Sunday, July 23, 2017

#iZombie 3.13: "Looking for Mr. Goodbrain Part 2"

“If we’re going to survive, we might have to do a few things that can’t be undone. If I scratch you, you’d better be damn sure whose side you’re on.”
-Chase

Once again the creative team behind “iZombie” pulled off a finale that left me wondering where the show was going next year and sure it would be someplace interesting. And yet again, whoever is in charge of the music cues was on point. One of my very favorite moment of “iZombie” overall was in the second season finale when a bunch of zombies were munching on the “real” Rob Thomas’ brain while singing Matchbox Twenty’s “Unwell.” This year’s music moments didn’t quite top that, but they were still pretty darn clever. This episode was just jam packed with twists and turns and things that will most definitely have consequences next season. D-Day is upon us, and now that everyone knows zombies exist, it is going to be time to see how the reaction plays out. Will humans be content to let the zombies live peacefully as long as they mostly stay in Seattle, or will our ugliest impulses (which have been quite prevalent for the past couple years, I think) reign?

The episode begins in the aftermath of the house explosion that ended the previous episode. Liv, Peyton, and Ravi are watching the news coverage of the event, and Liv is clearly devastated (as you’d expect, considering her two main romantic interests of the moment were both there). Just as everyone is feeling especially desperate, Major and Justin show up at the door. They survived because they were outside, but the rest of their squad and Natalie did not. Justin asks where Liv was, so Liv has to come clean about the whole sleeping with Chase Graves thing. At least the has the class to take him into another room to deliver the news. He doesn’t accept the being on the brain of someone who liked hookups excuse, and he storms out.

Later at the morgue, Liv and Ravi are working on the explosion victims, trying to piece bodies back together. Babineaux stops by with new information on the Katty Kupps case. Patrice, Tatum Wexler’s roommate, was on the flight from Paris that Katty suspected was the source of Seattle’s Aleutian flu outbreak. She was supposed to be bringing Chase Graves a new pet dog. The team starts speculating about whether a collar meant to dispense citronella to stop barking could have actually dispensed Aleutian flu. Liv confirms she has seen the dog (and the collar) plus a napkin with Katty’s phone number on it in Chase’s hotel room. When pressed on why she was in Chase’s hotel room in the first place, she has to admit that she slept with him. Meanwhile, at the Scratching Post, a bunch of zombies on choreographer blue brain are dancing to “Dream Lover,” which was a pretty great visual. One of Blaine’s minions shows up and says the feds interrupted the drop of Russian brains they were counting on. Blaine, understandably, is not happy about this development.

At Filmore Graves, Blaine tries to do a deal with Chase. He wants to provide all of the brains needed by Filmore Graves employees. Chase declines, saying he has the brain situation taken care of. Furthermore, since whole brains, blue or otherwise (as opposed to brain mush) can be a distraction to his soldiers, he is banning his employees from patronizing the Scratching Post. That just adds insult to injury for poor Blaine. As a very frustrated Blaine leaves Chase’s office, Major enters. Major wants back in at Filmore Graves. Meaning he wants Chase to scratch and re-zombify him. Chase warns Major of the consequences. D-Day is coming, and Major will need to make some tough choices about which side he’s on. Major says there’s no question he’s on the side of the zombies, and he really does want to be scratched.

While Chase is taking meetings, Liv and Babineaux are hovering outside his house. They are planning to do some recon to determine if he had something to do with the Aleutian flu outbreak. Specifically, they want to test the dog collar for flu residue. Liv drinks some Max Rager and jumps over the wall, and she lands right in Chase’s pool. Chase has just arrived home, and he sees this happen. He gives Liv a robe to wear while he runs her clothes through the dryer, and she and Babineaux sit on his couch for a chat. They tell Chase about all of the circumstantial evidence that connects him to the Aleutian flu outbreak. He gets rather snarky with them, which I appreciated, asking them if they want to watch some TV while Liv’s clothes dry. It’s way better than how robotic he’s been in some of the earlier episodes. Meanwhile, since Chase’s directive, the Scratching post is not doing so well anymore. Only one guy is dancing, and Blaine is so disgusted he turns the music off.

At City Hall, a woman from the CDC tells city staff, including Peyton, that the Aleutian flu out break could be really, really bad. It’s a slow, painful death. Vaccine’s are on the way, however, and she recommends everybody gets vaccinated. Our gang sits around the office, talking about the vaccine. Babineaux apparently is really paranoid about diseases and wants to get his as soon as possible. He’d be even happier if Peyton would tell them where the city is storing them so he could get his early. Liv ends up having a vision of Filmore Graves employee Carey Gold (who I believe is related to Tatum Wexler’s roommate Patrice) standing over Katty, who is in a car trunk, surprised Katty is still alive. The gang now thinks Carey is behind all the recent zombie murdering. And they’d be right. At Filmore Graves, Chase, who has also figured this out, calls Carey into his office and accuses her of mutiny. She admits it, and she says she did it because the whole “zombie island” idea will get them all killed. She’s probably right about that, actually. Putting all the zombies in one concentrated area would just be asking for somebody to destroy them all in one go. Chase calls for security, but the guards are all loyal to Carey. Chase ends up shooting Carey and all the guards just as Liv and Babineaux arrive. He ends up confirming to them what happened.

