Sunday, August 31, 2014

Doctor Who 8.02: "Into the Dalek"

“You looked into me and saw hatred. That’s not victory. Victory would have been a good Dalek.”
- The Doctor

Overall, Twelve’s second adventure was decent. Sure a lot of it felt overdone but that’s just the problem of Moffatt having a hand in writing the script. We kick off with a woman in a ship and she’s about to get blown up by some Daleks. The Doctor plucks her out of the ship a second before it explodes (and she would have died). She’s not too grateful for it. And for some reason he’s extra crabby with her until she just flat out asks him to “please” take her back to her ship (which is a medical ship). As soon as he does, he’s whisked off to see their newest patient, a good Dalek that the Doctor nicknames Rusty. The medical ship people want the Doctor to help the Dalek. This will of course require pulling Clara away from her normal life (and a date with the new math teacher Danny Pink). Danny and Clara kind of had a season 1 Rose and Mickey vibe going. Danny is also a former soldier and I’m guessing he’s got some form of PTSD (a student in his class asks if he’s killed someone who wasn’t a soldier and he kind of goes stone faced and monotone repeating the homework assignment). I don’t know why but a lot of things about Twelve and the way people interact with him is very reminiscent of Eccleston’s short reign. I guess that makes some sense since the romance between the Doctor and his companions didn’t really start until Ten came along.

Much of the episode is spent with the Doctor, Clara and some of the medical staff/soldiers miniaturized (Tessalecter anyone) and inside Rusty. They’re trying to find out what made the Dalek go “good”. It wants to destroy all Daleks. It was kind of interesting to see the inside of a Dalek shell from the inside. It made me wonder why they didn’t just open him up to fix the ultimate issue, which turns out to be a radiation leak. Along the way, we learn that the Dalek has memory storage even for memories it ultimately represses and it has antibodies which really made me think of “Let’s Kill Hitler”. Although these ones didn’t warn you that your death would be painless. I enjoyed the antibodies from “Let’s Kill Hitler” more. I’m not entirely sure but the radiation leak looked a bit like the crack from series 5. It feels a lot like Moffatt is trying really hard to make little connections to the past with Twelve. I can’t tell how much of it is deliberate and how much is the fans just reading into things. Anyway, as soon as the leak is repaired, Rusty reverts to being a normal Dalek. He breaks free of his confines and summons the rest of the Dalek fleet to the location of the rebel ship. Oh and the Doctor, Clara and two of the soldiers are still miniaturized inside of Rusty.

Looking back on the Daleks invading the rebel ship, it kind of reminded me a little of “Bad Wolf” from series 1. For one thing, people seriously don’t know that you need to aim for the eye stalk to take out a Dalek. I mean come on, shouldn’t that be common knowledge by now? Anyway, the Daleks board the rebel ship and start taking out soldiers. Some of the Daleks get blown up but clearly not enough to stop the mini invasion. It’s up to the gang inside Rusty to save the day and solve the problem. The main reason that Rusty turned “good” based on the radiation leak was because he saw a star being born and found beauty and happiness in that moment. The Doctor thinks they need to retrigger that memory so that Rusty can turn “good” again. He sends Clara up to the memory banks to kick start those memories while he goes down to have a sort of face-to-face chat with Rusty. The Doctor doesn’t know yet what he’s going to do to make Rusty see reason but he seems fairly confident that Clara can do something clever to get the memories flooding again. I wondered if he sent her up there before she’d been a Dalek once before. That I’m probably reading too much into, though.

It takes the death of the second to last soldier to get Clara and the other soldier where they need to go. We get a quick glimpse of the dead soldier appearing in “heaven” with Missy. They share some tea but that’s about it. I really have a feeling she’s just collecting people that the Doctor killed or who died for him for some nefarious purpose. A time lord take on the zombie apocalypse maybe? Anyway, Clara manages to crawl around and jump start the memories they want. But that isn’t enough. Rusty is still resisting the good memories. And can we just hit pause for a second to say that Rusty totally stole the Borg’s catchphrase. Yes they both want perfection but come on! The Doctor somehow links his memories with Rusty in a sort of mind-meld way and it totally backfires. Rusty sees the Doctor’s hatred of the Daleks and calls it beautiful and now he’s back to wanting to kill all Daleks. Which he does rather handily. Somehow, the Doctor, Clara and the remaining soldier get returned to their normal size again and the Doctor leaves without even saying goodbye. The soldier tries to become a new companion but the Doctor isn’t fond of soldiers (Demon’s Run perhaps?). Rusty goes off to presumably massacre his own kind (and then maybe self-destruct). The Doctor drops Clara back off about thirty seconds after she left (and she’s in a different outfit). We’ve also established that the Doctor isn’t sure if he’s a good man anymore. It seems Clara isn’t so sure either, but by the end of the episode she thinks he might be on the right track to getting there.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Summer DVR Dump: Atlantis 1.12: "Touched by the Gods - Part 1"

“As much as I hate to admit it, this is all my fault, isn’t it? I will not let you face this alone.”

We are nearing the end of our recap of the first season of “Atlantis.” Which makes sense considering we’re entering Labor Day weekend, the cultural/unofficial “End of Summer” here in the United States. This week, we look at the first part of the two part season finale, “Touched by the Gods.” There’s definitely a lot of action in this episode, and I was happy to see that we’ve returned to the plots about Jason and Ariadne and Jason’s ultimate destiny. I found that more interesting that the Hercules/Medusa drama. Of course, all these plot elements are linked to each other. If all the Hercules and Medusa drama hadn’t happened, Jason wouldn’t have had to make a deal with Circe. In this episode, that deal very seriously threatens Jason’s relationship with Ariadne. Which you would expect considering Jason is supposed to kill Ariadne’s stepmother.

The episode opens with Jason having a very disturbing dream. He is outside at night when Circe appears to him and tells him that he has three days to make good on his end of the bargain and kill Pasiphae, otherwise he and all his friends will be killed. He gets treated to a vision of a dead Hercules just for good measure. Later, Jason talks to Pythagoras and Hercules about his predicament. At first, Hercules tries to laugh it off, and he suggests they run away. Eventually he gets serious, though. The trio decide that it’s time to end Circe’s threat once and for all. Jason is going to kill Pasiphae (with the help of his friends). At first Pythagoras seems a little dubious, but there is no way he’s going to abandon his friends. He concocts something ether-like that Jason can use to knock out the guards as he is trying to get into the palace.

Meanwhile, King Minos is not doing well at all, which is to be expected considering Pasiphae is poisoning him and all. Minos believes (probably rightfully) that he is on his deathbed, so he wants to start making plans for what will happen after his death. He thinks it is very important that Pasiphae and Ariadne present a united front if power is going to stay in the family. He makes them promise to look after each other. They both promise because they want to make Minos happy, but it is pretty clear that they don’t actually mean it. Ariadne quickly leaves the room to go pray at the temple, and Pasiphae starts preparing another goblet of poison.

Before the plan is put into action, Pythagoras reminds Jason that he doesn’t need to murder Pasiphae. Sometimes it is better to die with a clean conscience. Jason says he couldn’t accept the fact that he didn’t do all he possibly could to save his friends, so that’s that. Hercules is the one to come up with the plan to smuggle Jason into the castle. A wine merchant has loaned them the use of a barrel. It’s all very Hobbit-like. The guys use Pythagoras’ brew to take out the guards as they move through the castle. Eventually, Jason finds himself in Pasiphae’s chamber, and she is fast asleep. He will never have a better chance to kill her and fulfill his bargain with Circe. Jason stands over Pasiphae with his sword in hand, but he can’t bring himself to go through with it. Pasiphae wakes up and calls out to her guards, so Jason has to book it.

The palace alarm sounds, and of course Hercules thinks he and Pythagoras should leave Jason behind. Because that’s totally what friends do. Nice move, Hercules, considering this whole mess is your fault! Luckily, Pythagoras disagrees that abandoning Jason would be a good idea. Jason, meanwhile, is trying to make his way through the palace. Conveniently, he winds up at Ariadne’s chambers. Ariadne’s willing to house Jason for the night, of course, even though it could be considered treason. There’s a tense moment when Heptarian knocks on the door and Ariadne has to pretend he didn’t hear the alarm and doesn’t know what is going on. He tells her there has been an attempt on Pasiphae’s life, and she needs to be careful. Once Heptarian leaves, Ariadne asks for the full story from Jason, and he tells her the truth. He also reveals that he has been injured.

Pythagoras and Hercules eventually get out of the palace by way of the garbage chute. Of course, Hercules makes Pythagoras slide down first to make sure it was safe. Can you tell, despite thinking Mark Addy is a fantastic actor, that I am not at all a fan of Hercules? He causes so much trouble for his friends, then he doesn’t have the decency to try and make them safe again. Jason, actually, isn’t in too bad of a situation, really. Ariadne tends to his wound, and she says she will smuggle him out of the palace through a secret passage the next morning.

Ariadne is so smitten with Jason that he wakes up to find she has been watching him sleep. They have some cute banter about how if Ariadne had been a commoner, she would have been free to love “a simple boy” like Jason. But she promises she doesn’t think he’s stupid! She then leads Jason to a secret passage known only to the royal family. They share a kiss before he leaves the palace. Pasiphae is very unhappy to find out from her guards that the would-be assassin was not found. She wants everyone in the palace questioned right away. Jason must have still been bleeding when he left the palace, because the investigation turns up blood by the secret passage door. Since only members of the royal family know of the passage, suspicion is quickly turned on Ariadne.

Meanwhile, Jason returns home and admits defeat to Hercules and Pythagoras. Hercules is really cruel about it. Again, not a huge fan of Hercules. That night, Jason ends up drugging Hercules and Pythagoras so he can go take on Circe on his own. Pythagoras figures this out when he wakes up and Jason isn’t there. , plus he has trouble waking Hercules up. Jason confronts Circe and tells her he didn’t complete the task. He asks her to spare his friends at least, but no dice. Circe and Jason fight, and Jason is victorious just as Hercules and Pythagoras show up. Before dying, though, Circe throws some magic that makes skeletons start to come to life. Somehow, the trio manage to defeat them, too.

Back at the palace, Korinna’s replacement finds a bloody rag in Ariadne’s chambers. She tells Ariadne she’ll burn it, but instead she takes it right to Pasiphae. Pasiphae now has all the evidence she needs to charge Ariadne with treason. Pasiphae manages to put a trial together quickly, and Ariadne is convicted of course. It doesn’t help when Ariadne admits she’d like to see Pasiphae dead. When Jason hears the news, he is absolutely devastated. Ariadne has been sentenced to death, by the “brazen claw,” apparently a rather brutal way to die.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer TV Rewind: Orange is the New Black 1.11: "Tall Men with Feelings"

“Look. Life gets messy sometimes. You gotta learn you can’t always fix it.”

