Monday, November 30, 2015
When Emma rose from the Black Goo at the Vault of the Dark One, she tried--valiantly--to fend and fight off the darkness. It was hard and part of the flashbacks this year have been all about that internal struggle of Emma Swan to remain the Savior and person she was before and not give into the temptation of darkness. Hook, on the other hand, gets one talk from DO Head! Rumple and he's off to Darkville to kill himself a crocodile. Strength of character; this dude ain't got it. A lot of the flashbacks this week revolve around changes in character attitudes, almost at a blink-of-an-eye pace. Hook is angry with Emma but they kiss and make up in the woods, but only until Hook becomes angry with Emma once more and then they kiss and make up at the river. But then surprise! Hook was only playing Emma and still really wants his revenge so he'll cast the Dark Curse to take everyone back to Storybrooke in order to kill his enemy. It's all a giant waste of time and the back and forth of Hook's attitude is a time killer in order to delay the inevitable. We all know that the Dark Curse was cast and that somehow there was a loophole because whoever did it has to use the heart of the thing they love most and Emma, Hook, and Henry are all alive so we're back to the aforementioned loophole (twitch--but see previous blog posts about the total disregard for world building because I am not going to belabor the point once again). Because the focus this week, for me at least, will be in Storybrooke, I am only going to briefly touch on one problematic point in the flashbacks. Raise your hand if you're surprised that Merlin died. Now raise your hand if you're surprised that he died at Hook's hand. I have been predicting for sometime that Merlin was dead and that somehow there was a "all Dark Ones" loophole so that wasn't shocking. But the sad fact is that the perpetrator of the murder wasn't shocking either. That isn't a slam against Hook (though, he's killed before as demonstrated by his many baubles) but rather that I am not surprised that the Person of Color was killed to further a white character's story. When the various Arthurian members were cast for season 5A, I was actually very pleasantly surprised that the writers had cast a Latina Guinevere and an African Merlin. Sure, it was clearly because the writers were aware of the (well deserved) criticism that OUAT has a serious race problem, but at least they were trying to course correct and appease instead of letting it slide. Little did I know what they had in store for these two new PoC's. Let's take inventory, shall we? Guinevere was enslaved by her white husband and then turned into a rape object, also by her white husband, because of his man pain over her kissing a black character. That same black character, by the way, was spotted tonight before he was sent packing to his mommy because heaven forbid that Lancelot play any sort of active role in his own mythology. Merlin, the show's most powerful sorcerer, was also enslaved by a white character (Arthur) and then was killed by another white character only to fuel that white character's storyline. This show has such a major racial problem but the egregious issue is not that it has a race problem and is trying to actively make a commentary on race in fiction or in our reality, but that it's an unintentional racial problem. In other words, the writers don't actually realize that the plot they write for the people of color are always the same and always racist--they appear and then are summarily dismissed once they have served their purpose. You know, there's an actual trope called the magical negro; their main purpose is to come to the aid of the white characters and once they have fulfilled their role as a helpmate, they either die or simply vanish from the narrative. Adam and Eddy, once again, you're not part of the solution. You're part of the problem.
I am about to break a cardinal rule of my blog: Thou Shall Not Talk About Captain Swan. Well, I guess I break it every now and then and this time it's not necessarily discussing CaptainSwan so much as it is discussing what Hook said to Emma in Storybrooke. During a particularly heated tet-a-tet between the two Dark Ones, Hook lays into Emma with some cold hard truths. In many ways, the things he is saying aren't actually false. Emma does does destroy her own happiness by refusing to let anyone in and by refusing to believe that she can have happiness. She did it with Henry, with her parents, with the town of Storybrooke, and even with all her various love interests from Neal to Walsh to Hook. The pirate calling her on those famous walls (which, honestly, should have been destroyed by now after so many people have been let into Emma's heart) shows a level of self awareness that I didn't know he had. Also in the self-aware department are the writers themselves. For a brief moment, during this heated argument, the writers of OUAT seem to actually get and understand that Hook is a problematic and vile character. Let me pause here to say that there is nothing wrong with problematic and vile characters. We need villains in storytelling or how else would we know who the heroes are (this is sounding fairly Doctor Who-ish, is it not?). We also need anti-heroes because the world is, by and large, not divided into heroes and villains. It's far more complicated than that; we need characters like Walter White and Don Draper and Tony Soprano to illustrate how gray our world is. Hook falling into the villain or ruthless antihero category is a comfortable place for him and a good, long standing narrative tradition.
