I adore his precision.  He’s one if I hear he’s in it, I will watch it, right along with Michael Shannon.  …I think Bernard may be a Host.
  • The Man in Black was there for the last “accident” 30 years ago and that is the reason for obsession with the ultimate quest.  That is a definite hat-tip to the original movie, which I am also a fan of, despite it being very different from this incarnation.  I also think that’s why it “isn’t for him.”  despite his loyal patronage.
  • The actual purpose of the Hosts, which Theresa Cullen hinted at, I think both she and Bernard are doing their best to coax from the Hosts as comes from orders above Ford’s head.
  • Maeve’s awakening on the table along with Dolores’ original father’s glitch and subsequent shelving were absolutely the most heartbreaking parts of the show for me, thus far.
  • LOL @ Teddy, the man who “has to lose”  in order for the Guests to feel like winners being played by James (Perpetual Second Fiddle in EVERYTHING) Marsden.
  • This show has been blessed by that cameo by GINA TORRES  ❤
  • I have seen Jimmi Simpson shine in so many day player roles over the years,  I’m happy to see him getting bigger featured roles.
  • All the gamer stereotypes are on this show, the newbie,  the pro,  the troll, the filthy casual, the girl gamer (my favorite so far, she’s the only one who  is actually in full rp mode actually enjoying playing”) and on and on.
  • OMG!!!! this show is chock full scenery porn, both western and speculative.  Lord, the details.  ❤
  • I am thoroughly intrigued and here for this show until it’s end or quality dips.
  • The diversity of Hosts and Guests in both race and sexual orientation is much appreciated.
  • I also can’t wait to see Tessa Thompson show up.

Hannibal Season Two: Ko No Mono

(Yes! I’m still writing these, even if no one is reading them. They’re kinda fun to write, and good practice for my other essays.)

In the last episode we saw Will Graham murdering Freddie Lounds at his house, and we assume that he, and Hannibal, ate parts of her body. Alana is growing increasingly perturbed by Will and Hannibal’s relationship, as Will appears to be becoming more and more like Hannibal, in his and Jack’s scheme to capture him.

As the episode begins, we are with the Wendigo and the Ravenstag, in the forest, as the Stag falls over, and squirts blood. While we watch, a new creature, based on a combination of the Wendigo and Will Graham, claws it’s way out of the Stag’s limp body. Will is once again, as he was earlier in the season, being haunted by thoughts of Lecter. The Stag began as a kind of precursor to Lecter’s presence, always appearing to Will in moments when he was subconsciously thinking of Hannibal, and sometimes, just before Hannibal’s actual appearance. As the series progressed, Hannibal’s icon has morphed into the Wendigo, while Will has taken on the Ravenstag as a subconscious token of himself. This happens especially as he’s gotten closer and closer to Hannibal. And now, as his relationship with Hannibal nears a crescendo, he secretly fears he’s become Hannibal’s iconic twin.


This becomes obvious in Hannibal and Will’s discussion at table, as Hannibal tells him that killing Freddie Lounds has changed Will’s thinking, remarking that Will’s imperturbability is a sign of true sociopathy. During this romantic dinner, Will and Hannibal swallow  some whole, tiny, naked birds, that look not unlike little babies, but what this is symbolic of, is not made clear, unless it’s a reference to all the fighting over Margot’s unborn baby, that happens later in the show.

Bryan Fuller:  Master of Symbolism.

That evening, a figure strapped into a burning wheelchair is pushed into a parking garage. The body lands in Freddie’s parking space, so we are meant to believe this is her, which is confirmed by Team Price and Zeller, when they examine the body. Naturally, Jack calls in Will and Hannibal to examine the body as well, and they do that thing where they stand around making assertions about the killer.  I’m still confused about how these personality assumptions, based solely on looking at the burned body,  would ever help the authorities capture any kind of criminal, but this is TV, where you’re not supposed to think too deeply about stuff like that, especially when it looks cool. In the movie, Red Dragon,  it’s slightly more realistically depicted, with a team of people sitting around brainstorming about a particular crime. Watch that scene where Chilton’s burned body has been discovered, with the team guessing where the killer might have done it, and how, so as to narrow down vectors of investigation.  That’s probably a little more like real-life profiling. In the show, Will and Hannibal look like they’re just riffing.

