Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summer TV Rewind: Marvel's Daredevil 1.10: "Nelson v. Murdock"

“Screw you. I just lied to somebody that I care about. I want to know everything. And don’t you leave a damn thing out.”

As you can probably tell from the title, this particular episode of “Daredevil” really explored the relationship between Foggy and Matt. They have had quite the bromance over the years, and we see it chronicled in flashbacks. These flashbacks make what Matt and Foggy go through in the present day part of this episode all the more painful. It is clear that since Foggy has learned Matt is the masked vigilante, everything has changed. Matt can explain the details of the how and the why until the cows come home, but there’s one important thing he can’t fix, at least not right away. Foggy doesn’t trust him anymore. There is some other stuff going on with Karen and Ben continuing their investigation into Fisk, but since we viewers, Matt, and Foggy are already so far ahead of them, it was hard to get invested. The only aspect of the B story I was invested in was the plight of Ben and his wife, and I think he made the completely wrong decision in that department.

The episode opens a little bit after the last one ended. Matt wakes up on his couch, and he sees that his lacerations from Nobu’s swingy blade thing have all been sewn up. He’s still in really bad shape, though, and he can’t really sit up. Surprisingly, Foggy is still there. I thought he’d rage quit Matt as soon as he discovered Matt was the vigilante, but he actually stuck around. Apparently he had to call Claire to patch Matt up after Matt almost punched him out for trying to take him to the hospital. Matt doesn’t remember any of this, though. We also get our first flashback, where we see Matt and Foggy become roommates. It really looks like a freshman year of college situation, but Foggy seems to be selecting Civil Procedure on the course registration website, so it looks like it’s actually supposed to be law school. The show seems to conflate undergrad and law school, and as someone who spent nine years in higher education between my bachelor’s, law degree, and master’s, that kind of irritates me. Anyway, Foggy is pretty psyched that Matt is blind, mostly because he thinks it makes him the perfect wingman to help him pick up women.

Other than the Matt and Foggy drama, there’s Fisk machinations happening in this episode. First, we see Fisk and Madame Gao take a meeting. Madame Gao isn’t thrilled to hear that now Nobu is dead, too. She wants to know how she can be sure she won’t be next, which is a perfectly legitimate question. Fisk claims to have more respect for Madame Gao than the rest of the gang. She warns him that he has changed recently, and he can’t be both savior and oppressor. He’s going to have to choose. Fisk later has a similar conversation with Owlsley, who also thinks Fisk has changed since he started dating Vanessa, and not for the better. Everything with Fisk comes to a head at a swanky fundraiser, where Owlsley and Wesley are also in attendance. Suddenly, people who had been drinking the champagne start dropping to the floor, foaming at the mouth. Including Vanessa.

Karen’s a little confused why nobody else has shown up to work, and she tries calling both Matt and Foggy’s phones. Foggy picks up and tells her that Matt has been in a car accident. He says he’ll let her know if they need her help with anything, but he thinks they’ll be fine. He is extremely pissed that he had to lie for Matt, and he demands that Matt tell him everything about his past and his powers. Matt is pretty incredulous when he learns about Matt’s super senses that basically give him sight, even if it is “world on fire” sight. He is especially creeped out by the idea of Matt listening to a person’s heartbeat to determine if they are lying. Particularly he’s upset about Matt listening to Karen’s heartbeat back in the pilot. He’s beginning to question if there was anything real to their friendship. We get another flashback where Foggy and Matt are goofing off on campus when it’s close to graduation time. They’re talking post-graduation plans, and Foggy is dreaming of big money. Of course, Matt wants something a little less soul-sucking. I’m on Team Matt here, but after my law school graduation, I worked part time in public interest law for a year before going back to grad school and then taking a government job, so that’s no shocker!

As I mentioned back in the intro, Ben and Karen also have a B story in this one. We start with Ben having a rather nice interaction with his very ill wife at the hospital, but then she forgets and starts the conversation all over again. To make things go from bad to worse, the hospital administrator says that her attempt to get Ben’s wife into the type of placement he requested has failed. Later at work, Ben dejectedly looks at a hospice brochure, but he is interrupted by his boss offering him the job of Metro editor. It comes with better pay and benefits, which could help his wife’s situation. Ben’s not sure, because he’s really a reporter at heart, but he says he’ll think about it. Karen arrives at her office, and finds a shoebox on her desk. Ben appears out of the shadows, and after warning Karen to be more careful, he shows her that the box contains all his materials about the Union Allied/Fisk case. He’s calling it quits to take care of his wife at home. Karen wants him to go with her to see a nursing home upstate before making a final decision. I can’t believe what a bitch she’s being in this moment. There are bigger things in life than following this case.

