Sunday, July 31, 2011

Torchwood 4.04: "Miracle Day: Escape to LA"

“We’re traveling circus folk.”

“Escape to LA,” as you can probably tell from the title, saw most of the action of the story move from Washington, DC to Los Angeles. What I really noticed about the episode was that with the setting change, a lot of the problems the show was having with establishing a sense of place went away. I mean, I understand that much of the series was shot in Los Angeles, so it was easier to do establishing shots, but I’ve seen the crew of “Lost” do an amazing job at making Honolulu look like different places all over the world, from London to Seoul. It can be done. They could have at least sprung for a few stock footage establishing shots of big DC landmarks. Not doing so is just plain lazy, which is kind of a recurring theme this season. There was a bit of a caper near the end of the episode, which was kind of fun, but I still don’t think “Miracle Day” has risen to the level of “Children of Earth.” But that’s okay, I think. I don’t know if I would want to watch something as dark as “Children of Earth” on a regular basis.

The episode begins in Washington, DC, where Esther makes the really incredibly stupid decision to pay a visit to her sister, Sarah. I thought this neighborhood looked more like New Orleans than DC. The houses just didn’t look right at all, and I would know considering I spent much of yesterday afternoon driving through DC suburbs. Anyway, Sarah’s house is all boarded up, and Sarah only opens the door slightly when Esther knocks. She tells Esther that some men had been by asking questions about Esther. She also won’t let Esther see her nieces. Sarah is afraid that her children will catch one of the many diseases going around if they set foot outside. Back at her car, Esther reports her sister to CPS, which can’t end well. Also, as was easy to predict, a guy is watching Esther. In his car is the triangle symbol that showed up on Friedkin’s cell phone, so this is a PhiCorp guy. He’s going to follow Esther to get to the rest of Torchwood.

We next see the Torchwood team in Los Angeles, and now we finally have an attempt at creating a sense of place with some fun establishing shots of Venice Beach. It just makes me even more sad that there was no attempt to really showcase DC. Anyway, as the team is getting out of the car and enjoying the sunshine, Rex places a quick call to Dr. Juarez. He wants to know if she has any LA contacts who can provide him with pain killers, of course. As he’s talking, somebody places a flyer in Rex’s hand that says “Dead is Dead.” Rex asks Juarez if he’s heard about this before, and Juarez says it’s a movement that was started by a small town mayor trying to make a name for herself. The idea is that society should treat those who would have died but for the miracle as if they were actually dead.

Meanwhile, in DC, Dr. Juarez is touring an abandoned hospital. The plan is to turn the hospital into a place that can house the very sick and the should-have-been-dead. One of the other doctors on the tour compares it to a plague ship and thinks it’s horrible. Actually, all the doctors think it’s horrible, really, but it’s still going to happen. When the hospital is finally set up, it’s an absolute mess. People are so crammed in that the doctors can barely walk around, and the second floor doesn’t even have electricity. More hospitals have dumped off patients on the “new” hospital than anticipated, and people are also dropping off relatives they don’t want to care for anymore. Dr. Juarez describes it best when she says it’s disgraceful, because it really is.

In Los Angeles, the Torchwood team is getting settled in their new apartment. Gwen runs outside to take a phone call from Rhys, and in a fairly amusing scene, she tries to make LA sound horrible, when it’s really beautiful and sunny and people are running around enjoying the beach. She desperately wants Rhys to get her dad out of hospital, because she’s heard that MRSA is running rampant in hospitals. Rhys says he’ll try, but he’s not really sure if there’s anything he can do. While Gwen is enjoying the sun and talking on the phone, the PhiCorps guy who was following Esther takes pictures of her, too. Guess he followed them all the way across the country.

We next check in on Oswald, who is at a hotel. He’s taking bottles of sparkling water out of the mini fridge and is opening them just to hear the satisfying hiss of carbonation. I guess it reminds him that he’s finally free from prison or something. It was a good character moment for Oswald, at least. Anyway, Jilly interrupts his raiding of the fridge. Oswald tells Jilly that he used the internet to try and find out who is above PhiCorps, but he had no luck. The way information disappeared reminds him of what he would do to hide his own identity when he was on the run from the law. He gets ready to leave for an interview, but Jilly informs him that the interview has been cancelled. Ellis Hartley Monroe got the interview instead. Jilly informs Oswald that Monroe is a Tea Partier, which isn’t surprising given the bile she spews in her interview. I’ll admit, what she says is not an accurate portrayal of the Tea Party at all (she thinks government should come up with a solution to the should-have-been dead), but the selfishness behind the sentiment is spot on. And I’ll stop being political now (it’s hard, considering I’m a public policy student, but I don’t want this blog to erupt in hatred on either side).

There’s a brief interlude where Rex goes to visit his dad, who happens to live in Los Angeles, although he hasn’t told the rest of the team that. Rex’s father lives in a run-down dump of an apartment, and the man himself looks quite disheveled too. It screams cliché, but because it was a short scene, I was willing to look past it. More interesting is the fact that Rex’s father has a massive stash of PhiCorps pain killers. Rex palms a box of them before leaving, of course. I’ll be very interested to know how the pain killers got there. Is Rex’s father a dealer, perhaps?

Anyway, PhiCorps headquarters is in Los Angeles, and the Torchwood team decides they need to steal the company’s most secure server. From the information Gwen stole from Jilly, they know that to get into the secure area where this server is housed, they need multiple biometrics from one man named Nicholas Frumkin. To obtain the necessary voice print, palm print, and retina scan, Jack and Gwen pose as an American couple cooing over Frumkin’s child as they walk by the ocean. I thought Gwen’s American accent was hilarious, and I love that Gwen is mortified by it. It was an admirable effort by Eve Myles, truly. The creepy PhiCorps guy gets to Frumkin, too, however, and he’s not so nice about how he’s going to obtain the biometrics. We hear Frumkin scream in pain as the palm of his hand and an eye are cut out.

Back in DC, Ellis Hartley Monroe is giving a speech in front of the house of horrors that is the abandoned hospital turned should-have-been-dead holding pen. She thinks the project is wonderful, and she thinks more facilities like it should be created. She doesn’t think drug companies like PhiCorps should profit from disaster. And that’s where she really differs from the Tea Party. Okay, I really will stop being political now, I promise! Oswald and Jilly pull up, and Oswald is pissed that Monroe has stolen his thunder yet again. This time, he takes matters into his own hands. He walks up to the hospital, puts on a mask, and goes in. Reporters instantly want to know why Monroe won’t enter the hospital. Inside the hospital, Oswald gives a Messiah-like speech, talking about how he’s one of them (the hospital detainees) because he was supposed to be dead too. He holds up a little girls who has been abandoned there, which is super creepy, considering why Oswald was sentenced to death. Monroe decides to leave the hospital, and when she gets into her town car, she’s drugged. A triangle appears on the dashboard, which makes it evident PhiCorps is behind this.

Right before the big infiltrate PhiCorps mission is about to start, Esther makes another call the CPS. She wants to find out what’s going on with her nieces, of course. The woman she speaks to informs her that the children have been taken to a group home, soon to be placed in forster care. And Sarah is undergoing a psych eval. Even though she called CPS because she was worried about her nieces, Esther is still surprised by this. What did she really think was going to happen when she called CPS? Anyway, Esther is teary while directing the mission from the van because of this news, and when Rex sees the tears, he naturally wants to know what’s going on. He is extremely pissed when he finds out that Esther visited her sister’s house, and rightfully so. Especially considering a PhiCorps goon did actually follow them all to LA thanks to finding Esther at Sarah’s house.

Jack and Gwen get to do the actual infiltration of PhiCorps, and the beginning of the mission is quite fun. Gwen’s dressed up as an extra-glamorous HR executive in Los Angeles for training, and Jack’s a delivery guy. All phone calls that PhiCorps personnel make to verify Jack and Gwen are authorized to be on the premises get rerouted to Esther. Gwen is furiously hooking up a fake replacement server (Jack took the real one) when the PhiCorps assassin (the guy who has been taking all the pictures) sneaks up behind her and knocks her out. Jack sees a man strangled in the delivery bay and runs back up to Gwen, only to get knocked out too. It’s a comedy of errors, really. Rex sees this happening through Gwen’s contacts and decides he needs to save the day. Which means running up 66 flights of stairs. With a huge hole in his chest. I thought that was just dumb.

Lucky for Rex, the assassin hasn’t killed Jack or Gwen yet. He’s too busy giving an Evil Speech of Evil and demanding to know why Jack is mortal. The assassin tries to motivate Jack to spill information by holding a knife to Gwen’s throat, but Jack honestly doesn’t know what is going on. Gwen persists in asking the assassin who he works for, and he finally gives in and starts going on about how they are “everyone” and “always.” He is about to refer to his employer by name when Rex arrives on the scene and shoots him in the throat. I thought that was lame. It’s obvious that the powers behind the Miracle are familiar with Jack, and the big speech the assassin gave makes me think they could quite possibly be alien. Which would make sense, considering this is “Torchwood” and all. This is reinforced when Monroe is crushed alive in her car while a mysterious voice gives a similar “everyone” and “no one” speech as the assassin did and says “the Families will rise.” That was super creepy, especially since an old episode of “Mathnet” from “Square One” has given me a long-time fear of car crushers.

The episode ends back in the Torchwood apartment, where Esther is going through data from the stolen server. She can see that PhiCorps is planning to run something called “overflow camps,” which I presume are slightly more put-together versions of the converted abandoned hospital we saw earlier in the episode. Just as Esther is talking about this, Gwen’s phone rings again. Rhys says he has succeeded in getting Gwen’s father out of the hospital. He’s so proud of himself that he managed to get Gwen’s father at the top of the list for some new scheme called “overflow camps.” Gwen is horrified and demands that Rhys stop her father from being transported, but it’s too late.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer DVR Dump: The Walking Dead 1.06: "TS-19"

“Listen to your friend. She gets it. This is what takes us down. This is our extinction event.”

We’ve reached the end of the first half of my “Summer DVR Dump” series for 2011. Next week, I’ll start recapping the first half of Doctor Who series 6. Before we get to that, though, there’s the season 1 finale of “The Walking Dead,” called “TS-19.” I thought “TS-19” ended the first season on a very strong note. I thought the story of Dr. Edwin Jenner, the last CDC employee to remain at his post, was especially effective. While we didn’t get a detailed explanation for what was causing the apocalypse, I think we got enough information about what scientists went through when the outbreak started to satisfy me for now. The story was sufficiently rooted in emotion and character that the episode worked for me. And there was some good suspense at the end as the group had to escape an extremely treacherous situation. And not everyone did escape.

