Monday, December 29, 2014

The Librarians 1.05: "And the Apple of Discord"

“Over the years I chose again and again. Each time, a little bit of hope. Lots of blood but nothing really changed.”
- Jenkins

As you may have noticed, our ragtag bunch of heroes has been finding their feet and working together now for a bit without any assistance from the Head Librarian. That all changes after we see a couple in Japan get attacked by what looks like a sort of geyser. Or it might be an earthquake. It seems both are going on right now and just as Eve and Jenkins are trying to delegate some tasks, Flynn shows up and announces that dragons are awakening. He starts giving orders for what needs to happen without a second thought. Eve isn’t particularly happy about this and she makes it known that he’s messing with their system. Unfortunately, he’s from very briefly in the future (weird) and the representative of the Eastern Dragons (yes there are Eastern and Western and they’ve been feuding for three millennia) shows up and Zeke answers the door. So now Zeke speaks for the Library. They’re only mildly screwed (he was answering the door expecting pizza).

After some pantomime that was rather painful, Zeke chooses Jenkins as his counsel and they wait for the Eastern Dragon rep (who is in the guise of a man) to list out his grievances. And since there hasn’t been an intersession between the dragon clans since 1906, the list is quite lengthy. Flynn, Eve, Cassie ad Jake go in search of the sacred Pearl that the Western gang supposedly stole. According to Flynn, the last known hide out was in Rome, just off the Vatican. So they take the Back Door to Rome, only to realize as the Pope (maybe) walks by that they are actually in the Vatican. So they hightail it out of there and thanks to a combo of Cassie and Jake, they figure out the puzzle into the entrance. Flynn is kind of impressed that they managed to get in without Cassie going bonkers. As much as I adore Noah Wylie (I’m getting to like him even more as I binge watch Falling Skies), he’s kind of messing with the team dynamic and it’s a little annoying. As they are heading down into the hang out, Flynn admits he isn’t really any closer to finding the Library. But at least they avoid being impaled by lots of flying arrows when they find three pearls just sitting out in the open.

Flynn figures out that the arrows are triggered by sound and so he goes running around with basically a table on his head while Jake determines which pearl is the correct one. As soon as he does, he starts acting really aggressive and leaves the rest of the team behind. He heads off to a museum while Flynn, Eve and Cassie run into a dragon (or at least its eye) and learn that the Western Dragons didn’t take the pearl. Oh boy. The drama gets even more intense when Jake starts trying to steal paintings. Luckily, Eve stops him and after he drops the pearl (and it shatters), he’s fine. But Cassie picks it up and she realizes that she’s dangerous and she kind of likes it.

Meanwhile, back at the library, the intersession turns into a Conclave where other supernatural factions show up. Jenkins thinks Zeke can’t handle it but Zeke proves him wrong which was rather cool, at least until the head of the Serpent Brotherhood shows up eating Zeke’s pizza. The bastard! Jenkins just flat out gets up and leaves the table. And Lamia corners a rather scantily clad Cassie in the museum. Evil Cassie takes out Lamia with some pressure points thanks to her brain grape and then heads off to figure out what she can do with a power plant. Yeah that’s going to be horrible. Once Eve, Flynn and Jake get past the Italian authorities (and determine that what Jake and Cassie actually had was the apple of discord which presents the worst version of a person), they have to go find Cassie before she blows up half of Europe.

Back at the Annex, Zeke tries to protect the Library when the Serpent Brotherhood guy starts planting seeds of doubt in the Library’s function and effectiveness but he’s not having much luck. It seems the Brotherhood would rather have itself in charge (no surprise there). Zeke finds Jenkins packing up his car and running and when Zeke calls him on it, Jenkins tries to justify it by saying that he mad choices again and again and nothing changed and bad things happened. Zeke is determined to keep the Library safe and bring the Brotherhood down a peg or two while he’s at it. I like that we are getting to see a little more from Zeke rather than the slightly dorky thief. I like that he’s finding some heart and some conviction for what he believes in. This episode doesn’t really inspire much faith in Jenkins (and I still think he’s a somewhat poor substitute for Judson). And all it took was a commercial break for Jenkins to get his wits back and bail Zeke out of trouble. He pulls out some archaic regs that require reading the last conclave’s minutes are super long. Unfortunately, the head of the Brotherhood gets fed up and angrily calls for a vote of no confidence in Zeke and to eliminate the Library.

Out in Rome, Cassie is quite happily putting her theories into motion when the rest of the gang shows up and eventually talks her down (apparently the number 6 shuts her off). Unfortunately Flynn and Eve grab the apple at the same time and do a little angry flirty dance until she punches him. Flynn manages to nab the apple back just as Lamia shows up and gets foiled again. Flynn is on a power trip all his own with the weight of ten years as the solo Librarian and the losses he’s suffered. They need to get the apple back before shit really hits the fan.

Things actually work out in the end even though Flynn goes back to the Library and ranting about wanting to give up the Library but it’s some quick work by Zeke and Jenkins that saves the day. Zeke is apparently the worst version of himself every day so the apple doesn’t affect him. And Zeke calls out the Eastern Dragon representative for nabbing the pearl in the first placed to kick this whole thing off. But really it was the head of the Brotherhood, whom Jenkins confronts outside the Annex. They’ve got 1,000 years of shared history and I have a feeling it might be as brothers. We’ll have to see how long we get these characters for to learn just how deep their connection goes. And Flynn gives Eve the choice to stay or go and she stays but insists he needs to go continue his search for the Library. Overall it wasn’t my favorite episode but it did have some good character moments for a few of our team members.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Doctor Who 2014 Christmas Special: "Last Christmas"

“These are Christmas hats. I've seen people use them. You put them on and absolutely everything seems funny.”
- The Doctor

The “Doctor Who” Christmas special has become an annual ritual among the geekier segment of American society, much as it is in the UK. Of course, we here at MTVP were watching! The big question going into the special was whether or not Jenna Coleman would be sticking around portraying Clara for another season. By the end of the episode, at least, that question was definitively answered. Overall, we found “Last Christmas” to be better than many of the Christmas specials of the Moffat era (“The Christmas Invasion” from the Russell T. Davies era is still our very favorite), although it didn’t feel especially Christmas-y. The episode was sort of a cross between “Alien” and “Inception,” and it featured face and brain eating crab creatures. It was more gross than festive. But we did get Nick Frost with a rather acerbic take on Santa Claus, so there was that!

Before we dive into the real analysis of the post, we wanted to give you a brief overview of the plot. Clara wakes to hear arguing on her roof and finds it to be Santa Claus with two of his elves. Before long, the Doctor shows up and entices Clara back into the TARDIS. They head to the North Pole where they find a group of scientists who are trying to get past some sleeping people in the infirmary. Shona, the one going in, is told to listen to music and not look at or think about the patients. Unfortunately, the Doctor and Clara have to blunder in and mess it all up. Luckily, the group is rescued by Santa and two of his elves. As we quickly learn, the aliens attached to the people in the infirmary are called dream crabs and they eat your brains (more on that later). Everybody has a dream crab sucking on their face right now and they need to find a way to wake up. The Doctor goes into Clara’s dream where Danny is alive and they are celebrating Christmas together to try and save her.

Once the Doctor wakes Clara, he has the scientists read from a random page in the manual to show that they are all still really asleep. It’s not until Santa returns and whisks them all away on his sleigh that they begin to wake up, one by one. They scientist group really weren’t scientists. It was all part of the shared dream from the dream crabs. Clara is the last to awaken and the Doctor finds her as an old woman. You think that Clara’s done traveling, but the Doctor realizes he’s still dreaming and when he finds Clara again, she’s young and ripe for more TARDIS adventures.

On to the meat and potatoes of this post, let’s start with some of the good things about the special. Overall, the quality of the episode’s writing was just all around good. There were several interesting guest characters, for starters. There were many guest characters in this episode, because of course the Doctor and Clara were working with the whole crew on the dream North Pole base. Of the North Pole base crew, the real stand-out was Shona. Her big plan for Christmas by herself (once she’s out of the dream) is a movie marathon, including “Aliens,” a character trait likely to appeal to the “Doctor Who” fanbase. Her first scene where she is dancing in the infirmary was also quirky and endearing. There were also many entertaining plot twists, as the dreams built on each other, “Inception” style.

There were also several notable performances. Faye Marsay was memorable as Shona, obviously. Also, Nick Frost, most known for his comedic films with fellow Doctor Who alum Simon Pegg, gave a commendable performance as Santa Claus. Frost’s take on Santa, while generally likeable, had an edge to him, and the Doctor took a while to warm up to him. If Santa had been too saccharine, the episode wouldn’t have worked. Frost calibrated it just right. Dan Starkey, usually seen on “Doctor Who” as the Sontaran member of the Paternoster Gang (where he is quite humorous), also gave a memorable turn as one of Santa’s two comedic elf sidekicks.

One of the hallmarks of a Steven Moffat-era Christmas special is that it tends to rip off or at least riff on a previously established story. A few years ago we had a riff on “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” and we’ve had “A Christmas Carol.” This year, we went a little less Christmas-y with “Inception.” For those not in the know, it was a 2010 Christopher Nolan film with dreams within dreams, and it left you wondering if you really got back to reality at the end. We had dreams within dreams here thanks to the icky dream crabs, and Sarah called it as an “Inception” rip-off very early on. While it wasn’t what we were expecting, it was still an interesting way to take this non-Christmas-y Christmas episode.

Like any good show, there were mixed emotions here at MTVP as to whether we thought Clara should continue to travel with the Doctor past the series 8 special. Sarah was ready for Clara to move on and get someone new but Jen likes Clara and the development she’s had over the last series We can only hope that Clara and Twelve will gel a little better now that they’ve stopped lying to each other and they see each other more as equals (not quite in the Ten/Donna sense but it’s getting there). Additionally, we tend to like our Christmas specials to be somewhat festive, and while Santa certainly brought a festive element to the proceedings, and there was a lot of talk about the meaning of Christmas, gross brain-eating crab monsters just aren’t very Christmas-y.

Overall, the special was decent. We had our nitpicks but all good TV critics do. We are ready to see what series 9 brings us in terms of the times and places the Doctor and Clara will visit. We are ready though whenever Clara decides to stop running around all of space and time with the Doctor. One more season of her adventures will probably be just about right for striking a balance between telling stories you can only tell with really established characters and wearing out her welcome. And we are eager for the Doctor to find Gallifrey. So bring it on, Moffat! But next year, do avoid the creepy brain sucking aliens at Christmas, please.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Holiday "Classic" Recap: Futurama: "Xmas Story"

“Lick my frozen metal ass.”

So I decided to switch things up a bit for the Holiday recap this year and tackle an episode of an animated show that was a college staple for me – “Futurama.” “Futurama’s” humor is quirky and irreverent, just the way I like it. While there were some very dated pop culture references in this particular episode, I still enjoyed rewatching it to write this post. There is both humor and heart in abundance as Fry and Lela realize they are kindred lonely Xmas spirits. While being chased by a maniacal robot Santa who is convinced that everybody but Zoidberg is on the Naughty List and deserves to die. I believe this was the first episode in which we saw Christmas (or Xmas as they call it in the 31st Century) on “Futurama,” and it’s easy to tell that the writers were having a lot of fun with this particular bit of world building.