This particular episode of “Orange is the New Black” was kind of the culmination of Piper realizing that she didn’t treat her fellow inmates as human beings when she first arrived at Litchfield. The realization was thanks to Larry’s episode of Urban Tales (the NPR show he really likes) airing some not so flattering things Piper said about her fellow inmates. This episode also deals with the fall-out of Tricia’s death and Piper’s choice to set up the situation that sent Pennsatucky to the psych ward. We also see Daya and her friends/family try to come up with a plan to hide that Bennett is the father of her baby, and we start to learn a little about the non-disgusting side of Pornstache in the process. I guess you could say this episode is tied together by the theme of people not really being what they seem on the surface. That’s really a theme of the series overall, but it’s clearest in this episode.

The plot that was most poignant to me was Litchfield’s effort to memorialize Tricia. Early in the episode, there’s the task of cleaning out Tricia’s bunk. Pornstache starts the effort, but Red takes over. Piper decides she wants to organize a memorial, even though she didn’t know Tricia very well, and she gets huffy when nobody volunteers to help her. Alex calls Piper on being judgey about other people not wanting to mourn in the same way she does. An impromptu memorial ends up organizing itself, really. As the white inmates are cleaning out Tricia’s bunk, the ladies of other races that we know drop by to offer condolences and gifts. Black Cindy and Poussey bring by some moonshine, which really gets the party going. Even Piper joins in (after griping about how the other ladies decided to do a memorial without her, of course).

Meanwhile, there is new life to contend with, too. Daya is very much still pregnant. Bennett thinks he has the perfect idea for how to hide his paternity. He’s going to try to get Daya furlough to visit her “sick abuela.” Daya’s mom knows that the furlough trick never works, though. It’s Red who comes up with the plan that Daya decides to go with. Red knows Daya is pregnant because she has noticed Daya has been sick and note eating for a while, but she still has a glow. Red really wants to get back at Pornstache for hijacking her food service operation for his drug selling business, and I think she also in some way blames him for Tricia’s death, so Red wants to frame Pornstache as the father of Daya’s baby.

Meanwhile, Pennsatucky is in the psych ward, and it’s quite disturbing. There’s a scene where she’s screaming in what is essentially a cage, and there’s another scene where she’s restrained and begging the doctors not to inject her with more drugs. It seems like the aim of the psych ward is just to knock everybody out with meds. Suzanne (“Crazy Eyes”) confirms this later in the episode. Piper slips and falls on the wet floor near where Suzanne is mopping, and she injures her knee. Suzanne, promising not to hit on Piper again, helps her back to her bunk. During the walk, Suzanne talks about how every once in a while she has to go down to psych, but because her family is well connected, she’s allowed to leave once she gets herself back under control. She says psych is a really terrible place, and Piper starts feeling guilty.

The flashbacks in this episode illuminate Alex and Piper’s relationship a bit more. Specifically, we see their rather messy break-up. Alex is stressed out with work, and to ease the stress, she wants Piper to play drug mule for her again (this time in Istanbul). Piper refuses to be a mule again, and it leads to Piper and Alex calling things off. Later, Piper asks Alex to help her find her passport so she can go home, but Alex is silent. It turns out that Alex’s mother just died. Alex wants Piper to stick with her through the funeral, but Piper refuses. She needs to end things with Alex right here, right now. Alex still kind of resents her for that to this day, although it’s not exactly stopping her from having sex with Piper.

Before Pornstache gets screwed by Daya (both literally and figuratively), there’s a scene that attempts to humanize him. Bennett and Pornstache hit up the bar after work, and once he’s good and drunk, Pornstache starts lamenting that none of the Litchfield inmates care about who he is or what he does outside of work. He's human, or so he claims. Daya uses this intelligence (given to her by Bennett of course) to get Pornstache interested by pretending to take an interest in his personal life. Soon enough, they’re having sex in a storage closet. The only problem is that Pornstache insists on using a condom, so there is none of the evidence Daya needs to claim he raped her. Feel like I should make a brief PSA here and say that even if you’re trying to save your corrections officer boyfriend’s career, falsely crying rape is never a good idea. It makes people inclined not to believe the many women who really were attacked, and that’s just not okay.

So Piper feels super guilty about being responsible for sending Pennsatucky to psych, and she tells this to Alex. Alex is kind of responsible too, since she had a part in orchestrating the whole trick where the inmates were trying to make Pennsatucky think she should faith heal. Alex really doesn’t want to take the rap for this, so she wants Piper to get over her WASP guilt already. Piper says that this time, she’ll take the blame for the both of them. She confesses what she did, and luckily for Piper, all she gets is a few weeks of janitorial duty. Pennsatucky is released from psych, but not she’s more unstable than ever. It’s only going to be a matter of time before she attacks Piper.

Finally, Larry tapes his episode of Urban Tales, which as I said, is the “This American Life” clone that he likes to listen to. Morello heard a teaser for it while on one of her transport runs, so all of Litchfield knows when to tune in. Piper and all of her friends are super excited about it, and everyone tells Piper that they wouldn’t miss it for the world. This turns out to be a very bad thing. Larry tells some of the stories that Piper has told him, and it’s not very flattering to Suzanne or Miss Claudette. He also says something that makes it very clear he knows about Piper and Alex. After the broadcast, Piper frantically calls Larry to find out how he knew. He tells her about the call from Healy. Both Piper and Larry are really upset with each other at this point. Suzanne and Miss Claudette are also both really upset with Piper, and Piper feels horrible about it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

MTVP Emmys Coverage 2014: "The Aftermath"

“This year, we’re doing the Emmys on a Monday night in August. Which if I understand television, means the Emmys are about to get cancelled.”
-Seth Meyers

The quick version of the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards telecast is that the telecast itself had good production values and was (mostly) inoffensively entertaining, but the winners, for the most part, were as boring as could be. I’ve come to the conclusion that I enjoy slightly worse quality Emmy telecasts as long as they have interesting winners, but I don’t overly enjoy boring winners. The unexpected winner I’ve been rooting for gives a nice jolt of adrenaline, and there was very little of that this year. Instead we got about the repeat-y-ist line-up of winners I can recall in my years of blogging the Emmys here at MTVP.

Starting with the positive, I’ll say that “Late Night” host Seth Meyers was really a very capable host. I haven’t seen much of Meyers, so I really didn’t know what to expect. All I really knew was that he had taken over for Jimmy Fallon twice, first as Weekend Update guy on “Saturday Night Live,” and now as “Late Night” host. I guess you could add being NBC’s Emmy hosting choice as a third take-over, since Fallon hosted the last time NBC had the telecast. His intro monologue was full of general TV humor not really directed at any celebrity in general (celebrities tend to not like to be made fun of at award shows). It was very industry (and Emmy awards in particular) self-referential, and I found it funny only because I’m such a TV nerd. I’m not sure if a casual viewer would have really gotten the jokes, but I was amused.

There were some other funny comedy bits beyond the opening monologue, too. There was a video where “Billy on the Street” and Meyers went around New York City asking people questions about the Emmys and television in general. People had no clue what they were talking about most of the time, which was kind of an eye-opener for me. I live and breathe entertainment news since I work on this blog. A lot of people who know me are very surprised to learn that I have a rather encyclopedic knowledge of celebrity gossip. It’s my mindless hobby. I have other hobbies, too, though – no worries! There was also a bit where celebrities started asking Meyers random questions like “can I go to the bathroom” and “can I have Maggie Smith’s Emmy since she’s not here to claim it?” The best bit was the bathroom key with the very large, Emmy-shaped keychain!

There were some interesting moments courtesy of people other than Seth Meyers, too. Overall, Meyers relied a lot on his fellow “Saturday Night Live” alumni friends like Amy Poehler, Andy Samberg, and Jimmy Fallon. There was also a bit where Weird Al made up lyrics to TV theme songs that don’t have lyrics (like “Game of Thrones” or “Scandal”). It was an awesome idea, but kind of suffered in the execution. The lyrics weren’t all that funny. I especially enjoyed the bit Chris Hardwick did when he presented an award. He basically went on a grammar rant about internet trolls. Specifically how they don’t know the difference between there, their, and they’re. Which is so unbelievably true! The Colbert Report won for Outstanding Variety Series, and Jimmy Fallon came on stage and sort of stole Colbert’s acceptance speech. That bit got me laughing, too.

For the most part, as I’ve already said, the winners this year were extremely disappointing. Most had already won for the role in question, and if not, they had won for a previous role. Heck, Allison Janney won two Emmys just this year alone! I’m a fan of Allison Janney from her “West Wing” days. I think a lot of people are, which is probably why she keeps getting nominated for and winning Emmys. But that doesn’t mean that a mediocre Chuck Lorre show like “Mom” (for which she won the Emmy last night) is at all deserving. I call this “Emmy intertia.” I adore Jim Parsons and his “aw shucks” attitude about winning a ton of awards, but this was his fourth Emmy, and it’s too much. Parsons admitted as much in his awards speech, because, like I said, he’s awesome.

I’m also beyond tired of “Modern Family” and all their Emmy love. I was happy that they only had two guys nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy category. Given the two nominees and the fact that Tony Hale (yay “Veep!”) won last year, I had hope that we’d get another interesting win this year. Nope. Instead we got Ty Burrell. As you would expect, “Modern Family” also won Outstanding Comedy. I couldn’t believe that it won yet again in a year when “Orange is the New Black,” “Veep,” and even “Louie” were nominated. There is no way “Modern Family” should have had a fifth consecutive win. “Breaking Bad” won Outstanding Drama, and it’s a perennial awards darling, but since this was its final season, I was okay with that win.

The only surprising wins of the night belonged to “Sherlock.” I’m surprised that it took three seasons to get any Emmy love at all, especially considering the earlier seasons were better. First of all, Steven Moffat won Outstanding Writing for a TV Miniseries or Movie. As you probably can tell from this blog, I don’t love what Moffat has done to “Doctor Who” with all the overplotting. On the other hand, I tend to like his work on “Sherlock” more, for the most part. So I was torn on that win. I was incredibly amused that the Lead Actor and Supporting Actor wins turned out exactly as I hoped in my “The Players” post. Sarah said there was no way Martin Freeman would win, so I’ve been enjoying a little (probably ungracious) vindication! Sorry, Sarah! I’ll stop gloating soon, I promise! I wasn’t really all that invested in those awards, I just liked the fact that my off-the-wall predictions came true. I do wish that Freeman and Cumberbatch had been in Los Angeles to accept their awards. They seem like they would give good award speech.

Summer TV Rewind: The 4400 1.06: “White Light”

“We needed them. To survive. In my time, humanity is dying out. Only those we took can prevent the catastrophe from happening. That’s why they’ve been altered and seeded back into the timeline.”
- Kyle Baldwin

And we’ve reached the last episode for the summer. If you’ve enjoyed the recaps of this season, I would highly recommend you watch seasons 2-4 as well. They really delve much deeper in to the mythology and it was pretty awesome. Sadly, USA decided to cancel it without giving it a proper ending. Maybe the success of things like the Veronica Mars Kickstarter will spawn other projects. Though I suppose with a lot of the cast having full-time TV gigs now (I’m looking at you Patrick Flueger), it might be difficult.