--Emma needs someone to tell her to have hope? She can't just have hope after 5 years? Emma is a petulant three year old who is emotionally reset every year.
--There are Dark One Chronicles? Since when? And why haven't we ever used them to...I don't know...figure things out?
--Belle's pink coat was adorable and I'd like it in my closet, thanks.
--I will admit to loving Rumple's speech to Belle outside of Regina's house. But, at the same time, I'm really proud of Belle for walking away from the problematic relationship and marriage (ex-marriage?) in order to give herself some time to figure out where she stands.
--Props where they are due; the sword fight between Hook and Rumple was very good.
--"Baby Hood" LOL
--Redemption through motherhood for Zelena it is then! Ah, the problematic Madonna trope rears its misogynistic head.
--"Once you go green, you'll never go Queen" Okay, hilarious line and while I appreciate Regina saying that what Zelena did to Robin was vile and horrible, stop dancing around calling it rape. It was rape. Just say it.
--"I never abandoned you" claims Newly Dark One! Hook in Camelot to Emma. Um, you left her in a jail cell to die, with her mother and Disney Princess friends. So...no.
--Apparently Hook would have returned Milah "soiled, but returned" to Rumple all those years ago. Ye gods. The morals. The misogyny.
--A boat of Dark Ones feels like the set up to a really bad joke.
--No, but really: the blood of a man who has been to hell and back.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
--Peter Capaldi nailed this episode. I might have some problems with Moffat's pacing and narrative, but Capaldi is wonderful.
--"I'm the Doctor. I am coming to find you and I will never stop."
--You cannot establish a telepathic link with a door because they are notoriously cross. Good to know.
--"I've run out of corridor. Now that's a life summed up." I laughed way too hard at this.
--So basically the Doctor landed at Hogwarts?
--The Doctor is the hybird. Okay, for what it's worth, that is part of Doctor Who canon from the movie with the 8th Doctor, Paul McGann. However, 99.5% of the fandom likes to ignore the half human/half Time Lord detail. I can't believe Moffat chose to run with that tidbit.
--Is the Doctor about to become the Valeyard? I might be okay with a lot of this self-indulgence if he was about to become the Valeyard.
--Only one episode to go!