One thing that I might critique about this episode is that it is a little disjointed. It seems about 50 percent joke delivery device and 50 percent coherent story arc. Given that the creative team only has a little over 20 minutes to fill, I’d like to see a bit more of the latter. Anyway, with that said, the opening sequence of the show involves the Planet Express crew on a ski trip. There’s a bit about what skiing is like in the future, where you can just say “trees up” or trees down” to make your run more or less difficult. Of course, despite this, Fry gets clobbered by a tree (twice). The Professor somehow wins a ski competition while sleeping. Which you would also probably expect, because, you know, he’s the Professor. While gathered together in the ski lodge, the crew starts talking about Christmas. Fry learns that in the future, it’s called Xmas, and he starts feeling sad that he is not going to see any of his family for the holiday this year. Since, you know, they died about a thousand years ago.

To cheer Fry up, the crew decides to get an Xmas tree for the office. Fry is surprised when they end up with a palm tree, though. Apparently pine trees went extinct hundreds of years ago. This just adds to Fry’s holiday malaise. Fry’s too wrapped up in his own sorrow to realize that Leela is having a tough time, too. Since she was raised as an orphan, she doesn’t exactly have happy holiday memories. We see her go through a scrapbook of especially pathetic pictures, and the book is labeled “happy memories.” Fry gets annoyed with Leela for not wallowing in his sorrow with him, completely oblivious to her issues. Leela gets so upset about this that she just leaves the room sobbing. Eventually, the rest of the crew point out to Fry how insensitive he has been, and he decides he wants to try and make things right.

Fry ventures out into New New York in search of an Xmas gift for Leela. What he has been told but doesn’t appreciate, however, is that if he stays out too late, he risks being killed by a homicidal Santa robot. Apparently Mom’s built the robot years ago to automate the Naughty or Nice list process, and the robot took his job a little too seriously (as robots would tend to do, I suppose). Just about everybody deserves to be on the Naughty List, in his opinion, and the punishment for that is death. Folks have taken to purchasing heavy artillery and making reinforced fireplace covers to stay safe through the horror that is Xmas Eve. Even traditional carols have been rewritten to talk about avoiding death at the hands of Robot Santa.

Fry wanders the shops of the city and can’t find anything he thinks is just right for Leela. The shops all close early on Xmas Eve in the 31st century to give people time to go home and hunker down before Santa begins his rampage. Eventually, the only shop left open is a pet store, and Fry, after much deliberation, decides to get Leela a parrot. I think I’d probably clobber somebody who got me a pet for Christmas without asking me first, but we all know Fry isnn’t good at thinking things through like that. Unfortunately for Fry, while he is heading home, the parrot escapes from its cage. He goes on a long hase up to the top of a very tall building to try and get it back. Of course, this attracts the attention of Robot Santa, who starts chasing Fry, too.

The rest of the crew tells Leela that they are worried about Fry because he left the office to try and find her a present. It is getting dangerously close to Robot Santa rampage time. Leela finds Fry and gets him out of a few tough spots, but they are chased by Robot Santa all the way back to Planet Express headquarters. Santa really wants to get into Planet Express, because he has decided everybody but Zoidberg is on the Naughty List. Mostly because, even if they’ve made amends for everything else they have done wrong that year, everybody has been mean to Zoidberg.

After Fry and Leela are safely inside Planet Express, the crew starts trying to lock everything up. They are a little too late with the reinforced fireplace cover, though, and Santa gets down the chimney and starts flying around inside the building. He gives Zoidberg a pogo stick and prepares to kill everybody else. Zoidberg, however, manages to use the pogo stick to send Santa right back up the chimney. So the Planet Express crew will live to see another Xmas. The parrot, sadly, did not survive. Bender serves it up to the crew for Xmas dinner, although Nibbler steals it all off their plates before anybody can actually eat it. Since you all survived Robot Santa’s rampage last night, I’d like to wish you a Merry Xmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

New Girl 4.09: "Thanksgiving IV"

“Your plan sounds a little kidnappy. What’s the rule on that, Winston?”

While I haven’t loved every episode of “New Girl” recently, I do appreciate that the creative team continues to come up with very different Thanksgiving plots each year. This year is one of the more superficial plots, but it was different from everything that has come before. I mostly make the comparison to “How I Met Your Mother.” Their first Thanksgiving episode was amazing, but that creative team dragged out the slap bet one too many times. This year, Schmidt decides to basically turn Thanksgiving into a singles sex party, and he calls it “Bangsgiving.” Since it’s “New Girl,” though, there’s a bit more to it than that. Most everybody learns something from the dates with whom they are pared. And Jess continued to awkwardly sort-of pursue Ryan, which was just unfortunate. I will be very happy when that particular plot has run its course.

Anyway, like I mentioned, this Thanksgiving, per Schmidt’s decree, shall be “Bangsgiving” for the roomies. Schmidt declares to the group that he warned them winter was coming, and it has now arrived. They need to unite in their effort to get a little more sex before 2014 comes to a close. Schmidt declares “Bangsgiving.” He wants to get all the roomies laid Secret Santa style. They all draw names out of a hat, and they’re supposed to bring a date for the person whose name they drew. Schmidt draws Ceces name, which understandably makes Cece suspicious. Schmidt promises, however, that he won’t make himself Cece’s date. Jess is especially excited about this idea because she hopes that she will meet someone who will help get Ryan out of her head. Coach thinks that this is silly and that Jess should just date Ryan, rules be damned.

Soon enough it’s Thanksgiving, and we meet all the dates for the evening. For Winston, Jess brings a woman named Pearl who works at the school. Winston thinks she is hot, and he’s pretty excited about his date, until he finds out that Pearl isn’t a teacher, she’s a lunch monitor (or “lunch lady” as Winston keeps calling her). Winston is one of the more successful of the roomies (he had his sports radio career, and now he’s successful at the police academy), so I guess it’s okay for him to be a little career snobbish, but it’s definitely not attractive. For Coach, Winston brings Pepper, one of his police academy classmates. Pepper is extremely ripped and strong, and Coach is extremely intimidated by her. It’s kind of gross, really (the Coach being intimidated part). By the end of the episode, they both come to appreciate their dates, of course. Coach in particular feels better after Pepper lets him win an arm wrestling contest.

At his request, Schmidt’s date is Lucy, who apparently dated Nick for a couple months a few years ago. For some reason I don’t quite get, this really upsets Nick. I have a feeling it has more to do with still hurting over the breakup with Jess than anything else. He purposely makes a pass at Cece to make Schmidt jealous (and it works). As for Nick’s date, he pulled his own name out of the hat, so he decided to just bring his friend Tran. By the end of the episode, Nick gets the phone number of Tran’s granddaughter, so it all works out for him. It was a nice coincidence that she came to pick up a very drunk Tran just as Nick had made the choice to really put himself out there again. As for Cece, for most of the episode, she had no date. Schmidt swore he invited a guy named Geoff, but there was no Geoff to be found. Apparently he was stuck in peacock-related traffic. By the end of the episode, Cece decides she’d rather just hang out with Schmidt for the evening (apparently he’s on her “Never” list), and at that moment, Geoff actually does show up. And Cece shuts the door in his face so she can keep hanging out with Schmidt. Go figure.

As you can probably guess, Coach is in charge of finding Jess’ date, and he brings Ryan. At first, Jess is very upset about this, because she specifically wanted to not think about Ryan anymore. She goes back to playing the avoid Ryan game somewhat. At one point, she takes him into her bedroom. To talk to him about how they can’t have a relationship. Ryan has a hard time taking her seriously since the buttons on her dress keep unbuttoning themselves somehow. And in a way, that is why I have such a problem with the Jess and Ryan plot. As Jess herself says at one point in the episode, she loves her job, and she worked hard to get it. Jeopardizing her ability to command respect from her staff is just foolish. Anyway, apparently the rest of the roomies disagree, because they hold a vote and decide that Jess needs to have sex with Ryan. The hope is that it will really get him out of her system. Or get her a sexual harassment lawsuit. One or the other. Or both.

Anyway, Jess calls Ryan into her bedroom again, and he is thrilled to see her dressed in nothing but an apron. He is not happy, however, when Jess says that she just wants to “bang one out.” He wanted something more. Eventually, Jess comes to the realization that she wants something more, too, and she (like Nick) has just been afraid to really put herself out there since the breakup. She goes to Ryan’s house to apologize. Even though Jess ate the entire pie she brought as a peace offering before she even got to Ryan’s house, Ryan decides to forgive her anyway. Jess says she wants to take things slow, but Ryan has other ideas. He pulls her into a kiss, and as the episode comes to a close, they are post coital and watching television. So I can start counting down the episodes until this ill-advised relationship goes down in flames.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Librarians 1.04: "And Santa's Midnight Run"

“I give you all of humanity’s good will, Ever Baird. Now you give back the gift of hope.”
- Santa

So quite appropriately, this week’s episode deals with Christmas and Santa Claus. It also means we are nearly halfway through our inaugural run of this show. I really hope we get a second season because I need more Dean Devlin/John Rogers goodness. And having Christian Kane back on my screen weekly is never a bad thing. I do have to hope that Baird chills out a bit and lets the Librarians do their thing more often. That’s about the only weakness right now. Oh and for those who care, this episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes (he directed one of my favorite season 2 Leverage episodes “The Bottle Job” among many others).

We start this week’s shenanigans in a London soup kitchen where a guy busts in with a rifle and demands money (yes from a soup kitchen….the idiot). The guy who has been doling out food talks him down until he gets shot in the neck with a tranq dart and we see he gets nabbed. Back at the Annex, the Librarians are decorating for the holidays. Baird is a Grinch about the whole thing naturally but the rest of the team enjoys Christmas. Their cheer dies down when Jenkins reports that Santa is gone. Jake and Cassie head to London to get some information and it was little weird to hear Christian speaking with a British accent. But they suss out that Santa was nabbed by the Serpent Brotherhood. Cassie points out that the guy who Zeke found on surveillance is the head of the whole thing and Jenkins reveals that the plan is to kill Santa so that no more good will can be spread throughout the world. Eep!

The Serpent Brotherhood plans to kill Santa at midnight and take all of his magical energy for themselves. They really need a new shtick honestly. But I guess they are our Big Bad for the season. With a bit of teamwork, the Librarians figure out exactly where Santa is being held. Baird and Jake go in the front and run into the head of the Brotherhood along with Lamia and another goon while Cassie and Zeke climb down the chimney in the library to rescue Santa. Jake uses a pretty risky stalling technique of tossing priceless art around to give the rest of the team time to escape. But it seems the Brotherhood’s leader is convinced Santa won’t be in such a helping good will-y mood. Also, dude needs to stop talking about himself in the third person. It’s just annoying.

