Sunday, August 31, 2014

In Which I Review Doctor Who (8x2)

The Fourth Doctor: Do I have the right? Simply touch one wire against the other, and it's it? The Daleks cease to exist? Hundreds of millions of people, thousands of generations, can live without fear, in peace, and never even know the word "Dalek"? 
--Genesis of the Daleks, 1975
What would the Doctor be without his Daleks? And what would they, in turn, be without him? When I learned that the Daleks were coming to this weeks episode, "Into the Dalek," I was rather nervous. Under Moffat's tenure, the Daleks have gotten a bit of a rough shake. Moffat prefers the creatures of his design, the Silence or the Weeping Angels instead of the classic monsters of Doctor Who. For example, Moffat erased the entire history of the Doctor and the Daleks in one episode, something I was not too keen on. But I have to admit, that this episode was rather good. It returned to one cornerstone of the Doctor Who universe, the sheer unadulterated hatred of the Doctor and the Daleks and whether or not their hatred is moral. I like when Doctor Who explores morality. We tend to see the Doctor (and, let's be honest, it's how he sees himself) as a hero, a good man who swoops down and saves the day with a witty remarks and a smile. But one thing we forget is that behind that young veneer beats the heart(s) of a man who knows what it is to hate. The reason I quoted Genesis of the Daleks at the start is because this weeks episode felt very reminiscent of that: the moral quandary of whether or not Daleks can be anything besides pure evil and whether or not the Doctor can ever find it in him to have more than loathing for a Dalek. This episode did not reinvent the wheel, however. It takes a lot of cues from the 2005 episode "Dalek" and ties it in with the season 3 arc of "Daleks Take Manhattan" as well as the season 4 finale of the Dalek who betrays Davros because the Dalek saw the error of its ways. What this episode was, though, was a return to center. To that place that made Doctor Who more than just timey wimey science fiction mumbo jumbo. The morality of the Doctor. Is he a good man?  

I want to get this portion of the episode out of the way because, while I'm sure he'll be important later on, Danny is not at the moment. So, this is Danny Pink. He's a new teacher (math) at Clara's school. Clara seems to like Danny right away, though Danny is a bit shy and fumbles around her. He's cute in that "obviously traumatized' sort of way. Danny was a solider and based on his reaction to the question of it he's ever killed someone who wasn't a solider, I'm going to go out on a limb and say he's a tragically troubled soul who will find comfort and peace in space travel and in Clara's arms. If the rumors that Jenna Louise Coleman is leaving Doctor Who at the end of Christmas are true, this might be her ticket out. Clara would not be the first companion to leave the TARDIS for a life of being settled down instead of being pulled through time and space. My overall impression to Danny at the moment is pretty neutral. He was cute but didn't really make a lasting impression; he's better than Rose's Mickey Smith but not as cool as Jack Harkness. Movin' on...

So, briefly, it has been about three weeks since the Doctor last saw Clara. In fact, he's literally holding the coffee he promised her in last weeks episode. The Doctor got distracted by a thing (which is totally Doctor of him. Please never change that.) The thing he got distracted by was saving the life of a fighter pilot while she was in mid-flight, fighting the Daleks. I want to talk a little about how the Doctor treats this poor fighter pilot. The 10th and 11th Doctors would have made sure she was okay as she is obviously confused and in emotional distress. The Doctor treats her as if she should simply be grateful that he saved her life. When she pulls a gun on him and demands to be taken to her ship, the Doctor refuses to do so until she is polite about it. He seems to expect gratitude, not hostility. When the pilot mentions her dead brother, the Doctor is pretty cold about it. That's a big difference between past Doctors and the 12th Doctor. I like it. The Doctor is very concerned with his own morality because I think he knows that he is a much darker, and as we will see shortly, pragmatic version of his past lives. When the Doctor learns that the humans have a Dalek on board that claims to be good and wishes to destroy all the Daleks for the humans, the Doctor can't help but be intrigued and reflect his own moral ambiguity on to the "sick" Dalek. Morality as a malfunction--perfect sum of the 12th Doctor thus far. Even Clara isn't quite sure what the Doctor is in terms of good and evil; when he asks if he's a good man her only response is, "I don't know." The Doctor has always walked a fine line but he's teetered more toward being good than straight up bad. The 9th Doctor was too damaged from the Time War to ponder morality, knowing that his own was gray. The 10th Doctor wasn't a man who offered second chances but the point was he offered first ones. And the 11th Doctor had rules to keep him regulated. 12? I don't think 12 has rules, or if he does, they aren't ones we're used to seeing. 

The Doctor, Clara, and a team of soldiers literally go inside the Doctor to see if they can't "heal" the good Dalek. It's the one place the Doctor has never been before when it comes to the Daleks and it's quite intriguing. When one of the soldiers makes the very dumb decision to shoot the inside of the Dalek, the team is attacked by antibodies. Now, here's where we get the single biggest change in the Doctor. One of the soldiers, Ross, is in danger of dying from the Dalek antibodies. The Doctor throws him a pill and tells Ross to trust him and take it. When Ross does, the Dalek antibodies instantly kill him. The Doctor's response "He was dead already, I was saving us." This is quite different. This is not to say that Doctors 9-11 didn't loose humans, of course they did. But, rather, they would have done everything humanly (of Time Lordy) possible to save the human first. And if the human had died, it would have greatly upset the Doctor. So for the Doctor to participate in the death of a human for the pragmatic reason of saving everyone else is a bit alarming, and yet fits with this darker Doctor. When the other soldiers get upset that the Doctor let Ross die, the Doctor gives it very little thought and even goes so far as to make light of it with a joke. 

So now we reach the heart of the Dalek and the Doctor sees that the repair for the creature is quite simple and does it gladly. And what happens? The Dalek reverts. His "goodness" was a malfunction and now the evil Dalek is back. And the Doctor is secretly pleased, or so Clara notes. It means that the Doctor was right: there are no good Daleks, there are only evil ones and by assuring the Dalek morality, he's assured his own. If the Daleks are evil then he, The Doctor, is ipso facto good. But Clara points out that this is not the case. This is not what the Doctor has learned today. The Doctor learned that it is possible for the Daleks to be good with the right stimulus and experiences. Of course, a lot of this episode wants us to examine the Doctor and Dalek as a unit. Is the Doctor inherently good or is he made good by his various stimuli and experiences? Can the Doctor be made to be good if there is a danger that he is not?

So what turned the Dalek good? A simple experience: it saw a star being born. Now, the Daleks have destroyed millions of stars but what changed the Dalek's mind was the knowledge that life wills out. Resistance to life is futile; its consciousness was expanded because it saw that its attempts to destroy all life was never going to succeed. How lovely. So while Clara is doing a clever thing, the Doctor gets inside the Dalek's head, merges with it, and says to look inside the Doctor's soul to re-understand beauty. It works, after a fashion. The Dalek sees beauty, divine perfection but one more thing that I don't think the Doctor was counting on: hatred. It sees the never ending hatred the Doctor has for the Daleks and it takes that hatred and makes it its own. It rewires it's agenda: instead of exterminating all the humans, it will exterminate all the Daleks because they are evil, just like the Doctor's soul believes. So did the Doctor make the Dalek objectively good? Nope. But he did make the Dalek like him and what is the Doctor--a good Dalek.

Miscellaneous Notes on Into the Dalek

--Yeah, Missy appeared again, along with her "heaven." I don't know what to do with her and this whole concept which is why I'm ignoring it for the moment. A few theories passing around the internet: she is the Master in a gender swap version of that Time Lord. It's very possible; Moffat has said he wouldn't bring back the Master unless he had a very unique vision for him. The other theory is that she is the Rani from the Classic Era, which I doubt because Moffat doesn't really stick his toes into the classic era all that much. 

