Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x10)

Myths galore! Not that I mind; we all know I like mythology. Welcome to the first part of the fall finale, "Magnum Opus." Unlike last year, Sleepy Hollow is giving me two weeks to digest their finale, for which I am grateful. Two hours is a bit much for any show and when it's full of constant drama and myth, it can get a bit weary. However, I liked this episode quite a bit. There were a lot of fist pumping moments and it was all in the vein of classic heroes going on a classic heroic quest. There's even a magical sword! The hero and his magical sword is probably as old as time. Fantasy, epic romance, historical fiction, historical fantasy, mythology, whatever genre, it's there. The sword might transform into a wand or a light saber or a sonic screwdriver, but the hero needs his weapon to fight the darkness. Know what I loved most here? Yes, there is a literal sword that will serve as a weapon, but there are other weapons at play in this weeks episode: friendship, loyalty, and choice. This episode sent Ichabod and Abbie on a heroic quest against their most famous foe. It felt old-timey Sleepy Hollow with little Jeremy and Katrina and almost no Jenny and Frank. Just Ichabod, Abbie, and a Headless Horseman with a shot gun. This episode had some fantastic dialogue and moments in which both the hero and the villain were tested and could likely perish if not for one thing: know thyself. You got that, and you're golden, kid. 

Which myth should we start with? Well, I've touched on the sword, so let's go there. There is a lot in between point A and point B, so let's summarize. A sword, called Enoch's Sword, was once used to slay many demons and Ichabod and Abbie believe it to be hidden in Sleepy Hollow (naturally). They also believe that if they find the sword, they can kill Moloch who is living as a teenage boy (naturally). This entire quest takes them to a run down building where they must descend underground into a veritable labyrinth and face demons and monsters and self doubt. Oh, hello heroic quest. Aren't you all classic! Heroic quests often follow a specific pattern, though I want to emphasize here that they need not always do so. There is the call to adventure (which is really what season one was, leaning how to be a witness) and, since Sleepy Hollow is only 42 minutes long I'll skip a few, the threshold and descent into the belly of the whale which is where we ended tonight. Let's take them one at a time. The threshold is signified by the seal that leads to an underground cavern deep below the surface of Sleepy Hollow. The pictogram on the seal is that of the Oroboros, or self eating snake, symbolizing eternity and forever. Of course the familiar refrain that goes with the Oroboros is "as above, so below" so Ichabod and Abbie know that they have to cross into the netherworld. I'm using that word loosely here because of course they haven't left Sleepy Hollow (they are only underground) but it's a different world down there. If Sleepy Hollow is some sort of dual state of real and the fantastic, then the underground is pure myth, complete with demonic creatures, tricks, and magical swords that are pulled from stone. The descent into the underworld is fairly common--and you can look at Odysseus and Aeneas for the true classics. There's even a Medusa! Sidenote, but the Medusa is a nice call back to the importance of mirrors in the show either as means of communication or what Purgatory looks like when you cross over.

And when you've crossed over the threshold, you find yourself in what Joseph Campbell calls the belly of the whale. The hero has cut himself (in this case themselves) off from the world and are ready to undergo a metamorphosis. It's important that while inside the underground netherworld, Ichabod and Abbie must keep reminding themselves of who they are. Know thyself or perish. If they do not have utter faith in each other and in themselves, they will fail this quest. Abbie and Ichabod are in a sort of temple between their previous lives--Witnesses who were holding on by the seat of their pants and playing games to open their minds--and their new lives--magical and mythic heroes who have actual weapons to fight the demons of hell. Standing in their way, of course, is the Headless Horseman. I really must commend Abraham's actor for this episode. He was seething with evil; I truly believed he was the Horseman of Death as Sleepy Hollow has conceived of him--evil, a servant of the dark forces. His fight with Ichabod was powerful, two old friends fighting for the world instead of a woman. It was very reminiscent of last season's flashback in which the two dueled over Katrina. In the end, life is a series of choices and both Abraham and Ichabod make theirs. The former proudly declares that he is the Horseman of Death and he chooses Moloch; the latter chooses to be the hero and fight his former friend no matter what. I want to say a few words about Abbie and then Team Witnesses. Abbie is probably the only person who truly knew herself this episode. Last weeks foray into her past with her mother was the final piece of the puzzle and now Abbie is a whole person. She doesn't need to question her role in all this; she doesn't doubt what she must do. She's stronger than Ichabod in that regard. It's incredibly refreshing. Now, as far as Team Witnesses go, it's important to note that they had to do all this together. While Abbie figured out the swords, Ichabod fought Abraham. The oil that housed the magical sword could only be lit by both of them, not just Ichabod. And while Ichabod might wield the sword, he cannot walk this battle alone. He needs Abbie. The message of teamwork and partnership is rather endearing on this show, is it not? He's got torches and she's got flares. Together they bring the light.

Miscellaneous Notes on Magnum Opus

--Very little Jenny and Frank this week, but I suspect we'll see them next week for part two of the finale.

--Katrina and Jeremy had a very intense conversation in which Jeremy rejected his humanity with every breath in his body. Time to give up this ghost, Katrina.

--"Our quest is not without peril" "We can't have lunch without peril."

--"Good morning, Sunshine."

--"I was supposed to be the hero of this story, not the villain."

--"What do we have that they did not have?"
"Each other."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x9)

This show really is hitting all the right notes, isn't it? I feel like I say that often, but when I see good TV, I enjoying pointing it out! Last week, I made mention of the fact that there is a very strict formula for Sleepy Hollow this season and that while it's entertaining, and thus doesn't bother me, there is a certain mold that the writers could try to strive and break. And this week they did just that. This week's monster had nothing to do with Henry; the Moloch and apocalyptic plot were relegated as minor and only got a few minutes of on air time. This weeks episode, "Mama" was a character study in the Mills sisters. We've known, for awhile, that Abbie and Jenny's mother committed suicide while in the psych ward after being plagued by demons. The twist was learning that they were literal demons and not metaphorical. That story mostly got shelved, or rather there was nothing much further to develop, but this week, the writers took that story off the shelf, gave it a quick polish, and gave us an entertaining hour that was a nice leitmotif break from the major thrust of the season. The memories of the past come back to haunt us as daughters try to heal from what their mother went through while she lost her mind to the crazy world that our residents live in. And, while our main character Ichabod, took a big back seat this week, the episode was truly good. Also, terrifying! 

 There is a malevolent force haunting Terry Town Psych Hospital. It's causing people to commit suicide in the middle of the night. While investigating, Abbie and Jenny see the ghost of their mother standing in the corner of the victims's rooms, apparently telling these people to end their lives. There is a lot to recommended here; the first and foremost of which is the performance of the Mills sisters. Jenny is obviously still traumatized from being in Terry Town herself, locked up for the same reason her mother was. Being back is hard for her as it brings up bad memories not only of life in the institution but life with her mother, which was no picnic. But Jenny is a warrior; she has seen worse things since leaving Terry Town and it's only made her harder. Even when she is faced with seeing her mother on a final psych video where her mother is clearly out of her mind with fear, Jenny simply takes her sisters hand and braves the nightmares. They do it together. The Mills sisters are the stuff of dreams when it comes to portrayals of strong women. Being a strong women doesn't mean not asking for help and doing everything on your own; it means knowing when you need help. Jenny knows herself well enough to tell Abbie that she is scared to learn more about their mother, and absolutely petrified at the idea of seeing their mother's ghost again. Not that I blame her; Mama Ghost is scary though in a misunderstood sort of way. The real terror is Nurse Lambert, an angel of mercy figure who is killing patients whom she thinks want a way out of this world. Of course, I think it was pretty predictable that Mama Mills wasn't going to be the real villain here; the story was obviously about redemption for Mama and peace and forgiveness for Abbie and Jenny. However, Nurse Lambert was Nurse Ratchard level creepy; very nice villain of the week.

Let's talk about Abbie. I mentioned Jenny and how strong she is, standing next to her sister, but the real highlight of this episode is our Leftenant. Abbie is one of the strongest women characters I see on TV right now. Notice that she didn't need a man to save her; in fact, she insisted that Ichabod stay behind; she asked for Hawlie's help in small manners--bringing soup or supplies, but outside that, this episode was all about Abbie standing on her own and surviving. She too is haunted by demons but she's got this covered: she will stand at the mouth of Hell and fight them off one by one if need be. It's incredibly refreshing. If Jenny is outwardly scared about ghost Mama and what is going on in the psych ward, Abbie is keeping it all internalized and trying to be strong for everyone else. This isn't to say that this is what makes a strong woman, but at no point did Abbie shut down and say that it was all too much or put all her problems on the shoulders of another--man or woman. She was determined to handle it all, and she did. If this episode was about mothers, and it was, then Abbie is mother in her own right and all the different layers that means; though her children were her sister (whom she's always taken care of) and Ichabod, who is held up with a cold and who needs soup and blankets and love. It was rather adorable. But it was also quite nice to show how Abbie the full package: kickass law enforcement and detective, spiritual warrior, and compassionate caring mother. And in the end, capable of crying over her mother and everything they went through, but still standing upright. Bravo to the writers of Sleepy Hollow for making Abbie so complex and intricate.