Seems I’m not the only one annoyed by Santa’s bizarre speech patterns. Baird takes Santa while Jake, Zeke and Cassie lead the Brotherhood on a wild goose chase involving Santa’s hat. Unfortunately, the hate is kind of integral to him being this particular manifestation. According to Jenkins, various cultures manifested him differently and without the talisman (hat) he morphs into Nickolas, who is a prankster. He manages to get himself temporarily straightened out while they are hunting down his sleigh and steal a red truck instead. He even gets them to Canada in their bid to reach the North Pole. Apparently he needs to be there on Christmas Eve. He’s pestering Baird on the trip there about why she hates Christmas. She just says it’s all annoying. I wonder if maybe she’s not Christian. Anyway, it turns out that giving Zeke the hat was a very silly idea because it affects him and makes him all good will giving. It’s pretty hilarious. But giving him the hat did lead the Brotherhood away from Baird and Santa so there is that at least.

Things go from awkward to hilarious as Cassie figures out that they don’t need to get to the North Pole to release the magic since it is all to do with ley lines. While she is figuring out where they need to go, Zeke is baking and stuffing stockings and being simultaneously jolly and annoyed. It’s pretty funny. Jenkins dispatches Zeke and Cassie to secure a cargo plane to take them to the Aurora Borealis while Jake goes to meet Baird and Santa in a small town. Zeke gets a little overzealous with the Christmas cheer and lets the pilot go be with his fiancé. Meanwhile, Santa shifts personas again and turns into Odin and starts drinking and gets into a bar brawl. Jake seems happy about that. Sort of. When the ream is reunited at the cargo plane, they realize they may not be able to fly it but Santa insists he can fly anything big. And it looks like he’s doing it, too. He and Baird also had a little heart to heart on their way to town and she explains that she hates Christmas because at this time when everyone is supposed to be together, she was always far away in other places, where fighting was going on. So I guess he has a legit reason to dislike the holiday. As they near the Borealis, Cassie hears the bells on Santa’s actual sleigh and then the cargo door opens. It seems the Brotherhood snagged the sleigh and is going to hijack the plane.

Zeke is still the hat and ends up handing it over to the head of the Brotherhood when they figure out that Santa needs it to fight off the poison from some mistletoe and holly. It takes a few minutes to take effect and the gang manages to get Lamia and the sleigh out of the way but when Cassie asks him to reveal all the secrets of the Brotherhood he whips the hat off. Baird kicks him in the gut and then ends up letting him fly out the back of the plane. He’s so not dead. But now they need to land the plane. It turns out she and Jake are a good combination. They get to an old service station but Santa is losing it. Even with his hat back he can’t focus to release all the good will. Why do I get the feeling Cassie is going to be the one to help him out?

So I was wrong. Santa passes his power onto Baird temporarily so she can spread hope to the world because she’s the one most rooted in Christmas (born on the last stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve…hence her name). We see her pop up in a bunch of places and save lives and give people the hope they need to keep on living. And she’s much less humbug-y than before. But it seems everyone got their Christmas wish this year; Jake got his bar fight, Cassie got to believe in Santa and Zeke got to know what it was like to be the good guy, even for just a little bit. Oh and it seems Baird wanted people around for Christmas where there wasn’t fighting. Jenkins almost let slip that he’s immortal, too. Oopsie. Next week looks to be fun with Flynn’s return and dragons. I am glad we got a holiday episode on this show. It was fun.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Selfie 1.09: "Follow Through"

“As someone who has spent far too many nights alone with the Reverse Garbage Santa I can tell you that following through on personal stuff is just as important.”
- Henry

So by now you know that “Selfie” has been cancelled. But the network is putting the last few episodes up online so we here at More TV, Please can bring you the final chapters in the Eliza and Henry saga. As we all know, Eliza is social media obsessed and you can see all the places she tweets, posts to Instagram and such. But with Henry, she actually has to go see him face to face to find out what he’s doing. She finds him in his office staring forlornly at diaper cream that isn’t selling. Eliza comes up with the idea to use it as facial cream and Henry thinks it is brilliant. He tells her to go to Saperstein immediately and pitch the idea but she doesn’t feel comfortable doing that. She’s the idea person, not the pitch the idea person. He ends up having to walk her to the office (after she wins some rather hideous water shoes on eBay) to pitch the idea. Saperstein loves it and they end up having a weird jazz riff thing going. I kind of loved how clueless Eliza was in the scene.

Since the cream can’t legally be sold for anything but the intended purpose, Eliza offers to use her social media kingdom to get the word out unofficially. As she’s brainstorming hashtags, Freddie mentions that his parents are going to be in town and she agrees to meet them. The next day she’s kind of freaking out over the fact that the relationship is getting deeper and that for the first time she and Freddie slept together without actually sleeping together. I am a little hesitant to get behind where this is going but I’ll stick with it and see what the outcome is.

Henry is having his own bizarre relationship drama this week, too thanks to one of Brynn’s friends; Wren. Henry runs into her and one of the other girls while they are delivering delicious artisan sandwiches to the café in the building and then Wren sneaks into Henry’s office and tries to flirt with him over a muffin. I can’t blame Henry for shutting her down the way he did (very matter of fact and frank…that’s just his social awkwardness shining through) but it is obvious Wren takes offense to being shut down. Henry’s turning Wren down trickles into the work environment when she purposely messes with Saperstein’s sandwich order. So Henry is tasked with apologizing to Wren. He tries to talk to Brynn about it, even offers to pay her double or make the sandwich himself but she explains that it was the way he said what he did that was so upsetting.

That night, Eliza is working late (which as we can all tell is rare for her) when Henry stops by. She’s all excited about the progress she’s been making on the diaper cream and she’s pretty intrigued by the janitor, too. She’s a little nervous about meeting Freddie’s parents and she even tries to get out of it by asking if Henry thinks she should skip. It is actually a very touching moment between the two of them. He says that she should follow through on personal stuff as well as professional and so she decides to go. But she thinks she’s not dressed appropriately. Henry offers his coat and she ends up turning it into a little sexy dress. She looks quite hot actually. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what Henry was envisioning when he offered it but it works. It is very Eliza.

Eliza gets to the restaurant and shuts off her phone for the first time in probably forever. She’s going to be totally unplugged when she meets Freddie’s parents. But they are not what she’s expecting. They’re internet savvy and talk in hashtags which I found very annoying. They even have a ship name for Christ sake! The more time she spends with Freddie and his parents, the more she realizes that Freddie is not what she wants out of life and a partner. All they do is have sex and spend time texting and not really interacting with each other. As she puts it, they aren’t a winning combination. Not like her and Henry. Eliza has the waiter to thank for spurring her to this revelation (with a fish metaphor) and so she heads home, having officially dumped Freddie.

Henry is trying to solve his own relationship issues by apologizing directly to Wren. He interrupts the girls’ book club where they are discussing Little Women and he explains that they are better as friends because he’s in a relationship and he never meant to hurt her feelings. It was a little odd that he was referring to himself and her as book characters but I guess it got the point across and fit with Eliza’s fish metaphor scene. Wren accepts his apology and he heads out, but not before trying to sling an insult at Brynn. She’s not impressed with his attempt but whatever. I honestly find that group kind of annoying. It’s like they took the bad parts of a set dressing from Pushing Daisies and stuck it in one little room. Way too vibrant for me.

Anyway, this week ends with a giant leap forward for Eliza and Henry that will no doubt create a paradigm shift for the remaining episodes of the series. Eliza is moping in the elevator and she realizes that the only person she can really be herself around and who doesn’t see her through the haze of social media is Henry. And of course, the doors open and he’s standing right there. She gets out and he gets in and then she says she wants to return his coat right then and there. For an 8pm show (yes I know you can now watch it whenever you want) this was quite the racy scene. Eliza drops her bag, slips off the belt and unbuttons the coat to reveal herself to Henry. We can’t see just how scantily clad she is but I’m guessing she’s got no bra on and it’s just panties. So yeah, Henry got quite the show there. She asks him if he really wants to go home and he’s noncommittal. He mutters about needing to feed his cat and then when Eliza reminds him that he doesn’t have a cat, he says he needs to go buy one and feed it generously. If the satisfied look on Eliza’s face is any indication, Julia has a lot to worry about. Our Media Queen Bee has her sights set on Henry and she’s not going to let anything or anyone get in her way.

The Librarians 1.03: "And the Horns of a Dilemma"

“Magic has three parts; power to change reality, focus to direct that change and effect that change in the real world.”
- Jenkins

So this week is the first solo mission for our librarians-in-training. Huzzah! Well it would be the first mission except Baird doesn’t think our trio is ready to take care of themselves. She’s got them running training drills and this time she took out all three in under two minutes. They get back to the Annex and Jenkins mentions some new clippings have appeared in the book. Baird snipes at him in his little secret lab where he modifies and studies artifacts (anyone else think that’s a bad idea) that he shouldn’t be letting them look at the book until they’re ready. He’s got a point though that it’s in their job description to wrangle magical stuff before the bad guys get it. And it seems the team is eager to get out and see some action. Eve is regretting agreeing to let them check out a string of eight missing people all over the country when they all race off in different directions. Oh and the case is linked to a guy we see at the start of the episode being stalked in what looks like an office building and dragged away by some unseen thing as two people in hooded robes chant.

It seems that all of the victims had a link to a big agro firm in Boston. They were all interns so the team needs to get to Boston. And Jenkins has just the way; a magical door that can get them anywhere (with some limitations). Interesting. Once in Boston, our team gets a meeting with the company CEO who denies any knowledge but feigns shock at the fact that eight of their interns have gone missing. She sends them off to HR to get information but Baird is suspicious. She’s figured out they wanted to assess the team’s knowledge. Jake is pretty sure whatever’s in HR is going to be fake and Baird thinks she might find original documents on the servers. Zeke points out where the room should be and is quite miffed when Eve says they need to go to HR and she’ll take care of the server room. The creepy assistant guy tells them to go to a particular room and swipes his ID to get the elevator to go. Unfortunately, as soon as they step off the elevator, it completely disappears and they pretty quickly find a room full of what look like skulls. This totally reminds me of Wolfram and Hart and I kind of love it. Meanwhile, Baird gains access to the server room only to find it isn’t housing electronics but ancient artifacts.

Cassie, Jake and Zeke pretty quickly figure out they are in a recreation of the Greek labyrinth complete with a giant Minotaur. I have to say this one was kind of lame looking. The giant bull-like creature from “God Complex’ on Doctor Who was much more convincing. After Baird calls Jenkins and he doesn’t really reassure her, she manages to find the gang and they barely escape back to the library. Clearly they’re going to have to head back to Boston to deal with the evil cult people running the agro company. Oh and it seems Jake doesn’t easily forgive betrayal since he and Cassie have words in the labyrinth before she figures out the pattern and starts leading them to safety.