The episode begins with a flashback to the early days of the infection. It’s bad enough that the military has gotten involved. Shane is with Rick and the hospital, and everything is chaos. There are zombies everywhere, and the soldiers seem to be shooting everything that moves on sight, zombie or living. Shane makes a very tough decision. He’s going to barricade Rick in his hospital room and hope for the best. The decision is made even easier when the power goes out. This shuts off all of Rick’s monitoring equipment, and I’m not sure if Shane knows whether Rick is alive or dead. Shane leaves Rick at the hospital after pushing a stretcher up against the door, and he manages to survive both the zombies and the military to escape.

When we return to the present day, the group is rushing into the CDC building after the door finally opened. They meet Dr. Jenner, who isn’t especially happy to have company. This just seemed incredibly emo at first, but by the end of the episode, it’s apparent that there was a good reason why he thought the survivors should stay away from the CDC. Jenner makes all the survivors undergo a blood test to make sure they aren’t infected. When he finds out they haven’t eaten in a while, he hosts a little feast. Well, it looks like all he really had was a few bottles of wine, but they all seem happy about it anyway. Of course, Shane has to be a complete buzzkill and ruin the little celebration by asking what happened to everyone else at the CDC. It turns out that a lot of people left when things started to go bad, and many of those who didn’t leave ended up committing suicide.
Everyone enjoys the respite and the hot showers except for Andrea, Shane, and Rick. They’re all very beaten down over what’s been going on. Which I suppose is understandable. Amanda is still upset over Amy’s death, which is extremely understandable. Shane is still upset over Lori rejecting him. Which I guess is understandable, but not at all respectable. She’s married to his best friend, people! I think Rick is just upset that he couldn’t save everyone. Andrea goes on about how everything is gone now, and Rick makes the mistake of saying that they all would have died if they had stayed outside, no matter where they went.. He had kept that to himself until now.

Shane gets extremely drunk (as do most of the rest of the survivors), and he decides it would be a really great time to confront Lori about how she has been pushing him away. Lori just wants him to leave, mostly because I think she’s disgusted with herself for cheating on Rick, but Shane isn’t having it. It seems like he’s about to rape Lori before he finally gets it together and leaves her alone. This, of course, leaves Lori even more upset and broken than she already was. Things don’t really look that much brighter in the morning. Everyone has eggs for breakfast, and they’re grateful for some real food. The one bright spot is the meal, really. It’s a little “found family” gathering time, like Joss Whedon often depicts in his shows, especially “firefly.” I think the breakfast scene most reminded me of “Firefly,” really. The crew gathering around the table to eat a meal was a central scene to several episodes of that show.

Anyway, like I said, the next day certainly doesn’t provide bright spots, either. The group wants answers, and Jenner decides to give them an answer by showing them a video of TS-19, which stands for “Test Subject 19.” It’s a scan of a woman as she is infected by the zombie virus and eventually dies and comes back to life. The video ends with someone shooting her in the brain. Then Jenner shows them a countdown clock. This is a countdown until the CDC’s generators fail and the place is “decontaminated.” The guys run down to the basement and find that almost all the generator fuel is gone. To underscore the point, the building starts powering down.

Back in the main control room, Jenner tells the survivors a little more about what happened after the infection broke out. The French stayed in their labs longer than anyone else. The CDC was long gone by the time the French scientists finally succumbed. The show gets a little political statement in when Jenner remarks how stupid it is that the world runs on non-replenishable fossil fuels. He’s got a very good point. Running out of power is a very, very bad thing in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Jenner also finally tells the group what “decontamination” really means. When the clock runs down, super-powerful explosives will set the air on fire and completely destroy the building. As some of the survivors try to leave, Jenner closes the doors and tells the group that dying that way would be a good thing compared to dying by zombie bite.

Needless to say, the reaction to this news is not positive. Shane has a major freakout and starts shooting things randomly. Rick demands to know why Jenner stayed at the CDC when everyone else left. Jenner reveals that his wife was TS-19, and she made him promise to stay and keep looking for a cure. Now he thinks it’s hopeless. Finally, Jenner opens the inner doors, to the CDC, but he warns the survivors that the outer doors are automatically locked in a situation like this and can’t be reopened. Most of the survivors decide to take their chances trying to escape, but two do not. The first is Jacqui. She doesn’t really give a great explanation for her choice. The other is Andrea, who I guess wants to stop feeling the pain of Amy’s death. Dale decides to stay with them. I thought he wanted to keep them company, but he really just wants to convince Andrea to change her mind. Clearly he couldn’t care less about Jaqui.

The survivors do indeed have a lot of trouble getting out of the CDC building. They try everything they can think of to break out of the glass lobby. Then Carol (finally) pulls out the grenade Rick took in Atlanta way back in episode 2. I knew that thing would come in handy eventually! They use it to blow a hole in the lobby, and everyone is able to escape. Dale even eventually convinces Andrea to leave the building, and they escape literally just in time. The CDC explodes in a massive fiery ball as the survivors’ caravan drives off.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer TV Rewind: Robin Hood 1.07: "Brothers in Arms

Sarah's back with another Robin Hood Summer TV Rewind. Enjoy!


“He’s made a lot of mistakes, I know. I’ve tried to help him. Look, I was like him once, out of control. But I’ve changed. Because of you. Because of being here.”
- Allan

We begin this week in Locksley as a man called Lucky George is trying to convince people to trade him their valuables for pennies (to pay the Sheriff's taxes). Will watches from behind a tree and then we move to the woods. It turns out Lucky George has an arrangement with the Sheriff. On cue, Robin and his gang ambush the cart and end up taking all the valuables back. Robin gets to do another impressive back flip off the top of the cart and feigns being run through with the sword to get the upper hand on George. They're riding back to Locksley when they find a woman whipping a man. She tells Robin that the man lied and said he was a thatcher come to fix her roof, but he tried to steal the necklace her mother gave her on her wedding day. The man goes on about how Robin Hood would strike them all down, and it turns out the man is Allan's brother, Tom. Allan pops him one in the nose and tells him that Robin is standing right front of them. After some begging, Robin agrees to let Tom and his two companions join the gang on a probationary basis. He is, after all, Allan's brother. And Tom and his companion are going to really thatch the roof (free of charge). Meanwhile, Djaq and Will have brought out the chest of valuables so everyone can retrieve what Lucky George swindled from them.

Meanwhile, in Nottingham, the woman's daughter and her fiancé arrive to ask for Gisborne's blessing to marry. He's kind of creepy about it and ends up taking the girl's necklace as payment for giving his blessing. He heads off to meet with the Sheriff, and it's very obvious he (Gisborne) doesn't want to be there. But the Sheriff tells Gisborne to get Lucky George a new carriage and more guards. And they're going to lay a trap to find out who the spy is in their midst (the Sheriff believes that to be the only way Robin could have known where Lucky George was). Back at camp, Tom is trying to regain Allan's trust. But that is a little hard when you steal from your own brother. He also took Much's flask (old habits). Robin is a little concerned because no one can find the money George claimed to have had.

At Knighton Hall, we find Gisborne giving the girl's necklace to Marian. She's not thrilled, and he asks if he's offended her. She says no, but that she can't accept the necklace. He tells her to give it back if it’s too simple, but she says she'll cherish it (probably just to make him happy). Gisborne has summoned a guard, and he tells them to let a silver shipment go through Sherwood Forest without guards. He's putting his trap into place. Too bad Marian's listening. In Nettlestone, Lucky George has surfaced, and Djaq and Will are there. And both are worried. Djaq doesn't understand why the people are still selling their things. Robin runs into Marian in the forest and is quite unhappy to see the girl's necklace around her neck. And that it was a gift from Gisborne. She hands it over and he gives it back to the girl it belonged to, saying he would marry them if they still wanted to be wed. I wouldn't mind him presiding over my wedding. He really does look good, even with scruff.

Back at camp, Tom and his two companions take off. In short order we find out that they've headed to Knighton and are trying to rob Edward. Marian has just suited up as the Night Watchman (most likely to stop the silver shipment) and kicks some seriously impressive butt. I mean it probably wasn't the actress doing all the stunts but I just love the fight sequences. Robin and company arrive in Knighton, and both he and Allan are furious. Allan smacks his brother around a bit for not thinking and stealing from their friends. Robin makes them apologize. I have to admit, Robin can be quite scary. Marian tells Robin about the unguarded shipment, and Robin and Much head off to get it. Too bad it's a trap. It was a decoy. The Sheriff is quite pleased that Gisborne's plan worked. They think it is Gisborne's Sergeant who tipped off Robin, so Gisborne is going to make the man pay.

Back in the forest, Allan and Robin are having a little heart to heart. Robin doesn't trust Tom, and Allan is trying to stick up for his brother. He knows Tom has made loads of mistakes in the past. Allan was a lot like him before he met Robin. Robin gives them one last chance, but it is short-lived. Allan wakes the next morning to find Tom and his companions gone. They have sought out Lucky George and immediately got captured. Will returns to the group with news that they will hang and that the Sheriff thinks they are Robin's men. The gang is reluctant to rescue them. Tom was never really part of the gang, and Allan is willing to protect the group and let them hang. But Robin's not so sure. He stops off to see Marian, and she says she'll go to the castle to find out what she can. He tries to kiss her, but she bats him away. It’s a rather sweet scene. We then find her confronting Gisborne at the entrance to the dungeon. She tries to convince to stop torturing his Sergeant. He makes a bit of a thing about her not wearing the necklace, but she manages to brush it off. Marian is no doubt feeling horrible that an innocent man was being tortured for her. In the forest, Robin decides to go to Nottingham. Much can't understand why.

In Locksley, Gisborne has grown suspicious, and he finds the girl with her necklace back on. He's really pissed off. He heads back to Nottingham and tells the Sheriff he believes Marian has betrayed him. The Sheriff goads him into going after Marian. Tom is in the cell observing the exchange between the Sheriff and Gisborne and manages to steal the necklace back from Lucky George. The gang gets to Nottingham and are confronted with several problems. They must rescue Tom and the others and warn Marian that Gisborne knows she betrayed him. Unfortunately, as the Sheriff sort of gives an Evil Speech of Evil, it turns out that Tom and his two companions are already dead. Robin must now focus on getting to Marian. Meanwhile, Will is getting Tom's things (sent by Djaq) as Allan sits crying. Robin promises to get the necklace back to Marian and sends her home.