Miscellaneous Notes on Mama

--Katrina and Henry and the super growth spurt baby! It's like a 1990s situational sitcom. But, seriously, that baby was freaky. But I am happy they didn't spend too much time on Katrina this week.

--Ichabod with a cold and soup was adorable. Loved him struggling with the bottle of pills.

--Detective Frank burst out of the psych ward! The team is back together!

--Next week is the fall finale and it looks amazing.

--"When I am well, there shall be hell to pay."

Monday, November 17, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x8)

Sex in a crypt. If that doesn't say it all...I am having a very difficult time writing this review. Not because it was the worst episode of the season or even because I hated it. I didn't like it, but at this point I am so totally and completely numb to the stupidity that I spent most of this episode laughing with my friends (shout out to my Ranchettes) over how incredibly dumb it all is. On the one hand, this season's villain wants a family and understanding and love and in short, what every villain wants: everything. Gosh. Not like we haven't seen that before. And on the other hand, we have our apparent new seasonal villain, my former favorite character, Rumple becoming so completely evil that I don't even recognize the man who stood in a dark wood and pleaded for forgiveness from the man he thought was his son, or begged to hold the hand of Neal as he thought he lay dying. I don't recognize this show. It's all about flash and pizzazz and money and making it as Disney fan-fiction-tastic as possible while removing every single bit of heart. And yes, I'm angry that Hook is now the hero extraordinaire and that all of his deeds (because he has done bad deeds) are just being washed away, but like I said above...I'm just numb. This weeks episode, "Smash the Mirror," was two hours long for no good reason other than it's sweeps. Let's just cover the important bits and move on. At least I have next week off and this Frozen fiction is almost at an end. 

Frozen 3: The Horror Never Ends

Short version: a plan to trap Ingrid in the urn goes horribly awry because of course it does.

Long version: Ingrid isn't happy that her family is falling to pieces--oh, mirror pun! This is the biggest reason why this episode did not need to be two hours. This entire flashback could have easily been done in one, but they felt the need to drag it out as long as possible by making everyone speak in really clunky dialogue. Most of the two hours was just explanation and exposition: "this is a plan that we have come up with after we learned this information about this other member of our family! We will now explain it to the audience who are too stupid to comprehend sense and logic!" I don't need five minutes of Elsa and Anna discussing their plan for Ingrid; it's pretty obvious that they are going to trick her into the urn. And it doesn't help that most of this conversation is also just an excuse for Anna to say "funny" (notice the quotes) things. The writers knew they needed to flesh out two hours worth of TV so they put in as much filler as possible. Of course this plan is going to go horribly wrong. Of course Elsa is going to end up in the urn by the end of all this. Of course Ingrid will having something to do with it. Of course Hans is frozen in a wardrobe. Wait, what? Why? Why is Hans in a wardrobe? Oh! I know why! It's so Anna could say, "he's...FROZEN." Get it? FROZEN. He's FROZEN, guys. Like the movie. You know, the movie that made billions of dollars and is now singlehandedly responsible for saving ONCE's ass? Yeah that one. Whatever.

And this is the story of how Elsa got into the urn. Ready? I can summarize a two hour plot in like a few sentences. It'll be amazing. Elsa will send Ingrid down to the dungeon where Anna is keeping the urn. She will SURPRISE Ingrid by sucking her into the urn and crisis averted. Two sentences! Nifty! Of course, it goes wrong and we get still more talking talking talking. I want talking on ONCE--but not this kind of talking. This is obvious "drag out the screen time as much as possible" taking. Again, short version: Ingrid uses a shard of a mirror to cast the spell of shattered sight on Anna making her see the worst in Elsa and remember all the pain and hurt from FROZEN: The Movie (you may have heard of it.) Anna, under this spell, finds Elsa and--still carrying the urn--traps Elsa. The Frozen Queen proclaims her undying love of her sister, of course, as she goes into the urn because we can't have the FROZEN sisters mad at each other now can we? Two paragraphs to sum up a two hour plot. Do I sound irritated? I'm irritated. I can't really think of any part of this flashback that I actually enjoyed. Once again, it's the ultimate example of shoehorning. This is now the third episode (401, 403, and now 408) to feature almost exclusively the FROZEN cast with none of our core characters. Rumple appears briefly--and I pity Bobby Carlyle having to put on all that makeup for a three second scene. Ready for the final moment of flashback, maybe the only one that was important--and still somehow rage inducing?

 The door can see into your soul! No, that's Charlie the Unicorn. Anyway, look a door! Now this isn't a big revelation; we've seen doors like this before, ones that go to lands with magic. So this door takes Ingrid to a land with magic, right? That would be keeping with canon. Oh, it takes her to New York City. How the hell does that work?? Is this like a super magical door since it's from Walt Disney The Sorcerer? The Sorcerer alone can conjure doors that go to lands without magic? Was it made from an enchanted tree like Emma's magical wardrobe? God, how many more plot devices and "magical transports" can they come up with? Wanna bet we'll never get answers about this door? Just go with it; let it go; the past is in the freaking past. Whatever. Mickey got his hat back or the Sorcerer's hat back, I suppose; Ingrid got herself a magical prophecy and a magical door and was told to wait a long time until she found her new sister who will also be her foster daughter. She came to our world in 1982 where she became a foster parent--because somehow she had all the proper identification and credentials to run an orphanage/group home/whatever the hell.

Orgasmic Rainbow of Self-Love

Short version: Emma's plan to get rid of her magic goes horrible wrong because of course it does! And Rumple is a  monster.

Long version: Emma's magic is still fritzy and everyone in town is super worried--except for Regina who wants to have more sex with Robin the crypt where her father is buried. Fuck this show. I'm sorry. I normally don't openly curse like that on this blog, but I needed to. I will, henceforth, be ignoring all OutlawQueen nonsense until someone smacks some sense (and morals) into Adam and Eddy. Emma accidentally hurt Henry which causes her to want to get rid of her powers for good; thus, she goes to the only person who can probably help her: Rumple. Well, isn't that jolly and super convenient? Luckily, Rumple has just the thing that will make Miss Swan's magic go poof like so many hopes and dreams I once had about this little show. He's gonna suck her into that hat! But, because this episode is 2 hours long, we have to drag it out with a lot of silliness. The Charmings need a pep talk from Regina (are you kidding me) because they've decided to give up on Emma and not to do the right thing by going after her and stopping her plan to get rid of her magic or at least TALK to her. Robin and Will Scarlett need to spend time in the public library making wisecracks about Cats in Hats (dear lord if the season 5 villain is the Cat in the Hat...) and we all have to act like the tiny little scratch on Henry's neck from Emma's power backfire is a life or death situation that could result in Henry bleeding to death at any moment! Lord. Give me strength. Oh, and there is some nonsense about Hook and Rumple and Hook's (too perfectly red) heart.

I guess I have to talk about Rumple, don't I? I really don't want to, mostly because he's not Rumple anymore. I don't know what he is. Rumple is being written as the big bad only for the sake of being the big bad. He wants to be free from the power of the dagger so that he can do as he wants--I guess? I don't know; he won't explain anything properly. In this episode Rumple says, "I never do anything without a good reason." Well, then tell me what the reason behind all this is! Are you suffering from PTSD after Zelena? Are you depressed over Nealfire? Are you bored? Hungry? Why are you suddenly the most evil creature on the fact of the planet? To paraphrase, “Neal is dead, Belle loves me, but it doesn’t matter. I’m a villain.” He makes wrong choices but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t sense to those wrong choices–he wanted to find his son, he wanted to save Bae and Belle from Pan; there were logical and well written decisions. I don’t even recognize my favorite character anymore. Rumple tells Emma that she has a choice--she could not give up her magic but what he hints at, of course, is that this is not the "right" thing to do; Emma is a hero, and heroes always do the right thing. Behind all this talk of heroes and rightness, lurks a man who wants the power of the savior to be sucked into his jaunty little hat so that he can cleave himself from the dagger. He doesn't care that Emma is the mother of his grandson or was Neal's true love. Apparently Rumple doesn't even remember that he's the one who MADE Emma the savior in order to find Neal. She's a means to an end, and he intends to have her. There has always been conflict with Rumple: power vs being a good man, but there was none of that this week. Rumple is just power hungry for no good reason. Whatever. In the end Elsa saves Emma which was sorta nice. It was done though the power of friendship (2 day old friendship, but friendship) and more importantly, through self love which is a big theme carried over from FROZEN. I don't mind themes being carried over, but I mind that they carried over all the FROZEN things. You have to embrace the good and the bad parts of yourself. You have to know that you are both a hero and a villain. It's nice. It's cliche. It's ONCE. And it means nothing because those yellow ribbons find their way on to Elsa and Emma and Ingrid casts the spell of shattered sight by blowing up her mirror.

