Hannibal Season One : Entree and Sorbet

Entree

At this point in the season, Hannibal the series has turned again, introducing a new iteration of its main themes, from yet another angle, the theme  of thought manipulation through psychic driving, from the point of view of another recurring character. Fuller often approaches a theme from several different angles during a season. The theme of mental manipulation was touched on in Oeuf (1×04) with children being manipulated and coerced by adults. This time we see what happens when that level of manipulation is done to an adult.

A new character, Abel Gideon, is an inmate at the Baltimore Hospital for the Criminally Insane. When he kills a nurse in the style of The Chesapeake Ripper, who hasn’t killed in over two years, Jack and Will are called in to investigate the crime scene. Will’s purpose is to determine if Abel Gideon is The Ripper. Will expresses reservations about going to the hospital, fearing he might not be released.

Will: I’m afraid they won’t let me out.                                                                                             Jack: Don’t worry.  I wont leave you here.                                                                                             Will: Not today…

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This episode has more humor than past episodes. We meet Dr. Frederick Chilton, (played by Raul Esparza, who is most famous for his stint on Law&Order), the head of the Psychiatric Hospital. Bryan Fuller says Chilton is the show’s comic relief or sometimes the shows “Kenny”, as something awful happens to him every season. In the books, he was a bloviating dummy, who hit on Clarice in Silence of the Lambs, and for whom Lecter had so little respect, he would openly belittle him in front of guests. Here, he greets Will in much the same insulting manner, speaking to him  as if he were an interesting lab specimen. According to Chilton, Will is famous in the psychiatric community, which is something I find intriguing because how does that happen?

 

At the crime scene, Will can tell that  the murder  was not done by the Ripper, but he ‘s not absolutely sure. To be sure, he has to interview the perpetrator, the man claiming to be The Ripper, Abel Gideon. Here being played by one of my favorite British comedians, Eddie Izzard. (Please check out his “cake or death” routine, from his cross dressing days, which sadly, he seems to have given up in favor of politics.)

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Will and Alana return to the Hospital to interview Gideon, but the results are inconclusive. Gideon certainly believes he’s The Ripper. Although that’s not possible, Alana and Will  think he’s not lying. This is a very confusing scene for some people as earlier, Will and Alana said they would do the interviews separately. Later they seem to be doing the interview together.  Their scenes are shot separately and then alternated back and forth in such a way that it looks like the two of them are together. You’ll notice as the season progresses the episode directors grow more comfortable and start to make bolder decisions. As a result, the episodes start to look more surreal and dreamlike, which is appropriate considering Will Graham’s progressive mental instability. As Will becomes more detached from reality, so do we.

This episode is laced with flashbacks to the last time the The Ripper seemed to be active. At that time Jack sent a young Trainee, Miriam Lass, played by Anna Chlumsky, (mostly famous for her role in the movie “My Girl” from 1994 and most recently seen in “Veep”) to look at evidence in one of The Ripper murders. When she follows a clue that leads to Lecter’s office, she unknowingly  falls right into the killer’s hands.

Miriam’s narrative closely echoes Clarice story from Silence of the Lambs,  and Will Graham’s capture of Hannibal Lecter, from the book Red Dragon. A lot of this episode contains callbacks to the movies or the books. Earlier we see, Alana make the same hall walk at the hospital, past the inmates in their cells, to interview Abel Gideon. This is almost shot for shot like The Silence of the Lambs. How Miriam is captured by Lecter, is the same story chronicled in Red Dragon, with a couple of subtle differences.

In the books, Will, who is the investigator on the Ripper case, has a sudden revelation after several visits to Lecter’s office, upon seeing a picture called Wound Man, and noticing that  the wounds in the picture matched the ones onThe Ripper’s victims. In the movie, Red Dragon, this was changed. He and Lecter are actually consulting on the Ripper case, when Will realizes that all of the body parts taken from the victims are parts used in cooking, and notices Lecter’s cookbooks, on a shelf in his home.

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Miriam, like Clarice, gets pulled out of her classes and sent on an investigatory mission by Jack Crawford. Even her name, Lass, echoes Clarice’s, making her sound very feminine and vulnerable, like the bird, Starling. She is simply doing what Jack asked her to do, which is following up some threads of information, which lead her to Lecter. This television version more closely follows the version from the book, Red Dragon,where Will determines that Hannibal is the killer, from clues left lying out in Lecter’s office. Like  Will Graham, Miriam doesn’t actually suspect him of anything, but unlike Will, I’m convinced she still doesn’t, even after she finds his drawing of Wound Man. Miriam  disappears and Jack believes she was killed by The Ripper.

Jack visits Lecter’s office,distraught at his wife’s cancer diagnosis and that she won’t talk to him about it. He feels as if he’s losing her and in his mind connects that loss to the the disappearance of Miriam Lass. Lecter, who already knows who and where she is, is all compassion and sympathy. Later, in Sorbet, Lecter asks Will how The Ripper’s tactics are affecting Jack.

Alana and Jack, convinced that Abel Gideon isn’t The Ripper, believe that his confession, might draw the real one out of hiding. Jack, Will, and Alana meet with Freddie Lounds and make a deal to post this information on her website, knowing that The Ripper will see it. Will, still mad at Freddie for calling him insane, is hilariously bitchy during their meeting, while Lounds is the epitome of grace. This mostly has the effect of making Will look like an unreasonable child. In return for lying on their behalf, Freddie will get an exclusive interview with Abel Gideon. Have you noticed that the two most annoying characters on the show are named Fred?

All season long, I kept expecting Lecter to kill and eat Freddie Lounds. I like to think the reason Lecter doesn’t kill her, is he thinks the world is more interesting with her in it and he finds her website useful. And with some luck and manipulation, he probably thinks he can  goad Will into killing her later. After all, she’s Will’s nemesis, not his.

Lounds goes to the interview in her red, leopard print leathers. She always dresses as if to alert people that she’s dangerous..

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Lecter does read the interview and jealous, arrogant creature that he is, formulates a plan to let Jack know The Ripper is still active, without showing his hand. He knows Jack expects The Ripper to kill again in response to the article, so he skips that. The next evening Jack receives a recorded phone call of Miriam Lass asking for help, supposedly sent by the Ripper. If the caller truly is The Ripper, then Gideon is not, as he’s still an inmate at the Psychiatric hospital. Jack, however, can’t seem to convince his forensic team that he received a call at all.

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Jack: “I know when I’m awake!”, he thunders at Will, which is ironic since Will is having trouble telling when he’s awake or asleep.

Jack goes to interview Gideon but is interrupted by another phone call from Miriam. This time the call originates from his own house. His own bed. (Bella is out of town.) The forensic team find a single blonde hair on one of the pillows. It belongs to Miriam Lass. Will is the only one to suggest that Miriam isn’t dead.

Alana suggests that Abel Gideon may have  been inadvertently manipulated  by Chilton into believing himself to be The Ripper. She broaches this question to Chilton while the three of them are having dinner at Lecter’s house. Out of Alana’s hearing, Lecter tries to assess whether or not Chilton was deliberate in his manipulation of Gideon.

Lecter says psychic driving is sometimes useful in the recovery of suppressed memories. Chilton says  he became convinced Gideon was The Ripper, and thought he could use psychic driving to uncover Gideon’s memories of the murders.  All this talk of psychic driving isn’t just important as an example of what Lecter is doing to Will Graham, but also important in understanding what happens to Miriam Lass, in the second season.

Lecter is in an especially jovial mood during the dinner, joking about eating Chilton’s tongue, something that Chilton will remember next season, after he has become a vegetarian.

In his next session with Lecter, Jack tells Lecter what he believes happened to Miriam. Lecter tells Jack, he’s sorry about his trainee (something we know isn’t true.)

Jack Crawford receives another phone call, which is traced this time, to a local observatory, where Jack, Will and the forensic team, find Miriam’s severed arm.

In a flashback, we see Miriam’s capture, from Lecter’s viewpoint.

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Sorbet

This episode picks up the threads from the last episode and offers closure on some of them. It also introduces new plot points that will be picked up in the next. Jack is still dealing with his wife’s cancer diagnosis and his tremendous guilt over  the loss of Miriam Lass. Will’s illness is progressing and Hannibal’s level of manipulation grows.

The serial killer case doesn’t, on the surface,  seem to be directly related to this episodes issues and there doesn’t appear to be an overriding theme, although the focus is on the specific senses of the characters.

Our first sensory event is visual as the camera comes up out of the throat of an opera singer. We get some surreal visual imagery as the season progresses. As Will’s illness becomes more pronounced, the images the audience are subjected to will become stranger. From the singer’s mouth to the inside of Lecter’s ear as he enjoys a night out on the town. We go from sight to sound. The opera being sung is “Piangero  la sorte mia”.

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After the opera, Lecter is greeted by one of his patients, Franklyn, who we met earlier in the season. Franklyn engages in a bit of hero worship of Lecter, striving to be like him. Ironically, Franklyn wants what is happening to Will. What Hannibal wishes would happen to Will. Watch Franklyn’s costuming as the season progresses. He starts to dress like Lecter and  picks up a few of his mannerisms. Oddly, its through his sessions with Franklyn, that Lecter begins to realize that he is lonely.

Lecter sees Franklyn at the opera but can’t approach him in public. Because of patient confidentiality laws, it would be a serious breach of ethics for a therapist to approach a patient, thereby outing that person as a patient.  Lecter also can’t introduce himself as a friend because that leads the patient down unproductive avenues of thinking about their relationship and this is a problem he already has with Franklyn, who is obsessed with him. It is up to the patient whether or not they wish to acknowledge the relationship.

Saving Lecter from outlining their relationship to a stranger, Franklyn introduces himself and  his friend Tobias Budge. There’s a lot of serious eyeballing going on between Lecter and Tobias, which is something that we’ll see play out in the next episode, although Lecter mostly seems to be puzzled as to why this man is looking at him like he knows something, as he and Tobias have never met.

Jack is having bad dreams about Miriam Lass and her arm, when his sleep is interrupted by a call about another crime scene. Will, and the team arrive to find a man lying in his bathtub, covered in blood with an opening in his side. It is the assumption, because some of the man’s organs are missing, that The Chesapeake Ripper has begun to kill again. Will disagrees. He says he can see The Ripper’s work but it doesn’t FEEL like The Ripper and is adamant that it isn’t, despite  the evidence, until another body shows up with all the hallmarks of being The Ripper’s victim.

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Will knows THIS is a Ripper victim, though. He can feel it but can’t articulate why or how he knows, to the forensic team. Again what we have run into is an issue of the senses. Will has some indefinable sensory ability that regular people not only don’t have, but  don’t have a word for.

In Lecter’s next session with Bedelia we get some extreme truth telling. I think that’s an excellent name for Bedelia, The Truth Teller, even though its her job, and he is not “perfectly honest” with her. Like Will, she is one of the few people who can look Lecter in the eye and tell him the truth about himself, no matter how much it discomfits him. In this session, she tells him that he wears “a very well-tailored person suit”.

 

When Lecter says they are friendly, she is careful to tell Lecter  that they are not friends, taking a step back from entanglement with him, following the same advice she gives Lecter when he expresses an interest in being friends with Will. She too introduces the idea that he must be lonely.

