Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summer TV Rewind: Robin Hood 1.12: "Return of the King"

Sarah has returned to write about the penultimate (and quite overdramatic, if I do say so myself) episode of the first series of the BBC's "Robin Hood."


“We have never spoken the truth to each other. For instance, when I call you a fool, I mean you are a hero.”
- Marian

We begin in the Sheriff’s quarters where he’s got lots of caged songbirds. He goes on a little rant about how he likes them because they are under his total control, even though they long to be free. He asks Gisborne when he plans to marry Marian, and Gisborne replies that they will be wed when King Richard returns. The Sheriff says he has news that might make Gisborne happy but doesn’t share it right away. Instead, we hop over to the forest where Robin and the gang are heading for a cave for dry cover. Much is complaining rather vocally that he dislikes the cave. And that he hates bats (calls them rats with wings. No, Much those would be pigeons). He seems to settle down a bit when Will returns with food. But something is wrong. Will is breathing extremely hard, and after a dramatic pause, he announces the King is returning.

Much goes on for quite a while a while about how happy he is the King is back, but everyone else tells him to shut up. They realize that with the King coming back, Gisborne plans to wed Marian. Will says he heard talk that the wedding would be on Saturday. And in fact, Gisborne arrives at Knighton to break the news to Marian. He starts to tell her the news but then picks her up and she does a flip over him and a cartwheel to land on her feet. He looks a little surprised and said he just wanted to sweep her off her feet. Whoops. He takes her Locksley and shows her his fortune. They’re going to marry on Saturday in Locksley. Robin speaks with his old servant, Thornton, and learns that a physician named Pitts tended to Gisborne while he was “unwell” (aka in the Holy Land trying to kill the King). So now Robin is going to find Pitts and stop the wedding. He stops by Knighton, and of course, since they’re speaking about Gisborne, he and Marian get into an argument.

Marian says she’s going to have one last fling as the Night Watchman to settle into her marriage to a man she doesn’t love. Her father is going off to try and stop a plot he believes is in play by the Sheriff. He thinks the Sheriff will try to kill the King. Robin and company have gone to Nottingham to speak with the physician who supposedly treated Gisborne. Robin is admittedly kind of intense and scary when he’s demanding to know the truth. Pitts says he established a quarantine and brought the meals into the master room and sat there and ate the meals himself. Robin says Pitts will need to speak to give evidence before the King, and they leave.

In Locksley that night, Marian goes as the Night Watchman for her final hurrah. She nabs a bunch of Gisborne’s money, but one of the guards wakes up and alerts him. Lucky for Marian, Robin stops by Knighton and when he sees she’s not there, he figures out where she’s gone. Things are looking good until Gisborne punches Marian in the stomach. Or so it appeared. In reality, he stabbed her with a nasty looking dagger. They split up and meet back at the cave. Djaq races to tend to Marian’s wound, and it seems that she’s handled decently. Out in the rain, Will and Allan are the last to return. Allan thinks they should take what they got from Gisborne and go their own ways. As Allan sees it, they are the poor now since Robin won’t have need of them when he’s a Lord.

In the morning, Much is making breakfast and wonders what Marian wants to eat. Djaq tells him to ask her but Much says she’s still sleeping. Djaq is worried by this and races into the cave to find Marian unconscious. She smacks her a few times and Marian comes around. But Djaq is going to need to do surgery. There’s internal bleeding. She tells Much what she needs, and he bumbles around and interrupts Marian and Robin’s conversation. Marian admits that she’s never really told Robin the truth. She criticizes him, but she emulates him and believes in what he does. He admits that he shouldn’t have gone to the Holy Land. He regrets leaving her because they should have been together. Before they can get to the “I love you” stage Djaq returns and begins the surgery, but she’s not trained and can’t find and stop the bleeding without doing further damage.

Will and Allan still haven’t returned, and it looks like they aren’t going to. They make it to the North Road, and instead of going to the cave they head off in a different direction, though Will doesn’t seem quite pleased with the idea. He’s got a good heart, that Will Scarlett. Back in the cave, Djaq is beginning to panic and Robin says he’s going to find the physician that didn’t treat Gisborne. Robin still believes the man to be on their side. Robin can’t see the man for the liar that he is. He signals some guards while he’s packing his bag, and as they ride into the forest, he leaves strips of cloth behind to lead the way to where they’re going. The Sheriff and his men will no doubt be close behind. The physician doesn’t actually do anything for Marian, expect give her what he says is a draught for surgery. He tells Djaq to just sew her up. Robin begins to put things together, and he races off to find the scraps of cloth in the forest. But he’s too late. Horses and dogs are not far off, and he returns to the cave to order Much and John to get their weapons. They physician is a little snot and tells Robin that Marian is dead. It seems to be the truth since Djaq is crying over Marian. Robin breaks down, too and tells Marian’s lifeless body that he loves her and he should have said it while she was alive. We end with the Sheriff calling Robin out for a fight.

Doctor Who 6.08: "Let's Kill Hitler"

“Okay. I’m trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife. I’m really trying not to see this as a metaphor.”

“Let’s Kill Hitler,” the premiere of the second half of series 6 of “Doctor Who” was a typically overly complex Stephen Moffat-penned episode. Moffat tends to throw everything and the kitchen sink in to his episodes, much more so since he has become showrunner, and this episode was no exception. There were so many different beginnings of ideas milling about that the episode as a whole doesn’t really stand up when you think about it too much. That being said, it was an incredibly entertaining episode to watch as long as you don’t stop to analyze it too deeply. There was a lot of energy, and there were also a lot of fun references, both to the show’s past and to other classic British (and American, too) genre fiction. I greatly enjoyed all of that. I think I especially liked that because I don’t find that Moffat, in his tenure as head writer, has referenced events of the Russell T. Davies era of the show as much as I would like. Now, I’m not one of those who believes that a lack of references means there is a feud between the writers, and I do understand a potential desire to put one’s own stamp on a creative project. However, I’m a huge fan of the Russell T. Davies era of “Doctor Who” (minus a few questionable runs of episodes in series 3), and I like to see what I like respected and treasured as much as I treasure it. Because of that, I’m glad there were major references to that era in this episode. It made me feel appreciated as a fan.

The thing that really struck me from the get-go about this episode was the direction (or was it the cinematography? I really have to brush up on my film production terminology!). The visuals, especially in the beginning of the episode, were really lovely. We begin with the shot of a wheat field below a very blue sky, and it instantly made me think of my all-time favorite show, “Pushing Daisies,” and it’s similar beautiful, colorful visuals. This connection was reinforced for me with a flashback sequence we also got near the beginning of the episode, showing how Mels (who we’ll meet shortly) fit into the early lives of Amy and Rory. I half expected the Narrator to start counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds since Amy and Rory had last seen their friend. Alas, that never happened. Amy and Rory were driving through the field, trying to get the Doctor’s attention by writing out “Doctor” in crop circles. When they get back to the middle of the “o,” they see the TARDIS.

Just as they’re all catching up, a sports car roars towards them. I half expected it to be River because of the drama of the entrance (and I sort-of turned out to be right), but a young woman named Mels gets out of the car instead. Amy says she was her and Rory’s best friend when they were all growing up. And the police are after Mels. In a series of flashbacks (already alluded to), we see that this is nothing new for Mels. We see her getting in trouble at school, both elementary school and high school (or whatever the British equivalents are) for saying that certain events in history happened because the Doctor couldn’t prevent them. You see, Amy spent their childhood telling Mels her stories about her Raggedy Doctor. We also see Amy bailing her out of jail. And we see her getting Rory and Amy together by helping Amy realize that Rory isn’t gay. In her haste to have her friends help her escape the police using the TARDIS, Mel accidentally shoots the TARDIS console, and now the TARDIS is careening out of control. Mels and the Doctor arguing over this most definitely made me laugh.

In 1938 Germany, we’re introduced to this odd sort of robot that can change forms into different people. It’s operated by a crew of people who have been miniaturized, and they work from a control center that looks quite similar to the bridge of the original Enterprise from “Star Trek.” We see the robot impersonate a fairly high-ranking Nazi, and after the impersonation takes place, the actual Nazi is beamed inside the robot. There, “antibodies,” which actually look like creepy electronic jellyfish) kill the Nazi. The robot, using this form as a disguise, is then able to enter Hitler’s office. The robot freezes Hitler (with a freeze ray…tell your friends), and just as some torture is presumably about to start, the TARDIS crashes right into Hitler’s office and stops the robot. The Doctor hustles everyone out of the TARDIS because Mels’ shot has produced “deadly smoke.” They’re very confused by the robot, because at first it appears to be injured, then it’s fine. They’re also quite skeeved by meeting Hitler, and the Doctor assures Hitler that saving his life was most definitely an accident. Hitler starts trying to shoot the robot, but Rory punches him out. I’m loving this new, kickass Rory that we really started to see in “A Good Man Goes to War.” The Doctor has Rory put Hitler in a cupboard, which was also very amusing.

Turns out that Hitler is a bad shot, and instead of shooting the robot, he shot Mels. It turns out that Mels is actually Melody Pond, and as we’ve already seen, she can regenerate. And she regenerates into none other than Alex Kingston, which means we get the River Song we all know and love. Sort of. This version of her is brand new and doesn’t even know who “River” is. She still acts like a willful teenager, and a psychopath to boot. To make matters worse, the Justice robot is after her for killing the Doctor in Utah. In the future. She was raised to kill him, after all. She tries to fulfill her programing with guns a few times, but the Doctor is a step ahead of her. She kisses him before she leaves to go wreak havoc on Berlin, and the kiss turns out to be poisonous.

Realizing he’s in big trouble, the Doctor runs into the TARDIS, despite the deadly smoke, and Rory and Amy decide to follow Mels. It’s a good thing her parents are following her, because she’s causing a lot of trouble. She uses her regeneration energy to knock out a bunch of soldiers and steal their motorcycle and guns. Proving that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I suppose, Rory steals another motorcycle to follow her. I love that Rory acts very Arthur Dent from “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” in this scene. Amy asks him if he can actually ride a motorcycle, and he replies “I expect so. It’s that sort of day.” I can just picture Arthur Dent saying something like that with the same tone of voice. If the entertainment Powers that Be ever decide to remake H2G2 again (keep in mind, I love the Martin Freeman movie, too), Arthur Davrill should definitely be at the top of the casting list. Anyway, the Justice Robot crew of “tiny cross people” as the Doctor puts it decides to follow too, and they make their own motorcycle to do it. Two of the crew members look at the doctors file and discover that his death in Utah is a confirmed fixed point. As Ten explained in the series 4 episode “Fires of Pompeii,” there are certain events in time that cannot be rewritten. Something tells me Moffat and company are going to get around that rule by the time this arc is done.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor asks for a verbal interface. The first attempt at an interface looks like himself, and in a very insightful moment, the Doctor asks the TARDIS to change it to someone he likes. He then cycles through images of Rose, Martha, and Donna, but they all give him too much guilt to be comforting while he’s dying. I found it fitting that seeing Donna gave him the most guilt, considering he had to take away everything she had become to save her life. Finally, the Doctor settles on an image of young Amelia Pond before he messed up her life by keeping her waiting for so long. The interface says that the Doctor is going to die in 32 minutes, regeneration has been disabled, and there is no cure for the poison. Clearly, the situation is dire. The Doctor can’t even seem to stand up anymore, and he begs the interface for something to keep him going. In a brief second of humanity, it says “fish fingers and custard,” and that is enough to get him up and moving again.

