Midnight Texas

Based on Charlaine Harris series called conveniently Midnight Texas, this new show will be airing this Summer (July 25th) on NBC.

I have a distrust of network TV  as they seem to want the audience that goes along with SFF shows, (they want that geek cred), but are unwilling to stick with the shows long enough for fans to get a foothold, or they simply don’t invest in the shows and don’t care about them. (We’re looking at you Sleepy Hollow.)

Anyway this show looks pretty good, for what that’s worth. I’m reluctant to get attached to it because, like I said, network TV has a talent for fucking over fans of these types of shows. I love the diversity in the show, the black vampire, the angel, and also a witch. Some of these characters are holdovers from True Blood, a show I liked. I don’t expect this show to be like True Blood, though I respect the showrunner for Mr. Robot. I haven’t yet read the books but I plan to get to those before the show airs.

ABOUT THE SHOW

Welcome to a place where being normal is really quite strange. From the visionary director of “Mr. Robot” and based on the hit book series from the author behind HBO’s “True Blood” comes a journey into a remote Texas town where no one is who they seem. From vampires and witches to psychics and hit men, Midnight is a mysterious safe haven for those who are different. As the town members fight off outside pressures from rowdy biker gangs, ever-suspicious cops and their own dangerous pasts, they band together and form a strong and unlikely family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samurai Jack: Season Five Premiere

 

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Samurai Jack is quite possibly one of the most uniquely gorgeous cartoons on television. Now in its final season, it’s pulling out all of the stops for some truly groundbreaking and beautiful art. The plots of each episode  aren’t complicated but the overall arc of the season is complex enough to make watching it a worthwhile endeavor.

*Fifty years have passed, but I do not age. Time has lost its effect on me, yet the suffering continues. Aku’s grasp chokes the past, present and future. All hope is lost. Got to get back. Back to the past. Samurai Jack.

— Jack, in the opening sequence

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Voiced once again by Phil Lamarr from Pulp Pulp Fiction, and MadTV, it’s  some fifty years in the future, and Aku has finally succeeded in taking over the world. But he’s become bored and jaded. He’s no longer interested in hunting Jack, or trying to kill him. He let’s his robot drones and cultlike followers do his dirty work for him. A new group is hunting Jack called The Daughters of Aku.

Jack lost his legendary sword long ago and wanders Aku’s corrupt landscape, with no purpose. He failed to stop Aku from taking over the world but he can’t or won’t die. One of the side effects of having gone through the time portal to kill Aku is that he no longer ages. He longs to die, but out of long habit, fights Akus servants, over and over.

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It’s a gorgeous looking show with lots of action, and is rather mordantly funny, with the humor found in unexpected places. In one of the earlier sequences we watch as Aku goes about his day, receiving  penitents, eating breakfast, and doing some stretching and deep knee bends, because the Evil Ruler of the World has to remain nimble.

In fact, Samurai  Jack and Aku have a lot in common, as they navigate a world radically different from what they thought things would be. They’re old, jaded, weary, and tired of fighting, but just can’t seem to stop. Jack is  facing new foes, old friends, and trying to live in a world he failed to save. Aku realizes that ruling the world isn’t as wonderful as he thought it would be, but he can’t stop either. So,  the show contains a surprising amount of depth and pathos, where you have two former foes, who are tired of being foes, but have invested too much in it to stop doing it.

The art takes a bit of getting used to, because its wholly unlike any other cartons on TV, and is very minimalist and deco.

Its an excellent cartoon ,worth watching on  Adult Swim, Saturdays at 11 PM.

 

Hannibal Season Two Finale: Mizumono

And so we end with a perfect cap on this season. We began in episode one, with a forecast of how the season would end, with a massive knockdown fight, between Jack Crawford and Hannibal. How did we get from them being friends to that point? The rest of the season is really just a flashback, to how we reach that moment, and its aftermath.

All season long ,we’ve watched Will Graham, thoroughly unburdened by the illness he was suffering  in that first season, at the top of his game. Most of this season chronicles Will’s  fall from grace. In his efforts to capture the Chesapeake Ripper, he finds himself in spiritual, and emotional, alignment with Hannibal. After failing to get any traction on his accusation that Hannibal is the Ripper, Will, in collusion with a newly believing Jack, after  Beverly’s death, embarked on a campaign to take down Hannibal, by cozying up to him, winning his trust, and gathering  evidence of wrongdoing. Hannibal being too canny for that plan to work, didn’t enter into their equations, and Will found himself being drawn  further down the rabbit hole of Hannibal’s machinations. Hannibal’s goal is  to make Will realize that he is just as much a killer as Hannibal, and make him his partner in death.This culminates in the death of Randall Tier at Will’s hands, in self-defense, and the seeming death of Freddie Lounds.

In this episode everything comes to a head. Jack’s predicament in allowing Will’s plan, Will’s predicament in lying to Hannibal, and the actual fate of Abigail Hobbes is revealed.

Hannibal sends Jack a letter, inviting him to dine with him and Will, and he accepts. Will and Jack discuss this Last Supper, while finalizing their plan to catch The Chesapeake Ripper. Alana is filled with doom and gloom and nightmares, as she begins to realize exactly what’s been happening, and what Hannibal is. She hasn’t been sleeping and is filled with dread that Hannibal has laid a trap for all of them.

Jack is finally successful in finding Hannibal’s therapist Bedelia Du’Maurier, who had gone into hiding, after she felt threatened by Hannibal. In his interview with her, Bedelia warns Will that Hannibal will find a way to prevail. She explains what hold Hannibal has over her. Will and Jack offer her immunity from prosecution for her testimony against Hannibal. An astute observer, she can somehow tell that Will’s loyalties have been severely compromised, and that it is Will’s weakness that will hand Hannibal his victory over their plans.

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Bella Crawford is dying in the hospital of lung cancer. Hannibal visits her and they discuss forgiveness. She says she forgives him for saving her life, and letting her die in this manner, but in return, Hannibal has to save Jack, the way Hannibal saved her. She has no idea that Hannibal didn’t save her out of caring or friendship, but as an exercise to see  what would happen, and to distract Jack from his hunt for The Ripper. She never discovers that Hannibal not only doesn’t keep his promise to save Jack but makes plans with Will Graham to kill him.

Nevertheless, Bella’s words about forgiveness come back to haunt Hannibal in season three. Unbeknownst to her she (and everyone he has met) does have an effect on him. In fact, even though Hannibal later claims that Will and the others had effected no change in him, that is a lie. Since becoming involved with the FBI, and knowing Will, Hannibal has developed close relationships with many people he would otherwise have never met. Remember  season one, when  Hannibal was a profoundly lonely man, who didn’t realize just how alone he was. After involving himself with Will, he became surrounded by people who cared about and trusted him, and although that did not prevent him from killing any of them, it has affected his attitudes and behaviors in small ways that will  play out in season three.

Will is clearly conflicted about Hannibal. As he makes plans with Jack, he also helps Hannibal destroy evidence in his office. While the two of them burn Hannibal’s files,  they make plans to run away together. Will is cagey about the commitment but it all becomes moot anyway, when Hannibal, with his keen sense of smell, scents Freddie Lound’s hair shampoo on Will’s clothes. Will had just had a meeting with her to ask her not to write any more stories involving Abigail, and to let her rest in peace, as he makes plans for Hannibal’s imminent capture.

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Will and Hannibal discuss what would happen to Hannibal if he were ever captured and Hannibal says he would live inside his Memory Palace, (something peripherally mentioned in the Silence of the Lambs), which is a place deep inside his mind, which resembles the foyer of the Norman Chapel in Palermo. Foreshadowing: This is information that Will uses to find Hannibal in season three.

Just as Hannibal has his Memory Palace, Will also has one. Fishing in the river.We saw Will visiting this place when he was in prison. At the time, Hannibal as the RavenStag, or the ManStag, was often shown infiltrating Will’s private mental space, illustrating that Hannibal (and Abigail) were never far from Will’s thoughts. Later, in season three, Will easily visits Hannibal’s Memory Palace. As an example of how intertwined their thoughts are, by that point, its not immediately clear to the viewer, whose mind we’re visiting, Will’s or Hannibal’s.

While having dinner, Hannibal asks Will to just leave with him, and not inform Jack, but Will lies to Hannibal, saying that Jack deserves to know, and puts forth the idea that Jack be killed. Hannibal doesn’t require that Jack die but he allows Will to keep lying to him. He was hoping that Will would come clean but he didn’t. Hannibal makes other plans at this point.

Kade Prunell, the Special Investigator, has caught wind of Jack’s plan. She aims to put a stop to it because its a complete violation of the law, and a private citizen’s rights. Claiming that the imminent death of his wife has compromised his logic, she suspends Jack from his position as Director. Jack, now free of any legal obligations to capture Hannibal alive, surrenders his gun and badge. Alana comes to his defense, arguing that the only way that Hannibal can be captured is in the act, , but Kade won’t hear of it. She tells Alana that Jack and Will are to be arrested for what happened to Randall Tier. Alana calls Will, to warn him about the warrants put out for his and Jack’s arrests, while Jack visits Bella in the hospital one last time.

