Tuesday, September 29, 2015
--While the Bill and Gini story line suffered immensely this season, there are two that surpass it just out of sheer stupidity and silliness. Nora being an impostor working for the Bible Thumpers was cheap and too hi-jinks filled to be taken seriously. The same can be said for Betty and Helen and the baby story line. While it's natural for Helen to want a baby, it was (shock) repetitive of past story lines with these two in which Helen and Betty lament that they, as lesbians in the 1960s, cannot have a normal life.
--Alison Janney as Margaret Scully is always a welcome sight, but her counterpart, Beau Bridges, not so much. Again this goes back to subtly. Mad Men knew how to do closeted homosexuals in Sal Romano and the fear that he felt everyday that someone would learn his secret. But it also wasn't in your face. Everyone watching knew Sal was gay but it was not absurdly pushed so that every scene he was in was somehow reminding the audience that Sal was, in fact, gay. With Dr. Scully in MoS, everything somehow comes back to his closeted homosexuality, and maybe never more so than this season when his reappearance had nothing to do with the bigger narrative, but just more examinations of homosexual life in America, 1960.
--I still have no idea why Austen Langham is on this show. But thankfully, he's zooming over to The Flash, one of the best shows on Network TV right now (unnecessary plug, I know).
--A few other story line notes: Tessa could have been a very interesting and sympathetic story had the writers not simultaneously chosen to make her a mustache twirling villain of the highest order. I had immense sympathy for her early on as the teenager girl obviously struggling to find a connection with anyone, especially her mother. Her rape was horrifying to watch and could have been a narrative point between her and Gini given that it was Gini's book and the knowledge contained inside that prompted the rape. However, directly following the rape, the writers took every chance they could to make Tessa out to be "bad girl" to the point of cliche deviousness. It got old really fast.
--Let's end this on a positive, shall we? While I had issues with the season overall, obviously, there were two truly spectacular moments. First, the moment between Bill and Dan in which Bill declares, "Masters and Johnson. That's how people see us. It's how we see ourselves" is the entire thesis of the show and the fact that the writers are emphasizing that gives me hope that the stalled third season was just a misstep. Second, Bill declaring his love to Virginia reminded me how much l loved the Masters and Johnson dynamic since the start.
Monday, September 28, 2015
Normally, for OUAT, I break my reviews down into two parts: the past and the present. But this episode took a hard left and decided to eschew the normal narrative set up (for the most part) so I'm going to follow suit and only discuss what is going on in the present day. If there is one narrative point from start to finish, it's the idea of temptation. Darkness and evil are not slimy, disgusting things that lurk and hide in the shadows. It's one of my pet peeves when pieces of media present evil or the incarnations of evil as being somehow disfigured and deformed, revolting to behold. Evil is supposed to tempt you. It wants you to give in and in order to do that, it has to present itself as a very enticing offer. That apple in the Garden was probably the most delicious looking piece of fruit in the history of fruit. Temptation is seduction; it's about reaching out to some baser level and flashing you with all the shiny and pretty. Temptation is lust and wealth and power and and greed and it is supposed to feel good. It is at this crossroads of desire and abject horror that Emma Swan finds herself after the "vortex of evil" sucked her back into the Enchanted Forest and into the Pit of Eternal Goo, last seen in the episode where Neal sacrificed himself to resurrect Rumple. So, you know, happy memories for me! Right off the bat, Emma--our Jesus figure--is met by her own Devil--the Darkness who chooses to take on Rumple's appearance--out in the wilderness and is told and shown just how wonderful succumbing to the Darkness could be. The idea of tempting the hero is an old one, and one that almost every hero is going to encounter as they walk down Monomyth Road. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness; Harry is tempted by Voldemort and the Sorcerer's Stone and later the Deathly Hallows; Luke is tempted by the Dark Side; Buffy becomes a Dark! Slayer in season 6. All of this is on point and in line with what we expect with the heroes journey. It's Hero Writing 101 and it's older than you or I which is why I enjoy it. If you read my reviews, then you know I'm a sucker for a good archetype or a good old fashioned cosmic story. That's what this season is or at least needs to be. It's OUAT finally getting back to their roots and instead of introducing another new villain who has yet another connection to the CharMillStiltskin clan who has some horrendously cliche sob story, we have our capital "S"avior being tempted by a Cosmic Evil. It feels far more in line and organic to the show than anything they've done in the past two years. Wow, look at this. I'm complementing OUAT again, guys. It's a brave new world.