In his next session with Franklyn, Lecter hears echoes of his relationship with Will and Bedelia,  when he tells Franklyn he has a one sided relationship with his friend Tobias. Tobias doesn’t seem to be Franklyn’s friend. I wonder if its this conversation that ignites the idea in Lecter’s mind that he would like to be friends with Will, although that idea doesn’t seem to stop him from toying with Will, or trying to hurt him.

Later, we see Lecter imitating the things he sees Bedelia doing, like offering wine to his patients, something she does after every session with him. Everybody wants to be like someone else, and not themselves, except for Will, who’d like every damn body to get out of his head. When  Will visits Lecter later, they discuss the current case. Lecter suggests there may be more than one killer.

In his next session with Franklyn, Franklyn mentions that being alone comes with a “dull ache”. This dull ache is what spurs Lecter to go looking for Will, when he misses his regular appointment time. Later, in season three, Bedelia mentions this same dull ache of loneliness to Will, when he asks if Hannibal is in love with him. (The answer is a resounding yes.)

Lecter and Will discuss The Ripper.. At first Lecter tries to deflect Will’s attention away from The Ripper’s motivations, but Will is not to be deterred and Lecter gives that up and tells the truth behind why the Ripper kills. He is  blatantly telling Will about himself. They are interrupted by an excited Jack, who thinks they’re about to catch The Ripper. Lecter is deeply amused about this. When they find the killer, Lecter is asked to step in to save the victim’s life. The look he exchanges with Will, in this moment, is fathomless.

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Later, Will visits Lecter just before his big dinner party. When Will asks why Lecter stopped being a surgeon, he ironically states that he got tired of losing patients.

Lecter’s dinner party is a huge success. Contrast his attitude to Will’s response to his class applauding his capture of Garrett Jacob Hobbes. Hannibal loves the attention and accolades. Will tells his class to sit down and shutup, and that their applause was inappropriate.

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Both Jack and Will have become completely obsessed about the Chesapeake Ripper. Will is the only one who can see the pattern that The Ripper is active and hiding behind another killer.

We spend the bulk of the episode, figuring out who the killer is, in therapy sessions with Lecter and watching Lecter prepare for his dinner party by using the organ thief’s killings as a cover for his own. He does that but Will manages to catch the deception anyway. Lecter’s  proud of him and thoroughly intrigued by Will’s ability to do this.

 

And yes, Tyromancy, which is divination through reading how cheese forms, is actually a thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Childhood’s End (The Series)

As  I’ve  said before, I’m only a middling SciFi fan, so I never read Childhood’s End,  though I’ve read a lot of First Contact type books. I think  I’m a little bit spoiled because when I started reading SciFi, I mostly missed  all those “Classics” and skipped right to Octavia Butler and other female writers.

I was an adult when I first heard about Childhood’s End, though I’d read other books by  Arthur. C. Clarke. Remember,  this was pre-Internet. There were no Rec sites , or Goodreads, when I was a child and none of the people I knew were very adventurous in their reading material,  so I had no one to talk to about the what the best books were. I just  meandered down the aisles of the library picking out the most interesting covers.

That said, I’m sort of sad I never read the book. I don’t actually have time to read it now, but I’m sure its better than this series. Not that the series is bad. Its not exactly awful. It has a slight problem, though.

Its boring.

I didn’t make it to the half hour mark before I was looking around for something else to do with my brain, like watching something else.

The dialogue was mediocre, the acting and actors were not compelling..

Okay, I know this sounds like a bad review from someone who doesn’t know anything about Childhood’s End, but really its not. I suspect, even people who know the written story will be less than enthused by this series. My point is that I know just enough about SciFi to know what I like to read or see onscreen and this isn’t it.

On the other hand, in the shows favor, its really difficult to make intellectual SciFi entertaining on screen, for two hours. In short bursts, like an anthology series, its acceptable, but it’s really difficult to watch people talking for two hours unless what they have to say is of immense interest. The people in this show are not having those kinds of conversations and what conversations they do have are badly written.

And let’s get this out of the way, now. My feelings about this will probably spark  outrage somewhere on the Internet, but I was less than enthused by the plot because it was extremely Ameri-centric in tone, and totally illustrates the outrage PoC have about whitewashing, in the movies. The idea that huge stories can’t be felt,  told, or understood, unless there’s a white man attached, for the viewer to identify with.

Out of the 7 billion people on Earth, the aliens decide that the world will trust a bland, lily-white, farm-boy from America’s heartland? Really? And when the alien expressed its reasons for choosing him, that’s when I totally lost my shit and started screaming at my TV: WHAT?YOU MEAN YOU CANT FIND ANY OTHER HUMAN BEINGS WITH THOSE PERSONALITY TRAITS? NOT EVEN ONE PERSON FROM EACH COUNTRY?

Well obviously this alien is stupid and didn’t do his research. He knows enough to spout idioms but obviously hasn’t been paying attention to any of the political situations on this planet if he thinks the average, nobody white guy from Kansas has that kind of clout.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to have spokespersons for each country on Earth? Or people with political experience? The vast majority of the people on this planet are Chinese and the alien couldn’t find one Chinese man with the qualities he was looking for? Not even Chinese-American? Really? Someone who represented the populace they’re supposed to placate. I find it highly unlikely that people in rural China, Africa or South America are going to give two shits about the message from some white guy from Iowa,  Nebraska (or god knows where,) let alone trust him to tell them anything useful.

I’d also like to point out that Ricky  is possibly the worst public speaker, ever. Nope. His speeches weren’t inspiring anything in me but a sudden urge to turn the channel.

Yep! This was the point where I just became completely exasperated. But it’s not the writers fault, though. No. Its the fault of the people who cast this show., who finally remembered that PoC might actually be looking at it, and decided to throw black people a bone and toss in a black kid with a disability.

On the other hand, the special effects are awesome and I love Charles Dance as Karellan. Unfortunately, in order to listen to Karellan, Ricky had to be present ,cluttering up the scene. Can we make a movie that’s  all about Karellan’s backstory?

Yeah,this first episode does not bode well for the rest of the series, but I’m adventurous remember? I’m going to give it another try. Maybe I can swallow my objections and get past all this and see something good or compelling or intelligent about the series.

Cuz it’s like this: I’m a SciFi fan who hasn’t read the book and was bored to death. Imagine what this series must be like for non-SciFi fans.

 

 

Into he Badlands: White Stork Spreads Wings

You know how you love a character, root for them, but  still feel  as if they could use a very short, sharp pinch. This is how I feel about MK. Not often, mind you. Just whenever he shows agency or has an opinion.

But luckily I didn’t have to root too hard for harm to come to MK, as Stephen Lang’s character, Waldo, puts him neatly in his place during this episode, and that was satisfying enough.

This week the show focuses a lot of its time on the women of the series. It would seem that  women are in weakened positions because of how this world is designed but that’s not  completely true. And here is where the similarity to feudal Japan really strikes me. (That and the costumes.) It may have seemed that the women of that time period were helpless too, but many of them were involved in their own intrigues and yes, there were women Samurai, although they didn’t practice it in the same manner the men did.

In this world there are female Samurai ,too (and even a kind of Ninja, who were the undercover operatives of feudal Japan.) Most of these women. reside in the Widow’s clan and when Quinn declares war on her, we get to see them step up and hold their own against the Baron’s Clippers and even send quite a few of them home.

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Naturally, MK ,having been told to wait in one spot, does not follow orders and ninjas his way into the  Widow’s house during the battle, while Quinn and the Widow finally meet face to face and have it out.This is a great fight. and apparently a long time coming.

Quinn gets the advantage but is struck by a massive  tumor-ache. Before the Widow can finish the job the tumor  started, she is interrupted by Sunny. She and  most of  her women (The Butterflies) manage to escape the house through a secret passage.

Sunny confronts MK and MK shows him a book that he stole from the house. A book with a cover  image of the city of Azra. Another word-building point, which is why you have to pay close attention to the little things people say, is that MK is illiterate. So are most of the people of this world. Cogs can’t read, and neither can the Clippers.

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Lydia and Jade are sitting bedside to Ryder who is still in a coma. The two of them snipe at each other for a moment or two. Lydia makes it clear she knows that Jade is sleeping with both Quinn and Ryder and that that is a really bad idea. Jade goes to Veil, who was a childhood friend of hers, to beg her to save Ryder’s life. Veil is reluctant, at first, but Jade talks her into it.

Lydia, who seemingly hates everybody, doesn’t like the idea of a Cog (which I guess is what they call peasants in this world) doing surgery on her son, but relents when Veil explains to her that her son will die in a few hours if she doesn’t. She practices the age-old remedy of trepanning, drilling a hole in the skull, to relieve the intracranial pressure.

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Later,  Quinn approaches her and promises to find whoever killed her parents, not knowing that Veil is already  aware that he killed them. He also lets her know that yeah, he’s aware of her relationship with his chief Clipper.

After the battle Sunny goes to Veil to get patched up and the two of them try to be discreet about their relationship but MK , like most teenagers, cannot be fooled by people pretending not to like each other. It doesn’t help that Veil and Sunny are no good at lying. How the two of them are going to keep their escape from the Badlands a secret, when they can’t successfully lie to a teenage boy,  is a mystery.

MK also keeps making snarky comments to Sunny who has the perfect remedy for that. He takes MK to meet his mentor Waldo. I hadn’t noticed before but Waldo is disabled, (I wonder if we will get his backstory), which doesn’t stop him from beating MK’s ass, when Sunny needs to teach him a lesson about underestimating his opponents. This scene was a lot of fun and well choreographed. This underestimating one’s opponent, and then  getting your ass handed to you, seems to be a recurring theme in this series.

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Its also the third show I’ve watched just this year, which has a person with a disability, kicking ass and not even caring about names. I don’t know if TV was always like this or my brain is just noticing this now. contrast this with the original Ironside, its failed race-bending remake, and In Living Color’s HandiMan skits, which were done for laughs.

Ryder wakes up after his successful trepanning, and Quinn asks him who set him up. He says a woman in the red light district named Angelica, who proves more than a match for Sunny when Quinn sends him  and MK to retrieve her. She won’t allow herself to be taken alive and jumps from a balcony rather than let Sunny capture her. While this is happening Tilda, (who has been sent to retrieve Angelica too), sees MK and the two of them fight about which of the  Baron’s is a worse person, Quinn or the Widow. Angelica,  splatting in front of them, ends that.

Sunny has taken the book and hidden it, but MK ninjas his way into yet another house and manages somehow to steal it back. Even if he never makes it as a Clipper he can always become a thief. This is the main reason why he needs a sharp pinch. Once he gets it into his head to do something, the danger of it never occurs to him as he has mastered the ability to make poor choices.

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Like: taking the book to Veil to read it for him, after noticing she has a lot of books, so she can probably read. But she can’t read his book, either. its written in a language she’s never seen before.( It looks  vaguely Arabic, but not exactly.) Quinn shows up at her door, ostensibly to thank her. She hides the book with MK, who hides behind a curtain.

Quinn sends Sunny to get aid from a Baron named Jacobee. he must meet with Jacobee’s Regent, named Zephyr, who I like already. This is a woman well acquainted with what she wants and what she wants is Sunny.(Who wouldn’t? Sunny is foine!) She tells him he has a great opportunity. Kill Quinn and set himself up as baron, instead. Oooh, the plot thickens!