Later, Margot admits to Will that she slept with him just to get pregnant. And it works because she’s now carrying the Verger heir, and her brother can’t threaten to boot her out of the family anymore, making her homeless and destitute. Will is understandably upset about being so callously used, but isn’t this what he’s essentially doing with Hannibal? Pretending to be Hannibal’s friend, to accomplish some personal goal. So when Will feels a sense of betrayal at what Margot did, he should understand how exactly Hannibal felt, when he learns Will has been lying to him the entire time.

Margot says she wants nothing from him (being wealthy, she’d need for nothing anyway) but says she wouldn’t mind if he wants to be a part of the child’s life. She certainly doesn’t want Mason to be an influence because look how he turned out. He’s vile, petty, arrogant, abusive, entitled and whiny. In the movies the character is slightly more nuanced, but I think that’s more due to Gary Oldman’s acting, rather then the writing. Also in the books, and movies, we never met the version of Mason that hadn’t met up with Lecter, a much bigger shark.  In fact TV Mason has few, if any, redeeming qualities. I don’t even like Mason and I’ve  only seen him onscreen for a few minutes. At that moment, he’s psychologically tormenting a small child at Muskrat Farm, making him cry, so he can collect the little boy’s tears. In the books it’s stated that Mason is a child molester, and that he, did indeed, molest Margot. In the show it’s only heavily implied and never illustrated, in keeping with Fuller’s general idea of showing characters being vile, while not actually showing their victims being victimized. There’s a minimum of running, screaming, and terrorizing, on this show, which is very thoughtful of him. Most writers and directors seem to think that the screaming and terror of victims is what creates horrific moments, and I think that’s just lazy writing. (Plus, who wants to listen to 90 minutes of constant screaming? That shit is annoying.)

Afterwards, Alana visits Will at his home, (he’s still dreaming about the Wendigo), and spurred by Freddie’s insinuations, she expresses her misgivings about Will and Hannibal’s relationship. Will is more than a little salty that she’d question his relationship with Hannibal, while she is sleeping  with him.  This is the second time he’s mentioned that to her. He’s also more than a little salty about how no one believed him, when he said Hannibal was a killer. He says no one will believe Alana now, if she says Will is a killer. But he still cares about her and shows her the only way he knows how. He warns her about Hannibal and gives her a gun. Alana looks pretty flummoxed. I guessed she really wasn’t expecting that as a response. I did get the sense that  Will isn’t just worried about Hannibal coming after her, but expects her to use the gun on him, if he gets too lost in his roleplay.

Mason Verger has taken Hannibal up on his offer of therapy, and he is as whining and and thoughtless as you’d expect. Hannibal can’t stand him. Watch his face when Mason visits his office. He’s probably wishing he could kill him right then. Even I winced at Mason’s actions, and I’m not nearly as fastidious in my behavior as Hannibal. If you’re looking to find some excuse for why Mason is so vile, such as he was horribly abused as a child, or sexually assaulted, or something, Fuller refuses to give you that out. There’s no particular reason Mason is the way he is. He was spoiled and overindulged by his father, and has simply never grown past being a rotten ten year old.  He gleefully tells Hannibal about the arrangement his father made that would cut his sister out of the will, if anything happens to him. Hannibal is the one who puts the thought in Mason’s head that his sister could always upend his plans by  getting pregnant.


A funeral is held for Lounds, while Will and Alana watch it from afar, exchanging terse words again, their friendship is totally broken at this point, even though they still care deeply for each other, but it’s something that won’t play out until the third season. That night someone digs up Freddie’s body and mutilates it to look like the Hindu Goddess Kali, posed with extra arms. This body sculpture is a pun on how Hannibal sees himself, as a godlike figure, who is both creator and destroyer, giving and taking life. This time Alana is called in to profile the person who desecrated the body and she sees a connection between Randall Tier and Lounds. She insists to Jack that it might be Will. She goes to Hannibal  and expresses the same fears about Will. Hannibal is distracted by the scent of gunpowder on her hands and she tells him she’s been paranoid.