Will calls Hannibal. Just as this whole thing began, that first season, with Hannibal’s phone call to Garrett Jacob Hobbes, (just because he was curious what would happen), Will’s phone call to Hannibal sets in motion a series of events that will end in tragedy for everyone in Hannibal’s orbit, and have repercussions far into their futures, as it sets off what fans  know as The Diner Rouge, The Red Dinner, where everyone’s  paths cross.

Jack arrives early for dinner at Hannibal’s home. They exchange pleasantries, but they both understand each other very well, in this instance. They begin to fight.

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Hannibal bests Jack and Jack locks himself in the walk-in cupboard, with a near mortal wound to the throat. Alana arrives to find Hannibal trying to batter his way in to finish off Jack. When she attracts his attention, he tells her that he tried, very hard, to keep her ignorant of what he is, expresses regret that he has to say goodbye to her, and as a courtesy, tells her she should flee. She fires at Hannibal but Hannibal had earlier removed the bullets from her gun.

Now she flees. She runs upstairs with Hannibal in pursuit, although he leaves the  kitchen knives behind. Alana is shocked to encounter Abigail Hobbes in an upstairs bedroom. Abigail pushes her out the window, and heads downstairs.

Will is just arriving. He finds Alana broken on the front steps, but alive. She warns him about Jack, while he calls for Emergency Services, then he goes inside where he finally sees that Abigail is actually alive. Shocked by this turn of events he doesn’t try to defend himself as Hannibal approaches. Hannibal says it was meant to be a surprise, the three of them going away together, as one big happy family. But that will never happen now. Just as Hannibal had his moment of complete understanding with Jack, Hannibal and Will have their moment. Hannibal is full of righteous fury about Will’s betrayal and deception.Will knows Hannibal is going to kill him and he accepts that he deserves it. What he didn’t count on was Hannibal taking Abigail away from him, again.

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To show Will his power, and to punish Will for his betrayal, (even if Will did renege at the last minute and warn him) Hannibal stabs Will in the stomach, but doesn’t kill him, although he easily could have, and as Will lays dying, Hannibal cuts Abigail’s throat in front of him. We end as we began, in season one, with Will clutching Abigail’s throat trying to save her life. Killing Abigail is also a moment of defiance because Will said he  affected Hannibal’s life for the good. Killing Abigail is Hannibal’s way of showing Will how little he changed him. After all, if he had changed him, would he be able to do this? But Will, in complete understanding, knows that the very act of killing Abigail, in defiance of Will’s assertions, is in itself, evidence of how much Hannibal has changed.

It’s also Hannibal just being petty and angry. He claims Will didn’t affect who he is, but he allowed Will to get close to him, and trusted him. Will did to Hannibal what Hannibal was doing to Alana, and that betrayal hurts. Its one of the reasons Hannibal kept himself aloof from other people all those years. Not just to protect his secret life, but the understanding that emotional connections would compromise his survival instincts. This is him showing Will that he is not compromised.

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But of course Will affected him, or he wouldn’t feel so much pain.

And this is not something out of character for Hannibal. The entire time that we’ve known Hannibal, he has tried to maintain a facade of equanimity, and dispassion, most of the time (I imagine for most of his life). He’s not emotionless. He has a deep well of emotion, but he maintains a rather impassive veneer. When he does get caught up in his emotions, and allow them to take rein, usually people die, and the Diner Rouge is no different event.

Most of the time we see Hannibal killing others from a place of clinical detachment. Killing is just something he thinks needs doing. This season we’ve seen him kill from emotion, at least once , when he killed the Judge who threw out his testimony during Will’s trial. He was insulted and outraged at his treatment, feeling lonely because of Will’s absence, and killing the Judge fell in line with removing an obstacle to his happiness. (Remember, before he decides to kill the Judge, there’s a scene of him sitting alone in his office, realizing exactly how much he played himself, when he had Will arrested, and how much he misses Will.)

At the end of season one Hannibal frames Will for survival reasons. At the end of season two, he is still in a mental  place, where he thinks more of himself, than he does the people in his orbit. He is still very much a selfish creature at the end of season one. But all during season two he has allowed himself to  care about Will, the only person he has ever allowed himself to have emotions for, since the death of his sister Misha, and he gets betrayed for his trouble. He’s not just mad at Will. He’s angry that he got suckered. Not ever having built up any kind of immunity against even the most the casual pains that human beings can inflict on each other, Hannibal is like a dangerous child, lashing out at anyone who hurts him.

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Having officially burned all his bridges, he steps out into the cleansing rain, believing that this part of his life is over, and that he can begin anew, casually stepping over Alana’s prone body, without even checking to see if she’s still alive. She meant nothing to him except as a means to control Will. He only made overtures to her when it looked like she might fall for Will, and only kept up a relationship with her so that Will couldn’t.

The final coda to this episode is Hannibal on a plane bound for Europe in the company of his psychiatrist, Bedelia Du’Maurier.

 

I started writing these reviews because I couldn’t find any good meta for this show that had been written after season two. I just decided, rather than scouring the internet for it, I should just write something myself.

Next up: The entirety of season three in my Hannibal re-watch.

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Geeking Out About: Brooklyn 99

Brooklyn 99

Today I am  singing the praises of one of my favorite sit-coms, Brooklyn 99. I don’t often watch comedies, because most of them  aren’t particularly funny to me, try too hard, or I just don’t have time for them, and I was not going to watch this one, because I have trouble watching cop shows, (Apparently I can watch cop comedies, I guess.  I loved Reno 911, and thought this might be similar to it. It both is and isn’t.)

Brooklyn 99 is just as ridiculously over the top as Reno 911, but the characters are much more likable, and competent. They’re certainly less raunchy, as this is a Primetime show. The 99’s characters are the kind of people you want to meet and make friends with. The characters from Reno 911 are  much more like  your annoying co-workers, that you’d  like to punch in the  neck. The 99 characters are the kind of people you laugh with and cheer for. The Reno characters are the kind you laugh at, while hoping they don’t  blow anything up. What’s refreshing about Brooklyn 99 is, you start the series with what you think are just a bunch of standard tropes, and gradually, these characters become fleshed out, and more complicated, but not in the usual ways.

This show is also an example of getting diversity right. (Except for the lack of Asians, which it really needs at least one. ) I love the attitudes of the characters. They really do act as if they are a family.

There’s none of the passive-aggressive hostility that passes for humor in other ensemble shows. The characters acknowledge that they are very different from one another, there’s occasional teasing about that, but no one is ever made to feel ashamed of, or less than, for who they are. The only time characters are ever made to feel ashamed, is when they behave badly, and their friends call them on their shit. There’s a general acceptance by the other characters when someone is just a certain way, even if that way is mildly annoying, like Charles Boyle, or in Rosa’s case , occasionally terrifying. The closest you get to meanness in the show is Rosa, but she makes up for it by only kicking the asses of people who mess with her friends, (or inanimate objects that ain’t actin’ right.)

One of the things  I really like about this show is when characters make mistakes, they’re willing to acknowledge they made the mistake, and either apologise, or atone for it. They’re willing to not only  admit when they’ve been foolish, but when they’ve been doubling down on their foolishness too, which is a refreshing change from the real life model of people who actively work at being their worst possible selves. Brooklyn 99 makes me like people, and is a perfect example of how to Grownup.

Here, in some kind of order, are:

Det. Rosa Diaz  (Stephanie Beatriz)

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Rosa is the kind of girl you want to have your back in a fight. If I was arranging a team of people to survive the Zombie Apocalypse, Rosa would be Michonne. She has an appetite for destruction that is awesome. In fact, one of the best birthday presents Gina ever gave her, was a hammer, and some time alone in a soon to be demolished house. According to Rosa it was: The Best Birthday Ever!

Strangers see me like  Rosa, or Captain Holt, depending on their personal anxiety levels. Rosa began the series as a typical anger management case, which is funny when you contrast that with how model pretty she is, and this is part of the show’s charm.The humor comes from the character traits and how various teammates respond to the events in the show. They’re usually involved in some situation that requires them to react, and because their personalities are all so different, you get some spectacularly funny moments. Occasionally the show likes to give us a real treat and put certain personalities together to solve some issue. Hilarity often ensues.

Over the years we find out many surprising things about Rosa, like she’s occasionally intimidated by people too, she used to be a ballet dancer, and  that she was raised by nuns, but when we first meet Rosa she’s beating up a copy machine, with a battering ram, and at first you think she’s just a stereotypical “Spicy Latina”. Thankfully, anger isn’t all there is to her. She’s also honest, forthright, insightful, supportive, loyal, and encouraging to her teammates. Rosa is the shows truth-teller. She specializes in stating uncomfortable truths, and doesn’t shirk from that, even when those truths are about herself.