Tom and his wife has readmitted Kyle to the hospital for some additional tests. He’s gone from trying to find “himself’ in books and maps and now on TV. He’s really worrying his parents but there’s not much they can do. Of course, Tom flips out when Lytell shows up and takes Kyle by force from the hospital. He goes so far as to put a gun to Lytell’s throat and threaten to shoot him. If I were Tom, I would have. Though Kyle did tell Tom’s wife that he knows where he needs to go now. Elsewhere, Maia is concerned about seeing the future. She wants to be normal but Diana says that all the normal people in world all just wish they were special and that seems to perk Maia up. Quite frankly I could do without the stupid Shawn/Nikki/Danny drama. It turns out that Shawn hasn’t actually told his baby brother that he’s hooking up with his ex-girlfriend. They end up getting into a fight and Shawn accidentally uses his powers on Danny. So he takes off and ends up asking to live at the 4400 complex. Jordan happily welcomes him into the fold. I honestly don’t remember if thee love triangle crap continues into season 2. It might. Or we might be free of Nikki and Danny for a while. Either way, I prefer Shawn on his own. He’s less irritating and mopey. Plus, he gets to come into his own when he’s with Jordan.

Tom finally comes clean to Diana about Shawn’s ability and they agree to work together to find and rescue Kyle. And it seems they’re roping Marco and Tom’s wife in on the action. Marco hacks Lytell’s computer allowing Diana to find out where Kyle is being held. Meanwhile, Tom’s wife has found a decent safe house. So now they just have to go and get Kyle. Unfortunately, Lytell is still poking at things he shouldn’t and he’s gone to see Maia at daycare. It seems she’s done well to keep her visions secret from him but I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to probe more.

Richard and Lily have their own family woes to worry about. The doctor they’ve been sent to see wants to grow one of the baby’s chromosomes in a lab because there might be something wrong. It turns out the baby is a carrier for cycle cell. And the only way that could be possible is if the baby’s father is Black. So it seems Richard and Lily were drawn together for more than just the tie of Lily’s grandmother. That baby is actually theirs. And it appears Jordan has been keeping this information from the couple. So Richard goes to have a chat with his boss. Things erupt shortly after Jordan says he’ll stay out of their affairs. He shows Lily an article about Richard being arrested for assault. It seems Jordan is trying to split the happy couple up. But it doesn’t shake them. Instead, they’re driven to get out of dodge. Jordan tries to stop them and he gets a psychic whammy from the fetus before they manage to drive off. Jordan seems to believe he has a claim on their baby. I forgot how annoying Jordan was in the beginning of this show. He’s so manipulative and possessive. The prick.

While all the interpersonal bullshit is going on, Tom and Diana initiate Operation Rescue Kyle. They break into quarantine where he’s being kept and abscond with him. They’re trying to take him to the safe house but he insists on going to Highland Beach (where Shawn went missing and he ended up in a coma). Lytell is railing back at headquarters that Tom and Diana have gone off the reservation and he insists on joining Ryland as they chase after our heroes. Kyle is wandering around the beach looking for something, but we don’t know what it is. The feds are closing in when a bright light appears in the sky and a bluish thing starts coming out of Kyle’s chest. It’s clear that he was being inhabited by something. Tom runs forward and sort of gets time locked and we jump into their minds. The thing that’s been possessing Kyle explains that he was supposed to be a channel to communicate between those who took the 4400 and Tom but they got interrupted when Shawn tried to intervene and got taken. The being explains they are humans from the future who are trying to avert a catastrophe and so they took the 4400, altered them and put them back here to try and stop what’s coming. And Tom is supposed to help them achieve that. It’s no big surprise to anyone that Lytell gets itchy when Tom is stuck in the mind meld and so he fires off a shot and his Kyle in the chest. It looks like he dies but the being leaves Kyle and he’s fine. He wakes up as if he were one of the returnees with the last memories being with Shawn on the beach drinking beer. Things aren’t ever going to be the same. And as we wrap the first season of this exciting show, we jump six months into the future where Richard and Lily are living in a cabin out in the woods. It’s time for her to deliver the baby and as they drive off, we see trees along the road bend towards the car as it passes. Jordan may be right. There’s something special about that baby.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Summer TV Rewind: Leverage 1.12: “The First David Job”

“You don’t con us. You don’t con your own team.”
- Nate

Welcome to the first half of the two-part season finale. This episode is done in a little bit of a complicated manner. We start in media res with Nate showing up drunk at the opening of a new art museum wing. He busts into the party, draws a gun and aims it at his ex-boss. We cut back to two weeks earlier when the team sort of stages an intervention. Nate rants about being a functioning alcoholic and not in need of rehab but that’s not what they’re trying to show him. They want to help him get revenge on the man who let his son die. Their way in is Michael Angelo’s David. He made two small scale models and it turns out that Nate’s ex-boss, Ian Blackpoole, has it. We jump back to the party where Nate says that he has the second David (they’ve made a fake obviously) and he wants to sell it to Ian. Ian brings Nate over to meet Sophie’s latest alter ego from the Vatican. Eliot is playing an art expert named Dr. Sinclair and he’s off chatting up a pretty blond woman. Ian takes Sophie and Nate down into his ridiculously secure vault to show them the First David. It seems like they’ve gotten Ian on the hook, including having the fake David authenticated by Eliot. But when Eliot brings over the pretty blond to continue the con, shit hits the fan. It would be the infamous Maggie, Nate’s ex-wife. Who is also an art expert. She and Nate made quite the team back in the day. She’s working for the museum (not Ian) and Ian insists that she authenticate the second David. Clearly she would see flaws in the fake and they aren’t comfortable reading her in on the con since she doesn’t know her ex is now a criminal. So they have to steal the real David from the super secure vault at the party.

Parker is on it. She gets a cup of ice and has Hardison pick up a roll of aluminum foil. Aren’t they lucky that they had eyes on Nate and Sophie going in so they know all the security measures before they get there. The first thing to deal with is the silent alarm of the door heading down to the vault. Parker’s quite quick-witted at this point and pretends to make out with Hardison when the guards show up. And thus the Parker/Hardison relationship finds its spark! Parker uses eye shadow and a napkin to spoof the fingerprint reader and ice and tin foil to fool the heat sensors. And then in a really impressive move, she uses more in foil to bend lasers so she can get to the sculpture. Hardison covers up the motion sensor alarm by setting off the car alarms in all the cars in the parking lot. I have to say it was a really impressive theft.

Out at the party, Eliot gets Maggie’s number which makes things rather awkward for Nate and Maggie tells Nate that she still cares about him. Back at HQ, Sophie suggests they keep the real David for themselves and sell him a fake one so that he’ll be totally ruined and caught for fraud. Nate calls her out on the fact she’s trying to con them and then drops the bombshell that Maggie doesn’t know his old company refused to pay for their son’s treatment. Something tells me that she’ll know the truth eventually. The next day, Hardison commandeers a plane and the crew manages to pull a fast one over on Ian and even Maggie. But they’ve got company. Someone is following them and taking photos of the team. That can’t be good.

Eliot happens upon the guy taking photos and they get into a big fight. Hardison gets back to HQ and is caught by a bunch of tough guys in suits and when Parker breaks into the armored truck carrying the real First David, she finds Jim Sterling waiting for her. He’s about to royally screw over the team. Eliot finally takes down the guy he’s been fighting but it’s really the first time we ever see him have trouble in a fight. But Sterling meets Nate and Sophie on top of the building where he and Nate used to work and explains that he lured them into stealing the first David because he knew Sophie had the second one. She admits it and Sterling gives them an ultimatum; Sophie brings the real statue back to the roof, Nate remains under guard back at HQ and they’ll get Parker back. Sophie takes Nate to her storage unit of stuff and they come up with a slightly new plan. Sophie goes back to the roof as planned but she knows she can’t get off the roof the conventional way so she’s rigged up a harness and zip line like Parker did in the pilot and they dive off the roof. Back at HQ, Eliot shows up and uses some tech Hardison would have to scramble the ear bud frequencies in the suits. It does the trick and the boys get out (along with the painting of Old Nate). I have to say I liked the idea of the call backs to the pilot and that they acknowledge they each have different skill sets and strengths and sometimes they need to rely on that rather than their own skills. Sterling gets to HQ and has enough time to start ordering people to sweep the place for prints and files when all the screens come to life with a 30 second countdown. They actually blew up their offices. And it seems Sterling wasn’t really after Nate. He gets to deliver the real second David to his boss thus depriving Nate of his revenge and he also scattered the Leverage crew. So he is a happy man. Something tells me the team will be back together before long and sticking it to Sterling.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

MTVP Emmys Coverage 2014: The Players

So the Emmys seem a bit early this year, which is seriously throwing me off. Oh, and they’re on a Monday this year, too. Nevertheless, MTVP wouldn’t be a TV blog if we didn’t provide you with some Emmy coverage! This year the telecast is on NBC, and it will be hosted by “Late Night” host Seth Meyers. I am not all that familiar with Meyers’ work (he’s a “Saturday Night Live” vet, as all NBC late night hosts tend to be these days), so I’m not really sure what to expect. I know I’m a Jimmy Fallon fan, but I really have no opinion on Seth Meyers. I hope he’ll bring the needed combo of gravitas and humor that keeps an awards show entertaining. The only other thing I know about the telecast going in is that there is a plan to do a special memorial for Robin Williams, led by Billy Crystal. I know we all complained about the “death” theme created by the multiple special memorials in last year’s telecast, but hopefully just one special memorial won’t be too bad. And Robin Williams meant a lot to my generation, so I’m willing to allow it.

As I do every year at Emmy time here at MTVP, I’m putting together a round-up of the categories and nominees that intrigue me the most. My usual disclaimer: I am by no means an Emmy expert. Leave that to the paid critics and the folks at Gold Derby. I approach this as a TV fan. This is basically going to be a cataloguing of where shows and actors I like happen to be nominated for big awards. If you like what we cover at MTVP, you will probably find this relevant to your interests. I’ve been following this long enough that I usually have some commentary to add about my choice’s chances of winning, but like I said, I am by no means an expert. This is a (sometimes all-consuming) hobby for me, not how I make my living. And with that, on with the show!