--I think the success of this episode owes a lot of Phil Ford who wrote everything but the Danny/Clara and Missy scenes. Ford also wrote "The Water's of Mars" one of the best episodes of the 10th Doctor's time. 

--I adore that the Doctor openly insults Clara but in that "older brother" sort of way. 

--Lots of cute one-liners. A smattering of quotes:
"You're not my boss. You're my hobby."
"Don't be lasagna."
"Are you out of your mind?" "No, I'm inside the mind of a Dalek."
--When the 12th Doctor started talking about Skaro, I got chills.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

In Which I Review Under the Dome (2x9)

It's rather hard to write about this show after watching the Emmy Awards where good, quality TV was honored. This weeks episode, "The Red Door," wasn't horrible though! Which, when it comes to Under the Dome, is really saying something. Or maybe it wasn't that horrible because I DVR'd instead of watching it live, thereby saving myself 20 minuets of agonizing idiocy. Whatever the case may be, there were no questions answered but at least everyone got back into one location by episodes end. Having people in both Zenith and in Chester's Mill was becoming annoying because the plot in Chester's Mill really slowed down. Oh, and more people that I don't care about! I should come up with nicknames for them. Just for fun. Let's take this geographically instead of plot wise. 


In Zenith

Papa-Q is holding Barbie hostage. Oh, by the way, Papa-Q has a real name; it's Don. But I refuse to call him Don because Papa-Q is a much better name. Papa-Q wants one thing and one thing only: love and acceptance. No, I'm just messing; he wants the egg. This damn egg. The precious! It is apparently a power source and Papa-Q is a man who knows power. So long as Barbie can get Julia to bring the egg to Zenith, or just throw it down the proverbial rabbit hole, Barbie will be let go and everything will be just fine. Of course Barbie is smart enough to realize that Papa-Q is shady as hell and we should not trust him. When Barbie refuses to give up the goods, Papa-Q has him beaten. This will not lead to therapy, I'm sure.

In another part of Zenith, Pauline, Sam, and Lyle hatch (heh, egg joke) a plan of their own. They need to find the red door. The door can see into the future! The door can see into your soul!!!!! (Is Charlie the Unicorn too outdated for anyone to get that reference?) Pauline helpfully tells us that doors symbolize a way in. No! You don't say! I never knew that. Boy, I'm glad I have that information handy. I was under the mistaken impression that doors symbolize lemon cakes. Lyle, not so helpfully, tells us that in the Old Testament, the Hebrews of Egypt put blood on their doors to save themselves from death. It was a sacrifice thing. Good. Helpful. Why is Lyle still around?  He's not singing which was really the main point of Under the Dome getting Dwight Yokam in the first place. The three amigos take a little interlude to the playground where Lyle, Sam, and Barbie came through, but it yields nothing in the way of helpful, except that they are clearly being followed by thugs. So many thugs! All dressed in black! Blend in, you morons!

So, who here is surprised that Pauline and Hunter know each other? I know I'm not. Because why wouldn't they? I'm sure this town only has three people in it: Papa-Q, Pauline, and Hunter. The thugs are imported from the next town over. The others you see walking around are a series of biological ephemera that don't really exist. Hunter has a buddy who looks surprisingly like Toby from Pretty Little Liars. But it's Not-Toby. I don't really know who this Not-Toby is, but he works for Hunter and the Hounds of Diana, the underground newspaper that wants to tell people the truth about the Dome. Okay, do we all know the story of Diana (Artemis) and Actaeon? Basically: Actaeon stumbled upon Diana bathing naked in the river, she gets pissy, turns him into a stag, and dogs eat him. So you've got the energy company (Actaeon) spying on the Dome, and the Hounds of Diana are trying to take the company down. I wonder if Papa-Q will turn into a stag. Anyway, Barbie meets up with Pauline (I have no idea how, I think Papa-Q let him go, under a ruse?) and Barbie tells Pauline that Sam killed Angie. Pauline is only upset about this until Sam tells her that he would never hurt Junior. Um. Wrong? You tried to suffocate him after you got him drunk. Pauline declares that they must return to Chester's Mill to atone for their sins and rescue Junior. Luckily, Barbie knows where the Red Door is! It's in his backyard! Oh happy day! I am so sarcastic right now. And what is through the Red Door, Alice? Why a long tunnel that leads back to Chester's Mill, of course! But wait? What's that? A SWIRLING VORTEX OF TERROR?! Can we talk about the bizarre special effects of this vortex of terror? Wow. Everyone steps into the Vortex and sees images from the past. Pauline sees Melanie at the sight of the egg crash; Sam sees a sad Junior at Pauline's funeral; and Barbie remembers when he was very young and Melanie (still the same age she is now) told him to mark the red door with his hand. It was very cryptic; apparently Melanie's "mom" wanted them to meet. How...odd. Barbie's going to die isn't he? That's almost sad. Everyone except Lyle appears in the Chester's Mill Lake, and set off for their various tasks. Welcome home, kids. It's about to get a whole lot weirder.

In Chester's Mill

There wasn't much happening this week in Chester's Mill, but really fast: Big Jim knows that Barbie is alive and decides to strike a deal with the guards outside the Dome. He'll give them the egg is they let him and his son go free. Now, to be fair to Jim, he did first ask if he could bring the entire town and was told no. That's pretty impressive for the narcissistic asshole. Melanie and Junior decide to hide the egg in the cellar formerly known as Angie's-live-in-apartment. The episode ends with Pauline going home and Big Jim finding her in his house. And now he knows his wife is still alive! Cue dramatic music.

Miscellaneous Notes on The Red Door

--I am ignoring everything about Science Teacher Pine. She no longer exists in my head.

--"I thought you could build an egg detector or something."

--"I died for the egg once!" Oh god. Someone kill Melanie again

--"If you still believe in coincidence, then you're not paying attention." Wise words, Lyle.

--Melanie is a creeper. I cannot say how much I enjoy that this show is turning their imatatio Christi into a skank.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

In Which I Review Doctor Who (8x1)

Welcome back, Whovians!. Doctor Who has been off the air for 8 months but at long last the TARDIS (literally) crash landed back onto television. A quick confession: I don't remember much of Season 7. Now this might be willfully forgetting what was, in reality, an incredibly weak season or maybe I just need a refresher. At any rate, the previous season of Doctor Who was the poorest to date but I am remaining confident that some new blood, in the form of Peter Capaldi's 12th Doctor, will bring the show back to a more even setting. The opening episode for any new Doctor is always worrisome. It might take awhile for the Doctor to find his footing; this is also true for the writers who are trying to create a new person who still somehow resembles his past lives. It's a tall task and, even as I am trying to remain optimistic, one that I'm not sure Steven Moffat is up to anymore. While I grinned and laughed through the whole of this episode, called "Deep Breath," it was more due to having my beloved Doctor Who back on screen rather than anything penned by Moffat. However, Peter Capaldi is wonderful and he sold me, totally, on this, his first real adventure as the time traveling space man. 

