Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x6)

And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you
--Fredrich Nietzsche

Well, that's terrifying. Are these creatures running around the wilds of America? I mean, the Winchester's have met them and now Ichabod and Abbie go up against one? In other words, run for your lives, the Windigos are coming. This weeks episode, "And The Abyss Gazes Back" (fantastic title) touched on something that I made a point of a few weeks back (go me): be careful not to turn into monsters when you yourself are fighting monsters. Sleepy Hollow went a step further than I did and actually made someone turn into a literal monster to prove their point, but one, I don't have that kind of superpower and two, it all worked out in the end. As it so often does on Sleepy Hollow. The major theme of this weeks episode, though, is really about staring into the abyss and seeing what kind of person you are. Did you inadvertently ruin someone's life? Are you a good man? Is there a monster lurking just beneath your breast? And if you gaze too long, do you risk losing your self to the darkness? 

Ok, prepare yourselves, folks. We are going to get deep. I mean, this next sentence is going to be so deeply philosophical it will make Mr. Nietzsche weep. Dear GOD, Ichabod Crane looks good with his hair down. I mean, damn son.  Is he speaking? Is there action? Is there something plot or mythic happening of which I should be aware? I honestly have no idea because Ichabod Crane looks like a delicious nighttime snack and I'm a glutton. Yes, I am objectifying him right now but the writers and costumers and hair stylists did this for a reason. Lead actor Tom Milson looks damn fine in period drag and then they went and did this thing with his hair and...I am supposed to be reviewing, aren't I? Deep thoughts on an otherwise somewhat silly show. With yoga having failed to relax Ichabod, Abbie and the man-of-gorgeous-hair set off to a tavern to partake of ale--please tell me it's Sam Addams ale. While there, they run into an old friend of Abbie's--one Joe Corbin, son of the late Sheriff Corbin. Do you remember him? It's been awhile, I know. Corbin was Abbie's former partner who taught her everything she knows after he took her in as a charity case when she lost her mom. He was killed in the pilot by the Horseman and knew a great deal about the secret goings on of Sleepy Hollow and most of the information gleaned about local mythology comes from his extensive records and notes. I enjoyed that the show brought something up from the past. It shows that they remember their own mythology and history and aren't afraid to remind their audiences. Viewers aren't stupid; we are capable of remembering quite a bit. Back to Joe and Abbie; short version, they used to get along and now no longer do. He blames her for the death of his father because there was so much Abbie couldn't talk about that night. After a Headless Corpse on a horse chops off your father-figure's head, would you talk about it? Nope. Joe's got a bit of a problem, you see. He's...cursed. Not always, of course. It's a recent curse. You see, poor tortured and sad Joe Corbin is a Winidgo.

Poor Joe. How he became a monster is fairly plot heavy but I think, for now, it's sufficient to say that Henry did it. He used the bone flute from a few episodes ago and with some magic something-or-other cursed Joe into the creature he is now. This is one of the things that Sleepy Hollow does quiet well this season: it's trying to keep their monsters focused on the larger mythos. So the Windigo is part of Henry's plan; last week's Weeping Lady was part of Henry's plan. They haven't taken too much away from the ensuing battle of good vs evil, the Witnesses vs Moloch. There are some filler type episodes like the non-German folk tale of the Pied Piper--and that eventually came back to the larger story--but by and large, this show is running a tight and cohesive ship. The question is why did Henry do this? To turn Joe into a creature of war. Is that Henry's overall agenda? To make men and women into instruments of war? It is certainly what he is doing with Frank Irving. Even though Captain Irving continues to be kept away from the majority of the action, I actually thought his B-plot was quite interesting and very relevant to this week's theme of the abyss, perhaps even more so that Abbie, Ichabod, Joe-the-Windigo. If your soul was in mortal danger, what would you do? Would you take drastic action to save it? Even if it meant the metaphorical losing of your soul? Henry has Frank's soul and when Frank dies, he shall become another instrument of war--the leading instrument if his visions prove prophetic. But Irving can get out of this jam by killing another soul--in this case, the man who put his daughter into a wheelchair for the rest of her life. That's a tempting offer, no? Now, Frank does not do it in the end; he resists the Abyss, just like Joe becomes a man again, through both magical and human means. The resistance to the Abyss is going to be a major theme moving forward this season, I believe. Someone is going to fall into it: Katrina or Frank? Katrina is already moving a bit too close to the forces of darkness (if she wasn't already there) because some part of her wants to rescue her son. Frank is still teeter-tottering, hanging by a moral thread. There is something to be said about the nature of drama being conflicts of the heart, and that's where we are headed. Katrina: husband or son? Frank: morality or his self preservation? And where do Ichabod and Abbie stand at all this? The same place they've always stood: at the Crossroads of Fate, holding hands.

 Miscellaneous Notes on And the Abyss Gazes Back

--Some truly hilarious moments between Ichabod and Abbie this week. Yoga does not work for Ichabod, but that hair surely does.


--Of the world's many monsters that lurk in the dark woods, Ichabod now counts Smokey the Bear amongst them. Bless.

--Daniel Boone shall now and forever be, "the man with the raccoon on his head."

--Ichabod playing video games. Oh ye gods, I needed that. 

--We've got ourselves a love triangle, don't we? Ugh. Abby doesn't like Hawly but Hawly likes her and Jenny likes Hawly. And Ichabod...he grows to dislike Hawly with each passing episode.

--Katrina swallowed a creepy spider. Eeek. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x5)

A family that loves me. I'm having a harder time putting words to thoughts, properly, with this episode. It was actually fairly decent; in fact, I think it might be my favorite of the season, and it's entirely possible that I'm basing most of that on one scene. Writers prerogative, eh? This episode actually made me feel something besides uncontrollable rage and resentment and I guess that's a step in the right direction. But, at the same time, I feel played and used. Oh, and, yes, irritated given that once again the motivation of the villain is the same carbon copy excuse they all use. But, I'm willing to do something for this episode that I haven't been willing to do in a long time: over look--at least, most of it. Trust me, there will be snark and sass and criticism. But I'm also still balling my eyes out over one scene and that's weighing on me. This weeks episode, "Breaking Glass," was more about the connections we forge and break and that little piece inside of us that wants to find someone we connect to. And how damnably hard it can be when we lose them. 

The Tattoos That Bind

When I first watched this episode, I had a lot of criticisms about these flashbacks, mostly because they are a lot of filler and are redundant given what we already know about Miss Emma Swan. Yes, Emma has walls. She was abandoned and unloved and left behind and she can't trust people and we all know this tune. That's the problem; nothing new was established in this episode except that we met someone who is (most likely) a one off character who just so happened to mess Emma up more than she was already messed up by further lying to her and tricking her. It's a theme with Emma but, again, we already knew that. Her parents left her by the side of the road (or so she believed for a long time), her first true love Neal turned her into the police (he did NOT, but let's not go into ship territory after my mega rant last week). And now it turns out that her first friend, Lily, was kind of a messed up teenage bitch who did an emo thing and it made Emma even more emo. And I say this as someone who is also of the emo persuasion. So, you know, lovingly. If it hadn't been abundantly clear what the writers were doing in terms of paralleling the present day and the past, then I'd write this off as totally filler and adding nothing to the overall episode. But, rather heavy handily, the Lily/Emma drama was cast as a parallel to the present day situation with Regina and Emma. It's not a coincidence that young Lily was a dark haired, spunky, Latina outcast who felt invisible and unloved. Apart from the dark haired and Latina aspect of it, it's pretty obvious why Emma and Lily got along. Though, to be perfectly frank, that was the most rushed best friendship ever. They knew each other for five seconds before they decided they were going to be best friends for life. But, in an effort to not criticize too much, Emma and Neal also fell in love after just one meeting, one cup of coffee, and a sad tale told on the swings. Parallels within parallels and wheels within wheels, guys. There were an uncomfortable number of Tallahassee callbacks this episode, and not just THE callback. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I guess I'll have more to say in the notes section since it doesn't warrant its own paragraph but I don't know if I feel grateful or used.