Let's take a pause to talk about what Will and Robin did this week: spend time in a library. Robin finally comes up for air from banging Regina in her crypt (seriously, I can't stop with this) to find Will and ask him to help do some research. Robin wants to assist Regina in finding the author of the storybook. Will's big idea: library...where they proceeded to stand around and make jokes until finally something actually happens. A piece of paper found itself into Robin's satchel. But not just any piece of paper--a piece of paper showing Robin and Regina kissing in the tavern all those years ago. Like alternative history? Are we going to another universe where heroes are villains and villains are heroes? Or where Regina and Rumple make different decisions and alter the course of history? Or is this showing that Regina finally accepted some #hope in her life and suddenly BOOM new page? Do I care? I don't like this book plot because it leads to Regina saying and thinking that the book made her villain, not her actions--you know, actions like cursing an entire land, murdering people, and raping a man for 28 years. THOSE actions. But no...not a villain at all.

Miscellaneous Notes on Smash the Mirror

--Seriously, why was this episode two hours long?

--"I have his hat." Such good dialogue.

--Emma suddenly hates Happy the Dwarf! If you're familiar with ONCE fandom then you know that this might be a reference to the hell that went down between actors Jennifer Morrison and Michael Coleman (Happy) when the latter said something about SwanQueen. ONCE writers: always professional.

--Is Will an alcoholic?

--And Anna didn't just close her eyes when the shards of glass were flying towards her slowly because...?

--"I undid all the good. Neal is still gone; the town is still in danger; and Belle knows who I am, and that's a man who always chooses power." Sigh. I miss the Rumple I would have defended unto death.

--You have no idea how badly I was hoping that Rumple would crush the Pirate's heart.

--Sex in a crypt. Ladies and gentlemen: Once Upon A Time

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x8)

The power of hearts is a curious thing. Or maybe that's the power of love? At any rate, hearts--metaphorical and literal--take center stage in this week's episode, "Heartless." I'm going to be ever so slightly critical up front: there is a pattern to each episode so far. It's not necessarily a bad thing because Sleepy Hollow constantly delivers quality TV, but it is there. I've noticed it before and it doesn't bother me, but in order to give a full and proper review, I do think it's time that I made official (as it were) mention of it. The pattern goes like this: Henry comes up with a plan that is EVIL; he enacts this plan that is somehow targeted at driving a wedge between the Witnesses, between Ichabod and Katrina, or generally making the lives of the Trio a living Hell. The three manage to stop the EVIL and learn a valuable lesson. Henry, thwarted, beings anew. It's monster-of-the-week with the added bonus of Henry just being a super creep. As I said, it doesn't anger me so much as something I need to make reference to. This week, the monster/Henry's plan of EVIL was a succubus. Thank goodness I read a lot of fantasy. A succubus is a demon that feeds on sexual energy. In this case, the succu-bitch is feeding on men and woman alike, taking their life force for a very EVIL reason. Baby. 

The succubus plot is perfectly fine, neat and tidy, but I want to touch more on a theme that kept cropping up this week: the evolution of relationships and the secret desires of the heart. First, we have Hawley and Abbie. Hawley clearly has the hots for the Leftenant and Abbie, being one hundred percent focused on the job, is either totally ignorant or willfully so. I suspect it's the former and not the latter. Abbie likes Hawley as a go-to guy for information and aid but nothing more. However, I think by the end of this episode, her feelings are starting to evolve. He's not just a "brigand" or rogue but a good guy who was there for her when she and Ichabod needed him. It might be the start of something. What I find more interesting is Ichabod's take on this. He seems cautious and over protective. Ichabod actually wants to know what Hawley's intentions are with Miss Mills. From whence does that stem? On the one hand, Abbie is his best friend and closest ally. He worries for her. It's natural (and adorable). But is Ichabod a wee bit jealous? Perhaps so, but not because he desires Abbie for himself. Rather, I think Ichabod fears losing his friend. He and Abbie have a unique and beautiful relationship that thus far is unhampered by any romantic entanglements, despite the fandom's demands (god that must be nice....) If Abbie begins relying or depending on Hawly--turning to him for guidance and comfort--what does that mean for Ichabod? Now, here's the best part: Ichabod has his own evolving relationship with his own mate and it's Abbie who gives him solace.

I couldn't help but notice how many professions of love Ichabod and Katrina had toward each other this week. Lots of "she is the love of my life" and Ichabod treating Katrina like she is a china doll ready to break into a million pieces. It's a bit "the lady doth protest too much."There have been too many lies, too much time apart for Katrina and Ichabod to fall back into old habits. They can't even agree on the nature of love on a reality television program. The fact is that their relationship has fundamentally changed because they have changed. Ichabod "died" and was reborn, met Abbie, learned he had a son, went to Purgatory. Katrina did things of a similar nature and kept a CRAP ton of secrets from him. When confronted with the succubus, Ichabod hears his own fears reflected back on him; his love for Katrina has soured in light of all the negativity. Yes, Ichabod loves her but that love has grown stale and either must evolve or perish. And then there is Katrina herself; I almost laughed out loud at the fact that she ends this episode by going back to Abraham and Henry, not because she is secretly evil but because it just proves that the writers know what they are doing. Abbie might think they are stronger with Katrina on the team, but the writers know that the red haired witch adds unnecessary weight to the dynamic of Ichabod and Abbie--also know as, the reason we all watch. What is interesting to note is that Ichabod takes this news with good cheer; "I trust Katrina." Mmhm. Sure. You're not just the tiniest bit relieved?

Ok, last evolving relationship: Abbie and Katrina. I think this might be the most time they've spent together, talking, in one episode ever. And I just want to say that I called it. I knew Abbie wouldn't give ground with regards to Henry, just as Katrina won't either. And there is Ichabod, quite literally, in the middle of them. Abbie begins the philosophical discussion with, "at what point do you say that [Henry having good in him] matters?" She has a point. Henry might actually be good and be capable of change but so long as he actively resists that, then there is no point in trying to make him "see the light." Katrina on the other hand is just as staunch; she won't give up on him and believes that she can turn him. I knew--and said as much--that this would come to some sort of argument and it did. However, the argument actually devolved (see what I did there?) into Abbie laying out another claim: Ichabod and she are the witnesses and have been fighting the forces of evil for quite awhile now, while Katrina simply cooled her heels (sorta) in Purgatory. Ichabbie work well together and did so without much conflict until YOU showed up. And now Ichabod leaves work early, as it were, to tend to Katrina's many woes and ills, leaving Abbie alone in their work room. Ichabod, of course, gets in the middle of all this and simply tries to make peace, as I said he would. Poor Ichabod. You can't have it all. In the end, Katrina and Abbie come to an understanding and it really takes Katrina learning that in Abbie's past her mother might have loved her but it didn't matter in the end; Abbie's mother still left her and Jenny alone. Even with this knowledge, Katrina goes back to Abraham and Henry. And yeah, meets a little demon baby born of her womb and human/succubus essence. Weird plot, guys.

Miscellaneous Notes on Heartless

--Ok, I really skimped on the plot for this one, didn't I? The succubus herself isn't important (she dies by episode end) but yes, there is a baby Moloch who has come into the world. And Katrina was looking at him with some love in her eyes, no?

--"He was macking on a lady."

--"Your mind is grappling with what your loss." "A unholy creature of Purgatory?"

--Henry is a Horseman of the Apocalypse but still applies for permits. Bless.

--Where is Jenny? She has been MIA for awhile.

--I want more Henry and Ichabod scenes. Those are glorious.

Monday, November 10, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x7)

Prepare yourself for bluntness: I really did not like this week's episode, "The Snow Queen." I thought it had some really stupid character moments, some horrible messages, and was driven by an emotional backstory that I care little to nothing about. Oh, and let's not forget the magically gender swapped baby. Or maybe it's a new baby that the parents just so happened to name the male version of the girl they already have. Or the writers screwed up. That does happen, you know. Whatever. Theme? Try to find one in this hodgepodge. Acceptance seems to be what the writers are going for here, but it's done in a way that does a disservice to characters I used to love. This isn't going to be a traditional review. Instead of a past section and a present section, I am going to break it down into "stupid characters" and go from there. Maybe I'm grouchy. Maybe I'm tired. Maybe I have a cold. Or maybe I am just really disappointed in a show that I was once so devoted to going downhill so rapidly fast. Whatever the case may be, let's just say worst episode of the season and move on. 