Ben and Karen do indeed check out the nursing home. It seems nice, but Ben has no idea how he would pay for it. Just as they are about to leave, Karen says they should ask a resident how they like the place, and she knocks on the door of a seemingly random woman. As Karen and Ben (Ben with near constant apologies and signals to Karen that he wants to leave) talk to the woman more, they eventually realize (well Karen confirms and Ben realizes) that she is Fisk’s mother. She vaguely tells the story of Wilson killing his father. Ben should be absolutely furious about Karen’s manipulation here. She used his wife’s condition to lure him into continuing the investigation, which is almost unconscionable to me. My grandfather passed away after a long, ugly battle with Parkinson’s earlier this year, and you couldn’t have torn my grandmother away from him for anything. Karen is depriving Ben of those final moments with his wife, and I just can’t forgive her for that. Surprisingly, though, Ben takes the bait and becomes more and more interested in what Fisk’s mother has to say.

We’ll finish this episode off with some more Foggy and Matt flashbacks and drama. We get to see them in their final days of their internship at Landman and Zack. They have adjoining cubes in a storage closet that Foggy has decorated with dinosaur figurines, which I think is kind of adorable. Foggy is super excited that they have both gotten offers to be associates at the firm, but Matt thinks they should strike out on their own instead. They’ve been part of some pretty heinous cases as internes, and Matt wants to work for justice. He’s been reading Thurgood Marshall lately, you know (which, I get it, being a con law nerd and wanna-be social justice warrior myself). Foggy says he’s in, because he trusts Matt. We also get a flashback to the first time Matt attacked someone. He heard a guy sexually abusing his daughter in a nearby building, and he needed to put a stop to it.

In the present day, Matt and Foggy finally have the argument they’ve needed to have all episode. Foggy wants Matt to quit being a vigilante, but Matt thinks the city needs him in this capacity. Furthermore, it’s pretty clear that Foggy doesn’t trust Matt anymore, and that’s a huge blow to him on a personal level, too. We get a brief flashback to the guys at Josie’s, where they toast to their future law firm as Foggy reveals the design for the sign he wants to commission. In the present day, Foggy is back at the office. He throws the still unhung sign in the trash and packs his stuff up in the box he used to move out of his Landman and Zack cube back in the day.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Falling Skies 5.09: "Reunion"

“We’ve both been given a second chance. It’s important that we make it count.”
- Tom

The end is almost here, gang. We have reached the penultimate episode and I still can’t imagine what’s going to happen in the finale! Things seem to be going pretty well for the 2nd Mass this week. They are marshalling their forces (other militias) to converge on DC in the next day and they’ve even managed to secure their own communication line so the Espheni can’t listen in! Elsewhere in camp, Ben is cooling off after touching the Espheni hub. It’s been at this for a while, pulling pieces of information out of what he overhears. The big thing is the Espheni have a Queen and she’s arrived. They don’t know exactly where and Weaver and Anne veto Ben going in for another jolt (even though Tom wants him to). Ben is just frustrated that he could be helping more and he can’t. He even tries to talk Maggie into helping him convince his parents to let him go back in. She’s not having it, though.

Because we are in the final stages of this war, as people are packing up supplies, Tom gets another vision from Rebecca. He ends up at the beach nearby and she has some explaining to do. First off, she’s the only member of her species left after the Espheni wiped them out to make Skitters. That’s interesting. Second, a giant ship appears out of the water with Tom’s beamer attached to it. Rebecca says that she finds species and uses them accordingly. She created mutual trust with Tom and now she wants him to deliver a weapon to the Espheni Queen. If it works, it will wipe out all of the Espheni everywhere on Earth. They’ll never be a problem again. That kind of reminded me a little of the Borg on Star Trek. You infect the Queen and all the drones get scrambled and thrown off course.

While Tom is out becoming a possible suicide bomber, Matt and Maggie are out on patrol. They head out into the woods and Matt hears someone moaning. Lo and behold it appears to be Lexi (although looking far more human than last we saw her trying to destroy the power core). She’s weak and in need of medical help. Maggie doesn’t trust her after what happened with Captain Marshall and I can’t blame her. Weaver and Anne have similar doubts when Matt brings Lexi back to camp. Weaver warns Anne not to let the thought of Lexi being alive get into her head since Lexi is half Espheni to begin with and she could be a spy. So they lock Lexi up and Anne is really cold to her, not even worrying about her need for medical assistance. Bad doctor! But when Tom gets back and talks to Lexi, the story she tells about being saved and landing in the water is a familiar one. He believes fake Rebecca may have saved Lexi and sent her to them at that time to guide them with destroying the Espheni. And Lexi is worried about the Queen, too. She says that it means the Espheni have gone from invasion to occupation. Well damn!