What's the number one sign that you're watching an episode of Doctor Who? Possibly that there is a giant tyrannosaurs rex inexplicably walking toward Big Ben. We're in Victorian London, a place that a dinosaur should just not be. Our good friends Madame Vastar, a lizard lady from the dawn of time, her wife Jenny, and their constant companion Strax the Sontarian are on hand to witness the dino's rampage through the Thames. But the poor lizard has a bit of a sore throat and in a spectacular cough (can I call this a cough. I'm going to call it a cough) spits out something (and yes, you should know where this is going): The TARDIS. Well, that's one way to make an entrance. As with all new Doctors, the 12th Doctor is a bit of a crazy man post-regeneration. He's speaking nonsense, has no idea who anyone is, and is more or less openly flirting with a dinosaur. The mania will continue for most of the episode, though the Doctor gets a brief respite as he is put to bed. Clara, meanwhile, is very worried because of how crazy the Time Lord is acting and asks Madame Vastra, "how do we fix him? How do we change him back?"

Now, this is a big problem for me. Clara has been called the Impossible Girl since she first began traveling with the Doctor. As was explained by the end of season 7, Clara has been moving through the Doctor's timeline, seeing all his faces and adventures. Clara, in other words, is very familiar with the regeneration process. She should not be shocked that the Doctor changes his visage or that the Doctor more often than not looks like an older man. A few gray hairs should not be upsetting Clara. I get that the 11th Doctor and Clara had a bit more of a 10/Rose type relationship, but unlike Rose who was allowed to be scared and angry when the Doctor changed his face, this shouldn't make Clara act like a petulant teenager. Madame Vastra calls her out on this behavior, though Clara tries to side step it and say that Vastra is just projecting her own desires on to Clara. This whole conversation, which was mostly spoken in metaphor involving veils, was a bit convoluted. Get over yourself, Clara. You miss the hot young guy, it's cool.

The Doctor never stays in one place for long. And, yes Doctor, doors are boring and totally not your style. (Yeah, I laughed at this bit). The Doctor, still dressed in a dressing gown, sneaks out of Madame Vastra's house in order to talk to a dinosaur. He wants to assure the dino that he'll take her home and he's really sorry that his TARDIS picked her up in the first place. And then...the dinosaur burst into flames. Erm, okay? Unexpected exploding dino is unexpected. The Doctor and Clara remain apart for awhile longer as the Doctor is wandering the streets of London both searching for answers and having what can only be called an existential life crisis. He wants to know if anyone has ever seen his face before, which is a bit of an inside joke since actor Peter Capaldi was in the Season 4 episode, "The Fires of Pompeii" and well as in Torchwood and thus his face isn't really new so much as recycled. Actually makes me wonder if the Doctor's faces are all people he's run into over time and he's just replicating them at random. If this review feels like it's moving slowly, it's because the episode was also moving slowly. There were a lot of random unnecessary moments that felt like time fillers because Moffat had to make a 72 min episode and needed "stuff." For example, why does Clara randomly need a medical exam from Strax? She doesn't. We finally get back on track when Clara finds an advert in the paper: "Impossible Girl. Lunch on the other side." Clara obviously thinks this is the Doctor's way of getting in touch and asking her to meet; the issue is that the Doctor didn't place it and he thinks Clara placed it. There's a mystery afoot! (And yes, that's a Sherlock reference and yes that means tea. I get it Moffat! You created Sherlock!)

Welcome to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe! No, wait. That's a different science fiction franchise. Welcome to the last restaurant you'd ever want to eat at! The Doctor and Clara have a conversation about which of them is an egomaniac game player and the Doctor confesses that he doesn't want Clara to change. You can tell that the Doctor is worried that his new "old" face is a game changer, to which I once again yell "nonsense!" So, back to the plot...the restaurant is full of machines who are made up of human parts--skin, hair, eyes, liver, brains. And the Doctor and Clara are next on the menu. The pair get sucked into the underground lair of the machines, which, of course, turns out to be a space ship that is centuries old. There, humans are harvested for their various bits and pieces. It's a metaphor, guys. Bits and pieces of humanity crammed on to something that isn't human at all (yeah, I'm looking at you, Doctor). And this is where the plot gets really heavy and if I'm being perfectly honest, a bit boring. It's also a total riff on an episode that Moffat wrote 5 seasons ago, "The Girl In the Fireplace." Now, at the time, that episode was fantastic. Now I'm worried that Moffat is trying to repackage his old work and resell it to me. You have cyborgs who are harvesting human parts in order to make their space ship--the SS Marie Antoinette--fly. Sound familiar? The Madame de Pompadour was the name of the ship back in Season 2 and it even got a shout out in this episode! I can only assume that Moffat is going somewhere with this and that he isn't just rehasing old ideas for the sake of it.

 There is a question that permeates throughout the episode: is the Doctor a good man? It’s true that with every incarnation, some things stay the same, namely the Doctor’s moral code of saving the defenseless and having a respect and almost childlike awe at the different forms of life in the universe. The question posited does not get answered in this episode. At one point the Doctor abandons Clara to the machines that are, in essence, trying to eat her. But the Doctor comes back at just the right moment, reinforcing Clara’s belief that he always has her back. In the next few moments, though, the Doctor and the head cyborg end up alone, discussing life and humanity before it is alluded that the Doctor murdered the cyborg by pushing him out of the TARDIS, though this, in the end, is equally unclear. Either the Doctor did the deed or the cyborg jumped. If we take one thing away from this episode, it’s that we’re looking at a different Doctor; the knight in shinning armor has been roughed up a bit and this new man is a more gray incarnation (both literally and metaphorically). There's something to be said about the "broom" conversation. If you keep pulling yourself apart and replacing bits and bobs over time, are you still the same man? No, of course you're not. The Doctor is going to be darker, I think, than what we've seen in the past. Did he kill the Cyborg? I'm leaning towards yes. Though, it turned out okay for the Cyborg in the end, given that he ended up in paradise. I have no idea what to make of this bit. Who the hell is Missy? What is this heaven? And what is going on? I'm guessing that's the big mystery of the season.

Was this necessary? At all? I am probably alone in my opinion that the Matt Smith guest appearance at the end of the episode was cheesy.  It took away from Smith’s wonderful regeneration scene and magnificent final line, “I’ll always remember when the Doctor was me.” That was how I wanted to remember Matt Smith’s incarnation, not a man making one final pleading phone call, reaching out to a companion who, as I said, shouldn’t be torn about traveling with the Doctor. This just felt excessive and cheap, one final way to get Matt Smith on the screen for all his fans before truly passing the torch. But that's not fair to the other Doctors who regenerated and never got this sort of moment. And again, I have to say, it makes no sense for Clara to be questioning not traveling with the Doctor simply because he regenerated. The 12th Doctor and Clara have a nice little moment where she finally "sees" him and decides to stick around. Overall, this episode was good but not great. It got seriously bogged down in the plot and dragged quite a bit. Peter Capaldi is magnificent, though. He's going to be a great Doctor. 


Miscellaneous Notes on Deep Breath

--He may not be a great show runner, but Moffat does know how to write a great line or two. Here's smattering of great quotes:

"It just laid an egg!" "It dropped a blue box marked police out of its mouth. Your grasp on biology...troubles me." 
"You remember...thingy! Not me, the asking questions one."
"Sorry it's my new hands! Can't tell them apart"
"MELT HIM WITH ACID!"
"Give him hell, he'll always need it"

--Strax needs his own spinoff. 

--Heavy religious overtones are heavy! 

--Did you notice all the mirrors? Are we looking at a parallel universe? 



Saturday, August 23, 2014

In Which I Predict the 66th Primetime Emmy Award Winners

I watch a lot of television. I think this fact over the past year of this almost solely focused television blog has become quite apparent. I thought it would be a fun experiment this year to actually write down my own predictions for the Emmy Awards. Sometimes, the Emmy's get it so clearly wrong (looking at you Jeff Daniels in 2013) that it is nice to say "this is what should have won." So here you'll find my "who should win" and "who will win" because often the Emmy's go in a different direction than the one I'd like them to go. I'm sticking with just the most major categories, and avoiding anything that involves directing since I find directing hard to judge. 