Stupid Character: Snow White

Hey, does anyone else remember when Snow White accepted Emma for who she was: Savior and Magical Creature Extraordinaire? That her main concern wasn't Emma's magic but rather who taught Emma how to use that magic? Does anyone else remember when Emma Care Bare Stare'd Cora and it was glorious and Snow's response was to take her daughter's face in her hands and try to reassure her? Cause that was a great moment. Do you know what is not a great moment: looking at your daughter like she is the spawn of Satan just because she had some issues controlling her magic (we'll get to that, never fear). Does anyone else remember when Snow and Charming went into the mines, knowing that they might die, but trusting in Emma and her abilities to save Storybrooke? Does anyone else remember when Snow wasn't portrayed as a buffoon who said such wonderful things as, "we failed today." Oh ye gods, the dialogue coming from some of these characters was cringe worthy this week. ONCE has never had the best wordsmiths known to man but this whole, "oh woe is me" nonsense was just that: nonsense. At least Charming didn't do anything too heinous, but that's largely due to the fact that the writers tend to forget Charming is an entity until they need him to do something like fight Warlord Bo Peep and her magical staff. Snow White was once a bandit, a mother, and a queen. Now she's like an actual Disney character; she has become the cartoon version of herself and it's annoying. Maybe it's because Ginny Goodwin is still resting from her pregnancy but there has to be a better way to write Snow than this. So far this season she has been creepy possessive of both her kids, been nothing like her old bandit self, and now she's looking at her daughter in a way that Snow has never--and would never--look at her child before. Let's move on.

Stupid Character: Anybody Who Existed In The Flashback

I didn't care one bit about these three sisters. Why should I? They don't mean anything to me now in present day; they aren't still around to make me feel sorry for them. Ingrid's backstory is exactly what you would expect: it's Frozen. She has magical abilities that she fears and when push comes to shove, she used them accidentally against one of her sisters (Helga) and her sister turned into an instant ice statue and then shattered. First, why the shattering? Anna didn't shatter in the movie; Marian didn't shatter a few weeks ago when her heart was frozen. Why did Helga shatter? And why is Gerda basically a dumb idiot? I (somewhat) get putting Ingrid into the urn in order to protect Arendelle, but instead of learning from all this, she decides the best course of action is to have everyone's memories erased. That is some fine upstanding Queen-ing right there. Got a problem? Instead of solving it, just use magic rock trolls to rob all your people of their memories. That's like Regina level bad. And I'm sorry but Ingrid's whole fear is based off one incident in which she actually SAVED her sisters from a creepy pedophile. That's not a reason to fear; that's cause to celebrate. In the movie Frozen, Elsa actually hurt Anna when they were kids. But here, Ingrid was a bit of a hero and instead it becomes "conceal don't feel." No! TELL THE WORLD ABOUT THE KID SNATCHING BAD GUY IN THE WOODS WHO TRIED TO ABDUCT THREE LITTLE GIRLS AND KICKED ONE IN THE STOMACH! Heavens above, do you think he was working alone!? Most likely not. Go tell your parents instead of pulling this "we'll use these ribbons to bind our promise to always look out for each other and protect one another." Oh and the Duke of Wessleton showed up because of-freaking-course he did. That's everyone right: Anna, Elsa, their parents, Sven, Kristoff, Marshmallow, The Duke, Hans AND his brothers, the ice bridge, the costumes, the gloves, let it go, "doesn't bother me anyway," sandwiches, and the door scene. Did we get everything iconic? Except Olaf, I think that covers the FROZEN-ALL-THE-THINGS. And, finally, grown up Ingrid in her room, scared to hurt anyone. Um. Why? Have you hurt anyone since that night in the woods? Because if you haven't then it really was a freak accident and you can sort of relax.

Stupid Character: Robin Hood and Will Scarlet

If you find true love, it's worth ruining your life for. What an unbelievably horrible message. Truly, one of the worst messages I've heard come from this show. Love is grand, I know that. In this show, love can save realms and it used to be the most powerful magic of all. But you know what? Honor, self respect, respect toward others, fidelity, vows, these are important too. Is Robin in between a rock and a hard place? Yes. Do I feel bad for him. Not anymore. He is now committing adultery with the woman who tried to kill his wife. Oh my god. This is a THING that happens on ONCE now. Adultery isn't new of course; Mary Margaret and David were having one in season one, but they were under an evil spell and married in their "real" lives. Robin, just because your wife is a Frozen Popsicle does not give you license to do this. I get it; you're in love with Regina...well tough nuts! Deal with it! The idea that you have decided to break all your vows and not "be the man Marian made you to be" is just appalling. I am over Robin, I am over OutlawQueen, and frankly this relationship is a perfect example of the toxic wasteland that is love and romance on OUAT. To sum up, Marian made Robin want to be a better man and be more than a petty thief. Regina makes Robin want to break all his vows and lose his self respect. And Will...what the heck? How is this sound advice? And where is Ana? Just tell me already; I'm weary of thinking Ana might be dead. Also, this is a potential retcon: according to OUATinWL, Robin had not yet Marian when Will joined his gang of Merry Men and Will was only around for about 2 days. I still remember the show, Adam and Eddy. If Will's only purpose on this show is to give terrible life advice and to negate his entire love story with Anastasia, then I would really prefer if he wasn't here at all.

Stupid Character: Emma Swan

Just. Leave. The. Room. You were smart enough to send Elsa away when you saw that her emotions were getting the better of her, now do likewise. There is no reason for you to stay in this room with the Ice Queen and listen to her insane drivel. Just leave, calm down a bit, and then refocus. Why is Emma Swan acting so incredibly stupid lately? I have been waiting for Emma Swan to become the sort of powerful sorceress I know her to be, so I like getting to see her use magic, but this was just an illogical way to go about it. You need Emma to become emotional? Okay, fine. But the entire moment is ruined for me when all I can think is, "why doesn't she just leave the damn room?!" "You're not going to push my buttons," says Emma to the Snow Queen and yet that is exactly what happened and when Emma realized it was happening she did nothing about it but stand there and make scary faces and declare that her family loves her. So after last year's triumph of remembering where her home is, and realizing how much she loves and needs her parents, she gets irked at the mere thought that they might love her "normal" baby brother more than her? And oh, by the way, Baby Snowflake? Clearly not normal! Zelena tried to use him for her spell because he was a baby born of the purest true love and the lights flickered during his birth. He's clearly not supposed to be non-magical. Whatever. I'm getting so angry that I've stopped wanting to make sense.

Miscellaneous Notes On The Snow Queen

--It really says something when I think the least offensive character is Hook.

--Henry working at Rumple's shop is nice but how is there zero talk about his dead father?

--Rumple wants to take over the world. That is why he is doing this. Ok. I'm...not going to comment. No, I am. It's my blog, after all. First, Rumple has been able to leave Storybrooke for some time now. He just needs to put on his little snazzy shawl. Second, fine. Rumple is now so evil that all that matters is getting as much magic as possible. That's his character now. Never mind his sacrifices or his heroism or his love for his family. Whatever.

--Ashely gave birth to a little girl named Alexandra in 104. Canon FACT. Someone messed up somewhere either in continuity or in logic (parents do not name their children the same thing...). 

--"Every family has their ups and downs." Sorta like this show.

-- Seriously, you're standing under a tree and you see a branch is about to drop on you. Do you step out of the way or do you spend those last few seconds that you could get to safety looking at a little girl, calling her a monster, and then dying stupidly?

--I don't even care enough to try and theorize about the ribbons.

--Next week is two hours long. Oh heaven, save me.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

In Which I Review Doctor Who (8x12)

Rule of writing number one: ask a question to get the ball rolling. Question: Jacquelyn, did you enjoy this week's episode, "Death in Heaven?" Answer: I have no idea. I won't beat around the bush; there were issues. Quite a few. There are too many plot holes, too many unanswered questions and the entire premise might be too dark (might, I haven't made a decision either way.) I have watched this episode twice; I have several pages of notes that range from funny quotes, to plot outline, to themes, to potential references to archetypes and religious motifs; and yet, when it comes to the basic question "did you enjoy this episode?" I have a big ol' question mark. Several question marks in fact. I don't necessarily need to enjoy an episode to review or analyze it; some of my other TV show reviews are proof of that. But heaven knows (pun) it would be nice. If I had to sum up "Death in Heaven" in just a few sentences it would be thus: it combines the two major themes of the season--the Doctor's quest to understand if he's a good man or not and the lies we tell to those we love and to ourselves--in a fast paced, emotionally driven (for characters that I'm not wholly invested in) but incredibly disjointed, flash in the pan, sort of way.