Jenkins explains that magic has three parts; power, focus and effect and they also suss out that the labyrinth is real in part because the string of the story that’s been around for ages is still there. So they have to find a way back into the maze to retrieve the actual ball of string. It seems the CEO of the company is willing to move up the rest of the virgin sacrifices to give the company prosperity in the coming months (the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur focused on a king sending 14 virgin sacrifices down every seven years). Yeah this plot would totally come out of a Wolfram and Hart scam. And I swear it’s not just because Christian Kane is in this show. But…maybe a little bit because he’s in this show.

Anyway, they go back through the door to Boston but they quickly realize that they’re back in the maze. It’s not just a physical place but a sort of mental effect, too. The Minotaur takes on human form and starts chasing them down. But Cassie thinks she can get them to the middle of the maze to stop the evil mojo from continuing. Baird has to actually trust that the team can use their individual strengths to get through the situation. Thanks to Jake, they figure out that there are seven floors to the building and the maze and that allows Cassie to figure out how to navigate between floors. So while she and Zeke go to get the ball of thread, Baird and Jake are going to distract the Minotaur. Jake manages to snag a truck and they use it as a battering ram and a getaway vehicle. The more interesting part though is when Cassie starts freaking out and Zeke manages to talk her down and guide her through to the center of the maze. Too bad the CEO is waiting for them, gun in hand.

Luckily, while Zeke is trying to talk her down (and her Evil Speech of Evil is so Wolfram and Hart it isn’t even funny) Cassie manages to tackle her and as they struggle for the gun, it shoots the glass case with the ball of thread. Zeke makes a run for it but it was all a big fake out. He comes back for Cassie and they unravel the ball, destroying the labyrinth and escaping just in time. And that leaves the Minotaur to go hunt down the CEO and her cronies. So for a first mission without Flynn I think they did okay. Cassie tries to talk to Jake about their little argument but he is having a hard time explaining why he was so upset. He’s super smart but where he’s from that gets you beat up more than anything so he hides it. And he has a hard time trusting anyone. So he’ll work with Cassie but gaining that trust back is going to be hard. I look forward to the process. Overall I really enjoyed this episode. It had comedy, some nice character beats and a lot of random Angel nostalgia. I can’t wait to see what crazy adventure comes up next!

Once Upon a Time 4.12: "Heroes and Villains"

“Being good doesn’t always mean good things happen.”
- Mr. Gold

Well denizens of Storybrooke, we’ve made it to the fall finale. It’s a bittersweet moment for me since we won’t get any new adventures with this gang for several months but on the other hand, at least for January, we’ll get Galavant (which Jen will be covering). Anyways, on with the recap! It seems some of Ingrid’s magic is still lingering at the town line, even though Elsa brings down the wall. So they’re going to have to find a portal or something to get the Arendelle gang home. Rumple is worried that Anna will go blabbing about his plan if they cross paths so he sets Hook on her trail, still promising to kill him in the morning (well that evening but whatever). Rumple and Hook though do find a portal to Arendelle in the sorcerer’s mansion. While he’s doing that, Rumple will be preparing Belle for their trip to New York to see the world (as he long ago promised he would do). But as she starts to pack and Henry pops by with the storybook, she finds an old relic that brings back some not so good memories.

Elsewhere in town, Regina returns Marian’s heart to her which prompts a very tight hug between husband and wife (though Robin clearly has a look like ‘I’d rather be hugging Regina’). It seems Marian’s caught the glances between he and Regina because she stops by Granny’s and tells Regina that she understands now what’s been going on and she doesn’t want Robin to be with her out of obligation. If he chooses Regina, as Marian believes he will, Marian will step aside. I real hope Robin ignores his duty and just follows his heart because I need a little Outlaw Queen happiness to tide me over until March.

Back in the Enchanted Forest before Belle and Rumple’s romance really started, we see Rumple return from a trip to Camelot where he’s returned with a magical gauntlet that points out people’s weakness. When Belle points out she thinks he collects magical items to fill a void in his heart, he sends her out to do the washing. While she’s grumbling to herself, a little Dalmatian puppy with weird glowing green eyes appears and she follows it into the woods. Yeah, don’t do that stupid. She gets nabbed by who I’m guessing is Cruella. Rumple goes to check on her and gets a sort of holographic message via crow from Belle saying that he needs to deliver the gauntlet by midnight or she’s dead. It would appear our Dark One does have a fondness for the help at this point after all. He shows up to confront what turns out to be a trio of Maleficent, Cruella and Ursula. He ends up trading the gauntlet for Belle’s life which we now know makes no sense since he had it in his shop now. It seems he might have tricked the ladies when he later meets with them and flaunts the fact he always wins at them. I don’t think they like it very much.

In Storybrooke, Rumple is using Hook’s heart to control him and get the Arendelle crew back home. At least I’m hoping he’s not being nefarious about it. But Emma can sense that something is amiss. Still, she is happy about the portal. Out at the park, Marian and Roland are having fun while Regina and Robin watch. Robin professes his love to Regina and says he chooses her, despite the messy situation. He wants to teach his son to live truthfully. Unfortunately, their half-second of happiness is interrupted when Marian falls to the ground with some after effects of Ingrid’s spell. It has likely hit her heart already so the only way to save her is to send her over the town line for a one-way trip into a world she’s never been in before. And to ensure her safety, Robin and Roland have to go with her. Damn it Adam and Eddie, why do you do this to my poor shipper heart! You bastards!

And if having to make the choice to leave town wasn’t hard enough, Regina actually lets Robin go. The scene is heartbreaking as she fails to seize on her happy ending like Rumple suggested (in quite a touching scene. She even explains why Henry was snooping about). As Robin and company walk away, Regina rips up the storybook page that Robin found in his bag and walks away, leaving the merry men (not so merry now) to watch. I have to admit I am angry about this. I think I’m even angrier about this than when they killed Neal without letting him and Emma get their second chance.

And if Regina’s having a bad night, Rumple’s is turning out even worse. Anna stops to chat with Emma and company about this “nice Mr. Gold” and when she finds out it is Rumple, she warns them to his plan. So Emma and Snow head over to stop him from finishing the spell. But it’s Belle, having used the gauntlet to find his weakness (the real dagger), that stops him. She whisks him to the town line (well she makes him do it) and she confronts him about all of his lies and his lust and obsession with power. He tries to talk his way out of it but there’s no going back. They’re done and she orders him over the town line, knowing he can never return. It is actually a pretty heartbreaking scene too because he just collapses (guess without magic he has that nasty limp again). God, this is really just a shitty day for everyone.

We flip over to present day Arendelle where Anna and Kristoff are finally getting married. The sisters seem quite pleased and I’m guessing they restored the realm to its rightful rulers and gave the people back their memories of Helga and Ingrid. So at least all is well for them for the time being. I’m sure drama will hit them eventually.

Emma and Regina share a shot together which I have to say I enjoyed. Just the two of them being friends and Emma trying to cheer Regina up makes me smile. Plus they were gloating about Gold having a shitty day, too, when Henry busts in with good news. It seems the author of the storybook owns the mansion (aka the sorcerer). So Operation Mongoose is still a go. Six weeks later in New York, Gold finds Ursula at an aquarium feeding fish. He wants to team up with her and the other Queens of Darkness to get what he wants and give the baddies a happy ending for once. Because of course he does. I can’t tell if his anguish at having to cross the town line was real now or not. And I’ll have three months to stew over the mess Adam and Eddie have left our heroes.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Selfie 1.08: "Traumatic Party Stress Disorder"

“Don’t concern yourself with my merch!”

And so we begin the first of the Hulu (and burn-off episodes of “Selife.” I’ve got to say again that I’m sad to see this show go. It felt like it was really only just getting started, and the cast is so talented. This episode was fun to watch mostly because of John Cho’s charming performance. I find Henry’s forced formality rather grating, but he is hilarious when he lets himself let loose, and let loose he did in this episode. I often forget that John Cho was known as a comedic actor first, and this episode was a great reminder of that. The sooner Julia is gone, however, the better. She’s just so incredibly stilted and awkward. I thought I was uptight, but Julia takes the cake. The concert Henry goes to in this episode might not have been my top choice of how to spend an evening, but I would have enjoyed watching Henry get so into it. If I left, it would only be because my seriously jacked up back was hurting from standing so long.

This episode begins normally enough. Henry and Eliza are chatting in Henry’s office. Specifically, Henry is trying to get Eliza to use her phone less by telling her about all the germs that are probably on it. Eww. They are interrupted by Charmonique singing the Happy Birthday song for Henry. Apparently it’s part of her job. She’s singing it at this Friday lunch because Henry’s birthday is Saturday and she doesn’t work weekend. The whole contractually obligated to sing for coworkers thing kind of squicked me out. Anyway, Henry doesn’t really want the rest of the office to know it’s his birthday, but the coworkers keep approaching him with presents anyway. Then he hides under Eliza’s desk, but even that doesn’t keep the presents from coming.

Henry decides to make the best of the birthday situation, and he tasks Eliza with finding him a “modest but meaningful” birthday present. You know, as opposed to the crap all his other coworkers have been giving him. Eliza does some Facebook stalking, because social media stalking is what she does best, and she finds a photo of Henry from the 90’s wearing a Blues Traveler shirt. This leads her to get him Blues Traveler tickets for his birthday present. Henry’s reaction to the present is luke warm. He is pleased with the thought she put into the gift, but he puts an effort into not acting psyched to see Blues Traveler at age forty. Later that night in bed, Eliza and Freddie talk about Henry’s reaction to the present (and Freddie understandably is a little weirded out that Eliza thinks about Henry when she’s in bed with him. Anyway, Eliza and Freddie decide to throw Henry a party, even though everybody at the office said that was a spectacularly bad idea.

That evening, Julia and Henry are having a very boring dinner to celebrate Henry’s birthday. Henry brings up wanting to go to the Blues Traveler concert, couching it as a chance to experience some nostalgia. Julia mocks the idea of going to the concert, but she eventually agrees. While Henry is out, Eliza and Freddie scope out his house as their party location. Eliza has elaborate plans, but Freddie urges her to think about what sort of party Henry would actually like. So the guy’s not an idiot after all! Anyway, Henry and Julia arrive at the concert, and while he is awkward at first, pretty soon Henry is jamming out to “Runaround” with the best of them. Julia doesn’t quite know what to do with that. This made me kind of sad, to be honest. Like I said, I’m pretty uptight, but I could always go for some 90’s nostalgia. And watching Henry’s hilarious dancing would make me smile.

Eliza takes Freddie’s advice to heart, and she decides to throw an office themed party since Henry likes work so much. She invites a bunch their coworkers, and all the decorations and food are reminiscent of their office. This is kind of confusing for the KinderKare Pharmaceuticals crowd. There’s a big discussion about whether or not they have to act like they do at work. Joan, of course, takes care of ordering toner. The weirdest bit is that Unicef calls Henry’s house, and the group collectively decides to use his credit card to “adopt” 50 kids and buy a well. I thought Henry would be upset about that, but by the end of the episode, he buys a second well himself. Meanwhile at the concert, Henry has bought (and is wearing some merch), including a shirt and hat. He is completely rocking out and bonding with a fellow concert-goer. Julia gets really irritated by the whole thing and just up and leaves.