Sunday, November 22, 2015
"I know where I'm going. Where I've always been going: home. The long way 'round." Remember those words? Remember when the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who aired and showrunner Steven Moffat promised us that, eventually, someday, we'd go home to Gallifrey? Well, I criticize the man a lot, but he keeps his promises. If I had a bank account full of money, I'd go ahead and lay odds that the Doctor was just wooshed home to a certain planet in the constellation of Kasterborous with certain not-so-dead-Time Lords. It's about time (pun not intended!) Now, if only the cost of going home wasn't so steep. I have talked quite a bit, over the last two seasons, about Clara's thesis being one of addiction and abuse. Ms. Oswald is addicted to the high the TARDIS, the adventures, the running, and the Doctor can give her. The more of those things she gets, the more she craves, and the more reckless she becomes in order to secure that wonderful drug-like high of running around all of time and space with a mad man and his box. Clara's thesis very much continues this week when her attempt to play Doctor leads to her own death. Clara's plan isn't exactly a bad one; in fact, it's one the Doctor probably would have thought up in a moment of magical cleverness had he not been concerned with sussing out the mystery that Ashildr had laid before him. The Doctor loves the mystery and Clara wants to save her friend; it's the same endgame but working in a different manner, which is probably why the Doctor doesn't think about transferring the tattoo; he has another agenda. The Doctor can be as equally reckless as Clara, something she knows and voices back to him when she demands to know why she can't be like him in her final moments. Clara is simply following in the Doctor's footsteps this week. Why bring back Risgy (from season 8's wonderful 'Flatline')--an episode where Clara first took on the moniker Doctor and pretended to see through his eyes--if not to remind us all that the more addicted Clara becomes, the more like the Doctor she is. The Doctor has several thesis' and archetypes that he operates under--the savior and his savior complex, the warrior, the judge and jury of the universe, the healer, the sage, the wounded man--but one of those is his strong addiction to the TARDIS, the adventures, the running, and his companions. In other words, the exact same things Clara is addicted to. The Doctor cannot give all those things up at any time; he'd be bored silly and his wanderlust would get the better of him. This is, of, course to say nothing of the pain he would feel if he stopped for a moment and let the weight of all the souls he's changed--for better and for ill--really settle on him. From the monsters he's fought to the children he has rescued, the Doctor was born to save the universe but in doing so he's become addicted to all of it. The Doctor and Clara are one and the same; one is just less breakable.
--Another incredible performance from Peter Capaldi this week. He does icy demeanor as well as he does passionate and as well as he does loony. Jenna Coleman also deserves a round of applause for her final moments in the show.
--I do fear that somehow Moffat will bring Clara back, thus reversing her brave death. He's done it before. I hope this does not turn out to be the case. Death has meaning in narrative if the writers let it. You can have the hero(ine) remain dead so long as the weight of their loss carries into the new storyline. Don't erase her final moments, Moff!
--Some truly spectacular music this episode, in particular Clara's death scene.
--"Don't bring the new human; I'll just get distracted."
--There was a very strong whiff of Neverwhere in this episode, right? I'm not the only one who thought of Neil Gaiman's wonderful novel?
--"Our rules keep us safe." More political overtones in this episode, though I prefer when it's subtle like this as opposed to in your face, ie: the Zygon two-parter.
--"Did you ever read about anyone who ever stopped me?" Sometimes we, the audience, see the warm and fuzzy Doctor--the man who saves the universe with his charming quirks and characteristics--and forget that he's essentially an immortal God with unimaginable power over time, space, and life and who could destroy us just as easily as he saves us. Lines like this remind us of that.
--"Don't be a warrior. Be a doctor..."
Friday, November 20, 2015
--I guess the show is just going to call Mr. Creepy Man "The Hidden One" without naming him after any particular God? That's a shame. I still think he's Amun-Ra.
--Pandora and Hidden One are a couple? "For you, I would break eternity." That's almost sweet, if they weren't trying to wipe out humanity.
--Ichabod basically started a riot at a fraternity toga party because of course he did.
--The Witnesses have a long lineage, which we knew after last year, but I wonder if we'll ever hear anything about them. Are Ichabod and Abbie "reborn" in different lifetimes as Witnesses to battle evil?
--No Betsy Ross. Praise the Lord.
--I love that Abbie's voicemail has a specific portion of it devoted to Crane needing to wait for a beep.
--"You ready to fight some monsters?" "Indeed." "My man!"
--"Your spirit and mine are made of far heartier stuff....come what may." See everyone in February!