Gisborne has showed up at Knighton Hall and is acting like an asshole. He's quite good at that. Marian tries to put on a good front, but he's not buying it. He demands to see the necklace and when Edward tries to defend her, Gisborne slaps him. Back in Nottingham, Djaq tells Allan about her brother and tries to cheer him up a bit. Allan finds the necklace, and they will have to race to Knighton to get it to Marian.

Gisborne is still furious. And Marian is trying to buy herself some more time. She manages to convince Gisborne to let her go get the necklace from her room. And now she has to wait for Robin to arrive. They find Lucky George on the road, and Will, Allan and Djaq arrive just in time for Robin to race off. Marian's ransacking her room and Gisborne is breaking down emotionally. Robin arrives and slips Marian the necklace. But that's not going to be enough. Gisborne begs Marian to marry him. That way, he could protect her from the Sheriff. Marian hesitates, and Gisborne wonders whether if Robin were asking the question, if she would have hesitated. Robin sits out of view listening to the exchange and he's visibly hurt when she says she despises him and will marry Gisborne on the day King Richard returns to England. Given that it's a war, that could be a long time from now. We end with Robin presiding over the wedding of the girl with the necklace in Locksley, and as everyone enjoys themselves, he looks to the sky with a tinge of sadness on his face.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

True Blood 4.05: "I Hate You, I Love You"

“When I was a kid, my two favorite TV shows were “Sabrina” and “Charmed.” God’s honest!”

This episode of “True Blood” included an event I’ve been anticipating for a long time. Sookie and Eric finally kissed. Of course, Bill seems on track to spoil all that joy pretty early on in the next episode, but given how anti-Sookie/Eric the show has been up this point, I’m willing to take what I can get. I’m almost certain this won’t play out remotely like it did in the book, “Dead to the World,” and I think that’s a shame, because the book tells a good story. Not truly representing the book is really to the show’s detriment in this case, because the extra plots that have been included for the show really aren’t especially engaging. Arlene’s devil baby is just silly, for one. And I’m not invested enough in Tommy (because he’s not really a well-drawn, three-dimensional character) to really care about his and Sam’s plot. Same goes with Jesus, really. What has grabbed my attention is Sookie and Eric’s story, mostly because, as I’ve said before, Alexander Skarsgard has really been giving a stand-out performance. On a related note (because it’s connected to the Eric’s amnesia plot), one change from the book that I think might be working is the focus on Marnie, the leader of the witch coven who cast the spell on Eric. She’s crazy, but she feels more like a fully-drawn character to me than the other newer characters I just mentioned.

The episode opens in the aftermath of Tommy being captured by his parents. It’s not enough for Joe Lee just to have his son participate in dog fights. He has to be abusive, too. He has a chain around Tommy’s neck, and he keeps pulling it tighter and tighter. Tommy eventually appears to pass out. He jumps up quickly, though, and he begins to fight Joe Lee. He ends up having to fight his mom, too, because she doesn’t want Tommy harming her oh so charming husband. Tommy kills Joe Lee, and this makes his mother go nuts. Tommy has to fight her off, too, and she winds up dead as well (although Tommy is actually upset and sorry about that one). Having nowhere else to turn, Tommy goes to Sam, who helps him dispose of the bodies. They have a very close call on the way to a remote swamp prime body dumping location when Andy Bellefleur stops their van. Andy still has a grudge against Sam, so he demands to see in the back of the van. Tommy demonstrates some quick thinking, shifts into an alligator, and is in the back of the van waiting for Andy when he opens the door. That scares Andy off, and Sam and Tommy are able to complete their mission.

Overall, the episode was very focused on investigating Marnie and investigating what happened to Eric. Pam is driving a lot of this, because she’s furious that she’s essentially become a walking corpse thanks to Marnie’s latest spell. Pam seeks out Bill’s help to bring Marnie to justice. She wants Bill to call the Sheriffs to deal with the problem, but Bill wants more information before he’s willing to do that. Marnie is captured and brought to what I guess is a Vampire-style holding cell. Bill questions her, and she says she doesn’t know what she did to Eric and Pam. She was possessed when she cast each spell. Pam doesn’t believe her, so to placate Pam, Bill goes down to Marnie’s cell and glamours her before questioning her again. Marnie tells the exact same story, even when glamoured. She also had another odd vision of the witch who possessed her. This time it was of the witch and the rest of her coven while they were imprisoned before the burning. Anyway, Bill does eventually call the sheriffs, and they aren’t too keen to actually do anything about Marnie. Even though Bill tells them of the havoc necromancers can wreak on Vampire-kind, they still don’t care. Pam is furious and lets slip that Eric lost his memories. When pressed by Bill, she has no choice but to reveal that Eric is staying with Sookie. Bill rushes off to confront Sookie about this, of course.

Meanwhile, Sookie has been conducting her own investigation. She goes to Marnie’s psychic reading shop (not while Marnie is in the holding cell, obviously) to ask her some questions. Marnie gives Sookie an eerily accurate reading, and she claims to be in contact with the spirit of Sookie’s grandmother. Gran allegedly wants Sookie to take care of Jason, and has a warning that her burgeoning sort-of relationship with Eric can’t last. Then Sookie hears Gran’s voice directly, and Gran says to get away from Marnie. Sookie does so. Sookie and Eric become progressively closer throughout the episode. Eric has a dream of Godric telling him he’s evil and should drink Sookie instead of loving her, and it really upsets him. He shows up in Sookie’s room, and when she asks him what’s wrong, he simply says he had a bad dream. The pair snuggle in Sookie’s bed for a while and talk about Eric’s dream, and Sookie tells Eric what she remembered of Godric. Things really come to a head when Tara is over at Sookie’s house, and Eric appears. Tara is extremely pissed that Eric is living in Sookie’s house, because Tara is convinced Eric is dangerous, and she storms out. Eric is really upset by this, because it seems to be more confirmation that he’s nothing but evil, and he gets ready to leave Sookie’s house. Sookie has the good sense to run after him and ask him to stay, and that’s when they (finally!) kiss.

Lafayette, Jesus, and Tara are all planning to leave Bon Temps now that the Marnie situation has gotten even worse. Lafayette and Jesus are going to go to Mexico to visit Jesus’ grandfather. He’s a powerful witch, and they think he might be able to help, even though he and Jesus don’t have the best history. We get a flashback to Jesus’ last memory of his grandfather. His grandfather gave him a goat for his birthday, and Jesus thought it was to be a pet. Turns out he had to kill it as part of a ritual sacrifice. Understandably, this traumatized little Jesus, although it didn’t exactly deter him from witchcraft later in life. Tara, meanwhile, wants to go back to New Orleans and her girlfriend. And I don’t blame her. New Orleans is an amazing city. There’s just one small problem. Tara’s girlfriend found some of Tara’s mail addressed to her real name instead of Toni, the name she’s been using in New Orleans. That can’t possibly end well.

In other, more random, Bon Temps news, Arlene is still freaked out over her devil baby, Mikey. In the aftermath of the writing on the wall incident, she’s convinced that her house is haunted by Rene’s ghost. Terry suggests they get a minister to cleanse the house of evil spirits. I’m not sure where Terry got this religious streak, and I’m not sure if I like it. Not because I have a problem with religion per se, but it just doesn’t really seem to fit with the character. They end up hiring Reverend Daniels, and he and Lettie Mae (who is now his wife…craziness) stop by to perform the ritual. Which really is just singing some gospel songs and burning some incense. Mikey is relatively quiet after the ritual, and Arlene is convinced that Rene’s ghost is gone. She snuggles into bed, very content, but that can’t last because a fire has spontaneously started on the other side of her bedroom. The final plot thread of this episode involves Jason, Jessica, and Hoyt. Jason and Hoyt have a somewhat amusing exchange at Merlotte’s where they complain about their lives. Jason doesn’t think Jessica being distant can trump his being gang raped, and I have to say I most certainly agree. Jason has also started having racy dreams involving Jessica and Hoyt, which is to be expected considering he’s had some of Jessica’s blood. I really can’t see that plot going anywhere interesting.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Torchwood 4.03: "Miracle Day: Dead of Night"

“I sit and my desk and read blogs for a living.”

“Dead of Night” was an interesting episode of “Torchwood” in that it shed a lot of light on this season’s overall conspiracy plot. We now know (or think we know) who could potentially be behind it, and it’s none other than a big pharmaceutical company, trying to use the Miracle as a way to sell more medication. Since people can’t die, they’re going to need medication so they won’t feel the pain or incubate infections, after all. I think what kept me from loving this episode, although I certainly didn’t hate it, was that it didn’t quite live up to my expectations for Jane Espenson, who wrote the episode. It’s probably due to the fact that the last of Espenson’s work I had seen before this was her absolutely wonderful episode of “Game of Thrones,” “A Golden Crown.” That episode is probably my favorite example of her work since the old-school “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” episode “Band Candy.” So yeah, “Dead of Night” wasn’t quite up to those standards, but I suppose it was still an entertaining enough way to spend an hour.

One thing I did appreciate about the episode was that it started to connect Oswald more to the rest of the story. The episode opens with him giving an interview about how he thinks medications such as pain killers and antibiotics should be given to everyone who needs them for free. Friedkin (Wayne Knight’s character) sees this on TV at his home, and just after he has a chance to register what he’s watching, Rex breaks in and threatens him with a gun. Rex, understandably, wants to know why the rest of the CIA is after him and who Friedkin is answering to. After a little prodding, Friedkin says that the string-pullers have only ever contacted him on one particular cell phone (the one with the display that looks like a magic 8 ball), and he hands the phone over to Rex. It turns out that the rest of the Torchwood/ex-CIA team is supporting Rex behind the scenes, and they have to coordinate a quick escape when an alarm summons the police. It was a lot of fun to see the team up and running and Jack and Gwen doing their thing again. It’s been a long time.

The next scene takes place after the team has successfully made their escape. Gwen has been out on a supply run, and on the way back to the safe house (Jack’s run-down apartment that we saw in the first episode, I believe), she passes by a really freaky rally. People who call themselves “the Soulless” have donned really creepy masks and are carrying candles. The idea behind the group is that once they become immortal, human beings have no soul. I’m not sure what the point of their rally really is, other than to be creepy, really. Inside the safe house, Gwen hands out clothes, cell phones, and snacks to the rest of the team. This particular scene is really clunkily written, and it seems like the scene’s only purpose is to shove in as many differences in American and British slang as possible. Gwen talks about going to the petrol station to get chips, and Esther corrects every one of her British-isms. It’s just not a good scene overall.