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

The Nominees:

Breaking Bad – “Ozmandias”
Breaking Bad – “Felina”
Game of Thrones – “The Children”
House of Cards – “Chapter 14”
True Detective – “The Secret Fate of All Life”

My Pick: Game of Thrones – “The Children”

This year’s “Game of Thrones” finale, written by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, was pretty spectacular. Since I’m a terrible TV fan who has never seen “Breaking Bad” (the premise just doesn’t appeal to me), my choice is this powerful episode of “Game of Thrones.” Unlike most “Game of Thrones” season finales, “The Children” did more than serve as the season’s denouement. There was a lot of action. We went on a hugely emotional journey with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) as he dealt with the fall-out of his second trial for murder, and we saw the conclusions of several other emotionally powerful storylines, too. It’s a winner in my book, at least.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

The Nominees:

Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Kate Mulgrew (Orange is the New Black)
Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
Anna Chlumsky (Veep)

My Pick: Kate Mulgrew

I’ve got to give this one to Captain Janeway, albeit in a new, equally iconic role. Kate Mulgrew is a real standout in “Orange is the New Black.” Red is no-nonsense, and her sense of discipline is necessary in the chaos of Litchfield. Mulgrew plays both Red’s stern moments and her more vulnerable moments with equal expertise. Her pain at being left out of the Russian Mafia wife in-crowd was as palpable as her disappointment in several of her Litchfield surrogate daughters. She is an actor’s actor, and it would be wonderful for her to finally be recognized.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

The Nominees:

Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
Fred Armisen (Portlandia)
Adam Driver (Girls)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family)
Tony Hale (Veep)

My Pick: Andre Braugher

I can’t begin to express how happy I am that this category is no longer “the entire male cast of Modern Family and one other guy” category. Yes, there are still two “Modern Family” guys, but there is a really interesting mix of other shows represented here too. I’m going with Andre Braugher, who plays Captain Ray Holt on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Braugher is most well-known for his more dramatic work on “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Men of a Certain Age,” so I have really come to appreciate his comedic chops on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” He is excellent at playing the straight man (with his own particular brand of quirk…oh and I mean straight in the comedy sense only…his character is actually gay) to the more broadly comedic officers he commands.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

The Nominees:

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dancing on the Edge)
Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
Martin Freeman (Fargo)
Idris Elba (Luther)
Mark Ruffalo (The Normal Heart)

My Pick: Benedict Cumberbatch

There is a lot of talent in this list. The Joss Whedon fan in me appreciates perennial award nominee Chiwetel Ejofor for his turn in “Serenity.” Billy Bob Thornton is an Academy Award winner. Martin Freeman is one of my all-time favorite actors (more on him in a bit). Idris Elba was fantastic as Stringer Bell on “The Wire.” I thoroughly enjoyed Mark Ruffalo’s take on the Hulk in “The Avengers.” I’ve got to give this one to Benedict Cumberbatch, though, because “Sherock” is the only one of these TV movies or mini-series that I have seen, and he is spectacular in it. The brand of quirk Cumberbatch brings to Sherlock Holmes just can’t be matched, and watching him work is always a delight.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

The Nominees:

Colin Hanks (Fargo)
Jim Parsons (The Normal Heart)
Alfred Molina (The Normal Heart)
Martin Freeman (Sherlock)
Joe Mantello (The Normal Heart)
Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart)

My Pick: Martin Freeman

Like I said in my discussion of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Mini Series or Movie, Martin Freeman is one of my all-time favorite actors. He brings both warmth and a no-nonsense sensibility to many of his roles, from Arthur Dent in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” to Frodo in the “Hobbit” trilogy, to Dr. Watson on “Sherlock.” I had to choose between picking him for the lead or supporting category, and I decided to pick him as my favorite here because I have not yet seen “Fargo.” Freeman’s performance in this past season of “Sherlock” was admirable, as he had to adjust to realizing his best friend is actually still alive and to married life. He is really the audience touchstone in “Sherlock” because of that everyman quality he brings to the screen, and all of his work is the better for it.

I’ll admit, putting this together made me want to dive into a whole bunch of TV that I don’t have time to watch right now. “Fargo,” “The Normal Heart,” and more than the three episodes of “Veep” that I’ve seen are all worth my time. Hopefully I’ll have time to discover them some day. Until then, I’m still planning to enjoy tomorrow’s annual celebration of television. The Emmys are my Super Bowl (except for when my Baltimore Ravens are in the actual Super Bowl…XLVII champions!) after all!

Doctor Who 8.01: "Deep Breath"

“Oh, it’s good I’m Scottish. I’m Scottish. I am Scottish! I can complain about things. I can really complain about things now!”
-The Doctor

Well Whovians, the premiere of series 8 has finally arrived. We know a lot of people gathered around their TVs in anticipation of Peter Capaldi’s first performance as the newly regenerated Twelfth Doctor. So we won’t keep you waiting on what we thought. But first, a look at how our new Time Lord’s first adventure played out.

We find ourselves back in Victorian-era London with Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax. Clara and a very confused Twelfth Doctor (he can’t seem to remember the names for things and people) arrive and things quickly go from strange (spontaneously combusting dinosaurs) to super creepy (clockwork robots collecting body parts). Clara spends much of the episode fretting over having lost “her” Doctor while everyone else is trying to solve the problem of why people keep getting burned up. Madame Vastra is especially judgey with Clara, and she accuses Clara of abandoning the Doctor because he doesn’t look like he could be her boyfriend anymore.

It turns out that some clockwork men (yes similar ones to “The Girl in the Fireplace”) have a crashed ship in need of repair, and they’ve been using the best bits from people to do so. After being frantically manic for most of the episode, the Doctor gets a bit edgy and saves the day (although we are left to wonder if the lead clockwork guy plunged to his death of his own accord). By the end of the episode, Twelve has somewhat come into his own and settled down. Clara finally accepts him when she gets a parting phone call from Eleven in which he beseeches her to help his new regeneration and Twelve asks Clara to really see him. She does, and they head off for coffee (and maybe chips) in a very Nine and Rose-esque fashion. We end in a very strange place with the clockwork man. A woman named Missy greets him and tells him that he’s in Heaven. That can’t possibly go well at all.

Perhaps the best part of the episode was Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. We both were drawn to him from the start of the episode. It was great that, while the Doctor will never be “sweary” like Capaldi’s previously best-known character, Malcolm Tucker of “The Thick of It,” Capaldi was still given a scene where he got to channel Tucker in a way his fans will appreciate. He intimidates the heck out of an innocent homeless bystander as he complains about the changes that have taken place since his regeneration. We appreciated the references to his “attack eyebrows” and the fact that now that he’s Scottish he can complain about things if he wants to. He also knows how to be comedic (giddily exclaiming that London has a giant dinosaur too) when the time calls for it. We here at More TV, Please are hopeful that Capaldi’s superb acting can elevate the generally overplotted nature of Moffat story arcs. And that’s a good thing since it looks like Moffat has a hand in writing most of the season.

In addition to Capaldi being phenomenal as the new Doctor, we were quite pleasantly surprised to see all of the little references to prior Doctors, companions and specific episodes. We are sure we missed some of the references peppered throughout the episode, but it was quite a nice surprise (especially given that the episode was penned by Moffat) to see so much reference to the RTD era. The biggest name-drops of course went to “The Girl in the Fireplace.” While it isn’t a huge favorite of ours, it made sense that they would tie in heavily with these clockwork men (although the clockwork men in Tennant’s episode were a bit freaker since they didn’t have skin).

We also got some references to Rome that seem to hint at “Fires of Pompeii.” Perhaps the biggest reference to the fact that Capaldi has been in the Whoniverse previously is his speech to the homeless man about why he chose this particular face and why it was lined and aged. The Doctor also mentions that he thinks he’s seen this face before, but not in the typical way, because the face is freshly made. We also got a little throw-away Tom Baker line about the scarf which was pretty amusing. The origin of his face may be a potential story arc, or it may have been a one-off touchstone. But either way, we would be intrigued to see if Moffat does follow it through. A lot of the interaction between Clara and Twelve felt like Nine and Rose, especially at the end. While anyone who reads the blog knows we are both Ten fans, it was amusing to see some dialogue directly lifted from Rose and Nine. And of course the very start felt much like “The Christmas Invasion” with Twelve’s confusion and passing out and spending most of the episode in a dressing gown. Sadly, no satsumas were used to defeat evil.

Overall, we loved this episode and think that the franchise is in very good hands with Peter Capaldi. We wouldn’t be doing our job as critics, though, if we didn’t have a few nits to pick. A major theme running throughout the episode was Clara’s difficulty accepting the new version of the Doctor. Madame Vastra assumed Clara’s troubles were due to the fact that the Twelfth Doctor looks older instead of looking like someone who could be her boyfriend. That may have been a little part of it, but by the end it seems pretty clear that Clara is mostly upset that the person she knew and loved, personality-wise, seemed to be gone. It’s a bit surprising that Clara would have such a negative reaction to the Doctor’s regeneration, considering she has been exposed to all of the previous versions of the Doctor. It is reasonable to think, however, that knowing in her head that the Doctor regenerates and experiencing the loss of the particular version of the Doctor with whom she has spent the most time would be different things entirely. Even taking into account this fact, her reaction did seem a bit over the top.

The other aspect of the episode that didn’t sit quite right with us was the very end, where we are introduced to a being named Missy (Michelle Gomez) as she introduces the half-faced clockwork cyborg to the “Promised Land.” She thinks her garden is Heaven, basically. She calls the Doctor her “boyfriend,” and she seems to have some grand designs for the Doctor’s future fate. She’s really a creepy stalker, and we don’t particularly like her. The scene at the end seemed rather superfluous. In fact, this particular scene makes us a little worried about the quality of the ongoing story arc for this season. When should a viewer not be worried about the ongoing story arc for a Moffat show, though? He is notorious for overplotting.

While we had a few small nitpicks with the episode, we felt it was a very strong introduction to the Twelfth Doctor (whom we will be mercifully referring to as Twelve going forward). Things are bound to get a little wibbly-wobbly for Twelve and Clara going forward but we are confident it will be a compelling ride. Capaldi’s immense acting talent (both dramatic and comedic) and his life-long Doctor Who fandom both shined through from the get-go. Twelve is on his way to entering the pantheon of all-time favorite Doctors for sure.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Summer TV Rewind: The Americans 1.11: "Covert War"

“When you’re a loner, there’s nothing more satisfying than finding another loner to be alone with.”

“Covert War” was interesting because it was very quiet. The killing escalated again in the secret war between the KGB and United States, but after that burst of violence, there were no more deaths, and the escalation seems to have come to a close for now. Watching Elizabeth go through an emotional journey to stop the killing was truly fascinating to watch. She wanted vengeance badly, but it was really about so much more. I’ve never been a huge Kerri Russell fan, but she really did good work in this one. The moment where she decided not to kill resonated more with me than all the many deaths of the past few episodes. Elizabeth is such a loyal, “for the Motherland” character, that for her to finally think of her family at the same level of esteem was rather beautiful.

The beginning of this episode contains that last burst of violence that I mentioned. The FBI are pissed that so many of their agents have been killed, so they (presumably) work with the CIA to stage a big operation in Moscow. A bunch of KGB generals are murdered in cold blood, one of which is General Zhukov, leader of Directorate S and mentor to Elizabeth. When Elizabeth gets the news, she is understandably devastated. She wants vengeance on whomever ordered Zhukov’s murder, even if it might hurt the overall Soviet cause.