Monday, November 16, 2015
Because this week we were treated (lolz) to a two hour session of OUAT, I'm really only going to pick up a few narrative themes and salient points for this review. Don't worry; I'll turn my critical eye to the LGBT exploration in a bit. But up first, have you ever seen a James Bond film? I'm using that as my launch point because I figure that everyone has seen at least one James Bond film in their life, be it a Connery or a Moore or a Bronson. The reason I bring this up is because in every Bond film there is a moment when the villain inexplicably explains all his diabolical schemes to Mr. Bond--usually while the MI-6 spy is chained, gagged, and in danger of losing his life, a limb, or both. It's the explanation portion of the movie. Up until now, the villain has talked in coded language (even though the villain is clearly in on the whole plot and plan) because we need to keep the audience in suspense. For the past seven episodes we've essentially had Emma Swan acting as a Bond villain in present day Storybrooke, talking in coded and secretive language in order to keep the audience in suspense (and, to be honest, tuning in) and to make the other characters--Snow, Charming, Regina, Robin, and Hook--run in circles trying to figure out what in the world the Dark One is playing at. This episode, then, is akin to Goldfinger tying Sean Connery to a slab and prattling on about Fort Knox and the Grand Slam (no, seriously, if you haven't seen a James Bond film, start with Goldfinger. Classic). I wonder if this makes Hook our Pussy Galore. Yeah, there's a really horrible joke in there somewhere, but I'll be polite and pass it over. All of this really boils down to one question: what is Emma Swan's plan? What has she been doing all season and why? Well, much like Rumple 200 years ago, Emma is atoning for a sin but unlike Rumple, who's sin was grounded in something human and sympathetic and deep and meaningful (you know, searching for his son), Emma is all about her main squeeze, the boy she's been dating for a hot second. That's right. Everything she's doing, the sin Ms. Swan is atoning for, is all about Hook. You see, Emma is really scared of commitment and she's afraid of what a future with Hook would look like until she is suddenly face to face with no future with him. I mean, I'm terrified of a future with Hook as well but that's because he is a patronizing, egotistical murderer who likes his eyeliner more than morals. But I suspect that Emma has something different in mind. Let's talk about how offensive this is. Yes, Emma's plan becomes to vanquish the darkness once and for all (by putting it in Zelena and then killing the Witch which is just straight up cold blooded murder, but the Dark Swan justifies this by reminding us that Zelena killed Neal because, all of sudden, Emma cares about that pesky detail) but in Camelot, Emma wanted to hold on to the darkness not because of some larger mythological plan but because of a boy. Her entire story was just downgraded from Savior/Dark One/Heroes Journey to "woman afraid of commitment with lover so does everything possible to run away" including turning her love interest into another Dark One.
Enter The (Sort Of, Really Vaguely Alluded To, More Like New Buds) Lesbians
--I passed over a ton of plot points, I know. So let's try to hit some other things here in the notes, shall we? Emma sped up gestation and Zelena gave birth to a green baby girl. Let's name her. I'm going to go with Esmeralda because it's a "green" name. Also, I fully expect that motherhood will redeem Zelena, which is overly misogynistic and horrifying all at once. Looking forward to that one!
--Arthur and Guinevere casually sit around a ping pong table, drinking wine, in full regalia.
--How many Magical McGuffins were there in these two hours? Baby's tears, squid ink, the helmet, the flame, the dreamcatcher the sword, and the dagger. With special appearances by the cuff and Hook's hook. Did I miss any? Oh. Right: magical ale that lets you talk to dead people.
--Belle held a crossbow to Hook's head. Now if only she had gotten trigger happy.
--Is it mandated that people in Camelot can only wear one outfit for all of time? Shouldn't Emma's white virginal gown be filthy by now?
--Operation Light Swan can go forth and die, thanks. They got a house by the water. I want to set something on fire.
--Hook explained all his baubles. They were all taken from men he killed for petty and selfish reasons and then he kept trinkets as souvenirs. What a guy! Totally the guy we want in a love story that is being lauded and pushed in media as a love story of the ages.
--I did like the magic fight between Merlin and Emma. It was overly short, but I'll take what I can get between the two most powerful magicians of all time, I guess.
--Speaking of, what happened to Merlin? Is he dead?
--When in the name of sanity did the flashbacks for the Bear King take place? And why, for the love of all that is holy, was there a magical bean? Adam and Eddy swore those things off!