Amy and Rory are still looking for Mels, and when they see people screaming as they run out of a fancy dress party in their underwear, they think they have a pretty good idea of where to find her. That got a little chuckle out of me, I’ll admit. The Justice Robot pulls up beside them, and they see that she has turned into Amy. Which is kinda creepy. Inside the reception hall, Mels is admiring herself in the mirror as she tries on clothes the party guests left behind. It reminds me of when the Lady Cassandra possessed the Tenth Doctor in the early series 2 episode “New Earth.” I think Alex was definitely channeling David Tennant’s performance there. Mels is greeted only by Justice Robot Amy, though, because the actual Rory and Amy have been miniaturized and brought inside the robot to speak with the crew. The antibodies start to go after them, but they’re saved in the nick of time by a Justice department worker putting privileges bracelets on them.

The robot shoots the freeze ray at Mels and, as one would expect, she freezes. Then the Doctor stumbles of out the TARDIS and demands information. Because Amy is Mels’ mother, she has privileges that will let her access the information. The robot then explains that Mels was turned into a killing machine by the Silence, which is an order that believes that when the Ultimate Question is discovered, silence will fall. Of course, when the Doctor asks the robot what the question is, the reply is “Unknown.” Any good Douglas Adams/H2G2 fan can tell you that! But the answer to the question is 42, of course. The Silence are essentially kind of like the mice in H2G2, but a little more homicidal. The Justice crew explains that they find really bad people near the end of their natural timelines and “give them Hell.” They start to do so to Mels, and she’s in horrible pain. The Doctor tells Amy to put a stop to it, and using some quick thinking, Amy does so by disabling everyone’s privileges. This leads the crew to shut down the robot (which stops the torture), but it also leads them to request an emergency beam-out. Amy and Rory are the only people left, and the antibodies want them dead. The Doctor desperately tries to help them, but he can’t really move.

Mels is impressed that the Doctor still wants to help his friends, and she ends up saving her parents using the TARDIS. The TARDIS taught Mels to fly because Mels is a “Child of the TARDIS,” which I thought was a pretty cool way of putting it. Now that everyone is back outside the Amy Justice Robot, the Doctor asks to speak to Mels. He gives her a message for River, which completely changes her demeanor. Mels asks Rory and Amy who River is, and Amy uses the robot to show River. As she looks back at her own image, Mels realizes that she’s River. She then makes the decision to use her regeneration energy to save the Doctor. She wakes up later in hospital, and Amy says she used up all her regenerations. I think this is a little unfortunate, because it cuts off a lot of potential ways in which River’s story could go. What I like better is that the Doctor gives her the TARDIS journal as a sort of get well gift. Amy and Rory seem strangely okay with leaving their daughter to become River and find her way back to them again someday. I think this is my biggest problem with the episode, really. I can’t imagine a new parent (or any parent) being okay with that.

Meanwhile, the Doctor downloaded data from the Justice Robot, and he now knows his death will take place in Utah, and he also knows the circumstances of that death. He hides that knowledge from Amy and Rory, though. So they know about the death, but they don’t know he knows. This could get really freaking complicated. The final scene of the episode is Mels enrolling in archaeology school, presumably to give her a way to find the Doctor again. She’s now fully on the path towards becoming River Song, and she’s looking for “a good man.”

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Torchwood 4.08: "Miracle Day: End of the Road"

“And what is it with you, Red Barron? You got Snoopy up your ass?”

So I’ve returned to blogging Torchwood since I’m all caught up here on the blog, and once again, the show takes a significant downturn in quality. This episode wasn’t the worst of the bad episodes of “Torchwood: Miracle Day,” but it certainly wasn’t up to last week’s standards. Probably because there was too much of Jilly, Oswald, Rex, and Esther. And Jack and Gwen have been split up. Given how focusing on the original characters led to the season’s best episode by far last week, splitting them up now seems like a really, really inadvisable idea. Mostly, though, the episode was kind of boring. Which was a shame, because two great guest actors, Nana Visitor and John de Lancie, did their best with what they were given. The problem was, they weren’t exactly given much. Most distressing was the horrible underuse of Nana Visitor. She delivered some exposition (as well as could be expected), and that was it. We know from her time as Kira Nerys on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and her stage career that she is capable of being much more than an exposition machine. John de Lancie at least had to have a little fun being an ass with his role, even if it did require him to hit many of the same beats as one of his most famous characters, Q (who appeared in several of the modern “Star Trek” tv series).

The episode opens with the Torchwood team being taken to Angelo’s house. It’s very lavish, thanks to the financial advice Jack gave Angelo back in the 1920’s. Olivia, his granddaughter (Nana Visitor’s character), explains that after meeting Jack, her grandfather devoted the rest of his life to seeking immortality. The typical catch applies, though. Now that he has actually achieved immortality (thanks to the Miracle), he is too old and of poor health to enjoy it. He’s unconscious and hooked up to life support, to be specific. As I’ve already sort-of mentioned, Olivia has to do a heck of a lot of exposition in this early part of the episode. She talks about how Angelo took every step he could to try and extend his life, such as keeping his body at two degrees colder than its natural temperature. I thought that was kind of interesting despite being an info-dump. She also explains that Jack’s pre-Miracle condition isn’t really all that unique in nature. There are some jellyfish who have cells that can de-age, essentially. Finally, Olivia also tells us a bit more about the three men who made some sort of deal while Jack was being tortured in the 1920’s. They were from three separate families, and after Jack escaped, they made a pact to get the power of immortality back. Olivia gives Torchwood the three family names, but Esther can find no record whatsoever of anyone with those last names.

While Esther is trying to do more research on the Families, Friedken and some of his CIA flunkies roll up, and Friedkin points a gun at Esther through her car window. After arresting Esther, the CIA team raids Angelo’s house. Friedkin is trying to complete this raid before his boss, Shapiro, shows up because he doesn’t want Shapiro to suspect he’s working for the Families. For some reason I don’t quite understand, Friedkin takes a special interest in shaking down Rex. Rex recordings and broadcasts the indimidation (and a confession of taking bribes from the Families) by Friedken to everyone else at the house thanks to the i5 contacts. He nabbed the contacts from Gwen, which probably didn’t make her especially happy. Shapiro arrives just as the broadcast is wrapping up. Shapiro is an interesting character to say the least. He runs roughshod over everything and everyone, and he thinks he’s the center of the universe. Shapiro even tries to have Gwen deported, but Rex stops him by saying what an asset Gwen has been to the investigation. Shapiro’s an ass, but he’s marginally safer for our Torchwood folks than people like Friedken who are directly connected to the Families.

Shapiro wants everybody out of Angelo’s house as soon as possible- he’s getting them all loaded up in SUV’s to go to the nearest CIA installation, no doubt. For some reason, though, he decides to let Jack have a moment to say goodbye to Angelo. Before this can happen though, Friedken has to cause one last bit of trouble. He’s handcuffed in an SUV along with Olivia and some of his CIA underlings. He starts trying to justify his involvement with the Families, claiming he’s said “no” to them many times when they try to go too far. There’s one latest request from the Families, though, that he can’t refuse. Then we see that he’s got a bomb strapped to his chest. The other passengers only have a few moments to scream before the whole SUV blows up. I was really kind of ticked off that they killed off Olivia so soon. Nana Visitor really didn’t get a chance to do much with the role in the short amount of time she was on screen, but what she did with it (when not bogged down in exposition) was fun, and I would have liked to have seen more of it. After that bit of excitement, Jack does finally get to say his goodbye. He asks the unconscious Angelo if he saw Ianto, then realizes that Angelo would probably be jealous of Ianto. I appreciated the callback to Jack’s past, although I thought mentioning Ianto to the very sick Angelo was a little tacky. Anyway, Jack kisses Angelo, and alarms start going off. Jack doesn’t think that’s a dignified way to die, so he unplugs the life support. And Angelo actually does die (with Jack being overdramatic and screaming for help), in spite of the Miracle. Shapiro is bound and determined to figure out how that happened.

Now that their names have been cleared, Esther and Rex are busily videoconferencing with their coworkers back at CIA headquarters in DC. There’s some talk about an imminent economic collapse, with Greece, Ireland, and Spain’s economic troubles potentially bringing down the EU. Which is kinda happening without the Miracle’s help in the real world, actually. Esther asks her friend who is a fellow blonde, female analyst to help her look into the Families, and the other analyst vows that if there’s anything on paper about them, no matter how far back she has to go, she’ll find it. She also tells Esther that she’s found out where Esther’s sister is, and she arranged to get her some extra care. Esther calls her sister, and they have a rather disturbing conversation. Esther’s sister says she wants to volunteer to be made Category 1, which I find just bizarre. She says there’s a whole community of such people on the internet, and she’s added herself and her daughters (Esther’s nieces) to the list of volunteers. Why would she be able to put her daughters, who are currently under protective services, if I remember right, on any list like that? It’s kind of a stupid plot point and makes no sense if you think about it at all. Gwen’s also on the phone instead of working, talking with Rhys about how her dad’s not doing well and there are going to be runs on banks soon. They wonder if the financial meltdown in 2008 was only the first step of whatever plan for world ruin is in motion now.

In Dallas, Jilly is frantically trying to run down the schedule for a major public appearance at Cowboys Stadium with Oswald. He’s relly not very interested, though. Instead, he puts on some music really loud and starts to dance awkwardly. Jilly eventually gets him to turn down the music, but then he says he wants Jilly to find him a woman. A woman of legal age, thankfully. Jilly returns to her own hotel room in exasperation, and she meets an overeager intern from her PR firm. The intern seems as if she can make Jilly’s life a whole lot easier, so Jilly tells her to go fetch her a sandwich. When the intern asks how Jilly can stand working for Oswald, Jilly says that she’s not going to have to deal with him much longer. A text message from the intern back to CIA headquarters reveals that the “intern” is actually a CIA agent.