When Henry gets home, he’s very pissed to see that there’s a party in progress on the premises. He is an especially bad mood because of what happened with Julia, and the party isn’t helping matters. He takes Eliza into an adjoining room and yells about how he just wanted some peace and quiet after the concert. He makes a comment about not enjoying spending time with his coworkers, and the whole crew gets offended and leaves. Eliza makes a comment about how much it sucks to have nobody celebrate your birthday with you but a bitchy clown (she had a rough time as a kid). Later, we see Eliza, Larry, and Charmonique drinking in Eliza’s apartment, and it’s not a pretty sight. Larry is especially creepy. Julia, meanwhile, shows up at Henry’s house to apologize. Henry accepts the apology, and the next morning, he apologizes to Eliza for how he acted about the party. Eliza shows Henry a freaking awesome Youtube video of Henry dancing at the concert. Henry tries to delete, the video, but of course he ends up Tweeting it instead, so it gets even more publicity! Henry’s lack of social media literacy will never not be funny.

Constantine 1.08: "The Saint of Last Resorts Part 1"

“Just because I’m not hiding in a nunnery don’t mean I’m ignoring my debts.”
- Constantine

Welcome to the fall finale, gang. From what I understand it’s supposed to be the first half of a two-parter which is kind of exciting. We begin in a convent in Mexico City where a woman has just given birth to a little boy. A nun named Ann Marie shows up with some candy that the mother requested and then goes on her rounds. She starts hearing noises and runs into another sister before hearing screams. She finds the baby gone and the mother’s throat ripped out. Back in Atlanta Zed is back to drawing stuff and it looks like she’s drawing monsters from way back from when she touched Imogen’s heart. She is just about to take a break when Ann Marie appears in sort of spirit form and begs Constantine for help. He agrees but only because he apparently owes her. See, she hates him for some reason and as we cut to our first commercial break we see Ann Marie in Mexico holding an old photo of her and John from back in their wild youth.

Chaz is going to accompany Constantine on his trip south of the border, while Zed is to remain at home and recuperate some more. OF course, both she and Chaz needle Constantine about leaving the fluent Spanish speaker at home. But while the boys are off to the convent (which is quite the shock) Zed has her own drama to deal with. The house is kind of creepy and she ends up following noises to a door that leads nowhere. So of course, she decides to hit the art supply store for some more paint and runs into the male model. She agrees to a drink with him and then sees him in a white coat with a big door locked behind him (like she saw with the guy in New Orleans…but not the same vision). So she invites him back to her place. I want to believe she’s got a plan or something but right now she’s acting pretty stupid. I was only partly right. She did have a plan and she ties the guy up after he is spouting off about her father wanting her home and he calls her Mary. But before she can interrogate him much (it seems like her family has sort of a creepy crusader cult following), two more people show up. See if she hadn’t left the house they couldn’t have gotten in! She gets the model shot and she ends up losing one of the other baddies through the door to nowhere. But she’s still got the big guy with the gun to contend with. Unfortunately, he one ups her and drugs her.

Not only do they have to find out what the nasty beast is that nabbed the baby but it looks like Ann Marie and Constantine have some things to work out from their past. While Constantine voluntarily committed himself to an asylum, Ann Marie took her vows to try and repent for what happened at the séance in Newcastle. Interestingly, Constantine makes no mention of his commitment or Gary being dead. I suppose it probably doesn’t help the situation. Oh and apparently Ann Marie and Constantine had a one night stand before he snuck out to troll for other chicks. Not the best move Johnny boy. When their rune reading goes awry, Constantine and Ann Marie go to find the baby’s placenta so they can determine if the baby is alive. Just as they dig up the placenta (which let’s be honest is kind of creepy that you’d keep it), the tree it’s buried under starts bearing human fruit which is super gross. But it is enough to clue Constantine into the murderer/kidnapper’s identity.

So apparently Adam and Eve weren’t the only first humans. Eve had several sisters and they turned down Adam’s marriage proposal and went to be goddesses of Hell. And one of them took the baby. And it seems another one has gone missing. The couple whose baby was first taken have a teenage son who got a girl pregnant and now the little girl is missing, too. Constantine is going to use a spell to figure out which sister they’re dealing with and Ann Marie just yells at him that his spells and his ego are too dangerous. But she does get some comfort from Chaz who explains that Constantine hurts people’s feelings instead of getting them killed as his way of coping with the pain. So as Constantine is trying to do his spell one of the other nuns shows up and she tries to stop him from completing the spell. She’s the one who took the babies and after a little fighting and dunking into a fountain, Constantine manages to stab her and she runs off.

They need to figure out how Eve’s sister is running about and apparently curbing her hunger for eating babies. So they pay a visit to the grandmother of the man whose family is being affected and we learn about this very old evil that Constantine believes was wiped out a very long time ago. But it seems that the Rising Darkness is the design of these guys (the brujaria). Constantine lets slip that he was in an asylum as he and Ann Marie talk and while he says he’s not scared, he most definitely is. But they have a plan to lure Eve’s sister in so they can find the babies. They inject a dead chicken with the father’s blood and Constantine casts a glamor to make it look like a baby. Constantine, Ann Marie and Chaz chase it down into the sewers and find the babies but it is not going to be easy to get them out of there. Sure they manage to beat Eve’s sister by threatening to drown one of the babies until she told them the plan of the Rising Darkness (your pretty typical merge Hell and Earth and let the baddies take over) and then sending her off to be with the demon she loved and now hates. But their troubles don’t end there. The demon Zed was drawing at the beginning of the episode is real and in the tunnels. To get away with the babies Ann Marie shoots Constantine and leaves him there to die.

So both of our heroes are in mortal peril. It’s going to be a long month before the show returns and we find out what becomes of Constantine and Zed. I know this show is on borrowed time since the network didn’t give it a back 9 order, but I’m still holding onto a sliver of hope that it somehow makes it to a second season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.08: "The Things We Bury"

“Discovery requires experimentation, and this experiment will take time.”

“The Things We Bury” continued a good trend in recent episodes of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” of advancing the mythology in a significant and compelling way. We learned quite a lot about Whitehall, our current Big Bad, and we learned more about Ward’s history, too. I think I would have been able to follow along better if I had seen both Captain America films (I’ve only seen “The Winter Soldier”), but I could follow the general outline of what was going on well enough. Although truthfully, I could do without any screentime for Ward at all. He’s one sick puppy, and I don’t enjoy watching his twisted games at all. The sooner the Ward drama is over, the better, in my opinion, even though I did enjoy getting a few extra hours of Tim DeKay on my television out of the deal.

We begin the episode with a flashback to 1945. Whitehall is conducting experiments with the Obelisk, and of course, since he’s a sick puppy too, his experiments involve killing a lot of people. Basically he gets a bunch of people to touch the Obelisk and takes note of their death process. The next person to be experimented on is an Asian woman who turns out to be Skye’s mother. And she’s played by Whedon alum Dichen Lachman (Sierra from “Dollhouse”), which was a pleasant, unexpected treat. I am still in awe of the cast Team Whedon assembled for Dollhouse. I think it’s my favorite of all of them. So I love when any of those folks get work. Anyway, Skye’s mom touches the Obelisk, but she doesn’t die; she makes it glow. Whitehall is about to order her dissection when he is interrupted with the news that Red Skull (Hydra’s founder, I believe?) has died.

In the present day, Whitehall and Skye’s father have a chat about the Obelisk. Skye’s father says that the Obelisk is more than just a weapon. If a special person (someone who can hold it without being killed) takes it to a special place (presumably within the city Coulson discovered), it will do something bigger than just being the weapon Whitehall was looking for. Skye’s dad calls it the “Diviner.” Speaking of Coulson, his plan of attack is to be a few steps ahead for once and find the city depicted in the map before Hydra can. Easier said than done. Behind the scenes, Mack starts questioning Coulson’s sanity.

Bobbi has a very specific job in all of this. She is supposed to interrogate Bakshi, the Whitehall minion Ward left behind as a present for Coulson. I think he’s the security guy from the episode that focused on Simmons’ time at Hydra. Anyway, Bobbi, even though she’s a top notch interrogator, has a tough time getting anything out of Bakshi. He does, however eventually slip up and say that Whitehall was a disciple of Red Skull and shared his vision. Our team thinks Bakshi’s phrasing was a slip up, because there is no way Whitehall and Red Skull could have worked together. Red Skull has been dead since 1945 after all. After the first phase of the interrogation, Bobbi and Lance have an interesting conversation where Bobbi tries to prove to Lance that she already has Bakshi pegged.

Let’s just get the Ward plot out of the way now, because it was disturbing and I didn’t especially like it much. Senator Christian Ward (Tim DeKay) is on his way to the family vacation home when Grant ward smashes his car and nabs him. Out in the country, they have their typical twisted conversation, where it seems now like Grant is really the crazy one. Christian keeps accusing him of trying to blame others for all the sick things he has done in his life. It turns out that Grant led Christian to the site of the well where their brother Thomas died, and he wants Christian to start digging. Grant brought a shovel and everything. There’s a physical altercation where Grant beats up Christian pretty badly, then he holds Christian over the open well until Christian admits that he manipulated Grant to kill Thomas. His reasoning for wanting Thomas dead was that Thomas was the only Ward brother their mother didn’t torture, and he wanted her to feel their pain. Seemingly happy with the truth, Ward helps Christian up, and they walk out of the woods.

The Bus is headed for Hawaii (lucky), and Coulson has very specific jobs for Skye, Trip, and Fitz when they get there. Skye and Trip are supposed to drop off and retrieve certain items. Fitz is supposed to start practicing installing a transceiver patch. Coulson tells him he needs to accomplish it in under six minutes. Fitz practices diligently, but by the time Skye and Trip return to the Bus from completing their respective Hawaii missions, Fitz is getting frustrated. It’s still taking him more than seven minutes to do what he needs to do.

Meanwhile, Simmons has been looking through SSR records, trying to learn more about the Whitehall/Red Skull connection. She learns more about the Obelisk, and she also learns about a man named Werner Reinhardt. Reinhardt is actually Daniel Whitehall, and the way in which Reinhardt became Whitehall is the focus of much of the rest of the episode. After letting Simmons geek out about touching files that were touched by Agent Carter, May clues the group into a special vault that has more records. In that vault, Simmons actually finds the Reinhardt file. Instantly, Simmons recognizes the picture in the file as Whitehall. Lance immediately takes the file to Bobbi, why uses it to confront Bakshi. Instead of spilling the beans, though, Bakshi releases a poison capsule that was embedded in his jawbone. Somehow Bakshi survives, but he’s in bad shape.