Before finding out about Zhukov’s death, though, Elizabeth was having a girls’ night with Stan’s wife, Sandra. They were having a good time dancing and drinking at a bar when Sandra started to get rather emo over how she and Stan have been distant ever since he returned from his white supremacist undercover mission in St. Louis. She asks Elizabeth if Elizabeth has ever thought about adultery. Clearly Elizabeth has, since, you know, Gregory and all, but she plays it cool. Sandra calls home and confirms that Stan is working late yet again, so the fun girls’ night turns into a crying mess. There is nothing less fun than a night out that devolves into a crying mess, let me tell you. Later, she confronts Stan when he finally gets home, and she says that sometimes when he’s late, she calls HQ and they say he left hours ago. Seems like another Falls Church couple is going to be on the separation train.

Throughout this episode, we get a few Elizabeth/Zhukov flashbacks. I think they were meant to serve the same purpose as the Stan/Amador flashbacks a few weeks back. It’s an attempt to show us why Elizabeth and Stan care about those respective characters who died instead of just telling us. In both cases, though, I’m not sure it was all that effective. The flashbacks were kind of boring. We see Zhukov trying to convince Elizabeth that her life with Peter will be okay, and we also see Zhukov comforting Elizabeth when she is pregnant with Henry and not entirely sure she’s going to continue the pregnancy. Near the end of the episode, there’s also a scene where Zhukov tells Elizabeth that basically he regrets living only for work. Family matters too.

Claudia told Elizabeth that the architect of the Moscow murder spree was a CIA bureaucrat named Patterson, so that’s who Elizabeth wants to go after. She manages to rope Phillip into her plan. Elizabeth knows that Patterson is a womanizer, so she decides to snag him at his favorite bar/pick up spot. I was kind of jealous of Elizabeth’s look during this particular operation. If I was an adult in the 1980’s (instead of a little kid), I think I would have favored something similar, with short-ish curly hair and what we would now think of as hipster glasses. Anyway, Elizabeth pretends to be a young woman who just broke up with her boyfriend, and she manages to use a crossword puzzle to get Patterson’s attention. They go into the bar’s restroom for their tryst, and Patterson quickly realizes that all is not as it seemed. A big fight ensues, and Elizabeth knocks Patterson out after pulling the paper towel holder off the wall. She and Phillip manage to get Patterson’s body out of the rest room through a window and in to the car.

Things are also getting much more complicated on the Stan/Nina side of things. We learn that Nina has recently been promoted to a “senior Lieutenant” at the Rezidentura. As such, Arkady wants her to start scouring CIA and FBI communications for information about meetings at the Secretary of Defense’s house (where they planted that bug early in the season) so that the KGB can listen in. The hope is that they’ll uncover more information about the Moscow killing spree. Later, Nina meets up with Stan, and she immediately wants to know if Stan has any more information on who killed Vlad. Stan tries to call off the sexual part of their relationship, saying that Sandra knows about the affair. Nina acknowledges the importance of family, but by the end of the scene, it doesn’t look like the affair will be ending any time soon.

Phillip and Elizabeth take Patterson to an abandoned warehouse, and Elizabeth tries to interrogate him. Patterson denies having any real say in what happened in Moscow. He claims he was just a bureaucrat following orders. He accuses Elizabeth of being an equally soulless killer and questions if she cares about anyone at all. Given the state of her marriage and the recent death of Zhukov, this sets Elizabeth off. She rushes out of the room and starts sobbing, and that’s where Phillip finds her. Phillip tries to comfort Elizabeth, and when we next see Patterson, Phillip and Elizabeth are leaving him blindfolded on a park bench.

What follows Patterson’s release is a bunch of official debriefings. Agent Gaad leads the team that debriefs Patterson. Patterson says he thinks what happened to him was personal, and he has no idea why he was freed. He also is able to confirm that the Directorate S agents are operating as a couple. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has her own debrief of sorts with Claudia. Elizabeth wants to know why Claudia tried to push her to kill Patterson, and Claudia tries to say she (Claudia) had been in love with Zhukov. Elizabeth doesn’t buy it, though. Elizabeth thinks Claudia was trying to deliberately get her to break the rules so she’d get sent back to Moscow.

The final scene between Phillip and Elizabeth in this episode is rather heartbreaking. Elizabeth stops by Phillip’s trashy motel room with a peace offering of beer (which is kind of awesome…and I rarely think Elizabeth is awesome). Phillip is in the process of packing his things up, and Elizabeth seems to think that means he’s going to come home. Phillip says he doesn’t think coming to the motel is good for the kids (they saw a public urinator early in the episode), and Elizabeth agrees that the kids need to feel more rooted. She’s kind of thrown for a loop when Phillip says he got himself an apartment. She leaves him her car because his battery is dead, and she flees to take the bus home.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer DVR Dump: Atlantis 1.11: "Hunger Pangs"

“Please tell me Ariadne doesn’t know I was a dog.”

So I’ll just say it from the outset. “Hunger Pangs” was a rather disappointing episode of Atlantis. Not only did it not really advance the mythology about Jason’s past, but it didn’t even really advance the Hercules/Medusa plot. It was a silly diversion when everything should have been moving full speed towards the finale. I will say that in watching a show loosely based on Ancient Greek mythology, I never thought I’d be watching a werewolf story. It wasn’t even an especially clever werewolf story. Not much actually happened, and Jason was cured of any wolfishness by the end of the episode. He may have freaked out Ariadne a little bit though. Yep, at least Ariadne and her crazy parents finally made a reappearance in this one, even if they didn’t have much to do.

The fact that Jason and his friends haven’t had much in the way of paying work lately has finally caught up to them. They’re hungry, and Jason decides to try to negotiate for a loaf of bread. Jason tries to say that Hercules will pick up the tab, but the merchant basically says that Hercules has run up too high of a tab already. Jason then makes the rather rash decision to steal a loaf of bread. The merchant chases Jason through the Agora until Jason is able to hide in a very mysterious dark room. There is smoked meat hanging from the ceiling, and Jason takes some of it to eat. As he leaves, we see there is also a rather menacing statute in the room.

Hercules and Pythagoras have meanwhile been at the bar, where Hercules is still whining over not being allowed to die for Medusa. As such, nobody is at home when Jason arrives with the meat he stole. Jason doesn’t seem too sad about having to eat the whole thing by himself. When Hercules and Pythagoras do arrive home, they notice the meat smell, but Jason has hidden any other evidence of his meal. Later that night, a creepy guy goes to the dark place where Jason hid and realizes some of the meat is missing. To say he’s not happy about it would be an understatement.

Throughout this episode, Jason keeps waking up in strange places (there is eventually a good explanation). This time, it’s on the floor by his bed. Once he wakes up, Pythagoras announces that he has found a job for the trio to perform, since they need money and all. They are going to be rat exterminators, with the task of killing all the rats in a merchant’s storeroom. Jason sniffs out a rat, which is rather odd, to say the least. He also makes a huge mess of the storeroom in the process of trying to catch said rat. Jason punches the merchant, and at that point, all three guys run away. Jason’s strange behavior continues the next evening. Pythagoras is attacked by a hound in the middle of the night, while Jason’s bed is suspiciously messed up and empty.

After his latest incident, Jason finds himself waking up naked in a chicken coop. Jason trying to get home while still naked provides plenty of comedy. It’s especially funny when Jason arrives home and Hercules tries to cover Pythagoras’ innocent eyes. Pythagoras asks Jason if he’s been anywhere strange, and Jason mentions the dark room with the meat. After a little reconnaissance mission, Pythagoras has a theory. The dark room was actually a shrine to Hecate, which is apparently very bad news. Jason admits he stole some of Hecate’s sacrificial meat, and the guys say that is very bad news. Pythagoras does some research that makes him even more concerned, especially because it is almost nightfall. Pythagoras tells Hercules that Hecate’s hounds are actually her priests transformed, and he thinks that Hercules has somehow been cursed to turn into a hound at night. See where I get the whole Ancient Greek werewolf story thing from?

Word of one of Jason’s late night hound rampages makes it to the castle, and Heptarian takes an interest. In other castle news, King Minos is bedridden, and Pasiphae keeps feeding him poison. I feel sorry for King Minos. He genuinely loves his daughter, and his wife is evil. Anyway, Pythagoras thinks the cure for Jason will involve silver, and the only person he knows who might have silver and want to donate to the cause of healing Jason is Ariadne. Pythagoras and Hercules manage to get a note to Ariadne asking her to meet them at the temple at dusk. On the way home, they are found by the man who wanted them to be rat exterminators, and he makes them clean up the mess and catch the rats.

Because Pythagoras and Hercules were waylaid by the merchant, they miss the temple meeting with Ariadne. Ariadne is concerned, so she goes to visit Jason directly. Pythagoras and Hercules suspect she might do this, so they rush home to try and keep her from getting hurt. They’re too late, though. A very worried Ariadne is already at their home while Jason turns into the hound in another room. Hercules and Pythagoras arrive and get the silver from Ariadne, but Jason has already fled out the window. Jason in hound form is quickly identified, and Heptarian sends a garrison after him.

Pythagoras and Hercules need to find Jason to administer the cure, so they lure him to Hecate’s temple again. Somehow, they manage to keep Jason quiet as the garrison comes closer and closer. The next morning, they have to find him some clothes to wear (again), but just as Jason starts to get dressed, one of Hecate’s priests attacks him. Jason is bitten in the ensuing fight, but Pythagoras manages to kill the priest by pushing the Hecate statue on him. Seems like a rather painful way to die. I was kind of surprised that a lighter show like “Atlantis” went there. Anyway, once back home, Jason takes the remedy, and while it’s a little touch-and-go, he survives it. Of course, when he comes to, the first thing he wants to know is whether or not Ariadne knew he was a dog. Apparently he growled at her, so the secret’s probably out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer TV Rewind: The 4400 1.05: “Trial by Fire”

“I was born in 1922 in Missouri and my skin was as black then as it is now. So I’ve had to worry about fire bombings and lynchings and beatings my entire life. If there’s anything I learned, it’s this. Eventually a man has to take a stand. I’m making mine right here.”
- Richard Tyler

Our journey with the 4400 this summer is nearing a close, folks. Only one more episode to go after this one. When we last left everyone, someone had published the names and addresses of all the 4400 and Shawn had finally brought Kyle out of his coma. Kyle is having some trouble adjusting to being awake and going home. His doctor says they need to put him back in as familiar an environment as possible so Tom is moving back in despite having signed the divorce papers. But Kyle keeps saying that it isn’t his room or his house and he starts shuffling through items in his room as if looking for something. Elsewhere, Jordan Collier is condemning whoever published the list of names on Barbara Yates’ show. Unfortunately, it appears that the public is not reacting well to having members of the 4400 in their midst. Shawn has a procession of cars driving by his house daily. Tom pops by to ask Shawn what he did to Kyle and Shawn admits all he did was put his hands on his cousin and Kyle woke up. Shawn gets defensive when Tom says they need to figure out more about his ability. I can understand that. He doesn’t want to be poked and prodded.