The vaccination stations are finally open, and of course, Johnny Frost uses his media personality status to get one of the first doses. Meanwhile, Babineaux goes back to the precinct, where he is confronted by Dale. Dale picked up one of Babineaux’s Cis while she was working on intercepting something related to Russia (presumably Blaine’s botched brain drop), and this CI has connections to Major and Blaine, too. It’s that guy Don-E brought into the business earlier in the season. In the interrogation room, Babineaux realizes it’s time to bring Dale into the fold, so he hits the CI and makes him go full-on zombie mode to prove to Dale that there are zombies among us. At the morgue, Ravi tells Liv that he found some open vials of tainted Utopium among Katty’s effects. It’s not enough for a cure, but the residue might be valuable. He has Liv turn the release valve on his mad scientist set-up, and that triggers a vision for Liv. She sees Patrice attacking Katty outside of Tatum and Patrice’s house.

Liv sneaks into Tatum and Patrice’s house. On an abandoned cell phone, she sees text going back and forth about how it’s D-Day and zombies will never go hungry again. Liv’s cell phone battery is dead, so she uses the kitchen land line to call Peyton and warn her that something is wrong with the Aleutian flu vaccines. Peyton tells Liv that the vaccines are being stored at a nearby elementary school. Tatum enters the kitchen, and she explains to Liv how she was zombified. They hug, but then Patrice tries to attack Liv. Liv knocks out both Patrice and Tatum, then she goes to the school, where Filmore Graves mercs are tainting the Aleutian flu vaccine with zombie blood. Liv calls Babineaux, who is in line at the vaccination station with Dale, to warn him. Babineaux has to go outside to get reception, but by the time Liv can deliver the news, it’s too late for Dale. As Babineaux rushes back in to save her, she’s already gotten the shot.

Liv heads to the local news station, where she confronts Johnny Frost about how he’s a zombie now, and she gets him to make an announcement about the vaccines being tainted and that zombies aren’t inherently bad. People flee the vaccine centers and head for the gun shops, but we also see some more tender scenes of new zombie life. Babineaux helps Dale dye her hair. The Scratching Post is hopping again. Chase and some of his mercs show up at the news station. He has his own video that he wants to broadcast. He says Seattle’s zombies will stay put in Seattle if the rest of the country donates sufficient brains (upon the death of the donors) to keep them well fed. It’s a bit of blackmail, for sure, but it’s not exactly a bad deal. We see Peyton inform Mayor Baraccus of recent events while he’s reading a book to a group of school children. It was a scene that was a bit too much of an on-the-nose invocation of 9/11 for my taste, personally. We also see a bunch of humans try to attack one of the new Filmore Graves operated zombie feeding stations, just to get mowed down by Filmore Graves mercs.

At the end of the episode, Liv goes back to the morgue, where Ravi informs her that he has used the Utopium residue to develop what he believes is the first vaccine for zombism. He takes it himself, and Liv is incredulous that he’d use himself as a guinea pig when there’s no good way to test the vaccine. Ravi does have a test in mind. He wants Liv to scratch him. If he doesn’t become a zombie, then the vaccine works. I would think he’d want to try this test in a few weeks after his body has built up immunity, but nope. He wants to do it right now. Liv doesn’t want that responsibility, but Ravi says it’s not her responsibility, because he’s asking for it. He wants her to deliver the scratch because they started this journey together. Eventually Liv agrees. As we fade to black, Ravi makes zombie noises, and Liv tells him, “don’t be a dick.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

MTVP So Cal Summer 2016: "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" 1.16: "Josh's Sister is Getting Married!"

“I drink anywhere. But I do my study drinkin’ here.”
-Greg

As many episodes of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” are, “Josh’s Sister is Getting Married!” is an emotional roller coaster. Many of our favorite characters have been continually making bad decisions, and finally, for once, some of them start trying to change their behavior. Of course it’s not going to stick, but I think the trying is important. Rebecca especially gets burned by trying to change her behavior. She wants to be a positive person in the lives of Valencia and the Chans, but thanks to Paula’s continued meddling (and Rebecca not having a serious conversation with Paula soon enough), it all blows up in her face. Musically, I think this is one of the weaker episodes of the season, but Greg’s song in this episode is kind of my theme song for life, so it’s not all bad by any means. That song in particular doesn’t exactly showcase Santino Fontana’s fantastic voice, but it expresses a sentiment I think many of us wanna-be high achievers can relate to.

The episode begins not long after the last one left off, in the aftermath of Josh learning that Rebecca ordered and received a bunch of photographs of him. As Josh looks through the pictures, Rebecca admits that she did have feelings for him, but her trip to New York has inspired her to break old patterns, and she has no intention of interfering with his relationship with Valencia. She even offers to let Josh take the pictures, or she’s going to throw them out. At first Josh declines, but some of them are from good angles, so of course he takes them. Rebecca slips and says that is “the last of the Josh Chan stuff” and has to quickly deny that she has more stuff. In reality, she’s got a whole cupboard of random (and kinda creepy) Josh stuff.