The requested prostitute pays a visit to Oswald. Oswald wants conversation and dinner, not sex, and that kind of throws of the prostitute. She could have put aside what Oswald had done if he was just asking for sex, but she can’t bring herself to pretend he’s a normal human being. Oswald starts to get a little violent with her, but she manages to leave before getting hurt. Before leaving, she says she’s heard rumors that Oswald is going to be declared “Category 0,” which will be a new designation for people who are to be sent to the ovens for moral reasons. Oswald confronts Jilly about this, and he gets even more violent, slapping Jilly when she doesn’t give him a satisfactory answer. Jilly fights back, and when Oswald leaves, she yells after him that she’s going to have him arrested on new charges, and he’s going to burn. The blonde guy from one of the Families who approached Jilly a few episodes ago makes yet another appearance. He tells Jilly she’s being watched by the CIA, and he kills the intern (by shooting her) for being a CIA agent. Then he tells Jilly she’s eligible for a promotion, and Jilly says she’s interested. We then cut to Esther’s blonde CIA analyst friend, who hangs up from a phone call and tells her coworker the call was “family business.” Guess Esther is about to be in a world of even more trouble.

Back at Angelo’s house, Esther notices that the floor under Angelo’s bed looks strange. There’s a bed-sized panel that looks different from the rest of the floor. Jack tells Ester to keep quiet about it, but she can’t resist telling Shapiro. On the one hand, Esther is annoying in her overeagerness to please her superiors, but on the other hand, Jack has been way angsty and evasive and mysterious in this episode, so I get why she’d fall back on doing things by the CIA book. This makes Shapiro start to press Jack for more information, and when Gwen tries to protect Jack, Shapiro decides to deport her after all. I’ll spare you the rant about how ridiculous this is. CIA flunkies rip up the floor and find a strange panel underneath. Jack is goaded into explaining that the device, which is extraterrestrial in origin, is emitting a null field. It’s cancelling out the morphic field causing the Miracle in the area around the bed, which is how Angelo was able to die. Shapiro commands Jack to make the panel safe so they can take it back to Langley.

Instead of doing what he’s supposed to do, Jack makes the panel nullify sound. He, Esther, and Rex (who doesn’t believe Jack at first and has to test out the sound proofing himself) get to have a private conversation. Jack tells the others that he thinks Angelo salvaged the panel from the ruins of the old Torchwood Hub. He begs Rex and Esther to help him get out of Angelo’s house and escape the CIA, and he wants to take a plate from the panel with him so the panel won’t work anymore. He thinks that the world should not have this technology- we can’t handle the power. Rex is skeptical and kind of desperate to be accepted back among his old CIA crew, but he eventually agrees to help. The escape plan goes south pretty quickly though. Jack ends up getting shot by what seems to be a random CIA lackey, and Esther is seen by that same lackey. They drive off together, and Esther is next seen completely freaking out while continuing to attempt to drive a very badly injured Jack. Oh, and Gwen is all emo with a tear prettily dripping down her cheek while on a plane back to Cardiff. I really don’t think this season is headed in a good direction at all.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer TV Rewind: Robin Hood 1.11: "Dead Man Walking"

Sarah's back with another write up about the BBC's "Robin Hood." We're getting close to the end, which unfortunately also means we're getting close to the end of summer.


“I value your life too highly.”
“Him, I value more.”
- Robin and Little John

We begin in Locksley with the villagers being hassled by Gisborne’s men. Apparently another tax has come due, and they’re all getting arrested since they can’t pay. Gisborne is being his usual asshole self. Not far off, Robin and Little John are watching, and it takes all Robin has to restrain Little John when he sees Alice and his son. It turns out John (the younger) has been apprenticing to Luke, the cooper. And Luke has been making bows for Robin. Gisborne’s men discover the bows and arrest both Luke and John. Little John is furious and storms off, while Alice screams for her son. John loses his temper when Robin tries to talk him out of acting rashly. He knocks Robin out cold and goes and attacks the guards moving the cart of prisoners back to Nottingham. Things seem to be going his way at first until the guards pile on him en masse and manage to knock him out.

Will and Allan are in Nottingham to deliver some supplies and money to a widow, and they’re quite surprised to see Little John among the prisoners. The guards milling about the town are being right prats and arresting everyone for stupid things. They try to arrest the widow, but Will and Allan get her to safety. Robin comes to in the forest, and it’s evident things aren’t going to end well. They’re going to need a really good plan to rescue Little John, his son and the cooper. Speaking of the cooper, Gisborne wants to torture him for consorting with outlaws and the Sheriff likes the idea. So much that they’re going to have a “Festival of Pain.” Yes, the Sheriff is seriously twisted. He offers Luke the chance to make Saracen bows for him in exchange for freedom and maybe even some more time to pay taxes, but Luke refuses and gets tortured for his trouble.

Alice arrives at Nottingham and begs to see her son, but she is denied. Marian rides into town and spots Little John. She makes comment to Gisborne that he’ arrested half of Nottingham. Gisborne says they must be punished and reminded of their loyalty. As usual, she doesn’t really agree and becomes quite appalled when she learns of the Sheriff’s Festival of Pain. She’ even more horrified to find that Gisborne is endorsing the whole thing. Granted he’ll be escorting the tax money, so won’t be around. The Sheriff ends up locking Little John in the dungeon (thinking him just a common brute) to soften him up to be the main attraction for the Festival of Pain. Meanwhile, Robin and company have arrived in Nottingham to try and execute a plan to rescue John. In the dungeons, John meets his father for the second time but doesn’t even remember meeting him the first time. Little John (in portable stocks) looks rather crestfallen. Out in the square, Robin and Allan are impersonating guards and Will is acting the part of prisoner. But the dungeon is full and they have to leave him outside. But Robin manages to get into the castle when Gisborne barks orders to bring Marian’s things to her room. Allan gets sent to take the grain from Locksley to the stores.

Poor sexually frustrated Gisborne. He really needs to just get laid. He’s all over Marian about them spending more time together so he can get to know her. And she turns him away. Robin sneaks back into her room and feeds her the same line but it makes her smile. Down in the dungeon, Little John and his son are having a little bit of bonding (after his son scratched his nose for him). It’s a rather touching scene, even if Little John can’t tell his son who he is. Back in her chambers, Marian is trying to impress upon Robin that things are pretty bad. Most of the prisoners are beyond help. But it doesn’t seem to deter Robin from trying to find a way to rescue Little John. Marian does share the information about the King’s taxes leaving for London in the morning and that the Sheriff believes Robin will stay in town to rescue Luke. We get a brief scene where Much is worrying about where Robin is and going through worst case scenarios and Djaq tells him to shut up. Random but amusing.

Next we see Alice trying to bribe the guard at the gate to let her in. He doesn’t want her money. She manages to get in, and the sheriff locks her up with her son and Luke. He’s going to be an outright bastard about the whole Festival of Pain. It takes maybe two minutes before she sees Little John and is shocked to see him alive. We dart quickly up to Robin fetching the lock pick Marian hid earlier, and he slips it to Will outside. He’s got a plan now, and he goes to fill in Djaq and Much. They’re going to rescue everyone and relieve Gisborne of the tax money. He and Allan (still dressed as guards) are going to swap the sacks of grain for the money.

Down in the dungeon, Alice tries to keep her son away from John but it’s no good. Little John reveals who he is and he and Alice get in a bit of a fight over why he left and let her believe him to be dead. She wants him to leave them alone. It’s not going to do them any good now. They’re all going to pay for their crimes in the morning. And she doesn’t believe he’s one of Robin’s men either.

Morning dawns and the Sheriff is rather bright and cheery as he welcomes people to his Festival of Pain. He’s got all the peasants lined up, and as he gives a little speech about how these people not paying their taxes makes everyone else have to pay more, he reveals various horrific looking torture devices. Luke, Alice and John are the first to be tortured. Or so it would seem. Little John manages to break free of his restraints. Meanwhile, Gisborne is riding off with the King’s taxes. Until Much and Djaq lock the gates and Gisborne figures out he’s been had. As Little John is fighting off the guards, Robin and Allan are showering people with money and the Sheriff is throwing a fit. Little John is about to kill the Sheriff (for harming his son) when Alice reminds John that he said he wasn’t a murderer. They leave the Sheriff and get out of the castle just as Gisborne and his men rush in from a different direction. They find the Sheriff strung up in one of the torture devices. In the forest, Luke, Alice and John are heading off to start a new life elsewhere. Little John shares a tender moment with Alice and his son before they ride off. Robin hands Little John one of his tags, his son waves the other in the air as he proudly shouts that he’ll never forget his father is a comrade of Robin Hood.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Summer DVR Dump: Doctor Who 6.07: "A Good Man Goes to War"

“Good men don’t need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.”
-The Doctor

“A Good Man Goes to War” ended the first half of “Doctor Who” series 6 on a fairly strong note. I think it would have been stronger, however, if the story told in “The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People” had been condensed down into one episode, and this story had been given the breathing room of two episodes. A lot of big events happened in this episode, but the whole thing seemed to lack any depth. It felt more like moving the chess pieces than a real, heartfelt story. There were some good efforts by all the actors, especially Arthur Darvill as Rory, but it still wasn’t quite enough. The big reveal at the end of the episode especially could have used more build up, although once you know the fact that is revealed at the end, many of the earlier scenes become much more poignant, especially an early scene between Rory and River. That scene really takes on layers of meaning once the characters’ true relationship is revealed, and creating those layers is the result of some excellent work on the part of Alex Kingston and Arthur Darvill.

The episode opens with Amy at a base in Demon’s Run (some sort of asteroid field, it looks like). She’s holding her daughter, who she has named Melody, and she is surrounded by soldiers. She’s telling Melody that she needs to be brave, and that a good man is going to rescue her. She goes on a long description of this good man that makes him sound like the Doctor, but she ends by saying he’s called “The Last Centurion,” so she’s obviously referring to Rory. The little fake out wasn’t really appreciated by this viewer, at least. We know Amy loves Rory. We’ve been told so many, many times by this point. Poor little Melody is content as can be to be held by her mother, not realizing that she’s about to be taken away by the creepy eyepatch lady.

We next see a regiment of Cybermen at some sort of base. They appear to be under attack and completely freaking out. Rory then arrives on the scene, decked out in his Centurion outfit and acting all badass. It’s really quite awesome and gave me a whole new appreciation for the character. He tells the Cybermen that he has a message from the Doctor and a question from himself. The question is “Where.is.my.WIFE,” and the message is a whole bunch of explosions going on out in space. It’s glorious. We also meet a bunch of other recruits of the Doctor’s. There’s a female Silurian detective and her maid in 1888, who are probably the most developed characters of all the recruits. A spinoff focusing on them would be a lot of fun, I think. There’s also a Sontaran nurse, which cracks me up. He’s saving a little boy’s life when the TARDIS arrives, even though he says he’d rather be in battle. Elsewhere in time and space, the eyepatch lady and a cleric are talking to Dorian, the fat blue alien River spoke to in the series 5 two-part finale. He warns them that if the Doctor is collecting on his debts, he could be a truly formidable threat, because the Doctor has many debts to collect. Almost immediately after the eyepatch lady and cleric leave, the TARDIS appears. Clearly the Doctor has a debt to collect from Dorian, too.