It seems Lexi will get a visit from all but one of her brothers. Hal isn’t interested. He’s trying to protect himself, although he does tell Isabella that if he’s wrong about Lexi, he’ll be first in line to apologize. This pisses Matt off because he doesn’t see Hal’s point of view. Maybe it’s because Matt is so much younger or maybe he just hasn’t been so touched by the war, but he wants to believe that his sister is back. Ben is more in line with Hal and Anne. He doesn’t trust her, although he does deliver med supplies courtesy of Tom.

Ben is still at it with the communications hub even though he is clearly not looking well. He can barely stand up or write but he gets a clue that will prove pivotal to the war effort. Once he can decipher it. Before the gang can do that, though, they have one last stand against Pope. He gets blown to hell thanks to some quick thinking from Tom and Weaver. Good riddance. As I’ve said before, I found his character to be really annoying this season! Oh and Anthony ended up saving Anne from getting shot so that was good (although he got shot himself). Anne is less than willing to use the Dornia device if it could hurt humans (she tested it on a rat and it died instantly). But thanks to Marty and his biochemistry degree, they work together and find a way to block to pathogen released by the device so it won’t hurt humans. That’s a very good thing because while Tom is down chatting with Lexi, she attacks him and Anne has to use the device on it. It kills her and it turns out she was another of the plants like Marshall after all. The Espheni are coming after Tom. But hey, they figure out where the Queen is hiding out. The foot of the Lincoln Memorial (which I figured out as soon as Ben wrote down “foot of the giant”). Why Tom doesn’t just hop on the radio right then and share the news is beyond me.

He and Anne have to share a moment of sadness over it not being Lexi and Anthony gets back in the 2nd Mass (sort of) before all hell breaks loose yet again. Thousands of skitters and hornets are on their way toward the 2nd Mass before Tom has time to even tell the other militias where to meet up with them. I have a feeling the series finale is going to be one hell of a battle. I’m worried for all of our 2nd Mass crew but mostly for Ben. He really didn’t look all that good. But I have faith that the writers will wrap up the show with a satisfying ending. I don’t want everything to be hunky dory at the end but I would like to see our heroes finally succeed and retake the planet for the human race.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Summer TV Rewind: Moonlight 1.12: “The Mortal Cure”

“The cure is mortal itself. It’s only temporary.”
- Coraline

As you might expect, this episode deals with more of the fallout over Josh’s death. It also picks up on the Coraline plot thread. She’d disappeared from the hospital a few episodes back and so while Beth is dealing with everything surrounding Josh, Mick is trying to figure out what happened. Tensions are still high between him and Beth over the whole Josh situation so he kind of has some time on his hands to focus on Coraline. This happens to be spurred by a visit from a medieval vampire named Lance. Lance, who has one jet black eye and is very creepy, is looking for Coraline because as he claims, she stole something from him. Josef warns Mick to stay out of. Lance is a heavy hitter and Mick doesn’t need to get dragged down in more of Coraline’s drama. So of course, Mick starts to dig. He finds out that Coraline was either kidnapped or more likely aided in a hospital breakout by a vampire friend of hers, Cynthia Davis.

Mick pays a visit to tech genius (and slob) Logan. Logan is kind of adorable in his still-lives-in-his-mom’s-basement kind of way. Plus he’s a geek and plays Guitar Hero. It was 2007 after all. Anyway, with a little monetary prompting, Logan finds out that Cynthia is in town and has been making trips between LA and France every few weeks. She’s also been importing some sort of agricultural product from France. This is concerning to Mick because Cynthia despises LA. Still, he pays Cynthia a visit. She lies to his face which he figures out so he tasks Logan with finding the location of the warehouse where the agricultural product is being shipped. He finds Coraline and another vampire working on some science stuff when Lance shows up. He’s demanding the “compound” whatever that is and he’s ready to stake Coraline when Mick interrupts. He gets to see first-hand just how dangerous Lance is when his hand catches fire and he doesn’t die. In fact he heals. So not good! Mick calls for the Cleaners and learns that they’ve had a lot of pick-ups at the address of newly turned dead vampires. Josef is still not happy Mick is getting caught up on Coraline’s drama (and that Mick interrupted his massage) but he knows Mick won’t listen to him.

Elsewhere, Beth gets some of Josh’s stuff from his office (including a $40,000 life insurance pay out) and she starts to panic a bit. She sees he has a meeting with someone named Celeste that day at 8pm and she jumps to the conclusion that Josh was cheating on her. After working up the courage to confirm the reservation, Beth goes to meet Celeste and it very quickly turns out that Beth was wrong. Celeste is a jeweler who was setting Josh’s grandmother’s stone in a new band so he could propose to Beth.

Mick is back on the hunt for Coraline but he finds Beth waiting for him when he gets home. He invites her in and she drops the “Josh was going to propose” bombshell on him. Mick doesn’t have a whole lot of time to react to the news or to Beth’s admission that she’s not sure what her answer would have been because Coraline shows up at his door and falls into his arms. This makes Beth very uncomfortable and so she leaves and goes to Buzzwire. I’m not sure what the purpose of the scene was other than to show she’s still upset over Josh (as she looks at old emails from him saved in her work email).