 

 

Gina Linetti  (Chelsea Perretti)

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If I had to choose someone to be friends with, it would be Gina. She’s that best girlfriend, who always knows where the latest get-togethers are, and how to finagle her way into them. She’s carefree and deeply self involved, but not in a neurotic way, because this is a woman who has realized her fabulousness and is very comfortable with her greatness. The funny thing is, she is pretty fabulous, mostly because she acts like it, and truly believes it. She has a deep and abiding love affair with her phone, through which she receives copious amounts of gossip. She’s also totally  unwilling to let others forget how wonderful she is. Gina is also one of the laziest assistants to ever be in an office. She’s so fabulous however that not only does she not make any secret of this, she is hilariously quite proud of that, (and her interpretive dance skills).

One of the most surprising things,on the show,  is her relationship with Jake, which I truly enjoy. They’ve know each other since they were little children, having grown up in the same neighborhood, and they have one of the best platonic friendships I’ve ever seen on TV. One of my favorite moments is when Jake gives Gina the forehead kiss, as if she were his little sister, and she lets him do it, although she really isn’t affectionate, like that,with anyone else on the show, and I think she’s older than him.

 

Det. Jake Peralta  (Adam Samberg)

Jake Peralta is everybody’s cool best friend (and Charles Boyle would be more than happy to tell you this).

Jake begins the show as an irresponsible, sloppy, childlike character, but you can see his growth over the course of three seasons, as he learns to be honest with himself and others, and even manages to win Amy’s affections, after being so annoying to her at the beginning of the show. Heck he was annoying to me, and definitely to Captain Holt, but I’ve actually grown to like, and even admire  him.He has matured throughout the seasons but not so much that he doesn’t still think that frosting his hair blonde looks really cool.

When I first started watching this show, I was watching it for Andre Braugher, and I initially dismissed Jake as someone I would have to simply tolerate. I thought he’d be the typical White male protagonist who is the center of all the stories, and  everything he did and said, would be treated as gold. But that’s not what happened. Adam Samberg is willing to step aside from time to time, and let the other characters shine, and  teach his character how to grow up. Samberg understands he doesn’t need to be the center of every episode. He’s no William Shatner and that’s refreshing.

Jake always had trouble showing affection, not because he didn’t want people to think he was gay, but because he had father issues, and is still immature enough not to know how to handle affection from others. But he has grown, over the course of the show.

Witness his gradual change of character, as he attempts to become the kind of man who deserves to have someone like Amy, in his life. Jake is still immature, but he genuinely loves Amy, and tries to be the kind of man who can make her happy. Amy’s  love encourages him to want to be a better man. The distinction is subtle but there.  Amy is  the polar opposite of him, and he acknowledges that keeping her with him might require him to act more mature. Jake is also willing to acknowledge his mistakes,  apologize for them, and attempts to do better, not just for Amy, but for all those he considers his friends.

 

 

 

Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher)

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Captain Holt is the father figure of The 99. He’s the no-nonsense, emotionally restrained, backbone to the department. Or at least that’s  how it starts. I love the way this character has grown since the beginning of the series. He started out as real hard-case, coming down  hard on Jake, to get him to be more responsible and adult. He has since come to  understand Jake a lot more, understanding that Jake is at his best when he’s allowed to just be himself, realizing his influence over Jake, and he’s even begun to loosen up  just a bit, under Jake’s influence.

Throughout the seasons, we’ve witnessed Holt loosen up a more, finally becoming comfortable with his detectives, and allowing them to see just a little of his silly side, although he would probably be insulted at that description, not having ever believed in, or condoned, silliness or frivolousness, of any kind. At first, I just saw Holt as The Inscrutable Negro, mysterious, and unflappable. Now I really enjoy this character and I’m always eager to see how he’ll surprise me, during an episode by, for example, having an impromptu dance-off with some street thugs.

Over time, Holt has come to admire Jake, and think of him as a son, which is a total turnaround from when they first met. After all, Jake possessed every quality that Holt disdained, and he didn’t believe Jake took his job seriously, but now he’s very proud of Jake and encourages him to do his best. Jake, who spent the earliest part of his life trying to please his absentee father, and never measuring up, has found the perfect father-figure in Holt.

Holt’s team  admires him, and  strive to make him proud of them.  Captain Holt is an out, gay, Black man. His job might care about him being gay, but his team doesn’t, and they are always respectful of his relationship with his husband Kevin, treating the two just  like every other couple on the show.  For example, when Holt wanted to visit Kevin, who was on Sabbatical in France, Amy, Charles, and Jake, volunteer to dogsit the couple’s Corgi,  Cheddar. The humor doesn’t come from “Oh, these gay men have a cute dog.” No, the humor comes from the usual wackiness that ensues because Amy, Charles, and Jake are such different personalities which clash over babysitting Cheddar.

The show doesn’t browbeat you over the head with After School Special moments, though. How Holt handles his sexuality, in an environment where it is much more likely to meet with resistance, is done with grace and dignity. His gayness isn’t the joke. In fact, no one’s race is ever a joke, and no one’s gender is ever used as a joke.

I admire the hell out of this character. Hilariously he’s the character that most people who don’t know me well, see me as. My close friends find that hilarious, btw.

 

Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews)

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Terry is like everybody’s fit  uncle. He looks intimidating, but after a while, you find out that Terry is merely extremely health conscious and an actual Teddy Bear. Terry is such a gentle soul, that he has to be carefully talked into using his tremendous strength ,and has deep anxieties about firing a weapon. I love how the show bucks stereotypes of Black men, by having two very intense looking black men, who  are nothing like they first seem.

Terry is a devoted family man who truly, madly, deeply, loves his two twin baby daughters, even though he thinks they are possibly trying to kill him. Known for speaking of himself in the first person, Terry  also loves yogurt, exercise, and his job, which mostly involves wrangling all these different personality types, to focus them on one thing together.Terry is the Peacekeeper. His job is to make sure everybody is getting along and ready to work. He’s strong, encouraging, and always speaks up,and goes to bat, for his people. Captain Holt depends on Terry to run the day to day operations, and considering the types of personalities he has to work with, Terry is doing an excellent job.

 

Det. Amy Santiago

Amy is the girl I was in High School, except I was a lot more snooty. Amy is that best friend , that you hated just a tiny bit, because not only is she smart, organized, and ready, she’s a classic goody-two-shoes, (with just a tiny competitive streak). In fact, I think when that description was created, Amy was who they had in mind.

Amy is an extremely moral and ethical person, who believes in strictly following the rules, and lots and lots of planning. She dislikes how Jake likes to cut corners, or sometimes just wing it. Amy doesn’t wing anything if she can help it. She loves to please people she admires, and will go out of her way to get Captain Holt’s approval, going so far as to cook him a large and tasteless Thanksgiving dinner, or agreeing to babysit his Corgi, Cheddar.  I love Amy because she really is a girl after my own heart. Like me, she is a stickler for prudent planning,  and  loves a nice sized binder of information.

But Amy’s life is so rigidly defined that she needs a little chaos, and that’s where jake comes in. Initially, I think she hated him because Jake is everything she isn’t, but as Jake began to prove his love for her, presenting her with options of when and where to be with him, and then waiting for her to decide, she began to see Jake’s true colors. As I said,

 

Det. Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio)

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Charles is everybody’s favorite grandma and/or best friend. Hes loving , admiring, supportive, encouraging, and Jake’s right hand man, even though Jake didn’t choose him for it. He’s the kind of guy who always has a bowl of candy on his desk to offer to co-workers who are feeling a bit down.

I love Charles because, well…he’s just lovable. Joe Lo Truglio, formerly from Reno 911, is the complete opposite of his character, on that show. On 911 he was a venal, angry drug user, but  Charles is a warm, gracious, polite, foodie, and that you believe this, is a testament to Joe Lo Truglio’s acting skills. Charles is always upbeat and optimistic. He always looks on the bright side of a situation, no matter how horrible that situation may seem to others, like when his best friend, Jake accidentally shot him in the butt, or when his dog died. Charles was the only one capable of seeing the silver lining. He has a tendency to be a floor mat because he always puts others needs before his own. Now that he has a young son, whom he adopted, he has someone at which to throw all his tremendous caring.

He’s very devoted to Jake and I love the show has this depiction of a close m/m friendship without screaming no homo, everytime he and Jake show affection.

 

Det. Adrien Pimento

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Adrien is the newest recurring character at Brooklyn 99. Having suffered an emotional breakdown, after going undercover with some mobsters, Adrien is in a very  fragile emotional state, when he returns to his job as a detective. He’s paranoid and full of anxiety, and definitely suffering from some form of PTSD, but his mental state is never made the butt of the joke, and is not actually connected to his zany behavior. He acts wild, not because of his emotional fragility, but because he is thoroughly lacking in any boundaries, like breaking into Jake’s apartment to do Tai Chi, in his underwear. The humor comes from the reactions of his co-workers, who never have any idea what Adrien might  do next, not from making fun of his emotional state. The show skirts a fine line between acknowledging his emotional disability, and  understanding that it doesn’t necessarily inform  his behavior.