Back at Demon’s Run, two cleric soldiers are swapping legends about the Doctor. They’re fighting against him now, unlike when we last saw them in series 5. They’re a gay married couple, one fat and one thin, and they’re kind of entertaining. There’s also a female cleric named Lorna. She tells the others that she met the doctor She says the Doctor told her to run, which made me laugh. The fat married cleric has been selected for “conversion” to the order of the Headless Monks, who seem to be running the anti-Doctor show along with eyepatch lady. The conversion seems to be quite literally to make the converted headless. I thought that was just plain gross. Too gross to be creepy, especially when we see the headless necks later in the episode.

We next visit Stormcage, where River is dressed up in Victorian gear. She’s in a cheery mood as she informs the guards that they can turn off the alarms. She’s breaking back into her cell, not out. Rory appears, and River, who softens when she sees him, says that she’s just been on a wonderful birthday date with the Doctor. Rory asks for River’s help, but she says that she can’t, because it’s “Demon’s Run.” She can’t show up until the very end of whatever is about to go down. She gets all Prophesy Girl on Rory, saying that the Doctor is about to climb higher than he ever has before and then fall farther than he ever has. She also says that this is when the Doctor finally finds out who she is.

Back at Demon’s Run, the clerics are having a big pump-up anti-Doctor rally. Instead of going to the rally, Lorna visits Amy. She gives Amy a prayer leaf with Melody’s name written on it in the language of her people. Amy is understandably frosty towards Lorna until Lorna reveals that she met the Doctor when she was a little girl, too. Down at the rally, the cleric Colonel reveals what’s under the hoods of the Headless Monks. Like I mentioned earlier, they are literally Headless, and it’s really gross. There is a big surprise, though. The Doctor (head in tact) is under one of the hoods as well. One of the things that is fascinating about this episode is that this is the first we’ve actually seen the Doctor, even though his influence has driven everything we’ve seen in the episode thus far. The Doctor gets the clerics and Monks to start fighting against each other, but it doesn’t last for long. The Colonel starts to get the situation back under control by having everyone chant “we are not fools.”

Just when things seem to start going south for the Doctor and crew, the Doctor’s massive army appears, consisting of more Silurians, Jidoon, and all manner of beasties. Danny Boy, the Doctor’s fighter pilot buddy from series 5’s “Victory of the Daleks,” takes out the communications ray. The eyepatch lady tries to escape Demon’s Run with Melody, but Rory appears, armed with a sword. The fact that the space pirates from episode three have taken over the eyepatch lady’s ship doesn’t help her cause, either. The Doctor revels in his victory a bit (perhaps a bit too much), giving a big speech where he tells the Colonel that he should take his troops and runaway, and history should remember him as Colonel Runaway. The eyepatch lady interrupts, and after planting the thought in the Doctor’s head that he’s really not good, she tells the Colonel to go ahead with the retreat as the Doctor requested.

Rory finds Amy, and when he appears in the room where she has been waiting, he’s holding Melody. There’s a very tearful Williams-Pond family reunion naturally. And the Doctor isn’t too far behind. Melody seems to take a shine to him right away, probably because the Doctor, naturally, “speaks baby.” The Silurian detective says that all the clerics and other enemies are leaving Demon’s Run, and not a drop of blood has been spilled. She says this is the highest the Doctor has ever climbed, which gives Rory pause given what River told him. They all start arguing over what Melody needs, and the Doctor says she’s tired and finds a cradle for her to use. It turns out that it used to be his cradle when he was a baby Time Lord.

Once Melody is down for her nap, the Doctor talks to the Silurian and Dorian. They want to know if Melody is human. Scans of her that were done by the eyepatch lady show she has a combination of human and Time Lord DNA. Meawhile, Lorna arrives on the scene and warns of a trap that has been set. When her motives are questioned, considering she’s a cleric and all, she says she joined the clerics because it seemed like the best chance for her to see the Doctor again. She says that the Headless Monks are approaching, and they don’t register as life forms, which explains why they’re so stealth. The Silurian interrogates the Doctor about when Melody was conceived. There doesn’t seem to be any belief that the Doctor could be the father, but apparently Time Lords were first created through some sort of interaction with the time vortex. It turns out Melody was conceived on Rory and Amy’s wedding night, when they would have been in the time vortex. The Silurian says that the clerics et al want her for a weapon. The idea that he himself could be viewed as a weapon upsets the Doctor. Then he realizes that Melody is the little girl in the space suit from the series opening two-parter.

That’s when everything starts to go crazy. The eyepatch lady appears on a screen, and she says there’s hope in the war against the Doctor. At that moment, a forcefield goes up around the TARDIS. The all-out battle begins to rage, and the casualties are numerous. The first casualty is Dorian. The eyepatch lady mentions fooling the Doctor twice, and the Doctor, realizing that things are even worse than they seem, runs for Amy. While he’s running, baby Melody, who was actually a Flesh doppelganger, disintegrates in Amy’s arms. The Sontaran nurse is the next to die. Rory, trying to comfort him, says he’s a warrior, but the Sontaran says he’s just a nurse. Rory looks pensive, wondering if he, as a nurse as well, should really be gallivanting across the universe. Lorna is the next to die, and the Doctor comforts her while it happens. He says he remembers her, but it turns out he really doesn’t. Matts performance in this scene reminded me very much of David Tennant- I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was the Tenth Doctor’s quiet, seething reaction to violence done in his name that was evoked here.

Finally, River makes her appearance. The Doctor is extremely angry at her for not helping sooner, considering he always is there when she needs help. River warns him that he’s heading in a very dangerous direction. There’s one culture that has adopted the word “doctor” to mean warrior instead of healer thanks to the way he’s been acting. They look at the Doctor’s cradle, and the Doctor suddenly realizes who River truly is. He’s all giddy about it, and he runs off in the TARDIS. River then shows Rory and Amy the prayer leaf. The closest translation to “Melody Pond” (Amy though using her own surname made the baby sound like a superhero) in the language of Lorna’s people is “River Song.” River is Amy and Rory’s daughter. And I’ll leave you with that bit of knowledge until this weekend when I recap “Let’s Kill Hitler,” which kicks off the second half of series 6.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

True Blood 4.09: "Let's Get Out of Here"

“There have been times, I’ll admit, when it’s occurred to me that maybe I should put my career on hold and become a maker, but these last several hours here with you have erased those doubts forever.”

To be honest, I found this week’s episode of “True Blood” to be a bit boring. We’re getting so close to the season finale, so everything should be barreling forward full steam ahead, but really, not a lot of consequence happened. It was more everybody preparing for what’s coming next, much like last episode was. I think that in a desire to end every episode on a cliffhanger (which is part of what made “True Blood” season 1 awesome, by the way), the writers may have fallen into a pattern of having 45 minutes of filler just to lead up to the cliffhanger moments at the end of each episode. It’s not working for me, which is a shame, because as I’ve said multiple times before here on MTVP, “Dead to the World,” upon which this season of “True Blood” is very loosely based, is my favorite of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books. I’ve been looking forward to this season ever since I read the book in February 2009 (when I was stranded with an overheated car engine on the coldest day of the year in what turned out to be a rather creepy small town), so this season overall has been quite the disappointment to me. Well, look at it this way, at least after you’re done reading this (if you even keep reading), you’ll only have to put up with my probably almost identical rants another three times before the season is over and I let it go.

This episode begins moments after the last one ended. Alcide is taking a badly injured Sookie away from the graveyard battle. Bill escapes from the witches trying to silver him, and he takes Sookie away from Alcide at top speed. That just pissed me off because I’m sick of the show seeming to deify Bill. He’s kind of a creep in the books, and every time that creepiness starts to surface on the show, it gets smacked down again. Bill is really concerned, because Sookie doesn’t seem to be taking his blood. Later, Sookie does eventually recover and regain consciousness, and of course the first thing she does is ask about Eric. Bill says he’s go look for Eric as soon as possible, but Alcide is pissed. I don’t really understand why. He knew full well that Sookie and Eric had something going on. He saw them going on, come to think of it. Nevertheless, he says he’s completely done with helping Sookie and storms out. He gets home and crawls into bed with Debbie, who was just pretending to be asleep. Her eyes start to glow, which is really freaky.

Back at the Moon Goddess emporium, Antonia!Marnie demonstrates her control over Eric to the other witches. They think that’s pretty darn cool. Marnie quickly loses support, however, when she starts talking about bringing Eric to the big Festival of Tolerance that Nan Flannigan is planning. The other witches seem to think that antagonizing the vampires like that is going a bit too far. Marnie doesn’t take kindly to dissent, and she locks everyone in the store. Now they finally start to get truly freaked out. As for the Festival of Tolerance, Nan is in town for the event, and Jessica is at Bill’s house completely loading all her personal Hoyt/Jason troubles on her. It’s hilarious because Nan could really care less and doesn’t want to be bothered. Bill finally arrives at home and saves her from having to hear Jessica babble about her love life. They all have to silver themselves in for the day, and while they’re lying in the prison cell, Bill and Nan get into a bit of a snit over the Festival. Bill thinks the Festival is a bad idea, but Nan is determined to see it through.

Tommy is at Merlotte’s writing a goodbye letter to Sam when Marcus stops by, looking for trouble. He tells Tommy that he has a message for Sam. He wants to meet Sam to hash out their disagreement (which will probably involve a big fight. Tommy takes the message, but it’s obvious that all is not going to go as Marcus planned. Sam is out of town, for one thing. After Marcus left, Sam offered to take Luna and Emma on a camping trip to “get back to nature” and clear their heads, essentially. It seems to go well, with Sam shifting into a bunny and delighting Emma (one of the better moments of the episode). Meanwhile, Alcide tells Marcus he wants to move up in the pack. Marcus says he can start by acting as muscle during this planned meeting with Sam. Alcide somewhat reluctantly agrees once he’s assured he won’t actually have to fight. Later on, there’s a scene of Sam and Luna having sex in their camping tent intercut with Tommy skinwalking as Sam confronting the werewolves. After fighting for a bit, Tommy shifts back into himself, and all the werewolves realize he’s Sam’s brother. Alcide, who seems to be the only werewolf not inclined towards violence, carries Tommy outside.