Although Hannibal is a master manipulator, it’s been shown that he often sets things in motion, and moves people around, with no idea of the eventual outcome. He sets disastrous events in motion, on nothing more than spite, or whim, with no idea of the end results, how many people will be drawn into play, or even if he’ll walk away from them intact, just as happened between Will and Abigail’s  father. Ironically, its this inability  to keep himself from intervening, that first sets Will on his scent, beginning their narrative together.

Mason confronts Margot at the estate, hinting that he knows she’s pregnant, having been given he idea that she might be by Hannibal. Margot has no safe place on the estate. Mason can invade her spaces anytime, and knows it. I always wondered why Margot didn’t just walk out on the entire thing, but  then Ithink  that she likes the perks of being rich, too much, to leave it, and likely has no marketable skills,with which to live in the world, and make her own way. Her father would’ve seen to that, expecting her to get married, and be taken care of by a husband, and most certainly had not counted on his daughter being a lesbian.

I’m still not entirely certain Mason knows Margot is pregnant or if he is just guessing. Even if she isn’t, she could easily become so and he  makes plans to prevent that from ever happening. Margot knows he plans to harm her, possibly kill her, and while this isn’t the first time he’s ever threatened her, this time her unborn child is at stake. She attempts to flee, but Mason’s henchman, Carlos,  crashes into her car, stopping her. She wakes up in an operating room, and in one of the more horrifying moments, in a show full of them, she realizes that Mason has violated her once again, by removing her baby and her entire uterus. She will never have a Verger heir.That loophole she found in their father’s will, has just been closed. Mason’s money can pay for all manner of corrupt behavior, such as the henchman who injured her, and the doctor who mutilates her.


Alana confronts Jack about how everyone is lying to her and she can’t rust anyone, including Hannibal. That whatever they’re all up to, Jack is going to be the clear loser in their agenda. Jack, exasperated but sympathetic takes her into the other room where Freddie Lounds is very much still alive, having faked her death to capture Hannibal. I don’t know what Alana is thinking in this scene, but she looks devastated.
Will enraged is an intense sight to see. He really is like a force of nature when he’s got his blood  up. He goes to Muskrat Farm, to confront Mason, who is attending to his flock of prized pigs. He threatens to shoot him and feed him to his pigs, while dangling him over the pen. He explains to Mason that they’re all being manipulated by the grandmaster of manipulation, Hannibal Lecter, who put a bug in Margot’s ear, and Mason’s, and then encouraged Will to take revenge on Mason, for hurting another child, like Abigail, that Will is  never going to know.

He informs Mason their true enemy is Hannibal. Once again  he throws Hannibal’s plans, by doing the something he couldn’t predict.

Luke Cage Ep. 1: Moment of Truth

I’m not going to go too far into what Luke Cage means to me as a Black woman, but I grew up reading Power Man/Iron Fist, and I am a child of the seventies, so I remember the whole Blaxploitation era, on which Luke is based, and have a special fondness for him. He was the first Black superhero I ever read about. Before Storm, Red Falcon and Captain Marvel.

I’m not sure if people understand just how important it is for PoC to have power fantasies too, but I’ve mentioned this before. White men’s lives are full of such fantasies, in fact, almost the entire comic book/superhero industry is predicated on it, and PoC, most especially WoC, have precious few of these. So, if you can, imagine how emotional this must be for quite a few of us, especially in these turbulent racial times, to see a bulletproof Black man in a TV show, being heroic, or in some cases, just being.

I wasn’t going to do a play by play of each episode of the series but I’ve enjoyed what I’m seeing so much, that I just can’t help myself, and this is just the first episode. I enjoyed meeting all the different characters and watching them establish relationships with each other, but more importantly we get to understand Luke Cage’s relationship to his neighborhood, Harlem. Where he lives is fairly close knit. Everyone sort of knows each other. They’ve all seen each other around, even if they don’t know  each other’s names.

I grew up in a more rural Midwestern version of this environment, and its fascinating for me to see all the neighborhood nuances, speech, and body language, in a mainstream big budget TV show, that I see everyday. This show isn’t just Black because it has Black people in it. Its Black because it has BLACK people in it. Black people not filtered through a White creator’s lens.(Mostly)

Since the show’s creator is a Black man, there is a minimum of racist stereotypes in the plot. Only the usual stereotypes to be found in such an environment,  resentful fatherless teens, the barbershop banter, hanging out at the club, but done in such a way that the viewer doesn’t dwell on these things as stereotypes.