Speaking of Whitehall, we really do learn a lot about him in this episode. In the present day, we see Whitehall and Skye’s father talk about what the Diviner actually does. Skye’s father says that if it is taken into the special city, it will save a chosen few when it kills everybody else. Skye’s father wants a promise of money and a team to venture to the city from Whitehall in exchange for using the Obelisk/Diviner to kill certain people they both want dead (like Coulson). We also get some more interesting Whitehall flashbacks. Agent Carter herself leaves Reinhardt to rot in an S.S.R. prison (later a S.H.I.E.L.D. prison) called the Rat. In the 1980’s, eventually is rescued by some of the Hydra agents who had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. The reason Hydra chooses that moment to spring him is because they found Skye’s mom, and she looks exactly as she did in 1945. Whitehall of course goes to town with dissection (or I guess it would be vivisection since she was still alive) until he has managed to steal her eternal youth power.

When we next see Coulson’s little strike team, they’re in Australia. There’s a secondary (to the primary in Hawaii) base there that the team can use to infiltrate a satellite network. He wants to use the satellites to find the mysterious city. The items that Skye and Trip had to deliver in Hawaii were meant to disrupt the Hawaiian base so that the Australian one would go online. Once that happens, Fitz is supposed to install his transceiver patch so Skye can hack the satellite network. Unfortunately for our team, though, Hydra seems to already be there. Coulson and Trip try to shoot their way into the base, and Trip is hit. We then see that the leader of the Hydra team is Skye’s father. He offers to help since he’s a “doctor.” Of course, Skye’s father just makes Trip’s condition worse as a way to get Coulson to agree to let him escape. Coulson rushes to save Trip as Skye’s father runs off and Fitz installs his patch. The computer works, and Skye starts asking about what happened to Trip. Before anyone has the heart to answer her, though, the computer finds a match for the mysterious city.

Elsewhere, (Grant) Ward has found Whitehall, and they have a chat about second chances. Which is appropriate considering both their histories. We soon learn, however, that Grant didn’t let Christian go after he admitted his role in Thomas’ death. A news story reports that he killed Christian and their parents. Later, Whitehall brings Ward together with Skye’s father for another chat. As the episode closes, we get a flashback to Skye’s father finding the remains of her mother and vowing revenge on Whitehall. So maybe Coulson isn’t the person he wants to kill after all?

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Librarians 1.01-1.02: “And The Crown of King Arthur”/”And The Sword in the Stone”

“I’m offering you a life of mystery and misery, of loneliness and adventure. More than that I’m offering you an opportunity to make a difference to save the world every week. Twice before Friday. Are you in?”
- Flynn Carson

Now before we get into the meat and potatoes of this two-hour premiere event, I have to tell you that I have anxiously been awaiting this show since Leverage ended back in 2012. I knew pretty early on that this would be the team’s next project and I was very excited to learn that Christian Kane was aboard as one of the principal cast. Over the summer I watched the films with Noah Wylie and fell in love with the premise. Needless to say, I’m very thrilled that TNT is letting this baby take flight.

We begin in Berlin where Colonel Eve Baird (US Special Forces) is doing a big raid and take down of some arms dealers. She happens upon two guys with a nuclear bomb and they set it off. Then who should come crawling through the air vents but one Flynn Carson. He’s clearly learned a lot since we last saw him hanging out with sexy vampires. He’s on the hunt for an opal that raises demons (but doesn’t control them, that’s very important). So while Baird is busy trying to defuse the bomb and shooting at the German guys, Flynn is extracting the opal from the big stone trap box. Remarkably, he gets them both through it with not a lot of trouble before disappearing, as mysterious librarians do. The next day back in New York, Flynn gets a call from a man who gets murdered as soon as he sets foot in the library. But Flynn doesn’t stick around as people call for help. He’s more interested in what the man was going to tell him.

Baird gets put on a one month leave of absence after her encounter with Flynn in Germany and then the Library sees fit to recruit her as a possible Guardian. I’m pretty sure Sonja Wagner played that role in the first film. But after that he didn’t have a Guardian. It seems also that with age and experience has come cynicism and a dash of crazy. I do love how much it feels like Warehouse 13 too when Eve first sees the library. And good old Excalibur is still around and attacking new people. Sadly, Judson has died but his spirit is stuck in a mirror which is kind of neat. Flynn protests Eve’s presence, insisting he doesn’t need a babysitter bodyguard. But as they soon discover when Eve offers some help on solving the professor’s murder, someone or something is killing off potential Librarians. But there are three in the top ranks who don’t have death notices yet.

Enter Cassandra Cillian. She’s working as a janitor in a New York hospital. She seems a little off in a savant sort of way but that makes sense since all of her senses are linked to memory and she can get a little overwhelmed. Then there’s master thief Ezekiel Jones who Flynn rescues from nearly getting nabbed in a museum in Geneva. And Baird goes to retrieve genius and art historian Jacob Stone (Christian Kane) from Oklahoma…and some ninjas. Seriously, they fought ninjas in a bar fight. It was a little sad to see Christian not getting to use his normal fighting skills but I’m sure as the show progresses, they’ll be honed and he’ll be just as kickass as Eliot Spencer.

The trio gets to the library and are in various states of shock and awe. We learn that Cassie has a brain tumor which affects her abilities and that she was hospitalized when she got her invitation a decade ago. Zeke tossed his out and Jake figured he had a nice job already in the family business. But they start getting into things when Jake ID’s the painting as the Crown of King Arthur. Zeke knows it’s located in Munich and so off they pop, much to Flynn’s displeasure. He still believes in working alone but it’s a good thing the team goes with him. Jake points out that the painting is a fake and Baird is able to alert them that they’ve got snake-like company (the Serpent Brotherhood which I believe was in the first movie) are trying to bring magic back again and need the crown to control it. And while magic used appropriately is all fun and puppies, wild magic is devastating and chaotic. So yeah, don’t let the baddies get the magic.

The longer the team is together, the more Flynn is starting to realize he needs them. Jake ID’s the paint used as being four centuries too late for the painting to be real and Zeke notes that the frame can’t come off the wall. Cassie finds a code on the frame and they figure out that it’s coordinates based on the location of the painting in the museum. So while they race outside to a rock with more clues, Baird kicks some Serpent Brotherhood ass. The next clue leads them to the Black Forest and I have to say this feels a lot like the films with the adventure spirit and racing against the bad guys. Especially when those bad guys have a helicopter. While Zeke and Baird go try to distract the bad guys, Flynn and Cassie figure out the sun’s arc through the henge they’ve found and as Jake helps Cassie focus in on the memory the scent of oranges is linked to, Flynn finds the location of the crown. Oh and Flynn and Baird kind of shared a moment where they realize they are very much alike. It almost felt like they were setting them up to be a couple far far down the road (the new Nate and Sophie perhaps?).

Well, Zeke manages to blow up the helicopter which gives Jake enough time to use a blowtorch made out of a picnic and an oxygen tank and retrieve the crown of King Arthur. They get it back to the library just in time for the proximity alarm to go off and Cassie to betray the group (the baddies promised they could cure her tumor). The female leader of the group (the male leader is played by the actor who played Dr. Leekie on Orphan Black) takes the crown and control of Excalibur and uses it to stab Flynn in the gut. Well, that would certainly give the trio a reason to take over as the new librarians.

Baird rushes in and takes out the goons left to finish off Flynn and the boys are right behind her. Unfortunately (depending on your point of view), Judson and Charlene have activated an old bit of magic and severed the library from the physical point in this world. So it’s literally closing up. So the Serpent Brotherhood doesn’t get nearly the amount of toys they’d hoped for. It also reminded me of a Warehouse 13 special. Which just makes me smile. Flynn manages to chug some magical healing nectar which dulls the pain of his magical wound and slows the bleeding. Then it’s off to a magic door that plops them in Portland, Oregon where they meet Jenkins, the caretaker of the Annex. I have to say it was a clever way to do it and cut down on the budget of the show. You use the sets from the films to establish stuff and then you set up the smaller location to film in. And we get Christian Kane making reference to the Home Office (he’s ribbing Jenkins about being stuck in the Annex) and I had to laugh at the Wolfram and Hart reference, even if it wasn’t intended. But as jovial as things are, they take a serious turn when we learn that Flynn has a day at most before he dies from blood loss.

Cassie is with the Serpent Brotherhood at their headquarters and the female leader (Lamia apparently is her name…missed that in the first half of the premiere) is about to kill her when the real leader nixes the idea and promises Cassie will be cured and that she’s there to ensure they help all the needy people. Speaking of needy people, Jenkins gives Baird a bit of a pep talk to get Flynn to buck up. He’s acting very much like he was before the library (very buried in books, thinking about doing stuff instead of actually doing it). She convinces him that the library and Charlene and Judson made him who he is and that perks him up. They figure out that Excalibur is the key and it has to go back in the stone which is in London. And given that they’re facing crazy magic and evil and he’s bleeding out, yeah, the rest of the gang came tag along, too.

The gang heads to the Tower of London where Flynn explains they can use a magical object as a compass to find the stone which is pure magic. So they do a little conning and let Zeke snag a jewel next to the crown jewels which then leads them to Buckingham Palace. The Serpent Brotherhood has already gone underground (literally) to search for the stone. Zeke forges them some invites to a charity gala but it’s Baird and her actual government ID that gets them into the event. Jake and Zeke head off to look for anything that could be a secret passage while Flynn and Baird do a little recon while dancing (well she’s mainly keeping him upright and not bleeding all over the floors). They find the secret door about the same time Lamia’s men bust through and into the room with the stone. She gets Cassie to unlock the mechanism surrounding the stone and then sends her off to be locked away before reuniting Excalibur with the stone. The head of the Brotherhood’s eyes glow purple as magic is released back into our world. The team has to really race for it before Flynn dies and it’s just too late.

The gang finds the tunnel the bad guys dug and then find Cassie who comes up with a plan. But it’s going to take everyone’s skill sot make it work. I’m so glad they’re gelling so quickly. The plan works, too. They get the crown back and stop the magic from seeping out into the world and Cassie even uses the dying magic within Excalibur to save Flynn’s life instead of heal her tumor. I have to say, I know it’s just a sword and not even a real sword but I was sad to see Excalibur melt into the stone. Now there’s still quite a bit of magic in the world thanks to the stunt and so someone is going to need to keep an eye on it. Flynn tries to usher off the trio but after Judson appears and tells him that the Library and Charlene are lost and that Flynn is the new head Librarian, Flynn decides to change the rules. The team (and Baird) can hunt things down on a weekly basis while he focuses on the bigger picture of finding the Library. Before he heads off, he and Baird share a kiss and an awkward sexual tension moment. Yeah they are totally this group’s Nate and Sophie. And even Jenkins is going to warm up to them as he introduces them to the clippings book which updates daily with new weird incidents for them to investigate.

This is going to be one hell of a ride and I can’t wait to see where we go next. It had the fun teamwork vibe of Leverage and the quirkiness of Warehouse 13. It was a beautiful thing and I will stick around for as long as the network sees fit to fill our screens with these awesome characters.