Adrien is definitely what’s known as  Chaotic Good.

Adrien is a good man, which is why the rest of the team accepts him. Also,  he and Rosa develop an intense, frantic, (and inexplicable) attraction to each other, although Adrien  explains, at first, that he’s not capable of having a relationship with her, they do eventually decide to get married.  Rosa seems   okay with Adrien’s unpredictability, and takes most of his decisions  in stride. She never tries to change Adrien, or make him behave, (although when she first met him she called him a freak, that she will only fall in love with). After a while, she just accepts him for the wild card that he is.

Actually, once everyone has gotten used to Adrien, they  just try to work  with him, or around him, for example, Gina is one of the few people Adrien will actually obey, when she tells him to do something, and Charles pretty much loves everyone, when he’s not terrified of them. Over time, the team’s acceptance  and trust starts to heal Adrien’s emotional wounds, and he starts to feel confident enough to form healthier relationships with others.
I’m geeking out about Brooklyn 99 because it’s an example of a show thats getting its humor and diversity right, with smart, funny, well rounded characters. It resumes its fourth season on April 11th, on the Fox network. Go figure!

On Tumblr: Hannibal Meta

*Yes, I’m still fascinated by this show, its characters, and its meanings. I hope some of you guys are just as interested, so here’s some Hannibal meta, that showed up on my dashboard, from when the show was at its peak. This might  spur some of you to re- watch certain episodes with a fresh perspective.
Remember Bedelia’s statement, later in the first season, about Hannibal’s careful facade and that she could catch glimpses of the real man through his human suit. This is important because Hannibal has been wearing this “person suit” from the moment Will first met him.
From: hannibalsbattlebot

On the surface, Will telling Hannibal “I don’t find you that interesting” seems unbelievably rude. Ah, we think, Hannibal must find Will special if he puts up with that. But, this early on Hannibal has only shown Will his mask, his human suit. To most people, the facade is interesting enough. That’s the point. All the trappings were put there by Hannibal to distract everyone from his real self. When Will is not impressed by this smoke screen, he has passed an important test.

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*This is an essay about Hannibal’s ability to feel. I would say that yes, he does have emotions, but I would argue they are somewhat truncated, not as fully developed as they should be in a grown man, as he rarely, if ever expends emotion on anyone other than Will or himself.

It’s not that Hannibal’s emotions are fake, (although I believe in some cases they are), but when we do see him showing emotions towards others, I think that he’s simply going through the motions,  pretending to care about Jack, or Alana, for example, and when he does have genuine emotions for others, like Abigail and Will, it’s only in relation to how close/useful that person is to himself.He certainly has emotions when it comes to something directly affecting him, but something that directly affects others, not so much.

In other words, Hannibal lacks empathy.

From: slayerangels

”Will loves Hannibal because he doesn’t have emotions and so Will can be himself around him because he can’t pick up feelings from Hannibal with his empathy disorder.”

I’ve seen this idea a few times and it’s baffling. Here’s a list of reasons why that’s wrong:

1. Hannibal has emotions. Many emotions. His emotions are not fake. He shows emotions when people aren’t even observing him or in the same room. He was upset at what happened to Margot after Will left the room. He was upset that Bella died and was crying over it by himself in Italy. He moped around about Will in Italy the entire time. He missed Will so much in Sorbet he was fidgeting around and clearly upset about it. He was mad that Gideon was calling himself the Ripper. He gets super annoyed at rude people. These are all emotions.

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2. Will can “read” the Ripper enough to know which crimes scenes are his and which aren’t and also give a history about his childhood to Jack. Will can also “read” the copycat. Hannibal is the Ripper and the copycat. So, Will can read Hannibal. Which is why Hannibal got super defensive about Will in Season 1 and framed him and put him in prison. Because he knew Will would find him out eventually.

3. Will can “seduce” and “deceive” Hannibal in S2 because he can empathize with him or “understand” him. Hannibal says this directly and Will agrees.

4. Hannibal and Will share a memory palace. Will goes to places he has been to “read” him, just like he does at crime scenes. Will knows Hannibal “intimately” as he says himself. If he likes being around him because he doesn’t “pick up” things from his empathy, then that makes no sense.

5. Will doesn’t automatically know who a killer is, even if he’s investigating their crimes. Tobias is a prime example. Hannibal realized Tobias was a killer immediately, Will didn’t. Another example would be Abigail. Hannibal knew she was a killer before Will did. If anything Hannibal has more insight into people than Will does. That doesn’t mean he has less empathy than Will, it means he has the same amount or more. “I can’t turn it off anymore than you can” Hannibal says to Will in Aperitif. When Hannibal was doing Will’s job in S2 for Jack he got the job done, he figured out who the killer was and why he was killing and exactly where he was, he just didn’t tell all that info to Jack because he wanted to go kill him first. Hannibal can in fact do Will’s job and he helps Will do his job better, “Will has never been more effective than he is with you inside his head”. Hannibal knows all about the Shrike enough to help Will figure out who the Shrike really is, right from the beginning of the show. “He had to show me a negative so that I could see the positive, that crime scene was practically gift wrapped.” My point being that just because Will doesn’t know Hannibal is the Ripper for a while (about 3 months) doesn’t mean that he can’t “read” Hannibal’s emotions. His empathy disorder doesn’t make him psychic and it isn’t supernatural.

I get it’s hard to understand why Will didn’t realize Hannibal was in love with him, but this is no explanation. It negates the entire show. Other explanations should be entertained. Will knows that Hannibal is very sad over him, “He sent us his broken heart” and he knows that the key to understand him is love, “No one can be fully aware of another human being unless we love them” and he knows he can take advantage of Hannibal’s feelings for him, “You’d only do that if I’d rejected you.” So, taking all that into account, the explanation that he just didn’t want to fully believe it, he was lying to himself, or wanted it confirmed by Bedelia (because he was afraid Hannibal loved her or because he believed she would know more than anyone else), or some combination of those is the most likely.

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*I loved this particular meta. I have yet to start reviewing season 3, so  haven’t discussed Will’s mind pendulum  yet.

From: silkysimpona

Will’s Mind Pendulum

Has anyone else noticed the difference between Will analyzing Hannibal’s crime scene and Will analyzing someone else’s crime scene?

When he investigates the Leeds murder in The Great Red Dragon, his mind pendulum makes an appearance for the first time in season 3.

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The pendulum is a way for Will to get into the murder empathy mindset, but it also represents a physical barrier between him and the subject he wants to analyze. In essence, it establishes a defensive barrier between his sense of self and his sense of the killer’s self, keeping them completely separate from each other. The stronger the pendulum, the stronger his sense of self.

Compare this to his analysis of the Hannibal’s crime scene in Primavera. Here, Will doesn’t use a pendulum. There is just a brief blur in and blur out to signify his entrance into Hannibal’s state of mind.

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At this point, his mind is so intertwined with Hannibal’s that he doesn’t need the physical act of the pendulum to get him into the correct mindset. His sense of self is already almost entirely wrapped up and muddled up with Hannibal’s. Not only does he not need to use his pendulum in this moment, he probably can’t use his pendulum to put up a mental barrier between them. They’re already conjoined after all.

In Dolce, Will says to Hannibal, “You and I have begun to blur.” I think it’s pretty neat that they were able to illustrate that with the simple absence of a pendulum effect.

 

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*This essay is about something I touched on in an earlier essay, regarding how Alana changed after her relationship with Hannibal, how she became, in the third season, harder and colder, in reaction to having known him. It also points out some interesting details about Margot.
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You know what I really fucking love about Marlana? (everything)

No but really, aside from everything, one specific thing that I love about them is that they had equally interesting but “opposite” wardrobe changes as their characters developed.

Alana started out with the wrap dresses, which were usually not layered with anything, and then by season 3 she was wearing three piece suits. She armored up. Did she abandon femininity? Hell no. But she still, finally, after implicitly trusting Jack, Hannibal, and Will and being betrayed in that trust by literally all of them, learned to protect herself. She withdrew her trust and the physical armor of the suits reflected that change nicely. (One could also argue that she consciously or unconsciously was imitating Hannibal.)

Margot, on the other hand, started out with these incredibly stiff and layered outfits. Her hair buns were sleek and severe, and her lipstick reflected that. Need I say anything about the shoulder pads–designed to make her appear larger, more intimidating? Yes, Margot was protecting herself with these layers of clothing, I don’t think anyone failed to pick up on that. And then she meets Alana. And she makes this switch to softer clothing choices, and hairstyles, and makeup. But only with her.

I find this to be really awesome because both of these wardrobe choices were incredibly well-thought-through. Both of them accurately reflected the development each of them was going through. And that’s really cool because a lot of the time in media you see more masculine girls lauded for becoming more feminine in coming-of-age stories, or by contrast, feminine girls who become more masculine to redeem themselves (e.g. Regina George in Mean Girls). And what I love about Marlana is that there’s none of that, because both of their transformations were intensely personal and reflected what they personally were going through.