Ready? Light, camera, aaaaaaand action!





Genre: Comedy

Outstanding Comedy Series
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Louie
  • Modern Family
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Silicon Valley
  • Veep
 What Should WinOrange is the New Black
This is more than a comedy; the Netflix based show could probably easily go up against some other dramas and still come away as fresh and innovative. This is a comedy that yes, makes you laugh, but it also makes you think, something all too rare when it comes to situational sitcoms. The show has heart, fantastic acting, real life drama, and some of the most rewarding and fleshed out characters on "television" that I've seen. It should take the statue, no questions asked. 

What Will Win:  Modern Family
Sadly, I don't think the the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is quite ready to acknowledge the awesome power that is Netflix. Look at how long it took them to open up to cable shows like The Sopranos. Give the Academy a few more years, and they'll jump on board just like the rest of America. But for now, they'll stick with what they know and Modern Family has taken the trophy several years running. It will again. 

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
  • Louis C.K (Louis)
  • Don Cheadle  (House of Lies)
  • Ricky Gervais (Derek)
  • Matt LeBlanc (Episodes)
  • William H. Macy (Shameless)
  • Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
 Who Should Win: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory  
Okay, I'm a bit biased because I think Sheldon Cooper is one of the best characters on network television right now, but it's not without some measure of truth. Parsons is the breakaway star of the comedy show and has already won this award a few times. Sheldon Cooper's version of funny is somewhere between weird, endearing, and off putting. He's the reason people tune in week after week (all 19 million of them)

Who Will Win: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Louis C.K is maybe the only other person who could give Parsons a run for his money, but the Academy will stick with safer, tested waters this year. Louis C.K has been up for this every year against Parsons and it's never gone to him. 


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
  • Lena Dunham (Girls)
  • Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie)
  • Julia-Louise Dreyfus (Veep)
  • Melissa McCarthy (Mike and Molly)
  • Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)
  • Taylor Shilling (Orange is the New Black)
 Who Should Win: Taylor Shilling (Orange is the New Black) 
Shilling gives an incredible performance as Piper Chapman. The show relies both on slap stick, situational comedy, but also the comedy of the heart when people are put into impossible situations. I not only laughed with and at Piper, but I also felt for her. That's rare to find in a comedy. 

Who Will Win: Julia-Louis Dreyfus (Veep)
The Academy is kind of in love with Julia and "Veep." I don't blame them; Veep is funny and Dreyfus is great as the Vice President, but this is one of those times when someone else deserves it more. What it comes down to the Academy and whether or not they're ready to acknowledge non-television TV. 


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
  • Fred Armisen (Portlandia)
  • Andre Baugher  (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
  •  Ty Burrell  (Modern Family)
  •  Adam Driver (Girls)
  • Jesse Tyler Furgeson (Modern Family)
  • Tony Hale (Veep)

Who Should Win: Tony Hale (Veep)
In case you haven't figured it out, Tony Hale is kind of a comedic genius. I swear he makes most of it up on the fly. Take for instance last year's awards, where he followed Julia-Louis Dreyfus up on stage when she won and acted out his role as if he were on the show Veep instead of on stage. 

Who Will Win: Tony Hale (Veep)
For all the reasons I just listed, but also because is competition in this category can't really touch him. Armisen's role in Portlandia might come close, but Hale is far and away funnier than all of these men on this list. I think he's a shoe-in. 


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
  • Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory)
  • Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
  • Anna Chlumsky (Veep)
  • Allison Janney (Mom)
  •  Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
  • Kate Mulgrew (Orange is the New Black)


Who Should Win: Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theroy) OR Kate Mulgrew (Orange is the New Black)
Both actresses are simply fantastic in their respective roles and both deserve the win. Bialik keeps getting denied so it would be nice for her to finally win. Mulgrew deserve to win just for her delivery of this line alone: "All I wanted was to eat the chicken, that is smarter than other chickens, and absorb its power."

Who Will Win: Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Because the world is cold and cruel and unfair. Look, I know this is a funny show. But honestly, pass the torch already. Both Bialik and Mulgrew are much funnier in shows that are far more entertaining than Modern Family.  


Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series
  • Episodes
  • Louis
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Silicon Valley
  • Veep

What Should Win: Orange is the New Black
Are you sensing a theme here? Cause you should. 

What Will Win: Veep
I have hopes that the Academy will someday recognize Orange is the New Black (and Netflix shows in general) but until then, they are still deeply enamored of cable TV as something new and shiny without realizing that we've moved beyond. 


Genre: Miniseries

Outstanding Miniseries
  • American Horror Story: Coven
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • Fargo
  • Luther
  • Treme
  • The White Queen

What Should Win: Fargo OR Luther
I don't care which one, but it needs (NEEDS) to be one of them. Come on, Academy. Prove to me that you aren't predictable and stupid. Give it to both if you can't decide, that's fine with me. 

What Will Win: American Horror Story: Coven
Please no. I know this show is incredibly popular but this wasn't their strongest season. The show is getting a bit too bizarre and relying on shock and the fandom love to get it by. Luther and Fargo were both stellar and way above anything AHS is ever going to do.   


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
  • Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dancing on the Edge)
  • Idris Elba (Luther)
  • Martin Freeman (Fargo)
  • Mark Ruffalo (The Normal Heart)
  • Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo)

Who Should Win: Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
Because freaking reasons that's why. Okay, I have reasons outside of this being one of my favorite TV shows. Cumberbatch submitted "His Last Vow' for nomination, probably the strongest performance he's given to date as Sherlock. His mania is over the top, but it's combined with a lot of heart in his interactions with Watson and Mycroft.

Who Will Win: Anyone's Game!
 Honestly, this category is impossible for me to predict because so many of the actors really nailed these performances. I lean toward Cumberbatch as my favorite, but Idris Elba, Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton deserve it as well. If I had to predict, gun to my head style, I'd say Billy Bob Thornton will take it.    

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
  •  Helena Bohnam Carter (Burton and Taylor)
  • Minnie Driver (Return to Zero)
  • Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Coven)
  • Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story: Coven)
  • Kristen Wiig (The Spoils of Babylon)

Who Should Win: Massive Shrug!
 Honestly, I have no ideas on this one. Helena Bonham Carter would get my vote simply because I love her as an actress but this is a category that is hard for me to give one over the other. 

Who Will Win: Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Coven)
I would be shocked if she didn't win at this point. Her nominations are beginning to feel obligatory simply because everyone loves her. I'm not a huge fan, though I acknowledge her popularity and the popularity of the show. Up against everyone else, she probably has the best bet, maybe apart from her costar Sarah Paulson. 


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
  • Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart)
  • Martin Freeman (Sherlock)
  • Colin Hanks (Fargo)
  • Joe Mantello (The Normal Heart)
  • Alfred Molina (The Normal Heart)
  • Jim Parsons (The Normal Heart)

Who Should Win: Martin Freeman (Sherlock)
Freeman had an overall great season as John Watson on Sherlock. His heartbreaking conversation when he discovers that his wife Mary is not who he thought broke my insides. He truly deserves some recognition for his role. 

Who Will Win: Someone from The Normal Heart
Holy crap, the odds are stacked in this shows favor. Take your pick of any of the four, though the Academy might give it to Parsons just out of sheer love for him. 