Things are far more interesting back at Mick’s place. Once Coraline detangles herself from Mick, she explains that Lance is from a very powerful and very noble bloodline. There were seven siblings turned by a cousin of Louis XVI (who was also a vampire) and it turns out the Reign of Terror was a vampire genocide. The compound was developed to give vampires the needed characteristics of humanity to avoid being decapitated. Coraline stole some of this compound from Lance a year ago. When Mick presses her as to why she wanted to become human all of a sudden, she says she wanted to feel life again and she figured maybe love couldn’t exist without mortality. Obviously Mick isn’t going to take her back but she does offer to let him use some of the compound. It’s not permanent (and her research is basically stalled on that front) but it’s a temporary fix and can right the wrong done to him for a short while.

Not surprising, Mick didn’t get the whole story from Coraline about the noble bloodline. As he is trying to escort her safely out of LA, Lance and his goon find them and Lance drops the bomb that Coraline is his sister. She is also part of the noble bloodline. Apparently their sire (I’m assuming) was less than thrilled that Coraline took the compound. He was even more pissed that she married Mick without permission and the family blessing. Oops! Well it also goes to show how little they think of Coraline because she’s a woman. I understand those were views held at the time they were turned but they could have evolved with the times. Mick still seems to think he can kick ass like a vampire because he starts wailing on Lance but ends up getting beaten up pretty badly. Lance is about to stab Mick when Coraline offers herself up. She’ll go with Lance provided he spare Mick’s life. Lance obliges and stakes Coraline to keep her docile on the trip home. Mick manages to get home and draw some of his own blood (the only source of the cure he has left) before ordering all kinds of food and sacking out on the couch. The next day, he attends Josh’s funeral and reveals to Beth that for now, he’s human. So finally the romantic obstacles are out of their way and for the time being the pesky immortality obstacle is pushed aside, too.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Summer Travel Through TV: Les Revenants (The Returned) 1.06: "Lucy"

“If you like tragedy, you’re in the right place.”

The sixth episode of “Les Revenants” continued to build and deepen the show’s mythology. We’re learning about more characters who may or may not be returned, and we also learn more about Lucy’s rather unique psychic powers. I wouldn’t say this was my favorite episode of the show, because it felt a bit like the creative team was marking time for a little bit before the shit really hits the fan. There was some subtle building of the mythology, and the fabric of the town in general is starting to tear apart. I was going to say it’s subtly tearing apart, but the more I think about it, the whole town being without power indefinitely isn’t exactly subtle! In fact, the town is in such shambles infrastructure-wise that I’m surprised that people in general aren’t more worked up. There are some references to potential torches and pitchforks if too many people learn about Camille, but when it comes to the massive power outage, everybody is mostly orderly. Well, except for some looting of the diner (the guy who owns that place has the worst luck!). Maybe the French are just more civilized about such things than we are?

Given the title of this episode, it’s unsurprising that we open with a Lucy flashback. It’s a relatively recent flashback to one year prior when she first arrived in town on a bus. I was actually kind of surprised to see how many commercial busses travel to this particular lakeside Alpine town. I never got the impression that it was a big ski destination or anything. I also wonder about Lucy’s motivation in making this trip, because it isn’t exactly made clear in the episode. Anyway, her first stop is the Lake Pub, where she asks Toni for a job. She shows spunk, so Toni agrees, and he also gives her a place to stay in the back of the bar. Jérôme, who is a drunken mess, and Claire, who seems embarrassed, are there as well. In the next scene, we see that Jérôme has discovered Lucy’s having visions while having sex powers, and of course he wants to know how Camille is doing. And that’s really all I have to say about that because it’s kind of gross.

In the present day, Lucy finally regains consciousness. She tells the doctor that she can’t feel her legs, but the doctor says that’s normal, and she should be feeling better soon. Not long after she’s woken up, the police officer who responded to her attack visits her. She immediately knows who he is (so I guess her psychic powers go beyond communing with the dead during orgasm), and together they used a computer program to put together a sketch of her attacker. Unsurprisingly, it’s not Simon. It looks exactly like Serge. Speaking of Simon, his body is taken to the morgue, and the medical examiner tells Thomas that he shot Simon perfectly in the heart. Simon’s body is put into a locker at the morgue, but as we’d expect, he doesn’t stay there for long. When Thomas arrives at home, he tells Chloé to lie to the police if they ask her if she knew the “ghost” that he killed. Chloé doesn’t seem thrilled with the idea of having to lie, but for now, she agrees.