The morning after kicking Jessica out, Hoyt wakes up hung over, with the destruction that is his house around him. He starts boxing up all of Jessica’s stuff in a box that says “For you, Monster.” Things get crazy when Lafayette, still possessed and holding Mikey, barges into his house. I guess the house used to be the ghost’s house, because Lafayette says it’s his house, and he points a gun at Hoyt to make him leave. Meanwhile, Arlene and Terry are reporting Mikey’s disappearance to Andy and Jason. In the middle of this, Hoyt calls Jason to say what happened with Lafayette. Hoyt needs a pair of pants since he had to run outside unexpectedly, and Andy says he’ll go upstairs and get a pair (Terry and Arlene have been staying at his house). He ends up taking a hit of V instead, not surprisingly.

We’ll take an interlude from the Lafayette drama (this episode’s main plot) to talk a little bit about some silliness going on with Sookie. Sookie is now under the influence of Bill’s blood in addition to Eric’s, and she has quite the dream about it. Bill and Eric fight over her in the dream, which I thought was hilarious. It’s one of the few moments that sort of felt like the books, where Sookie’s never-ending parade of suitors is an ongoing joke that I find quite amusing. Sookie sits both vampires down in the living room for a chat, and she proposes that both of them should be “hers.” They protest a bit, but Sookie makes the argument that there shouldn’t be a double standard when a woman wants to date multiple people. Things are just about to move into threesome territory when Sookie (thankfully) wakes up.

Anyway, back at Hoyt’s house, there’s a big showdown with Lafayette, and Lafayette is winning because he threatens to shoot the gun any time anybody gests to close to the house. Andy holds down Terry to keep him from trying to go into the house, and Terry is surprised that Andy is so strong. Jason correctly guesses that Andy is still using V. The useful part of Andy’s V use quickly wears off, and Jason has to take over because Andy is on a trip. Lucky for Jason, Jesus arrives to help. He goes inside the house and manages to get through to Mavis (the ghost possessing Lafayette). Mavis agrees to stop causing so much havoc on one condition. She wants to see her actual baby one last time. Jesus agrees and offers to help. He has her go through what happened yet again, and she remembers where the baby was probably buried. She then gives Mikey back to a very grateful Arlene and Terry. The guys all start digging under a tree in earnest looking for the baby, and Hoyt eventually finds both the baby and Mavis’ bodies. Mavis!Lafayette holds the baby’s skeleton, and Jesus says a spell to take Mavis’ spirit out of Lafayette. Everyone sees Mavis’ ghost as she heads off into the beyond, and I want to know when “True Blood” turned into “Ghost Whisperer.”

While all this ghost silliness is going on, Debbie, who has fallen off the wagon and is again using V, stops by Sookie’s house. Instead of being threatening, she actually offers to help in the Vampire/Witch conflict. Sookie does her mindreading thing and believes Debbie is being truthful. I’m doubtful, though. Debbie is pretty crazy, after all. Next time we see Debbie, she’s at the Moon Goddess Emorium, and she pledges the Shreveport Pack’s support to Marnie. This actually isn’t a direct betrayal. It’s a nice distraction while Sookie breaks into the shop from the back. Sookie finds Eric, who says, while clearly brainwashed, that Sookie should leave and that he has to kill the King. Then Tara shows up and points a gun at Sookie. Debbie rats out Sookie to Marnie, and all Hell breaks loose. Marnie tells Tara to hold Sookie, but Sookie hears Tara thinking that everyone is being held hostage and that Sookie should charge her. Sookie does so and gets away. Then she tells a rather disappointed Debbie to drive her to the hotel where Bill is for the rally. Marnie leaves for the rally with Eric and one witch, and she locks everyone else in the Emporium. Boils break out on the hands of anyone who tries to open a door, which is just plain gross.

While all this craziness is going on, Jason is helping Hoyt fix up his house from the devastation Hoyt himself caused. Hoyt asks Jason to deliver what he’s calling the “Monster Box” (aka the box of Jessica’s stuff) to Jessica. Jason hesitates, because he knows bad things could happen if he spends too much time around Jessica, but Hoyt keeps pressing, and so Jason agrees. Jason arrives at Bill’s house and hands the box off to Jessica. She asks him to come inside, but Jason refuses. But then next thing you know, they’re having sex in the back of Jason’s truck. Those two are the height of class, right? I’m sure things are not going to be great between Jason and Hoyt once Hoyt finds out. Major violation of the Bro Code there, Jason!

The tolerance rally is kind of lame, really. The only vampires are Bill, Nan, and one other vampire who is introduced by her still-human younger sister. There are however, a whole lot of humans. Nan makes a comment about how civil rights rallies might not have been so violent if there hadn’t been many African Americans there, and I’m not really sure what to make of that. Marnie uses Eric as a lure to get four additional vampires working security at the rally under her control. Those vampires do some killing, which starts mass panic at the rally. Eric is getting closer to Bill just as Sookie arrives and yells for Bill to run. Here’s hoping the beginning of next week’s episode is actually exciting as a result.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Torchwood 4.07: "Miracle Day: Immortal Sins"

So, as you could probably tell, things have been a bit delayed on the blog this past week. I actually do have a legitimate excuse this time, though- I moved to a new apartment last weekend. Anyway, Sarah agreed to help me catch up by blogging this past Friday's episode of "Torchwood," which happens to be the first really good episode in this otherwise disappointing series. Enjoy!


“I suffer and I perish but I always come back. I’ve lived through a lot of Earth’s past and a lot of its future and I’ll keep living this life forever. I’m sorry Angelo, but this is the story of my life. It always ends the same way; you kill me. Men like you kill me.”
- Jack

Let me just start off by saying this felt like the first “real” episode of “Torchwood” since episode 1 of this season. It just felt right. It had aliens and our core members of Torchwood and honestly, I can’t say I really missed Esther or Rex in the least. Or Oswald and Jilly for that matter (side note: this was the second episode in a row we had zero of their storyline [ed. note: hooray for that!]). Anyway, let’s dive in.

We find ourselves on Ellis Island in 1927. A man is calling out Jack’s name, and a young Italian claims the visa. Before he can take two steps from the teller’s desk, the real Jack Harkness (well okay so he’s not the REAL Jack Harkness- he died in World War II and our Jack assumed his identity) races through the hall and tackles the Italian man. We have a brief beat where Jack has pinned the man down on the floor beneath him and it reminds me of the scene in “Fragments” where Jack and Ianto end up on the ground after fighting the pterodactyl and they nearly kiss. Anyway, Jack gets his visa and the other guy gets tossed in a cell to await deportation. But Jack’s got time to kill until the next boat to Manhattan, so he visits our young Italian and we learn his name is Angelo and he’s from a small village in Italy where he learned English. Jack whips out his vortex manipulator (stop calling it a wrist strap damn it) and uses it to forge a visa with Angelo’s name on it to get him out of the cell. It seems Jack has found himself a hot Italian (Amy Pond would be pleased).

Back in the present, we get a rehash of the end of last week’s episode in the airport bathroom with Gwen finding out someone’s got her family and that they want Jack in return. We see her calling Rhys and her mom frantically, and then we cut to LA where Esther and Rex are in mission control. Esther is watching the footage of Vera burning, and she and Rex have a little chat about Vera. Esther says people are holding memorial services for her, and Rex tries to brush it off that he really didn’t know Vera all that well. This is the most we have of the two junior leaguers until the very end of the episode. Gwen bursts in looking for Jack and after not really acknowledging Esther and Rex’s existence, gets Jack out to her car where she promptly tasers him and drives off.

We’re back in 1927, and Jack and Angelo have gotten a room together in Manhattan run by a seemingly nice Italian lady. There’s a little confusion about the fact that there’s two of them and only one bed, but Angelo says he’ll sleep on the floor. Once their landlady leaves, Jack tells Angelo to save his money (yay for predicting the stock market crash) and makes vague statements about the future. Angelo then spots a young woman across the terrace, and we have what is likely the most erotic scene ever in Torchwood (even more so than the alien sex gas episode). Jack asks Angelo what he wants to do the girl and when Angelo asks Jack to tell him instead, Jack gets into it in pretty graphic detail. Clothes ripping, hot kisses and pretty soon Jack and Angelo are buck naked going at it (I know the BBC has some restrictions on what they can show but come on, all we got when Jack and Ianto were together was that one scene in “Adrift” where Gwen walks in on them shirtless). Later that evening, Jack and Angelo are cuddling in bed when Angelo asks how Jack knew he was gay. Jack says it is from experience (you got that right Mr. I’ll-Do-Anything-With-A-Zipcode) but that no one else can tell so long as he (Angelo) doesn’t want them to know. The conversation then turns to Angelo’s first lover (a boy from his village), and Angelo gets horribly offended when Jack asks if he had a relationship with his school master. Jack apologies and pretty soon Angelo is freaking out over what he thinks is bombs. It turns out to be fireworks. It’s the fourth of July.

We’re back in the car with Gwen and Jack and he’s just come round. Jack kind of panics when he realizes he’s tied down, but Gwen explains she’s got the I5’s in and that someone’s taken her family and they want Jack in return. Jack gets Gwen to look into the rearview mirror so he can talk to whoever is telling Gwen what to do, and he tells them to let Gwen’s family go because they’ve got him. And then Gwen gets on him about not remembering her mother’s name and that he’s obviously done something in his past that has led to the current situation, and she demands that he think and tell her what he’s done to screw up her life now.

We’re back in New York, and Angelo and Jack are meeting a priest in a church. Jack slips off into the confessional and rambles on a bit about all the naughty things his done and then drops Father Timothy‘s name and they get escorted to the back room. It seems Jack and Angelo are bootleggers. And before they get too far, they’re dragged off to meet a mobster, Sal Maranzano, who doesn’t like them encroaching on his turf. But then it turns out Mr. Mob wants them to steal a crate from a warehouse. They are not to look inside. Jack says they’ll do it, and they head back to their apartment.

Back in the car Gwen says that all she was told was to drive east. Jack tries to get her to tell him the exact words they used to try and pinpoint where they came from, but she says it all sounded fine (and he makes a comment that she’s Welsh and wouldn’t notice if the vowels were missing). And then Jack takes a chance and says he can recode his vortex manipulator to Gwen’s DNA to find Anwen. Gwen believes it for a second but then calls his bluff when she realizes she’d have to untie Jack. Gwen gets a message in the I5’s that Jack is a liar and she completely agrees.

Back in the apartment in New York, Jack is packing Angelo’s things. He says that Angelo needs to get out of town because it’s too dangerous and having his name on the mob’s “list” isn’t safe. But Angelo makes a case for staying, saying that he doesn’t see how knowing more of Jack’s little secrets could change his life more than it has changed already. And Angelo admits that he feels guilty about the things they do together but it doesn’t stop him from being a willing participant. And he thinks that maybe, if God is love, then God loves him, too. Jack says that maybe Angelo can stay. He makes mention of the Doctor (yay for Who-verse references!) and how it looks nice to travel with someone. The next night, they break in to the warehouse like they were told and Jack figures out what’s going on. There’s a parasitic alien being stored that releases larvae into the brain and it makes people go crazy. It’s being used by The Trickster’s Brigade (might have some relation to the Trickster from the “Sarah Jane Adventures”- “Doctor Who” has Daleks as the recurring Big Bad and “SJA” had the Trickster). Jack shoots the parasite and liquefies it, and they take off. Unfortunately they’re cornered by some cops and Angelo watches as Jack is shot dead. Of course, at this point Jack is immortal so he just comes around a few minutes later after the cops have driven away and walks off.