 Let's get back to Lily and Emma. It turns out that Lily is a liar liar pants on fire (she'd get along great with Clara Oswald). I saw it coming from a mile away; the truck that was chasing Lily was too suspicious to be just someone trying to put Lily back in the system. She was too reticent about opening up to Emma except for her own sense of invisibility and outcast status. Emma has a decidedly wounded aspect to her appearance but Lily seemed more functional out in the world. She knows how to play video games; she's not starved; she can make references to Harry Potter (which at this time was only one year old). Emma is the opposite--a true foster system kid who knows what it is to be hungry and alone, who has never played a video game in her life and doesn't seem to understand certain newer popular culture references because they haven't been passed down to her yet, like so many hand me down clothes. I appreciate this about Emma. Before I felt like she was becoming Pod! Emma, she was my favorite female character and I saw more of her tonight than I have in a long time. And yes, I'm just going to say it, the fact that she barely had any screen time with Hook helped. Get her away from the lovey-dovey stuff, and the bonds-person, rogue, hit the streets, leather wearing Emma is still there. You never know how much you miss someone until you are suddenly reminded of them again, and that's what this flashback was, in part--a reminder of who Emma was before they began taking her down a road that was I didn't want to follow. Emma felt real this episode, tangible even. Her relationship with Lily is over in a heartbeat, of course, once the lie is discovered. Lily isn't a foster kid; she's a lonely adopted child who's father and mother love her deeply. She has a family and a home, something Emma has never had. Emma can't understand why someone would want to run away from that; all she wants is a family. Emma thought she and Lily were special, unique, and could weather anything. But that's Emma's lesson in life: people hurt and abandon. Even though Lily is genuinely sorry, it's too late. That line has been crossed and it cannot be uncrossed for Emma. Like I said above, it's a super fast friendship that actually defies belief quite a bit, but I'm going to overlook because Emma Swan...felt like Emma Swan.

Do You Wanna Build A Sparkly Ice Viking?

And now for something completely different. And by completely different, I mean an isolated blonde with trust issues and a spunky Latina with equal trust issues trying to work together to forge a connection and uh..failing. At least until the end. Yes, Lily was basically one giant Regina-stand in. But let's put a pin in that for a moment and talk about Regina this episode because, oh boy. She just did some serious back peddling that does not rank her below Hook but doesn't exactly endear her to me either. If the writers want me to see Regina as anything other than mostly-villain, then they need to have her stop saying such dumb things like Emma ruined her life. No, Regina. You ruined your own when you chose revenge and blood over forgiveness and understanding. Emma had nothing to do with that. Emma saved a life and while I know that means you can't get your magical rocks off with Robin Hood, it doesn't change the fact that without Emma you'd have more blood on your hands. Is that what you want? While you delight in tearing apart people's happy endings, Emma actively tried to save one. It's not a matter of Emma learning to deal with it, it's a matter of you learning to deal with the fact that you chose your path and it led you here, so maybe you take you lumps and live. It doesn't help that they give Emma some pretty stupid lines that seem way too revisionist history, like "you've done a lot for me." Well. No, she didn't. I mean, unless you count poisoning your son, trying to run you out of town, trying to kill your parents, and--oh yeah--being the reason you were sent through a magical wardrobe in the first place. Look at your life, Regina. Look at your choices. You're the one who doesn't regret or feel sorrow. Emma is beating herself up over this, even though she won't take back saving a life. You're the one who has some serious rage issues right now. And it finally came back to bite you when Sidney, your loyal servant (read: slave) decided to ditch you for the Snow Queen who wouldn't lock him into some sort of prison for all of time--be it a padded one or a reflective one.

Of course it takes the combined powers of Emma and Regina to stop the Sparkly Ice Viking. Seriously, what the hell is this thing besides rather bad CGI? I have conjured an ICE VIKING! Um. Sure? But minus the somewhat cringe worth effects, I did like the magical battle. ONCE has a habit of chopping their magic battles off at the knee caps; you expect it to be something big and grand--and why wouldn't you with the level of power some of the characters have. But it never goes anywhere. The villain is always taken care of with one flick of the wrist, a heart put back into a chest, a knife in the back, a necklace removed (ugh). But in this case, they let Regina's fire and Emma's true love work together to take down Sparkle McSparkleson (not Viking enough, I know, but I'm not calling him Ragnar. Viking joke...). It's all a set up for the Snow Queen who just wants Regina's mirror. It's the new precious. The kids in Under the Dome had that damn egg; The Snow Queen wants her mirror. See, I can still criticize an episode that I thought was pretty decent. Like Emma and Lily, Regina and Emma are struggling with finding a family that loves them, fully. Emma finally got a clue that her mother and father and Henry love her and need her and that Storybrooke is home, but Regina just had all that taken away from her. So, while I'm pretty critical of Regina right now, I do understand that she's in pain. And having Sidney betray her can't have been pleasant. What's the Evil Queen without her magic mirror, right? Though, um, maybe this is why we don't threaten our "friends." Learn this lesson Regina, cause Emma wants to be a friend. (Down, SwanQueen shippers. Down!)

Some brief ploty-plot-ness to make all this go down smooth. What's up with all the mirrors, Dairy Queen? If you've read the original tale of the Snow Queen then you know that mirrors play a very big role, so I like that they've incorporated this into their FROZEN storyline. According to the Snow Queen, mirrors reflect our mood, our desires, and our essence. They are a temporary receptacle for some tiny bits of our soul.  That's good. I mean, that's almost season one level good in terms of intrigue and excitement and mythical surprise. Mirrors are absolutely symbolic of all that and I like that the writers are playing with these very universal ideas. And the fact that the Snow Queen is using only mirrors imbued with dark magic is pretty interesting too. Is she going to turn people dark in order to love her? However, I draw the line at the this whole "a family who loves me" stuff. Yes, it was the theme of the episode and it worked really well but it's the chorus line to every song a ONCE villain has ever sung. And boy...am I sick of hearing it. Regina felt unloved by Cora and did horrible things. Rumple felt unloved by everyone and did horrible things. Cora...same. Zelena and the Snow Queen need to start a support group because they are presidents of the "My Family Didn't Love Me" club. What kind of family does she want? I'm going to say one with children given that she's Emma's foster mother. Wait, what? Yes, the Snow Queen is Emma's old foster mother and Emma doesn't remember this at all, even though she apparently ran into the Snow Queen back in Season One (um. let's just skip right over that, thanks very much. I'm on a good roll). I knew it was coming so it's not surprising but still, once again the villain is somehow related to Henry and his family. This would be like his foster grandmother? Poor kid. 

Miscellaneous Notes On Breaking Glass

--Snow's late night adventure was both good and not so much. On the one hand, it was amusing, but on the other hand, it's official: they are turning Snow into a Disney caricature instead of letting her be the amazing bandit she once was. She said at the end that she felt like herself again, but I don't see how since she wasn't acting anything like how I remember Snow White. Most of this was probably just the writers giving Ginny Goodwin her contracted screen time, but they could work harder on writing her more consistently.

--Will Scarlet is hilarious, but again, I wish they'd given him something more to do outside of being a funny guy. The Will I remember had layers and depth!

--Belle became a babysitter for baby Snowflake and didn't even get one line. Oh boy. She's the new Ruby.

--No Henry and no Rumple. I hope that's rectified soon. On the other hand, very little Hook!

--The Snow Queen lives in the Fortress of Solitude and is also Jadis the White Witch from Narnia going by her decor. 

--All right. Let's do it. Let's talk about THE scene. It's hard to talk about this because I'm not sure what I want to say. First, I cried a lot. I mean...a lot. Also, this was, without a doubt, the most genuine and most real moment I've seen from Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan in a long time. This was heartbreak and loss and grief and feeling sick to your stomach that you've lost someone who meant the world to you. This was everything that was missing since 315. This is what the characters should have been doing since Neal died: mourning, trying to cope with loss, something that is often a time which cannot be coped with! Emma and Hook both had this expression of pure pain. They were remembering Nealfire and how much he meant to everyone. It's one of those times when dialogue actually screws it up so all we're left with is silence. This is another person whom Emma loved and, yes hurt her, but whom she loved nonetheless. And who loved her back. Deeply. Passionately. Without hesitation. So much so that he would let her go. And all of that got wrapped up in a tiny, wordless moment that featured the SwanFire music and other touches of SwanFire, like Emma's Tallahassee glasses and the box itself. It was lovely. But on the other hand, my cynicism being what it is, it just made me sad and angry that they dared to kill off this amazing guy who knew nothing but heartache and loneliness his whole life. That the final message of Neal Cassidy is that it doesn't matter if you do the right thing, you're going to be hated and despised and killed off. And it felt like bait. Adam and Eddy wriggled Neal and Emma out there like a worm on a hook and I was the hungry fish who took the bite. I don't even care that the existence of this picture makes no sense. There was no one around during this moment to take this picture. It cannot exist as it does. But I don't care. It's the Swan Nuzzle and it's glorious and I miss Neal Cassidy more than you know.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

In Which I Review Doctor Who (8x10)

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 

--William Blake, The Tyger 

All things in balance, eh? Love and hate, war and peace, beauty and horror, death and life. The tyger (er...tiger) is a creature of immeasurable beauty and grace and poise and it will tear out your throat and suck the marrow from your bones if given the opportunity. What sort of God would create such a world in which there is an undeniable existence of evil and violence but still so much regal splendor? That's some heavy philosophizing there, Doctor Who. The idea of balance and the examination of good/evil and the God who inhabits both are central to this weeks episode, "In the Forest of the Night." It wasn't as good as last week, to be honest. There's a lot to unpack in such a heavy episode that is simultaneously trying to give playful winks to your old favorite fairy tales, casting The Doctor, once more, as the wizard with a magical wand who, this time, realizes that the earth is saving itself. The heavy philosophical treatise coupled with the gentle fairy tale nudges were ultimately a problem because I wasn't sure how seriously to take this episode--are we really speculating on the Doctor's God like nature viz a viz Life that Prevails or were we supposed to laugh at the girl in the red coat being chased by a wolf leaving breadcrumbs in the form of modern day paraphernalia? 