Jack is talking about his morphic fields theory, and he’s run into a problem. Thousands of people have had the same theory, and there’s been so much written about morphic fields and the Miracle now that it will be almost impossible to sort through it all. Esther has more luck with her own investigation. I thought this was kind of cool, because it was a chance to see that the new CIA folks can really bring something valuable of themselves to the Torchwood team. Ether is on her computer, and she notices that ATF requests to Friedkin to see the warehouse that exploded have been repeatedly denied, so she and Rex think something important must still be there. Rex immediately thinks the team needs to steal a new car to go check it out, but Jack is pissed because he’s supposed to be calling the shots, not Rex. Jack does eventually go along with the idea, though, couching it as his own idea. Gwen is successful stealing a car by using a rock to break the window, which was hilarious, but then there’s the inevitable “driving on the wrong side of the road” joke, which was not so hilarious. Sigh.

Esther and Gwen pull up to the warehouse in their stolen car, and Gwen plays a little “lost Brit” to placate the security guard into coming just close enough to the car (because he thinks they need directions) to knock him out. It was pretty brilliant. Inside, the warehouse is absolutely packed with boxes of painkillers (Rex thinks it’s his lucky day, of course). All of the drugs are from a company called PhiCorps. The PhiCorps mystery deepens as we see Dr. Juarez at another panel, this time with doctors talking about babies not being miscarried. Jilly is there too, an she claims to be representing PhiCorps, who has developed a line of infant painkillers, naturally. At another mutual smoke break, Jilly gets Juarez to agree to come to a big meeting at PhiCorps.

Back at the safe house, Rex pitches a fit because he doesn’t want to keep the information about PhiCorps within Torchwood. He thinks they need to tell others. Specifically, he wants to bring in one of his instructors from Langley who is now ex-CIA. Jack reluctantly agrees, so Rex makes the call and arranges to meet his instructor at a hotel. Rex arrives just in time to watch from across the street as MPDC officers raid the place. It’s obvious that PhiCorps got to the instructor, and this freaks Rex out. A massive argument among the group breaks out in the alley, and Rex “quits” Torchwood.

Jack’s frustrated by the whole mess, so he goes to a gay bar to blow off some steam, and he meets a pretty bartender named Brad. Who likes Jack’s coat. Please excuse me as I shed a little tear for Ianto. Later that night, Jack drunk dials Gwen from the bed in Brad’s apartment. He wants some validation that they’re still a good team, and he mentions that he misses Ianto. Poor Jack gets hung up on, though, because Esther has just gotten a Skype-like video chat with Rhys and Anwen up for Gwen, and Gwen wants to see her daughter already! It puts Jack in a rather dark place, and I found his face when he realized Gwen was no longer on the line kind of heartbreaking.

Jack isn’t the only one getting lucky that night. Rex shows up at Juarez’s apartment needing treatment for his wound, which is bleeding pretty heavily again. Juarez re-dresses the wound, and Rex also gets some sex for his trouble. Juarez and Rex share some pillow talk about the Miracle and the drug store at the warehouse (how romantic), and Juarez mentions that she’s heard of PhiCorps before thanks to Jilly. Rex really wants Juarez to go to the big meeting at PhiCorps, but she’s not very enthusiastic about the idea.

Meanwhile, Oswald escapes the motel where he has been staying, and he ends up at a diner. As he tries to leave after eating some pie, two other diners recognize him and are horrified by his crimes. They chase Oswald out of the diner, and Oswald keeps running until he sees a couple of cops. The cops make the unruly couple leave, and Oswald asks the cops to take him back to his motel. The cops are a little too quick to agree. They drive Oswald to the middle of nowhere and beat the crap out of him, all though they’re careful not to hit his face. Oswald is dumped in front of his motel, and when he looks up, he sees Jilly standing there. He finally agrees to be Jilly’s client.

Jack arrives back at the safe house to see Gwen demonstrating the camera contact lenses from “Children of Earth” to Rex (who I guess has un-quit). The lenses are the only bit of tech that survived the destruction of the Hub in “Children of Earth.” Rex wants to use the lenses to go undercover at PhiCorps, but Gwen comes up with a quick story to make sure she’s the one who gets to go instead. She said that the lenses are specifically tuned to work only for her. Jack smiles approvingly at this. I’m guessing a Torchwood/Ex-CIA divide is going to be an ongoing story arc this season. So Gwen ends up being the person who is going to infiltrate PhiCorps.

Surprisingly, Juarez goes to the PhiCorps meeting. At a pre-determined time, she leaves the auditorium where the doctors are gathering and lets Gwen into the building. Gwen’s objective is to raid Jilly’s office for information, but on the way, she sees Oswald in the building. Back in the auditorium, Juarez sees that this whole meeting is really a big presentation given by a member of Congress. He plans to introduce legislation to make all drugs available without a prescription. The idea being, that without the check of a prescription, drug sales will go through the roof, and PhiCorps will be rolling in cash. Gwen’s furiously copying data from Jilly’s computer, but she’s in danger. Jilly has left the auditorium to go to her office, and Gwen is about to get caught. Gwen is warned just in time, and Juarez calls Jilly to get Jilly back to the auditorium.

At the safe house, the red cell phone Rex got from Friedkin rings. Rex answers it while Esther tries to trace the call. Rex keeps speaking to keep the other party on the line, but he gets no answer. And Esther can’t get a clean trace on the call, either. Rex and Esther start furiously packing up the safe house, because they know that whoever was calling probably now knows their location. Meanwhile, Jack confronts Oswald about how you can’t be forgiven for killing a child. Clearly Jack is feeling some residual guilt from the events at the end of “Children of Earth.” Oswald gets all creepy about how he enjoyed raping and killing little Susie Cabina before he calls in the PhiCorp guards to take care of Jack. Oswald does another broadcast, this time essentially an ad for PhiCorp, laying it on thick (too thick, really), about how corporations have our best interests in mind and are here to help us, while the guards beat up Jack, again being careful not to hit his face.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer DVR Dump: The Walking Dead 1.05: "Wildfire"

“Do not enter the city.  It belongs to the dead now.”

I know it’s kind of superficial, but I really like the title of this episode of “The Walking Dead.”  It reminds me of “The Andromeda Strain,” which is a really good (albeit also really creepy) book and movie.  When I say the movie was good, I’m referring to the original, by the way, not the TV movie remake from a few years ago.  In that story, “Wildfire” is the name of a secret base that was developed to study the most dangerous diseases and possibly weaponize them.  In “The Walking Dead,” it appears that the term is used to mean some apocalyptic disease pandemic.  Could it also mean a pandemic that was man-made?  I guess we’ll find out eventually.  While the beginning of the episode was a bit tedious because the characters were sort of marking time and arguing in circles about what to do next following the big zombie attack, I think it picked up once the decision was made to go to the CDC.  A highlight of the episode to me was a great performance by Noah Emmerich (aka evil FBI agent Fowler from “White Collar”) as Dr. Edwin Jenner, who appears to be the last researcher left at the CDC.

The episode opens on a pretty impressive visual.  Rick is sitting at the edge of the survivors’ camp, talking on the CB radio.  He’s talking to Morgan (the man who rescued him back in the first episode), but there’s no indication that Morgan is listening.  Rick is, understandably, trying to warn Morgan away from Atlanta.  Meanwhile, at the camp, Andrea refuses to leave Amy’s body.  This is upsetting the rest of the group because Amy needs to be de-zombified (by decapitation, I guess) and buried like the rest of the victims to avoid her becoming a zombie and attacking people.  Rick offers to “tell her how it’s going to be,” but Andrea doesn’t want to hear it and pulls a gun on Rick.

The rest of the survivors not dealing with the Andrea situation are cleaning up the dead.  People who lived at the camp are buried and people who were zombies are burned.  While working, Jaqui notices fresh blood on Jim.  Jim tries to deny he’s been hurt- he says it’s just blood from someone he was trying to help, but Jaqui knows that’s not true.  Pretty quickly, she gets Jim to admit that he’s been bitten.  This causes a bit of an uproar, and there’s a lot of disagreement among the survivors about what to do with Jim and what to do next in general, since the camp doesn’t seem safe anymore  Daryl, naturally, thinks they should kill Jim before he has the chance to become a zombie.  Rick thinks they should all take Jim to the CDC, because that’s probably his best hope for a cure.  Shane thinks everyone should go to an Army base 100 miles in the opposite direction from the CDC.

Besides the alpha-males all arguing, there are actually some emotional character moment in this part of the episode as well.  Dale and Amanda have a nice chat about how it is Amy’s birthday
Dale and Amanda chat- Amy’s birthday, and Carol takes a pickaxe to the corpse of Ed, her late, abusive husband.  After Dale leaves, Andrea starts saying goodbye to Amy, and as she’s doing so, Amy’s eyes open.  They’re clouded over, and it’s obvious that she’s now a zombie.  Andrea keeps saying what she needs to say as long as Amy is still pretty docile, but once Amy is fully with it and looks like she’s going to try to bite Andrea, Andrea pulls out her gun and blows Amy’s brains out.  So it wasn’t that she didn’t want Amy to be taken care of like the rest of the dead, it was that she needed to say goodbye, and after saying goodbye, she wanted to do the job herself.

On the outskirts of camp, there’s a big argument between Daryl, Rick, and Lori about whether any of the dead should be buried or if they all should be burned, former camp member or not.  I’ll let you guess which side of the argument all those characters were on- it’s pretty obvious.  On the way back to camp, Lori and Rick have a discussion about getting on the same page.  Lori doesn’t love Rick’s idea of going to the CDC.  It seems like she prefers Shane’s idea of going to the Army base.  There is one thing Lori and Rick claim to agree upon, though, and that is that they love each other.  So they say.  Lori does seem to back up her words later, though, even if it is just out of guilt.  Shane tries to convince Lori to tell Rick to abandon the CDC plan, but Lori actually backs Rick despite her misgivings.

Rick spends some time sitting by Jim’s sick bed inside Dale’s RV, and it’s really just awful.  Jim is burning up from the fever, and he’s hallucinating and is just generally in bad shape.  Later, Shane and Rick go out hunting or patrolling, and they resume their argument about where the group should go next.  They really get into it, and when Rick makes a comment about how if Shane had family there, he might think differently, it’s the final straw for Shane (I guess because he had been considering Lori and Carl his family before Rick so inconveniently returned).  There’s a noise in the woods, and Rick starts to walk towards it.  As Rick is looking for the source of the noise, Shane trains his shot gun on him.  Then he takes a breath and thinks better of shooting his friend.  Dale arrives on the scene and realizes that something really bad almost went down.  I guess because he’s feeling guilty (sensing a theme here?), Shane finally backs Rick’s CDC plan to the rest of the group.