--I do not, for one second, believe that Ruby would go running off and leave her Granny all alone on the off chance that she might find some wolves. And neither Snow nor Granny have mentioned that Red went off exploring in the season since she magic bean'd her way out of SB?
--Why does the sword make Hook dark? I though the sword represented the light and the dagger was the darkness? Light and dark, two halves of a whole. That was actually a great narrative point back in the first episode. But this time, it made Hook...dark?
Sunday, November 15, 2015
If you sit and ponder the way it was set up, I'm not so sure it was different from other Doctor Who episodes. You still had the Doctor as a mad man in a box who fell from the sky and tried to save the day. Again, whether or not he succeeded seems up to each individual viewer. Rasmussen wants us to believe that the Doctor failed and abandoned the ship and let the Morpheus transmission go out, but the universal truth of the Doctor is that he wins and saves the day. Always. Perhaps those elements--the mad man, the box, the hero complex--are also simply universal truths wherever the Doctor goes (and my blog has largely argued that to be true over the years). At the end of the day, I think what Gatiss was really trying to do was challenge his audience. He doesn't want us to love the story and, while I'm sure he doesn't want us to hate it either, the writer in this case wants us to sit and ponder whether or not we loved it or hated it. Gatiss wants this episode to be an earworm, something we can't stop thinking about, even after the credits have rolled. He wants us--like Rasmussen--to share it with someone and see what they think. Our answer to whether we loved it or hated it comes down to individual perspective on what makes a good story. In that regard, with the concept (somewhat) firmly in place, then we might call this episode a stroke of genius at the most and something very new after fifty-years at the very least. The problem is that it's a terrible episode. In other words, Gatiss succeeds but Rasmussen fails (but does the latter mean that the former is incorrect? Or does the latter being true mean that the former is definitely correct? See! This episode is a challenge!)
--I always rank the episodes of Doctor Who at the end of each season, so it'll be exciting to see where this one ends up because I honestly don't know right now.
--Not having any opening credits is a nice touch, reminding us that what we're watching isn't an episode of Doctor Who but supposed to be "found footage" of "real events" that "actually happened." The credits at the beginning would take us out of that moment.
--"What happened?" "From the beginning of time? That's a very long story."
--"Hold my hand." "I'm fine." "I'm not." The fact that Clara will be gone soon made the Doctor wanting to hold her hand even more poignant.
--Rasmussen's final explanation is a final break in the fourth wall that sounds almost too much like a Gatiss-insert: "I hope you enjoyed the show, I did try to make it exciting. All those scary bits, all those death-defying scrapes, and a proper climax...compelling viewing"
--Clara never gets to name things. Only the Doctor gets to name new creatures the duo stumble upon. How God-like of him. (Stay self-aware, Doctor Who!)
--One final Gatiss-insert: "I did tell you not to watch." So was that advice we should have taken? What, my dear readers, really happened?
Friday, November 13, 2015
--Ichabod nicely sums up the theme of this week's episode thus: "What we do not know may hurt us."
--Berserkers! Gotta love the Norse mythology references.
--Joe's advice to Ichabod about those things Mr. Crane is fearing? "Talk to her." Even Joe gets that Team Witnesses need each other to be complete.
--Did anyone think Sophie was FBI?? I sure as heck didn't. But, along a similar vein, Ichabod calling her "pugnacious" is really his way of saying she's a bitch.
--Awww to Joe and Jenny. Joenny?
--The flashback worked well this week because it was informative to the current plot and did not rely on Betsy Ross and her corseted boobs.
--"The idea of losing you..." Oh dear. The Ichabbie friendship is going to kill me.
--Next week is the fall finale! And, as I'm sure all the readers have heard, Sleepy Hollow is moving to Friday nights in the Spring. This is basically a death sentence for the show. Prepare yourself. The cancellation is probably forthcoming. I'll miss this show.