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
  •  Angela Basset (American Horror Story: Coven)
  • Kathy Bates (American Horror Story: Coven)
  • Ellen Burstyn  (Flowers in the Attic)
  •  Frances Conroy (American Horror Story: Coven)
  • Julia Roberts (The Normal Heart)
  • Allison Tolman (Fargo)
 Who Should Win: Allison Tolman (Fargo)
I'd give it to her for the accent alone. She was adorable and cute and wonderful. I'm all in favor of giving it to a newbie who gave a very solid performance. But that's not often how these things work. 
Who Will Win Ellen Burstyn (Flowers in the Attic)
It was a good adaption of the famous novel and Burstyn played her part well. She's also Hollywood elite which I think always gives them a leg up, even if in theory it shouldn't matter if you're just starting out or have been in the business for a long time. 


Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or Movie
  • American Horror Story: Coven
  • Fargo
  • Luther
  • The Normal Heart
  • Sherlock
  • Treme

What Should Win: Fargo OR Luther
Take your pick, both are simply outstanding. Why not Sherlock, you ask? Because then Steven Moffat would get an award and I'm not in favor of giving awards to men who take everything that is beautiful and good in the world and slowly destroy it over time because of their own ego. Give him time, he'll kill Sherlock too, I'm sure. 

What Will Win: Fargo
Maybe I'm dreaming here, but I think the Academy may actually recognize that Fargo has a stronger writing season than their beloved American Horror Story: Coven. However, it's likely that I'm deluded and it will go to ASH: Coven. 


Genre: Drama

Outstanding Dramatic Series
  • Breaking Bad
  • Downton Abbey
  • Game of Thrones 
  • House of Cards
  • Mad Men
  • True Detective 

What Should Win: Breaking Bad
It pains me to say it, but Mad Men doesn't have a shot in hell this year. It should absolutely, without question be Breaking Bad. There is no way around this. I love Mad Men passionately and I adore House of Cards and Game of Thrones (while problematic for a book reader) is still good. But none of this matters after you watch the episode "Ozymandias" from Breaking Bad  
    
What Will Win: Breaking Bad
I don't make the rules, guys. It's going to win. Any argument you try to come up with as to why it shouldn't is going to fall on deaf ears. If it doesn't win, then I'll move to Mars. Seriously, it's going to win. 


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Dramatic Series
  •  Bryan Cranston  (Breaking Bad)
  • Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom)
  • Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
  • Woody Harrelson (True Detective)
  • Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)
  • Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)

Who Should Win: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
There is, quite simply put, no debate here. Have you seen "Ozymandias"? If not, go watch. I'll wait for you to come back and try to explain why he shouldn't win. You won't be able to.
Who Will Win: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
There will be blood if he doesn't. I'm not kidding. If Jeff Daniels usurps him again this year, then I give up on TV altogether. It's going to be Cranston. It's his last time for an Emmy for his role on a show that will go down as one of the single greatest things to ever happen on TV.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Dramatic Series
  • Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex)
  • Claire Danes (Homeland)
  • Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey)
  • Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
  • Kerry Washington (Scandal)
  • Robin Wright (House of Cards)

Who Should Win: Kerry Washington (Scandal)
I struggled really hard with this one. Washington is my pick because she manages to be strong yet vulnerable and we don't have enough strong black leading ladies on TV these days and it's a crime. However I adore (adore adore adore) Lizzy Caplan on Masters of Sex. If she takes it, I'll be thrilled. 

Who Will Win: Clare Danes (Homeland)
I think we're looking at Danes taking it simply because she's taken it before. When it comes to drama, the Academy has really been focusing on cable TV and Danes does do a good job on Homeland, though I find the show tedious after awhile. We could be looking at upset here, if they give it to Robin Wright, though I personally thought her season one performance on House of Cards was better than her season two performance. 

Side Note: The real winner of this category SHOULD be Tatiana Maslany for Orphan Black but for some asinine idiotic reason that has yet to be properly explained, she wasn't even nominated which is a crime against good sense.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Dramatic Series
  • Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)
  • Josh Charles (The Good Wife)
  • Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
  • Mandy Patinkin (Homeland)
  • Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
  • Jon Voight (Ray Donovan)

Who Should Win: Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
As someone who has been reading the A Song of Ice and Fire Books for almost 10 years, I fully recognize that the writers on Game of Thrones have totally whitewashed Tyrion Lannister. However, that doesn't change the fact that Dinklage is simply stunning. He deserves all the awards for THIS performance alone.  

Who Will Win: Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
It pains me to say it, but Aaron doesn't deserve it this year. The second half of the final season of Breaking Bad was very light when it came to Jesse Pinkman, as it should have been to let Walter White really finish his story. However, there is nostalgia at play here. This is it for Breaking Bad and the whole gang. The swan song will win out. 


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series
  • Christine Baranski (The Good Wife)
  • Joanna Froggatt  (Downton Abbey)
  • Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)
  • Lena Headey  (Game of Thrones)
  • Christiana Hendricks (Mad Men)
  • Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)


Who Should Win: Joanna Froggatt (Downton Abbey)
She had a really strong season and I think deserves to win just because she doesn't get recognized the way she should. Everyone always sings Maggie Smith's praises but Joanna is going great work too.  

Who Will Win: Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)
It would surprise me if it went to anyone else, the same as it would surprise me if anyone other Cranston and Aaron Paul take home their own trophies. The nostalgia factor is great here. Breaking Bad will go down as monumental and the Academy wants to recognize that one more time. 


Outstanding Writing for a Dramatic Series
  •  Breaking Bad (episode: Ozymandias)
  • Breaking Bad (episode: Felina)
  • Game of Thrones
  • House of Cards
  • True Detective 

What Should Win: Breaking Bad (episode Ozymandias)
Have you watched it? No? Come back when you have. I'll wait. 

What Will Win: Breaking Bad (episode: Ozymandias)
Shoe-in. Absolute shoe-in.     

 



Thursday, August 21, 2014

In Which I Review Extant (1x7) and (1x8)

I don't understand. Those are my first and final thoughts for the two hour, two episode, Extant event. I hate two hour episodes. One episode always feels like filler and another one stretches my ability to sit still and focus for any length of time. Nevertheless, Extant did a two hour/two episode special this week, "More in Heaven and Earth" and "Incursion." And once again, so many plot lines! More were introduced this week and it's frustrating to have to keep track of people I didn't think mattered. Why is there suddenly an anti-machine terrorist organization that has decided Ethan should be their first target? Too much, Extant! The main thrust of the episode was more or less revving up for some conclusion that is, I think, two weeks away. A lot of big plot points were developed this week, though I still find the alien baby plot to be among the weakest and dullest of the series. I think instead of going episode by episode, I'm going to tackle each person and give an overview of where they are by the end of the two hours. 

John: trying to find Molly, worried about Ethan, questioning his own work.

I like that John and Molly are very much a team when it comes to the alien baby. He's by her side, giving Molly the kind of support she needs in a crisis like this. Apart from being the support system, John is rather detached from the alien baby plot line. His center, as it has always been, is Ethan and the work John does with humanics. John is beginning to question if Ethan is advancing too far for Ethan to even be considered human anymore. Humans develop, to be sure, but at a so-called natural rate. I did not wake up this morning with the ability to speak Japanese, for instance. Ethan, however, did. And that's terrifying for John. This rapid fire development might prove his critics right: the humanic cannot be a human because it is fundamentally a machine and even if it becomes self-aware, it is self-awareness of being a machine and thus more than human. How long before the self-aware machine decides it is better than self-aware humans? The worry John has is to the point where he wants to turn off Ethan and try to fix this rapid development so that Ethan develops at a more normal rate. Essentially: kill the kid and remake him in my image. You are not God, John. Various people around John are opposed to this, like Julia and Molly. Just because Ethan is advancing quickly doesn't mean he's not human; you can argue that people develop at different rates as well. It is said that one of the hallmarks of humanity is self-preservation; it's a trait we hold dear, that our lives are important and need to be protected. Well, Ethan seems to developing that trait as well. When John decides to go through with turning Ethan off, he is locked out of Ethan's computer system by Ethan himself.