Next day, the survivors are all getting ready to leave in a big caravan to the CDC.  Morales and his family are the only survivors who won’t be joining them.  They’ve deciding to go to Birmingham to try and find their family instead.  The caravan finally gets going, it sort of has the feel of the big scene in “Exodus,” the first season finale of “Lost,” where some of the Losties leave the Island on the raft.  It’s got the big, sweeping music and all that, although there was no boy being separated from his dog.  They totally should have given Carl a dog.  The caravan doesn’t get very far before a hose on Dale’s Winnebago blows and brings the whole thing to a halt.  Jim can’t take the travel anymore, and he asks to be left by the side of the road when the caravan moves on.  There’s a bit of a debate over whether the group should honor Jim’s wishes, given the consequences, but they do eventually agree and set him up in the shade of a tree.

There’s then a bit of an abrupt cut to a sort of video diary by CDC researcher Dr. Edwin Jenner.  I was quite proud of myself for recognizing him from “White Collar.”  Anyway, Jenner says it’s been a month since “Wildfire,” but there is no cure.  We see him try to do an experiment with what is presumably some zombie flesh, but he’s exhausted and he spills a chemical.  The chemical is corrosive, and it triggers a rather extreme decontamination experience.  A big explosion happens inside the lab, basically.  The consequence of the spill is that the best samples he had to work with for his research have now all been destroyed.  He tells the video diary that he thinks he’s going to blow his brains out before the day ends.

The survivors finally arrive at the CDC, and the grounds surrounding the building are just littered with bodies.  The group approaches the building and Rick bangs on the door, but there is no answer.  Everyone wants to leave ASAP, but Rick is being stubborn.  As he finally turns to leave, he notices a surveillance camera moving.  This gives Rick hope, and he starts screaming at the camera, demanding that whoever is watching open the door.  Jenner has been watching this whole scene from his control-area inside the building, begging the survivors to just leave already.  Rick’s pleading eventually changes his mind, though, and reluctantly, he finally opens the door to the survivors’ shock.  Here’s hoping that the upcoming CDC visit will provide some answers about what has been going on.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Robin Hood 1.06: "The Tax Man Cometh"

Sarah is back with (and I'm a day late has been crazy) another Summer TV Rewind of the BBC's "Robin Hood." Enjoy!


“Taxes we do not like!”
- Little John

We begin with the sheriff hiring two men to supposedly capture Robin. It’s a very seedy deal done in semi-darkness. The sheriff does like his shady deals. Down in Nottingham town, we see the butcher cutting rather disgusting pieces of meat. Some soldiers come along and give him some more, and this stuff is super nasty (all green and unhealthy). Just as the butcher goes back to cutting his rancid meat (and putting beet root on it to make it look red), Robin and Much drop in (literally…Robin drops from the ceiling) for a chat about the quality of his product. Robin threatens the butcher and says that half of Locksley got poisoned by his disgusting kitchen leftovers. Unfortunately, Robin spots some guards, and he and Much have to hide in the store room. Too bad the butcher sells them out, and to escape the pursuing soldiers, Much and Robin have to dive into the sewer and end up sitting in slop.

Just outside Nottingham, Gisborne runs into a nun who collapses. She says she was on a pilgrimage and was attacked by outlaws in the forest. This of course sends Gisborne running to try and stop Robin. However, Robin is still probably climbing his way out of the sewer. However, Little John and the rest of the gang stop what appear to be a farmer and his charge. Djaq is quick to dispel the farmer’s story about going to sell goat’s milk since they’ve got a male goat. It looks like he is not a farmer but the tax collector (Djaq finds a book that Will guesses is a ledger).

It turns out Gisborne is not going off to find Robin, but to visit Marian. He’s still trying to win her over, and it’s still not working. She doesn’t accept his second gift (though he forces it upon her as he leaves). And he’s not going to give up wooing until he’s succeeded. Marian’s father isn’t too pleased with her either. He wants her to stop being the Night Watchman, and he explicitly forbids it. If she disobeys him, he’s throwing her out. This actually plays more into the plot later on.

Back in the forest, Robin is coming up with a plan. It turns out the tax inspector (two grades higher than a tax collector) knows that all the taxes for the Northern region of England are being kept in the vault of Nottingham Castle. So Robin plans to steal it using the tax inspector to get inside. Too bad I’ve just realized that the people the sheriff was paying to lure Robin into the castle happen to be the tax inspector and his son.

It turns out (not surprisingly) that the sheriff dislikes members of the clergy. He thinks they are parasites. The nun whom Gisborne is helping says she won’t be leeching from him. She’s sent a messenger back to her abbey so that she’ll have an escort home within the next few days. And she’ll have funds to pay the sheriff for his hospitality (insert copious amounts of sarcasm here). She’s quite annoyed that she cannot get into the chapel to pray. The sheriff says it is being used for a different purpose, but after moving all the tax money (without the nun in the room) to a safe spot hidden behind some curtains he allows her in (and locks her in) with guards posted at the door. They have a little verbal sparring match before she enters the chapel, which results in the sheriff getting a well deserved backhand to the face for being a rude git.

Meanwhile, the tax inspector and Will get into the castle and await an escort inside. Marian comes along and spots Robin hiding among the filthy people on the side of the road into town. She creates a little diversion for him, and the others to slip in to Nottingham, and she begs Robin for a word. She tells him she needs help. She’s tired of all these people telling her what is wise or not or safe or not. Robin is in a bit of a hurry (what with the plan to steal the taxes) and kind of blows her off. Not a bright move, Robin. Marian ends up speaking with the nun and asking to join her order. Gisborne is really not happy about this. He says it came along rather sudden, and he wished she would have told him. He really isn’t very good with expressing his feelings. And come on, isn’t it obvious she’s never going to be into him? No matter how much she acts like she’s not impressed with Robin, she really is (and I can’t blame her. He’s a looker).

Robin and company think they’ve succeeded in getting into the vault only to find themselves betrayed by the tax inspector. Obviously the taxes are not in the vault (they’re in the chapel). Luckily, Will uses his amazing carpenter skills to make a key to unlock the door, and another awesome Robin Hood fight sequence ensues. The sheriff is even a little involved in it. Of course, he ends up with Robin’s sword to his throat, and Robin uses the sheriff to get out of Nottingham alive. It turns out the nun wasn’t really a nun, and she’s stolen all the tax money (with the help of the so-called tax inspector). The young man who Djaq was watching manages to get free (doing some rather painful looking contortionist acts) and meets up with the other two in the forest. Too bad Robin and his gang followed and quite happily relieve them of the taxes (after the fake nun tries to lure Robin to join them. He does enjoy kissing women).

In Knighton Hall, Edward is trying to get Marian to stay. She gives him terms that he must agree to her for to remain with him (namely supporting her efforts as the Night Watchman and keeping Gisborne away from her). He agrees, and she seems a bit happy to stay. She probably didn’t really want to be a nun. Later (or perhaps the next day), Gisborne shows up bearing gifts yet again. He tells Marian that he informed Edward that the nun was a fake. Poor Marian, the man who still loves her is the man she she can’t be with because he’s an outlaw. And the one chasing after her now is emotionally damaged. Marian confronts her father on why he didn’t tell her about the nun, and he says that he realized the daughter he had was the one he wanted. We end with Robin going to all the villages and dispensing the money to the various farmers, telling them that when they have meat to sell in the market, to take it round to the different villages instead of going to Nottingham. He really is a big damn hero (I think Mal would really have liked him and approved).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

True Blood 4.04: "I'm Alive and on Fire"

“Sure, he’s a rascal and a troublemaker, and most of the time I’d like to slap the smile off his face, but he’s a happy vampire.”

“I’m Alive and on Fire” wasn’t a terrible episode of “True Blood,” but it wasn’t exactly a standout, either. I was happy to see the gang rape of Jason in Hotshot come to an end, although now it looks like Tommy is going to be imprisoned and tortured for a while. That’s not much better, really. The high point of the series continues to be Alexander Skarsgard’s performance as Eric with amnesia. Skarsgard plays the character with the perfect mix of innocence and danger. While Eric no longer has 1,000 years of emotional baggage, he still knows he’s a vampire, and sometimes his vampire nature overcomes his desire to be nice. Well, to be nice to Sookie, at least. He’s just a joy to watch. Watching Anna Paquin play off of him has been fun too. Especially in this episode, we can see Sookie gradually starting to warm up to this version of Eric. She’s fiercely protective of him, and if it wasn’t for one really unfortunately timed visit from Bill, they probably would have gotten closer. I’m still waiting for the shower scene, Alan Ball (along with the rest of the internet)!

The episode opens where they last one left off. Eric has just eaten Sookie’s fairy godmother (which is kind of hilarious, despite being violent and gross). All that faerie blood has made Eric a bit drunk, and he’s causing trouble for Sookie. He doesn’t really want to go back into the house, as much as Sookie says he needs to for his own safety. He ends up running off, and Sookie can’t catch up to him. The next morning, Sookie recruits Alcide to help her search for Eric. Alcide’s werewolf nose is up to the task, and they find Eric swimming in a lake. Eric really does not want to go back to his hidey hole, and since he had a major dose of faerie blood, he’s not burning up from the daylight yet. Eric wants to fight Alcide when he first sees him (and the feeling is pretty much mutual), but Sookie keeps her boys in check. Eric does eventually start to burn, which finally allows Sookie to convince him to go home. Sookie puts Eric to bed in his hidey hole, but he hears Sookie and Alcide fighting about the situation outside.

Meanwhile, Jason is still chained to a bed in Hotshot. Most of the women have already had sex with him, and the next one in line is a teenage girl. Jason very sweetly convinces her not to go ahead with it, and the girl lets Jason go free. Crystal’s husband is not at all happy about this, and he shifts into panther form to chase after Jason. This chase goes on for quite a while, and it’s more silly than scary. It’s basically Jason running through the woods with panther noises in the background. Jason ends up in a tree, where he sharpens a stick and uses it to kill the panther. Crystal shows up soon after, wanting to get back together with Jason, and Jason (rightfully) rejects her completely. Jason passes out on the side of the road while trying to make his way home, but Hoyt and Jessica see him while driving by and stop to help.