Across town, Lily and Richard get back from a movie and as soon as they open the door to their apartment, it triggers a tripwire and the apartment explodes. That really pissed me off. Not just because they are the cutest couple on the show right now, but because the sheer level of violence and brutality is just uncalled for. And it turns out it was just one of three bombings that day targeting returnees. Understandably, Tom and Diana are concerned about the returnees in their personal orbits. I doubt they’d go after Maia though. For one thing, she’d probably see it coming and I have to believe TV villains aren’t stupid enough to go after someone in basically federal custody.

Diana does some chemical analysis and figures out the bombs are pretty amateur hour. Ryland goes to take of Barbara Yates’ head while our duo tries to track down anyone who could have check out a “how to build a bomb” sites. Ryland doesn’t get far because a DC suit named Warren Lytell arrives and he’s there to clean house. I don’t trust him (though I do feel like I recognize the actor. A quick IMDB search confirms that he was Detective Tommy Sullivan in the final season of Body of Proof). Anyway, yeah I just don’t trust him at all. Meanwhile, Tom and Diana stumble onto a theory that might be helpful in finding their bombers. Tom suggests that the bombings are the ripple effects of Oliver Knox. And we the viewers soon see that Tom is right and the two brothers of one of the victims are targeting the 4400.

Elsewhere, Shawn has to deal with sibling and girlfriend drama when Nikki tells him she’s going to break up with Danny. I get the feeling she liked Shawn when she was younger and then latched on to Danny because he was still there. Sad but probably true and Shawn is not interested. Since Lily and Richard have no place to live, they go see Jordan who offers to make them the first residents in his 4400-exclusive community. A bit creepy but they’ll take it since they are kind of desperate. And while bombers run amok, Kyle is still struggling. Tom comes home to find him ripping up photos because he doesn’t remember having the memories. It’s like he’s a different person. Shawn gets to see this first hand when he comes by ad finds Kyle sitting out in the rain with no shoes on. Weird.

Richard and Lily are settling into their new home and Richard reports that twelve more families will be moving in within the week. Tom and Diana stop in to warn Jordan that it might make him a bigger target by gathering all in one place but Richard says it’s time to make a stand. Unfortunately, it may be a little late for that as we see another returnee who seems to be able to perk plants up just by talking to them gets blown up in a car bomb. And Maia’s been booted from school for the safety of the other children. In a slightly disturbing conversation, she tells Diana that someone is coming that will save them all. Sometimes having a clairvoyant 8-year-old is just plain bizarre.

It seems Ryland is having a better time getting rid of Barbara Yates. She apparently covered up a pretty gruesome hit-and-run she was involved with. So he’s called the police and she’s going to be charged with numerous crimes. Good riddance. She was a far bigger menace than the 4400 ever could hope to be. Lytell is starting to muck up our team by dragging Tom and Diana in and questioning them about their objectivity given their connections to Maia and Shawn. It seems he’s after Ryland really and he’ll use them to get what he wants. We have some slightly annoying Shawn and Nikki drama going on as well. She’s broken up with Danny and Shawn takes her to where the 4400 return and they hookup. I’ll be happy when Nikki is gone.

Things really kick into high gear when Diana makes the connection between one of Oliver Knox’s victims and her siblings. They think they’ve found the right truck (since one brother worked construction and the other worked for the phone company) but it’s a decoy. It’s almost too late when they figure out that the real van is heading for Collier’s community. That’s no big surprise at all. Tom and Diana had a point when they said gathering them all together would make them bigger targets. But with some combined shooting efforts from Tom in a helicopter and Richard and his security team on the ground, they take out the truck before it can do any real damage (it explodes but at least no one is hurt) and the brothers are arrested as terrorists. I had to smile as Tom basically told them they had no right to due process. These guys don’t’ deserve any, even if their sister was murdered. Vigilante justice is never helpful.

It seems that Lytell isn’t done digging into the personal lives of our two favorite agents. He stops by the hospital to inquire about Kyle. Speaking of, Tom and his wife find Kyle sitting under the sprinklers in the back yard naked. Kyle proclaims that he finally understands why he doesn’t fit in. it’s not his friends and family who are the strangers. It’s him. He doesn’t fit or belong. I can’t wait to see how this all resolves. Yes, I know I’ve seen this before but it’s been a while and I don’t quite remember all the details.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer TV Rewind: Leverage 1.11: “The 12-Step Job”

“Sophie, you want to help me? You really, really want to help me? In the name of God give me something to do. Please, just give me something to do.”
- Nate

We are nearing the end of the season folks and you know what that means. Nate getting progressively drunker! We start with a guy named Jack Hurley (no not Jorje Garcia) rocking out to Irish rap while eating a burrito. He gets to work and after cordially saying hi to people, he freaks out and runs when he sees federal agents going through his records. We cut to a woman named Michelle telling Nate and Sophie about her food bank that was being managed by Jack. She needed to cut some checks and the company Jack works for says they don’t have a record of having an account. Sophie chides Nate on his drinking after Michelle leaves. Their first step in finding the money is to find Jack so they split up. Hardison and Eliot take all the social places he’s been (namely strip clubs and bars) and they spot him at the 12th bar they find. They almost lost him because the boys are arguing about Hardison spilling slushy in Eliot’s car. But then some Hispanic muscle shows up and starts to shake Jack down for money. Eliot and Hardison bust in but Jack gets away. Nate and Sophie find him around the corner crashed into a pole and asleep on the airbag. So they are going to run a game on him. When Jack wakes up, Nate is sitting beside him and welcomes him to rehab.

Sophie poses as a really well respected addiction therapist while Nate and Parker go undercover as patients. Parker is a kleptomaniac and Nate “enjoys drinking”. This episode turns out to be just as much about sticking it to Jack as it is about helping Nate see he has a problem. Jack really starts to open up in group therapy. He’s got all kinds of addictions and he lets slip that he needs to find his car (not the one he was driving) because there’s something in it. So Eliot and Hardison go searching after Parker gets the keys and ends up taking some antidepressants. Not a very good idea to give her drugs. Ever. Even if it is funny. Nate and Sophie kind of got into it where she was trying to get him to admit he’s got an addiction to alcohol but he deflects back to her about the fact she wasted $1500 on a pair of boots.

Eliot and Hardison find Jack’s car but they also find a bomb wired into the engine. After panicking a bit, our boys work together to trick the bomb into thinking it’s gone off. Just in time for the Mexicans and some Korean thugs to show up demanding the money. Hardison puts on an iffy Jamaican accent and when that doesn’t work, Eliot fiddles with the bomb and scares everyone off. Jack’s not just been messing with the charity but some serious overseas crime lords. Yikes! Back at rehab, Nate is not doing well 2 days sober. But he brushes it off. We get a rather amusing scene where Eliot and Hardison have to get in to see Nate and they convince the receptionist that Eliot is Nate’s brother and Hardison is rather flamboyant partner. The look Eliot gives Hardison while being dragged off his hilarious. The gang reconvenes and they determine that they need Jack to open up about people in his life so that they can find who is holding all the missing money. We cut back to group where Parker is blathering on rather happily about her foster parents and the revelations she’s had. I think the drugs actually make her more normal. Sophie and Nate get into an argument about if there are people he needs to apologize to for his drinking and he just doesn’t get that he has a problem. But it does prompt Jack to write up a list of people to call and make amends with. While he’s doing that, Eliot and Hardison visit a couple people on the list and find out he’s not such a bad guy. He gave a waitress a new car and paid a stripper’s college tuition. The team doesn’t have long to dwell on this because Sophie gets a call that Nate tried to escape the facility. He still is in denial but he’s spouting off about how he knows addicts and he just needs something to do. Sophie leaves him and Nate flat out starts hallucinating Sterling. He ends up wailing on Jack a bit. Jack has enough time to explain that he started doing odd things having all these addiction issues after his wife left. But he is stealing from thugs to try and help other people. He took Michelle’s money because he had ways of multiplying it and he was going to give her back all of it.

That’s great and all but the Koreans have found which facility he’s in (thanks to an overheard call Jack made to one of his co-workers). They show up and after playing some charades with the rest of group, Parker bumps into one of them and lifts a gun. She pops in to tell Nate about it and he makes the executive decision that they need to leave before they are found. Parker is uncharacteristically bubbly and says that she is staying because she’s making progress. So Nate shoots the lock on the window and he and Jack abscond from the facility. Nate takes Jack for tacos (one of his many addictions) to get him to share where the money is.

Back at the parking lot where Jack’s car sits, they meet up with the Mexicans and the Koreans. Jack says he just needs to get in the car to get the money and then everyone hears a beeping and one of the Mexicans sees the bomb under the car. The car explodes and the gang members take off. It wouldn’t be an episode of Leverage if it didn’t have some clever mechanics and we see that the Leverage crew se the bomb and then Sophie and Eliot got Jack out of the car before it blew. So the gang bangers think Jack’s dead and the money was hidden in a tire. So Michelle gets her money and Jack gets a new identity and a ticket somewhere new. He vows to get help once there. The rest of the team goes back to the facility to pick up Parker (who is trying to di Pictionary with the two remaining group members0. The pills should wear off in a day so normal Parker should be back. Unfortunately, it seems all of Sophie’s words of wisdom were lost on Nate who proclaims he just needs a drink and laughs off her suggestion of finishing what he started.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer TV Rewind: Orange is the New Black 1.10: "Bora Bora Bora"

“Look, adventure is just hardship with an inflated sense of self.”

“Bora Bora Bora” showcased some of the best and the worst of what makes “Orange is the New Black” the show that it is. The tragedy of what happened to Tricia, both in the flashbacks and in the present day, is some of what the show does well. The empathy that we as viewers felt for Tricia was truly earned, and it is going to be interesting to see how what happened to her affects Litchfield, both administration and inmates, going forward. On the other side of the spectrum, my annoyance with Piper reached new heights. She has the nerve to be pissed off with Larry for not calling her while she’s having sex with Alex on the regular. Get it together, Piper!

The episode opens with Piper and Alex at breakfast trying to hide the fact that they had a morning tryst from Nicky and Morello. Nicky knows what’s up, though, and word has spread pretty thoroughly through Litchfield that Piper and Alex are an item. Piper and Alex do indeed spend quite a bit of time together in this episode. They’re hanging out in the rec room, for instance, when some fellow inmates invade to learn about participating in a Scared Straight program for some youth. Suzanne wants a meatier acting role, though, like Desdemona or Clair Huxtable. Because she’s badass like that. While hanging out with Alex, Piper has the nerve to complain about Larry not calling her. Later, she calls her brother and talks to him about the Larry situation a bit, and it turns out Larry’s hiding at her brother’s trailer. He hasn’t figured out what he wants to do with the information he learned from Healy yet. Piper’s brother does tell Piper, however, that Larry is working on prepping for an episode of the NPR show he was raving about in the last episode.