Monday, November 9, 2015
Here is something shocking: I am not going to go on a feminist rampage about how egregious it is that Nimue is the sole cause of Darkness being in the world. Pick your jaws up off the floor, y'all. I mean, yes, it is pretty offensive that a woman who watched her life and family vanish before her eyes and only wanted to ease her own suffering and pain is going to be torn down as the reason why there is suffering in the world; why so many people have died and why all our lives suck, but why would I complain about that? Why would I want to point out that, not for the first time, OUAT has shown that women are irrational, emotional, illogical, and never actually listen to good sense (usually coming from a romantic interest and always a man)? Why would I want to spend time and energy to demonstrate bit by bit that, once again, women who are "good" and "pure" are presented as light virgins but women who fall from grace are suddenly cast in dark colors, ugly skin, and as vile seducers, trying to lure the unexpected into their dens of iniquity? Why would I do that? No, instead, I am going to go another route and talk about archetypes (what. Me? Talk about archetypes? Surely you jest!) Specifically, I am going to talk about the archetype that I will call "the first woman."
--I know I'm passing over quite a lot of plot and narrative that happened elsewhere in this episode but that's because the main focus really was Nimue and Merlin. Also, because Zelena tethering the sword Excalibur to Merlin so that Arthur could control him was simply weird and strange. Who knew Zelena could do that?
--Let's go back to Jesus, the magical realm jumper. I'm not bothered by Christian themes: light versus dark, Savior, temptation, ect. Never have been. I expect those by the bucket load on my shows (really, have you read my Doctor Who blogs??). What I'm bothered by are the very overt Christian symbols and icons that appear in the Enchanted Forest. You know, like the Holy Grail, a chalice said to have been the cup Jesus passed to his disciples during the Last Supper and was later used to catch Jesus's blood as he was on the cross. I have no problem with there being a magical cup in OUAT and, more specifically, in Arthurian mythology, but to call it THE Holy Grail is incredibly problematic because it suggests that Jesus existed in and had the same influence on the Enchanted Forest as he did in our very real world. Christianity is not sui generis; it did not form in a vacuum completely devoid of outside forces and therefore could equally form in another universe. What outside forces you ask? Judaism, for one. Polytheism for another. History between those two forces, for a third. All of that (and so much more) led to the rise of apocalyptic Judaism and, eventually, to a preacher named Jesus (Joshua, really) who roamed around ancient Galilee, trying to tell people that times were ending. This is to say nothing of the apostle Paul who is responsible for Christianity going out to the Gentiles where it really took root (Jewish-Christianity fading away as the city of Jerusalem burned). If any of that--Judaism, Greco-Roman culture, the interaction between the two, and Paul--happened in the Enchanted Forest, then we've never seen it nor heard of it. And, like I keep saying, Jesus was not a realm jumper.
--The timeline is a disaster. So Merlin was in the tree for 1000 years; but he become immortal 1000 years ago. Rumple was the Dark One for at least 250 years, but Nimue became the Dark One 200 years before present day. How...is this even possible?
--The show really doesn't know how to do romance anymore. The relationship between Merlin and Nimue was almost as fast and unexplored as Lance and Gwen. One conversation and suddenly Merlin can easily say that the best moments of his 1000 year life were with Nimue. Great. Maybe you could show some of them so that I find their love believable.
--Hook's a survivor because he spent 250+ years in Neverland hanging out on a ship in a realm where time does not pass. It's not because of some stupid bauble. But no, go ahead. Say it's because of some silly ring. Lemme guess. We're gonna get some sort of backstory to it. Goody.
--Zelena kicking Snow was one of the funniest things I've seen on this show in a good long while because good God, Mary Margaret. You are as dumb as a pile of rocks.
--Continuity issues? We heard that the Dark One was created at the Vault (nope) and that Merlin battled the Darkness before tethering it to a human being (not really).
--Creepy men in hoods with glowing eyes are super creepy!
--Emma forged a sword. Now what?