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Quinn goes to visit Veil and be creepy to her for a while. I guess being shitty and threatening to his wives isn’t enough to reach his creep quotient for the month, he’s got to let Veil in on the fun, too. What he really wants is for her to cure him the way she cured Ryder, giving her a prime opportunity to botch the operation and (oh, hell, why not?) make herself Baron. I’m all for this because even if she succeeds, his response will probably be to kill her or  take her for a wife, thereby  jeopardizing her baby’s life.

One must note that if Quinn hadn’t killed Veil’s parents to protect his increasingly not so secret-secret, this would never have become a problem, but in his defense, the tumor may have impacted Quinn’s long term planning capabilities.

Well now both  Veil and MK know the Baron’s secret.

The actress who plays Veil is phenomenal,  managing to portray strength and vulnerability, often at the same time. She’s great to watch and her character proves that there’s more than one kind of strength in this world besides the masculine associated ability to kick ass. There’s also the strength to endure and even thrive in this environment without martial skills, which is what the Cogs have to do.

I like the shows ability to portray men and women equitably, highlighting not just the strengths of the women but the weaknesses of the men. In that sense this show is turning out to be much more feminist than I expected, given the type of feudal dystopia that’s presented.

We’re down to the last two episodes of the season and I’m really mad at AMC for having only ordered six episodes,  hyping the Hell out of this series, making me fall in love with it, and then pulling the plug until Gob only  knows.

Next week: Two Tigers Subdue Dragons

The Walking Dead: Start To Finish

Who said, “Things  couldn’t possibly get worse!”? Whoever said  that, needs to shut up, especially when it comes to this show. The writers delight in causing  tension for its viewers. I spent more than a few moments actually on the edge of my seat or screaming at my TV. That’s how good this show is. Mostly at any scenes that involved children.

I read somewhere that children exist, in movies and TV shows, to give  adults a reason to have drama, or to create tension by putting them in danger. They rarely have their own plots and backstories. If that’s the case, then tonight is Sam’s (Jessie’s son) time to shine because there is no more annoying character  this episode. First up,  the blatant metaphor of having an ant invasion in his room, paralleling the Walker invasion outside.

Sam has spent the past couple of days holed up in his room trying to avoid the dangers of the world, like zombies and Wolves. He just wants to be safe. I get that. I think the message here is that you can’t hide because the danger will only come for you later.

Another recurring theme of this season is how different children are coping with the zombie apocalypse. Enid, in JSS, gives up on living in favor of simply surviving. Her argument is to just let everything go,run away, not deal with it or get close to people. This is her way of psychologically checking out.

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Ron’s method of coping is to become deeply myopic. Instead of focusing on the larger dangers, he has winnowed his attention down to  the most immediate problems, which are the loss of his father and then his girlfriend by the Grimes’ family.

Of all of them, Carl seems to be handling the apocalypse the best. Part of it is that Carl is reasonably intelligent and has  a great supporting cast of his father’s friends and followers. He’s been taught by Rick since he was very young. He’s also  able to see the best and worst of Rick, in play, and  then weed out the worst behavior by paying close attention to how his father’s  friends react. So Carl, unlike the other kids, is stepping up to the idea of a being a capable protector and a fighter, with an eye on issues beyond his own needs. Ron, Sam and Enid, were never taught these things. We’ve seen him show his ability to make command decisions a couple of times this season.

We pick up  where we left off, last week, when the watchtower, which had been damaged in the attack from the Wolves, finally gave   up, and fell into the compound. This destroyed part of the wall, allowing the Walker horde to invade Alexandria.

Once again, you have to remember that all of these episodes are happening almost simultaneously or at least within the same couple of  days. Earlier that morning the heavy hitters were out herding walkers, when the Wolves attacked the town and everyone scrambled to get home. During their scramble, everyone is separated. Rick has a near death experience, so do Glenn and Daryl. Enid runs away but is found the next day by Glenn.

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On the second day, Morgan has an intervention with Rick and the others, and is discovered to be holding one of the Wolves hostage. Spencer makes reckless decisions which lead to a falling out with his mother. Maggie confesses she’s pregnant to Aaron, who finds out that it was  his recruitment photos that  led the Wolves to Alexandria’s doorstep.

This same day, Maggie has a near death moment herself and just barely makes it to safety, as the Walkers head to the heart of the town. Everyone runs for safety. Rosita, Tara and Eugene are trapped in a garage, but later, escape. Deanna and Rick hole up in Jessie’s home with Judith, Michonne and Carl. Morgan and Carol, find an abandoned house.

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Deanna, severely injured in their run for safety discovers that she’s also been bitten. She has a lot of advice to impart to Michonne, as she is one of the few people who believes in Deanna’s vision for the town. Deanna tasks her to think about what she wants for Alexandria and for herself. It’s interesting that she didn’t say these things to Maggie, who will be busy with her own issues, soon enough.

Carol, also injured, manages to escape Morgan’s attention for thirty seconds and runs off to kill his captive. Morgan reaches her just in time while Denise, and the Wolf, look on with interest. The Wolf keeps encouraging Carol to kill him, while Morgan tries to talk her out of it.  Carol threatens to kill him too and the two of them duke it out, until Morgan, exasperatedly slams her to the floor, knocking her unconscious.

 

 

 

I love both of these characters, understand both their viewpoints, and see this as an example of Fight Philosophy, where a fight isn’t just two people hitting each other. Its a contest between  competing philosophies, Morgan’s philosophy of Compassion and Carol’s philosophy of Pragmatism. Each one of these ideas has a price. For Carol the price for doing what needs to be done is her soul or sense of self. This is simply not who she is or should be and Morgan can sense that she is headed down a wrong path. Morgan, however,  gets to keep his soul, but because he won’t kill, the price may be his life.

This is made evident when the Wolf, taking advantage of the situation, attacks Morgan, takes Denise hostage and escapes.

Outside the walls, Glenn  and Enid try to figure out a way to get inside and help their friends and family.

At Jessie’s house Sam has a panic attack when he realizes the town has been invaded by zombies. He has to be talked down by Jessie, who tells him to pretend he is a brave person.  The house itself is invaded when Ron, with his usual incredible timing, decides now would be a good time, to hash out his problems with Carl. When Carl finds him in the garage, he tries to shoot him and the two of them wrestle for the gun, shooting out the garage windows, which allow the zombies to get into the house. Later, Carl lies to Rick, about how this happened.

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Rick and the others come to the rescue but are too late to stop the tide of zombies. Short on time, Rick’s risky plan is one I like to call The Zombie Guts Maneuver, first introduced by Glenn, I believe. Once again Sam panics and has to be talked into it by his mother. I don’t think Jessie is going to teach him to be strong enough, fast enough, for him to survive. He’s had a very coddled existence, and is simply not equipped, for this kind of thing, on such short notice.

Unfortunately, they have to leave Deanna behind. Rick gives her a gun, which I think she’s supposed to use on herself, but she goes out in grand (but painful) style, when she elects to use the bullets on the invading Walkers.

The group successfully makes its way through the Walker horde in the house, and outdoors, where their mission is jeopardized by Sam who, utilizing some of  Ron’s incredible timing techniques, (this must run in the family) decides right then would be a good time for him and Jessie to have a heart to heart talk. So yeah, if someone doesn’t do something soon, little Sammy is going to get eaten.

 

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EPILOGUE:

Sasha, Abraham and Daryl are still on their way back to Alexandria, when their vehicle is  commandeered by a gang of men on bikes. Men who say they’re from Negan. Incidentally these are the same guys that ambushed the group earlier, and chased after the trio that captured Daryl, in the episode Always Accountable.

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<SIGH!>

Who said things can’t get any worse?

Geeking Out About : Into the Badlands

Yes, I ve been ignoring all my other reviews and recaps in favor of watching Hannibal reruns and Martial Arts movies. Those of you who are not fans of either, I have two statements:

A.) What’s wrong witchew?

And B.) I apologize, but I’m going to be ranting on these two topics for some time, while I completely ignore your interest in The Walking Dead. (Once I have calmed down, I will continue with my regularly scheduled programming on this blog. Maybe.)

The moment I saw the first trailer for this show I got really excited. I’m a long time a martial arts movie  fan. I grew up watching just about any tv show or movie with people fake kicking  each other. So, yeah, I’m  very excited about tonight’s show. I’ve already started picking out characters I like  from the trailers (The Widow and M.K.) and I sincerely hope AMC doesn’t screw this up or I will be disappoint!

This is one of those post-apoc, dystopian futures, with people in power offering protection from danger. They banished guns and trained up some sword fighters called Clippers. The top clipper, Sunny,  works for one of the barons named Quinn. Sonny is tracking a  lost transport owned by his boss.

There’s a reason why I hate dystopian fiction, but this system is not unlike feudal Japan, with Lords of various territories and the people who work under them. The Clippers are not unlike Samurai,  with everyone else working for the barons without wages. Just safety, from the unaffiliated Nomads, who live in the badlands, I guess. Kind of a cross between 16th century Japan and the antebellum south.

Sunny spots an open air abattoir of what? Slaves? Peasants? He tracks the attackers to ther campsite and they challenge him to  a fight. And we see why Nomads shouldn’t fight Clippers, as bones are broken, necks are snapped, and attackers are flipped. Clippers are actually trained.

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In a  stolen cargo trunk is a young man named MK. Sunny knocks him out, and takes him back to the transport site, where they bury the bodies. MK says The Widow paid the Nomads to capture him.

Sunny takes MK back to the Quinn’s fort. The Baron gives speeches about the badlands and talks up his protection and love. Whatever. I’ve heard these cult of personality speeches before and since I’m not a fourteen year old boy, desperate not to be someone’s slave, I’m tired of it already. He shows them Sunny’s tattooed body, with the hashes of the hundred or so men he’s killed. Who will be the next Sonny?

MK gets sent to the pit to see what he’s made of. The Baron tells his favored son Ryder, that he’s  not to move on the Widow, who hired Nomads to attack his caravan. MK is immediately attacked by a young man named Ajax, who steals his necklace, in an effort to show out for the Clippers, but Sunny interrupts the fight and takes the necklace for himself. Afterwards, a young boy named Bale, offers to watch MKs back.

The baron also has a tenuous relationship with one of his top wives, possibly the mother of his favored son. There’s intrigues as the mother and son discuss the barons weaknesses. I’m a lot less interested in intrigue. It’s the reason I pay only peripheral attention to Game of Thrones.

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Sunny goes to see a woman named Veil.  I’m not sure exactly where this is. Is it inside or outside the walls? I don’t know.  Sunny has an arrangement with Veil, who informs him that she’s pregnant. He tells her she can’t keep it and we learn the punishment is death. For who is unclear. For Sunny? For Veil? For the child? Sunny is not allowed to have a family, although nobody seems to care who he boinks. Since he’s a valuable asset and Veil isn’t, I’m guessing that Veil will be the one killed.

Veil suggests they go into the  badlands and you can see Sunny giving it some thought. I suspect, at some point, he may not get a choice about it. We also learn that the baron hunts down people who try to leave. That’s the way such cults work. Take away any hope of escape, talk up how great you are for them, kill them if they try to leave. After all those poppy fields aren’t going to pick themselves.

It will be interesting to find out what’s beyond the badlands. There’s no long range communications systems, and it will be nice to know what all this poppy picking and oil making, on the various plantations, has to do with the “shining city on the hill”, that’s pictured on MK’s necklace.