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*This one is about the loneliness of both Will and Hannibal.

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Do you ache for him?For me, these two scenes effectively sum up just how alone Hannibal and Will are without each other. We see Will desperately attempting to focus all his attention on fixing a boat motor, a problem we heard Hannibal refer to as ‘easy’ to solve in season one. The simplicity of this creates a stark contrast in relation to Will’s current state of mind regarding his feelings for Hannibal, confirmed through the series of flashbacks we see. Will is not entirely haunted by the fact that Hannibal gutted him; he is haunted by the fact that Hannibal left him. We see flashbacks of Hannibal holding Will, followed by Will falling to the ground and Hannibal bending over him. These are not the typical flashbacks generally associated with people suffering from post-traumatic stress; these flashbacks are rooted in Will’s heartbreak over the fact that Hannibal left him.

In relation to Hannibal, we see him sat in a chair, pensive as he stares ahead. This in itself is unusual as we usually see Hannibal busying himself with something or other. Again this serves to elucidate just how barren his existence is without Will. This also confirms how much Will has changed him, given that the Hannibal we met in season one was entirely self-reliant and self-serving. I believe there was a void in Hannibal’s life, an ache he couldn’t quite identify or pinpoint. Will filled that void. Independence and the isolation associated with it was something Hannibal was used to and previously drew comfort from. Now there is no comfort in his isolation. He and Will quickly realise and accept just how empty, how devoid of purpose their lives are without each other, testament of the vicious mutual co-dependency they each fostered.

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Ooh, I really enjoyed this one, which outlines the various ways that people respond to threatening behavior, and specifically to how Hannibal responds to Will.

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I just noticed a dynamic between these guys that I’d never quite put together before: in precise contrast to what Will thinks he wants, he will always fail to follow through on a lethal confrontation with Hannibal if (and only if) Hannibal makes a show of rolling over for him.
Bear with me for a sec because this is kind of fascinating: a while ago, I read a book called On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. The author Dave Grossman proposed a theory which jives with a lot of stuff I learned in anthropology classes, but he has a particularly pithy way of describing it. Between animals of the same species, he says, the choices of behavior in a confrontation aren’t as simple as the “fight or flight” choice we usually talk about.

Grossman calls his model “fight, flight, posture, or submit.” This model takes into account a common trait among most animals (including humans): members of the same species almost never jump immediately to the ‘fight’ option in a confrontation. Doing so would result in needless deaths, particularly among younger individuals who haven’t yet learned to defend themselves, and then to eventual depopulation and extinction.

Instead, animals tend to begin confrontations by posturing – by making a show of their superiority in an attempt to make the other party back down. If, during the posturing phase, it becomes clear that the individuals are fairly evenly matched, they are likely to start a physical fight in order to establish dominance, while still avoiding lethal attacks if possible.

However, if it becomes clear during the posturing phase that one of the individuals is definitely strong enough to defeat the other one, the weaker opponent will do one of two things: flee or submit. I’ll just quote the book here:

“Submission is a surprisingly common response, usually taking the form of fawning and exposing some vulnerable portion of the anatomy to the victor, in the instinctive knowledge that the opponent will not kill or further harm one of its own kind once it has surrendered.”

So, now that we’ve got all that context out of the way, let’s talk about Will and Hannibal!

Keep reading
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*Here’s a more scholarly approach to why the show, Hannibal, is the way it is, and what that means to the larger culture.

White Collar Cannibal: the Gentrified Grotesque in NBC’s Hannibal

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

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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 6: Chapter 7

Wow! Last night’s episode was a total massacre! Literally!!!

Last episode, we found out that everyone involved in the making of The Return to My Roanoke Nightmare died during the Blood Moon. And with the death of Rory, (Audrey’s much younger husband),  killed by the nurses, to complete the lettering in their favorite word, (MURDER), we were off to the races.

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When everyone goes upstairs to investigate where Rory has gone, they find a pool of blood, with no body. When Rory gets killed, Sydney, his assistant and cameraman are taken down by Crazy Agnes. I didn’t name her, that’s what the show’s  writers named her, and since I disagree with calling homicidal people crazy, and ableism in general, I’m only calling her Agnes from this time forward. Agnes kills the entire film crew with some kind of hatchet, or cleaver, then goes to the Roanoke house and attacks Shelby. But not before Shelby kills Matt while Dominic just stands and watches.

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Shelby is saved, from Agnes,  by Dominic, who wrestles Agnes into submission but doesn’t kill her. Earlier that evening Dominic spent  time trying to talk his way back under Shelby’s skirts, (or yoga pants in her case) but had no luck. Shelby is dedicated to reconciling with her ex-husband.

Even though Matt beat Dominic’s ass earlier that evening, he catches this  little episode between the two of them, and tells Dominic to go ahead and tap that because he doesn’t want her. Dominic thinks this is hilarious.

There’s not one of these people that is remotely  likable. Shelby is indecisive and sends mixed messages to everyone. She ‘s a total flake. Matt has no personality at all. Dominic, Audrey, and Monet are just jerks. Agnes is the world’s worst cosplayer, while Lee is the world’s worst TV cop.

Agnes cuts the phone lines to the house, and the film crew are all dead, so no one can call for help. (Remember everyone’s cellphones were taken, and Diana, Sydney’s first assistant died in a car crash.)

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So characterization is just thrown completely out the window, while characters react to the batshitness that’s happening to them. Although everyone does go from not believing any of it is happening, and thinking Sydney is punking them, to using those stupid little cameras he gave them to film their horrific deaths for posterity.  Everybody films everything. One of the strangest moments is when Audrey films Agnes trying to kill her.

Matt is killed by Shelby. I didn’t see this coming but  he really pissed her off.   When Shelby finds him in flagrante with the Celtic witch, he claims he’s in love with her, and Shelby beats him to death with a tire iron.  Here she is turning down awesome sexual escapades with Dominic (C’mon, you just know he’s a dynamo in the bedroom!) for this fool, only for him to turn around and say he’s in love with the creature responsible for killing everyone. Since Matt never had much character to begin with this isn’t exactly the most surprising event.

I have to note,the show is especially graphic this episode. I don’t imagine those of you with delicate sensibilities have even gotten this far into the season, or are even watching the show, but I’m giving the warning anyway. I’m not a fan of torture porn. I always end up covering my eyes during  especially brutal moments, which means there’s a lot of this episode I didn’t see.I’m just here for the aftermath.

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Lee, Monet, and Audrey sneak out of the house, via the underground tunnels, to go get help for Shelby, who is suffering from Agnes’ knife wound. They bring their cameras along. They  end up being  attacked by ghosts, find Rory’s body, and are then captured by the Polks, who are out in full stench this evening, because hey! Blood Moon!  Whooowhee!!! In a moment of surreal humor, they season Lee’s leg and chop it off.

 

Yeah see, this is what is meant by White people not being able to cook. You don’t season a haunch before its removed from its host. Really people! Who seasons a chicken leg before cutting it off the chicken? Although, I guess its a good thing that they remembered to use seasoning at all. (It looked like it might’ve been sage, since it was green.) After wards, they force feed the leg jerky to Monet and Audrey. I don’t know where the rest of Lee is, or even if she’s still alive.

In an ironic twist, Agnes gets cleavered by The Butcher, as Shelby and Dominic watch, with horror, from the windows.

There’s really not much plot to this episode. It mostly consisted of illuminating the circumstances in which everybody dies, and filming it all while it happens.

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So far, Lee, (until we see otherwise), Monet, and Audrey are still among the living. So are Shelby and Dominic. I expect more character revelations to come out of left field, or even a new plot twist, in the next episode.

If you’re wondering why I’m so flippant about the blood and torture during this episode, after watching the Polks season Lee’s leg, it finally completely dawned on me that this is a kind of Horror mockumentary, like those Christopher Guest films, Best in Show, Mascots, (which is hilarious and on Netflix right now), and This is Spinal Tap. I’m not good with humor that hasn’t been spelled out to me, so while I suspected the show was meant to be funny, I wasn’t certain.

My mind tends to have a more literal bent, so unless its clearly spelled out to me that what I’m watching is meant to be funny, I probably won’t see it. Its  not that I don’t have a sense of humor. It just needs to be switched on.  Like a child, my sense of humor isn’t particularly subtle, either. (I get subtle humor, but you have to tell me its subtle first.) So those of you who caught on that this was a parody of Blair Witch shaky-cam, moviemaking styles, I am here right now. (I may be late to the party, but I made it.)

For further, in-depth ideas, read:

http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/effective-american-horror-story-roanoke-turns-subt-244901

I loved this review. It tackles racial issues that were implied at the start of the series, and issues pertaining to privacy and filmmaking. This particular post had me rooting for Lee to be the last survivor. 