Don't get me wrong; I enjoy a meta-textual reference as much as the next girl but oh boy were the ones in this episode heavy handed. The entire title and the major theme of the episode is a riff on the aforementioned William Blake poem, but then they go a step further and actually inset a real tiger into the scene and have Danny scare it off with a light from heaven until you realize it's a flashlight (torch, if you're English). You've got Little Red Riding Hood running through a forest with wolves chasing her; a reference to Hansel and Gretel and a giant gingerbread house with a cannibalistic witch. And while all these reference points are playing out, the Doctor and Clara are inside what is--essentially--the primordial forest, something as classic as Dante and as beloved as Tolkien, which is to say a universal archetype/construct meant to convey our fear of the dark and unknown and that which goes bump in the night. As if all that weren't enough, the big reveal about the magical light beings (fairy folk, much?) known as Life that Prevails, were finally shown in a bright patch of sunlight that was shot to invoke an ethereal nature so that you're smack dab in the middle of a hierophany and I'll bet you anything I'm supposed to read those little circle of trees the girl was standing in as an axis mundi. I almost collapsed underneath all that symbolic weight. Oof. Pick only a few tricks in your bag, writers. You do not need all the universal symbols playing together here. I get that the writers like playing with mythic constructs (just look at the Doctor; he's a walking sometimes-subverted hero/savior archetype) but there is such a thing as too much, especially when it ends up defying logic. For example: wolves and tigers (and bears?) breaking free from a zoo because the trees that sprung up over night have mangled the fence is one thing, but not explaining how the good people of London now avoid becoming wolf and tiger (and bear?) food after the trees have vanished is quite another. Especially when you end the episode by telling me that all of humanity will forget the impending doom and the Savior Ents...er, Life That Prevails. I'm fairly certain that the tiger is not going to care that the trees saved earth; it just wants to chow down on Mrs. Jones who is enjoying her spot of tea. And when you pull back, you realize that the wolves and tigers (seriously, no bears?) weren't necessary to anything except in trying to be symbolically heavy. The writer clearly felt that no one was going to get his meta textual Blake reference (to be fair, I only got it because I had to read him as a religious student) so he had to pile on the nods in order so people "got it." I do not need TV explained to me. The audience not fully understanding the poem doesn't take away from the theme of there being great danger in beauty, and great beauty in danger.

Ok, that was a bit of a rant. Sorry. Back on track now. The plot of this episode is loaded and heavy and frankly relies on me needing to just believe that the Doctor knows what he is talking about, which I can do pretty easily cause "Time Lord" trumps human any day. I really want to talk about two characters and moments in this episode because everything in between was plot plot plot. Let's start with the Doctor. Last week, he finally had his "I am the Doctor" moment and I think he got a bit of himself back. He may still not be comfortable with the idea that he's neither a good man nor a bad man but one that exists in a liminal space, forever fluctuating, but he's not actively trying to resist his savior and heroic tendencies. In this weeks episode, the Doctor doesn't try to force humanity into saving itself or try to act as though he is the clockmaker and we are ultimately responsible for our own failings and triumphs. Instead, when confronted with the Life that Prevails, he wants to know what he can do to save Earth. Why did they--these magical creatures who apparently have existed way before him and will exist after him--call the Doctor to London if not to save Earth, which he is now willing to do. When the Doctor learns that there is nothing he can do, his distraught is palpable. At Clara's suggestion, The Doctor makes plans to get the kids, Clara, and Danny off the planet and away from the deathly solar flare due to smack up on our globe at any moment. When Clara ends up being...er...noble and self-sacrificing, telling him that this time the human race is going to save HIM, the Doctor parrots Clara's words from "Kill the Moon" back at her: this is my planet too.  I walk its land, I breathe its air. The Doctor once again wants to save the planet; he accepted his role last week and now he's being denied the chance to do that which he has always done, and I think it hurts him a bit. When Clara tells the Doctor that she doesn't want to be the last of her kind, wandering about the universe forever, there is a heavy loneliness that settles over the Doctor.  It's a good moment for him, and I think it pushes the Doctor more toward the white-hat side of things and less out of this gray area he's been occupying. Of course, this could all go to Hell in a handbasket when Missy is finally revealed.

Clara Oswald is a lying liar from Liartown. Good Lord. How much has this girl been lying to Danny Pink and how much more is he going to take? Once again, I need to criticize the writers and their lack of follow through in emotional turmoil and upheaval. Last week, not only did we see how far Clara's addiction has gone--to the point of emulation of the Doctor--but that she's lying to both Danny and the Doctor. But this week, there's no follow through. The Doctor and Clara don't discuss her false stories, and apparently she's still lying to Danny. When he finds her work on the TARDIS from a week ago, he catches her in a lie, claiming that she hasn't seen the Doctor in months. But the worse part is, not only does Clara brush it off, but Danny tells her it's all okay, just tell him the truth. He doesn't care what the truth is, he just wants to hear it. It's a bit...unnerving. I know that Steven Moffat thinks Clara Oswald is the most special snowflake to ever flutter into the Doctor's existence, but she shouldn't get a pass on everything like this. And Danny is a really sweet, nice guy--if a bit boring, which is why Clara hasn't committed to him 100% yet. He can't provide that thrill she longs for and gets from the Doctor. If the Doctor is floating madly up in space, then Danny is grounded. While Clara is wondering about the enchanting forest that sprung up, Danny is worried about the kids and getting them home. When Clara wants to see the solar flare, Danny is perfectly fine where he is. In other words, Clara can't see the forest for the trees, and all Danny can see is the forest. And, I'm sorry writers, but it reeks of you re-hashing early day Amy Pond and Rory Williams. I really did appreciate Danny's speech to Clara about the wonders of Earth, though: "I don't want to see more. I want to see the things in front of me more clearly; there are wonders here." The problem is Clara's addiction. Danny's words are pretty and you can tell that they touch her, but he's not the TARDIS. He's not time and space and monsters and running. To Clara, Danny's not a wonder. We know that, supposedly, Clara and Danny will marry and have children because we met their future great-great grandson (or something) but we also keep hearing this season how futures can be erased. If Clara doesn't get out of her addiction tailspin, she's going to end up erasing her entire future with Danny, which is a nice moral lesson for the kiddies: addiction will lead you down bad paths and cause you to lose everything. And, to be honest, I'm choosing, right now, to read Clara's seemingly banal line, "there is no path" as metaphorical and foreshadowing. Clara can't see her path anymore because there are two wildly different ones: Danny and Earth, The Doctor and Space. The Girl who once traveled all along the Doctor's timeline can't see her own way anymore. Sad. And perhaps, in the end, tragic for Miss Clara Oswald.

Miscellaneous Notes on In The Forest Of The Night

--Aright. Let's talk Missy. There were a lot of hints that Clara = Missy or that Missy = Clara. I don't know which and frankly, I don't care. When the little girl said that the "thought" she had to go and get the Doctor were from Miss, we all though she meant Clara because that's what her students call her. But given that neither Clara nor The Life That Prevails sent the Little Girl to the Doctor, that leaves only the demented Mary Poppins, Missy. I don't like this storyline. Maybe I'll like it more in the next two weeks when we finally get out answers but if Missy and Clara are the same I might throw a fit. Stop making Clara Oswald the single most important person that has ever lived. Missy could have been a villain from the past and I'd have been perfectly content: The Master, The Rani, hell, even Davros in a new woman suit. But to make Clara and Missy somehow linked and connected just sets my teeth on edge.

--Not a lot of funnies this week: "That's a draw back of being the last of your species. No one to ask when your TARDIS won't start."