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Later, Ajax attacks MK, who totally “Rivers” out with  DarksideWillow eyes, and all. It’s creepy as hell because just like that, MK is gone. In his place is something very alien. I guess Ajax will never get to be a Clipper, as he certainly can’t do the job with one freaking eye. I had wondered what that scene was about and who the boy was in the trailer. It does make me wonder if MK’s superpowers have anything to do with  Quinn’s headaches.

Sunny questions MK about the fight. He says what Sunny saw only happens when he bleeds. He blacks out and can’t remember who he hurts. Creepy. He tells Sunny about Azra, a town out in the badlands. Later, when Sunny goes to see Veil, he’s attacked by the Widow’s henchmen. But she’s  just testing him out and proposing a job. She wants him to bring MK to her. That’s a lot of death, just to offer Sunny some work to do.

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Yes, it’s a great fight scene, even in the rain. I don’t know why I  love rainy fight scenes. It’s more balletic than realistic, with a clean, easy to follow style. It doesn’t go on any longer than it has to, by having the fighters do stupid things to prolong it. Yeah, you’re certain Sunny will win,  but then it turns out not to be a real stakes type of fight, anyway.

Yeah, I like the Widow, a redhead who still dresses in black, after allegedly killing her husband. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see her kick some ass, like we did in the trailers.  I’m intrigued by MK, for the same reason I liked River Tam, from Firefly. The first time we saw her, she was on a box, too.

MK decides to be stupid, though, and breaks into the main house to get his necklace back, and is promptly captured by Ryder and his mother. They find the necklace on him and the mother looks like she knows something about it. Ryder says he will execute MK in the morning and locks him in prison, where Sunny comes to visit and breaks him out. The baron’s wife witnesses the escape. Did she send Sunny to him or did he decide this on his own?

Quinn calls for Sunny, who thinks he’s been caught out but Quinn only tells him to move closer to the house.  I think he fears Sunny will leave because he tells him there’s nothing in the badlands and that he’s Sunny’s only choice. It’s interesting seeing the relationship between the two. The baron is rather needy and mostly clueless about what goes on in anybody’s mind but his own, but then that’s one of the problems that comes with power and paranoia.

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This episode was mostly character and plot intros. The fight scenes were fun and there’s a couple of interesting mysteries like: what is MK, Quinn’s headaches, how/what does The Widow know about MK, and is there anywhere else besides the badlands. The show is called Into the Badlands, so at some point, we’re gonna get out there right? Because I find the political intrigue,  on the plantation, less compelling than the writers do.

We’ll see what next week’s episode brings to the table.

State of the Union

Actually ,this is just me talking about the shows I’m not watching this Fall. This is pretty normal really. I start off with a glut of shows I’d like to watch and then gradually whittle it down to five or six shows.  I’d also like to point out that just because I’m not reviewing a show, doesn’t mean I’m not looking at it. I’m watching it, but just don’t have time to review every episode. So rather than do intermittent episodes, I’ll opt to not review the show at all.

I’m still watching:

Brooklyn 99: It’s not as good as last season, but even working at half speed, this show is still much funnier than anything else on TV because I love all the characters. The actors have settled into their roles and  some plot points have been advanced, so I hope it continues to be good and doesn’t lose focus. It feels a little less focused now because Braugher’s character is no longer in charge of the 99. I feel like he should be there and now I’m watching to see how and if he returns.

Blindspot: I’m still watching this show. Its still intriguing. I like the characters,  although in the last episode, they introduced some minor subplots that I know will be important later, but felt like bad, wannabe drama. Weller still can’t act worth a darn but I still enjoy watching Jaime Alexander kick butt, though.

Heroes Reborn: I’ve totally lost interest in this show. I just don’t care.I tried to care. I wanted to care. But I’d rather do anything else besides watching this show. Once I start skipping episodes, and not even bothering to watch them on the DVR, that’s a sign that the show is less than compelling.

Minority Report: This is another one that I’ve just stopped looking at and not caring. From time to time I check in to make sure its still on TV and that the plot is moving along its paces, but I’m just not invested in the show. If it stays on the air I may regain interest. The same goes for Fargo. I don’t dislike it but I’m not committed to it either.

Because I’m not watching a show in its first season doesn’t mean I wont pick it up later, however. I did very much the same thing with Buffy, Angel, Firefly,  and the first season of Supernatural. I’m doing this now with The Flash and Arrow. Not actually watching them but monitoring, and if an especially interesting episode comes along, I’ll watch that. Some shows you just sort of casually date.

Bastard Executioner: I’m still watching this show, which has turned out to be surprisingly raunchy. Its still very dirty and there’s too much torture, but its gone in a couple of unexpected directions, and I like that.

I tried watching The Flash. I tried liking it but its just too young for me, I think. There’s a lot of it that smacks of Science Fiction 101 type stuff. I was never a huge fan of The Flash either, although I know a lot about the comic book character from reading The Justice League books, and there are a couple of personalities on the show that I actively hate, so I don’t think I’m ever going to be a fan, but you never know. This show could surprise me, later.

We’re not even going to get into Agents of Shield. I really, really, really want to like it but..no. Just no.

From Dusk Til Dawn: I tried to like this season. I was very excited about the addition of Danny Trejo to the cast but it started off on the wrong foot with the focus on the individual Gecko Bros, who have been separated, and too much focus on the Satanica character’s backstory. The woman who plays her is not a bad actress, but she ain’t no Salma Hayek, and it shows. She is just too lite-weight an actress to pull off a character with so much raw sexual gravity. And nobody cares about her backstory or the Gecko Bros, if they aren’t together. Now, mid-season, they have gotten back together, so I may start paying closer attention in preparation for the season finale.

I’m looking forward to Into the Badlands and hope that AMC doesn’t mess it up. I will check out Jessica Jones, although I’m not enthusiastic about it and Supergirl, although I’ve never been a Supergirl fan and was less than impressed with the trailers.

I’m looking forward to Ash Vs. The Evil Dead and The Magicians. Those trailers were fine. Incidentally if anyone has any more information on The new Omen series called Damien, coming this winter, hit me up. I’d love to know more about it. I thought the trailer was intriguing.

The Walking Dead: First Time Again

The sixth season of The Walking Dead begins with a bang, as we find out just why Alexandria hasn’t experienced a zombie invasion, and a flashback to Rick’s execution of Pete, for killing Reg, which Morgan walks  in just in time to witness.

We flash back and forth, in color and then black and white, between the town’s present efforts to corral and control the zombies, who have been trapped in a large quarry, for several months. Someone had the bright idea to barricade the area with semis, but those barriers are starting to fail and the zombies are making their way out. Rick comes up with a plan to herd the zombies out of Alexandrias range.

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We also go to the direct aftermath of Rick’s shooting of Pete. Morgan has been quarantined for everyone’s safety, since Rick has decided that they are no longer accepting new people, Morgan’s arrival is badly timed and the title is a reference to the two of them needing to get to know each other all over again. Can Morgan be trusted? Will he support Ricks endeavors?

Tara wakes up from her coma and is glad that Eugene kept his mullet. My feelings about Eugene are still ambivalent. On the one hand, I really like the guy, but most of the time, I just want to slap the piss out of him or give him a great big hug in sympathy, as he seems so pathetic. But I am glad that he and Tara are becoming friends as the two of them don’t seem to have any.

Eugene is also unintentionally hilarious, especially when he and Heath first meet. Their conversation is priceless, as Heath threatens to “beat his ass”, which would be one of the friendliest ass kickings seen on television. He would only be doing it becasue he’s mildly annoyed. Their conversation also makes me think that Eugene has got to be somewhere on the spectrum, although I don’t like diagnosing television characters as I’m not a professional. He just fits some of the criteria I’ve read.

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Abraham seems to be having some crisis of conscience and agrees to pal up with Sonya for the zombie rodeo. He evinces concern for her well being but the real question is : is he okay?

Rick has several mild confrontations with the residents of Alexandria. One of those is the burial of Pete. He doesn’t want him buried on the grounds and makes the decision to leave him in the woods. Deanna backs up all the decisions he makes. She is too saddened by the death of her husband, nominally putting Rick in charge. This is something that Carol acknowledges at one point.

We don’t exactly get closure on things but we get a shoutout to past events. Maggie and Tara reassert their friendship, when Tara finds out what happened at the warehouse, where she got hurt. Eugene saved her, but Nicholas was responsible for the death of Noah, (which I’m still hurting over), and that he subsequently tried to kill Glenn. Maggie and Glenn argue that Nicholas should be given a chance to redeem himself. I don’t believe there’s redemption for him but maybe atonement. I still applaud Glenn’s patience at working side by side with him. If it were me, I’d be too angry about both incidents to get near him, without strongly desiring to punch him in the face, for five to ten minutes.

Morgan gets to have an interesting first day. He repeatedly reminds Rick of who he is, susses out Carol’s character, buries bodies and has to stare at Ricks band-aided up face without laughing at it. I don’t know why that’s funny, but Rick walks around like that  for the whole episode and whoever did his first aid needs to take that class again. Was it Daryl?

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Since Rick is in charge now, there would be some token resistance from a guy named Carter, who  got on my last nerve. There’s always someone’s job it is, to poo-poo any ideas that the leader comes up with, but Rick, guided by Morgan manages to channel this guys inner angst into helping Rick save the town, although that doesn’t work to save him. And just in time, as he was just about to take out our other annoying character, Eugene, for overhearing his conspiracy to take down The Ricktatorship, in another scene that’s unexpectedly hilarious. (Thanx, Eugene!) Later, during the Rodeo, Carter gets eaten by a stray zombie, and Rick gets the honor of putting him down, as Carter’s screams begin to attract attention.

One of Ricks best speeches is to Carter, when he takes Carter to task about his conspiracy to take out Rick and the others and asks him, “Do you have any idea who you’re talking to?” I do think Carter need to be brought to his senses. He would have to kill all of them, really as Ricks people are totally loyal to him, and all of them (well okay, maybe not Eugene, who would’ve been dead anyway) are warriors.

This episode is definitely centered around Morgan and Rick as the try to bond again, first over Petes death, then Morgan meeting Judith, Carters death, saving Pete’s son, with Rick giving him the same speech he gave Carter, “Don’t make things harder than they need to be.”

But one of my favorite scenes is Morgan’s first meeting with Carol. I don’t believe the two of them have ever met before and Carol is still wearing her “Suzy Homemaker” costume, which Morgan sees right through, when he asks her if she is a cop, like Rick. She’s taken aback by this because most people see what they want to see when they look at her, but Morgan isn’t fooled. She’s going to have to be extra wary around him becasue he’s as observant as she is, and he has been looking at her.

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Morgan asks Michonne if she stole his protein bar (which she did), but she says she didn’t and he knows she’s lying. I actually laughed a few times during this episode. I don’t think things were supposed to be funny but the zombie rodeo is  conducted with Daryl on his bike, Sonya in a car with Abraham, balloons, trailers and loud noises. It’s just weird. It’s a massive swarm. One of the largest seen on the show and I applaud the special effects teams who managed to get all these extras in costume and acting in sync.