Ethan: finding his function

Machine or human? The lines are very blurry when it comes to Ethan right now. He has advanced development like the ability to suddenly speak Japanese and ride a bike, despite never having been on one. But at the the same time, Ethan is displaying traits that are at the core of what it means to be human. He's self-aware and has been from the start of the show; he has a sense of self-preservation, as shown by shutting John out of his computer system so he cannot be turned off; Ethan has a compassionate streak in him. In the second hour, Ethan is attacked by some bullies after he witnesses them blowing up another machine, a non self-aware one at that. Ethan insists that John bring the machine home with them because, "it needs our help." John sees this machine as just that--a machine. It doesn't have a higher function or life and is not self-aware. But Ethan sees a peer, another machine just like him who cannot be left out in the cold, because if this machine can be, then so can he. And finally, Ethan questions his own existence. When Julia tries to explain that the non self-aware machine no longer has a function, Ethan's response is "what is my function?" It's probably the most basic human question of them all: what is my purpose, why am I here, why was I created? (Side note but the writers of Extant are clearly big fans of the first Star Trek movie and the idea of Veeger) John is actually getting exactly what he set out to create: a machine that could go beyond mimicking humans to being human. But be careful what you wish for.

Sparks and Hidecki: unhinged and creepy.

I don't know what to make of these two. They are working together but are they at cross purposes? Hidecki is clearly the one in charge but Sparks seems have his own personal agenda, which revolves around his dead daughter. Sparks has come to the conclusion that he must eliminate Molly who has finally uncovered the truth (most of it anyway) about Katie's death. Sparks does feel guilty about this since he was always fond of Molly, but the project is more important. Which I don't understand. The project in question seems to stem from Hidecki and the fact that his time on this earth is running out. He is clearly much older than we've been told and has been keeping himself alive with "the substance." Now, the substance, we are told, was found out in space and Sparks sent his daughter and her team out there to mine it in secret. But what they found was alien life and that changed everything. The substance Hidecki uses is only temporary and is running low, but apparently he thinks that the alien life they found is more important? I think what Hidecki intends is to transplant his brain, his higher functions, into this alien body and live forever. I find this problematic because it implies that the aliens are immoral but what we've seen of them so far suggests that they grow and develop like any other creature. So how does this ultimately save Hidecki from certain death? I am so confused about the alien plot overall. The final moments of the show this week show Sparks shooting Molly, but it turns out to be an manifestation of Katie who cryptically says, "he needs our help." Is "Katie" referring to the alien baby or...someone else?

Molly: becoming a mother.

There has always been a question in the back of my mind about how Molly would view the baby that she had carried. As Kryger (who is not dead) tells her, "you're not its mother, you're its host." But that's not how it works with Molly or with other mothers, I guess. The baby is partly hers, it has her DNA. So wouldn't Molly feel some sort of maternal instinct toward the alien baby boy? The answer is yes. Molly, Kryger and the body guard who switched sides apparently, come up with an elaborate plan to get Molly inside the secret chamber and see her...baby. Except of course it has gone missing but the important part is that Alien Baby also seems to recognize that Molly is "mom." When it appears that Molly is in danger, the baby transplants its consciousness (or something) into another man and opens fire, killing everyone who is about tho hurt Molly.
Molly's journey outside of becoming a mother was more focused on getting answers. She is taking the fight to Sparks instead of sitting on the sidelines and waiting for things to come to her. There was a lot of information that was given out in this episode that was delivered at such a rapid pace that I missed some of it but Molly is the one who learns about the secret mining operation in space that discovered alien life; she's the one who tracks down a payload specialist to talk about what happened on the doomed mission (the guy kills himself before Molly can talk to him, but she get credit for trying.) At the end of this episode, I'm not sure what's next for Molly except that she is probably going to become very protective Momma Bear over Alien Baby.

Miscellaneous Notes in More in Heaven and Earth/ Incursion

--So there's an anti-machine group who is going after Ethan. And it's lead by Julia's new boy toy and Hidecki's lover. The group believes that humanity is outsourcing themselves to machines and that they've lost their souls to machines. Have these writers seen Battlestar Galactica? I think they have....

--"He needs a normal life." "What is that?"

--"He's not the baby Jesus!" This is my new favorite line.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

In Which I Review Under the Dome (2x8)

Was there a point to this episode? I'm honestly asking because I don't know what I was supposed to get out of this week's "Awakening." There are too many damn storylines on this show. Reduce, for crying out loud! Just because Dean Norris is your big star does not mean that you need to give him some random thing to do each and every single week that has nothing to do with the overall Dome-plot. If they removed the Big Jim, Rebecca, Junior aspect of this weeks trip into the bizarre, we could have had a much tighter story. It's all over the place this week. And I'm not quite sure why the name of the episode is "Awakening." No one was really awoken. Lyle, I suppose, came back to himself but that's about it. I sincerely hope that next week we get some answers to the bigger mysteries--and hopefully not in a "magnificent" display of exposition like when they answered the Melanie question. 

Papa-Q is shady as hell. His energy company, Aktaion Energy, has a lot of government contracts and have been studying the Dome since it went down. They--and they alone--have figured out how to get past the barrier and deliver a message to the residents inside the Dome. Or something. Honestly, I'm not overly sure what they're doing. Studying the Dome? Trying to bring it down? Making sure it never gets brought down? Feeding the Dome the souls of 7 virgins every night? Anyway, Papa-Q can get a message to Julia inside the Dome to let her know that Barbie is okay and that he'll try to find a way back. The message Barbie sends to Julia tells her to take a leap of faith, but when Julia gets the emails (by way of Joey) the email also tells her to bring the Egg. The catch? Barbie never put anything about an egg into the original email. Cue dramatic music! So Papa-Q wants the egg. The egg really is the Ring, isn't it? Everyone and their freaking brother is out to get this damn glowing Egg. Oh man, when Melanie finds out that they want her precious Egg, she's going to go nuts. Or more nuts, I suppose.

Oh look. It's some guy we've never met before who waltzes into the plot with information and skills that are vital to our heroes and protagonists. Please tell me his name isn't Max. Nope, it's Hunter. And why do I care about Hunter? I don't. Hunter has been following Barbie because he recognizes that Barbie is from Under the Dome (roll credits). Hunter is a technological wizard and works for Papa-Q. Hunter has all manner of helpful gadgets and gizmos to help Barbie! Isn't Hunter fun!! I'm being sarcastic, obviously. Hunter is deus ex machina with funny glasses. Hunter is also the web designer of Hounds of Diana, the website that made such a brief appearance earlier this season that I had forgotten it existed. The website is used to tell others the real truth about the Dome--but Hunter doesn't bother divulging what that truth is. Once Hunter proves to Barbie that Papa-Q messed with the email the two men become allies. Barbie gets another email off to Julia telling her (in code) to meet at the Dome at sundown. Aw. That's sweet. Also, really good timing seeing as Julia was about to send a message to Barbie and then jump off the cliff if Barbie could prove he was really alive.