--Why is a British kid wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap?

--Most of the child actors were a bit over the top.

--No human is going to forget a vanishing forest. None. Especially in an age where we have mobile phones with cameras that record everything. That magical hand waving explanation greatly annoyed me. 

--The ending was honestly one of the worst cliche Doctor Who endings I have ever seen. The daughter comes home and the magical fairy folk uncover her to the delight of her mother and sister? Wow. That's bubblegum sickly sweet even for Doctor Who. Though, I did enjoy this extra meta reference; I honestly expected the lost little fairy girl to say, "you can visit my forest again." (If you don't get this Secret of Kells reference, I pity you).

--"I am Doctor Idiot!"

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x5)

Now, THAT is how you do monster of the week! This weeks episode, "The Weeping Lady" was exactly how a monster of the week episode should go, one that fits inside the larger mythos, has a good theme from start to finish, some old fashioned (literally?) angsty moments, and lots of funnies. This was really Sleepy Hollow at its finest: campy and enjoyable but still frightening. The themes of this week, while not subtle, were nicely established and fleshed out from the moment the show opened: jealousy. Specifically, romantic jealousy, the kind that turns men and women into green-eyed monsters (literally). What happens when we get jilted? Sure, we might down a pint of Rocky Road and listen to Adele's "Someone Like You" or we might become a vengeful spirit who drags people into her watery depths. I mean, it really just depends on what floats your boat. That pun was not intentional, but it worked. There are jealousies to be had all around from Ichabod-Katrina-Mary, Ichabod-Katrina-Abraham, and even a bit of Ichabod-Abby-Katrina. And to top it all off, John Noble being wonderfully deep voiced and evil and tormented as he figures out new and delightful ways to make his parents life a living hell. Really, top notch episode tonight.

You know, there is something about Mary. Low hanging fruit, I know, but I took advantage. Mary Wells is like the Hook of Sleepy Hollow. Is it too early after my visceral ONCE review to make ONCE jokes? Ah well. She's creepy, stalkerish, possessive, and given to fits of hysteria when things don't go her way. She's also Ichabod's fiancee. Say whaaaaat? Yup, Miss Giant Black Umbrella (not ominous at all) was engaged to our Mr. Crane back in Ye Olden Days. Arranged marriages were pretty common back then so it's not surprising that two gentleman who were good friends decides to hook up their children together and join their houses without consideration to temperament, attitude, or love. Long live the sexual revolution, my friends. Where was I? Right, Miss Mary Wells and Ichabod ended up breaking off their engagement before he left England for the Colonies but she came in search of him after hearing how he dared to betray the Motherland for the plight of the silly little colonies yearning for freedom and cheaper tea. And when she arrives...her green eyes begin to metaphorically glow cause there's Katrina with her hair all loose and free flowing. Only loose women wear their hair like that. Clearly Katrina's a vile seductress who has tempted her dear Ichy away from his beloved Mary, turned his head with her square cut necklines and red lips. Kill the witch! It works cause Katrina is actually a witch. And beware the jilted woman. She might just become a weeping lady.

Many years later the Weeping Lady, a local legend in Sleepy Hollow, has risen from the depths and is attacking nice pretty girls. The Weeping Lady is a really scary image. She's clad in black lace; she cries a lot before she attacks you, and once she has you in her clutches, down to the depths of a black swirling vortex of terror you go. Oh and her eyes glow a demonic green. Do you see where this is going? The first person she attacks is Caroline (who is actually Jane Bingley from Lizzie Bennett Diaries), a new woman with whom Ichabod has gotten to know quite well. Caroline works with reenactments from the colonial period and really loves how much Icahbod believes in keeping true to the times. You might say "it's a life style." Poor Miss Caroline also has a huge crush on our boy. Awwww. I don't blame her. I have Crane on the Brain too. But alas, our Ichabod is devoted to his wife, Katrina, and his life partner---erm, work partner---erm, witness partner, Abby. So naturally Caroline must die. I know, quick and abrupt but thems the breaks, kid. So yeah, the Weeping Lady drags poor Caroline/Jane down to her watery grave. Sad. Brief aside, the actress who plays Caroline is really good and sweet and lovely. Keep an eye out for her. She's gonna be big. Ichabod is really upset at losing a friend. As he so rightly points out, he doesn't have many. You know, in my reviews I never stop to think about how hard his life must be. He's alone, some what friendless, wifeless, his son is the Horseman of War, and his former best friend is the Horseman of Death and he's living in a totally new century. And now he's lost a good friend who "got" his love of the Colonial period. Ichabod just keeps losing people or ideas that he loves. And he might lose another before the episode is over. I figured that Abby might be the next victim when it became clear that the Weeping Lady was following her. And sure enough, the Green Eyed She-Demon pulled Abby under. And Ichabod goes into HERO MODE. This was a really intense scene and the intensity was only matched when Ichabod manages to pull Abby free and then actually calls her "Abby." Normally she's Miss Mills or Lefteniant, but tonight she was Abby as he was perilously close to losing her. Yeah, it was adorable. But now it becomes pretty clear where this episode is going: The Weeping Lady is Mary Wells (her last name is WELLS for goodness sake. Pure camp) and she's going after Ichabod's wife next. Quick! Save Katrina (or not).

Katrina is shady. Always has been. But now she's even more shady. I do enjoy that it took the collective force of Katrina and Abby to take down The Weeping Lady (though, Abby learned Latin quite quick, did she not?) but what really made that moment--and the moment that followed--was that when Mary was passing into the next life, Ichabod asked her what happened to her and why she didn't return to England. And Mary points to...yup, Katrina. Dun dun duuuuuun. So much dramatic music!! What did Katrina do? She had a secret meeting with Mary and "accidentally" helped her fall of a cliff. Ok, I'm being unfair. Katrina didn't actually cause Mary's death but she did lie to Ichabod about it. She made him believe that Mary had left for England. amicably, and never told him the truth after they were wed. And poor Ichabod is pretty upset. So he lost Caroline, he almost lost Abby, and now he's "lost" Katrina in more ways than one. She's not the woman he thought he married--she's kept too many secrets and told too many lies. And now, just when he is facing the cold harsh watery-esque reality that Katrina isn't a saint, here comes the Headless Horseman with whom Katrina goes freely. Ichabod Crane, meet jealousy. Get used to her, I thinks she'll be hounding you for the rest of the season. However, I do want to point out that while Ichabod is getting angry at Katrina, Katrina is surely noticing the way that Abby knocks Ichabod out of danger and how close the two Witnesses are standing while she stands apart from them. Ah yes. Jealousy. It works both ways.

Miscellaneous Notes on The Weeping Lady

--Crane on the brain. Seriously. I suffer from this.

--"A missive sent by thumbs cannot properly convey emotions." "Hence emoticons"

--Lover's Lane = walking hand in hand. Oh precious.

--Hawlie and Jenny got quite the little somethin' somethin', eh?

--Moloch is quite angry at Henry. I think Mr. War is getting too big for his breeches. Demons are not patient people.

--Ichabbie hug is life.

Monday, October 20, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x4)

I am trying really hard not to type this whole review in all caps. I have the overwhelming urge to write this review in a screaming declarative font. I hated this episode. I really and truly did. Now, I knew going in that I was going to hate it. You can't say that I didn't prepare myself for how much I would dislike it. I'll get to why in a bit; normally I spend this portion of the review setting up some sort of theme or idea that I think the episode demonstrates. I can't do that for this weeks episode, "The Apprentice." Instead, I want to talk about why I'm still watching ONCE. It's a question that has been posed to me recently by friends, family, and, yes, even myself. Why am I subjecting myself to something that I'm obviously not enjoying as much as I used to--and no one can say I didn't enjoy it. I lived it. I breathed it. So, why do I still watch ONCE: because I am Rumplestiltskin and I have an addiction. Bold statement, eh? Am I addicted to OUAT? Well, I was. And I suppose to some extent I still am, or at least I can't quite seem to give it up entirely because some part of me needs to believe it can get better. I've walked away from TV shows before, but for the most part those were shows that I had never managed to connect to on a deeper level and so the leaving was easier. But, ONCE was my life. That sounds like an exaggeration, I know, but it did occupy (and, to be perfectly honest, still does occupy) a large part of my life. The fandom, the forums, the theories, the podcasts. Hours and days of my life spent thinking and researching and writing about what has always been a silly little show full of melodrama and camp. But it had heart. You can't watch episodes like Desperate Souls or Skin Deep and tell me it didn't once have incredible heart. I have an addiction to the friends I've made and the connections I've forged. I have this pressing bizarre need to turn on my TV at 8pm on Sundays and watch, mostly cringing all the while, as ONCE descends further from the greatness that it was into the tragedy it has become. Maybe, at some point, I'll be able to walk away I tell myself. But we know it won't happen. I'm here until the bitter end, even though it's not the show I loved. It's not even close. 