Tricia is back from detox in this episode, and as such, she has the honor of being the primary focus of the flashbacks. We see her in her teenage runaway days as she tries to help out a fellow teenage panhandler. She tells her new friend that when it comes to panhandling, less is more. If you just sit there, people will give you more money than they would if you had been aggressive. Tricia also shows her new friend the notebook where she keeps a log of everything she’s ever “borrowed.” Any time she has taken anything from anyone, she has intended to pay them back. We later see Tricia and this friend again, only by this time, the friend has gotten her life together while if anything, Tricia has slipped deeper into junkie-dom. Finally, we get a scene where Tricia tries to pay money for a set of headphones she took a while back while stealing a necklace. It catches the attention of the cops and is probably the beginning of her road to Litchfield.

Piper’s flashbacks, meanwhile, are all about her relationship with Larry (*gag*). The first flashback is Polly and Pete’s wedding, and Piper is helping Polly get ready. Polly advises Piper to start dating more low key people who know when to order Chinese food. Why does it have to be an either/or? Can’t you be with someone exciting who also knows when they need to step back take care of you (and vice versa?). Later, Larry, who also happens to be friends with Polly and Pete, is “plant sitting” for them when Piper bursts into the apartment. She has keys to the apartment, and she needs some place to lay low for a little bit because she was just bitten by the dog. Larry is seriously awkward as he tries to help Piper, but then he offers to order Chinese food, so we know Piper is going to try dating him as a change of pace.

For now, we see that Pornstache is successfully bringing in drugs through Red’s produce shipment. This irks Red to no end. When Tricia returns, she asks for her old kitchen job back, but Red refuses. She doesn’t allow junkies in her inner circle. Tricia tries to call Mercy for emotional support, but Mercy is being about as communicative with her as Larry is being with Piper right now. And we’re surprised by this? Pornstache tries to sell drugs to Tricia, but she wants to stay clean. He says that to repay the debt she owes him, she’s going to have to sell a bag of pills for him. Of course, the inevitable happens. By the end of the episode, Pornstache finds Tricia slumped in a storage closet, dead from an overdose.

On a sort of (but not entirely) lighter note, throughout the episode, it seems like some of the Litchfield inmates have starts a long con on Pennsatucky. Pennsatucky has decided all of a sudden that she is capable of faith healing. And some of the inmates are going along with it. It’s hard to know if they’re playing along for shits and giggles or if they have some bigger plan to mess with Pennsatucky. Meanwhile, the Scared Straight kids arrive at Litchfield, and the volunteer inmates immediately have fun trying to scare them. The only one who isn’t scared immediately is a tough girl in a wheelchair named Dina. She robs liquor stores and runs her own gang, so she thinks she can handle anything.

Meanwhile, the drug dealer dude who has slept with both Daya and her mom pays Bennett a visit in his apartment. He delivers the news that Daya is pregnant, which is quite the shock to Bennett. Bennett quickly arranges a meeting with Daya. He asks, rather stupidly, if there is a pill she could take or something. I kind of liked Bennett up until this point, even if he was a bit dumb. Now that I think back on it, the power imbalance just makes his relationship with Daya squicky from the beginning. Daya says she wants to have the baby, and they’ll think of a way to keep Bennett out of trouble. Daya’s mom also gets in on the conversation, and she says they’re going to need Bennett’s wounded veteran pension. Bennett says he didn’t actually lose his leg in combat. The loss of the leg resulted from an incident with a dirty hot tub in Florida. Womp womp.

Eventually, Piper is the one tasked with trying to finally get through to Dina. She gives this great speech about how the person you really have to be afraid of in prison is yourself, because it’s an experience that makes you confront who you really are. Then, after she leaves the bathroom where she had this conversation with Dina, she tells Pennsatucky that there’s a girl in the bathroom in need of some faith healing. Next thing we know, Dina’s on the floor and Pennsatucky’s trying to make her walk again. It causes a huge commotion, and the Scared Straight girls have to leave Litchfield immediately (and Pennsatucky has to go to psych). There’s just one catch. They have to avoid the hallway where Tricia is hanging from the ceiling (Pornstache did it to hide the overdose death). When Red and Nicky hear about Tricia’s death, they are devastated. Nicky admits she’s the one who told Pornstache how to smuggle in the drugs. Red says this means Nicky is going to be her most loyal minion going forward, because she’s going to feel the need to atone for this betrayal.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dominion 1.08: "Beware Those Closest To You"

“That’s when I realized my Father’s commands weren’t always straightforward. Sometimes they were a test. In this instance, a test I had failed.”
- Michael

It’s hard to believe but season 1 is already at a close. We are still awaiting word from SyFy as to whether we will be graced with a season 2. But with the stage set from last week, this episode promises to be full of intense climaxes. We begin with Alex barging into the Senate meeting, yelling about how Michael knew about the higher angels and even gave a citizen card to Felicia. He also outs Noma (I was rather annoyed at him for that). Becca goes to warn Michael about Alex’s little tirade and Michael takes off. Before he does his trademark diving out a window thing, he asks Becca to look after Louis (I guess he didn’t die when Alex evicted Gabriel…maybe him being an angel helped). Alex gets an invite from Claire and they argue about her marrying William and taking over as Lady of the City. She laments not going with him and Bixby the night her engagement was announced but they can’t change the past. Michael confronts him down in the market before taking off. Things are looking pretty tense between them until Alex is out on the road and Michael literally flies into the car. The whole thing was an elaborate rouse to fool Gabriel into thinking Alex is joining up with him.

That’s not all the angelic shenanigans going on in Vega though. Arika has a Helena delegation show up with her wife’s head. It seems the takeover and merger between Vega and Helena is well under way. The next time we see Arika she’s greeted by a covered up woman who turns out to be Uriel. I can’t tell if Arika knows that Uriel is an archangel or not but they seem to get pretty hot and heavy quick. It makes me wonder if Uriel is the one who killed Arika’s wife. Actually, it turns out that Arika is actually the ruler of Helena and by the conversation, not only does she know Uriel is an archangel but it’s pretty clear she is a higher angel herself. Juicy! Oh and the lady angels have their eye on Claire for some reason. The Wheel-Rysen wedding takes all of about two minutes, including William telling Claire he doesn’t have very high expectations of their wedding night. I still don’t trust the sleazebag. I like that we are finally getting some clarity on Uriel’s motives. She gives Claire a “prayer” of matrimony but she’s really somehow testing to see if Claire is pregnant. I totally called it right before they confirmed she’s carrying Alex’s baby. Uriel thinks Alex will follow Claire wherever she goes when he finds out she’s pregnant. Uriel hopes once he deciphers the tattoos she can defeat both of her brothers and stop the bloodshed once and for all. So Michael just wants humans left alone, Gabriel wants them wiped out and Uriel wants to pound her baby brothers into dust. Interesting. WE also learn that the angels are susceptible to electric shock. So shoot them with extra strength stun guns! Becca isn’t happy that General Rysen is skipping town without telling Claire. I could kind of care less.

Out in the desert we get a much needed Alex and Michael conversation. I’m not going to lie, this was the sneak peek they released earlier in the week before the episode aired and I watched it about ten times. It was so damn juicy. Michael admits to his past, including that he had rather severe bloodlust. But he learned that his Father’s commands weren’t always meant to be taken literally and he’d failed this one. Alex is surprised to know that Gabriel defended humanity once up on a time (and apparently Gabriel and Uriel can jointly kick Michael’s ass). Noma shows up as Michael tells Alex not to let him down. I really want Alex to forgive Noma and for them to be happy together. Since he can’t have Claire and all. Alex is pissed at Noma for lying to him but she tries to make him see that not all of what happened between them was orchestrated by Michael (he certainly didn’t tell her to sleep with Alex). But as Noma goes off to see Gabriel, they share a parting kiss. Oh, and I think Alex is a little jealous that Noma and Furiad had a thing back in the day. Michael uses it to twist the soldier’s arm into getting Noma into Gabriel’s stronghold. Gabriel isn’t stupid though. He realizes there might be a trap. I really hope he doesn’t try to possess Noma. That would just really annoy me.

Alex and Michael head back to Vega after Alex has a weird vision of Jeep and he kills his dad. It turns out that Gabriel didn’t show up because he’s surrendered in Vega. I totally yelled at all the soldiers when they started shooting at him. They have to know by now that his wings are freaking bulletproof. But anyway, they lock him in an electrified cell while Claire, Becca, William and David decide what to do. I don’t know why they are the only ones involved but whatever. The ultimately decide to interrogate Gabriel and then execute him. Claire goes to see Gabriel and he points out that he’s got heightened senses and can hear baby’s heartbeat. Meanwhile, William blows up at daddy for not being loyal enough to Gabriel. I have a feeling William is going to get the short end of the stick very shortly.

Despite Claire giving him an order to stay away from Gabriel, Alex goes for a chat, ready to kill the angel and end the war. He gets close but Gabriel drops the baby bomb and throws Alex off his game. It’s going to be super awkward when William finds out. He definitely overhears the news when Alex goes to confront Claire about it. She wasn’t going to tell him. Yeah because that’s fair. Just because he’s the Chosen One doesn’t mean he’d be an absentee dad.

Things then go from bad to worse as Michael pays Gabriel a visit and we get some very intriguing backstory on them. They’re twins (as are Uriel and Raphael). Michael’s first memory is of Gabriel’s voice and being comforted by it. They had been bonded and could always hear what the other was thinking. Their bond broke a long time ago but just the way they interact you can tell they still care for each other. That brotherly love is still there. And Gabriel imparts some disturbing news on his twin. He possessed Louis one last time and it wasn’t good. Michael’s off to find the poor guy and find him he does. Becca and another of the Senate members have been dissecting the poor guy. They cut off his wings and it looks like they cut him open, too. Of course, Gabriel has acolytes everywhere and they help him escape before shooting themselves in the head. There had better be a big ass fight on the way because I think both Gabriel and Michael need to expend some anger here.

It would seem that Michael does get some of his anger out but it quickly turns to rage when Becca arrives. He’s had to kill Louis and he is just broiling underneath. He snaps her neck and kills a bunch of guards before Alex joins the fray against his mentor. I was worried that Alex was going to stab Michael but then I realized that wouldn’t make sense since Michael is a pivotal character. Michael seems to realize the horror of what he’s done and takes off just in time for Gabriel to arrive and try to recruit Alex. Alex naturally declines and Gabriel gives him an ultimatum; join up or everyone in Vega (and Noma too) dies.

We don’t get a Michael and Gabriel fight like I was hoping but we do see Michael flying off somewhere. One hopes he can overcome his rage and face off against his brother and sister because it appears Uriel is keeping her word to Gabriel and pledging her sword to his cause. Meanwhile, Claire deduces that William is an acolyte and Wheel promises to take care of it and claim he was a coward in death. In reality, he sets William free in the desert with some supplies and an edict never to return to Vega (and he burned all the other acolytes to death). Before Alex leaves Vega, he gives Ethan a note to pass to Claire. We end the first season with Alex climbing the mountain to Gabriel’s fortress as his voiceover reads the letter he’s written to his unborn child. I really hope this isn’t the end because there is so much left to be told. Bravo, SyFy, you’ve had me hooked all season and I’m going to be hungering for more until we get it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summer TV Rewind: The Americans 1.10: "Only You"

“He had no secrets. You know? You can’t be married and not have secrets. Can you, Phil?”