We’re back in 2011 in the car, and now Gwen is blaming herself for what’s happened. She says that she knew Torchwood was dangerous but that she joined it because she loved the thrill. She loved that when they lost people, it made her feel like a survivor and that she had purpose and power. Gwen says that she’ll see Jack killed to get Anwen back and Jack says he’ll fight it to hang on to his mortality and basically says he’d kill Gwen before he let her take his life.

It’s been a year since Angelo saw Jack die, and when he gets out of prison, he finds Jack waiting for him. Jack tries to gloss over the fact he was dead by saying he was playing dead. Angelo’s attitude towards Jack has changed. Jack makes little sexual comments and Angelo kind of freaks out. Jack tells Angelo he came back for him and that he’d never done that before (I guess that’s another connection to Ianto). After the craziness of Doctor Who series 3 finale, Jack went back to Ianto and Gwen and company and it could be that he did it because of Angelo. Jack says he’s gotten the same apartment in the city, and they head back there. It seems to be going okay at first until Angelo flashes back to the night Jack was shot and ends up stabbing Jack a couple times (enough to kill him). And then we get a rather horrific and violent montage of all these people stabbing Jack and beating him and each and every time he comes back to life. It was horrific and so very “Torchwood.”

Jack finally comes around to see three men standing in front of him and they say they are going to share him. Very creepy indeed. Finally, Angelo comes to lets Jack go. He says that he just panicked and it all got out of control. He denies knowing anything about the three men that agreed to own Jack but is willing to help him escape. They head to the roof, and Jack pulls out his awesome WWII coat (okay so at that time he probably wasn’t actually wearing it in his timeline, but I love the coat). Jack explains that he’s a fixed point in time and that he can’t ever die (I will say I was a tiny bit irked it didn’t follow the timeline as Jack living through the 20th century again happened before the events of series 3 three-part finale). And then Jack tells Angelo that men like him always kill Jack and he dives off the roof. By the time Angelo gets to the street, Jack’s gone.

Gwen and Jack have reached their destination and they are waiting for whoever has Gwen’s family to show up. Gwen is rather emotional and asks Jack how many children he had and to tell her about his life. He tells her about a fire bird that only lives for a minute. It sounds nice anyway. They arrive and in short order Gwen and Jack are backed up by Esther and Rex (they checked the I5 memory cache and went after Gwen) and in Cardiff, Andy rescues Rhys and Anwen and Mary. It seems like all is well and Jack says he’s not going with the woman who showed up [ed. note: who is played by Nana Visitor, aka Kira Nerys from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!”], but she disagrees. She says that he’ll go with her because she’s going to take him to the man who knows how the miracle happened- Angelo.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer DVR Dump: Doctor Who 6.06: "The Almost People"

"I expect chocolate for breakfast. If you don't feel sick by mid-morning, you're not doing it right."
-The Doctor

The conclusion to the second two-parter of series six was pretty much just as disappointing as the first part. There was a lot of running around the monestary and Flesh and humans saying hateful things about each other, but not really a whole lot of consequence. Really the only interesting thing about the entire episode is the twist at the end, and I really think that it wasn’t worth two rather plodding episodes to get to that point. Overall, I wasn’t very impressed, and considering this was a two-parter, that’s really not good at all. I think the biggest problem, bigger than the stuff I’ve already alluded to, is that I didn’t really connect with any of the guest characters. I didn’t care about Cleaves’ blood clot in her brain, and I didn’t really care about Jennifer’s apparently troubled past. I cared slightly about the worker who had a sun, but bringing kids in is a pretty blatant emotional ploy, so that’s really to be expected. The best Doctor Who episodes, both one and two-parter, have memorable guest characters. And Moffat has written some of the best in the past, like Sally Sparrow in “Blink” and Miss Evangelista in “Silence in the Library.” It’s a shame he couldn’t make sure the same quality was kept up here.

The episode opens in the aftermath of the big reveal that the Doctor has a doppelganger. Flesh!Doctor is struggling to cope with his past regenerations, and he says some old catch phrases, such as talking about Jelly Babies. I was very sad he didn’t say any Tenth Doctor catch phrases like “allons-y” or “molto bene.” Even a Ninth Doctor “fantastic” would have made me a bit happy. There’s banging on the door of the room where everyone is gathered. The Flesh doppelgangers are wearing the acid suits, and they’re trying to get into the room. While this threat is materializing, the two Doctors are having a happy conversation among themselves. While this was a bad episode overall, Matt certainly gave it his all in this scene at least. Watching the two Doctors interact was a lot of fun. The Doctor has an ego on him, so interacting with himself is always going to be rather epic. The Doctors and the humans need to get to yet another controller unit of some type to send out a distress call, and they have to go through choking gas to get there. Because that’s so healthy.

Elsewhere at the factory, the Flesh doppelgangers are having a pow wow about what to do next. Jennifer wants a full-out revolution. She thinks they can get some of the many ‘gangers in India on their side. The rest of the group doesn’t seem quite so enthusiastic (or belligerent). Cleaves, for one, just wants to go home. I found that surprising considering how she got kind of belligerent in the last episode. Eventually, though, Jennifer wins the debate. She claims that she has a plan to “destroy them all.”

The Doctors, meanwhile, are working on fixing a control panel, and they’re finishing each other’s sentences as they do so. Amy is kind of skeptical of this whole doppelganger Doctor deal, though, She thinks that Flesh!Doctor is “almost the Doctor and not the real thing. Both Doctors seem kind of offended by that, understandably. They’re both fighting for the idea that Flesh and humans can coexist, after all. Anyway, the communications panel is finally fixed, and Cleaves uses it to call the mainland and request evacuation. She tells the dispatcher that any further orders from her need to come with a password, which she types but doesn’t actually say. She does that to try and have some security against eavesdropping ‘gangers, and that turns out to be a valid concern. The ‘gangers are indeed listening in on the transmission.

Once the transmission is made, the Doctor starts scanning the factory for Rory. The Doctor also says he needs to make a phone call. While the Doctor is preoccupied with his call, Amy sees a window slide open in a door again, with the eyepatch lady peeking through. She tells the Doctor what she saw, but he tells her it’s nothing. One of the Doctors leaves the room, and Amy, thinking it’s Flesh!Doctor, follows to apologize about the “almost” comment. Then she slips up and says that she’s seen the Doctor die. The Doctor freaks out at this comment, and starts going on about how ‘gangers die every day (when they’re decommissioned), and all they can say when it happens is “why?” Amy runs off, presumably a bit scared about the Doctor’s reaction. The purported Flesh!Doctor tells the rest of the group that the Flesh is in pain and wants revenge. This makes him seem a bit sketchy to the rest of the group, and they want him to go sit on the other side of the room.

Rory finds what he thinks are both Jennifers (human and ‘ganger). They try to confuse Rory about who is the “real” Jennifer. They start fighting (an all-out knock-down-drag-out fight), and Flesh!Jen slips in a puddle of acid and disintegrates. It’s pretty gross. The Doctor sees Rory and Jennifer on a video screen. Amy wants to go get Rory, but the Doctor says he’ll do it, and he’ll take one of the workers with him. Rory and Jennifer go into a thermostatic chamber to “stir the oxygen.” Jennifer has Rory put his hand on the security device, which made me (rightfully) doubt she was human. Rory turns a wheel, and the temperature of the factory starts rising and things start shaking. Cleaves tries to radio a change in the rescue shuttle request, but she gets cut off before she can say the code word. ‘Ganger Cleaves guesses the code word (since she is the same person, after all) and has the shuttle rerouted to the courtyard.

After “stirring oxygen,” Jennifer shows Rory a pile of discarded ‘gangers. They’re kind of jelly-like, and they have vague outlines of faces. Rory is rightfully horrified. He thinks the rest of the world needs to see what is going on. You can’t stop the signal! Meanwhile, the Doctor finds the “real” Jennifer, and she has just died of some pretty extensive injuries. So yeah, those two Jennifers who were fighting earlier? They were both Flesh. One of the human workers fins ‘ganger Jen and accuses her of murder. She kills him too. Real ray of sunshine, that one is. I’m kind of not thrilled we share the same name.

The Doctor is looking at yet another controller panel, and it’s looking really bad. Everyone needs to get out of the factory ASAP. The Doctors/Human group finally finds Rory, and he tells them he has found a secret tunnel out of the monastery. Next thing we know, one of the Doctors wakes up to see that he’s surrounded by ‘gangers. Rory locks the rest of the group up too, as part of his plan to make a statement about the treatment of ‘gangers. Jennifer is with him, of course, and eventually, Rory realizes she’s a ganger too. He’s pretty pissed off about it. The Doctor doesn’t seem especially phased by their predicament. He just starts saying “ring ring.” The call that he placed earlier finally goes through. It’s from the son of one of the workers. That worker’s ganger runs off rather than be faced with thinking of his counterpart’s family. ‘Ganger Cleaves is having second thoughts about the revenge plan too, but Jennifer is still very gung ho about it. The Doctor says she is better than that, but Jennifer runs off.

Jimmy, the worker with the son, gets killed by some acid, and his ‘ganger finally has to be th dad and talk to the kid on the phone. It’s the kid’s birthday, after all, and he’s emotionally manipulative and cute as a button. Jennifer is all totally monster-ed out, and the group, human and Flesh alike, are trying to hold some doors closed to keep her from attacking. The TARDIS appears, and almost everyone starts running for it. One of the Doctors, ‘Ganger Cleaves, and Amy are still holding the door. Amy thinks it’s the real Doctor who is staying behind, but it turns out that it’s the Flesh!Doctor. The two Doctors changed their shoes. Amy feels pretty darn sheepish about that. Once everyone else is safely in the TARDIS, Flesh!Doctor and ‘Ganger Cleaves let go of the door, and ‘Ganger Cleaves uses the sonic screwdriver to disintegrate Jennifer. Unfortunately, it disintegrates ‘Ganger Cleaves and Flesh!Doctor, too.

The Doctor takes Cleaves and one of the now stabilized ‘ganger workers to their company’s headquarters so they can speak out about Flesh mistreatment. He gives them a little pep talk before they head into the boardroom, and it looks like they may be able to make some positive change. Back on the TARDIS, Amy starts feeling some severe abdominal pain. The Doctor says she’s having contractions. This doesn’t make sense until the Doctor further reveals that she’s actually Flesh. It’s the “real” Amy who is having contractions, and Flesh!Amy is feeling them through their neural link, I presume. The Doctor disintegrates Flesh!Amy as Rory looks on, rather bewildered. We then see where Amy really is. She’s in a metal bed locked in some sort of cell. The creepy eyepatch lady starts telling her to push. I don’t love the fact that Amy is a damsel in distress yet again, but that’s a rant for another day.