Yes. I Am Going To Talk About It

I am about to break one of my cardinal rules when it comes to ONCE: do not talk about CaptainSwan. For any CSers who (for some reason...) reading this blog, first: hi. Second, kindly skip this section and move on to the next. It's bolded, like all my headings normally are. Because I am about to embark on a long rant about why I deeply hated this first date between Emma and Hook. First off, has any "date" between any two characters ever been so dramatically set up as if it's the first date between man and woman since fire was invented. Adam and Eddy can claim they don't write ships, but the whole first 20 minutes or so was, in the present, dedicated to this idea that Captain Hook and Emma Swan were about to go on their very first date. I am honestly surprised that Snow White didn't declare a public holiday or hold a parade given how over the top annoying she was about how this date is a super big deal. It's a big deal, guys. A really big deal. I mean it's not like Emma is thirty years old (or thereabouts that it doesn't make a difference). Not like she has a thirteen year old kid. Not like she's dated countless other men before, including one flying monkey. Not like she has a history of one night stands and emotionless flings. Oh wait. Except that is who Emma Swan is. Now, you can raise some hubbub about how Emma is changing and that's fine. She probably is--whether or not a woman should be required to change in order to date a man who (as this episode clearly shows) is not changing might be the next paragraph or so. But she isn't just changing the way she approaches a relationship. Emma is changing everything. Emma's is not a girly girl. She prefers tight jeans and boots and plaid. When she did go on dates, she wears outfits that scream sex and feminine power.

I love that the first time we meet her in the pilot she's wearing a dress that might have been painted on and with shoes that could render you unconscious if she whacked you upside the head with them. She's loud and proud and in charge. She's a tower of female empowerment while still revealing a truly broken side underneath and it was glorious. Now behold her. She's demure, virginal, soft and romantic. Her dress looks like it was taken from her mother Snow White's closet. She's wearing quite a bit of makeup but it's of the neutral kitten type; her hair is up. And, dear heaven, she's even got herself a flower. I bet in the writers room, they originally wanted Hook to give Emma a corsage because all of this screams Junior Prom. She's the popular pretty head cheerleader who gave the rough and tumble bad boy in leather a chance to prove himself. They're freaking Sandra Dee and Dany Zuko. Are they going to burst into a rendition of "Summer Lovin'?" It's ludercrious--as was Grease in which another slightly alone and misunderstood blonde had to change her entire appearance in order to appease a man--you know, before they flew off into the sunset in his car. Weird movie, guys. Now it was pointed out that Jennifer Morrison gave an interview in which she discuses the dress and she basically said what I've touched on: "it's softer and more romantic." And something about walls because no one has walls like Emma Swan. I.E: Emma Swan, the kickass Savior in red leather, isn't good enough to go on a date. We gotta make her Snow White-lite. Not buying it JMo, but then again, you drank the Kool-Aid awhile back and nothing you say surprises me anymore. And speaking of changing for your man, Emma Swan is now the worst sheriff in the history of anything: first she doesn't chase after Will in the restaurant or at least call David, her co-sheriff, to chase down the criminal and then she decides to keep Will in jail because he interrupted her date. Wow. Turn in your badge, Sheriff Swan. Not helping the whole situation are two things: Snow White and Hook.

Snow White is unbearable right now. What happened to my kickass bandit who could knock you out with a rock and proudly declared that she was a woman. Now she's the dowdy housewife who is coming across as possessive and strange and clingy as she snaps pictures of her thirty year old daughter going on "a big date!" You get that Emma's not a virgin, right Snow? You do not need to sit up, all doe eyed and grinning ear to ear waiting for your little girl to come home to tell you all about her fabulous wonderful date with the boy of her dreams. I mean, I know this show is Disney-i-fied but surely there is a limit to the cotton candy and bubblegum-esque nature of it all. Someone will point out that Snow never got to do any of this with Emma, but lest we forget, that's why Snow and Charming had Baby Replacement, because Snow never got to do anything with Emma. Well, I'm sorry that Baby Namestealer is too little to provide you with good mommy material, but ease up off that throttle there, Snow. At least Charming, whose role was to play the stern and silent and judgmental father, wasn't too overbearing. But there is another part of this equation and his name is Hook. Actually, his name is Killian Jones but I refuse to acknowledge that. If you read my blog you know that I don't like Hook. I never have. His sole purpose on this show is to be eye candy and to rival Rumple in power, the latter is a storyline they did away with quickly when it became apparent that Colin O'Donahue's greater skill in life is making the sexy eyes at ladies. No disrespect to Colin. He's a great actor and I actually wonder if he's happy playing--what did Rumple call him--"a puppy dog chasing after the object of his affection." Great line. But here's Hook, believing that he is a changed man...so naturally he goes to make a blackmail deal with the Dark One to get his hand back because should the date go "well" and Emma wants to get close, he'd like to be able to hold her with both hands. Life lesson from ONCE, kiddies: people with disabilities are incapable of loving totally; you got to have all your limbs for that. I hope the writers get creamed for this line. So here's Hook hoping that by having two hands he'll be able to "hold" (pfft) Emma, which is actually contrary to what she told him when she asked him out: "I don't pillage and plunder on the first date." To which he replied, "That's because you haven't been out with me yet." In other words: oh silly woman! You do not know your own mind. I am a big strong man! I shall make the decisions for you. Silly silly woman. Now look deeply into my smoulder. Speaking of trying to change Emma's mind, Hook decreed that he should be the one to make the plans because he knows how to plan a date....you know, having spent the past 250+ years in Neverland and all. Last week he didn't know how to use a cell phone, but this episode Hook apparently knows how to make dinner reservations and plan an entire romantic evening. Yup. Continuity. Makes total sense.

This Hand Is Your Hand. This Hand Is My Hand.

I'm going to move on now, so for those who skipped the CS induced rant, welcome! What happens when you make a deal with the Dark One? Hint: nothing good. Hook wants his hand back or else Hook will spill the beans to Belle that Rumple is lying to her and that he is still using the dagger for his own means. Rumple decides to play a bit of a mind trick on Hook and tells him that the hand might act the way the "old" Hook used to be, not this clearly reformed guy in a shorter leather coat. Except Hook ends up beating up poor Will (as he's trying to break into a library, so okay, as much as this pains me, props to Hook for trying to stop the unlawful breaking and entering). When Hook demands that Rumple give him his trusted hook back, Rumple informs Hook that he gave the real dagger back to Belle and therefore Hook has lost his leverage. At which point Hook tried to kill Rumple. Eeh gads. Yeah, you changed alright pirate-boy. Why is Regina looking better by the second? She's officially the only one who didn't attempt murder between season 3B and season 4. I guess give her time? Anyway, Rumple says that if Hook wants his hand, he needs to do Rumple a solid and then there's a walking broomstick. I won't lie; should this walking broomstick and Sven the Reindeer get their own spinoff, I'd watch it. Well, provided it wasn't written or even touched by Adam and Eddy, that is. The walking broomstick was clever. I enjoy clever references to Disney classics like Fantasia. Follow the broomstick! Wherever could it lead?

To suck an old man into a hat. I wish I was making this up. The hat sucks people, with magic, into it and once it's "fully charged" Rumple, as the Dark One, will be unstoppable. Which makes perfect sense. Except, not. Wasn't he already unstoppable as the Dark One? He can't be killed. He can be controlled if someone has his dagger, like Zelena. But other than that, he's supposed to be the most powerful magic in all the realms, except True Love. But with each passing season we get more "things" or people who are apparently stronger and more powerful than the Dark One. The Blue Fairy, the magic cuff from the Home Office, The Black Fairy's Wand, and now a hat. Why is Rumple being presented as being so self-serving? This is a man who tried to break worlds to find his son, to get a chance to ask for forgiveness and say he was sorry for letting go of Nealfire's hand so many years ago. Is he selfish? Yes. But his whole mission in life has never been one of self-service. So this idea that now Rumple, just because he discovered the hat box on his wedding night, has suddenly laid a plan to get more power feels like a disservice to his character. Why are the writers doing it? My guess is they are making him look truly dark and evil so that a certain someone else *cough Hook cough* looks better. Ain't gonna work on me, folks. So in the end, Hook helps Rumple suck an old man into a hat and then demands to be released from their deal. But Rumple decides to make Hook his little bitch instead and I actually enjoyed this conversation, mostly because Bobby Carlyle is a powerhouse that cannot be stopped. Rumple's right; Hook is still a ruthless pirate who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Hook even tells Rumple he has no problem crushing Belle's heart (um, metaphorically since Hook doesn't have heart taking power. Be more careful with your words, writers). So Hook is now Rumple's to do with as long as Hook lives. How ominous.