Let's talk about the soldier or warrior archetype. I spend a lot of time discussing the Doctor as the savior, the white knight, and sometimes the sage, but this season, on top of all that, the Doctor has been fighting his soldier archetype. I made reference to my annoyance about the Doctor's anti-soldier stance this season a few reviews back in "The Caretaker." This reluctance to accept soldiers made sense in that the Doctor is trying to distance himself from that particular archetype (just like he's distancing himself from Savior and White Knight until "Flatline") but at the same time, his utter hostility toward soldiers in general felt as if he (read: Moffat) was forgetting that THE BRIG was once the Doctor's best friend, closest companion and ally. At the time, it seemed like a slap in the face to those of us who know and love the Brig. But, like the twelfth Doctor says when confronted with the Cyber-Brig, "where else would you be?" The soldier archetype exists alongside his savior and white knight ones, and the Doctor is fluid enough to move between them when it suits him; and, to be perfectly frank, there isn't a lot of difference in those three except in the way our minds cast them. What can we say about the soldier archetype? Strong, willful, looking for a just fight in a world that has incredible darkness and evil, mindful, minimalist, loyal, and often emotionally detached. Getting the job done, protecting the planet, the just war, these are what matter to the soldier. The Doctor has been seeing these qualities in all their negative light: the bloodshed, the loss of life, the aggression and forgetting the why: why soldiers fight; why he fights. Standing at the crossroads of good and evil, the Doctor is offered quite prize: his own Cyberman army to go out into the universe, a just and righteous man, and conqueror every corner of space. He could wipe out the Daleks; he could save those he lost. As The Mistress tells him, gleefully, "give a good man fire power and he'll never run out of people to kill." (side note: but I'm guessing Moffat read some "Dune" and "Dune Messiah" before this season began. Doctor, I name thee Paul Atreides!) It's a just fight. But at what cost? Every dead creature his army kills would rise again to make war on the living. Death, rebirth, over and over. Could The Doctor's two hearts take it? I don't know but I very much doubt it.  

Thankfully, the Doctor makes another decision. He gives the job to someone who has no problem with his own soldier label. Poor Danny Pink. I have some issues with this storyline but it's more from an entertainment standpoint. Frankly, at the end of the day, I don't care that much about Danny Pink. He was always set up to be a love interest but with very little to work on outside of being Clara's boyfriend and provoking the Doctor to jealousy. Danny, standing in a metal suit, asking to be released, didn't hit me emotionally. It didn't resonate because I thought it was, frankly, a little silly. His mind is there but he knows he's dead and it's hard to look past how weird that is. It's dark but it was also a little comedic--and maybe that's just me because I highly doubt that is what Moffat was going for. This dual serious and silliness is highlighted in the final Danny/Clara moment which was a terrible riff on "Doomsday" with Rose and the 10th Doctor except I cared (a lot) about Rose and 10. This moment was heavily cheesy and there is no way that little boy came back to life. That was ludercrious. But back in the graveyard Clara's dilemma of having to "turn on" her boyfriend in order to "turn him off" and believing wholeheartedly that he wouldn't hurt her, was stronger than the Danny storyline but I also thought it was another example of Clara's recklessness. Is she secretly hoping he will kill her? Last week she did say that she would be with Danny again no matter what. It rather flies in the face of the fact that I think Clara is also being set up as the soldier archetype--well, who wasn't in this episode. Everyone was a soldier. But Clara is also strong, willful, seeking a just fight, mindful, and extremely loyal given her rousing "the Doctor is my best friend" speech. She orders the Doctor about; she "kills" Danny because she knows it's what is best not only for his soul and mind but also for humanity. Is Clara a better soldier than the Doctor, who in the end, couldn't turn Danny "off" even though he knew he had to? One of the biggest themes for Clara this season has been her TARDIS addiction and how it's changing her--she almost literally became the Doctor in one episode. The episode opens with her lying to Cybermen and pretending to be the Doctor once more; the title sequence changed Peter and Jenna's name so that she was first and, in a sheer blasphemous moment, her face was what we saw instead of his as the credits rolled. Why, if not because she was the real hero. Well, I'm not sure that Clara is the real hero of this story but rather the love she and Danny share.

Love is not an emotion; it's a promise. Or so sayeth the Doctor. And this is where I am gong to bring up the Doctor's Savior archetype once more. The Doctor, in a very bizarre twist, has been named President of the World. And, because apparently the World follows American protocol for their elected leaders, this also makes him Commander in Chief for all the armed forces. Kate all but spells it out for us: he is in charge and responsible for every living soul on the planet. Yes, it's still militaristic but recall that the Savior and the Soldier aren't all that different when you get right down to it. In the end, the Doctor doesn't save the world through some science mumbo jumbo, but through the idea of love being a promise. I swear, I half expected a rainbow to appear in the sky after Danny blew up the clouds. The darkness was vanquished, the sun came out, and the Doctor realized that a single act of love is more powerful than death. You can fill in the blanks here. I do think there is a lot of Judeo-Christian religious motifs going on here. Is it conscience on Moffat's part? Possibly not, but it is the culture from which he's writing. He's British, writing for Brits (and Americans) and that necessitates writing something that is familiar. We're all victims of our culture and when you have the entire climax happening in a cemetery (a limbo that is for the dead and the living) with the Doctor and Missy staged like a Savior and Devil figure threatening to go to war over the souls of the entire universe, it's hard to not to go your own cultural reference which for Moffat, and me, is Judeo-Christian.

 I will be the first to admit I was wrong: the Mistress is phenomenal. I have been annoyed with Missy all season because she didn't feel real, and she was only ever seen briefly and with nothing for me to sink my teeth in. But this--sweet heaven--THIS is the Master. Simply bat guano crazy, but terribly clever, and psychologically terrifying. She was perfect. I hate that the writers ended up killing her off just as we saw what a terrifically entertaining dynamic the Mistress and the Doctor have. I'm puzzled as to why Moffat killed her in the end. This could have really been something--the Doctor chasing Missy around the Universe, playing some long game. This is why I called the episode flash-in-the-pan in the introduction. Moffat is not going to utilize this brilliance outside of the episode, but he wanted, I think, very much to take away Russell T. Davies' Master incarnation as the insane Prime Minister who was made wrong. So instead Moffat gave us the insane "god" who delights in her wrongness. But, while the performance was bananas (in a good way) there is still no explanation for how Missy came back to life. Another example of flash and no substance from Moffat. I really don't get how her regeneration happened. And how does Missy know where Gallifrey is? Or does she? And did she have a TARDIS or a time manipulator? Why do I have so many questions and one dead Mistress?

Liar liar, pants on fire. All of you! How many lies were there this episode? A lot, yes? Let's talk about the biggest ones, though. Clara, you're up first. She's made a habit of lying so what is one more, right? Both Clara and the Doctor are lying to protect the other--after so much pain and heartache, do you add to it or do you try to lessen it? Clara lies and tells the Doctor that Danny came home (he did not). They are going to have a life now and that means no more traveling with the Doctor. Seems perfectly reasonable. The Doctor is also lying. He found Gallifrey! He's going home to Time Lords in funny hats. He's going to help rebuild his planet and his people. Great day to be a Time Lord, eh? Yeah, no. Gallifrey isn't where the Mistress said it would be. I have to give a huge round of applause to Peter Capaldi for nailing the Doctor's hope and then anguish over not finding his planet. He has been looking for home for so long and he though he found it. The Doctor's box--in theory--is all he ever wanted or needed, but in reality...oh reality is messy and complicated and strange and, I think, revolves around one simple fact: we all want to go home. I really hope that season nine is about finding Gallifrey, really and truly looking for it. I was majorly disappointed that there was no time spent this season on this topic. Seriously, bring back the funny hats! Ah well. I guess I have Santa Clause to tide me over?! Perhaps an Evil Santa Clause? Bring it.

Miscellaneous Notes on Death In Heaven

--Was this episode too dark? I heard rumors that after last weeks, people actually called the BBC to complain. I don't mind dark TV, but I do wonder if some lines were crossed with resurrecting the dead.

--Speaking of the dead: Cyber-Brig. I think the sentiment behind it was nice, but the problem was the execution. I can't get past the fact that they turned the Brig (THE BRIG!) into a Cyberman before blowing him up.

--Chaplet Mortuary. As in...Dodo? And the Mistress said, "Oh my giddy aunt!" I've fallen into a parallel universe where the show remembers its history!

--"Look at me. I'm bananas."

--I guess Clara is gone for good. I won't really miss her. Too much time and energy was spent on her and not enough on the Doctor, where it should be. I've said this repeatedly, but the main issue this season was making Clara the main character and relegating the Doctor to a sidebar. Peter Capaldi deserves better because when you let him, he makes magic.

--"Permission to SQUEEEEEEEEEE"

"I am not a good man. I am not a bad man. I am not a hero...I am an idiot, with a box and a screwdriver, just passing through, helping out...learning."