Summer TV Rewind: Robin Hood 1.10: "Peace? Off!"

Sarah's here again with another write-up of the BBC's "Robin Hood." Enjoy!


“There will be no peace in here, until there is peace out there.”
- Harold

We begin in Locksley, where a man is running and stacking wood in front of the church. It quickly becomes obvious that he’s trying to burn down the church. He seems to have succeeded when the villagers see him, and after they beat him to the ground, they attempt to drown him. But Robin arrives and saves the man’s life. The man appears to fight and act like a Crusader, and Robin barks out a couple commands that get the man onto Robin’s horse. They get back to camp, and the rest of gang is unsure of what to do with their new addition. He doesn’t speak much, and he’s just staring straight ahead. He’s got Eastern markings on his chest (like tattoos), but Djaq says she doesn’t know what they are. Robin puts Much in charge of caring for the man.

In Nottingham, Gisborne is watching Marian with her horse, a bit jealous in fact. They’re apparently still in argument land from the Lambert incident. The Sheriff makes comment that Gisborne should just give her a gift since all women can be bought. And then he heads off to dine with his latest guest, a Saracen. That’s new! Gisborne heeds the Sheriff’s advice and gives Marian a new horse. She’s hesitant to accept given how expensive it is, but he says money is no issue. So she rides off to put the horse through its paces.

Meanwhile, Robin, Little John, Allan and Will find a really ornate cart in the woods. Pretty soon John and Allan are freaking out, as there’s a creepy mask with arrows sticking out of it that Robin finds amusing. He can’t believe everyone else is freaking out over it. Back at camp, Much is teaching his new ward to cook and names him Harold. Harold seems to be doing okay until Robin arrives with the mask and Djaq gets hold of it. Something clicks in Harold’s head and he attacks her. John saves her by throwing a rock at his head.

In Nottingham, the Sheriff is sitting down a meal of brain of goat with his new guest. [ed. note: sounds tasty…or not] It looks absolutely revolting and I have a feeling the Saracen doesn’t really eat it either. They’re apparently doing some work together, and the Saracen is getting impatient that they can’t begin their work.

Little John refuses to leave the camp to go pull the wagon out of the mud. He’s sitting beneath a cross on a tree, scared out of his mind. Robin tells Will to go to Nottingham and see if he can find out who the guest is to help assuage John’s fears. Meanwhile, Robin’s paying Marian a visit to ask her to do the same thing. Don’t quite know why when he’s already sent Will. But I guess we needed our little conversation that devolves into Robin griping about the latest thing Gisborne’s done to impress her. But like always, she agrees to do what she can.

Harold comes to in a makeshift cage of branches, and he and Much bond a little over their time in the Holy Land. Clearly it’s affected Harold more than Much. He didn’t really do much fighting. Much starts to release Harold from the cage, but Harold insists it is safer for him to stay inside. He’s too dangerous otherwise. Meanwhile, at the castle, Marian brings a basket of apples to give to the guest and learns via Gisborne that the guest doesn’t like that kind of food. She manages to find out he’s a Saracen (she hears him during prayers). The next morning, the sheriff is awoken very early by the Saracen. He wants to go find his carriage. So, he, Gisborne and some men go and find it. And the Saracen is promptly kidnapped by Robin. And it turns out he’s not just some random guy. He’s a Prince. He’s here to broker peace with Prince John and the Sheriff. Yeah, that’s not happening.

And the Prince doesn’t know that he’s really a hostage. He storms back to Nottingham and the Sheriff continues to play nice. Back in the woods, Djaq has made a concoction that allows Harold to sleep, but he doesn’t want to take it after a few doses. He says it’s not sleep. And he deserves to die and go to hell for what he’s done. He was captured and tortured until he killed his own men. Robin works out that the Prince is a hostage when Marian arrives to share her intelligence, albeit it’s old news now.

Robin and company ends up finding what they believe is the ransom. There are four women doing what appear to be prayers of some kind. Djaq insists they’re assassins and Robin doesn’t believe her. Until he sees the women in action. Yeah, don’t piss off the chicks with pointy throwing stars. The Prince is growing even more impatient in Nottingham. He wants to get negotiations underway. But, he gets locked up for his trouble. So now Robin is planning a rescue. The rest of the gang is iffy about it, but they aren’t going to let the assassins kill the Prince (the ladies don’t do rescues, apparently). Harold wants to help, and it seems he’s going to be able to stop the assassins.

The assassins and their escort arrive, and the Prince gets a brief visit. He begins to freak out and is dragged to the Great Hall. He knows what’s coming. And the Sheriff and Gisborne get more than they were expecting. The assassins attack and they barely escape. The escort corners the Sheriff, but Robin shoots him. All hell breaks loose and the Sheriff temporarily joins forces with Robin to protect the Prince. We get a really awesome fight sequence (well that’s to be expected on “Robin Hood”). In the end, Harold manages to stop all the assassins. The Prince is heading back to the Holy Land, and he takes Harold with him, but not before using the mask to help his mind

Friday, August 19, 2011

Summer DVR Dump: Doctor Who 6.05: "The Rebel Flesh"

“Yes, it's insane. And it's about to get even more insanerer. Is that a word?”
-The Doctor

Let’s just get this out in the open from the beginning. I was not a fan of this two-part episode of Doctor Who, neither this part nor “The Almost People.” I just didn’t think there was a ton of substance to this story, and the whole thing seemed to just be designed to lead to a big reveal about Amy at the end. Worst of all, when I was watching it, I was bored. I really think that this story could have been told in one episode, and splitting it into two was a stretch. Conversely, I think the story told in episode 7, “A Good Man Goes to War,” have been plausibly stretched to two episodes. So what was done with the pacing in the final stretch of the first half-season was fairly contrary to the depth of story they had available. I found this disappointing, because since Stephen Moffat is head writer for “Doctor Who” now (although he didn’t write these two episodes, I imagine his influence is strong in all of them), and he wrote the two-parter against which all other two-parters are measured in the modern era of Doctor Who, “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances way back in series 1. Anyway, let’s get the rest of this write-up over with. I’m instilling in you such anticipation for my writing, aren’t I gentle reader?

This episode overall has a very industrial feel in the tradition of “The Impossible Planet”/”The Satan Pit” from series 2 and “42” from series 3. We haven’t really visited this type of environment in the Moffat era, and now I understand why. I don’t think it really plays to his strengths. Moffat’s greatest contributions to the Whoverse have all involved making mundane things really freaking creepy, like the kid in the gas mask or a Victorian statue of a weeping angel. This story, on the other hand, was just plain odd, and much more in the vein of speculative fiction. Anyway, the episode opens with a scene of people in hazard/space suits at some sort of industrial facility. One of the people falls into a huge vat and appears to disintegrate, but what is strange is that none of the others seem especially upset about it. They talk about how the accident is going to cost a lot of money, but at least no one was hurt. It is apparent later in the episode just how this can be.

Meanwhile, on the TARDIS, Amy and Rory seem to be having a grand old time. They’re listening to loud music and playing darts. The Doctor, however, is much more subdued (well, as subdued as Matt Smith can get). He’s still looking at the scan of Amy that keeps switching back and forth between “pregnant” and “not pregnant.” He tries to send Amy and Rory away on a vacation of sorts while he takes care of some other business (perhaps investigating what the heck is going on with Amy), but Amy isn’t having it. She wants to stick with the Docotr, presumably because she still hopes to prevent his death. While they’re arguing, the TARDIS starts to get pulled by something, and everything gets chaotic. They land by a monastery on an island, but they quickly realize, when they hear some modern music, that they aren’t in the past.

Some sort of industrial work appears to be going on under the monastery, and the gang decides to investigate. Whatever is happening appears to involve pumping acid. I’m not sure if the acid is the byproduct of some industrial process or if they’re harvesting the acid for some other purpose. They go inside, and pretty soon, an alarm goes off and they’re surrounded by surly people wanting to defend the facility. The Doctor and company notice that they’re also surrounded by people hooked up to machines, kind of like “The Matrix.” The Doctor tells their captors that it looks like the facility barely escaped the last solar wave to hit it, and another is on the way. We also learn that this story is taking place in the 22nd Century. Doctor Who doesn’t do near future stories very often, so that makes me even a little more disappointed that the opportunity was squandered on this particular story.

The Doctor gets to look at a vat like the one seen at the beginning of the episode, and we learn how the same people can both be guarding the facility and hooked up to machines. The vat is filled with something called “the Flesh.” It’s “fully programmable matter.” Acid harvesting is a dangerous job, and many of the workers were dying. To cut down on the loss of life, they use the Flesh to create doppelgangers, and the doppelgangers, controlled by the “real” people in the machines, do the most dangerous work. The Doctor scans the vat of Flesh, and it starts to bubble. One of the bubbles touches his hand, which is a Chekhov’s gun if I ever saw one. We get to see the process of doppelganger creation when Cleaves, who is sort of the commander of the group, tells Jennifer, one of the workers, that she needs to get into her doppelganger for safety purposes. A ganger first emerging from the Flesh looks like a cross between Lady Cassandra, aka “The Last Human,” from series 1 an 2 and the Sontaran cloning solution from series 4.

There’s a debate among the group about whether to seek shelter from the coming solar wave or keep working. The Doctor thinks they should seek shelter, of course, but Cleaves disagrees. The Doctor takes a look at some of the facility’s controls, and then he decides he needs to look at this weathervane thing outside. While he’s outside, the solar wave comes rolling in, and the monastery is hit badly. Acid starts to leak, which is definitely a bad thing. Even worse, the Doctor gets thrown from the tower with the weathervane as power surges are happening everywhere. The Doctor eventually comes to and learns that everyone was unconscious for a little while, maybe an hour. This concerns the Doctor, because he knows that things can go very wrong in an hour. Amy wants to know where the ‘gangers are, and Cleaves says they should have converted to pure Flesh in the emergency. Clearly that didn’t happen, though, because music starts spontaneously playing. The ‘gangers are still around. The Doctor says that ‘gangers have the same memories as their “real” counterparts, which makes the whole thing even more creepy and confusing.

Jennifer goes off to the rest room, and Rory joins her because it doesn’t seem smart to travel alone under the circumstances. Something happens to Jennifer while she is in the rest room, and she runs off. While investigating Jennifer’s disappearance, Rory gets knocked out by some Flesh. We see that this Jennifer is clearly Flesh, as she freaks out and stretches her neck unnaturally in an attempt to attack Rory. Rory, smartly, makes a run for it. Meanwhile, the Doctor notices that the Cleaves with his group is actually Flesh. The Doctor tells her to trust him, but she freaks out and starts looking kind of like Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Doctor says she has lost her ability to stabilize into full human form. Flesh!Cleaves funs off.