Meanwhile, Greg is still taking extension classes to try and work towards his MBA, and he’s studying for a test at a bar (not Home Base). He starts telling the bartender about how he got into the “Harvard of the South,” which is what he considers Emory, although the bartender rightfully counters that Vanderbilt is usually considered the Harvard of the South. Rebecca shows up at the bar, too, and she and Greg banter a bit before Rebecca decides again that she needs to break old patterns and goes home. When we next see Greg, he’s at school waiting to get his test back, and he is once again bragging to a classmate about the whole “Harvard of the South” thing. To Greg’s chagrin, he gets a C- on the test. His instructor says that she knows Greg is smart, but it is as if he decided not to try. This leads into Greg’s bit song of the episode, “I Could if I Wanted To.” I’ve got to admit, it’s kind of my theme song, and it’s got a great 90’s grunge rock groove. As I already mentioned, it doesn’t especially show off Santino Fontana’s voice, but I still dig it, probably just because I identify with it so strongly.

Meanwhile, at Rebecca’s house, Rebecca and Paula are clearing out the rest of Rebecca’s Josh stuff. Or, more accurately, Rebecca is trying to throw out her Josh stuff and Paula is objecting to getting rid of every single item. She really is a terrible, terrible influence. Rebecca and Paula are still bickering when Josh’s mom and sisters stop by. One of his sisters, Jayma, just got engaged, and she wants Rebecca to be a bridesmaid. Rebecca wants to turn over a new leaf and distance herself from the Chans, so she suggests Valencia should be a bridesmaid, considering she’s Josh’s girlfriend and all. Jayma says that both Rebecca and Valencia can be bridesmaids. This isn’t what Paula had in mind, but she’s thrilled Rachel is agreeing to be in the wedding. Because that’s not creepy.

Greg goes to the grocery store to pick up some coffee for studying, and he meets a rather sad stock boy named Marty. Marty recognizes Greg from the unfortunate events that happened at Spider’s/Spiders/Spiders’ in the season’s second episode. Marty has a crush on another store employee named Ally, but he doesn’t think he has a chance with her. She moved to their store from being a manager at a whole Foods all because she has a crush on yet another employee named Brody, aka “Grocery Clerk with Half an Eyelid.” Apparently he’s really charismatic. Greg sees himself in Marty (it’s the whole going after a woman who is really interest in someone else thing), so he offers to help. With Greg’s prompting, Marty performs a song called “Clean Up on Aisle Four,” which is replete with grocery store puns, for Ally. At first she’s smitten, but then a jealous Brody starts doing cartwheels, and she’s all about him again.

Rebecca and the rest of the bridal party go dress shopping for Jayma’s wedding. Valencia, of course, is late (she’s got to make an entrance), and she walks in wearing full-on feather wings on her back. She claims she just came from a Hometown Hotties audition shoot. She tells Rebecca that normally she’d curb stomp her for kissing Josh, but she’s grateful to be in the wedding, so she’s giving her a pass this time. Rebecca is appreciative and says she can make the Chans love Valencia. She spends the rest of the dress shopping session deprecating herself (mostly about her figure) and building up Valencia. Later at the office, Paula wants an update on wedding prep. She really wants Rebecca’s permission to put something rashy (poison oak would be ideal) in Valencia’s dress, but Rebecca says no. Paula starts researching anyway. Paula eventually thinks she has a source for poison oak who has offered to throw in a few deer ticks for good measure. This is unforgiveable to me – I know people whose lives have been completely destroyed by Lyme, and even Valencia doesn’t deserve that. Rebecca half-heartedly tries to put a stop to it, but Paula won’t hear of it. Before she can object too strongly, Rebecca gets a “911” text from Jayma and rushes to the bridal shop. It turns out that her dress is done early, and Jayma wants to celebrate with her girls.

At the bridal shop, the ladies are all getting along really well. Valencia says she wants almost all of them to be in her bridal party, and Jayma says they don’t all think she’s heinous anymore. Then she asks Rebecca and Valencia to have her dress packed up. While Rebecca and Valencia are working on that task, they start talking about the pros and cons of their respective boob sizes. Rebecca decides to try on Jayma’s dress to make a point (that her boobs would look terrible in it), which leads to one of the iconic (but not one of my favorite) songs of the first season, “Heavy Boobs.” After Rebecca is finished, Valencia also tries on the dress, and on her, it looks perfect. She asks Rebecca to take a picture of her in the dress, and Rebecca agrees. Paula, meanwhile, has hacked Valencia’s phone and social media accounts, and when the photo shows up in Valencia’s photostream, Paula immediately posts it with some unflattering hashtags.

Valencia and Rebecca are just about finished having the dress packed up properly when Jayma and the other ladies show up furious. Jayma says that Valencia has ruined her wedding. Valencia makes the case that she was framed, because, among other things, her hashtags are always positive like #fitspo, not #hotterthanthebride. She immediately suspects Rebecca. At first, Rebecca doesn’t say anything, but then she bites the bullet and takes the blame, even though she did nothing wrong (because Paula’s cray cray). Rebecca is kicked out of the wedding party, and the Chans now love Valencia. Rebecca confronts Paula, who admits that she keeps pushing Rebecca and Josh because she thinks that without Josh, she and Rebecca won’t be friends anymore. Rebecca says that isn’t the case, and she really needs to make some changes.