This is such a great disguise, Barbie! No one will recognize you now! Seriously. Aren't you like some Army Ranger or something? Shouldn't you know how to create a disguise that isn't just a pair of glasses and a hoodie? And can you please wash the blood off your neck, already? It's a dead give away. Using his super cool disguise skills, Barbie "sneaks" into Chester's Mill, moving past the scary army men in black. At night, he and Julia meet up at the Dome. Their reunion is brief because Barbie is discovered by the army men and taken but not before he tells Julia "don't jump." I really thought he was going to write, "Not Penny's Boat." It would have been an awesome inside joke seeing as this episode was directed by Jack Bender, LOST veteran. So Barbie is taken away by the police/army/whatever and Julia does a lot of yelling. But the real "twist" is that Big Jim, who learned that Barbie "died" last episode, is standing in the bushes watching all of this. So now Big Jim knows that Barbie got out and that everyone has been lying to him. Oh no! He's probably going to take it out on Rebecca. I rather hope so because even though she's the town scientist, her plot line is officially dead so I think it's time for her to be dead as well. Sorry, Science Teacher Pine.

Ok, last plot line that actually matters. Lyle has gone from saying "Melanie" all the time to saying "It's in the cards." Sure, Lyle. Whatever you say. Lyle is out of his mind, but thankfully there is a wonder drug that cures madness! How lucky! I am rolling my eyes so hard here. Sam and Pauline break into a secret stash of medicine (because in the loony bin, nothing is monitored or kept under incredibly tight security). Once they give the meds to Lyle, he is sane once more. Or relatively sane, I suppose. Lyle tells Sam and Pauline that he was referring to all the postcards Pauline sent him over the years; these postcards were the events of the Dome long before they happened. The last postcard is the most significant; it's the red door. When asked why she drew it, Pauline has no idea nor does she know what it matters. Because our prophet is useless! Ugh. What was the point of all this? Why did Lyle go mad? We already knew Pauline was seeing things and drawing them, so why reinforce all this once again in this episode? So much tedious storytelling!

Miscellaneous Notes on Awakening

--"I get over zealous" Big Jim's plot this week was so stupid. Shock! People don't like him and are out to get him! Shock! The perpetrator was Phil! Shock! Nothing came of this except Phil being locked up. 

--"We're never getting of here alive."
"Yeah, we all got problems."

--"That's what you get for jumping off the cliff, thinking you'd bring the rapture."

--I predict that the red door will magically lead everyone back to Chester's Mill.

--Why is Joey making a vlog? You cannot post this vlog. This vlog is useless.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

In Which I Review Extant (1x6)

Things are getting decidedly more freaky on this weeks episode, "Nightmares." This show has a tendency to run a little dull in the middle and then leave you with something intriguing to draw you back in the following week. For example, the sub-B plot for this week was totally unnecessary. I don't care about Julia or robotic limbs or her romantic exploits. None of that matters in the grand scheme of this alien baby drama. I am also confused as to why I am now getting some sort of attempt at world building. This show is six episodes in and now they begin to dedicate some time to world building? That's backwards. A few blog posts ago, I talked about how the show wasn't interested in showing me the world in which Molly and John live because of limited time constraints. It's obviously set in some distant future because the technology is quite progressive, but the fashion is very 2014, and people's bigotry has simply moved to artificial intelligence rather than flesh and blood humankind. But this week, we learned that many people have robotic limbs and that there are cafe's where someone can go to get "juiced" by, what I assume has to be, some sort of drug paraphernalia. This last little bit reeks of A Clockwork Orange and its only purpose was to figure out a way for one character to move back into the plot. But now I'm left with "world questions." The overall thrust of this episode was to answer questions, and to an extent it did to do that, but it raised ones that I don't think needed raising. "Nightmares" tried to tie most of our storylines back together since the show is now halfway through. 

The episode picks up where last week's left off; John and Molly are trying to figure out what the bizarre light particles are that somehow impregnated Molly. However, their ponderings are interrupted when Ethan begins to scream. The little robot-boy is having a nightmare. How...fascinating. Once again, I am more interested in the robot-boy turning into a human story than the alien one, but at least this episode tried to tie it all together. Ethan is not programed for any sort of dream ability--positive or negative. John tells us that they are years and years away from replicating the REM cycle. But there's Ethan, screaming and clutching his mom and asking her to sleep next to him. It's very sweet and for a moment I think we all forget that he's really a bunch of wires and code. In Ethan's dream, something bad was happening to Molly, who tries to explain that dreams are just part of our subconscious. When Ethan asks what that means, Molly tells him that the subconscious is the secret part of you. Now, do we really think that somehow Ethan has magically progressed to the point where he has an actual subconscious? That is incredibly human; in fact, I'd argue that a subconscious--or if you like, soul--is the very essence of humanity. How did Ethan advance so far overnight? No one knows, not even his father. John takes Ethan into the lab the next morning to see if he can find the record of the dreams inside Ethan (how inhuman!) and figure out how the code got Ethan to dream, but when they open the little boy up (again with the incredible inhumanity while trying to explain something that is human) there is no record. It's as if it didn't happen at all. But dreaming isn't the only thing that's different about the robot-boy; his reflexes are also much faster than they were a week ago. So, on the one hand, Ethan is Pinocchio and is becoming a real boy, but on the other hand, he's advancing past the stage of his robotic structure to become some sort of ubermensch? Why am I almost more worried about Ethan than the alien baby?

I say almost because it turns out that the alien baby is kind of mean. While inside the box, and growing, it (he?) somehow manages to infect a doctor who was working and observing it (him?). Those weird circle symbols that keep cropping up everywhere were almost burned into his skull. Within a short time afterwards, the infected doctor was raving, and ended up killing a cohort. When he was finally calmed down (somehow) he explained that he killed his fellow doctor under orders from a woman who was appearing to him. This woman was an old friend or lover...but the catch here is that she's been dead for some time. This actually fits neatly with what we know so far. Molly saw her dead ex-boyfriend Marcus and then Marcus' brother, Tim; Harmon saw his dead mother. The alien baby manifests as a dead loved one. This means that somehow the alien baby is able to tap into your memories, weed out what your weak point is and then use it against you. Now you could argue that it first must come into contact with you, but that's not how it happened with Molly and Harmon who saw their ghosts before the alien ever touched them. Or did they?

This is where we get some pretty hefty plot development, though it's weighted by exposition galore and characters suddenly remembering vital information (which is annoying). We've known for awhile now that this all has something to do with Sparks' daughter, Katie. Until this point, Molly and Harmon haven't discussed the strange circle formations that keep showing up. When they finally meet and do so, Harmon recalls a time when he was in space during his year long solo mission and a message came through to the station. It was encoded but it was the circle pattern. He was told by the computer to ignore it and dismiss the message, but not before learning that it was a "distress" test call. Harmon explains this was months before he met his ghost mother on board and so he never connected the two. Harmon, previously, has broken into the space company (it has an acronym but I can't remember it...) and stole some files from a mission that occurred even before his own. On this mission was Katie Sparks, the daughter of the chief guy who's trying to bring Molly to heel. Sadly, the information on this file is heavily encrypted and John can't break it. Well, do we know anyone who is far advanced and can help us out? Yes, Ethan saves the day by breaking the code and we get to see the final transmission from Katie before her death. She is in a lot of distress, she has the crazy circle symbols on her stomach, and her fellow cohorts have gone crazy from the infection and become murderous. Katie very clearly tells the people back home, "don't recover the ship!" In other words, do not send people back out to these stations because they will become infected and die just like me. Katie gets into an escape pod and dies out in space. So, yes, Katie is dead but she did not die in the manner that Sparks has been telling people.