At Merlotte’s, Maxine Fortenberry (aka Momma Fortenberry), confronts Sam. Tommy is missing, and she’s not happy about it. It turns out Tommy has skipped town to go see his mom, who claims she has left his abusive dad. Tommy is so happy about this news that he wants to stick around for a while. Things can’t go to well for long, though. It turns out Mrs. Mickens was lying. She and Tommy are chatting about how she got beat up pretty badly trying to get back into dog fighting when Joe Lee shows up. He puts a chain around Tommy’s neck. It’s clear that the Mickenses still think they can use Tommy to provide their dog fighting income. We’ve been down this road once before last season, and I don’t really see why it’s necessary to go there again. I think it’s better to cut characters than rehash the same plot two seasons in a row. Tommy isn’t even in the books. The Mickenses served the purpose of giving us some Sam backstory. They can go now, thanks. Speaking of Sam, he finds out his new lady friend has a daughter, and he’s actually really good with her. Then he finds out that there is also a very jealous werewolf ex in the picture (um, Debbie Pelt rehash, anybody? In the same freaking season?). That can’t end well.

Nan Flannigan is extremely pissed at Bill over Eric going missing. But Bill isn’t going to worry about that at the moment. He’s going to go to a family get-together with Portia instead. Because that’s what you do when the vampire Authority is angry and a vampire who generally has your back (even if it is kind of in a love to hate way) is missing. Portia introduces Bill to her grandmother, who is conveniently named Caroline just like Bill’s late wife. Caroline spends most of the time droning on about family history, and Bill is just loving it because he’s a boring stick in the mud like that. She asks for the family bible to clarify one aspect of the family tree, and when she and Bill look at it, they find something that disturbs them. Portia wants to know what’s going on, but Bill won’t tell her until they leave the house. He can’t see her anymore because he’s her ancestor. They’re many generations removed, but I guess he still (understandably) found the prospect super creepy.

Bill then turns his attention to finally trying to make an effort to look for Eric. Eric and Sookie are down in the hidey hole talking, and they are about to kiss when Bill shows up at Sookie’s door (damnit, Bill!). Despite interrupting Sookie and Eric, I found this amusing because it sort of felt like the books in the sense that Sookie’s many suitors are all buzzing around her now, and hilarity is sure to ensue. Bill wants to search Sookie’s house for Eric. Sookie panics and tries to appeal to Bill’s sense of decency to make him change his mind. And eventually, it works.

There’s plenty of other supernatural stuff happening in this episode, too. Mikey the Devil baby writes something creepy on the wall and freaks out Arlene. More importantly, Marnie is still trying to channel whatever let her give Eric amnesia. She has a dream about watching a witch burning, specifically the burning of the woman who appeared at the end of the last episode. When Marnie wakes up, her eyes go all strange. Lafayette and Tara are trying to convince Marnie to figure out how to reverse what she did to Eric, but it seems like she’s only making a halfhearted attempt to go through her spell book. She does finally find what she thinks is the right spell, though. Pam tries to force Marnie to do the reversal spell, but it doesn’t go well. Pam goes too far in trying to intimidate Marnie, and Marnie fights back. As the episode ends, Pam is starting to look like a corpse.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Torchwood 4.02: "Miracle Day: Rendition"

“Every time you turn up, it always goes wrong.”

I wasn’t quite as enamored with “Rendition” as I was with “The New World,” and even though you should prepare now for me to go off on several rants in the course of the post, it was still overall an enjoyable viewing experience. I just care deeply about the Whoverse, and I’ve been a staunch defender of Russell T. Davies’ place in the Whoverse, so it just irks me when it feels like he didn’t put effort into something. This episode continued to demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the United States in general. I consider myself an Anglophile for sure, and I’m not the type to be all in your face about the greatness that is the United States, but some of the errors in this episode were just the result of complete laziness. There were errors for which I found the correct information after only about 30 seconds on Wikipedia. Is that really too much to ask?

More broadly, Davies just hasn’t put in the work to make the show truly feel like it takes place in the United States. The character names are all very British, and there really isn’t a sense of place. The sense of place was one of the things I really liked about the Cardiff seasons of Torchwood, and since my life is moving towards Washington, DC, where there series now purportedly takes place, it would be nice to get that same sense when watching it, but about my own city. This is probably a good time for me to put in a plug for a blog I just discovered called “Law and the Multiverse” that is going to be doing legal analyses of “Torchwood” episodes that are more thorough than my rants here. It’s at, and the analysis for “The New World” is already up, so go check it out!

We open the episode on the tarmac at Heathrow, still in the middle of the rendition silliness. Rex has reached a new level of assholishness, actually taking pleasure in dragging Gwen off and separating her from her family. He dictates that Rhys and Arwen will stay in Wales while Gwen comes to the United States, and not one of the police officers tries to put a stop to it. On the not so irritating side, another CIA agent named Lyn, played by “Dollhouse” stand-out Dichen Lachman, arrives to try and take over the mission from Rex. Rex has become obsessed with Torchwood, and he wants this rendition to go perfectly, so he doesn’t appreciate the interloper’s presence.

Across the pond, Esther is acting like a complete idiot. She gets an e-mail that Rex is on his way back to the United States and he’s bringing Torchwood with him, and she goes all doe eyed over it. I wouldn’t mind so much if Rex wasn’t a horrible, horrible human being. I know people complained a great deal about Owen back in the first two seasons, but Rex is miles more of a jerk than Owen ever was. The fact that a smart woman like Esther could be so taken in by him just makes me sad. She’s so taken with Rex that she goes to Friedkin, a CIA big wig played by the legendary Wayne Knight (it’s Newman from “Seinfeld,” people…okay and Officer Don from “3rd Rock from the Sun,” too). She asks about the possibility of a transfer from the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) to the National Clandestine Service (NCS) (although they don’t call it the NCS, but more on that later), because she wants to work more closely with Rex on Torchwood. Friedkin says he’ll consider it, and he seems very intrigued to learn that Esther and Rex have been working together closely.

On the plane, Gwen and Jack have a rather lovely conversation (see, I can be complementary!) about where their lives have gone since the end of “Children of Earth.” Gwen tells Jack that her time with “Torchwood” felt more like a fairy tale than part of her actual personal history. She wants to know if Jack’s time away helped him gain any clarity, but Jack doesn’t answer. Rex interrupts the conversation and starts berating their intelligence. Rex and Jack verbally spar a bit over what Rex is going to do with Jack and Gwen when they get to the United States, and Jack eventually proves that he’s a whole lot smarter than Rex gave him credit for. He has a theory that a morphic field is responsible for everyone experiencing the miracle at exactly the same time, and he tells Rex that the reason the vortex manipulator Rex confiscated keeps bleeping is because Rex has low sodium levels.

In New York, Oswald is getting ready to do a television interview. He’s at the craft services table, and he’s hoarding all the food he can. Seriously. He’s shoveling it all into a trash bag. A poor, hapless PA confronts him about it, and Oswald explains that he doesn’t see himself being able to make ends meet any time soon, so he’s hoarding food while he can get it. The PA confirms that no, she certainly wouldn’t hire Oswald for a job. She’s disgusted by him, actually. So Oswald makes his point and goes on hoarding. During the actual interview, the very blunt and belligerent interviewer shows Oswald a picture of the girl he raped and murdered. Oswald completely freaks out and breaks down, sobbing that he’s sorry over and over. It makes the PA cry, and it starts a nationwide inexplicable wave of forgiveness. On his way out of the building, Oswald is cornered by a PR flack named Jilly who wants to represent him. She points out that Oswald should be getting paid for doing interviews like this. Oswald shoots down her offer, convinced that since he’s booked an interview on Oprah next, he’s doing just fine. Jilly seems like a strange amalgamation of Rita Skeeter (the fake perkiness and venomous smile) and Harriet Jones (a running gag where she likes to give people her business card).

From the plane, Lyn sends a message to Friedkin asking if she should investigate morphic fields. Friedkin consults some higher authority who sends him a return text that looks somewhat like a 21st century version of a magic eight ball. A triangle with the word “remove” shows up on his cell phone. Meanwhile, Rex contacts Dr. Juarez because he wants more drugs, and this time he tries to entice her by offering to let her study Jack in exchange. While she’s speaking to Rex, Juarez walks into several traumas being wheeled into the ER. One of the doctors is shouting out orders about the order in which the patients should be treated, and Juarez realizes they’re doing everything wrong. They should be treating the least injured patients first so they can get them out of the hospital and free up beds. It’s not like the seriously injured are going to die while they wait. Juarez is frustrated that she had to rewrite triage procedures on her own, and she finds out that the Dean of Medicine at the hospital is at a panel of doctors working out how to respond to the miracle. Juarez decides she wants to participate in the panel too. She ends up figuring out that the world is going to have a huge lack of antibiotics problem soon.

Jack is thirsty and is quite whiny about it. Lyn says he and Gwen can have some water, but Jack wants soda. The flight attendant goes to get the drinks, and Lyn says she has to “supervise.” She sends the flight attendant off to see if Rex wants a drink, and while the flight attendant is gone, she puts poison in Jack’s drink. Jack drinks it all down in one gulp and very quickly gets sick. Gwen deduces it was Lyn who poisoned Jack’s drink, because a flight attendant shouldn’t need “supervision” to get a water and a Coke. Rex confirms Gwens suspicion and handcuffs Lyn. A quickly becoming delirious Jack looks at the other pills from Lyn’s purse and confirms he was poisoned by arsenic. Rex calls Dr. Juarez for help, and she consults the rest of her panel. They need a way to neutralize arsenic only using items that can be found on a plane. They clear the table to solve the problem Apollo 13-style.

There’s a bit of suspense as the team struggles to find a chemical that is part of degreaser, but eventually they succeed. I though Eve played this sequence a little over the top. She’s extremely giddy once they find the degreaser. Then Lyn makes one last ditch effort to keep Jack from being cured by trying to fight Gwen. Gwen’s got a great line that showed up in the trailer in response to Lyn asking if Gwen was the best England had to offer. She says “I’m Welsh” and promptly kicks Lyn’s ass. The nasty sounding chemical the team created causes Jack some pain, but it cures him of the poisoning.