Back at the grocery store, Greg decides to talk to Ally about Marty. She doesn’t like how he keeps pushing (he even tried skywriting) even though she has clearly turned him down. She thinks it makes Marty seem pathetic, and she wonders whether or not if he stopped his ridiculous pursuit, she might give him a chance. Greg then goes to Marty and suggests that maybe giving up on Ally is the best move. Later that evening, Rebecca shows up at Home Base to drink. Greg is working, they banter, and he makes her a gin and tonic. Rebecca asks Greg if he wants to get another drink once he’s off work, and he turns her down. He doesn’t want to be her second choice. Rebecca leaves, devastated. While Rebecca is sulking at home, Josh shows up to yell at her about Valencia. Rebecca counters that now his family actually loves Valencia, and then she kicks Josh out of her house. And she follows that up by throwing out “Channy Bear,” a teddy bear to which she taped a picture of Josh’s face. Rebecca goes back to Home Base, and she kisses Greg to make her point. At first, Greg tries to say no, but Rebecca assures him that he’s not second place, and this is about him, not Josh. Greg says that if they’re going to do this, it’s not going to be one night of regret. Basically, it’s got to be at least a three-day bang-fest. Rebecca agrees.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 3.20: "The Masters"

“There’s no winner in parenting. But if you see a gold wrestling belt in our closet that says, ‘Parent Mania Champion,” just know I had it made before this conversation.”
-Louis

Overall, “The Masters” was a solid episode of “Fresh off the Boat.” It had an entertaining plot that held my attention, it included commentary on where Asians fit in the world of sports, and we even got to see Louis and Jessica seriously discuss and compare their parenting philosophies. All of this is set up by Tiger Woods playing in the Masters golf tournament. This set up Jessica to first laud, then question her “tiger mom” parenting style, although by the end of the episode, she is of course once again convinced she is right. Jessica wouldn’t be Jessica otherwise. While Emery is kind of sidelined from the big parenting golf competition that ensues, I enjoyed his little side plot where he’s trying to spread the Gospel that Tiger Woods is actually half Asian. The twist at the end of that plot, while sad for Emery, was pretty genius, from a technical standpoint.

Anyway, as you’d expect, the episode opens with the Huang boys watching Tiger Woods compete in the Masters. They’re pretty excited because he is half Thai, and they always like to see Asians do well in sports. They don’t have a lot of pop culture heroes to look up to, so when an Asian comes along and makes news like Tiger did in the mid-90’s, it’s a big deal. The boys don’t want Jessica to know about Tiger Woods, because then she’ll make them all try to learn golf. She does this any time an Asian is famous for something in the United States. A very little Evan had to try and learn to be a newscaster when Jessica learned about Connie Chung, for instance. Evan almost instantly spills the beans to Jessica, however, and you can see the gears start to turn in her mind. This obviously earns Eddie’s wrath, since he doesn’t want to be pulled into another of Jessica’s tiger mom plots.

Emery seems the most enthusiastic about Tiger Woods. He really wants his classmates at school to know that Tiger is half Asian. It’s kind of a running joke throughout the episode that everybody thinks of him as just Black, and nobody realizes he has a Thai mother. Nobody wants to be bothered to listen to Emery, though, not even Eddie’s friends. One of them, for instance, is too busy picking a fight with another kid who has the same backpack. I can totally see this sort of thing happening back when I was in middle school (around the same time as the show takes place). Backpacks were a big deal, people! I sewed lots of cute buttons on mine so that they would be unique. Emery decides to see if he can get Reba to let him use the school PA system to make an announcement about Tiger Woods to the entire student body. He even gives her a folder of research that proves he’s half Thai. Reba thinks this is a story that could break wide open, so she eventually agrees to give Emery the mic. Unfortunately for Emery, once he finally starts his speech, all the kids are out in the school yard watching the aforementioned backpack fight. It’s a great speech, though, and a great twist that suddenly made that random detail of the backpack argument relevant.

Anyway, Jessica tells Louis that she sees herself in Earl. She believes she is the one pushing their kids to greatness. Louis, understandably, is kind of insulted by this, because Jessica is implying that she really does most of the parenting and Louis’ contribution won’t really matter that much in the long run because he is too soft. Louis explains that he has a more laidback parenting philosophy because his father was extremely tough/strict with him, and he wants something different for his kids. I find this interesting considering the “real” Louis Huang that the real Eddie writes about in his memoir was, according to Eddie, extremely tough and basically physically abusive to his sons. Although even if TV show Louis is different from his real-life counterpart, I think it was an interesting point for TV Louis to bring up in this context. After stewing on it for a while, Louis has a solution to this argument with Jessica. He wants to settle it with a golf tournament. He’s going to train one kid, and Jessica is going to train another, and each will use the same golf pro for help, and they are going to see which kid does best at nine holes of golf. They decide not to include Emery because he’s good at everything automatically, so Jessica takes Evan and Louis takes Eddie.