The townsfolk do an acceptable job of herding the zombies out of the corral and down the road, but hit a snag when a massive alarm goes off near Alexandria. And the question is, who set it off? Was it Ron, as vengeance for the death of his father? Was it the Wolves, that batshit insane group of people terrorizing any human stragglers during the apocalypse? Or some brand new menace, we don’t know yet?

I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the season. I know it’s going to be tragic, and funny and horrifying. Sometimes all at once. The show has been able to keep up this very suspenseful pace for three seasons after the slowed pace of being at the farm. I know a lot of people were ready to give up that season, as things just were not moving, but the show has recovered nicely.

Hopefully, the show can shake off that Merry-Go-Round of Black men, which was basically a reinforcement of The Highlander Rule for PoC. I hope Morgan sticks around for a good long time at least, because I am loving the Hell out of his bo staff skills and maybe he and Heath can co-exist for a while. I understand Heath is a big name from the books, which I refuse to read, so I’m looking forward to how badass he’s going to be.

Geeking Out About: Heroes Reborn (Or Maybe Not So Much)

I’m one of the few people willing to admit that I actually enjoyed the original Heroes for far longer than I apparently should have, so when I tell you I was not horribly impressed with the re-mix, you get a full understanding of what I mean.The show is promising,  infuriating and paradoxically boring. I’m going to keep watching it but I’m definitely giving it a very strong side-eye.

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Well, for one thing, I did not care for the powers depicted in this episode, the characters were annoying (some of them should just DIE!), and the plot was a little less than engaging. It didn’t even reach the minimum levels of engagement that I had with Minority Report, or I was just sleepy.

Okay, it was nice to see Noah Bennett again. His reappearance and plotline was one of the shows highlights. Not very high, but when compared to the rather lackluster plots of the other characters, it was awesome. The least engaging plot line of the entire episode was the video game vixen, named Katana Girl. I do not like to watch video games. I will play just about any game but I am not a spectator. I like to get in the game and fiddle around in there, but that’s’ what her entire plot seemed to consist of – watching someone else play a game that you don’t care about and have never played yourself. And how this is a useful power is anybody’s guess. Also, this is an example of fight scenes that are thrown into a show because someone noted in the script, “action scene needed in this space”. I just was not feeling this character at all. She appears to be thrown in so that we can get lots of shots of her shiny, leather covered ass, (I get truly tired of looking at women’s asses on TV.)

Kiki Sukezane plays Miko in Heroes Reborn.
Kiki Sukezane plays Miko in Heroes Reborn.

Katana Girl is also the least interesting character. It means something when I cant tell if she was supposed to be a real person who just  looked like Katana Girl or if she was a live-action version of a video game character, brought to life. Her fight scenes were stiff and slow and meant nothing  to me and I’ll be glad when Hiro shows up to show her how that shit is done.

The two most annoying characters in the entire show were the husband and wife team who were spirited away to the lab by Teleporter Tommy. Luke and Joanne are easily the two most hate-able people on television right now and they were only on screen for maybe thirty minutes.My biggest problem with them, is the one I have with all Crusader types. So ,their plan is to eliminate all Evos from the earth by shooting them one at a time? Really? All of them? That’s a Hell of a lot of killing to be doing, especially for just two people.Is there a network of them? Are they two members of some sort of sleeper cell? Hell if I know.Not saying they haven’t been successful and somewhat lucky in their endeavors til now but c’mon guys! One at a time?

Judith Shekoni joins the Heroes Reborn cast as Joanne.
Judith Shekoni joins the Heroes Reborn cast as Joanne.

We don’t learn what their particular beef is with the Evos. They don’t bother to ask a single question at the lab. They just walk in on some people engaged in mysterious computer activity and without any warning, not even a “FREEZE” or “PUT YOUR HANDS UP”, they start firing. They didn’t even bother to ask why the lab is there, where it is or what it’s for. That and the two of them are just sloppy. Its a wonder they have manged to survive as long as they have. What happens when they run up against an Evo that can’t be taken down by a bullet? Although there appears to be no chance of that happening because, so far, none of the heroes I’ve seen have been all that awe-inspiring.

Zachary Levi plays Luke in Heroes Reborn.
Zachary Levi plays Luke in Heroes Reborn.

One of the more interesting characters is the mysterious man whose been following and helping Tommy, and El Vengador. I don’t know. Maybe I just like Mexican Wrestlers. I liked Carlos too and I also liked the idea of a kind of Evo Underground, shepherding the secret heroes into Canada. And how cool is it to be able to turn metal objects into  24K gold? It’s the only superpower in the show, that I wanted.

Incidentally, I was wondering if people in that world had the internet? Why would you go to some unknown place, to see a bunch of unknown people if the Evos are as persecuted as they say they are? At least an online community would give them some idea of their numbers or something. Either the Evos are too rare, have too little power or are just highly disorganized. My theory is that most of the Evos are middle-class, middle-of-the-road Americans, who have never know the persecution of a minority class, so most of them (at least the ones who are White) have no structures or communities in place to protect them, and for some reason, it does not occur to them to form any. It would seem, like Tommy and his mom, that they’d rather go it alone.It is interesting that being a member of a numerical majority seems to be working against the White heroes and they would probably start isolating themselves, as it would  harder to hide in a marginalized community or know who just to trust among other White people.

It’s telling that the Evo Underground is located in and through a Hispanic neighborhood, by a people who have known at least some form of persecution. The structures already exist, in such places, to engage in secretive activity. I imagine such undergrounds probably exist in many of the more marginalized communities, run by people who know what its like to live in a state of constant fear from the state and its agents. These are also the  kind of communities that would be the most  resistant to the propaganda used against the Evos as they would already have an attitude of resistance against state policies that had been used against them, in the past, for example.

Robbie Kay joins the Heroes Reborn cast as Tommy.
Robbie Kay joins the Heroes Reborn cast as Tommy.

Another thing that bothered me, the heroes introduced at the  top of the episode, only to have these people get killed off right away by Luke and Joanne. Yet another reason to hate the two of them. I found those characters interesting and they were knocked off without ceremony, only to be replaced by crap like Katana Girl. She better get waaay more interesting in future episodes.

Its not that I hate it. I’m just feeling a bit underwhelmed.

I was very excited for the first ten minutes or so, then as my enthusiasm slowly started to flag, I  wondered why I wasn’t enjoying it more than I was. Mostly all this episode did was make me miss all the old characters, like Claire and her extended dysfunctional family. There’s no sense of awe or  joy or wonder, there’s more than a bit of confusion, and a lot of these people are distinctly lacking in personality.

I can’t  quite hate the show yet, because it just started,. and there’s still  room for improvement. Good Gob, but  is there room!

Penny Dreadful : Evil Spirits In Heavenly Places

The third episode of this season, titled The Nightcomers, chronicles Vanessa’s coming out, and reaction to, her realization that she is a Witch, with superpowers. How she learned to deal with her special abilities and how this has shaped her, is the focus. It touches on her history with the witches, Evelyn Poole and her daughter, Hecate, and how they have been trying to procure her for their master, Lucifer, for a number of years, and how she managed to escape them.

The following episode deals with the aftermath of Vanessa’s confession, to the group,  about her past and how she came to know about the Witches and how they have pursued her and why.

In Evil Spirits In Heavenly Places, there are a number of enchantresses at work, too.

Sir Malcolm is still courting Evelyn Poole, also known as Madame Kali/Leader of the Witch’s Coven. She has already placed an enchantment of some kind on him,  in an effort to get him to betray Vanessa at some future point. Its fun to watch him be flirty and happy around Evelyn, even when you know its going to all end in tears, as she’s just deceiving him to get to Vanessa.

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Victor Frankenstein has become thoroughly enchanted with the re-risen Brona, whom he has renamed Lily. He created her for His Monster, John Clare, but she appears to be falling in love with him, and he with her. He goes to Vanessa to help him choose a suit of clothes for his cousin, “Lily”, and mostly lies to Vanessa too, but she can tell he’s very taken with the young lady, whom she hasn’t met since her resurrection. She doesn’t know that Lily is Brona, Ethan’s late -girlfriend. On the other hand, Lily has no recollection of her past life and even has a different accent than the lower class one she sported as Brona.

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Ethan is approached by Hecate, Evelyn’s daughter. The witches are fascinated by  Ethan, believing him to be Vanessa’s champion. Hell, that’s understandable. Ethan is a fascinating man and one day we’re going to get his backstory. If they can turn him to their own ends, that would be yet another avenue by which they can suborn Vanessa’s  trust in her friends and take her for themselves. But Ethan manages to detect Hecate’s lies,  when  she pretends to be an American while trying to seduce him. Ethan has so much depth. Hopefully the witches will not discover he’s a supernatural creature and use him to hurt his new family.

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This episode is notable for Ethan reaching out to Sembene. It’s fascinating to watch the beginning edges of this gentle and tentative friendship blooming between them, mostly spurred by Ethan as Sembene is very close mouthed. I suspect they have much in common and would get along splendidly if each of them could let their guard down enough to do that.

In fact its interesting to watch all these characters behaving as a real family now. There are a lot of outside forces that are aligned against them, and they all have so many secrets, that its important that they finish the growing pains of last season and start to develop actual relationships and caring for one another. They will need it.

It’s not just the witches they have to deal with. It’s some of the choices that have been made by some of the characters, namely Victor. There’s Victor’s betrayal of both Ethan and John. What will happen if Vanessa meets Lily first? What will she say and do? Brona actually met Dorian before but Victor and Dorian are not in the same social circles, so its unlikely they will meet. Ethan was just on the verge of telling Vanessa his secret, I think, but he stopped and none of his friends know about him or that he was the cause of the massacre at the Inn, that’s been so much in the news.

Sir Malcolm takes Vanessa to visit a soup kitchen/homeless shelter where she meets John Clare, who is homeless after losing his job at a theater. He now works for a waxwork museum, whose owner has a blind daughter, who can’t see how ugly John is and has won his attention. Also, the owner has some nefarious purpose in mind regarding John, that involves making money off John’s unfortunate looks.

Dorian, on the other hand, now that Vanessa has forbidden him to be with her, lives a separate lifestyle from the other characters. He has fallen in with a transgender woman named Angelique. I’m waiting with suspense to find out what her secrets are. That she’s transgender is not the secret. That’s only shocking to the denizens of Victorian London, but I hope she also doesn’t turn out to be one of the witches or some other kind of supernatural creature.

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I appreciate that the writers are trying to involve Sembene in the action and dialogue a bit more this season but I dont expect a whole lot because this show is still very much a vehicle for Eva Green. But it is nice to watch him do something else besides shoot things or serve food. This time we get to watch him fight over washing dishes with Ethan. It would be nicer still if the writers felt confident enough to give him some real dialogue and a purpose. Here is  a hint writers: just write him the way you would any other character on the show.

Detective Rusk is getting closer to Ethan after the massacre at the Inn last season. The only survivor is one of the men who was the catalyst, for the massacre, in the first place. A man hired by Ethan’s father to retrieve him by any means available and take him back home.

I still wonder exactly how much Ethan knows about what he is and what he can do. At one point, the witches infiltrate Sir Malcolm’s house, to retrieve a lock of Vanessa’s hair, so that Evelyn can finish her Voodoo doll of her. The witches have the ability to blend into the background, like chameleons. Only Vanessa and Ethan are able to detect their presence. Vanessa because she’s just hyper-aware of everything and Ethan because I think he smelled Hecate. So his senses are exceptionally keen, no matter what form he’s in?