Once Upon a Time 4.11: "Shattered Sight"

“Long ago, a prophecy told me that you would lead me to just that, Emma and this is it. All I wanted was to have my sisters’ love and now I have it. Now I get to join them.”
- Ingrid

For an episode that was supposed to be all crazy with everyone hurting each other with their words and their fists, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. I think it would have been better if some of the townsfolk besides the Charmings and Regina were able to have lines explaining the drama going on instead of just beating each other up. But, I can’t change that.

We got the rest of the Emma and Ingrid backstory this week, too. We find Ingrid in Boston in 1982 getting swindled by some fake fortune teller. She was hoping to find out more information about Emma. She’s got to wait until 2001 though to find her (the timing doesn’t quite work out for Emma to be 13 or 14 in 2001 if she’s 28 in 2011 but whatever. Emma is going to sneak out of Ingrid’s house because her new foster brother Jason is a dick but Ingrid is sitting on the couch and kind of says “go ahead and leave if you want but it’s a shame you can’t just prank your foster brother with this fear I know about”. Emma hangs around one more night which leads to at least six months as we know. Ingrid is going to adopt Emma and so she takes her to an arcade and they’re playing one of those games with the claw grip thing. The lights on the machine flicker before Emma gets a prize and Ingrid thinks she’s coming into her powers. Unfortunately, her idea is to test her theory by dragging Emma out into traffic. Emma understandably freaks out and takes off and that is likely when she jumps out of the system and eventually ends up with Neal. And we visit a bit of Storybrooke’s more recent past when Emma goes into Ingrid’s ice cream shop to get ice cream and recognizes her foster mom. Again, freak out. But this is also when Ingrid takes Emma’s memories.

In the Storybrooke of the present, people are starting to just beat the crap out of each other for no reason. We see most of the dwarves going at it and apparently Sneezy tires to kill Grumpy with a crossbow. Clearly, he fails. Amidst all this nonsense, Hook ends up in Gold’s shop, having likely been summoned. It seems he’s immune to the spell since his heart isn’t in his chest. Guess that’s handy. I don’t really fancy the sleazy pirate who enticed a married woman to leave her husband and child popping back up. Anyway, Gold tasks Hook with gathering Henry and taking him to the town line where Hook will meet them with Belle and then head to New York to start their new life. He’d been seen as the hero. Hooke’s endeavor to collect Henry fails though. Henry admits (under the spell of course) that he never liked Hook and he likes him even less now that he’s dating Emma. Thank you for saying what I feel kid! And he’s set a trap anyway. Hook gets into the mayor’s office and promptly falls flat on his ass thanks to a bunch of marbles. Brilliant! And then Hook is waylaid by Will Scarlet wanting round two from when he’d been trying to break into the library but Hook doesn’t have time for that.

At the sheriff’s station, Snow and Charming are going at each other over the violent beginning of their relationship and their less flattering character traits. Mary Margaret even got in digs about the way he swaddles baby Neal! Anna (who is put on babysitting duty by Emma while she and Elsa go off to confront Ingrid) tries to get them to see reason but even Kristoff is whining about her postponing their wedding and not wanting to get married if it’s all just sniping at each other. Speaking of Emma and Elsa, they find Ingrid in town and try to stop her with their magic but it’s not working thanks to the ribbons. Ingrid explains that the love contained in them has no equal. So Emma comes up with the brilliant plan to get Regina super pissed at her and let her hatred fuel magic to destroy them. And it works. Emma taunts Regina by saying she purposely brought Marian back to mess up Regina’s love life and that’s enough to get Regina (now in Evil Queen garb by the way) to blast the ribbons.

Free of her crypt now, Regina goes looking for Emma and finds the Charmings at the station. She poos Kristoff and Anna back to ‘where they came from” which in this case is the beach by the trunk and the bottle. Kristoff insists he’s going to swim back to Arendelle and Anna (out of love) conks him on the head with the bottle. It breaks and she finds the message from her mother which changes everything. As Anna is going off to find Emma, Elsa and Ingrid, Regina and Snow end up in a rather funny sword fight over Daniel (what else). Snow rightly remarks that she was ten when all this happened but she is totally besting Regina (who can’t use magic).

In the ice cave, Emma and Elsa are indeed having trouble defeating Ingrid (to break the spell they need to kill her). Ingrid produces the memory stones that she created with their memories and seems convinced that once she returns the good memories, they’ll be a weird happy family. Enter Anna with the scroll which she promptly reads out loud. Gerda has written that she wishes she could change what happened and that she needs Ingrid to know that she still loves her She wants to return all the memories of everyone in Arendelle so they can remember both Ingrid and Helga. Ingrid doesn’t believe it at first but she touches a memory rock and sees all of Gerda’s good memories of them growing up and she realizes that she’s been wrong and she needs to stop the spell. Everyone’s kind of not down with her sacrificing herself but she explains that she’s been waiting all this time for Emma to lead her to the love of her sisters and it’s finally happened. Before she disappears into snow she returns Emma and Elsa’s memories and the snow that falls saves everyone. It looks like not much harm has been done in the loss of life department anyway. Everyone’s happy to see each other which is nice. I do hope next week they touch on some of the things that were said, especially Henry’s feelings about Emma’s love life. Speaking of Hook, he pays Gold another visit who insists that even if Ingrid’s plan failed, his won’t and he’s still leaving town and he’s going to cleave himself from the dagger when the stars in the sky match the stars on the hat. So it looks like Hook may not be lasting too much longer anyway.

Overall, I thought this episode could have been a bit stronger but it did wrap things up pretty well so we can have one episode to set us up for the rest of the se3ason when it comes back in the spring. It seems we’re going to have a trio of (hopefully unrelated) witches to contend with (Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella).

Sunday, December 7, 2014

New Girl 4.08: "Teachers"

“The conference is going to be really fun. We just have to work from, like, nine to seven. And then after that, it’s a party. Until ten, when quiet hours are strictly enforced.”

I did genuinely enjoy watching this particular episode of “New Girl,” although I also felt a fair amount of embarrassment squick for Jess. And also, I found the B story pretty ridiculous. But I laughed, so that’s something, I guess. In this episode, Jess, Coach, and Ryan go to a teaching conference, and awkwardness between Jess and Ryan ensues. Okay, now that I think about it more, the A story was kind of ridiculous, too. Jess goes way overboard in trying to avoid Ryan, and she makes the whole situation even more unprofessional than it already was, if that’s possible. Pro tip: just turn the romantic part of your brain off when it comes to supervisor/supervisee (professional) relationships, and your life will be much easier. I’m just sitting here shaking my head, really. The saving grace to the conference plot is that we do get Coach doing some serious soul searching about what it means to be a teacher.

Jess has Coach teaching health at their school, and Coach isn’t happy about it. Jess thinks that getting to go to a nearby teaching conference for the weekend would be a perk of the arrangement, but Coach doesn’t see it that way. The rest of the guys are having a guy’s weekend to celebrate Jess being gone (which I think is a little mean), and Coach finds that idea much more appealing. Separately with Cece, Jess is kind of freaking out about the conference, because it might force her to be uncomfortably close with Ryan. Since she knows she has a crush on Ryan, and he’s technically one of her employees, Jess has been going out of her way to avoid him. As in running down the hallway when he tries to talk to her out of her way. Which is really, if you think about it, discriminatory and unprofessional in its own way.

Anyway, as you’d expect, the guys’ weekend back at the loft doesn’t exactly go as planned. The guys get bored of playing a silly drinking game (True American, maybe?) in costumes, and they decide that they should do something they could never do if Jess was around. They go into her room and use her windows to spy on some ladies doing stretches across the street. Schmidt, in his enthusiasm, accidentally spills a glass of red wine all over Jess’ bed spread. Schmidt freaks out, and when Nick and Winston ask why he can’t just wash the bedspread, Schmidt is forced to admit that he never learned how to do laundry. Given how fastidious Schmidt is, I have a hard time believing it. Schmidt cites some specific traumatic laundry experiences to explain it, but I still don’t buy it. Oh, and Winston also doesn’t know how to read a ruler. Nick decides he is going to personally tackle both of these problems.

Meanwhile, at the conference in Palmdale, Jess asks Coach to be a buffer between herself and Ryan. The buffer doesn’t last long, though. The main speaker at the conference (played by the always awesome Lisa Bonet) singles Coach out to answer some of her questions. Coach quickly has enough and escapes to the bar, leaving Jess sitting directly next to Ryan. Next thing she knows, it’s time for partner activities, and Ryan is her partner. This is exactly the kind of thing that Jess was hoping to avoid. They have to do all these getting to know you and trust building exercises together, and it’s rather painful to watch. At first, they’re supposed to ask each other a series of somewhat personal questions, and Jess tries to deflect as much as she possibly can. By the time they’re doing an obstacle course where Jess has to be blindfolded, she’s starting to let her guard down a bit, but not by too much. She’s realizing that Ryan is kind of the perfect guy, and she’s finding it more and more difficult to resist him.

Back at the loft, Nick has started teaching his own lessons for the weekend. The easiest is teaching Winston how to read a ruler. All he has to do is tell Winston to start at the first tick mark (instead of the end), and Winston is good to go, gleefully measuring everything he can throughout the rest of the episode. Teaching Schmidt how to do laundry is more challenging, and it’s treated as a sort of training montage. At first, Schmidt can’t even measure the correct amount of detergent. Nick keeps just pouring it on the floor until he get it right. And can I say, for living in a kind of broke ass loft, they have super nice washing and drying machines. I wish I had appliances like that in my apartment! Instead I have to go do my laundry in the Speed Queens in the basement. Definite washer/dryer envy going on here. Anyway, when he stops thinking about it too much, Schmidt is finally able to do laundry. Huzzah.

Coach is enjoying his time in the bar when some of the other teachers try to disabuse him of the notion that being the health teacher doesn’t mean much. They talk about how he’s pretty much the last defense against all the students getting pregnant. This serves to just freak Coach out, and when Jess finds him, he’s threatening to jump off the bath house into the in ground pool. Coach and Jess have a heart-to-heart on the bath house roof, but Coach ends up slipping and falling into the pool. Ryan, who tagged along to make sure everything was okay, dives in after Coach and (sort of) rescues him. Then he tells Jess all about how he knew he wanted to be a teacher when he taught his autistic sister how to read and Jess admits she has a massive crush on him. And he and Jess then kiss, as we all predicted they would. I really don’t have much more to say about that.