“Only You” really explored the aftermath of the murders that took place in the last episode. Both the FBI and KGB are hurting right now, the FBI because of Amador and the KGB because of Vlad. Interestingly, the KGB hurt over Vlad doesn’t quite extend to Phillip and Elizabeth. As Directorate S operatives, I think they are too distant to know a Rezidentura line staffer like Vlad was. Nina is really upset over the loss, though, and once she finds out how it happened, I think her relationship with Stan will change fundamentally. Each side is still seeking vengeance on the other, and the whole thing makes me wonder how we ever really got out of the Cold War. I rocked my AP US History test in high school, so I know all about glasnost and perestroika and all, but I’m surprised the spies on the ground were ever really able to stop.

Like I said, this episode really gets into the aftermath of Amador’s and Vlad’s deaths. We see Elizabeth drop Phillip off at the low end motel where he’s been staying since the separation. The separation is definitely taking its toll on both of them. Later in the episode, there’s a scene where Elizabeth is having a lot of trouble establishing a new morning routine with Paige and Henry. They’re still really upset about the separation, and they’re acting out. Phillip busts into the house in the middle of this and offers to take the kids to school. Elizabeth is pissed off that Phillip undermined her effort to create a new morning routine. Phillip has a legitimate reason to visit, though, besides just causing chaos. He learned that Amador wore a very distinctive ring and it is missing. It may make it easier for the FBI to figure out what happened.

On the FBI side of things, Agent Gaad has what seems like a big rally to both remember Amador and encourage his agents to try and figure out who killed him. He (and most of the other FBI agents) really, really want Amador’s killer dead. After work, and already drunk Stan pays Phillip a visit at the motel, where they drink even more beers. Stan tells Phillip his partner was killed, and obviously Phillip doesn’t let anything slip about his own involvement. Can you imagine what it would do to Stan if he ever found out the truth? I’m sure he will at some point before the series is over (TV Rules), but that is going to be a story bomb like no other. Anyway, the visit from Stan was how Phillip learned about Amador’s ring.

Stan and the other FBI folks aren’t the only ones reeling from a death in this episode. The Rezidentura is feeling the loss of Vlad. In a way, the deaths of Amador and Vlad weren’t that different. Both were young men with a lot of promise, and that makes their loss especially tragic. During a clandestine rendezvous, Nina asks Stan if he knows anything about what happened to Vlad. Stan denies any knowledge, of course. Nina says Vlad was her friend, and he never really wanted to be a spy. He wanted to be a doctor, and he was planning on quitting the Rezidentura and going to medical school next year. We also get a very sad scene where Nina, Arkady, and some other Rezidentura higher ups take Vlad’s coffin to the airport. It’s pretty clear that if Nina finds out Stan killed Vlad, it’s not going to be pretty.

Anyway, Phillip and Elizabeth now know they have to find and dispose of Amador’s ring, but Stan, being the good FBI agent he is, is already on the trail. He figured out that the owner of an auto shop pawned the ring, so he pays the mechanic a visit. It appears that this mechanic sometimes procures and disposes of cars for Gregory’s crew. Elizabeth got Gregory’s help to deal with Amador’s body, so that’s how everything is connected. Stan brings the mechanic into the office for more questioning, and when looking through a book of mug shots, the mechanic identifies a man named Curtis. Curtis works for Gregory, and Stan remembers seeing Curtis during the whole mess in Philadelphia a few episodes back.

Curtis is arrested, so the KGB know they are in trouble. Gregory could be next, and his whole organization, although it seems like a drug operation on the surface, is all about supporting the KGB. Elizabeth and Claudia have a very serious discussion about what to do with Gregory. Claudia says they can begin the exfiltration process immediately. Gregory will have to go to Moscow, where he will be set up with a modest apartment and stipend. He will also be expected to teach future KGB agents. Elizabeth isn’t so sure Gregory will take the deal, but she certainly hopes he will.

Gregory, however, has other ideas. He really wants to run to California. Elizabeth tries to convince him that this is a spectacularly bad idea. The FBI wants blood for Amador’s death, and they won’t rest until they find (and probably kill) Gregory. They won’t be able to get to him in Moscow, but they can certainly get to him anywhere in the United States. Gregory doesn’t think he would fit in if he went to Moscow. He wants to be a martyr for the cause instead. Elizabeth and Gregory end up sleeping together one last time before everything goes to Hell.

The KGB higher-ups aren’t thrilled with Gregory’s desire to be a martyr because they don’t trust that he’ll actually go through with it. Phillip arrives at the safe house to help Elizabeth do what needs to be done with Gregory. He’s about to kill Gregory himself, but Elizabeth stops him. She reminds Phillip that Gregory has always been honest and has never, ever betrayed the cause. Gregory’s plan is suicide by cop so that the FBI will think that Amador’s murderer is dead and not come after Phillip and Elizabeth. After thinking about it, Phillip decides to let Gregory go ahead with it.

The end of this episode is just gut wrenching. We slowly see Gregory enter a standoff with police, and eventually he is shot to death. Phillip and Elizabeth can’t be anywhere around to help him. They both have to appear as if they are going about their ordinary lives. Elizabeth is feeding Paige and Henry dinner when a breaking news report about the standoff and Gregory’s death comes on television. She can’t bear to watch and just turns off the TV. I never really bought Gregory and Elizabeth’s relationship. I don’t really understand what they saw in each other. But I could definitely see that Elizabeth is in serious mourning now.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Summer DVR Dump: Atlantis 1.10: "The Price of Hope"

“You get some of your best ideas when you sleep. Triangles! That came to you in your sleep. Most men dream about women, you dream about triangles.”

I was disappointed in “The Price of Hope,” because it again only advanced the Hercules/Medusa story and didn’t at all touch the Jason/Ariadne/Pasiphae story. I suppose you could say that exploring the aftermath of Medusa’s snake-head transformation was necessary for good storytelling, but I find Jason’s fate a lot more interesting. I just find it odd that after the huge revelation that there is somebody worse than Pasiphae that Jason will have to face, we’ve now gone three episodes with no mention of any of it. It’s been all Hercules and Medusa. Something that was nice to see in this episode was how when he was in trouble, Jason and Pythagoras stood by their friend. Sure, Pythagoras likes (by omission) to Hercules at one point in the episode, but it comes from a place of wanting to protect him.

This particular episode opens with Hercules trying to get whatever intel he can on Medusa’s whereabouts. Which is a pretty early sign that this episode is going to continue to be about saving medusa instead of Jason’s drama. The upshot of Hercules’ efforts is that he learns Medusa is in a cave that is not a terribly far distance away. There’s just one problem. Pythagoras has been very diligently trying to find a cure for Medusa’s curse, but so far, he has been unsuccessful. Jason and Pythagoras discuss Pythagoras’ reluctance to tell Hercules the bad news, and Pythagoras says he has one last idea. Jason needs to go to the Oracle and get Pandora’s Box back. There might be something on the box that could provide a clue to the cure.

It’s a little awkward for Jason since he just told off the Oracle (and the gods) at the end of the episode, but he does what he has to do and gets the box back. The whole conversation between Jason and the Oracle is pretty awkward, but in the end, Jason gets the box. Jason and Pythagoras then take the box to an inventor named Daedalus. He seems kind of like an Ancient Greek Leonardo DaVinci. We see very fanciful inventions all over his workshop. Jason keeps the key to the box (so there’s no temptation to open it) while Pythagoras and Daedalus work. They find some writing on the bottom of the box that says “When all seems lost, only hope remains.” That’s a nice sentiment, but further research is less encouraging. The box actually tells the story of Alcestis and Admetos, which ends with one of them agreeing to die in place of the other. Point being, Daedalus and Pythagoras think that the only way to cure Medusa is for Hercules to die.

When Pythagoras rejoins Jason and Hercules (who has decided to try using lavender oil deodorant in anticipation of seeing Medusa again), he says that he has not found a cure. Jason can tell something is up, but he’s not quite sure what that is. Later, Pythagoras and Jason decide to bring Hercules some wine to cheer him up, but he is missing. Pythagoras and Jason quickly find the person from whom Hercules got his intel about medusa’s location. He adds one important detail to the story this time around, though. There is a group of bandits on the route to the cave where Medusa is hiding. Jason and Pythagoras are reunited with Hercules when the fall into the bandits’ trap.

To the guys’ chagrin, it turns out that these bandits have a sadistic streak. After they rob you, they go all Most Dangerous Game and try to hunt you for funsies. The leader of the bandits announces that only one of the three will be allowed to live. After the first two are hunted, the game is over. What follows is a lot of running and fighting and tree climbing. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned here before that I don’t do a fantastic job describing action-heavy scenes. The upshot of all the running and fighting is that Hercules is separated from Jason and Pythagoras, and Jason has been stabbed and is bleeding quite profusely. The situation doesn’t look good at all for our boys.

The bandits catch up to Pythagoras and Jason, and since Jason isn’t really in fighting form, Pythagoras moves like he’s about to fight them off himself. Luckily, a female archer named Atalanta comes to the rescue and kills all the bandits. Atalanta heals Jason, and then she turns her attention to Pythagoras. She’s not associated with the bandits at all – she is, in fact, under the protection of Artemis. Pythagoras starts telling her about the Hercules and Medusa situation, but he doesn’t realize that Hercules is approaching and can hear the conversation. He tells Atalanta that he found a cure, but the cure is too terrible to tell Hercules. After the conversation is over, Hercules rejoins the group, trying to play it off like he didn’t just hear the information about the cure.

The next day, the guys leave Atalanta behind and go search for Medusa’s cave. Hercules starts saying nice things to Jason and Pythagoras, which should have been a huge clue that he’s planning on dying for Medusa. When Hercules goes into the cave, Pythagoras finally starts telling the truth to Jason about the “cure” he found for Medusa’s curse. Jason quickly realizes that Hercules must have discovered this information, too. Everything about how he has conducted himself since the battle in the woods has been Hercules saying goodbye to his friends.

Meanwhile, inside the cave, Hercules finds Medusa. He tells her that he has discovered the cure, and she needs to follow his directions exactly. Medusa says she loves Hercules, and she is happy to go along with the plan until Hercules instructs her to look at him. She hesitates a bit, and Jason takes that opportunity to throw Hercules against the cave wall so he can’t see her. Jason, however, does get a look at Medusa, and surprisingly, he does not turn to stone as a result. Jason explains to Medusa that Hercules was planning to kill himself for her, and Medusa is not happy about that at all. Hercules says he will continue to look for a different cure, and Medusa says it will be her reason to continue to live. It’s pretty cheesetastic. But I never bought the Hercules/Medusa relationship in the first place.