In a rather surprising scene, some of the power company guys decide to just up and leave town. They think the situation with the dam in hopeless. My late grandfather was a power company employee for over twenty-five years, and I can’t imagine him ever giving up on a situation like this. Julie has to heat up a pan of water on a gas burner for Victor to be able to take a bath, because the power has gone out throughout the entire town. Victor asks Julie to leave the room, and as Victor looks in the mirror, we can see some ugly marks on his arm, kind of like what was on Léna’s back. Later, Victor tells Julie that he thinks she is the fairy who is supposed to watch him until his mother comes back. Laure checks in on Julie and Victor and suggests they move in with her for the duration of the power outage, but Julie isn’t interested. Julie does eventually give in, though, and they move in with Laure.

Frédéric, still freaked out over the big Camille reveal, enlists a friend to help him dig up Camille’s grave. He’s got to be absolutely sure she is telling the truth. When they pry open the coffin, Frédéric and his friend discover that the coffin is filled with water. Frédéric and his friend get picked up by the Gendarmerie, and Thomas ends up interviewing them. Frédéric explains the Camille situation, and Thomas is very upset and concerned at the prospect of someone else returning from the dead like Simon. Meanwhile, there’s a big meeting at Claire’s house with all the bus crash families. Pierre introduces Camille to them as some sort of miracle and source of hope, but the reception is frosty. Everyone wants to know why Camille returned and their kids didn’t. Pierre tells Camille that her purpose is to be a source of comfort for the other bus crash families.

Camille starts describing a pleasant afterlife to the group, but Thomas interrupts (and Camille hides). He tells Claire and Pierre that if “Alice” shows up, she needs to come to the police station immediately to answer some questions about Léna’s disappearance. Like returned who have caught the interest of the police tend to do, Camille and her family decide to move to the Helping Hand, at least temporarily. At the Helping Hand cafeteria, Camille tries to give comfort to two particular parents by telling them that her son is fine and looking forward to seeing them again someday. Claire and Pierre think this is the happiest Camille has looked since she returned, because she has a purpose. Unfortunately, though, at the end of the episode, we see those parents kill themselves, presumably to meet their son again sooner rather than later.

Serge and Léna continue to grow closer through the course of this episode. There’s a really awkward scene where Léna wants something to wear other than a hospital gown, and Serge gives her one of his mom’s dresses. At the Lake Pub, the police officer who was helping Lucy shows Toni the sketch of Lucy’s attacker. Tony says he doesn’t recognize the man, but he knows it’s Serge. He immediately heads for the farm house. Toni warns Serge that the police are on to him, but he also vows to protect Serge this time around. Lena hears all of this, and the next time she sees Serge, she confronts him with a knife, asks if he is dead, and tells him to stay away. Somehow this leads to them having sex. I don’t quite see the appeal of Serge, myself. The cops eventually show up at the farmhouse, and Lena runs off so she’s not caught. While she’s wandering through the woods, she finds a group of rather surly people gathering around a camp fire.

Adèle and Chloé end up having a nice heart-to-heart about Simon, where Adèle admits that she doesn’t know why Simon committed suicide, but she is sure he was happy she was pregnant with Chloé. Meanwhile, at the morgue, Simon wakes up and Lucy spontaneously gets up from her bed. They meet in the hallway and almost immediately, Lucy leads Simon to her back room at the Lake Pub. She tells Simon she’s his guardian angel, and they end up having sex (shocker). Lucy gets a little freaked out when the sex causes her to see Simon’s suicide. Simon still claims he can’t remember how or why he died, though. Thomas is very worried when he sees Simon’s empty bed at the morgue. He calls Adèle and warns her, and she starts locking all the doors and windows. Chloé, however, reopens one sliding door.

Summer DVR Dump: 12 Monkeys 1.12: “Paradox”

“See while you’re busy saving Cole, the rest of the world, someone has to figure out how to save you.”
- Aaron

Things are really getting twisted and crazy now. In 2043, while Jones points out that Cole isn’t going to come back even though he survived the splinter to 2015, they can still move forward and rebuild their research. They find a few things of interest that weren’t known before, like the group Goines ran gets a new CEO in 2015. And that new CEO is of course Jennifer. She’s still a bit crazy but it’s obvious the 12 Monkeys are pushing for this. Jones takes a little time to look over some trinkets from her past, including the music box and her daughter’s baby blanket. Interesting how things just keep linking back up. I have to say I’ve enjoyed seeing not only Cole and Cassie’s tory unfold but Jones’ too. She seemed like such a harsh person when we first met her but now we’ve seen her with some real vulnerabilities and flaws.

In 2015, Cassie goes on a mission to hunt the present version of Dr. Jones. Hair and makeup really can make someone look so much younger. It’s a testament to the art department on this show that they made the actress look so much younger than she does in the future. Cassie brought a fake gun to the party to try and convince Jones to help but Jones responds with a knife. Yeah that wasn’t your brightest move Cassie. Back in Maryland, Aaron shows up to check on Cole and Cole goes into cardiac arrest. For a minute there I thought he was going to let Cole be dead because that would keep the timeline unchanged and that’s what the Army wants. But he ends up calling Cassie and manages to revive Cole with a shot to the thigh.