At the loft, with their embarrassing knowledge gaps filled, Winston and Schmidt encourage Nick to work on his own embarrassing knowledge gap. Nick just mentions that he doesn’t know much about love. Which is crap since he and Jess most definitely loved each other. Next thing we know, the guys are in a blanket fort singing along to “I Want to know what Love is.” Lamest guy weekend ever. When Jess and Coach arrive home, though, the guys are all playing video games and acting like they had the manliest guy weekend ever. Jess is left still trying to figure out what to do about the Ryan situation, and Coach is feeling better about the prospect of being the health teacher.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Constantine 1.07: "Blessed are the Damned"

“They’re all just hungry for something to believe in and he’s preying on them.”
- Zed

We find our crisis of the week down in the south at a revival church that uses snakes. The guy is taking over for his father who recently died and instead of using a copperhead that isn’t poisonous, he uses a rattle snake that during the service bites him (obviously). He dies and then comes back to life. His hand glows and then he regrows a man’s leg. You just know that it isn’t going to go well. Back in Atlanta, Zed is doing a nude male model drawing class when she sees snakes all around her feet. She freaks out which prompts the teacher to call a little break. She’s kin a bit of a hurry to go tell Constantine what she saw when the male model asks her out to coffee and then dinner. She agrees to later in the week and then gets back to HQ. It seems that Constantine already knows about the preacher as it is circulating on conspiracy sites. So they’re heading to Kentucky.

Down at the church, we see the preacher heal more people. Constantine was initially skeptical but he sees that this is the real deal. Especially when the preacher starts rambling and chanting in angel speak. I have a feeling Manny is going to be visiting shortly. Elsewhere, the man with the regrown leg is getting checked out at the hospital when he attacks the doctor. It seems he might be possessed or something. Well, Constantine did say you can’t wield the type of power the preacher is without consequence. And the possessed leg guy is still messing with things. He kills a sheriff on the road and then runs off on all fours. Yeah, he’s definitely possessed by something.

Back at the church, Zed gets to meet the preacher and sees his moment near death and the angel that supposedly saved him. It isn’t quite as trippy for her as a few weeks ago but she’s a bit dazed. Constantine asks the preacher why he’s speaking in angelic tongues but the preacher just brushes him off, saying he can’t question the gifts given by God. He repeats something similar to his sister as he ducks inside later to write his next sermon. His sister doesn’t look well and it would appear that his talents are affecting her, too. Constantine explains to Zed that all this healing energy is going to have a negative effect on the land and they find a pond with a whole mess of dead fish. This prompts Constantine to try and have a chat with Manny. Just calling him doesn’t work and he has to actually perform a little ritual to get the angel to come visit. It reminded me a little of Charmed with white lighters having more than just one charge. Anyway, Manny insists he can’t do anything to sway outcomes but he does suggest Constantine say the angel speak facing the sun. Manny disappears and so Constantine gets Zed to hum. It turns out to be like echolocation. They follow the sound to a tree with a bunch of leaves on the ground and a woman with very white wings lying in them. Well that’s interesting that not all angels have the same color wings. Casts a little more doubt on Manny’s true intentions, doesn’t it?

Constantine and Zed get the angel (Imogen) to a safe place where she tells them that she was taking a dying mortal to heaven when he pulled off one of her wings and she fell to earth, crossing into our plane so she can manifest physically. Manny appears and he and Constantine have a conversation while Zed kind of blindly wanders around trying to find Manny. It turns out angels can die, their souls are extinguished and they just fade away to nothingness. So they need to retrieve the feather back from the preacher. But first, Constantine casts a protection spell around Imogen so nothing evil can get to her. He’s also rather dismissive of religion which confuses Zed since, you know, angels are real. We next see the preacher buttoning up his shirt with Imogen’s feather on a string around his neck when his sister shows up to tell him that the first guy he healed is a murder suspect. She also ends up coughing up blood but refuses to let him heal her. She doesn’t think what he’s doing is right and so he kicks her out of the fold.

Constantine tries to talk to the preacher and get the feather but the feather has other ideas. It kind of kicks his ass and so they are going to need a new plan. Plus, the first healed guy goes after Zed and Constantine has to stab him in the gut to stop him. It seems when she saw the preacher almost die, she took on some of his energy. So she’s going to use her feminine wiles to get close to the preacher. This includes baptism. She manages to snag the feather from him while he’s dunking her in some rather murky looking water and then a bunch of other healed people start going crazy and attacking people. They have to somehow get the feather back to Imogen to keep them all from going super violent.

Things quickly escalate as Zed, Constantine and the preacher head back to the church. Manny is chatting with Imogen about pain and what it’s like to feel solid when Zed races off to deliver the feather. But the preacher confesses to killing a man and Constantine realizes that the preacher was on his way to hell, not heaven. Unfortunately, there’s no way to let Zed know and she reunites the feather and Imogen. But it seems Manny is a little concerned by the things Imogen was saying about wanting to take the Earth back from the mortals. Imogen’s wings turn black and Manny realizes she’s one of the Fallen (she killed a mortal to see how easy it would be) and Constantine shows up just in time to see his protection spell working in reverse. Imogen tires to kill Zed and Manny disappears only to inhabit Zed’s body and rip out Imogen’s heart. It’s apparently pure evil so they don’t want to be messing with it for long. The preacher goes back to his church and tries to make amends for what he’s done and Constantine and Manny chat about how the veil between this world and Hell is ever thinning. The Rising Darkness is really on its way. And it seems Zed’s dinner date with the male model is going off the rails, too. She forgot all about it and then we see that he’s not alone. There are some other people who were hoping she’d show up. Either a contingent trying to get her out of the way for the Rising Darkness or her past catching up to her.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.07: "The Writing on the Wall"

“He’ll recover. He did before. Besides, brains never delete files. They just lose connections. But there’s always a backup. Just a matter of digging and finding them.”

This episode of “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” while lower key than many recent episodes, was interesting in the sense that it was sort of a murder mystery for the team to solve. And added bonus, the murder mystery is connected to the bigger show mythology mystery the team is tackling this season. That would be the mystery of the writing that Coulson has been compulsively carving. While the episode didn’t really get the adrenaline going, I was happy to have more understanding of the carving. It was especially satisfying that while some of the basic mystery of the carving was resolved, that resolution opened up a new mystery. I think all good television shows pace their mythology well in that way. On the negative side, this episode had too much Ward. I’ve really never been a fan, and I’m more over him now than ever.

The episode opens by setting up the murder mystery. A man named Sebastian and a woman arrive at the woman’s apartment after a date. They talk about how when they saw each other, they could have sworn they recognized each other, but they don’t know why. Or at least the woman doesn’t know why. Sebastian says he can make her remember. We learn later that his idea of making her remember is carving stuff into her until she dies. Speaking of carving, Coulson is still carving into the wall of his office with a vengeance. He is interrupted by Skye, who, while she knows the carving is supposed to be a map, can’t figure out what the map is depicting. Their conversation makes it clear that Coulson has been carving more and more lately.

The B story in this episode is part of the team (the B team really, led by May) following Ward on a chase through cities that all have special meaning to me. It was quite fun to experience Ward’s tour of some cities in the eastern United States where I have spent some time. The first stop is Philadelphia, which of course is the city out of the bunch with the most meaning to me. I grew up in the suburbs, but my parents were both born in Philadelphia and raised either in or very close to it, so I have experienced my fair share of Philadelphia culture in my life. Anyway, the important thing isn’t that he’s in Philadelphia. The important part is that Tripp sees him there. May is on her way in the plane to help, but before Tripp can do anything, Ward flashes the fact that he’s wearing a dead man’s switch and a crap ton of C4. So if the team tries to do anything, there is going to be a huge explosion.

Back at the Playground, Skye tells Coulson about the murder that happened at the beginning of the episode. They are both really interested in the case because of the writing carved into the woman. It’s the same writing Coulson has been carving. Coulson thinks the victim was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but there’s no readily apparent evidence of this. They investigate her apartment, and they see a bunch of paintings that seem to feature the alien writing (again). One of them is titled “A Magical Place,” and it’s apparent that there is something related to GH325 (the alien serum that healed Coulson and Skye) going on. It’s also apparent that the woman was probably a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent after all. As Simmons starts the autopsy, Coulson wonders why he can’t remember the victim. He has found her S.H.I.E.L.D. records, and because of her relatively high clearance level, he should have remembered her.

When we next see Ward, he’s in Atlanta. I myself was in Atlanta in October. It was my second trip to the city – my first was in 2012. When watching this scene, I wondered why they altered the MARTA logo to say Atlanta instead. Maybe to make it obvious it was Atlanta? Or the MARTA logo is copyrighted? Or both? Anyway, Ward is trying to catch a bus to Dallas. He befriends a mother and daughter, which is kind of creepy, but when he gets on the bus, he ends up sitting next to Bobbi. He quickly figures out she’s a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent because she hasn’t been turning the page in her book. He immediately gets off the bus and gets on another bus. Hunter is on that other bus, but Ward doesn’t notice.

Simmons’ autopsy discovers GH325 in the victim. There is also GH325 in some tissue under the victim’s nails, so the team figures the killer was exposed to GH325, too. This leads Coulson to think he needs to take drastic measures to remember what happened during his time working with the Tahiti initiative. Coulson goes in what is basically a torture machine to try and recover memories of that time. He sees himself supervising six patients/S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. All seem well adjusted at first, and Coulson recommends their release. Then the carvings start. Coulson’s boss says that he can help by erasing the memories of all the patients. While remembering this, Coulson is going through a tough time in the present day. Through all the pain, Skye asks Coulson to remember the names of the Tahiti patients.

When we next see Ward, he’s in Boston, home to my fearless co-runner of MTVP, Sarah. I’ve visited Boston twice, too. It’s a city I really enjoy visiting, although I don’t think I could stand the cold if I lived there. Ward goes into a bar, and inside, he meets up with one of Whitehall’s operatives. Meanwhile, Coulson remembers a few names of Tahiti patients before he starts really convulsing and Skye calls an end to the experiment. She also calls May, who tells her to lock Coulson up. There is only one Tahiti patients unaccounted for, and his new, post memory-wipe name is Hank. As Skye is trying to lock Coulson up, Coulson gets the upper hand and imprisons Skye. Then he leaves, presumably to go after Hank. Simmons is distracted at first with Fitz issues, but she eventually sees the imprisoned Skye on a security monitor.

Coulson goes to Hank’s house, but Sebastian got there first, and he knocks Coulson out. Meanwhile, May’s team raids the bar where Ward was last seen, but Ward is gone. Ward left the Whitehall operative behind as a “gift” for Coulson. When we next see Hank’s house, Sebastian has Hank and Coulson tied up. Hank slowly managed to get himself untied, though, and he manages to save Coulson. As Sebastian and Coulson are fighting, Sebastian evil speeches of evil about how the alien writing “goes deeper,” and that’s why he carves bodies.

May and Skye had to do some research to figure out where Coulson went, and when they’re on their way there, they run into Hank on the side of the road. Hank says two guys are fighting at his house, so May and Skye rush to the scene. When they get there, Coulson is strangling Sebastian, and they try to stop him. Sebastian doesn’t die, but he comes just close enough to death to see the final piece of the alien writing image. It’s not a map. It’s a blueprint of an entire city. With the puzzle solved, Coulson no longer feels the compulsion to carve. His new mission is to find the location depicted in the map. At the end of the episode, Ward makes a very creepy phone call to Skye. After the call, Ward puts down a newspaper, and the cover story is about his brother. It’s pretty apparent that Ward is going after his brother next.