Jessica does her thing and tries to push Evan to the limit. She’s super picky about the golf pro they’re going to work with (she ditches the first one, Phil, because she doesn’t like names that can be shortened, plus he calls her “Jess”). She makes him get up at 5:00 AM to practice before school. Evan is a “true beginner” to golf, as the golf pro puts it, and he doesn’t really take to it well. Jessica gets really concerned about her prospects in this competition when she sees Eddie crushing it at the driving range. Eddie is taking well to Louis’ laid back style, and he loves that they go for doughnuts before every practice. Jessica pretty much has exactly the reaction to this that you’d expect. She wants to win at all costs, even the cost of the dignity of her sons, so she asks Louis if they can switch who they are training. Louis, convinced that his method will work on any of their kids agrees to it. Eddie is understandably kind of hurt by the switch, and under Jessica’s strict style, his golfing gets worse and worse. Louis, meanwhile, takes Evan to a minigolf course, and Evan actually starts enjoying golf and developing some skills.

This turn of events causes Jessica to have a bit of a crisis of parenting confidence. To make her feel better, Louis offers to cancel the parenting challenge and just play a fun family golf game where there is no keeping score. Jessica agrees, but she sulks the whole time. She goes off to get a platter of junk food for the boys (a sign of just how upset she is), and she runs into a woman who looks like she’s Kultida Woods. Jessica asks “Kultida” more about her parenting philosophy and how she feels like her permissiveness has benefitted Tiger. She responds that she isn’t permissive at all. She was very strict, and that lays the foundation. This makes Jessica feel better and like she hasn’t ruined her kids. She feels like she gave them the foundation to then succeed later when they’re able to use a little creativity. We find out later that this wasn’t actually Kultida at all, but Jessica doesn’t know that, so she ends the episode once again satisfied that she is right in all things.

Summer DVR Dump: The Librarians 3.07: “And the Curse of Cindy”

“It didn’t work on me because I’m so awesome? Advantage me!”
- Ezekiel

As if cults weren’t creepy enough in general, magic cults are even creepier. When we begin this week, a woman is sneaking onto the grounds of a hippy cult looking for her daughter. When she finds the girl (after some searching), a gong sounds and everyone gathers to see Cindy, the person they are all worshipping. A short time later, our team lands outside because the clipping book has alerted them to the cult activity. Thanks to Flynn and a little magic, they get on the premises and Ezekiel fills the team in on Cindy. She only goes by her first time, there are no known photographs (if you ask me based on what it looks like before she emerges from the house, she might not even be human) and all kinds of people follow her. They know there must be an artifact somewhere nearby (likely in the house) so they are going to have to find a way to get in. Lucky for the team, Flynn has managed to get himself chosen to be one of the house guests. It’s apparently like some weird, extra skeevy version of Big Brother or something. I can’t imagine this is going to end well.

Things just keep getting weirder as the rest of the team tries to investigate the situation. The girls split off from the guys and manage to get inside the house. We also see Cindy inside watching herself in a confessional video (again, much like Big Brother). She looks pretty sad while watching and I’m wondering if she was like a rejected contestant or something to have everyone adore her. The girls see Flynn giving a confessional but he’s gone by the time they manage to get into the booth (creepy). Also creepy is the giant statue of Cindy (I swear it looks like it was made out of paper Mache). Jake and Ezekiel notice a military truck and sneak into a bunker, only to be immediately chased out by DOSA. I’m guessing they went snooping around, too, and got whammied by whatever Cindy’s artifact is. No one is immune from this crazy chick!

So I may have been a little hasty in my assessment of no one being immune. Ezekiel and Stone get dragged before her Extreme Creepiness and Jake falls under her spell. But Ezekiel is fine. He’s not affected by her at all. Down in the kitchen, the girls run into the chef (a super famous one) who is all upset that Cindy wants from-a-box macaroni and cheese. Eve goes to deliver it and gets to take out a DOSA guy and drag both Jake and Flynn back to the Library (although they weren’t quick enough to keep Jake from spilling quite a few secrets about the library to Cindy). She’s worried now that the Librarians will mess with her plan. While we don’t yet know what that plan entails, we do know that her perfume is the key to making everyone love-drunk morons. Jenkins explains that back in the day, powerful practitioners would brew obsession potions to help with battle. He suspects that Ezekiel was immune because he is so in love and obsessed with himself. They still need to go back and find a pure sample of the perfume so Jenkins can make an antidote, but he mixes up a little something so there is less chance the rest of the gang will be affected by her magic. Once back on the scene, the girls sneak into the barn to find a giant missile being prepped for launch. Yeah, that’s some crazy stuff going on right there. I’m still waiting for Ezekiel to figure out who Cindy actually is.

The girls get locked in the freezer by the witch who is making the potion (sort of a stereotypical cackling old biddie but whatever). Meanwhile, Jenkins tries to break the spell on Flynn and Jake but they just start sort of hitting on and complimenting each other. Frankly, I’d have liked to see more of that. It could have been highly amusing. And while I felt most of this episode was lackluster, I have to admit, Ezekiel really got to shine near the back end of it. He sneaks into Cindy’s room and watches her get horribly voted off a Big Brother-esque show. He remembers her from it and he explains that what she’s after isn’t real. The people will turn on her eventually and he proves it by dousing a group of them with more potion so they are practically tearing her apart because they all want her. Cindy feels horrible for what she’s done (I really liked how Ezekiel was able to open up to her) and she insists they have to stop the missile launch. Unfortunately, she’s now changed the potion and turned everyone to love her. Well crap!