--"....your turn." I laughed so hard and for a very long time. Temptation plays a role with the Camelot crew of some indeterminate point in history as well. Excalibur feels a bit "The One Ring" like in that it calls to people and only the worthy one can bear it. The Camelot cast is only briefly seen so there's not much to say about them right now.
--I love that the Dark One's dagger is the missing piece of Excalibur. I think that's a very interesting narrative point and sets up a thesis for the show as a whole. The sword is supposed to be a weapon of good, only working in the hands of a divinely appointed Messiah King. The fact that the missing bit of it is a weapon of evil and corruption speaks to the fact that there is very little that separates lights and dark and how in order to be complete you need both. I wonder if Merlin forged the blade and it broke into the dagger when he tethered the Darkness to a human.
--Speaking of Merlin, dude is a creeper in a movie theater, no? Also, super obvious that he's Merlin since "The Sword and the Stone" is playing on the big screen. Not subtle, OUAT.
--Hook is a horrible influence on Henry. Did the Pirate stop and think, even for one second, about the fact that Zelena killed Henry's father?
--Zelena cut off her own hand and then reattached it. The woman is obviously insane and should not have possession of a child. But did the show go ahead and admit that Zelena raped Robin? Did I mishear that? Zelena called him an unwilling pawn and Robin emphasizes that he was quite unwilling. So...that's a rape admission right?
--"Do you like knitting?"
--"I like her spunk. Break her neck!"
--The ending. Oh ye gods, the ending. I hated this ending. I am fine with Emma being the Dark One. The season would be pointless if she wasn't, but again with the amnesia, OUAT? Really? Because you haven't done it to death!? It's an old trope and it's one that is past its expiration date. I might have ranked the episode higher if not for this horribly cliche and over wrought ending.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
--Sorry this one is rather brief but I covered so much of these themes last week that I feared being redundant.
--"Doesn't matter which face. They are all the Doctor to me."
--Seeing Tom Baker, no matter how briefly, will always get a round of applause from me.
--"We, on the other hand, have a pointy stick." That is going down as one of the best lines on Doctor Who ever. Don't attempt to change my mind.
--"Are you ready to be a god?" Just like Tom Baker back in "Genesis" the answer is no.
--"I'm just a bloke, in a box, telling stories."
--Um. Davros is blind. That's just...how it goes. I did not need his eyes to open one more time. Also, please tell me that the Sonic Screwdriver isn't gone for good. I'm not going to enjoy that.
--Will the prophecy about a hybrid Time Lord and Dalek come back into play this season? I rather hope not. Let's stick to the search for Gallifrey, please. And speaking of that, why do I get the impression the Doctor isn't going to go look for it at all?? This displeases me.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Missy certainly seems to think so, eh? Also, hello Missy. I'm not sure how you're back (but then again, I was never sure how you came back last season, so we'll quibble over that later). Missy spends much of this episode being exasperated that Clara would question the friendship between herself and the Doctor because all they do is try to attack, harm, and generally kill each other. To Missy, that's what friendship is. For Clara, friendship is simple. It can be put into a box of correct and right actions and anything that does not fit into that box is equated to being, simply, not a friend. Missy constantly trying to kill the Doctor? Not friendship. But for Missy, and it turns out to the Doctor as well, friendship is infinitely more complex than a set of correct and right actions. This goes back to what I was stressing above; the relationship between hero and enemy is born out of necessity; you cannot have one without the other in this cosmic chess game. There might be hatred and ill will toward the other party, but there is an understanding that you need each other. The hero creates the villain just as the villain creates the hero. It's not love, really, but something higher, something that Clara (and perhaps, really, humanity) cannot grasp because we see heroes and villains, light and dark, right and wrong as two separate, binary entities. But those concepts, especially in modern media and fiction, are far more complicated and it's our inability to see those complexities that lead to hostility, racism, sexism, and prejudices. Missy is "evil" because she opposes the Doctor, right? Then why is she trying to save The Doctor, especially under the headline that she's his best friend? Because they need each other; but that doesn't mean she's crossed into the light--she'll still kill the guards standing 'round. We are complex creatures and the threads between us and the rest of our kind are infinitely more complex than we could ever hope to conceive.