The Doctor takes a small group outside to look for Rory, and it turns out that Rory is outside too, hiding from Flesh!Jennifer. Everyone is a little suspicious of how much the Doctor knows about the Flesh, but he pleads with the group to let him try to fix everything. He truly believes he can get the “real” humans and their ‘gangers to accept each other. I’m not sure if the Doctor in his previous incarnations was quite that naive. Acid is leaking and making the facility rather dangerous. The Doctor wants to use the TARDIS to continue the search for Rory. Meanwhile, Rory himself finds Flesh!Jennifer looking at her “real” counterpart’s photos and reminiscing. She gets very upset that she’s not considered a being in her own right, and she ends up crying on Rory’s shoulder.

The ‘gangeres are congregating, and they’re wearing the acid suits. This isn’t very good for their “real” human counterparts. While continuing the search for Rory, Amy sees a window in a door open again, once again revealing the creepy eye patch lady, just like in “Day of the Moon.” Rory and Jennifer find her staring at it. Amy is, understandably, a bit wary of Flesh!Jennifer because she’s a ‘ganger. Meanwhile, it looks like the Doctor has found the rest of the ‘gangers. He’s going to try to convince them to make peace with the “real” humans, of course.

The rest of the humans don’t quite know what to do with Flesh!Jennifer. They don’t trust her any more than Amy did. As a bit of a commotion starts, we hear the Doctor’s voice. He’s rejoining the group, and he’s brought the ‘gangers with him. One of the crew has a bit of an argument with his ‘ganger about who is the father of his son. The Doctor wants to use the TARDIS to get everyone, human and ‘ganger, off the island. The real Cleaves appears, though, and she doesn’t want any ‘gangers getting out. She has a device that could electrocute the ‘gangers. The ‘gangers run off, and there’s lots of “us and them”-ing. Flesh!Jennifer seems to be one of the more militant of the bunch- she really wants to go off to war, and she wants to kill her counterpart. Rory runs after the “real” Jennifer, and the ‘gangers aren’t far behind. Then there’s a big surprise at the end. The Doctor has a ‘ganger face. Guess there are two of him now, and we’ll find out why later this week when I recap “The Almost People.”

True Blood 4.08: "Spellbound"

“She has a warrior’s heart, Your Majesty.”

“Spellbound” was an especially intense episode of “True Blood.” The battle between the vampires and the witches finally comes to a true boil, and nobody is safe. Well, they’re mostly safe from death because Alan Ball doesn’t have a great track record with killing off characters who should be killed off, but they aren’t safe from bodily harm, at least. Surprisingly, one of the problems I had with the episode was the handling of Sookie and Eric. They went on a V trip the likes of which we haven’t seen since Jason and Amy shenanigans in Season 1. I’m a Lizzy Caplan fangirl, but that was certainly not her shining moment (check her out in “Party Down” instead…seriously, people!). Similarly, while I’ve always been a big supporter of a Sookie/Eric relationship, their V trip was far from a shining moment as well. The dialogue was especially cringeworthy and not up to the standards I would hope to see from one of my favorite fictional couples. The major battle at the end was well done, however, and I hope it is more of a sign of what’s to come in the last third of the season.

As most “True Blood” episodes do, this one began right where the last left off. Jessica is under Antonia!Marnie’s thrall and about to step out into the sunlight. Luckily for her, soon after she opens the front door, Jason tackles her. Jessica’s about to attack him when suddenly the spell is lifted and she regains her senses. Jessica is extremely grateful to Jason for saving her life, and they start to kiss. Bill thinks the spell might have only been stopped temporarily, so Jason has to chain Jessica back up. Bill asks Jason (who is a Deputy Sheriff, after all) not to report the guard that Jessica killed. Jason says that’s fine as long as Bill doesn’t do anything about the guard Jason injured while trying to rescue Jessica. Bill just tells Jason to move very slowly. Other guards have approached the prison area, and they all have their guns pointed at Jason. Boy, Bill can be an asshole when he wants to be.

Most of this episode is all about the vampire/witch war drama, but there’s some potentially interesting werewolf drama going on, too. Marcus, the Shreiveport Packmaster, tells his pack that he’s instituting a noninterference in the vampire/witch war policy. There’s a bit of a fight amongst two of the younger members of the pack, and Alcide helps Marcus break it up. Marcus is impressed and says that Alcide has what it takes to be an Alpha and move up the ranks in the pack. Alcide doesn’t seem especially interested in all that, though. Which makes sense, considering he didn’t really want to even join the pack in the first place. Debbie makes Alcide promise to stay away from Sookie, because she knows Sookie’s ties to the vampires, and she (rightfully) figures that spending too much time with her will make it difficult for Alcide to remain neutral in the war.

Meanwhile, Sam continues his quest to win back Luna after the mess Tommy caused by paying her a visit. He tells her he kicked Tommy out, and while it doesn’t win Luna over right away, she does eventually forgive Sam. Mostly because Emma, her daughter, likes him so much. Emma, Luna, and Sam are happily eating dinner together when Emma’s dad shows up to ruin the mood. And the identity of Emma’s dad is none other than Shrieveport Packmaster Marcus. He’s completely different in this setting than he is as Packmaster. He’s very belligerent and spoiling for a fight. Luna hustles Emma off to bed, leaving Sam to deal with a still-prickly Marcus. Sam asks if Marcus wants to take it outside, but Marcus just mumbles some threats and leaves. In other shifter news, Tommy skinwalks as Maxine Fortenberry to get the gas rights money from the travelling prospector. When he shifts back to himself, he’s in bad shape again, and this time he passes out in the woods.

Finishing up the non-Vampire related plot threads in this episode, Arlene brings Mikey to Merlotte’s again, and Lafayette again sees the ghost of the woman singing to the baby in French. I love his reaction to this- it was a great performance by Nelsan Ellis. He doesn’t really want anything to do with ghosts and after expressing some exasperation, immediately leaves the room. Later that night, back at home, Lafayette dreams about the ghost. She was of African descent (Afro-Caribbean, quite possibly), and she had a huge argument (to say the least) with her baby’s father, a white married man. He killed their baby, which is probably why she’s taken such an interest in Mikey. When Lafayette wakes up from this dream, the ghost possesses him. Still possessed, Lafayette goes to the house where Arlene and Terry are staying, and he takes both Mikey and Mikey’s creepy doll.

Back to vampires now, since the spell appears to be over, Sookie offers Eric some of her blood to help heal the silver burns. He gives Sookie some of his blood in return. Now any “True Blood” fan has probably heard of the infamous “shower scene” from the fourth book, “Dead to the World,” even if they’ve never read it. We Eric/Sookie fans have been clamoring for this scene for ages. Well, we finally got a shower scene of sorts in this episode, but it was mighty disappointing. Eric and Sookie are both tripping, Sookie because of Eric’s blood, and Eric either because he just had faerie blood or because his blood bond with Sookie lets him feel her emotions. They get into the shower, but the whole thing just turns into one of those strange V trip sequences. They imagine it’s snowing, and they think they’re in the middle of the woods. It was lame, and it really cheapened what should have been a great moment.

Meanwhile, Jessica has decided she needs to break up with Hoyt because she thinks she doesn’t love him as much as she loves her. We see her initiate the break up, and Hoyt flips out, pathetically groveling. Jessica decides she’s had it, and she kills him. Then she goes outside to a car where Jason is waiting. And because this was actually edgy, with Jessica killing Hoyt and all, it turns out to be a dream. The real break up is almost the complete opposite of what Jessica imagined. She tells Hoyt she thinks they moved to fast, but Hoyt’s not buying it. He sticks up for himself, says all kinds of horrible things to Jessica, and then rescinds her invitation. Jessica shows up at Jason’s house, hoping for some comfort, I guess, but he rescinds her invitation, too. He’s not willing (yet, at least) to betray his best friend by getting anywhere near Jessica, as much as he’d definitely like to.

Jason and Andy are charged with investigating the one vampire who died from the witches’ spell (the one Maxine saw burst into flames). Andy can barely restrain himself from ingesting the goo that is all that is left of her. Which was seriously gross and over the top. Maxine is being interviewed by a TV reporter about the incident when Bill rolls up and glamours the reporter into letting him give a big statement about how vampires want to be peaceful. Elsewhere in Bon Temps, Antonia!Marnie is super pissed that only one vampire died as a result of the spell. She says that all the vampires need to die for human to be safe, and Tara, not surprisingly, although she expresses some surprise, is okay with that. Bill calls Marnie’s shop, and he is surprised to hear Tara answer the phone. Bill and Antonia!Marnie then agree to meet at the cemetery at midnight to talk out their differences. That can’t possibly end well.

Still in the afterglow of their v-fueled romp, Eric and Sookie lie in bed and discuss whether they should run away or stay and fight with Bill. Eric is on the side of running away. That way, he never has to worry about becoming his old self again. Sookie wants to stay and fight out of some misplaced sense of loyalty to Bill. I’m really not liking how pathetic Eric has been sounding lately. At first, bewildered little boy Eric was fun to watch. But now I miss kickass Eric. Anyway, Sookie and Eric show up at Bill’s house to say that they want to join the fight. Bill is hesitant because he doesn’t want to put Sookie in danger, but thanks to a little coaxing by Eric and Sookie reminding him that she does have powers, he eventually gives in.

The big confrontation in the graveyard is by far the best part of the episode. Bill says he has secured promises from his vampires that none of them will harm Antonia!Marnie, but she doesn’t believe a word of it. She refuses to take the spells off Eric and Pam. Sookie hears Antonia!Marnie beginning to chant a spell in her head, and she warns Bill. In an instant, Eric rushes forward and rips out the heart of one of the witches. I thought that was gross, and I hate how every opportunity seems to be taken to make Eric evil. Anyway, Antonia!Marnie calls up some serious fog, and the all-out battle begins. Tara kills a vampire with a gun loaded with a wooden bullet, and as she’s trying to come to terms with what she did, Pam finds her. Bill catches Pam in time to forbid her from harming Tara, which does not make Pam a happy vampire at all. While the battle is raging, Alcide goes to Sookie’s house and hears the commotion coming from the graveyard. Of course he goes running towards it. Sookie’s fighting pretty valiantly with her powers until she’s shot. Bill is distracted by Sookie getting hurt, and the witches overtake him and silver him. At the same time, Marnie uses the distraction to take control of Eric. Alcide ends up saving Sookie, picking her up of the ground and carrying her away. Debbie sees him do this, and she’s no doubt going to be pissed.