But with a little team work from our gang (including Jenkins showing up with the antidote), the missile is stopped and everyone is okay. We also learn that the God of Chaos had inhabited the woman we thought was a witch and he’s floated off to regenerate in his sarcophagus. As things calm down, Ezekiel tells Cindy that she’s got one friend (in him) and she should start from there. She gives him a big old kiss that leaves me a bit flustered before he plants a gentle one on her forehead and heads out. Back at the library, the gang ponders where the god’s sarcophagus may be. And Jake (rightly) points out that it wasn’t Ezekiel’s narcissism that kept him immune to the potion, it was because he already had feelings for Cindy from watching the show. Our little thief is loath to admit the truth but I have to agree with Jake on this one. Ezekiel doesn’t show feelings for others often but he does definitely have them. And as the episode comes to a close, we find that the sarcophagus is in the hands of DOSA. That can’t possible end in anything other than terror and hellfire.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Doctor Who 10.11: “World Enough and Time”

“We had a pact, me and him. All those stars, we were going to explore them together. But then, he was too busy burning them.”
- The Doctor

Since I found out that John Simm was returning as the Master (and in this episode no less) I’ve been very much looking forward to this episode. I loved him as an adversary for the Doctor but I also liked that they were friends once upon a time. It gives their relationship such a deep history. Before we really dive in to the story of the week, we get our first sort of in media res moment of the Doctor landing the TARDIS and starting to regenerate!

Anyway, we pick up with Missy leading an adventure as a test from the Doctor. He wants to see if she can be good like him. They’ve found a 400-mile long ship trying to get away from the gravitational pull of a black hole. Quite pretty really (the black hole that is). Bill and Nardole are both quite miffed with the Doctor for sending them on this little trip seeing as neither of them trust Missy. She’s having a great time though needling them both about her connection to the Doctor. But as often is the case, things take a nasty turn when one of the ship’s occupants comes in and starts pointing a gun at everyone, demanding to know who is human. A mysterious “them” is coming up the lifts and that only happens if they detect human life signs. The guy thinks if he kills Bill they won’t come. The Doctor pops out of the TARDIS to try and diffuse the situation but Bill gets shot through the middle anyway, leaving a giant gaping hole right through her!

We jump back in time briefly to see the Doctor suggest his plan to let Missy run things (with him observing and keeping tabs) to Bill and Nardole. The Doctor kind of explains to Bill why Missy is so important to him. She’s his oldest friend in the universe and they had a pact when they were children (probably before the Master looked into the Void and went bonkers). Clearly, he misses that friendship and wants to find it again if possible. Bill asks the Doctor to promise that he won’t let Missy get her killed but he can’t promise that (on the premise that she’s human and easily breakable). Cut back to Bill being shot through the middle and some creepy thins step out of the lift and take her away, saying they can repair her. Given their mechanical-like movements and modulated voices, I don’t understand why the Doctor and Missy (at the very least) didn’t put it together that they were some sort of Cybermen.

Given the size of the ship (and some random nonsense about gravity) we learn that the top of the ship where the Doctor, Missy and Nardole reside moves slower timewise than the hospital where Bill finds herself. She’s sort of rescued by this creepy guy that kind of reminded me of a cross between Igor from Frankenstein and a Klingon (in look). But as Bill explores the hospital and finds all these “special” patients in pain, she begins to trust this guy. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting the twist regarding this character so I suppose kudos to Moffatt for that but otherwise, I just didn’t get why the Doctor didn’t figure it out sooner!

I did find it kind of disturbing that Bill kept seeing flashes of the Doctor telling her to wait for him (he managed to psychically send her a subconscious message but still, it kind of was jarring to see him just randomly pop up everywhere without warning. It was rather amusing to see Bill and her buddy watch the others at the end of the ship on the TV (it appeared frozen due to the difference in how fast time moved). Eventually, the Doctor, Missy and Nardole get into a lift and head to the other end of the ship. Bill keeps asking how long it will take for them to arrive and her buddy ends up taking her to the operating theater where she gets “converted”. Yeah, this just feels a lot like Dalek Clara from season 7. I mean, I get that Moffatt is running out of new ideas (which is one of the many reasons I’m looking forward to a new showrunner) but come on. I do have to say that the Cybermen aren’t very unique (but at least it wasn’t Daleks again).

By the time the rest of the gang arrives, Bill has already been turned into a Cyberman. The Doctor and Nardole go off and find the operating theater while Missy is left at the computer controls to try and figure out what’s going on. Bill’s creepy friend (who betrayed her) shows up and starts talking to Missy. She’s generally annoyed by his presence as she’s trying to work out what seems so familiar about the whole scenario. She assumed that the ship came from Earth but it turns out that was wrong. It’s from a planet much like Earth that she and the Doctor have (presumably) seen before and just as she figures it out, a Cyberman approaches the Doctor and Nardole. I believe this version of the Cybermen was from the original run of the show which explains the Doctor’s confusion as to why this unit looks brand new. And then, in a heartbreaking moment, he realizes that this unit is Bill. Oh, and the creepy guy turns out to be the Master. How he got there and how he knows Missy is a future regeneration (he says he’s worried about his future) is all very confusing and we better get answers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy he’s here and I guess I understand his point about wearing a disguise since he was the former Prime Minister of Britain (I suppose Bill is probably old enough to have remembered Harold Saxon). The look on the Doctor’s face when both versions of his frenemy pop out is a mix of surprise and shock. We are in for one hell of a finale episode.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Doctor Who 10.10: "The Eaters of Light"