WestWorld Episode 4: Dissonance Theory

Well, the robot (r)evolution continues, and there are even more little revelations, but  thats it! I’m giving up speculations about this show. Every time I think I have a good bead on things, the writers throw a monkey wrench into my well thought out rationalizations. This is a show you definitely have to pay attention to. You can’t half-ass this or you’ll miss all the important things, and those things happen not so much in the big set pieces, but in the he quiet conversations you thought you could skip out on to go get a snack.


We begin with Bernard having another conversation with Dolores. Her programming really is advancing as she offers him advice on how to deal with his grief over the death of his son. In exchange he offers her “the maze”. The same maze that MIB is working towards. So the situation is heats up as we might get to see Dolores and MIB competing for the same goal, believing that reaching its center will set them free. I’m not certain what freedom means in this context for Dolores. Does it mean free from her programming? Free of the park? Full consciousness?

Maeve continues to have recurring memories of the deaths of the other Hosts. Last episode she remembered Teddys dead body being hosed down by the technicians, and this week she remembers the town massacre, and how the technicians came then. She specifically remembers being shot and connects that to waking up and seeing the techs standing over her body. 

So a really interesting thing happened in this episode, when a group of Native American Hosts were walking through the town and one of them dropped their doll. Maeve recognized the doll as looking like one of the tech she thinks she saw in a dream. She finds a sheath of appears she’d hidden away from herself, and remembers hiding them before, with the image of the doll.She is told (by another Host named Hector) that the Natives believe the dolls represent demons, who come up from the Hell and manage their lives, which is entirely in keeping with the behavior of the parks technicians who come into the park from underground access tunnels. So it’s fascinating  to me that the Natives have an entire mythology based around the existence of the people who run the park.


Incidentally, it’s also interesting how race does or doesn’t play into the park setting. There are obviously Black Hosts, and Native looking Hosts, but I haven’t seen any Asian Hosts, and only that small town of Hispanic Hosts, although there’s a prominent Hispanic character who shows up later in this episode. Race is not acknowledged in the park. It’s simply a non-issue. 

In keeping with his advice to find the head of the snake on the river, he finds a Host with a tattoo of a snake over her body. It’s head depicted on her face. That blonde gunslinger we saw in the first episode, who got shot by some Guests, I think her name might be Armistice. She is on her way to break her friend (Hector) out of prison, so they can rob the safe at the saloon, just as we saw them do in the first episode. She’s just following her narrative, though. In keeping with full immersion for the Guests, the Hosts simply go through their narratives whether Guests are with them or not. The  MIB offers to help her accomplish her goal in exchange for the story behind her tattoo. 


I’ve given up on guessing whether or not the MIB is human or not. During camp that night, he’s approached by two guests who recognize him from the real world, but this still doesn’t convince me he’s not a robot. Especially when you consider how ambiguous his statements are about himself. He does remember Arnold, saying that he’s there to honor Arnold’s legacy, but this doesn’t preclude the idea that he’s talking about himself. And I still don’t know his name.

Bernard must be communicating with Dolores through her dreams because she wakes up in the park next to William., as if nothing had happened. When they visit a small town to get information, she encounters a little Native girl who has drawn an image of the maze on the ground and gives her cryptic answers when she asks the little girl where she’s from.

In the big setpiece for this episode, the MIB enters the prison, Los Diablos, and with the help of some exploding cigars, a firing squad, and Lawrence Gonzalez, manages to free the resident badass, the other MIB, Hector, played by Rodrigo Santoro, who looks nothing like his character, Xerxes, from the movie 300. Hector is a bandit who lives among the Natives. I like Hector already. He’s such a stereotype of the Mexican badass. The white guy who writes the parks greater narratives is a completely unimaginative asshole, so I’m not surprised. I also don’t hold out much hope that he gave sufficiently nuanced character to  any of the Natives. (I don’t think he can spell nuance.)


Armistice tells the MIB that she got her tattoos in honor of a man named Wyatt, the man who killed her entire family. 

Ford is embarking on some massive new narrative that he isn’t divulging to the company’s boardmembers, who are rightfully concerned with how much he wants to change the park. He gives Theresa a surprise when he shows her just how much control he has, over the environment,  with just a single word, freezing all the Hosts in their view. I’m not entirely sure Theresa knew she was surrounded by Hosts, which is why she is completely discombobulated by their conversation. She totally didn’t see that coming. Ford also shows the extant of his knowledge not just of the park, and it’s past, but it’s employees as well, as he knows all about her affair with Bernard. He warns her not to get in his way.

In the second big setpiece of the evening William, and Logan are involved in a shootout to retrieve Slim, the man they were hunting. They attack his cabin and shoot it out with several Hosts. Logan is having waaay too much fun, and no I still don’t like him. He’s a shitty human being. 


We discover that Teddy, after being attacked by Wyatts men, was strung up to die in the desert. Poor Teddy. One day he’s going to do something heroic and live to talk about it. The MIB discovers him and cuts him down. I don’t know where Teddy’s Guest companion got off to, after he told her to run, but the MIB says he has plans for Teddy.

Logan shoots the Sheriff they were accompanying to retrieve Slim, when Slim offers them a huge reward to return him to the town of Pariah. He also threatens to shoot Dolores, while William threatens to shoot his captive. Since none of the people in this standoff are Mexican, that description would be inappropriate.

Hector  rides into town. Hector is just there for some thieving. The Park’s technicians can see that there are Guests riding with him, and we get a glimpse of just how much control the technicians have over the narratives, and Hosts, in the more populated areas of the Park. As a general rule, I don’t think they monitor very much how the Hosts interact with each other, when there are no Guests in their company. The Hosts are programmed to go through a set routine, so the techs don’t worry much over their activites as long as they’re following their scripts, as planned. The only tech who is worried about the buildup of all these behavioural anomalies is Elsie.


   Hector’s plans are thwarted by Maeve, who remembers the last time he visited. She gives him the safe’s combination, in exchange for answers about the doll, she found earlier. Hector says the figure is a Shade, from sacred Native lore. She asks Hector to cut her in the side, and when he does, she finds a deformed bullet in the wound, which confirms her fears that Shades, her memories, and what she thinks she dreamed, are actually real. When the Sheriff  takes down Hector’s crew (and the Guests),the two of them are shot down in a hale of gunfire, but before that Maeve tells him it doesn’t matter, and that she’ll be back, with her memories intact.

Okay, that’s enough. This isn’t even all the stuff that happened in just this one episode. There’s a whole host of things, I thought were just cool, or awesome, or even skanky. One thing I am impatient about is we are almost on the fifth episode and no Guests have been killed by any of the robots yet. I vote we get the massacre started, and nominate Logan as the first victim.    But this show is operating on a really slow burn. I’m enjoying all the little clues and side plots so far. They’re like little appetizers. But I do hope the writers don’t take too long to give us the main meal we’re all here for.

Before the season is over, I have to do a link roundup of all the great meta being written about this show, so stay away tuned.

The Walking Dead Season 7: The Day Will Come… (Non-Spoiler Review)

In the interests of those who haven’t yet watched this episode, I won’t reveal any spoilers on who Negan killed.

I was dreading watching this. I think most people were but I’m surprisingly not as upset as I though I would be, nor am I surprised at who got killed. I very strongly suspected who it would be, and what’s weird about it is  I had two choices. Even if you know what’s going to happen, you’re still not ready, but I’m not numb, empty, or devastated, although my heart goes out to those fans who are. Some of you deeply identified with Negan’s victim and I have a great deal of compassion for you. I know what its like to lose a character you care deeply about.  It’s funny how fictional characters can have such a profound affect on people. (That bullshit about people not being connected to each other anymore because of technology is just what it is. People still feel things.)

I’m still upset at the writers for the endless teasing that happened during the episode. They really should have led with Negan’s  actions, instead of his endless monologuing. Also, I didn’t  care for all the endless gameplaying that Negan likes to engage in.

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Most of the episode is from Rick’s pov. After Lucille has had her fill, Rick refuses to break, insisting that he will kill Negan at some point. Negan, one of those messy, jovial psychos, decides to take Rick out in the RV to hash out this issue, man to man. He takes him to the overpass, where Rick’s people hung one of Negan’s cronies, and attempts to show Rick who is in charge, by giving Rick the opportunity to kill him with his ax. Rick tries but fails. I kinda saw that coming. The basic rule is not to  let your enemy choose the battlefield. Rick refuses to be broken, even after Negan drops Rick into a horde of walkers, throws his ax into the crowd, and orders Rick to retrieve it. Rick does it but Negan’s not satisfied. That’s another one of his mistakes, besides leaving his enemy alive, which is going too far.
The writers kept saying that all this was a reset. Before Negan and After Negan. We’re going to see that this isn’t something easily dealt with and then moved along. Rick, his crew, and the viewers are going to be dealing with the repercussions of this for a very long time, far beyond just this season.