Luke, played by Mike Colter,  is one of those quiet, mystery people you always see around the ‘hood. They don’t make waves, and you don’t see them out and about too much. He just wants to live a quiet life with Pop, played by Frankie Faison. You might remember him as Barney, from Silence of the Lambs, but I remember him mostly from The Wire.

Luke works two jobs, can barely makes his rent, and is unwilling to get involved with women who give him their phone numbers, because he’s still mourning the death of his wife, which we saw in Jessica Jones. Earlier in the episode, a gorgeous, and smart, young sistah tries to invite him out for coffee, but he turns her down. Pop is the person who urges him to be more involved in living, to find a girlfriend, protect people, that sort of thing.

Eventually he does do these things. He meets Misty Knight in the Harlem Paradise, where he works part-time, as a cook or bartender. Its interesting watching the two of them flirt without giving anything away. These are two carefully guarded people trying to establish a connection, and feels almost antagonistic. Misty gives him a hard time, but he’s smart enough to keep up with her. Luke is persistent and  manages to make his interest in her evident, and she eventually responds. And yeah, this show  proves it is not PG-13, as there is a hot, sweaty love scene, between the two.

The next morning Misty lies to him about being a cop. (What is it with Luke Cage and duplicitous women?) I don’t know where the show creator is going to take this relationship but, in the comic books, Misty ends up with Iron Fist. I liked Misty, played by the lovely Simone Cook, who has just the right amount of snark ,so she doesn’t come across as the Angry Black Woman, or Sassy Black Sister.

The owner of the club (called Paradise) is similar to Daredevil’s Kingpin, only slightly less powerful, named Cottonmouth, and played by Mahershala Ali, who is every bit as badass as the snake after which he’s named. He’s so frightening that even his own female employees don’t like being alone with him. He’s engaged in some nebulous illegal activities, which I didn’t fully understand, even though I thought I was paying attention. Cottonmouth’s cousin is played by Alfre Woodard, aka Black Mariah. She’s a powerful woman in Harlem politics. In the comic books, she’s one of Luke Cage’s primary nemeses. So there are echoes of the Daredevil/Kingpin plot in this show.

Luke becomes more involved in Cottonmouth’s affairs after a young man he knows, who worked for Cottonmouth, dies when one of his co-workers steals several million dollars from his boss.  Now Cottonmouth is looking for the last remaining thief, after killing one of them. Misty, and her partner, Rafael Scarfe, (the only White guy I saw in this episode) are investigating the deaths of the two accomplices, and eyeing Luke as being involved, because he works at Cottonmouth’s club. All  of these characters are aimed right towards each other.

In the meantime, Luke gets in “game mode” by protecting his angry, loud Korean landlady, (another stereotype, which I understand why it was added, but did not appreciate in a show that’s about bucking stereotypes), from some neighborhood thugs. It’s heavily implied that Mariah has something to do with these guys little protection racket.

Its one of only three  action scenes the viewer gets in this episode, as Luke stops a bullet, fired point blank, with his hand. We often forget that Luke Cage is also prodigiously strong, as he easily tosses grown men around, like dolls. (In the comic books Luke is a direct descendant of the same Super Soldier experiments that created Captain America.)

Contrast that with the earlier scene where Luke’s friend gets shot by the thieves, which is horrifying, sad, and graphic. Luke’s scene is also very graphic, as we see bones breaking, and some small amount of gore. But the worst violence is when Cottonmouth beats a hostage to death with his bare fists,splattering blood over his own face and clothes. So yeah, this isn’t a show for young kids, really.

So, this first episode played kind of low-key for me. My minimal expectations that it be interesting were at least met and is  a typical MCU episodic formula, where the primary characters and their relationships are introduced. Its not a standout episode, nevertheless I enjoyed it very much, and I would like to go back and watch it again, catching all the cookies and eggs that I didn’t catch the first time, like Pop referring to Luke as Power Man, Raphael Saadiq singing in the club. (I love Saadiq’s music) and Cottonmouth’s painting of Biggie Smalls hanging in his office, but I need to get to the next episode.

There are comic book, and musical references, all over this episode, which can be a little distracting. I’ll discuss those in my next review.

*Edited for corrections.