Listen, you are all very, very angry. But really you’re just very scared.”
-The Doctor

The opening of the episode suggests that the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole will be going to a rather mysterious place. Specifically, we see two kids playing around the Devil’s Cairn in Scotland. They seem to be brother and sister. The sister wants to hear the music and the ghosts talking from inside the cairn, but her brother worries that if she does that, she’ll disappear, and he’ll get in trouble. Of course the kid starts hearing things and disappears. We then see the TARDIS appear in a similar location, but in the second century. Apparently Bill is really interested in the Roman Ninth Legion, and she wants to know what happened to them. She and the Doctor seem to have some sort of challenge related to this going on. Nardole is just annoyed that the Doctor is wasting time not watching Missy in the vault.

Bill goes off exploring, and she comes across a woman who seems to be saying prayers in remembrance of her family. Bill approaches her, but the woman screams and tries to attack Bill. Bill runs and runs until she falls through a trap, where she finally meets a Ninth Legion soldier. She’s shocked that they can actually understand each other (thanks to the TARDIS, of course). The soldier explains that a creature has wiped out almost the entire Ninth Legion, and he and a few other soldiers deserted. The other deserters are in a sort of safe house by the river, so that’s where they decide to go. The creature, which has kind of cool looking glowing tentacles, finds them, though, and tries to attack. The soldier sacrifices himself, and Bill ends up making it to the safe house, where the soldiers don’t seem to quite know what to do with her. It seems like kind of a threatening situation for Bill.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Nardole are doing their own exploring. They find the remains of most of the Ninth Legion, and the bodies seem to be in a very peculiar way, sort of as if dried out. Then they come upon some cairns, decide to take a look, and quickly find themselves surrounded by an army. The pair are held at knifepoint for quite some times, as the young Picts insist on waiting for their leader, a woman named Kar (the same woman Bill encountered earlier) to decide what to do. Kar is the “gatekeeper” for her tribe. She watches over the cairn and keeps bad things from coming out of it. The Doctor ends up going into the cairn, and he sees a light portal with a nasty looking creature in it. When he reemerges, it turns out that two whole days have passed. His and Nardole’s search for Bill just got a lot more difficult.

Bill tries to explain her soldier friends sacrifice to the remaining Ninth Legion. She says he was covered in a tar-like substance and died. She has a little bit of the tar on her, too, and she ends up passing out for two days because of it. When she regains consciousness, she starts getting along well with the Ninth Legion guys. One in particular takes a real liking to her, to the point where she has to let him know she’s gay. In one of the more entertaining scenes of this season, he’s not only cool with that, he thinks she’s limiting herself by only preferring one sex/gender. Apparently most Roman soldiers were a little less choosy! I just generally enjoyed the nonchalant way in which the discussion happened, after Bill thought it was going to be a big deal that she would have to explain carefully. She eventually convinces the guys that even though the situation looks really bad, the Doctor is the only person who might be able to help, and they need to find him.

The Doctor, meanwhile, gets more helpful information out of Kar. Gatekeepers like her and her predecessors are supposed to fight the “Eaters of Light” (the scary creatures everyone has been seeing) on a regular basis so that they don’t cross over into our dimension. Kar let one through deliberately, though, because she wanted to kill the Romans. And for the most part, she succeeded. The Doctor is not at all impressed, especially because now he has to figure out how to stop more Eaters of Light from crossing over and causing even more trouble. To make matters worse, the creature that has already crossing over is getting stronger, and it’s circling where Bill and her new friends are hiding.

Both the Doctor and Bill have to take leadership over their respective contingents. Bill has a plan for trying to get the remains of the Ninth Legion out of the caves. The Doctor has a plan to try and lure the Eater of Light back through the portal, but it has to be done before dawn, when the creature will reach its full strength. Bill and her Ninth Legion friends run into the creature while trying to get out of the caves, and there’s a little skirmish where one of the Legion is killed. The rest make it out, though, and the Doctor and the Picts are there to greet them. Kar and “Grandpa” (the oldest of the remaining Legion who is now their default leader even though he’s only eighteen) start arguing a bit, but the Doctor puts a stop to it. The Romans and the Picts have each deeply hurt each other, but their going to have to work together to save the world from being destroyed by the Eaters of Light.

The Picts basically throw a big party because the Eater of Light is drawn to sound. When the creature shows up, the Picts and the Legion hit it with these devices that poison the light it’s trying to eat. This drives it into the portal. That’s not the end of the Doctor’s plan, though. He realized that it’s the time difference between both sides of the portal that results in a Pict only having to enter the portal every few decades. He can protect the gate for much longer than any human. Kar’s not having this, though. Protecting the gate for as long as she can his her destiny. And this time, she’s going to have help. The entire Ninth Legion is going to join her. It turns out that so many people crossing the portal at once makes it unstable, though, and the cave where the portal is located starts to collapse. That’s why people still hear music around that particular cairn, including the little girl from the beginning of the episode (spoiler alert: she didn’t get stolen by the ghosts).