I'm The Cool Kid. I Know Everyone

Oh look. Rumple knows Anna. How shocking. This part of the storyline dragged a bit, though I did think that Elizabeth Lail and Bobby played well of each other. Anna was more likable here, a little more flighty but still kinda cute. In essence, Rumple wants to use Anna to get the hat box from the old man that he will later suck into a hat. Why? Because the hat box is enchanted with a curse that can only be broken by someone who has conquered the darkness within. Sure, okay. Condense writers. That's a lot of story and a lot of ideas, none of which have ever been presented before. In fact, why is this just now coming up? If every Dark One from the dawn of time (or something) has tried to get this hat box, why is Rumple just now going after it? He manipulated an entire birth of a magical true love baby, you're telling me he couldn't manipulate someone to getting the hat box before Anna arrived from Arendelle? Anna succeeds in not giving into the darkness and Rumple uses her tears to get himself a hat box. But then Anna takes it cause the plot requires that Rumple not have the hat box...cause he's trying to find his son. You know, his whole reason for living? The person he sought for 300 years? Yeah, hat box and unlimited power ain't gonna help that, now is it.

Sven is my life now. But what is annoying me most about the flashbacks is the way the writers are shoehorning in the Frozen cast members in every single episode. Episode one was Frozen: The Sequel; episode two was Anna and David; episode three was Frozen: Part Three; and episode four was Rumple and Anna. They've never done this before. Zelena and Pan were not in every single flashback, just the ones that required them to be there. I get that Frozen is huge and equals money, but they are sacrificing their core characters and the people I actually care about for the sake of these new shiny toys. It's irritating. Like quite a bit. There is such a thing as overkill. The reunion between Anna and Kristoff (and Sven!) was cutesy but did it really need to be there? Not really. Save it for another episode. Did it really need to be Anna that Rumple manipulated? I guess it's cleaner storytelling, but honestly I don't need each and every single week to be "the next part of the Frozen saga." All in all, I really didn't like this episode and not liking a Rumple centric is a first for me. Bobby is still magnificent but it doesn't feel like he's trying as hard to sell the mad but tortured Rumple I loved from the start. I honestly wonder if he's happy with the way his story is being told.

Miscellaneous Notes on The Apprentice

--Will wound up breaking into the library and curling up next to a copy of Alice in Wonderland. A picture of the Red Queen was found in his pocket. I'm going to go ahead and say it: Anastasia is dead.

--Henry going to work for Rumple is great, EXCEPT he is manipulating Rumple using Nealfire's name to do so. It's appalling. It has nothing to do with Neal nor with Rumple, but all about helping Regina find the writer of the book. I find it disgusting that Henry is using Neal that way.

--"I, unlike you, am nice."

--Almost no Snow Queen. Feels like the story they set up last week suddenly halted in the middle of telling it.

--Henry wants Emma to be happy but isn't sure that he's okay with her dating Hook. Too bad it'll never come up again. Also, mom and kid have apparently talked about her love life, but not his dead father. Okay then.

--Hook clearly lies to Emma about how he got his hand back and her lie detector doesn't go off. Naturally.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

In Which I Review Doctor Who (8x9)

In last week's episode of Doctor Who, we established how Clara Oswald is a TARDIS addict, and an abusive one at that. In this week's episode, "Flatline," we take that addiction idea further--Clara becomes the Doctor. There is a tradition in modern Doctor Who known as the Doctor-lite episode in which the companion plays the larger role in saving the day. More often than not, they are not gifted with the psychic paper nor the sonic screwdriver, two things inextricably linked to the Doctor and his....Doctorness. In other words, they constantly ask themselves, "what would the Doctor do?" instead of knowing and performing actions in the vein of the Doctor. However, this week, Clara names herself as the Doctor and freely uses the sonic and psychic paper--not to mention adopting the Doctor's less than savory tendencies. And the Doctor himself? His gaze is reversed and he sees himself through Clara's eyes, and it's not exactly a pretty picture. This was my favorite episode of the season to date. It was a proper science fiction mystery and spooky story and it presented the audience with some tantalizing reversals of fortune that will likely play out in the weeks to come. And Peter Capadli finally got his "I am the Doctor" moment. 

This image is hilarious. This is like a fun house mirror where suddenly everything is smaller and less focused and you're left wondering what is real and what is a distortion of your perception. The plot this week, which was far more substantial than in the weeks past, was quite intriguing both from a TV enjoyment standpoint and from a metaphorical standpoint. The Doctor and Clara land back on Earth only for the TARDIS to have shrunk considerably, as you can see. There's a lot of science mumbo jumbo that gets thrown around but I'll boil it down here. Clara is sent off to investigate, with the psychic paper and the sonic, after she learns that people have been vanishing from Bristol. The Doctor stays behind to try and learn why something is eating the dimensional energy, hence the shrinking of the TARDIS. It gets so small in fact that Clara carries it around in her purse. It's actually adorable. The long and the short of it is that there are aliens from a universe that only exists in 2 dimensions, not three like ours. These 2-D aliens have crossed over and are, in effect, reducing people and objects to 2-D beings. The Doctor thinks it might be for communication or for study. Now, here's where this is really interesting; I think this is a nice metaphor for the Doctor and for Clara, both as individuals and as Doctor/Companion relationships go. The Doctor and Clara are rather 2-D themselves aren't they? At least as far as staying within the confines of their archetypes.

He's the mythic hero who comes from above to save the day, wielding what is, essentially, a magical sword (the sonic). She's the (mostly) weepy sidekick who keeps him grounded and reminds him why he should be a hero. Honestly, the Doctor and his companions are all a bit like this. There are shades of gray but you'd never have the Doctor presented as a straight up bad guy. Even here with 12, he's not bad so much as he's not wholly good. The writers would never take away the idea that the Doctor is the savior, no matter how much 12 may fight that label and in the final moments of this week's episode, he openly embraced that specific nature of his archetype (but we'll get to that). On the other hand, the Companion will always be in awe of the man from space, always see him as perennially "good" and sadly even in the modern era have that starry/doe eyed wonder about her. Clara has undergone a change this season, but if you're looking at her narrative arc from start to finish, she's mostly a very emotional, dare I say, feminine girl who is inherently less than the Doctor, despite the claim that she's the most important woman in the Doctor's history. Through a pretty anti-feminist lens, her entire life story is wrapped up in the Doctor (a man) and even though she has been fleshed out considerably this season into something more, her main story is still a cliche one of, what I would call, a truly bizarre love triangle. Take out the monsters and the TARDIS and traveling in time and space and the Clara dilemma of "which man do I choose" is a straight up classic TV trope. So what I like about this episode as metaphor is that it's trying to make the 2-D Doctor and Clara into something that is more fleshy, more 3-D. And the writers accomplished this, quite well I might add, by reversing their roles.

Meet Doctor Oswald. But you can call her Clara. Watching our companion become the Doctor was quite interesting and also quite scary by episode's end. The transformation of Clara, the nice sweet idealistic girl who used to quote Marcus Aurelius, is one that turns her into someone who thinks of human lives in terms of balance. She's even got her own plucky little sidekick who is prone to acts of heroism because Clara inspires such things. Rigsy deciding to take the bus and ram it into the monsters reeks of Clara jumping into the light at the end of "The Name of the Doctor." And our real Doctor? Well, as he put it himself "I see what you see." The little scientific earpiece that also connects to Clara's ocular nerve obviously serves a greater metaphorical purpose here--and it's not exactly subtle. What do you do when you realize that you are responsible for fundamentally changing the core of a close friend? By the end of this episode, Clara is more Doctor than she is Clara--by this I mean that she's not the girl who once got super emotional when she realized that, to the Doctor, we are all just ghosts. By the end, she's someone who is thinking in terms of balance: what are the lives of a few humans when you've just saved the whole world? And worse still, Clara's proud of herself. She's more or less reveling in just how well she did playing Doctor. Credit where credit is due, she did come up with the overall plan to return the TARDIS to normal so that the Doctor could defeat the monsters and she did it in "Doctor style." But did she lose something in the process?