At CIA headquarters, Esther is walking down a hallway and sees sinister looking men cleaning out Rex’s office and taking the hard drive from his computer. And I’ve got to pause here for a little rant. On the nameplate by Rex’s door, underneath his name, there’s an office designation that starts with DC. Given the rest of the set design, it’s obvious that DC is supposed to designate Rex’s branch of the CIA. Thing is, there is no “DC.” The branch responsible for clandestine operations (which is what the “C” was probably supposed to stand for) was called the DO (Directorate of Operations) for many years and is now the National Clandestine Service (NCS). As I said earlier in this post, it only took me about 30 seconds on Wikipedia to verify that the sign was wrong. A mistake that easy to fix should never happen- there is no excuse for that level of laziness.

Esther tries to return to her office, but she sees her desk being cleaned out, too. To add to her panic, she gets a phone call from her bank asking her how she wants to invest the $50 thousand that was just wired to her account from China. Esther knows she needs to get out of CIA headquarters as quickly as possible, and she switches badges with a coworker to do it. This is another completely implausible scenario. In a facility this secure, I find it hard to believe that anybody could get very far without an employee ID badge, so it makes no sense that Esther’s coworker would have left her badge in her purse for Esther to take. One thing I did like about this sequence is how Esther gets past the final hurdle to get out of the building, where there are security guards who should be checking everyone’s ID. Esther charms the security guard by asking about his day, and he overlooks the ID. The embodiment of “you catch more flies with honey.”

After telling her panel that they completely need to revamp the health care system (which probably got the biggest laugh from me of the entire episode), Juarez takes a smoke break and runs into Jilly. This scene showed me that Russell T. Davies really does not understand American television at all. You just don’t set a whole scene over a smoke break these days. Anyway, Jilly poses as a pharmaceutical sales rep (complete with appropriate business card), and she warns Juarez that the country’s painkillers have been commandeered for the “civil defense program” (whatever that is), and the current situation doesn’t qualify. Juarez had told her panel earlier that pain killers are going to be of prime importance going forward, as people stay alive no matter how mangled.

Esther calls Rex to warn him that the rest of the CIA seems to be actually working against them, but she’s too late. The plane has already landed, and they’ve been greeted by a bunch of tough looking guys who work for Friedkin. Rex disguises the conversation to keep the element of surprise, and then after a big speech of bravado, Rex and the Torchwood folks start fighting back. They manage to escape, and they run to Esther’s car. Juarez is also waiting there with more pain killers. As the group is leaving the parking lot, they run into Lyn. Whose head is on backwards.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer DVR Dump: The Walking Dead 1.04: "Vatos"

“He knew that you needed to catch the fish and I needed to throw them back.”

Overall, “Vatos” struck me as being very sad. Yes there was plenty of gore, but the end of the episode was just tragic. While I think a little more work could have been done to establish the characters before getting to an episode like this, it was still fairly effective. Some things in this episode, like Rick’s encounter with janitor/gang banger turned nursing home administrator Guillermo seemed a little glossed over. Since I haven’t read the graphic novels on which the show is based, I’m not sure if that encounter was just supposed to set something up for the future, or if that’s all we’ll see of Guillermo and his crew. It feels like the season is really just starting to pick up steam, so I’m not really sure how they’re going to wrap everything up in two more episodes. It seems like there should be a lot more story left. I hear this coming season should be a more traditional cable-length season, though (12-13 episodes), so it might have better pacing.

The episode opens at the quarry, where Andrea and Amy are in a canoe fishing. Apparently their dad took both of them to fish often when they were growing up, although never together. Amy didn’t go fishing until Andrea, who is twelve years older, had left for college. There’s a long sequence where the sisters compare what their father taught them about fishing, and what each of them learned is completely different down to the knots, lures, and whether or not the fish were eaten or thrown back. They realize that their dad didn’t change his fishing philosophy randomly after Andrea left. He just taught each sister in the way he thought they would respond best. This whole sequence is kind of pointless plot-wise, but it’s really an attempt at character work to make the episode’s ending more emotional.

We pick up in Atlanta where the last episode stood off, with Rick and the other guys on the department store roof, reacting to finding Dixon’s severed hand. Daryl, is of course, pissed off, and there’s a bit of a Mexican standoff when he points his crossbow at T-Dog and Rick in turn points a gun at him. That doesn’t last long, though, and Daryl contents himself with wrapping up Dixon’s hand to take along with him. Back in the department store, the group finds evidence that Dixon has been there. A gas stove is on, and it’s obvious that Dixon used it to cauterize what was left of his arm (gross). It’s also obvious that he has left the department store. Daryl starts getting belligerent again (a one note character if I ever saw one), and Rick tries to calm him down by offering to do a quick search for Dixon. T-Dog isn’t too happy about this offer, but he says he’ll go along with it if they use the search to pick up the bag of guns, too.

Back at the survivors’ camp, a man named Jim is digging holes in the ground like there’s no tomorrow. It’s a ridiculously hot day, probably along the lines of what we’ve had in Washington, DC this week, so Dale, the guy who owns the trailer at the camp and serves as lookout, is pretty concerned. Despite the heat, Jim doesn’t show any signs of stopping what he’s doing. Dale, Shane, Lori and a few other survivors end up staging a sort of intervention that turns into more of a confrontation as Jim refuses to stop digging and starts to get a bit belligerent about it. Seth ends up throwing Jim on the ground and handcuffing him while Jim taunts Seth about how Seth beat the crap out of Ed. These are such lovely people, really. When he’s calmed down a bit, Jim gives a little insight into why he might have gone off the deep end. He tells the other survivors that the only reason he’s still alive is because he ran away while the zombies attacked the rest of his family.

Back in Atlanta, Glenn has drawn up a pretty solid tactical plan. It turns out his pizza delivery boy skills come in handy when figuring out where to set up teams to cover him and where to run when things go wrong. This scene is the reason why Glenn is really the only character I’ve really connected with on the show so far. He actually seems to have a personality beyond clichés, stilted dialogue, and telling instead of showing. The plan goes well at first, but things start to unravel when a teenager approaches Daryl. Daryl tries to threaten the kid to stay away, but backup arrives. They want the bag of guns, but they settle for dragging Glenn off in their car instead. Daryl, Rick, and T-Dog manage to keep the teen hostage. They want him to take them to his leader, Guillermo, because they want to negotiate his freedom for Glenn’s.

The group goes to Guillermo’s strong hold, which seems pretty well armed, considering the world is post-apocalyptic. Guillermo drives a tough bargain. A simple exchange of the teenager for Glenn isn’t going to cut it. Guillermo wants the bag of guns, too. Guillermo threatens Rick and his crew that they can either come back ready to give him the guns, or they can come back looking for a fight. Rick chooses the second option, which is really fairly stupid and reckless, but thankfully, all the survivors, both Rick’s crew and Guillermo’s, are essentially saved by a grandmother. She cuts through all the misunderstanding, and it leads to Rick and his crew discovering that Guillermo is actually keeping a nursing home running. He was a janitor there, and along with one nurse and a bunch of Vatos gang members, he’s trying to continue to take care of the residents. Rick’s surprised to see some compassion still left, I guess, so he gives Guillermo a few, but not all, of the guns. When the group is ready to make their way back out of Atlanta, they discover their van is missing. The working theory is that Dixon took it and is heading to wreak vengeance on their camp. They start running, although I don’t think that would do much good if Dixon is driving.

At the survivors’ camp, Jim is tied up to a tree. He tries to be nice and get back in the good graces of the rest of survivors by apologizing for scaring the kids and trying to give an explanation for his digging. He says he was digging in a dream, but he can’t remember why. To add a little extra niceness to the whole package, he tries to reassure Carl that Rick will return to camp unharmed because he’s tough. After Carl happily runs off to help Shane clean the fish Amy and Andrea caught, however, Jim gets creepy again. He tells Lori not to let Carl out of her sight. I guess he remembered more of the dream than he originally let on.

Amanda roots through Dale’s trailer looking for something in which to wrap the necklace she stole for Amy. She tells Dale that it’s Amy’s birthday, and it wouldn’t do to give her an unwrapped gift. Amy’s birthday seems pretty nice considering the state of the world. The group has a big fish fry, and everyone seems pretty content listening to Dale quote Faulkner at length. Which kind of made no sense- who has paragraph-long quotes from books memorized, really? Of course this happiness can’t last for long. There’s a big old zombie attack. The first zombie kills Ed the abusive husband, which was really fine by me. But then the next victim is Amy. That just seemed extra cruel to have her get attacked by a zombie on her birthday. Blatant emotional manipulation, perhaps? The whole thing was just really, really sad. No better way to put it. Rick and his crew arrive back at camp just in time to help turn the tables in the fight, but it wasn’t quick enough to save Amy. Andrea screams in mourning over Amy’s body as the rest of the survivors look on, horrified.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer TV Rewind: Robin Hood 1.05: "Turk Flu"

So this week's "The Walking Dead" recap is delayed until tomorrow due to the fact that I've been dealing with car trouble. But I've still got this week's "Robin Hood" Summer TV Rewind courtesy of Sarah for you right on time. Enjoy!

“Never forget the outlaws!”
- Robin

We begin at the Treeton Mine, where dead workers are being hauled out of the actual mine. A young man named Rohan has just lost his uncle, and he urges his father to tell Gisborne that they’re all on strike. His father does so, and it earns him a sword through the stomach. His family is being made to pay for the burial (they can’t work and get food until Gisborne says so), and anyone caught helping the family will be hanged. Gisborne is a little unsure about sacking all the workers, but the Sheriff assures him that there will be workers in the morning who will do as they are told.

Out in the forest, Robin is waking everyone up by shooting arrows at them. Much guesses Robin is bitter about not being able to enter the sheriff’s archery competition (prize being a silver arrow). Robin denies being bitter about it but continues to show off until Will comes running saying that one of their traps worked and they’ve managed to stop a cart. Turns out the man driving it was bringing slaves for the Treeton Mine, Turks by the look of it, and Robin doesn’t appear too pleased. Back in Treeton, the Night Watchman delivers some food to Rohan and his family, but Gisborne sees. He confronts the Watchman and inflicts a wound. A back hand to the face in return allows the Watchman to get away. We see the result of the wound as Marian is trying to stop the bleeding back at home. She obviously had a little bit of a head start on Gisborne. In a rather round-about and nervous way, Gisborne asks Marian to be his personal guest at the Sheriff’s fair that afternoon. She ends up agreeing (he even gave her a shawl so she wouldn’t be so embarrassed of her hair). He makes comment about encountering the Night Watchman and says that he’ll catch the outlaw. Not good for Marian. Edward is not pleased to learn that Marian has been running all over the kingdom helping the poor for the last few years. He says it noble of her but dangerous as they get into Guy’ coach a little later and head off to the fair.