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Also, this scene is Hella creepy.

The witches manage to get Vanessa’s hair, which I still think, is a fairly elaborate way to go about doing it but it gives us several butt-shots of the witches, I guess. So there’s that. We really should get some butt-shots of Ethan, at some point. That would be much appreciated because, hey! It’s Josh Hartnett. We’ve had several butt shots of Dorian and I remain unimpressed because Twinks aren’t really my bag and I don’t think anyone wants to see Malcolm’s bottom.

The show is much more interesting than last season. It continues to be both sexy and deeply weird and creepy, like nothing else on television. There’s a concrete villain, even though her goal is somewhat nebulous. She’s  much more interesting than the Dracula we never saw, or the demonic entity that possessed Vanessa.

This season has a lot more depth and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, when all of Victor’s  lies and deceptions start catching up with him and we get to see more of Ethan’s story about how he became a werewolf and why his father is willing to send hardened bounty hunters after him. What will Sir Malcolm do when or if he finds out about Evelyn? What will this new family do when they find out about Ethan?

Next week: I’ll be finishing up my overview of season 10 of Supernatural, binge watching Sens8, which I’m getting very excited about. Check it out on Netflix on June 5th.  And reviewing Sunday’s episode 5 of Penny Dreadful, titled Above the Vaulted Sky.

Geeking Out: Daredevil ( Netflix)

(Note: this is Part One of a Two Part Geeking Out on This Series.)

My very first image of Daredevil, was from a comic book, in the public library. Daredevil was  lying across the arms of a statue, in a callback to Michaelangelo’s Pieta, an image I recognized from my Art History classes and I wondered why it was being used in a comic book. I had tremendous respect for the artist ,who seemed to be putting his Art History knowledge to good use. (Do you know how many times that imagery has been used on comic book covers? Hundreds of times.)

This was when I became a fan. I stopped reading the comics sometime after Matt finally defeated Wilson Fisk, been exposed as Daredevil and taken over The Hand.

I remember I was very excited about the movie back in 2003, but that was because I’d never seen Ben Affleck in inaction before, having avoided his movies up til then. I, very distinctly, remember feeling somewhat dubious about him in the role, having never associated his name with action movies.

What’s sad is, I don’t even think it was a bad film. I can see the seeds of a great film inside the mess that got released. It had a lot of fun moments, but they all clashed with  each other, as if they belonged to different movies and Colin Farrell should simply not be allowed to star in any action films, ever. I have been burned by that man too many times.  He should just stick to Horror and Drama, as he makes a great vampire and  has good angst-face. (It’s the eyebrows!)

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So, you can guess that I would be a little dubious, at the idea of a Daredevil television show. I didn’t want to get too excited because I still had trauma from the movie.

But I am geeking out about the show. I love the show.

All of the characters and episodes are excellent. By limiting it to thirteen episodes, it keeps the story lean and mean, without a lot of unnecessary filler episodes and people, which I feel is one of the drawbacks to most episodic television. I’m very glad that Cable TV has started breaking this model. It also has the added value of deepening a story that cannot be told in two and half hours.

The writers are excellent. The plot and  dialogue is on point and the fight scenes are impactful and meaningful because they also help sell the story. In a lot of American action  films, the fighting is just “we need an action scene, here”, to break up the monotony of people talking. Daredevil has opted for the Eastern Martial Arts style, of fight scenes that tell a story, based on who is fighting and why.

Bey Logan once said, that fight scenes in Chinese action movies are not actually fights, but representative of clashing view points and that the winner of the fight is also the prevailing idea that they represent. That the fight scenes themselves, are a story.(We will go into this philosophy a little more, during the second part of this piece.) They have a beginning, a middle and an end, often reiterate the basic plot of the film and also outline a character, or present a point of view, something that a lot of American action movies have not learned to do.

In part one of my posts on Daredevil, I’m going to discuss my top favorite characters and one outlier.

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Matt Murdock

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I like Charlie Cox. He’s very handsome and  a much better actor than Ben Affleck. My only drawback is that it can be difficult watching Matt Murdock on screen because he’s such a passive character, unlike his alter-ego, who is violently confrontational. But since almost nothing is left to chance in this show, I will assume that this was an intentional acting choice, on Cox’s part.  Matt Murdock seems to be lacking in personality because almost all of his energy is reserved for beating the crap out of people when he’s  Daredevil. He simply doesnt have much left over for being himself.

Incidentally, I have never understood the superhero tendency to lie about their secret identities to the people closest to them. Is it because of plausible deniability? This is a trope that needs to die. I believe most superhero narratives only adhere to it to provide some overwrought, emotional drama at some later point in the narrative.  Now, I understand one probably would not want to cry their superhero identity to the rooftops, but telling your SO, or your parents, or Hell, your legal partner, is well within those boundaries. The only reason you probably wouldn’t is if you just know that person can’t keep their mouth shut.

The show manages not to annoy me with this too much because of the manner in which it’s done, providing insight into Foggy and Matts early relationship. This is why this trope works here. There’s a plausible reason for Foggy’s reaction and an equally plausible excuse within the narrative,  for them to make up.

Karen Page

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Is Debora Ann Woll, who was last seen as a vampire in True blood and  is a much better actress than I previously thought. She begins the series as a typical damsel in distress, and I really didn’t think she’d grow much beyond that. So it was a very pleasant surprise to see this character become more outspoken and assertive as the series progressed.

She starts making choices that affect the plot and affect the other characters and that’s a refreshing change, even though the show has fallen into the trap of having multiple women in the show, who never speak to each other, even when they’re in the same scene.

Karen also keeps making the mistake of running off alone, even though she knows there are people trying to kill her or frame her or something and having to be rescued by various men in the cast, until episode 11: The Path of the Righteous, where her storyline  takes a dramatic shift.

Wilson Fisk

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As portrayed by Vincent D’onofrio, is an intriguing character. Where the movie version of Kingpin was rather one-note, this Fisk has layers, motivations and a tragic back story. He is extremely dedicated to his city, which is a commendable sentiment, except for his method of showing that love, which seems to involve victimizing the already helpless. But that is understandable as, according to his flashbacks, he never developed what I’d call, a great deal of “fellow feeling”.  He seems to care more about “the city” than the actual human lives that live in it. How does this make him different from Loki, who just wants to be “in charge”?

I would respect his motivations a lot more, except he’s gotten into bed with the worse sort of hardened criminals, and then has the nerve to act surprised, when they betray him. It is constantly being argued, in the show, that his love for Vanessa makes him weak, but I disagree. I think his fetish for “his city”, something I find unfathomable, makes him blind to the people closest to him, and there lies his downfall.

Claire Temple

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It’s Rosario Dawson as the Night Nurse, people! C’mon! She’s like the “Superhero Doctor”. Like Edna Mode from The Incredibles, only less curmudgeonly.

I love this actress. I will watch anything she is in. I couldn’t develop much deep analysis of her character except to say she’s outspoken and very brave. She loves her city too, but shows that love through service to its citizens, not control of them. This is a big difference between an authoritarian personality and a humanist one.  The big difference between her and Fisk. Matt is somewhere else on that spectrum.

And how awesome is it that she gets to be Matt’s love interest?

Stick

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This is my second favorite character in the show after Daredevil.  Stick, who is only in one episode, manages to have many layers. This is how good the writers are, people! After having been Matt’s mentor,  showing him how  to fight and exist in the world as a man,whose only abilities are having super senses, he takes his own advice about not forming emotional attachments and abruptly abandons Matt, when Matt starts to grow fond of him. Naturally, this causes no small amount of resentment in Matt.

And this is what I mean about the fighting in Daredevil telling a story and having meaning. Their fight is about their relationship and it’s told in a very specific way, where Matt starts out with a kind of boxing style, in a callback to his father, Battling Jack Murdock, and he  is getting his ass kicked, until he starts fighting in the style Stick taught him, after which he wins, and Stick accedes that his student has surpassed him. This fight was very long in the making, (and it’s set up by the flashbacks just why it needs to happen), and is built on Matt’s  resentment of Stick’s abandonment of him. It represents two differing points of view. Matt’s  point of view is the one that prevails.

You also get the distinct impression that Stick was grooming Matt for some greater purpose and that his underlying reason for fighting him was to assess whether or not  he’s ready for this purpose. (The Hand?) That all his advice about emotional distance  was not just for that purpose but also  to protect himself from getting too close to a child who desperately needed a father figure or might have to sacrifice later, if Matt doesn’t do what’s expected of him.

Vanessa

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Now we come to the character I liked the least. Not because she’s a bad character, although I think she’s badly written and probably badly acted. It’s difficult to tell. I say that because this character and her motivations are a complete mystery to me.

I don’t understand anything about her, her feelings for Fisk, what she wants, why she stays with him after she’s attacked by his enemies. Nothing. Supposedly these two are having some grand love affair but I’m just not feeling it.

Don’t get me wrong, I can see why someone would be attracted to Fisk and his antiquated, Harlequin Romance version  of love, and I can see, that initially, she’s somewhat conflicted about getting involved with him, but after he confesses his history of violence and she has reached the suspicion that he is involved in some grand criminal activities, she still decides to cling to him and that’s just puzzling to me.

Is  it because she’s fascinated by the danger? The drama? The excitement? His money? Is it fear of him? I must confess, I barely remember her from the comics. I know she’s in them but remember almost nothing about her. This is the one character in the show I couldn’t get any sense of and had no feeling for.

Part Two: The Episodes

Sleepy Hollow: Awakening

Wow! We’ve got betrayals and lying and turnabouts all over the place. First, Henry turns on Moloch, then Frank Irving comes back from the dead, with deceptions and a hidden agenda, and now Katrina has decided to throw her lot in with Henry. Or Hell, maybe she’ll have a whole new evil plan, that’s completely separate from all of the other evil plans running around on this show. And still no sign of Orion, The Angel of Death. Where’s he gotten himself off to?

Time for our obligatory scene of Crane’s bafflement with the current age. Discussing the non-uniqueness of his “man out of time” situation, with Abbie, in the local book store. Despite my misgivings every time they express they’re devotion to each other, I do enjoy seeing them together. Abbie and Crane just genuinely like each other and are true friends, something rarely depicted on mainstream TV, between men and women.

In the meantime, the ringing of the town  Liberty Bell causes several people to go haywire with magical abilities. And yes, Henry’s behind it.

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Jenny, breathlessly, tells Abbie about Frank and his confession to her, which I’m still having trouble buying into and  Abbie and Crane consider using the Gorgon’s head to freeze Frank, as some sort of nuclear option. They say they can attempt to restore him later, after Jenny expresses misgivings about such a plan.

Abbie and Crane investigate the supernatural attacks that happened in the square. Crane confesses to have caused the original crack in the Liberty Bell and that what Sleepy Hollow owns,  is just  a replica. He did that while creating a diversion to destroy the original bell, from which all the replicas were reproduced.

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Henry visits Katrina in person. He says he killed Moloch to save her life and that her destiny is to go Darkside. Can I just say…ick! He also says his destiny is to bring back the original Dark Coven, but he can’t do it because his blood is too diluted, but if she rings the giant  bell in the town center, she can accomplish The Awakening and together they can…TRY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

And he also throws in  some “we can be a family, again” stuff, for good measure.