Jones finally agrees to go see Cole when Cassie whips out some of her research from the future. Oh and it turns out the little piece of paper future Cassie gave Cole was Jones’ address. Nice tie-in there writers! It seems even before the plague was released Jones was working on Project Splinter. Very interesting indeed. After getting back to the bookshop and drawing some of Cole’s blood, Jones realizes that he is in fact dying from all the temporal jumps. Cole is ready to give up it seems but Cassie is not. It’s clear they both mean a lot to each other. And it seems Jones has always known about Cole (which is probably why she wasn’t worried about him being dead in 2015). But together, Jones and Cassie figure out a possible way to save Cole. Find his younger self and introduce some uncorrupted DNA into older Cole’s system to create a paradox and hopefully fix the issue. Risky for sure but it just might work.

Aaron is still trying to save Cassie (though I can’t see how that’s even possible) and so he contacts Olivia to make a deal. I’m kind of frustrated with their scenes because we never actually get any useful information out of them. They always end right before Olivia gives up the goods. I know they need to build suspense and we will likely find out what was said before the end of the season but this the second time this has happened. If it’s not important enough to share with the audience (even if it isn’t with Cole and Cassie yet) then leave it out.

Speaking of Cole, Cassie and Jones have tracked down the current day Cole (who is like 8) and his father to a garage. Things don’t go well at first. Cassie tries lying and saying they are making sure they weren’t exposed to E.coli but then when she tries the truthful route, Cole’s dad pulls a shotgun on them. Ultimately it’s a name drop of the Army of the 12 Monkeys that gets papa Cole to consider what Cassie has said. Apparently Cole’s mom (who it sounds like wasn’t married to Cole’s dad and who took off a while ago) had ranted about the Army and that Cole needed to be kept safe. So Cole’s dad brings him back to Maryland where adult Cole sees his father and his dad knows it’s really his son. I guess we might see Cole restored to health after all.

As Cassie draws blood from young Cole, adult Cole gets a few minutes to bond with his father again. Understandably, papa Cole is a tad overwhelmed by everything that’s going on and ducks outside. Cassie follows but doesn’t have much time to reassure him before Aaron calls. I swear I thought he was going to abduct her and he nearly does. But she punches him and starts to run back to the shop. But the Army has already found them. Thanks to Aaron being a traitorous asshole. But Cassie, Jones and young Cole get out of the shop in time to avoid being killed by the paradox. Sadly, Cole’s father in trying to let them get away gets shot and killed. We finally have the origin of the flashes Cole has been having. He’s remembering witnessing this from two perspectives. Freaky! But he does inject himself with his younger self’s blood and it works. It wipes out his ability to time travel ever again (and apparently his clothing) but he seems kind of okay with that. And Jones has decided to keep her unborn baby (good choice). Cassie now has to focus on finding Aaron again and hopefully throwing down some punishment. But she’s a little worried about leaving young Cole in CPS custody. Cole says everything will be fine as we see a young Ramse introduce himself. I wondered if Cole would let it happen, knowing that Ramse has gone back in time and everything.

In the future, bits of English Ivy start growing on the time machine and they are red. I feel like they are linked to the paradox Ramse was involved in. And it appears Deacon may be alive and leading some really creepy pale-faced people into the lab building. I’m not so sure if they are the Army or if they are aliens because I swear they looked like aliens to me.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Summer TV Rewind: Marvel's Daredevil 1.09: "Speak of the Devil"

“Few things are absolute, Matthew. Even Lucifer was once an angel. It’s why judgment and vengeance are best left to God. Especially when murder is not in your heart.”
-Father Lantom

The ninth episode of “Daredevil” is unmatched thus far in intensity and big reveals. There was a lot going on in this one. Matt struggled mightily between his religion and what he feels he might have to do to end the threat of Fisk for good. Tragedy again befalls the Nelson and Murdock family. Matt has an epic, epic fight with Nobu. Matt and Fisk meet for the first time, both with Matt as himself and Matt as the vigilante in black. And somebody incredibly important to Matt discovers his true identity at the end of the episode. It’s quite a lot to pack into one episode, and I suppose it is emblematic of the non-network TV short season model. Such shows try to make every episode all emotion and action, although sometimes I’d rather slow down and breathe.

This episode uses the very common storytelling structure of in media res , starting with a big event, and then backing up to show viewers how the characters got there. The starting point of this episode is quite the doozy. Matt is in a very intense fight with someone dressed in red ninja gear. That someone is none other than Nobu. I saw an article the other day about how this fight required some CGI in addition to the work of a stuntman. It is definitely more complicated than other fights we have seen on the show thus far (and there have been some impressive fights). As we backtrack to the beginning of this series of events, we see Matt sitting outside his church. Father Lantom sees him sitting there and asks him if he’d like to go for coffee. Over coffee, Matt asks Father Lantom if he believes the devil walks among us. Father Lantom answers Matt’s question by telling a story about being in Rwanda during the genocide and seeing a respected community leader hacked to death with a machete.