Final Season Rating:  B-
Final Episode Rankings For Season 8.
12. In the Forest of the Night
11. Time Heist
10. Deep Breath
9. The Caretaker
8. Into the Dalek
7. Listen
6. Kill The Moon
5. Death in Heaven
4. Mummy on the Orient Express
3. Dark Water
2. Robot Of Sherwood
1. Flatline

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x7)

This show is on a roll. That was an unintentional pun, but it works. Honestly, Sleepy Hollow delivers something fresh and exciting and invigorating every week. Even amidst all the absolute absurdity--like demon births and magical stone tablets with Northern Light machines--it manages to be charming and eye catching. I could watch Ichabod and Abbie go on adventures every day and never bore of them. And isn't that why we watch tv, and fantasy tv to be more specific? To go on an adventure? Well, I love the one Sleepy Hollow is going on. This weeks episode, "Deliverance," hit all the right notes in the right strides: dramatic camp that relies on the charm and personality of its two leading heroes but doesn't deviate from their in-show mythology and continues to build their world with colorful building blocks. To be blunt: if you aren't watching Sleepy Hollow, there is something wrong with you.

I know my opening paragraph didn't do much in the way of theme, as it normally does, but honestly this episode was so good, that I had to fan girl a bit. Let's back track. This week's episode is the climax of a seasons worth of episodes thus far. It brings to head what we've been seeing before our eyes: Moloch's plan to enter our world and how Abbie, Ichabod, and Katrina fit into that plan. I think this is what I love most about Sleepy Hollow--apart from Ichabod and Abbie. The show doesn't wait until the last second to dump tons of information on you and then make you wade through filler. It gives out tidbits in piecemeal and then really delivers in a big BOOM type episode. This episode was the boom, by the way. Right from the start, it lets you know that this is going to be a major episode for the mythos of the program. Katrina, on the run from Henry, obviously sick after swallowing a spider/bug/demonic thing last week. Ichabod and Abbie reunited with the witchy red-head almost right after the credits. No fuss, no muss. Clean and straightforward. You could accuse the episode of filler in the very beginning with the voting jokes (given that the day after the airing of this episode is voting day in America, it's apt) but the voting speaks to one of the larger themes of the episodes: democracy and voices. The signs on the background read that your vote is your voice, and everyone of importance got to have a voice this week. Abbie's own hesitancy to put her faith in trying to reach Henry; Katrina's almost blind faith that she can reach her son and Ichabod, in the middle, as usual, weighing Abbie's pragmatism and Katrina's emotional response and coming up with a plan to appeal to Henry on both fronts. Teamwork! This is how you do! Watching Sleepy Hollow makes me frustrated with other shows that can't put this kind of work into their characters and stories. Abbie is the definition of a strong badass woman. She is hard, no nonsense, mostly independent, but she can be vulnerable and slightly dependent on her allies to help her. Being a strong woman does not mean that you never depend on people; it means you know yourself well enough to know when to ask for help. Abbie can't raise an army to storm the Hellfire Club, but she can use her wits and cunning to convince her police chief to help her. Ichabod and Abbie are the example par excellence of how to put men and women in a working relationship without giving into the romantic tendencies. While there is a lot of chemistry between them, it doesn't stop the mission. Abbie doesn't need to have a long winded conversation about her feelings and "what does it all mean!" because there is a job and she knows that no matter what, Ichabod has her back and that's enough. It's rather glorious to behold.

How about some plot? The spider Katrina swallowed was an infestation (a bug! literally! how clever) and it came from the Hellfire Club we heard about back in the season opener (oh my gosh, continuity is a thing on this program!) The bug actually caused Katrina to become pregnant in a truly horrifying take on the immaculate conception. Impregnated by a demon (who, yes also happens to be her son, but let's those Oedipal notes go for now...) to give birth to the demon of the apocalypse, Moloch. Of course she would die in the process but I might consider that the cherry on top of the sundae; sorry, still not a huge Katrina fan, though I did like her more this episode when she wasn't just lazing about and muttering in some form of witchy Latin. Ichabod is sent to treat with Jeremy to try and convince him that he doesn't need to kill his mother; he has a choice in this world and it doesn't need to be evil. Jeremy responds, evilly and gleefully, that he's chosen Molcoh. Hats off, as always, to John Noble and his ability to make my skin crawl, an impressive feat since he'll always be "fruit cocktail in Atlantic City" Walter Bishop to me. When Jeremy refuses to help there are only a few options. Katrina's option is suicide to prevent the magical and demonic birth, which seems very in character. Actually, if Katrina isn't just straight up evil, I think she might tend toward the fatalistic side of things. Her whole life is about the war on evil (so she says. I'm still Team Evil Witch) and if that means giving up her life then so be it. The real answer, comes, as it normally does, from a book. In this case, Benjamin Franklin provides the answer: the tablet that foretells of the demonic birth also holds inside it a prism that will make the Northern Lights and stop Moloch. It's so full of camp that you just have to laugh. A prism inside a tablet that prevents the demon baby from clawing its way out of Katrina. Sure! Add in Katrina's impressive black stretch marks and it's  a B Hollywood movie in 42 minutes but you'll hear no complaints from me.

The day is saved in the end by the magical prism and everyone is reunited. But we are left with some big thoughts: namely, how much faith can we put in Jeremy and any possible redemption? Katrina refuses to give up on her son. I've made many mentions of this over the season, but the motherly love she bears for her child is going to be the undoing of the Crane alliance and family. Whether or not Jeremy can be turned, I don't know (though after this episode, I do lean one particular way) but what matters is that Katrina firmly believes she can reach him. Ichabod seems to share this notion more than he did at the start. The vision of young Jeremy running in fear, begging for help, spoke to him. He saw his son frightened and alone and without a father to guide him, and I think that is going to plague our dear Ichy. He might have thought that "evidence of good in him is not proof that he will change" but there is a big difference in seeing your child scared and only thinking that your child was once scared. The problem, then, is Abbie. She's not convinced that Jeremy can be turned back and her pragmatism is such that she wants to save the world first and foremost. There will be loses and pain, but what matters is stopping Molcoh, one victory at a time. For the rest of the season, I suspect we'll see Ichabod bounce back and forth between these two women and their ideas on Jeremy and how to deal with him. As for me, I tend to believe that Jeremy could be saved, but it's a matter of will. Jeremy doesn't have the will anymore. I think he may go to great lengths to prove that he doesn't have redemptive desires, crushing his own internal voice that is that scared little boy. You know who might surprise us though? Abraham. His alliance with Moloch and Jeremy might be coming to an end if he can't have Katrina. Is it better to not have her but fight beside her, or is better to fight against her? The Headless Horseman was certainly willing to fight against Jeremy, at least, to save Katrina from War's men. Lots of players moving forward, all with a different game. And heads will roll. That pun was intentional.

Miscellaneous Notes on Deliverance

--Ichabod's slight rant against the American voting system was wonderful, but equally beautiful was Abbie's response about how long it has taken for women and people of color to be able to vote.

--Ichabod got a sticker and it made him happy. Adorable.

--"How can a headless horseman SAY anything??"

--"I must internet....immediately!" I'm using that from now on. That shall be my motto in this world.

--Where is Jenny? What is she up to?

--So New Police Chief isn't evil? There goes one theory.

--Really great effects with the prism and the demon baby inside Katrina.

Monday, November 3, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x6)

Here's a question: how many plot lines is too many? And here's another question: when is the right time to throw all your plot lines at the audience? If you answered a lot and all at once, then you could get a job as a writer on ONCE. Now, to be fair, this episode wasn't bad. It is as good as it gets on ONCE lately, to be honest. There was a lot that I'm not happy about, namely the massive exposition dump at the end that was so unbelievably confusing and strange that I'm betting casual viewers just rolled their eyes and decided this was the last week for them. A lot of serious mental gymnastics are required to understand this one: secret family members, magical rocks and spells and reflections, lying and ship drama, and doppelgangers, and I don't know....a kitchen sink while we're at it. But "Family Business" did have one thing to recommend it: Belle. Lots of Belle. More Belle than they ever had before. They actually managed to show her as more than one half of a popular ship; they gave her something to do and it was actually pretty great. I loved that they made her a doubtful hero. A theme of the season as a whole has been the lengths we go to for family and that's what Belle did. So while the episode was super plot heavy and weighted and felt like I was drowning in all the sudden revelations, at least there was actual character development. 


Meet Belle's mother. Belle's mother is dead. Are you surprised? You shouldn't be. All parents die on ONCE. That is how the series will end: all the parents dying in a blaze of glory. So, basically, Hook and Belle are left standing. Oh my god. I take it back! Dead parents on ONCE are pretty common, and I'll grant that it's a pretty common theme in fairy tales and mythology in general. But wow; ONCE just broke their record for fastest parental death ever. Even Snow and Regina got a full episode with their mother before she kicked the proverbial bucket. Belle got two minutes. I'm not kidding. I timed it. The more important thing is how Belle reacts to her mother's demise: namely she doesn't remember it because her father is an asshat. "I didn't want to add to your grief so I took away all your memories of how your mother died to protect you." What the hell? What kind of rationale is that? Especially since, when Belle does finally learn about her mother, she's over it in a hot second. "I learned a valuable lesson, Father. And now we can continue to live our lives with knowledge that heroes save people." But then, see, if they hadn't taken away Belle's memories, how could they possibly work in Frozen? They must do that at all costs! (Because Frozen is money). I'm sounding rather harsh,  I know, and the truth is this episode was my second favorite of the season, though not for the flashbacks which once again attempted to shoehorn in Frozen in every single possible way.