The Awakening refers to the the development of magical powers in the descendants of the original Dark Coven that once existed in Sleepy Hollow. Crane, Abbie, Henry and Katrina are now all on the same page. All that remains is for  events to play out.

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But first…shopping at Home Depot! Crane discovers power tools, batteries and bobble-headed, garden gnomes, while they shop for supplies,  to blow up the bell, in the town center.

They begin their plans but Frank is there to stop them. He and Jenny engage in a running shootout. She shoots him several times, but  bullets don’t work on him. Henry and Katrina show up and it’s heartbreaking for Crane, to watch her act this way. She and Henry claim that the town was promised to the witches, for helping win the War of Independence. I still don’t trust that Katrina is fully in Henry’s pocket, either. She’s played both sides so often, it’s hard to know what the hell she thinks about anything. Also, this newfound interest in her old coven, comes completely out of left field. The writers are  desperately trying to give this useless third wheel some relevance.

Katrina drops some mojo on Crane and Abbie and then bricks them up behind a wall. Abbie and Ichabod are now trapped in the catacombs underneath the town. They deduce that the bell will be in the boarded up town hall, and make plans, as they make their way out.

Ichabod challenges Crane outside the hall, while Frank hunts down Jenny. Ichabod  tries to shoot Henry  but Henry’s magic stops him. Abbie tries to run him down with her truck but Katrina blows it up, seemingly with Abbie still in it.

But that was just a diversionary tactic. Abbie is about to blow up the bell, when Henry finds and stops her. Henry and Katrina tie the Witnesses to a stake and prepare to start The Awakening. Jenny, stuck in the catacombs,  plans to  use the Gorgon’s head on Frank, who demands to know where she sent his family.

As the bell starts to ring, the sleepers start to awaken. The Witnesses manage to shoot Henry, who dissolves into green embers, but his death seems to cure Frank. Katrina loses her shit over the death of her son and attacks Crane and Abbie. She opens a portal to somewhere and Abbie, in an effort to stop her, gets taken along for the ride.

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Ichabod is  alone.

Abbie wakes up alone in the forest. In 1781. She’s  in some deep shit now. She’s a  modern Black  woman stuck in an age where barbaric  attitudes towards Black people were openly displayed and she’s wearing tightpants. Attitude, will  just get her killed quicker. She needs to stay calm and use her head.

As she is locked in irons, she declares that the only person she can speak to, is Ichabod Crane.

Sleepy Hollow : What Lies Beneath

Tonight’s show is a lot more Mythology heavy, than last week. Last week, we were dealt a couple of enormous setbacks, such as: Frank Irving being a lying liar who lies and Henry Parrish coming back in the game. I’m sure the two of them will be up to menacing the Witnesses lives soon enough.

Oohhh! A sewer episode!

Three construction workers find a hidden tunnel system deep underground and are promptly snatched by some CHUDs for their trouble.

It’s  now time for Ichabod’s obligatory moment of culture shock. This time it’s Instagram, while he and Abbie tour a battleship. (Is he, or is he not, Captain America?) Abbie gets a message from Reyes about the missing men. At the crime scene, Abbie is approached by a strange man, a journalist, with some interesting information about his brother, who is one of the missing men. A very savvy man,  who is starting to put together all the oddities going on in Sleepy Hollow. I hope this guy is joining the cast. I like him, already. He’s smart, and he’s bold and reads Abbie’s face like a book.

Abbie and Crane go into the tunnels and find that and the claw marks of whatever pulled the men to their deaths. Crane drops some Thomas Jefferson history on us while we wait.

Irving meets with Jenny. He wants her to retrieve some wedding trinket from the police station for him. Jenny agrees to get him into the lockup to steal it. I’m going to make a wild guess and say he’s lying again.

Abbie and Crane theorize about what could be in the hidden chamber. I love it when Crane gossips about historical figures and Bonus! we get a flashback to his meeting with Jefferson, who subsequently unfriended him. Crane says they need to go back and be eaten…I mean, see for themselves, what’s down there.

imageIt turns out,  at least, one of the men is alive but Crane and Abbie encounter a room full of the deadly creatures that guard the hidden vault. Crane is nearly captured, but is saved by the unexpected entrance of the journalist, who uses his camera flash to drive the creatures away.

Calvin, the photographer, is determined to save his brother and demands information from them. They ask for his trust and Abbie tells him that his brother is alive. Crane doesn’t like that, but Abbie feels she can trust him and they should allow him limited access.

I know finding work is hard and it’s been a few years but those damn Firefly Reivers have gotten jobs as Reivers on this show! Abbie, Crane and Calvin go down to the tunnels, for a second time, to rescue Calvin’s brother.

Irving and Jenny crash the police station, where Irving searches for something that’s not a wedding trinket. Jenny was definitely suspicious of Irving, the moment she saw the Hellfire Club tattoo on his wrist, when they were in the bar. She pulls her weapon and they duke it out for about five seconds.

imageCrane’s magical trick, with Calvin’s camera, drives the creatures away again and conveniently destroys the camera. They fight their way into the vault, where they encounter Thomas Jefferson himself. Jefferson says thanks to science and witchcraft he’s still alive, or rather his holo-ghost is still present. He says their mission is the reason he exists.

Irving has a story to tell Jenny about how he’s possessed by an evil Irving. I’m still not buying it. I think he’s well aware of his evil. But he says he found a charm that would hide his true nature and that’s what he used during Katrina’s test. It’s a real sob story but he needs Jenny’s help because she’s the only one who would understand. I think we can all understand my skepticism.

imageSince Jefferson is Crane’s bestie, Abbie says it’s on him, to convince Jefferson to help. While the two men commiserate, Abbie follows a blood trail deeper under the vault, where she finds two of the survivors and a partially eaten corpse.

Jefferson says the men must die, because destroying the cannibal nest will also destroy the vault and all the information the Witnesses need to do their  work. He shows them some of the information and they are suitably impressed. He even explains why he unfriended Crane so many years ago and that he had no choice but to do that.

The two of them decide to destroy the nest. No matter what it costs them. They go back into the death chamber to save the men and barely make it out. They then decide to “nuke the sight from orbit” because it’s the only way to be sure that all the creatures die. Unfortunately,  it will also destroy all the information the Witnesses will need to fight, what Jefferson says is, the coming war.

imageIchabod goes back into the chamber with the explosives and has to convince Jeffersons ghost to allow it’s destruction. He finally agrees and Ichabod, blows it all up.

Yay, explosions!

Abbie convinces Calvin to shut up about what happened. I’m definitely noticing some chemistry between these two and hope we get to see him again in the future, especially after he sends her an e-mail asking her to trust him. I like how he challenges her, doesn’t back down from her and does it with a smile. Could this be a love interest for Abbie?

Katrina dreams that Henry comes to her and it must have been real because he left behind the black roses he brought for her.

Not my favorite episode but it goes somewhere near the top of my list because it’s Mythology heavy and there was only a sliver of Katrina in it.

Next week, it looks like Katrina goes full-on Darkside.

The Walking Dead: What Happened and What’s Going On

Tonight’s episode is pretty much all in the title. We review what happened last year, before the shows hiatus and ease into the second half of the season, with what’s happening now. The show picks up in the aftermath of Beth’s death in the hospital. Beth, arguably one of the most innocent characters on the show, died to save the life of Noah and as penance for the moral compromises she made during her stay there.

Tonights episode could’ve simply been titled “Loss”.

–—————————————————Spoilers Ahead—————————————–

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The group discuss how to get Noah home to Virginia, while Judith looks contemplative. Tyreese and Noah talk about the situation on the way there. It’s interesting to see two Men of Color discussing something in a mainstream genre show that does not involve race. And just like that, quietly and non-dramatically, the show passes the Bechdel Test for PoC. Now to get Michonne and Sasha to make friends.

They reach Noah’s home only to find everyone gone, the homes burnt out and what else…Walkers. Tyreese consoles Noah with his story of how he dealt with his own loss and how he chose to live. Noah runs off to his house.

I’m wondering what the Hell happened because the evidence makes no sense. They weren’t invaded by another group. The gates are still locked. There are Walkers and debris everywhere, as if people were looting and fighting.

Tyreese finds  a member of Noah’s family and gets bitten by Noah’s little brother. Noah destroys the Walker and leaves to tell the others what happened.  No matter, how many times this happens , every time someone is bitten,  I still hope maybe there’s a way they’ll get to live. I should stop hoping but I like Tyreese and I can’t help it.

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Michonne argues that they can rebuild and stay. When even Michonne is tired of being on the road, you’ve got to admit, you have been running around in the woods too long. After discovering that the community is indefensible, she then argues going to Washington. Logically, its  the only place that would have any infrastructure left. Hearing Noah’s screams, they find him being attacked by Walkers. They save him and then go to Tyreese’s aid. They take the drastic measure of cutting off his arm and I’m insanely hopeful, yet again, even though I shouldn’t be, that Tyreese will live.

The group fights it’s way out, carrying Tyreese and speeding away in the car.

Tyreese, who is being visited by all the dead he thinks he failed to save. Beth. Bob. Lizzie. Mika.

They don’t make it.

Tonight’s episode was a meditation on loss and grief. It was  a very emotionally heavy episode, interspersed with snippets of song, the voices of the dead and gone, scenes of abandonment and nature reclaiming the world.  I don’t often cry during a show but Tyreese’s death, coming so closely after Beth’s, was simply,  devastating.

How do you cope in a world where everyone left alive has lost everything and are so damaged, that they are willing to do anything?

When everything that exists is the last that will ever be created. They’ll be no new songs, TV shows, paintings, novels. Not for a long damn time.

How could anyone watching this show experience more grief or pain after watching the destruction of the entire world? And how can there be people, in this world who can wish for such a thing to happen, just so they can add to the destruction? Or just because they want a do-over for being failures in this world? This world is full of awful things. Racism. ISIS. Crime. Torture. Lies and Decpetion. None of these things can ever be fixed by the addition of yet more loss and pain and tragedy, or the wholesale destruction of so much life.

What does the life of one man or woman matter, when all the rest of the world is dead? Is there a limit on the amount of emotional pain that can be felt before you just go numb.

Maybe we could ask Rick Grimes that question, or the people from Terminus or The Governor.

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ETA:  During the show The Talking Dead, Greg Nicotero clearly states that the community depicted in the show was invaded by another, worse, group of people and that tonight’s episode was written as a love letter to Tyreese.

Sleepy Hollow : Spellcaster

Tonight’s episode involves a Warlock from the Salem Witch Trials, a subject which endlessly fascinated me when I was a teenager. I think   I was  more fascinated with the idea that people could make up outrageous lies about other people, and if the authorities in power are gullible enough, those lies will be believed. This show may not  address that particular issue tonight but should still be a fascinating glimpse into the Sleepy Hollow version of that time period. After all, in that universe, witches and magic actually exist.

A man in an archaic outfit (played by none other than one of my future ex-husbands, Jonathan Schaech) breaks into an auction house, steals a book from the archives and, casts a spell which Vaders the security guard and the archivist.

Ichabod is house hunting and calls Abbie for help. He seems to be coping well with the modern world. He is, however, just as perplexed by squeaky fruit as any rational person – wtf?  His outfits look a little more modern and I’m required to mention how lovely he is, at least once per episode. (I have a  quota to fill.) Abbie comes to him with the auction house case. The clues suggest magical interference, so Ichabod suggests they visit Katrina.