When our team gets back to the TARDIS, Nardole is dismayed to find out that Missy is on board. The Doctor has worked out a new arrangement. Missy is biolocked out of the TARDIS controls, so she can’t actually do much, but she can travel with them and perform maintenance on the TARDIS. The Doctor is happy with this arrangement, and Nardole clearly is not. Missy watched some of what happened on this latest adventure, but she’s struggling to understand it. The Doctor tells her she needs to learn to hear the beauty in music. We later see her listening to the Celtic music from the Picts’ party, and she’s crying. I think we’re supposed to believe that she is truly changing for the good.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Summer DVR Dump: The Librarians 3.06: “And the Trial of the Triangle”

“You are a gifted leader, Flynn, but you aren’t the only one with a gift.”
- Cassandra

This week, Flynn returns because he’s looking for the Eye of Ra. Supposedly, it can stem the flow of evil leaking into the world but it’s been lost and he doesn’t know where it is. While he’s frantically searching the library, the rest of the team nab him for an intervention. I have to admit, I totally agree with everything the rest of the team had to say about Flynn’s behavior and his demeanor. He’s dismissive, arrogant and doesn’t understand friendship. He brushes their concerns off, saying that he hasn’t told them everything because he thought they had more time to figure it out. But as they start to work out where the Eye might be, we see how the rest of the team actually works together as a cohesive unit, each person serving their purpose. We learn that the Eye was last seen in 1886 in the possession of a previous Librarian who died in the Bermuda Triangle. The clipping book helpfully shares an article from the next day about a Venezuelan plane going down in the same spot. Oh boy!

While Flynn is being kind of moody, the rest of the team is actually doing what they do best. Jenkins has built a miniature back door to get them back from the Triangle without an issue. And thanks to Cassie and Ezekiel, they will have a way to get in (magic tic tacs). Eve isn’t really pleased about using magic but it’s all they’ve got. Perhaps the most interesting find is Jake doing research on the Triangle and the ships that have gone missing. There have been 107 (well 108 with the one about to go) and they follow a pattern, in fact it matches a Lewis Carroll poem (The Walrus and the Carpenter). I like how they linked it in with poetry and the fact that Carroll is known for his trippy writing style. Unfortunately, when they get to the airport in Venezuela, they are on the wrong side of security. So Eve and Flynn create a distraction so the rest of the team can get their bags through (specifically the one with the mini back door). It actually gives Flynn and Eve a chance to get some things off their chests. He still loves her and wants her to see him as a hero again, rather than a screw up. It’s kind of sweet but I can still see the rest of the team’s point of view. Just as they head for the plane, they’ve got some unforeseen issues. One is a DOSA agent spotting them and then there is actually a plane full of people!

As the gang tries to figure out a way to get the people off the plane, Flynn is still acting like kind of an asshole so Eve drags him into the bathroom and ends up beating up on him a bit (so everyone obviously thinks they’re joining the mile high club) until he admits that all the bad things that have happened (magic coming back into the world, the ley lines being super charged and now evil being leaked into the world) were all on his watch and he thinks he has to stop it. He’s also seen what pure evil can do and he is somewhat disillusioned by it. But ultimately, Eve convinces him to help save the people on the plane. That’s a good thing since the rest of the team happens upon the fact that there aren’t pilots anymore. Ultimately, Flynn uses a stage trick to turn everyone into pigs (mentally) to get them off the plane. But because he’s still kind of reckless, he sends everyone off the plane and then stays so he can find the artifact he’s after. I suppose he did get the innocent people to safety, so he did what Eve wanted.

When Flynn first wakes up he’s still pretty cocky. He realizes that the Triangle is just a rabbit hole protecting the Eye of Ra. In order to get it, he needs to pass a test in the Rose Garden, against the Red Queen (who looks like Cassie). He has to answer four questions honestly or else the Red Knight (Jake) will kill him. And wouldn’t you know, the questions he has to answer are about the way he’s been treating his friends and loved ones. But at least he is able to be honest and in the end, he realizes that he’s put up these walls of confidence to hide how insecure and scared he still is facing all of this, even after being a Librarian for over a decade. As it turns out, the figure he thought was Jenkins is actually the Librarian who went missing with the Eye. He explains that in order to use the artifact, Flynn will have to willingly take a life. I suspect in the end, he will sacrifice himself (which I’ll be honest, while I really like Noah Wylie, I think he’s kind of outgrown the show or maybe the other way around and it would be better just to have the other Librarians running things). When he gets back to the library, he manages to send the rest of the people from the plane home and Cassie and Ezekiel find a way to send the DOSA agent back without any memory (they send him through thinking he’s a chicken). And he assures everyone that he’s going to be different now. He does make Jenkins promise not to tell anyone about the sacrifice that comes along with the Eye, though. At least not for now. I will be interested to see what happens when the rest of the team finds out. I mean, I know they’ve struggled with his moods but I suspect Eve does love him and losing him would be really hard for her (any Guardian really).