Back at the office, Foggy, Karen, and Ben are kind of spinning their wheels after Fisk’s big coming out party. Because he has become such a public do-gooder, they are going to have an even more difficult time pinning all of Hell’s Kitchen’s recent troubles on him. Matt joins in on the conversation and reiterates his opinion that they need to try and use the legal system to defeat Fisk. Eventually, the rest of the group agrees. There is just one problem, as we will discover as the episode progresses. Everybody the team has encountered who is connected to Fisk keeps dying, disappearing, or going on long vacations to countries without extradition treaties with the United States.

We also see a very intense meeting between Nobu and Fisk. Nobu is extremely pissed off at Fisk because Fisk had promised him a particular city block for his participation in Fisk’s crime empire.and so far, Fisk hasn’t been able to deliver. The problem is that one of the buildings on that block is the tenement where Mrs. Cardenas lives, and a good portion of the residents are still putting up a fight. Fisk owns the building now (his company just bought it from Tully), so he says he’ll increase the pressure on the tenants if Nobu helps him with the masked vigilante problem.

At the office, Matt, Karen, and Foggy are continuing to work on the Fisk problem. They have found a legitimate connection between Confederated Global, Fisk’s company, and Tully, but they can’t make anything stick. Tully is the Fisk connection who is taking a long vacation on an island with no extradition treaty. Just as things are getting grim, Mrs. Cardenas stops by for a visit. She seems about ready to give up on staying in her apartment because Fisk wants to double the rent. Foggy, however, convinces her to keep fighting the good fight. Meanwhile, Matt goes to the art gallery to talk with Vanessa, in the hopes that he can learn more about what makes Fisk tick, and maybe work himself up to killing him. He uses a rather awesome, charming ruse about wanting art to impress the ladies who come back to his apartment. He then asks her what her significant other would buy, since he’s sure he’s a man of good taste. Fisk walks in at just that moment, and he and Matt have a bit of a confrontation, because Fisk does a bit too much of a hard sell about how he wants to change Hell’s Kitchen.

After his visit with Vanessa, Matt goes to church and talks to Father Lantom some more. He’s having trouble with the idea of killing “the Devil” now that he knows Fisk has someone (Vanessa) who truly cares about him. Father Lantom says he doesn’t think Nick is a killer. When Matt returns to the office, Foggy and Karen have had a breakthrough, although it doesn’t ultimately amount to much. They made a connection between the guys who attacked them in the previous episode and Fisk, but those guys have disappeared, too. In a brief moment of joy, though, Foggy opens a package that contains their shiny new office sign. The celebration doesn’t last long, though, because Karen gets a call from their police officer friend. At the morgue, we learn that Mrs. Cardenas has been stabbed to death. We then get another quick cut to Matt and Nobu fighting, and Matt is losing badly. Nobu had been using this blade on a chain thing, and Matt has taken some pretty bad lacerations. Nobu then drags him across the room with the chain.

After leaving the morgue, the gang has a wake for Mrs. Cardenas at their usual watering hole. Of course, the television news turns to Fisk giving a press conference about her murder, acting all sanctimonious about how he wants to clean up Hell’s Kitchen so more people don’t get hurt. Matt suspects that, while the police say a random junkie attacked Mrs. Cardenas, the whole thing was orchestrated by Fisk as a catalyst to tear down the tenement. And he would be right. Matt excuses himself, saying he needs to go home. Instead of going home, he gets into his vigilante outfit and starts beating on people, as per usual. This time he wants to find the junkie who killed Mrs. Cardenas. Eventually he finds the person he is looking for, and after being properly threatened, the junkie gives Matt the address of a warehouse.

I’m guessing Matt probably hoped he would find Fisk at that warehouse, but instead he finds Nobu. That’s when the epic ninja fight starts. The whole thing is really painful to watch, because Matt just keeps taking hit after hit. There has been some violent stuff on “Daredevil,” but this is the first time I actually had to look away from the screen. Eventually, despite all of his wounds, Matt manages to get the better of Nobu. Or, I guess it’s more accurate to say that Nobu gets the best of himself. He accidentally burns himself to death with some leaking chemicals. As soon as Nobu is dead, Fisk and some henchmen enter the room. Fisk just starts wailing on Matt, as he is wont to do, but Matt manages to escape and throw himself through a window. Meanwhile, Foggy is at Matt’s apartment, trying to check on him. He gets concerned when he hears a noise and opens the door. He finds the masked vigilante on the floor and immediately dials 911. He can’t resist taking a peek behind the mask, though, and he is shocked to discover it is Matt.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Game of Thrones 5.10: "Mother's Mercy"