Negan takes Rick back to the others, where he starts to  force Rick to cut off Carl’s left hand, under penalty of all his people’s deaths, but finally relents, when Rick appears broken enough, and Carl keeps his hand. So not only was this an especially harrowing episode for Rick, it is for us too.

Negan expends a lot of energy in breaking him, but to a man like Rick, that level of humiliation is a mistake, too. I’m not sure what books on warfare Negan’s been reading, but I’ve read them and I’m pretty sure these particular tactics aren’t in them. I’m sure this is just something of his own devising. It’s worked  several times, so it’s a tactic he’s going to keep using, which makes him predictable.

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There are two kinds of people. Those who do things right away, and those who wait their turn. (Oh guys, this is going  to come as a shock to you, but the women you love so much and treat so well, most of them are people who wait. Luckily for most men, most women prefer to retreat than seek revenge.) These are the kind of people who take the whippin’ you give them, and act compliant for a while, but they’re really just waiting for the right moment  to strike, all the while playing the penitent. (I think most women fall into that category. Most women understand that they can’t physically go toe to toe with people who have bullied them, so they choose carefully what battles they fight, they wait to choose the battlefield, or simply take advantage of someone’s weakened condition. Possibly some men can relate) When some people get pushed far enough, they become people who wait for their moment, and I think that’s what happens with Rick. Will he ever fully recover? No. But I don’t think he’s as broken as Negan would like to believe.  Even if he is, the others aren’t.

I think Negan falls squarely into the instant gratification group, though. I say it’s a mistake, on his part,  because Negan is a classic bully, and makes the classic mistake of believing someone to be weak, and then underestimating them, or taking their weakness for granted. (Also, Negan doesn’t know about  Carol, the woman who almost singlehandedly destroyed Terminus, took down I don’t know how many Wolves, and killed at least a dozen of Negan’s followers, just by herself.) Negan also isn’t taking into account that Rick isn’t the only leader. We can think of at least three other players who could step into Rick’s place if he fell.

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After Negan leaves, the others deal with the aftermath, and their grief.

I’m confident Rick will prevail against Negan. (I also cheated by reading the comic books.) I do hope that tonight’s episode is not an example of the type of writing we’ll have to put up with all season, though.  I don’t have a whole lot to say about this episode as  it mostly consisted of Negan’s  actions,  and Rick’s response. There wasn’t much plot.

Next week, we get start digging into the meat of the season and I’ll have more to say about what happened in this episode.

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: Shouting Out

There’s gonna be some spoilers here, just like  all the Luke Cage stuff I post. Lots and lots of spoilers. So if you haven’t watched the series, but plan to, read at your own risk.

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The opening credits  reminded me  of the legend of John Henry, as images of city buildings are transposed over the muscular body of Luke Cage. They’re also in keeping with the general aesthetic of the Netflix MCU  opening credits. The plot itself is a typical MCU tv series plot. You have a protagonist who isn’t looking to be a hero because of some past betrayal or trauma, the nemesis who is personal to the hero and wants to take him or her down, various side characters the hero might have to save or become deeply important to them during the series run, the hero becomes increasingly endangered, the eventual takedown of their nemesis, usually during a big fight scene. 

It’s a typical MCU plot. But it’s the stuff layered over this basic plot, the characterizations, and background scenery, that makes Luke Cage extraordinary for Marvel. We get sounds and images not seen in any of the other MCU projects. For example:

Luke Cage is a reader. (I haven’t read too much about the literary mentions in this  series, but I  have read most of the authors mentioned in the show, and was hoping for some articles on the subject.) We see Luke reading in the barbershop in which he works. Walter Mosely, Donald Goines, and  Chester Himes all get shoututs while Luke helps Pop at his barbershop, which is a fitting base of operations for him, as such shops (beauty parlours for the women) are often the cornerstones, and information warehouses, for a neighborhood.

 Pops is partial to the vigilante, Kenyatta, created by Donald Goines, while Luke prefers the characters of  Chester Himes, and we can see him reading one of Walter Mosley’s books in this opening scene, when he mentions he’s a fan of Easy Rawlings, the character from Devil in a Blue Dress. Later, he mentions Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch. All of these writers specialize in writing great American hero thrillers, involving Detectives, and various independents, fighting corrupt systems. Basically they’re heroic power fantasies, like comic books but without the superpowers and costumes, and the show does have the flavor of such novels, and contains plot points right out of a few of them. 

Contrast Luke’s reading material with Cottonmouth’s and Diamondback’s influences, neither of whom we see doing a lot of reading. He and Diamondback are fans of Green’s 48 Laws of Power, with several mentions of the movie, New Jack City, which was also about a Black man making criminal power plays in his neighborhood. I’ve  read Robert Green, and no, it is not an instruction manual on how to live, any  more than Machiavelli ‘s The Prince . It’s a meant to be a manual about how to recognize when and what power tactics are being used against you. A lot of young men use it as a manual on how to be a better criminal, but  its mostly meant as a way to recognize political corruption, not how to do it. But it’s very popular amongst a certain class of powerless, young, black men, who seek knowledge, and guidance, but don’t have anyone in their life to give them those things. That Diamondback was a fan of that book wasn’t the least surprising to me. 

In fact, I was able to predict a lot of the actions of most of the criminals in the series because a lot of their choices come right out of those books. (Also, I must be pretty criminal minded because a lot of their actions make sense within the idea of impersonal criminal activity.) From who to kill, to who to leave alive, and why. From who to betray, to immediate alliances. The only character whose actions I couldn’t predict were Diamondback’s because he had  deeply personal daddy issues, and was most likely insane. (This series version of The Joker.)

Chess gets referenced a lot in the show, but there are other types of game players.Pops has a permanent chess board set up in the shop and Turk mentions playing in the park. (Chess playing for black people is a little different activity, and a tradition to play it in the park, in NY.)  For contrast look at how Mariah plays the game, vs. how Diamondback plays it. Mariah is always several moves ahead of everyone and  is a total natural. She likes to disguise her moves as something else, and has a focused vision of her future. She is a natural Queen. (The opposing Queen would be Misty, with her nearly supernatural ability to overview and  reconstruct a crime scene). Diamondback is unsubtle and direct, and  most of the chess players (like Shades) are totally stymied by his actions. They think Diamondback is playing chess, when he’s playing something else, ( Hungry Hungry Hippos or gob knows what.)

As for musical references, Luke seems to like Jazz, and old school hip hop from back inna day, (although it’s not unusual for us to have very wide ranging tastes in music, as most of us grow up listening to, and adopting, some of our parents musical tastes, as I did.)  Method Man makes an appearance later in the series, spitting fire about Luke, over the local radio station. The local radio station is also a classic of the socially conscious black movie, (think The Warriors, Do the Right Thing, The Get Down). I’m from the Midwest and  we have that one radio station that everybody in the neighborhood listens to, along with our own homegrown rap stars. (If you’re a fan of Bone Thugs, then you know where I hang.) If you’re a fan of Gang Starr,  then you also know that the series titles are all titles of their songs. I’m not a Gang Starr fan, though. 

Cottonmouth seems  to be a fan of 90s rap. He has a huge poster of Biggie Smalls on the wall of his office, and mentions Tupac and New Jack City. Later he invites Biggie’s wife, Faith Evans to sing in his club, which is only fitting. My favorite stage entertainer was the dapper,  Jidenna, who sang Long Live the Chief. It’s one of my favorite songs and scenes. 

I’m not actually a huge rap music fan, though. I know enough to get by and hold a conversation. I recognized music from The Wu Tang Clan, Tupac, and Public Enemy, but I probably missed about half the musical references. Down below are links clocking all of the biggest musical, and comic book moments, in the series.

Later, we get a little more old school, mellower music, like The Stylistics’ People Make the World Go Round, which is one of my favorite songs. And when Mariah takes over Cottonmouth’s club, we can see she prefers classics  like, The Delfonics (actually Cottonmouth was watching them rehearse). Mariah manages to hire Susan Jones and The Dap Kings, which is one of my favorite retro-groups. She name drops some of her favorite Jazz artists, as does Pop, earlier in the show.

The entire series is basically a love letter to the entirety of Black culture., and the references come fast and furious. It’s almost impossible to catch all of them.  There were some Jazz shoutouts but since I’m not a huge Jazz listener, outside of the biggies, I can’t speak deeply on that at all, but a lot of the music in the series I grew up listening to, and is part of the background story of my life. The producer, Cheo Hodari-Coker, must be in my age range because a lot of the music had resonance for me, and I’m not even a huge rap music fan, like that. I’m pretty sure there were lots of musical references I didn’t  catch. 

On the other hand, I caught most of the comic book references. From Pop calling Luke “Power Man”, as he was called in the books, to Misty pulling down a poster for martial arts training, that was put up by her future partner, Colleen Wing, who will be making her debut in the Iron Fist series. From the mentions of The Incident (the Chitauri invasion in The Avengers), to Diamondback’s outfit, which is a callback to his look in the comic books, to Luke’s headband, and bracelets during the experiment where he got his powers, to Misty Knight’s red outfit, and blowout at the end  of the series, reminiscent of her full out ‘do in the comic books, this series is full of comic book love. 