--If the Doctor is the Magician, then is Davros his apprentice?
--"Survival is just a choice."
--There were a ton of callbacks to the classical era (hi, Tom Baker and Genesis of the Daleks!) and the pre-Moffat regenerated era, including the Ood, the Jadoon, and the Shadow Proclamation (they've redecorated. I don't like it...)
--Clara should give up teaching and go work for UNIT. It gives her the rush she craves without having to leave her home or time period.
--"Not dead. Back. Big surprise. Never mind."
--The Doctor. In Essex. In 1138. On a tank. With a guitar. I have missed you, Doctor Who.
--"I am a dragon slaying...." "DUUUUUUUUUDE"
--Speaking of classic heroes, I got a strong whiff of Norse mythology when the Snake Alien was tying up the Doctor with one of his slithering friends. Very Thor and Jormungandr, the latter of whom often represents the idea of cyclical history and birth/death/rebirth, an ouroboros, a theme we're seeing play out.
--"I was right to create the Daleks." "You were very wrong." "This is the fight we've had since we met..."
Friday, September 11, 2015
--Sam, the Random Guy Who Threw Eggs At Big Jim's Car, and Little Crazypants are the only ones who really died. So, RIP them I guess.
--Everyone is slowly suffocating to death inside the Dome, so naturally Barbie and Julia open the show spending an extraordinary amount of energy and air burying DNA Expert Lady. Because of course.
--Did Dawn name herself Dawn or was that name passed to her along with the ratty blonde wig and Barbie's eyes? She also inherited Barbie's darkness? Whatever that means.
--Indy is the key to Big Jim's heart. Funny. I didn't think Big Jim had a heart.
--One year later and Julia's hair is still perfect. However, Norrie has the worst wig I've ever seen, including Dawn's blonde bob.
--"Kid, you are unfit and unstable." I feel you, Sam. I've been saying the same thing about Little Crazypants for three summers.
--Does the new egg come complete with a new Gollum?
Friday, September 4, 2015
So. One more to to go. Then we move on.
--Why on earth was this episode call 'Incandescence?'
--The new Queen is Eva in a really fake looking blonde wig, wearing tight pants, boots, and a belly shirt. Ladies and gentlemen, Under the Dome. (no really, look at that picture and try not to laugh your butt off).
--'Time is the one thing we don't have." Truer words have never been spoken, Big Jim.
--How did Benton and Uhura bring a drone inside the Dome? Did I miss that?
--Norrie runs inside the paper mill, out of breath, in a panic and explains that the Dome is calcifying and that the worst thing they could do is use up the oxygen inside faster by running around and panicking. Everyone proceeds to spend the rest of the episode running around panicking.
--"Everyone under this Dome is innocent." Um. NO. Please go watch season 1 and 2 (or read my above three paragraphs) for why this statement is flat out false.
--RIP Benton. RIP DNA Expert Lady. RIP Queen Bee. RIP LOTS AND LOTS OF OLD PEOPLE. Man, how many geezers did Sam and Little Crazypants kill at the Lake?