To bring this back to Molly, this means that Sparks knew all along what was up in space and chose to send Molly anyway, hoping to make contact. She was the bait, in other words. Rather terrible business practice if you ask me. But the question is, why? What does he hope to gain by bringing the clearly angry light/alien/thing down to earth? Is it just scientific progress? Curiosity? Does he hope to somehow bring back his daughter? We know that Sparks visits the baby alien and asks to see his dead daughter, which the alien baby happily provides. But yet Sparks doesn't become infected or crazed like the others. And what about Harmon? He was infected as well, saw his dead mom, but he clearly can't become pregnant like Molly. So why was he sent up? Lots of questions that need to be answered. To bring this back to Ethan, it turns out that not only is he seeing Molly in distress in his nightmares, he's also seeing the crazy circle patterns. The ends up drawing them much to Molly's horror. We only have 7 more episodes to go, and apparently there is a big break before the series finale, so I hope we manage to get more answers and less questions.

Miscellaneous Notes on Nightmares

--Did they kill Harmon? I can't tell. One moment he was standing, the next not so much.

--I really and truly do not care about Julia and whatever is going on with this robotic limb thing. However, I did pity her when she's trying to express her feelings toward John as caring for him and Ethan, and he literally just blows her off.

--John wasn't shirtless in this episode. Tragic.

--Molly spied on Sam quite a bit this episode and learned that Sam is on her side but being bribed. Glad we got that out of the way.

--Where is Hidecki? What role does he play in all this?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In Which I Review Under the Dome (2x7)

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Best delivered line of the night, in my opinion. Rivals Darth Vadar. I have no idea what is going on with this show anymore; in fact, I'm willing to bet that I never knew what was going on with this show. Time travel. Portals between cities. Cave of mystery. Supposedly dead relatives not being dead anymore. People going crazy. Just another week in Chester's Mill, I suppose. In this week's episode "Going Home," we finally learn what's at the bottom of the Cave of Death. Hint: it is not death. I think I said a few posts ago that if the Cave of Death had a way out of the Dome I was going to freak. Well, the Cave of Death does have a way out of the Dome but I'm not freaking. Why? Because of course it does. I shouldn't be surprised. They've been hinting all season that there is another town somewhere where all our questions will receive "answers." Answers is in quotation marks because I honestly wonder if the writers and producers know what an answer is. 

After Sam's magical trip down the Cave last week, Barbie is finding it hard to sleep. Sam told Barbie a lot of disturbing things, like that he killed Angie and that the other children need to die if they want to leave the Dome. When Barbie and Julia fill in Joey, Norrie, Junior and Melanie about Sam's extracurricular activities, Junior refuses to believe it. So naturally, Barbie thinks he should venture down into the Cave of Death, fetch Sam's body, and use it as evidence for Junior that Sam killed Angie. And because this is the plan, miraculously, climbing equipment appears. You live in Maine. Does Maine have mountains to climb? Did someone lend you this climbing equipment? Did you steal it from your local sports store? Anyway, Barbie makes a slow descent into the Cave of Death while Julia and Science Teacher Pine look on. Rebecca was there for moral support? Apparently we're all friends now. One heart to heart with Julia last week and everything is a-ok; this more or less annoys the living daylights out of me because Science Teacher Pine officially has no reason to be on this show if she's not part of Big Jim's antagonistic posse, which now only consists of him. Rebecca is there to spout some science-y things when science-y things need to be spouted. The Cave of Death is pretty unremarkable, though it goes on forever. Without warning, though, something begins to pull at Barbie and drag him down faster and further. The compass Rebecca conveniently has on hand begins to spin wildly in all directions (oh no!). Julia and Rebecca try to haul Barbie back up to the top but the pull of whatever is down below is too strong. Barbie, deciding to be a hero, tells Julia to cut the rope and let him fall. Julia refuses because she's deeply in love with this man she met three weeks ago and who killed her husband and lied to her for a better part of these three weeks. When Barbie realizes that Julia won't let go, he cuts the rope and falls to his death. RIP Barbie.

Julia thinks they need to keep Barbie's death a secret from Big Jim and the rest of the town for awhile. Meanwhile, Joey finally says the thing that every viewer worth their salt has been wondering, "where did these tunnels come from?" The school was not built on tunnels (thank god), and the basement of the school has always just been a basement. Why did no one think of this earlier? Did anyone, besides Joey, stop to think, "this was a really dumb place to build a school." When Joey tells Julia this, a light bulb goes off over her head (not literally, but this show is so cartoon-y at this point, I wouldn't have been shocked to see a literal light bulb float above her red head). If the tunnels were never there to begin with, then the Dome created them and maybe somehow Barbie survived his plunge into darkness and nothingness. Joey produces a flying robot plane thing. Where did this come from?! Was this another science project? Is there anything that this town doesn't have? The flying robot plane thing travels down into the Cave of Death but the signal goes wonky and eventually crashes. I'm sure that's a good sign. Melanie has brought along the egg because she is actually Gollum. I'm not kidding. Watch the episode again and see how obsessed she is with this thing. When danger comes a-knocking, Melanie grabs the egg and runs. She carries it in her bag. It's only a matter of time, folks, before she starts calling it her precious. I have no idea why she brought it to the Cave of Death (except for plot reasons) but once inside the Cave of Death, it lights up and sputters out pink stars. Freaking pink stars again! This time the pink stars make the image of a town, complete with the obelisk from Zenith. Ah, this town again. I think it's probably important.

So what happened to Barbie when he fell? He went to Zenith, Ohio of course. I wish I was kidding. He suddenly wakes up, on the ground of some children's playground. And no one noticed. I mean...really? How does no one notice that a man either fell from the sky or magically appeared out of thin air? It's a thing you would notice, people! Maybe Zenith is fake. It's an imagined town and all of this is a dream. Oh, what's that? Sam is there too? Is he having the same dream as Barbie? Most likely not. So, they really did transport themselves to another town entirely. Barbie and Sam do not meet up but instead decide to pay a visit to old family members. Let's start with Sam. He goes to a psych ward where Pauline is. How did he know she was there? Sam has an address on a piece of paper, but where did he get that from? Pauline is on a locked ward, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense because she's clearly in full possession of her faculties. She just happens to think that an invisible magical Dome would follow her if she left Chester's Mill. But you know, other than that, totally normal. Lyle is also in the psych ward, but he's lost his mind and all he does is sit and say "Melanie" over and over. How...strange. Why? No one else went crazy when they went through the vortex (or whatever the hell is actually down at the bottom of the Cave of Death). So what's Barbie doing? Visiting dear old Dad, of course. Never mind how Barbie got to Papa-Q (I'm going to call him that until I learn otherwise), it's not important and frankly dull. Papa-Q and Barbie don't get along. They haven't spoken in two and a half years but now Barbie has been magically transported out of the Dome and he needs to find a way back in or to get a message inside. Thankfully Papa-Q has magically convenient connections that will facilitate this! Of course he does. What if Papa-Q had just been a teacher or a lawyer or something more mundane? Barbie would have been doomed to a life without Julia. Oh. The horror! Whatever. Papa-Q agrees to help out because he can see that Barbie has changed and if there is a woman involved then Hot Damn!

Miscellaneous Notes on Going Home

--Melanie and Junior wake up in each others arms. No. Just...no

--"There's something so much darker in him." Gee, you think?

--Max No-Last-Name shout out!

--What is the red door in the ground? Why is there a red door in the ground? Does it take people back to the Dome?

--NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! (because reasons)