And most importantly, no Stan Lee cameo.

Here’s a list of the comic book references:

Did ‘Luke Cage’ Break Netflix? Outage Leaves Saturday Bingers In Dark
Here’s a rundown of the most important musical references by episode:

Marvel’s ‘Luke Cage’: Every important musical moment

*Please note these links contain spoilers, and that the comments for these websites are not safe for black people to be reading because there’s going to be all manner of white male nonsense in them. Don’t bother to read them if you have a low tolerance for racial foolishness. (Foolishness which the klandom has already gotten started engaging in.)

 

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.

Hannibal Season Two: Naka-Choko

In Naka-Choko (an acidic soup served as a palette cleanser during a Japanese meal) the title is appropriate for this episode, as things begin to reach a high point in Will’s “game of wills” with Hannibal. Will he be able to hold onto his civilized self or will he succumb to Hannibal’s blandishments to give in to the beast within? There has been, after all, a lot of blandishment, in the past couple of episodes, culminating in the  death of Randall Tier, by Will’s hands.

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Hannibal continues in his quest to get will to release the beast within himself, and this appears to be succeeding as Will, in a flashback, imagines he is actually choking Hannibal Lecter. Like Jesse Cooper, from  Preacher, Will Graham has a deep well of violence inside him, that he likes. But unlike Jesse, he’s deeply ashamed of it. He is loathe to acknowledge its existence, except to Hannibal. When he’s acknowledged it in the past, he tried to use it for good. Like a Dexter, he used his love of violence to kill other killers. It’s part of the reason he’s so dead set on killing Hannibal. Maybe he feels if he kills Hannibal he can destroy that shameful part of himself. It’s the reason we keep seeing the conflation between the Wendigo  and the RavenStag. Both creatures are two sides of the same coin. One benign and the other malevolent.

 

It’s interesting. He has a deep need to experience  violence. To kill. So he goes into a profession that requires that he commit acts of violence. (Will was a cop before becoming a profiler.) In an effort to control it or tame it  he goes into a job that gives it power, and then he meets Hannibal, who, recognizing a wolf in sheep’s clothing,   manages in just one episode,  to completely undo any progress Will might have made towards that goal. Hannibal continues , throughout the following 25 episodes, to keep putting Will in situations that require him to express that violent need. He believes he’s seen Will’s true face. Hannibal already thinks of Will as an intellectual equal, now if he can share murder with him, Will would be the perfect companion.

 

After Will kills Randall, he takes the body to Hannibal, who is once again impressed by Will’s talent for survival. He’s like a proud father whose happy his kid beat up a bully on the playground. He lovingly washes the blood from Will’s hands, while speaking to him in encouraging tones, to help Will remain in the moment. He knows Will wants to withdraw into himself and tells him not to. Fuller stages this as a love scene, but there are also mytho-religious implications, as Hannibal washing  off the blood, and carefully wrapping the wounds, looks like Christ washing the feet of his Apostles.

(My mind also wants to interpret these scenes as a big brother, little brother dynamic, but Fuller has specifically stated that this is a love story and I accept that assertion, while also thinking I’m not wrong either.)

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Will confesses that he imagined killing Hannibal instead of Randall. Hannibal asks Will how  he’ll repay Randall for the gift of his death. Hannibal believes the artistic display of the victim’s body after death is a compliment to the victim. He thinks  artistic displays of the body elevates them to more than the status of just being meat. Will and Hannibal fuse Randall with the body of the beast he believed himself to be, thereby reaching what Hannibal would think is his ultimate potential. After which we watch a grand display of acting as Will and Hannibal act out their  roles as profilers. Its hilarious, as they both go on and on, pretentiously nattering about the killer’s motives, while Jack gives both of them the side eye. He knows not only that Will killed Randall, but that both of them mutilated the body. Later, though, he does take Will to task for this. He’s in this to get Hannibal but he is beginning to doubt Will’s motivations.

Everyone is questioning Will in this episode. He’s questioning himself as he imagines Randall Tier chastising him for killing him, saying that killing him was Will’s “becoming”. So Will certainly feels he’s that much closer to being what Hannibal wants him to be, even if he did kill Tier in self-defense.

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Freddie, Alana, and Jack are all questioning Will’s validity. In the case of Alana and Freddie, Will is outright lying, but these women are not stupid. Freddie  knows he’s not telling her anything useful, when he goes to her to finish his series of interviews that he promised her, insisting that Chilton was, in fact, the Chesapeake Ripper. Freddie wonders why he’s back in therapy with the man he accused of being the Ripper, and goes to Alana with this same question, which awakens Alana’s fears that something strange is going on between Will and Hannibal.

Margot, in therapy with Hannibal, is once again being encouraged to kill her brother. Hannibal believes her sentimental feelings are getting in the way of fratricide. He plants the idea in Margot’s mind that she should have a baby to get around the restrictions their father placed on the family estate. In the event that he or Mason died without a male heir, the entire fortune would go  to the Southern Baptist Church, and not Margot. Yeah, their father was as much of a piece of shit as Mason. When Mason indirectly threatens to kill her by feeding her to his prize pigs, she makes up her mind to go to see Will Graham. This show reaches high camp when Mason shows her a dummy made of meat, and dressed in her clothes, being lowered into a pigpen.

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Hannibal and Alana are shown practicing the theremin, an instrument that is played by stroking the air next to it. (This is the instrument that makes that haunting wooo-wooo noise from the original Star Trek Theme song.) Naturally, Hannibal would choose the theremin, as, just like the harpsichord,  its just twee enough to catch his fancy. Hannibal would never be so gauche as to strum a guitar, or play the piano.

Afterwards, we get the fivesome. Margot has decided she wants Will to be the father of her Verger baby, and Alana and Hannibal decide this is the evening they want to snork like rabbits. The implication  is that these are simultaneous but separate events. Unbeknownst to all of the players they have been joined by Hannibal’s alter ego, the ManStag, which makes things kinda kinky. I think this is Will just hallucinating again but this also means I have to ask myself why he’s envisioning Hannibal with Alana.

Actually, the Manstag is there as in indication to us that Hannibal is the orchestrator of these events. He’s the one who planted the idea in Margot’s head that a pregnancy would solve her problems with Mason. The ManStag is with Alana and Hannibal to indicate to us also that he is manipulating both  Alana and Will. He’s not with her because he loves her, or even likes her, but because he doesn’t want Will to have her, because now that there’s no longer the specter of mental instability hanging over Will, their relationship becomes an actual possibility, and Hannibal can’t have Will distracted by attachments to other people.

 

The next day, Freddie encounters Alana and presses her to question why Will is back in therapy with Hannibal. I think her conversation with Freddie frightens her, becausegalvanizes Alana to start asking herself some tough questions. Freddie mentions the deaths of Hannibal’s former patients and that she believes Will and Hannibal are killing people together.

Mason invites Hannibal out to Muskrat Farm to view his pigs. He wants to talk about Margot, but Hannibal convinces Mason that he should come to therapy instead. Mason gifts Hannibal with one of his prize pigs. On the surface Mason and Hannibal appear to be similar sociopaths, but Mason is far out of his league when it comes to manipulating events. Hannibal is always several steps ahead of Mason, although Mason does step up his game in season three, after his mutilation.

Hannibal, Will and Alana have dinner together and Alana can see their behavior  up close. You can see she finds their behavior disquieting, but still confronts them about Freddie’s accusations. Hannibal  called her brave in Mizunomo. Yes she is. Its an awkward conversation. She can tell they are keeping some kind of secret from her.

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Freddie tries to confirm her theories about Will by visiting his home where she finds parts of Randall Tier’s body in Will’s workshed. Will encounters her and chases her down. This is the closest the show has gotten to your typical serial killer chase scene and it looks frightening, but is mostly staged by Will.Unknown to Will, this is a re-enactment of the same scene, between Hannibal and Beverly, earlier in the season and I’m pretty sure its what Fuller meant to do. In the first season, Fuller made a point of not showing female victims in terror, as he said it was cliche, but he does make some exceptions in season two, with Beverly, Alana ,and Freddie.

During her attack, Freddie tries to send a call to Jack, but all it does is record her screams. Jack and Will put on a dog and pony show for Hannibal, leading him to believe that Will killed Freddie. Later, Will shows up for dinner with Hannibal and brings some “long pig”, which is a euphemism for human flesh. He claims its Freddie without actually saying so, and Hannibal invites Will to prepare the meal with him. (They are actually eating parts of Randall, that Will had set aside.) Hannibal is proud of him but chastises him because the victim “tastes” frightened. He says Freddie’s murder was an act of God. Its not that Hannibal doesn’t believe in God, but that he considers himself God’s equal.This scene is also shot as a love scene, as Will and Hannibal discuss religious philosophy, while dining on Will’s victim.

960-1

Murder husbands indeed!

 

 

 

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