Put a pin in the proper review because I need to fangirl over this moment. THIS was a quintessential Doctor Who moment. I've said it before; while the majority of Peter Capaldi's episodes have been enjoyable, they've been lacking something and I think we just figured out what it was: a "I am the Doctor" moment. Every Doctor should have one. 10's was his speech during "Voyage of the Damned;" 11's was his incredible performance at Stonehenge. But thus far, 12 hasn't had one of these; he's been actively fighting these kinds of moments, distancing himself from his role as savior and hero. But this, this right here, this is who he truly is. Who he always has been. Who he will forever be. "You are monsters...so I must play my role...the man that stops the monsters. This plane is protected. I am the Doctor!" Oh, so much fist pumping was going on during this scene. This is the glorious mythical divine hero is all his classical majesty, wielding once more his magical sword as all heroes must (love that Clara threw him the Sonic in a symbolic return of power). This is the Knight slaying the Dragon. This is the Savior of the Universe standing before the demons of Hell and banishing them back to the underworld. Bravo to Peter Capaldi; he nailed it, just as I suspected he would. So if the Doctor is truly the hero, even if he still struggles with it, then what does that make Clara? Where does she go from here, having tasted that little bit of power that is so much more exciting that any adventure?

It's interesting that Clara wants praise from the Doctor. I think, on some level, she's expecting that they are now on equal footing--the hero and the heroine, not the hero and his companion. But what's really remarkable is that she essentially wants what she once rejected and criticized the Doctor for, patting her on the head and telling her what a good girl she is. Now she wants that praise. She wants to know that she did well as the Doctor. I flashback to the second episode of the season, "Into the Dalek" and how the rogue Dalek told the Doctor that he would make a good one of them, and of course this isn't seen as praise by the Doctor. Clara did make a good Doctor, but "goodness had nothing to do with it." Clara took on the Doctor's less than ideal qualities; she's okay with the fact that lives were lost because in the end, the Earth was saved. She looks at this in terms of balance and puts a check mark next to this adventure as a job well done. Not only that, but she is lying. She's lying a lot. Clara questions out loud if it isn't better to lie to someone if it is for their own good, in this case Danny who keeps inserting himself into her perfect little Doctor-fueled fantasy world, asking her to join him back in the real. When Clara is trying to keep the members of her team safe, she embraces the idea that she must lie to them, give them hope and tell them it'll be alright, even though it won't. Feed them false hope, in other words. It's what the Doctor would do. Ah, but as the Doctor tells her in the end, he does this "largely so others won't have to." The divine shoulders can bear the brunt of all those lies and false hopes and dreams shattered and lost. But can a human's? I've speculated before that Clara will leave the TARDIS willingly, having lost faith in the Doctor. But now that the Doctor has got some of his own faith back, might he abandon Clara for her own good? Might he ditch her, tell her to get on with her life without him? It's an interesting hypothesis. At some point, one of them has to be strong enough to break this addiction, and I don't think Clara is going to be the one to do it.

Miscellaneous Notes on Flatline

--A smattering of funnies:
"Don't give me an --ish." "These readings are very ish-y."
"What are you doctor of?" "I'm usually quite vague about that. I think I only picked up the title because it makes me sound quite important."
"This is embarrassing. I'm from the race that built the TARDIS, dimensions are kind of our thing."

--The Doctor becoming "Thing" from the Addams family and moving the TARDIS as a train speeds toward him. Brilliant.

--Some really fantastic CGI effects this time round.

--Oh, did I neglect Missy again? Honestly, I can't be bothered by this. The writers are only going to tease it until the very end and not give me anything to work with, so I'll just sit back and wait. But apparently Apple iPads are available in Heaven now. Well done, Steve Jobs.

--Poor Danny. I do hope we get a bit more of his story sooner rather than later because he's becoming quite one note as of late.

--The Doctor did a little dance. Adorable.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x4)

Choices and curses. That's what you got on this show: choices and curses. This weeks episode, "Go Where I Send Thee," was like taking Sophie's choice and mixing it with a not-German mythology. It wasn't a bad episode, not by any means. It was a bit slower than the last few; honestly, the biggest hindrance was the almost total lack of John Noble as the Horseman of War. Despite this being his first full season and only appearing as a guest star last year, his absence was deeply felt this time around. The one scene where he finally emerged and got to perform his delicious devily self, he shone. The monster this week, the Pied Piper--but not the one from Hamlin--was creepy but his terror was severely lessened by his fast movements and whiz bang effects. It's hard to fear a creature that won't stand still long enough for you to see. But Ichabod drove a car, so that was cool. It was once again a monster-of-the-week type situation but unlike last week, it felt disconnected from the larger mythology and while the mythology of this show takes a back seat to the campy nature of Ichabod and Abby, you can't leave it out wholly.

Told you Hawlie would be back. I think one of the biggest problems this week--apart from the lack of Noble--was that the individual mythology of the Pied Piper (who is not Rumple's father here, just for your information) was explained in such a quick manner that it left me confused and dazed, shaking my head and wondering what I had missed. In essence, back during the Revolution, the Red Coats visited the Lancaster family where they were not well behaved gentleman. The head of the family, angry over the treatment of his daughters, hired a mercenary who had a magical gift for flute playing. The mercenary had sold his soul to a demon and gotten a bone in return that played enchanting music. It's the Pied Piper but not the Pied Piper, savvy? The Pied Piper killed all the Red Coats after luring them outdoors only to be betrayed by the Lancaster head of household. Naturally, revenge is a dish best served cold. Or over the course of a few centuries, whatever floats your demon boat. The demon swore revenge by taking one daughter every generation on her tenth birthday to make himself a new bone flute. Lovely.

The family, a lovely couple, have two adopted boys but then had an oops baby girl. Do you see where I'm going with this? If the daughter isn't handed over for the Pied Piper to to do with as he pleases, then the Curse will take all the children. Sophie's Choice: lose all your kids, or lose just the one. Ichabod and Abby do manage to find the girl only for the mother to march her back out there. Eesh. This little girl will need therapy forever. First she's abducted by a flute playing demon and then her mother decides that she simply must die for the sake of the family. Resentment issues, this girl will have them. It's interesting that Abby can hear the music, but Ichabod isn't affected. I'm assuming it's because Abby is a woman, but she's also not ten years old. Is this part of Moloch's curse on Abby? That she'll be affected by demon's magic like this forever? Rather sucks. Hawlie is there...honestly, I'm not sure why except to ruffle Ichabod's feathers. Hawlie wants the flute bone, but Abby snaps it into two before forking it over--that a girl. Right now Hawlie is just there to create tension and jealousy for Ichabod who isn't fond of the reprobate (his words, not mine). The Pied Piper is eventually stopped by Abby and her gun, which I found a bit too unbelievable. Ichabod sword fighting with The Piper was cool, but why exactly did a gun take him down? Dunno. So, overall, slow, outside of mythology episode but still good because of the Abby and Ichabod interactions. Ichabod drinking a latte. That's gold right there.

Miscellaneous Notes on Go Where I Send Thee

--"We shall be victorious or defeated together." Don't touch me.

--Ichabod was quite adept at driving a car, no?

--Captain Irving finally realized that he sold his soul to the Horseman of War and had quite an interesting little vision of that foretells. Fire. Blood. Death. Woo hoo!

--"Yo, Pride and Prejudice!"

--The bone flute halves were eventually delivered to Jeremy who mashed them up and then proceeded to taste the dust. His report, "that's good." Okay then. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x3)

I know it's my tendency to have this review, lately at least, just tear the show to shreds, but to be honest, I quite liked this weeks episode, "Rocky Road." It moved faster, despite all the various plot lines. It had some funny dialogue and most importantly, Elizabeth Mitchell is going to kill it as the Snow Queen. Now this isn't to say that ONCE is "back" or that it resembles in any way, shape, or form the show I was passionate about for so long, but in a world of mediocre ONCE episodes, this one shines like a diamond. I think one of the big themes for this episode is control. Everyone's looking to control their own destiny and the lives of people around them, either for good or for ill. It's not a wholly terrible idea given that our villains and our heroes have always struggled with "letting go" (see what I did there?) and accepting fate as it is. Snow wants to control Baby Snowflake and never let him out of her sight; Emma wants to control who she lets into her life; Elsa wants to control her past and memories; and the Snow Queen? Well who knows what she wants to control but she's got some issues with ordinary people, doesn't she?