Henry Parrish is trying to find his identity and avoid the attentions of the landlady of the apartment complex, where he’s been hiding out, since he betrayed and killed Moloch.

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Abbie and Ichabod are  figuring out the magical clues behind  the deaths at the auction house and the theft of the book, which turns out to be a Grimoire of immense power. There is an interesting blend of magic from Katrina and Tech from Abbie to do all of this.

Katrina tells them that Solomon Kent has been freed from Purgatory. Apparently, he’s the Boogeyman for witches, which must mean he’s a total badass. I guess so, since we see him casting another spell using the book and his own blood, so …yeah.

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Katrina schools everyone on the real history of the  Salem Witch Trials, involving her own ancestor, Sarah Osbourn, Solomon Kent, unreciprocated love and accidental death. It turns out that Kent is the reason the trials occurred, as he goes darkside, in an attempt to avoid blame for killing the woman he loved. Eventually, the surviving coven members exile him to purgatory. Kent returns  from purgatory for the Grimoire, which is not whole. So now Katrina, Ichabod and Abbie have to hunt down the missing pages.

Irving confronts Abbie outside the archives, abut her not trusting him after his return and makes good with her.

Henry Parrish is feeling so disgusted with himself that he’s trying to avoid human contact. He’s not tying too hard or he’d be living in the woods and not in an apartment  in the city. The landlady’s son tries to talk to him and leaves him a figurine to play with. The writers are toying with the idea that Henry might come to care for this young man and decide to become heroic on his behalf, I guess.

Abbie tells Ichabod about meeting with Irving and how he plans to let go of the past. Ichabod connects that to Kent and susses out that Kent  wants to resurrect his lost love, but that would lead to the end of the world, as all the other souls with her, would be released.

imageAbbie and Ichabod, both armed and deadly, head out to get the rest of the Grimoire before Kent. They find  him in the warehouse. Katrina shows up and throws some mojo around before Kent tries to seduce her to the darkside. Kent then creates some blood demons- from a pool of his own blood which is ….AWESOME! The bloody, naked demons chase Abbie and Ichabod  through the warehouse, while Katrina and Kent face off.  She loses but not before going all Dark!Willow and Kent makes off with the book.

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Katrina is shaken after her fight with Kent, as she’s tapped into some primal dark power, that she’s now deeply afraid of and once again proceeds to lie to her husband about yet another thing. When will it end? Can they kill her off at the end of this season, or the next, if she becomes the Big Bad?

Abbie goes to Irving to get some tips on how to handle Kent but all he can offer is advice on how to keep living. A pointless scene but it gives us more opportunity to see Irving bonding with Abbie.

Henry Parrish witnesses his landlady’s  son being bullied by some apartment thugs. This is building to something. Will he come to the rescue? Will he find a reason to care? Will he find his purpose in whatever decision he makes?

Abbie and Ichabod figure out that Kent isn’t trying to resurrect anyone. He wants to time travel into the past and they have to stop him before he alters all of existence.

Irving shows up to offer more than useless advice against Kent, who is about to begin his time travel spell, while Abbie finalizes a plan.

They attack Kent with crossbows, flash bangs, darts filled with Atropine and electricity which puts him down. Ichabod loses his shit and is about to put a serious beat down on him, when Abbie stops him. So,  he’s tapped into something primal about himself, too. Only, he seems to be dealing with it better than Katrina. Abbie and Ichabod run off to find Irving. He shows up behind them, coldly breaks Kent’s neck and takes the Grimoire. Kent’s body dissolves. Irving congratulates all of them on a job well done.

Henry confronts the bullies at the apartment complex. He very easily kills the three of them with magic. I don’t think he’s doing that for any good reason, such as protecting the landlady’s son.

Irving and Henry meet in the forest. He hands Henry the book. So I guess Henry himself  wants to take over where Moloch left off  and Irving really is still his minion. Really Irving?

I am disappoint.

I’m going to count this as a good episode as it answered a lot of the questions I had in the last one, Kali Yuga. At the same time, I’ve got all new questions about Henry, Irving and Katrina. And oddly enough the show does address the idea of gullible people accepting the lies told to them by people they trust, exactly the thing that frustrated me about the Salem Witch Trials.

There’s only three episodes left til the end of the season on February 23rd, at which point I’ll have to find something new to talk about.

Supernatural : There’s No Place Like Home

Well, we’re halfway through the season and a definite theme has emerged at this point. Also, tonight showcases the return of Charlie Bradbury and I I got a bad feeling about this. I’m probably one of the few people who actually likes Charlie.  I think I fell in love with her just a little bit, the first time I saw her dancing to “Walking on Sunshine”, in an  elevator. That song has since become one of my favorite “happy dance” songs.

Tonight is Dean vs. Charlie and since I do not enjoy  seeing  family members beating the crap out of each other, I’m going to go out on a limb, and propose the idea, that this isn’t actually Charlie. (C’mon! You know you were thinking it.) If it is her, then SHE has gone horribly wrong.

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There’s a frantic chase scene, as some guy stumbles through his house. He’s confronted, in his front yard,  by someone who looks like Charlie Bradbury, who promises to torture him.

In the Bunker, Dean claims he’s on a 12-step program of goodness, featuring egg whites, lack of drinking and early bedtimes, all of which, he hates. He’s taken Sam’s advice to heart about fighting The Mark, at least. It’s good to see him at least trying to follow Sam’s advice. In the past, he almost never did and look at the outcome. Is Dean is finally learning? Maybe the reason he’s listening to Sam now, is because heeding only his own advice, since Bobby’s death, has been a huge disaster.

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While researching the Mark, Sam comes across a video of Charlie assaulting someone. Dean actually acknowledges, that, taken out of context, what they do looks very much like assault and serial killing, too. I’ve always wondered about that myself. And, off they go.

Charlie is investigating the death of her parents. Dean threatens to assault her assault victim,  until the guy gives up a name.

It turns out that Celeste Middleton is Charlie’s real name.

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They visit the name on their list. The woman isn’t cooperative, so they stake her out. When they hear screaming, they run to the rescue and find Charlie, with a blade pressed to the woman’s throat. They ask her what happened to her in Oz and why she’s doing what she’s doing and she just taunts them, which is kind of creepy, because this person claims to be Charlie but isn’t even trying to act like her, at all. She sounds  like a demon. She escapes by beating up Dean, who I guess is holding back. He’d take off after her if she hadn’t slashed his tires.

And SURPRISE!! The real Charlie rides up to help lead the chase. So…shapeshifter? Demon? Or something new?

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At a bar, Charlie explains that the other is her double and evil. She claims Oz was awful and she made some kind of deal with the Wizard,  to unleash her inner demon, (so not a shapeshifter or demon, exactly. Just Charlie’s bad side.) It was Dark Charlie who, singlehandedly, won the war in Oz  and when Good Charlie got mad at her for the way she did it, she decided, the way to win good Charlie back, was to avenge their parent’s deaths. Neither of them can get back to Oz because Dark Charlie broke the key.

Dean has promised himself no liquor but he’s experiencing obvious withdrawal, whether from the Mark or alcoholism, is unclear. It probably makes little difference. The Mark has always been coded as an addiction.

The investigation leads to another name. The drunk driver who killed her parents. Sam takes Charlie back to the bunker, to find a way back to Oz or repair the key, and Dean stakes out the next name on their list, waiting  for bad Charlie to show up, while posing as a Mr. Presley. The  man is pretty shitty to him and Dean barely holds back from killing him, when the lights go out.

Sam and Charlie’s investigation leads them to another name on the list, a former Man of Letters.

Yeah, this is angry, mad, hurt Charlie. And Dean can’t hurt her. If he does, he hurts Good Charlie. Dark Charlie confronts her parent’s killer. He seems genuinely contrite but, I still suspect,  he’s only sorry because he thinks she might hurt him and is only saying what she wants to hear. She locks Dean out of the room and kills the man and escapes through the window. So, there’s Dean, trying to be Mr. Good Guy,  suffering from some kind of withdrawal and underestimating Dark Charlie’s willingness to be a dick. It’s exactly the sort of thing Dean would have done, but because it’s Charlie, who he has attached himself  to and romanticized, he keeps getting blindsided by her ruthlessness.

Dean calls Sam. They agree to meet at the former Man of Letter’s home. Bad Charlie meets him in a bar and isn’t he supposed to be on his way to see Sam, instead of sitting in this bar, trying to resist drinking.  Yeah, Dean, you’re an alcoholic. Dark Charlie walks in, senses something different about him and I guess her purpose on  the show tonight, is to tempt him to the dark side and give voice to Dean’s inner demons. (This seems to be a tactic, the writers like to engage in, when a character goes bad. Have someone else dictate what they’re thinking,  during their moral crisis.) Dean tells her the plan to get rid of her, so predictably, Charlie sneaks off to kill the guy. He is so off his game tonight, that she’s just running rings around him. In his effort not to engage his own dark side, he just doesn’t see any of her shit coming. Hell, I saw that coming, so I guess I must be fully integrated with my dark side, unlike Dean.

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The old man can’t help Good Charlie. He also  says there’s no way back to Oz and  claims the same thing happened to him when he was there. His id was released and became the wizard of Oz, who is now ruling in tandem with Dorothy.  He proposes to summon the Evil Wizard by hurting himself and in the process save Dorothy from whatever Evil Wizard is up to, in Oz. So now, everyone is in place, the Charlies, the Wizards,  Sam and Dean, even though Dean lied about the location. (So, he hasn’t completely lost his senses, altogether.)

Naturally Sam gets subdued and tied up, but at least he’s not unconscious or been hit on the head, yet again, while Dean dukes it out with Dark Charlie in the front yard. Good Charlie has to make a decision to do a bad thing. She kills the Good Wizard, which kills the bad one, (who was totally Vadering Sam, btw). I think I see where this might be going. If Dean doesn’t stop himself, he’ll kill both Charlies.

He stops himself. Barely.

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The second key they retrieved from the Evil wizard is used to mend Charlie’s two selves back into one body, but both she and Dean are traumatized by this experience. She has all of Bad Charlie’s memories now, so is intimately familiar with both brothers mental states, saddled with memories of having done horrible things, in horrible places to the occasional horrible person. Sam and Kevin, DemonDean, and now Bad Charlie.

Sam and Dean are back in the bunker, with Sam giving Cas the lowdown on what just happened with Dean. (Once again, Charlie doesn’t get to meet Cas. One day, the two of them are going to be in an episode together and the universe will cave in on itself.) She goes to Dean and says she forgives him and sweet talks him that he’ll get through this because he’s Dean,  but he’s not buying it.  He’s still no good, but at least his hands have stopped shaking and that’s a good thing.

Right?

I guess I’m one of the few people who actually liked this episode. Once again, not a favorite, but watchable and coherent. Some nice parallels were made between Dean and Charlie’s situation, the nature of addiction, including Dean’s reference to AA’s 12-Step Program, and the plot stayed on point with minimal holes. Not a great episode but not bad either. Although, once again Charlie saves Sam and I know some of the fandom hates that. I’m alright with it though. I’m alright with this episode, really.

I’m  looking forward to seeing more of Little Dean, next week. That should be very interesting.