Oh dear Lord. It's Okaen. Not only is it Okaen, it's the most insane replica of Oaken known to man. Down to the "Yoo Hoo." This bothers me greatly, and not because this guy wasn't great; he was. But ONCE doesn't do this. They don't feel the need to put in every single side character from the Disney adaptation. Ariel didn't have Scuttle or Flounder or Sebastian. But, of course, in Frozen-land we must have all of them: Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Hans, Sven, Oaken, the parents, the ice bridge, the references to the songs, the dresses, the snow monster. In case you missed it, it's Frozen! Anyway. Anna and Belle meet because Belle's solution to her missing memories is to break out of her dad's castle, run away to another land, and go in search of what I can only describe as drugs. Belle's a rebel, guys. Belle and Anna were good together in the five or so seconds they spent not talking about their own individual problems. Despite it being a Belle episode, it was heavily Frozen, with Anna taking almost equal amount of screen time and weight in the story. Instead of focusing on Belle more and Anna being a side character, it was like they both needed to have a problem, which isn't exactly how ONCE rolls. Anna wants to find out if Ingrid (yes, Ingrid) is actually her aunt and Belle gets a magic glowing rock that will make drug-tea and give her back her memories. The problem is that Belle's plot is rather simplistic and gets solved by her father in the end, not by anything Belle does. Her adventure amounts to nothing except loads of guilt she carries so near and dear to her heart that it has never once been alluded to in the past. Anna, on the other hand....

Okay, ready for plot exposition part one? Once upon a time, in the land of Arendelle, there were three sisters: Ingrid, Helga, and Gerda. They were all very close but Ingrid and Helga were different; they were special. One day, Ingrid and Helga vanished and no one knew what happened to them. The royal family of Arendelle, being completely stupid, decided the best thing to do was to take all the memories of everyone and erase all knowledge of Ingrid and Helga. Thus, Gerda was left as the only child of the former Queen and King. She eventually got married and had Elsa and Anna. And here we are. Not only was Ingrid (the Snow Queen) a secret sister, but there is in fact another secret sister. Oh my word. And it turns out that little Miss Snowy Barefoot (why is she always barefoot, it bugs me now) wants to replicate her family but this time with people who will understand her; people who are special like her. And Anna...well she is the wrong colored hair. No, I'm not kidding. Apparently everyone Ingrid wants is blonde. So, she's also a Nazi.

At The Cave Of Madness

Halloween brings out the Lovecraft in me. So, Belle has been so weighted down by her secret trip with Anna, and the fact that Belle did not try to save Anna before the Snow Queen got to her, that now she is lying her pants off--or, rather her very short skirts because Belle doesn't wear pants. In fact the guilt of all this manifests itself in a very bad way--she decides to use the dagger against Rumple. Of course, we know it isn't the real dagger, but Rumple has to play along or be caught in his tangled web of lies. Belle, very smartly, decides to go after the Snow Queen with a pick axe that is being kept stashed with the umbrellas. Belle, honey. You're supposed to be the intelligent one. Going after the Snow Queen to find a magical hat that will suck her right up is not exactly the smartest plan in the world. But, I get it. You're emotionally distressed. By the way, your husband is lying to you and if you opened your eyes a bit, you'd see it. You know, I'm actually willing to forgive this really dumb plan because what came next was at least really cool and let Belle see a different side--or reflection--of herself and it was the best bit of the episode. So off we go to the woods and the Snow Queen's Fortress of Solitude.

Mirrors are evil. Bad bad mirrors. The reflection is interesting; it shows the side of you that I think we all try to keep hidden. For Belle, this is that she is not really a hero, but a pathetic coward. She never could be a hero because she let Anna fall off a cliff. I think the mirror also speaks to some internal truth that you already know, but have trouble admitting. Not only is this psuedo-heroism for Belle, but it is also the fact that Rumple doesn't love her but he needed someone weak that he could easily control and manipulate. And of course when Belle tries to tell her reflection off, by pointing out that Rumple gave her the dagger, the Evil! Belle laughed and asked if the dagger was even real. Somewhere, deep inside, Belle knows this isn't real which means she is lying to herself. Rumple manages to break the hold the reflection has on Belle but only after Belle beings to seriously believe the stuff the mirror is saying. It's actually very cool. What else could this mirror show to the residents of Storybrooke? What truths might it tell about everyone else--about Emma and Hook and Snow and Charming and Regina? What is the reflection? Is it their doppelganger? Can the reflection somehow manifest in the real world? That might be kind of cool to see. Alright, let's put a pin in this and talk about Rumbelle.

Let me tell you a bit about my history with this ship. This ship is what brought me into the fandom. In the hours since viewing this weeks episode, I have been wondering what my life would have been like had I not fallen head over heels in love with Skin Deep and Rumbelle. Would I be as involved? Would I have stopped watching the show at some point? I don't know. But I know they were my OTP; now I don't know what they are, except really really messed up. I hate that--while this scene was beautifully acted--it basically amounts to Belle ignoring all the evidence, everything she knows to be true deep down inside, and instead makes Rumple a victim. Now, I am a huge Rumple fan but I can't abide this. All of these issues are his fault. He murdered Zelena, he lied about the daggers, he is still lying about the daggers, he is trying to obtain more power with every passing episode. But here is Belle begging for forgiveness from Rumple and saying that she doesn't know if she should even be with him anymore because of her lies. It's a bad message and it's not just because I am "in the know." Belle knows; the mirror is proof of that. Deep inside her, she knows that Rumple is lying his Guuci pants off to her. So willful ignorance on her part which makes her look really silly. Combine this with the whole "going after the Snow Queen with an axe" thing and she's not exactly Bookworm Belle.

Ready for plot exposition number two? That is a prophecy. It is a crazy prophecy that doesn't make a lick of sense but here goes: "the Savior's name shall be Emma and the savior shall be Ingrid's sister." Ingrid has kept this prophecy for a long time; hence her need to seek out true love savior Baby Emma and raise her: she wants to be Emma's sister. It gets weirder. Turns out, Helga and Emma look exactly alike. So, now we have three blondes--Emma, Elsa, and Ingrid--all of whom have magic and are misunderstood and in need of a family who will accept them for who they are. And that's the Snow Queen's endgame: Elsa, Emma and herself as three happy sisters living together. It gets weirder. The mirror of doom inside Ingrid's lair is destined to be smashed (like in the original story). When you smash it, it will cast the Spell of Shattered Sight and cause everyone in Storybrooke to turn on another and destroy the town--of course, what is a season of ONCE without Storybrooke almost being destroyed? But the only three people it won't destroy are the three magical blondes. Got all that? Prophecy, secret sisters, look alike saviors, and pick axes. Oy vey.

Miscellaneous Notes on Family Business

--Regina told Robin to learn to fall in love with his wife again. Wow. That's almost like real development.

--"I'm about to storm an evil ice cream truck."

--Hook's line about everyone being related. Yeah, that was good. See,  can appreciate some things about Hook (though this was the second episode in a row that was Hook-lite and it was wonderful to get this long of a break).

--Kristoff and Sven are the best adaptations from Frozen.

--Emilie de Ravin looked gorgeous.

--I can't even make any theories because it's all a big jumbled mess. So many ideas all at once and it's hard to get attached and think about it all because I know it will be over in a few episodes and whatever they come up with won't be as cool as what I think.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

In Which I Review Doctor Who (8x11)

Let's just get this out of the way: The Master is now a woman. The question becomes, how do we feel about that? First, credit where credit is due to Steven Moffat. After 51 years of the universe being saved by a white male, some people have begun getting angsty about the lack of diversity in Doctor Who when it comes to our leading Time Lord. Some have demanded that the Doctor be upgraded (oh hey, appropriate pun) to roll with the times: different race or different biological sex that what he has previously been, to which I give a resounding "whatever." (Race I would be fine with, but there is canon here, people!) It has been hinted at in the more recent past (ie: New Who) that this indeed could happen, though strictly speaking from a canon (meaning old) perspective, not so much. There were Time Lords and Time Ladies and that was that. But after 51 years, Steven Moffat did what no show runner has had the guts to do and gender swapped a Time...Lord...Lady. I'm not quite sure what to make of the fact that the Doctor's chief arch rival is now a woman, but I suppose that's another essay in and of itself. It's bold. It's loud. It's declarative and Moffat will be remembered for it. But, here's the rub. Is it a good story? I'm not one hundred percent sure, truth be told, but isn't this Moffat to a "T?" Bold, loud, audacious and salacious--but more flashy than substantial. In this weeks episode, "Dark Water," we get our answers to our most burning questions: who is Missy and what is this "heaven" we've been hearing so much about. It's not a bad story; it's not Moffat at his finest (sorry, that will always be Blink) but it's certainly better than the start of the season. If anything, it's adequate enough to carry us through to next week. The dead are alive, the Cybermen are back, and The Master finally made out with the Doctor. 