Back in the forest, Robin is putting a plan into place. He’s getting the cart driver really drunk. They need him to get into the mine to shut it down for good. Eventually, John just punches the guy in the face. Right around the time Robin discovers one of the slaves speaks English. He’s smaller than everyone else. And there’s a reason why that we discover later. Much has agreed to ride in the cart as a spy to spread the rumor that all the prisoners have Turk flu (and that it’s contagious). Much is talking to the young Turk boy and says that it would be easier to free them all if they just renounced Allah and said they believed in the Christian god. The boy challenges Much to renounce his God if it is so easy, which makes Much very uncomfortable. So it turns out Allan is going to be going into the mine with the prisoners, and he’ll be positioned so that if the cart driver tries anything, Allan will kill him.

The prisoners ask to wash and pray before they go to the mine (which Robin easily translates from his time in the Holy Land). And as Will goes to tell the boy (Djaq) that Robin says they need to go, he realizes something very surprising about Djaq. He is in fact a she! They get to the mine to find Gisborne and the Sheriff watching the soldiers march in formation for some entertainment. Rohan shows up, and Robin manages to convince him not to kill Gisborne or the Sheriff. Instead, he’s going to help Robin and company destroy the mine. The plan to trick the Sheriff’s men into thinking the Turk Flu exists works quite well, and the guards end up taking off, leaving Robin and his gang free to light the mines on fire while the Sheriff and Gisborne return to Nottingham for the archery competition.

Just as Djaq helps Will start the fires, Little John falls through a covered up mine shaft. Together with the other Turks (and Djaq’s medical knowledge from her father who was a physician) she manages to revive John and they haul him out just in time. Robin fends off the Sheriff’s men (who have come with the Sheriff and Gisborne since the cart driver who Robin let run off told them where Robin was and what he was doing) in an impressive set of stunt fighting. He’s just so fluid when he fights. It’s like watching Roger Federer play a really amazing game of tennis. Shortly before they left Nottingham, Gisborne noticed blood on Marian’s sleeve (the sheriff had ordered all the men present to roll up their left sleeve so Gisborne could try and find the man he fought) but she covers it up by saying she cut her hand while peeling an apple and some of the blood must have gotten on her sleeve.

Anyway, the other Turks run off, but Djaq still sticks around and it’s a good thing, too. She tells them that Rohan is going to kill Marian to make Gisborne suffer. Marian manages to talk Rohan out of his decision to kill her just as Robin arrives. Rohan has entered the archery competition (presumably so he could get a bow to use to kill Marian), so Robin agrees to make sure Rohan wins the silver arrow. They’ll be able to melt it down and feed the villagers in Treeton all winter. Not a bad day’s work. And of course Robin wins. And they do a little bait and switch so that when the guards catch who they think is Robin, they really get Rohan, and the Sheriff has no choice but to hand the arrow over. Back in the forest, Allan is still wonky from the plant root he used to make himself look sick (he swallowed it and he shouldn’t have), and Djaq ends up joining the gang. It’s going to be a lot of fun to see how she fits in with all the boys.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

True Blood 4.03: "If You Love Me, Why am I Dyin'?"

The latest episode of “True Blood” had its definite high points and low points. Low points would be the Jason being held hostage and gang raped in Hotshot plot. Jason’s relationship with Crystal was tumultuous in the books, and Jason was held captive in Hotshot for a while in the books, but the situation did not lower to this level of horror. With this plot, I think Alan has gone too far. It is so far off the deep end that I can’t even applaud him for showing a man in this type of danger instead of a woman. It’s just disgusting all around. The high point of the episode for me was, unsurprisingly, Eric with amnesia. Alexander Skarsgard played the change in his character beautifully. I love the sometimes nervous, sometimes mischievous little boy elements he has bought out in this iteration of the character. His interactions with Sookie are an absolute delight to watch. I can only hope and beg Alan Ball that this plot will remain mostly in tact from how it was in the books. “Dead to the World” is my favorite book in the series, and Eric with amnesia and his resulting blossoming relationship with Sookie is pretty much the reason why.

The episode picks up pretty much right where the last one left off. Sookie has found Eric by the side of the road in the middle of the night. She’s pretty offended and freaked out when Eric keeps talking about how good she smells and wanting to know what she is. At one point, she tries to drive off and leave him, but he uses his super vampire speed to catch up. Eric finally manages to get the point across to Sookie that he has amnesia. He vaguely remembers that the witches chanted at him, and he remembers what Marnie looks like, but that’s it. Sookie says she’ll help Eric deal with the problem, but there will be absolutely no biting. That just made me laugh. When Sookie brings Eric home, the adorableness really starts. He’s covered in mud, and after being chastised by Sookie, Eric cautiously inches his way around the carpet.

The Wiccan coven are trying to deal with the aftermath of what they did to Eric. Tara and Lafayette are most adamant that the coven has gotten themselves into major trouble by messing with Eric. Marnie can’t remember what she did to make Eric run off, but she seems pretty proud of herself. The group considers Tara and Lafayette’s suggestion that they come clean to Eric and/or Bill immediately, but the rest of the group isn’t very enthusiastic about the idea. Lafayette is the biggest advocate for begging for mercy from the vamps. Tara’s just pissed that she somehow managed to get herself mixed up in vampire badness again within hours of returning to Bon Temps.

And now I’m going to get the most annoying plot of the episode out of the way all in one go. Time to take a deep breath. Over in Hotshot, Jason is chained to a bed and he has a fever. This is because he is undergoing the process to turn into a werepanther. We the elder panthers tell the kids the story of Ghost Mother and Ghost Father, the founders of the werepanther species. They are essentially trying to turn Jason into a new Ghost Father. Andy tries to call Jason and is very frustrated when he gets voice mail. Andy is feeling in need of his second V fix of the day. His behavior has really gotten out of control, and he ends up getting into a bit of a fight with Sam because of it. Near the end of the episode, Jason wakes up to find Crystal having sex with him. All the other women of Hotshot are gathered by the door. It’s really creepy, and it’s apparent that they’re all hoping it’s their turn next. The sooner this plot ends, the better.

Back in vampire world, we see a Youtube video of a vampire attack. It’s pretty apparent that the vampire was set up. This vampire has a meeting with Bill about the issue, and Bill shows no mercy. The vampires have a law that being caught attacking on video or film automatically means the True Death. Bill is no going to let this vampire escape that fate. The vampire gets a bit of a stay of execution when Jessica stops by to see Bill. She’s feeling guilty about feeding off that random at Fangtasia, and she wants Bill’s advice for how to deal with it. First Bill wants to make sure Jessica wasn’t filmed or photographed- he doesn’t want to have to sentence his progeny to the true death. Then he says that Jessica should tell Hoyt what happened. He pretty much threatens to tell Hoyt if Jessica won’t. Jessica takes Hoyt’s advice, and when it goes badly, she makes the rash decision to glamour Hoyt into forgetting her confession. Clearly Jessica has never watched “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 6. Making Tara forget a fight sure didn’t work out so well for Willow. In other Bill news, he has begun a relationship with Portia Bellefleur, which seems kind of pointless.

Sookie calls Pam to tell her what happened to Eric, and Pam comes running. She says that Sookie needs to keep Eric safe from the witches. Sookie isn’t thrilled about that prospect, but she says she’ll do it if she’s paid. Alex Skarsgard is really on fire in this scene. He’s devilishly happy when he finds out that he has tasted Sookie before, but then he’s upset when he finds out it was against her will. Pam thinks Bill is the mastermind behind what happened to Eric because he told Eric to go to the coven. Oh, and there’s some more adorableness when Sookie has to coax Eric down into his hidey hole for the day. Once Eric is safely to ground, Sookie pays a visit to Alcide. She wants to know if Alcide will take in Eric, but as soon as she makes her request Debbie appears. During the year Sookie was in Faerieland, Debbie apparently sought treatment for her V addiction, and now she and Alcide are back together. I’m not sure if I entirely believe her. Sookie’s not keen to spend much time with Debbie, so she says she’ll take care of Eric herself and leaves.

There’s definitely some weirdness going on at the Fortenberry house. A creepy, beat-up doll keeps showing up at Hoyt and Jessica’s house, and it looks like Momma Fortenberry is responsible. We see her ordering another doll from a home shopping channel, and it’s apparent that ordering from home shopping is something she does quite often. While she’s on the phone, a man comes to the door, and Tommy talks to him. The main claims to be a prospector who wants to buy natural gas rights from Momma Fortenberry. Tommy pretends he’s her son and essentially says they might be interested. It looks like Tommy is going to try to negotiate the deal without Momma Fortenberry’s knowledge. Tommy brings the plan to Sam, proposing that they can both make money off of it, but Sam’s not having it. He says that if Tommy doesn’t tell Momma Fortenberry about the prospector, he will. Naturally, Tommy is not pleased. Oh, and Jessica ends up giving the creepy doll to Arlene’s baby, which I found pretty hilarious.

Despite what the rest of the coven thinks, Lafayette thinks he, Tara, and Jesus should go to Fangtasia and say that Marnie is responsible for attacking Eric. Tara’s not especially keen on the idea. She’s afraid of getting too mixed in with vampire stuff again. That doesn’t stop Lafayette, though. While Tara is at Merlotte’s trying to convince Sookie to intervene with Eric on the coven’s behalf (Sookie covers brilliantly and says Eric’s gone missing) and flirting with Sam, Lafayette abandons the Merlotte’s kitchen and takes off for Fangtasia. Tara and Jesus soon follow, and they find that Pam is really, really pissed off at Lafayette. Tara and Jesus promise Pam that they can bring her Marnie. If they succeed, Pam won’t hurt any of them. Marnie herself is conducting some sort of strange ritual, begging the spirit that allowed her to attack Eric to possess her once again. She spills a ton of her own blood in the ritual, but it doesn’t seem to work. There is this strange woman sitting on a bed in another room though.

Sookie gets home from work to find that Eric has left the house. She doesn’t have much time to be troubled by that, though, because Claudine pays a visit. Claudine wants to try again to take Sookie back to Faerieland, but Sookie’s not having it. And then Eric superspeeds his way into the scene and kills Claudine. He looks up at Sookie like a little boy who just made a huge mess. My reaction to this was pretty much “Damn you, Alan Ball!” I really don’t understand why he had to change Claudine’s storyline so much from the books. I always found Sookie and Claudine’s friendship to be fun. And of course it had to be Eric who killed her. Because Eric is always evil in the show’s world. Sigh. I’ll stop my rant now before I seriously bore you (one, maybe two) readers.