Evil Milk

Even though this episode was much better than previous weeks, the flashbacks were still largely uneven and ranged from interesting to dull. Did we really need Hans? My thought is no. He was there because fans of Frozen insist that he be there. His purpose was really just as canon fodder; whether or not he plays a larger role and comes back I don't know, but I honestly hope not. He was rather one note. The thing about Hans in the movie is that he is a sociopath; he was capable of sweeping you off your feet and being charming and then he would leave you to die of a frozen heart. But in ONCE, he just felt flat. Or maybe that is in comparison to Kristoff who, along with Sven, stole the show. Kristoff is probably the best part of the Frozen ensemble. He's witty and charming and he gets the best lines and I love that he doesn't take Elsa's attitude and "I am the Queen" nonsense. By the way, that has to stop. I get it; you're royalty. However, that doesn't give you license to be rather rude to your future in-laws. The flashbacks this week are plot heavy so a quick rundown: Hans, the villain from Frozen, is on the Arendelle boarder and getting ready to invade. Hans is planning to go after an urn (yes, that urn) and trap Elsa inside so that she can't stop their forces. Kristoff gets wind of this and he and Elsa manage to get to the cave and urn before Hans but of course, Hans shows up and sword fight. Naturally.

Like I said, I think I would have preferred if Hans wasn't here at all. Why couldn't Kristoff and Elsa have accidentally opened the urn? Isn't that really a better story? The heroes who unleash villains through their own ineptitude and attempts at doing the right thing? If you think about it, that's actually what ONCE has often been about. Hans, in this case, just adds to the already overwhelming amount of characters I don't care about...yet. Except Sven. More Sven. Now, with all that said, the interactions between Elsa and Kristoff here are nice. It's like Elsa finally warmed up (ha) to Kristoff and sees him as more than just "the guy my sister is marrying." He's a friend; and even if it costs him his life, Kristoff doesn't want Hans putting Elsa in that urn or getting to Anna. Do you realize that we haven't seen Anna and Kristoff together at all? But, the fact that I can tell Kristoff loves Anna very much is a credit to the actor and the writers. Did I just compliment ONCE? The world. It hath ended, folks. So what is inside the urn, which obviously is going to be opened. You don't present an urn with mystical runes on it and then not open it. Chekov's Gun. Look it up. Evil milk is inside. As someone who enjoys her milk, I can assure you that this is my worst nightmare.

Of course the evil milk is the Snow Queen. She makes ice cream for a living! It's a pun! It's a not so clever pun, but it's a pun. Hm, back to disrespecting the show, eh? I giveth and I taketh away. Does the Snow Queen have a name? Not yet. But until then, I shall call her...Helga. Helga sounds like a good "cold" name. So Helga freezes Hans and Elsa is instantly grateful to this magical woman who has powers just like her. Oh, Elsa. Have you never seen ONCE before? Did you lose your DVDs? The woman is clearly going to be a villain (and a family member). She reeks of the ONCE villain trope: she was trapped, she feels misunderstood by people not like her, and she speaks with a nice quiet voice that isn't at all alarming or makes you want to peel your skin off. Did you guess that they were family? Cause you should have. We've had evil mothers, evil fathers, evil half-sisters so what comes next: evil Aunt! OF COURSE. Play a new song ONCE. This one is getting old. Yes, the Snow Queen is Elsa's aunt, on her mother's side. Helga gives some song and dance about how she was trapped in the urn by people who didn't understand her which is villain code for "I did a bad thing and people put me in a prison cause justice and that's how the penal system works." Ten bucks says she caused the storm at sea that killed her sister. No, don't ask me how. Just trust me on these things. Now, I must admit that I'm glad they aren't beating around the bush about this. They aren't trying to give us some big mystery about who this woman is or how she is related to Elsa and Anna; they came out with it, just like last season not keeping Zelena's real identity from us. I appreciate that in a show that often keeps the "big reveal" for the final few episodes. What does she want? To hell if I know. But I think Emma is right about one thing (and Emma is seldom right about anything anymore): The Snow Queen was in Storybrooke before Elsa came over by accident. She wants something else.

Why Couldn't It Be Follow The Butterflies?

Ice cream is evil. Bad, bad ice cream. There are many things about the present day that I didn't like, or rather they left a bad taste in my mouth. But they also worked well and flowed together which is why I'm not tearing this episode into smithereens. The biggest issue is the number of plots running concurrently: there's Snow White and her need to be wonder woman while wearing some truly heinous clothing. Seriously, what is up with that skirt and shoes?? Did she dress in the dark? I mean, I know she just gave birth so she wants to be comfortable, but that's why God invented sweat pants. Put those on; no one is going to judge you, Madame Mayor. And speaking of Mayor-ing, it's your job now. Hand Baby Snowflake off to Charming and do your work. You don't need to be holding the baby and the list of things to do and try to conduct a "fireside chat." You are not actually FDR. The Archie and Snow scene was both nice and bizarre. So here's Snow, trying to be super mom and here's Archie dropping in for a nice little chit chat and then LEAVES without actually helping Snow White with what she's struggling with? Pick up the stupid stroller and fix it for her, Cricket!

And then there is this bloody awful love triangle. Now, look, I hated the love triangle of the past. It ended up destroying my insides and killing about 95% of my love for this show. But this love triangle is completely out there and stupid. So Robin and Marian's love isn't good enough anymore? Just because Robin is now in love with Regina after just--what--a week? Ok, sure. So here is this woman who was brought back through no fault of her own, to find her husband and kid shacked up with the Evil Queen, and now she gets Frozen by an ice Dairy Queen? And while she lays dying of a frozen heart, Robin confesses that True Love's Kiss won't work on Marian because he's in love with Regina? What kind of twisted, stupid moral is this? It's terrible. TERRIBLE. I can't support OutlawQueen now or ever. And I was a supporter of it; I liked the idea of it, I did. This is exactly the kind of twisted morality tale that ONCE has become. Love conquers all, including justice, morality, ethics, and good sense. Oh, and story telling.

There is a lot more going on in this episode, but I guess it will have to be saved for notes, because I want to get to the real meat of it all: Elsa, Emma, and the Snow Queen. And a bit of saucy Rumple. But, first, a confession: I was madly cheering and hoping for one of those icicles to break off and plunge right through Hook's head and kill him. Hate me if you must, but when I saw that pirate trapped and in trouble, some part of me clapped gleefully and rooted for his demise. Of course, it'll never happen. ABC is in love with his dashing self...or should that be meself. Yeah, Emma. You picked a real winner. The guy is a keeper! Can't even speak proper English. Great catch. Am I bitter? Yes. Moving on. The Snow Queen and Elsa have a lot of catching up to do and there is a lot of PLOT thrown at us in exposition form--naturally. Basically, Elsa can't remember anything about who put her in the urn because the rock trolls took her memories and then Elsa ended up in the urn because Anna put her there. Yeah, sure. I believe you, Blondie. Not. But then there's a twist: The Snow Queen knows Emma. And it was quite an emotional reunion...for The Snow Queen. Emma obviously has no idea who this woman is. So who do I think she is? Emma's foster mother. We know Emma had a lot of foster parents growing up, but she did have one that kept her until she was three years old. I think that's who The Snow Queen is. How did she get to our world? Good question. But I'll be pretty unhappy if she magically got to our world whereas Rumple and Regina and Snow/Charming had to cast the Dark Curse in order to get here. Oh, and you know, sacrifice Neal in the meantime. And most confusing aspect of all--or rather, adding to the confusion--is the fact that Rumple and The Snow Queen know each other. They've obviously had dealings before. So it's all a mystery. As it usually is. The episode was plot heavy but since it managed to flow nicely and connect some dots, I'm okay with it. I have major issues with some relationship stuff on all fronts, from Rumbelle to OutlawQueen to that which shall not be named. ONCE needs to exercise some control over itself and somehow manage to combine plot and romance without forsaking moral and good storytelling. Of course, that probably went out the window some time ago...

Miscellaneous Notes on Rocky Road

--Will Scarlet is finally in town and it's VERY nice to see him. But heaven help me if they retcon his entire Wonderland story. They've already done it a bit by saying that he was never anything but a thief. He wasn't. He was a king.

--Operation Mongoose. I have issues with this, mainly that Regina seems to think "I was written as a villain." No, Regina. You WERE a villain. You did terrible, horrible, no good things. That makes you a villain. And what's even more offensive is that Henry thinks this is a good idea and that "the book was wrong about you." No. Just, no.

--Two Neal shout outs. I'll begrudgingly accept them except what should be explored is dealing with this death. It's insulting to anyone who has ever lost a parent or a child to think that you can get over this kind of emotional trauma in a few days.

--Hook blackmails Rumple WHY exactly? There was no logic here. Why not simply ask Rumple for his help? If he says no then you can try blackmail, I suppose. But starting with blackmail is just a sign of bad things

--Sven. I love him. Deeply.

--"I didn't try to kill her; I left her to die." "Important distinction."