Rest in peace, Danny Pink. Last week, I complained a fair amount about the heavy handedness of the symbolism woven into "In the Forest of the Night." Apparently, all of that went over the head of the writers at the BBC because this week they decided to become even more transparent in their message. For those unaware, the Doctor has always been the "Savior." Now, you can ascribe that to any cultural mores you so desire; I prefer to couch my language in archetypes and not label it as specifically Christian or Jewish or any other variation thereof. Now, before someone waves a red flag at me and yells "regeneration" yes, that is seemingly Christian in origin, but I've also always read it as the idea of the Eternal Hero being reborn into new generations, because that's what happens. The archetype does not have to speak of one specific cultural attestation because of the universal nature of said archetype. Normally, that's how the Doctor functions. I've made note of this over the past few weeks when the Doctor's mythic significance has come to the forefront, in particular his role as the White Knight who defeats the Monsters. This week, however, they smacked a big ol' "Christian" label on his archetype. Yeah, he's Jesus. I get it. It wasn't subtle. The Doctor (sorta) flew into the afterlife to resurrect the dead. It's like something out of the New Testament. Actually, let's put my Masters to use here. You want textual evidence? Here you go: "the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1 Cor 15:52). Shoot, that's actually more spot on--with the 'we shall be changed' bit--once you see this episode and how the dead have been...upgraded. There were Christian motifs all over the episode, but most strongly in the beginning. Clara's betrayal, The Doctor's proclamation of everlasting love in the face of betrayal, the idea of doom and fire, and yes, finally the Doctor going into the afterlife to find one lost soul and bring him back. What, perhaps, is the big break for the Doctor from the heavy handed Christian ideology is the fact that the Doctor won't be able to save everyone. Jesus will, according to doctrine. For the righteous and for the repentant, he'll raise up the dead and we'll all go to heaven and frolic like lambs in a pasture...or something. Don't ask me; I was a scholar not a theologian. Had this episode taken place several weeks ago, I doubt the Doctor would even entertain the idea of going to find Danny. This season has been about the back and forth morality of our Time Lord. It started off, really, with one question: "Am I good man?" The answer was, "I don't know. But I think you try." Over the past few episodes, The Doctor has managed to get some of his own back and become that impossible hero Clara has worshiped (prayed to) from afar. And this week, he literally answers the phone (her prayers) and swoops in to save the day. But, this wouldn't have been the case in the beginning when the Doctor was adamantly rejecting his archetype. But now, there is a damsel in distress and by god--this is what White Knights do!

Clara, my Clara. I can't hate her here. I know there were some fans who were livid at the mind trick she attempted to play on the Doctor (you can't fool the divine, honey, but A for effort) but she is in obvious pain. Clara is grieving and I don't blame her. Not only did her boyfriend, the man she loves and the man to whom she is only ever going to say "I love you," die but he died just as she was working up the courage to tell him the whole truth. Last week I called Clara a liar from Lying Town and it's like she heard me. Littered all over her bookshelves are her lies--the dinosaur, the moon, Vastra, the bank heist, and every other adventure (read: episode) she's gone on this season, everything she has been keeping from Danny. Clara was going to be brave, stop fearing, and finally tell Danny the truth: "My name is Clara Oswald and I am a TARDIS addict." It's a bit of a wake up call, or at least it should be, that just in the middle of trying to unburden herself, her boyfriend is run over by a car. I've mildly complained this season, and certainly others have been more vocal than I, that the show was becoming too focused on Clara but now it makes sense, in part. It was leading to this: to Clara standing at the threshold of this world and the next, trying to decide what comes next--and make no mistake, they may be in London still, but Clara's declaration that she'll be with Danny one way or another is her deciding if she's going to live or die. Last week her line about not being able to see the path felt like foreshadowing and I said as much. This week, well, maybe I should let someone older and more Italian speak for me: "Midway upon the journey of our life/ I found myself within a forest dark/For the straightforward pathway had been lost." Her betrayal (and I'm only calling it that because that is what she called it, and the Doctor picks up on it, but I don't believe it to be such) is human. After trying to be the Doctor two weeks ago, Clara remembered that being human is heartbreak. And now she wants nothing more than to be human for good.

Welcome to Heaven? It's certainly unique, I'll give them that. The underworld, the nethersphere, the afterlife, heaven, hell. Whatever name you want to give this...place...that is what it is. It certainly has the heaven aspect with free wifi (joke) but there's also the whole eternal pain and torture. This is fairly plot heavy and it took watching the episode twice to make sure I had it, but here goes: when you die, the soul, the mind, your essence, your...whatever, goes to this place. You see yourself and others as you and they were in life, hence why Danny looks like Danny. But your old body is back on earth and you are still connected to it; therefore, you can feel everything that is being done to your old body: if they are storing you someplace cold, you are now cold. If you donate your body to science, then you feel the experiments. And if you are going to be cremated, well...you get the idea. The first climax of the show comes when you realize that you aren't in heaven, not really. It's a Gallifrey matrix (very Trial of A Time Lord) and it's being used to house people's minds. Now, I have a bit of a metaphysical problem with this because how. Downloading someone's conscience is pretty standard in science fiction, so I'm not going to spend any time trying to wrinkle this out, and obviously neither is Doctor Who. But it is one of those things that if you stop and think too long on it, it will bother you. The bodies of the dead are being kept in a fish tank with "dark water" (hence the title of the episode) that works like an X-ray. You don't see anything except the bones. Anything non-organic is invisible. Clever.  It makes the reveal of what is really going on with these bodies gasp worthy, unless you saw the promo's last week and you know what is coming. (Hint: Cybermen). The company housing the dead bodies (and unbeknownst to the Doctor at the time, the minds inside the Time Lord technology matrix) is called 3W and it's run by Missy--shocking.

It was founded after Doctor Skarosa (erm...see my note section for something crackpot) learned the truth about the death experience. The Master knows all about the death experience; he, like the Doctor, has had several bodies. The last time we saw the Master he was fighting for "good" against the Time Lords who made him "wrong." And, before that, the 10th Doctor gave him a funeral pyre and I do wonder if that plays into the fear of cremation aspect. Missy teases the Doctor about how she is programed for self-repair (ha) and the Doctor is clearly confused by her. Her reveal is decent, surprising yet so obvious. Mercurial, ruthless, cheeky, of course she was The Master. The obvious nature of it should have been even more apparent by Peter Capadli's own acting references, namely to the 3rd Doctor (Pertwee) who was the first to face the Master. But what is Missy's plan? She's going to resurrect the dead of the earth to have them give birth to Cybermen? But...why? What does this get her except lots of Cybermen? Does she think she can control them? I'm betting they aren't going to like you much, dear. Lord and Master or not, you're still a Time Lord and they tend not like anything not Cyberman. But now we come to the question I began with: is this a good story? It's fine. That's my honest answer. It's fine. I am very relieved that Missy isn't some future or past or alternate version of Clara, but really--the Master? Or...The Mistress? He (now she) has been done before; many times. The Master was the chief villain of season 3 and played a role in the final two episodes of the Tenth Doctor. He's had a nice break since then and frankly, I didn't have a pressing need to see him back. John Simm played him beautifully and Missy is just annoying (she can regenerate now; it's fine by me). Missy could have been the Rani, that would be entertaining. But it is what it is. And now Cybermen are descending on London--as they have before. We still have one more part to go. The Christ-Savior-Doctor versus his antithesis. And apparently it's the souls of mankind in play. How...apocalyptic.

Miscellaneous Notes on Dark Water

--"Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?"

--Doctor Skarosa. Like, Skaro? The planet of the Daleks? Gee, why do I think Davros might be coming back into play? He also burned the last time we saw him. Crackpot? Possibly.

--That was way too much kissing from Missy and the Doctor, but thankfully he thought so too. "You're very...realistic." "Tongue?" "Shut up."

--Is Danny going to "delete" himself? Obviously, "delete" here means upload as a Cyberman--it is their catch phrase after all. 

--To destroy a TARDIS key you throw it into lava. So, the TARDIS key is the Ring and you must take it to Mount Doom. Another preciousssssss.

--How does this end next week? There is no "saving" Danny; he's dead. But can the Doctor save the dead from being reborn into metal suits? That'll be...interesting.