“I’m glad the end of the world’s working out well for someone.”
-Jon Snow

In its first few seasons, much like other HBO shows at the time, the final episode of “Game of Thrones” served as a denouement after significant action in the penultimate episode. This year, however, the season finale had plenty of action in its own right. The death toll increased significantly, regardless of whether or not every death sticks, there was still a lot of death. Several characters also faced punishment short of death for their actions. And so help me this episode even made me feel a touch sorry for Jaime and Circe Lannister. That pair are pretty much on the bottom of my list as far as characters I like on the show (I find them both to be kind of hateful), but they both faced tragic, intertwining circumstances in this episode. The episode tries to touch on every plot that has been ongoing this season, so it’s a bit haphazard, but it did include several memorable moments.

We begin this episode in the North, in the aftermath of Stannis killing his daughter to gain an advantage in the upcoming battle with the Boltons over Winterfell. Melisandre tells Stannis that the ice and snow are thawing thanks to his sacrifice to the Lord of Light. Things quickly go downhill, though. Stannis finds out half his army has deserted, and his wife is found hanging in the woods. At that, Melisandre flees. At Winterfell, Sansa takes advantage of the excitement over the upcoming battle to sneak out to the Broken Tower and light the candle to summon Brienne. Brienne doesn’t notice it, though, because she knows Stannis is near, and she wants her revenge for Renly’s death. She gets that revenge, or at least it appears Stannis is dead at her hand, but at what cost? Sansa is confronted at the Tower by Theon and Myranda, but Theon has finally had enough of Myranda, and he pushes her into the courtyard to her death. The Bolton soldiers are returning victorious from battle, so Sansa and Theon have to choice but to jump from the Winterfell ramparts together, hoping to survive the fall and escape.

We next head to Braavos, where Arya finally got to affirmatively cross one of the names off of her kill list. As you would expect, though, it came at a high price. Arya disguises herself as a girl who recently died at the House of Black and White, and she goes to the brothel where Meryn Trant is testing girls by lashing them. Arya is the only one who doesn’t cry out, so he chooses her. Arya quickly turns the tables, though. She pulls off her disguise, reveals that she is Arya, and stabs Meryn to death. Back at the House of Black and White, she is in serious trouble for taking a life that wasn’t hers to take. Jaqen threatens Arya with a vial of poison, but then he ends up taking it himself. Arya is devastated, but then the person who had been restraining her takes off a mask and appears to be Jaqen. Arya is horribly confused, pulling mask after mask off the dead body (that appeared to be Jaquen) as she goes blind herself.

Our next stop on the season finale tour is Dorne, where Jaime, Myrcella, and Trystane are about to head back to King’s Landing so that Myrcella and Trystane can be married. Prince Doran, Ellaria, and the Sand Snakes see them off, and Ellaria gives Myrcella a big kiss as they depart. It appears that Ellaria is trying to get back into Doran’s good graces by showing affection for Myrcella, but if you remember back to what happened to Bronn a few episodes ago, it’s obvious that all is not as it seems. Aboard ship, Jaime and Myrcella share a very tender moment where Jaime says that it’s lucky Myrcella’s arranged marriage seems like it will work out so well, and he admits that he is her father. Myrcella says she already knew, and she is very glad that Jaime is her father. They embrace, but then Myrcella falls dead from Ellaria’s poison. Back in Dorne, we see Ellaria wipe her lips and drink some antidote for good measure.

In Meereen, Daario, Grey Worm, Jorah, and Tyrion all try to figure out their next move now that Dany has disappeared. Grey worm is rather upset to see Jorah there, considering Dany banished him twice already, and he keeps coming back. Daario thinks he could be useful in the search for Dany, though, so he’s staying, at least for now. Grey Worm is still wounded, so much to his chagrin, he Missendrei, and Tyrion are going to stay behind to govern Meereen while Daario and Jorah go searching for the missing Queen. Tyrion isn’t thrilled about being left behind, either, but as Daario points out, he’s the only one of the bunch with any governing experience. Dany, meanwhile is in the middle of a sea of grass, helping Drogon nurse his wounds when she is suddenly surrounded by a Dothracki horde. It’s hard to tell if this will turn out to be a good thing or a bad thing.

Cersei is still imprisoned by the Sparrows in King’s Landing. Septa Unella finally convinces a broken Cersei to confess her sins to the High Sparrow. She only confesses the affair with Lancel, not incest with Jaime. The High Sparrow says that she may return home to her son rather than face another trial only if she atones for her sins. This atonement involves having her hair chopped, then taking a naked walk around King’s Landing while Septa Unella chants “shame” and rings a bell repeatedly behind her. At first the whole thing is quiet, but soon the townspeople get rowdy, and they start throwing food and feces at her. By the time Cersei gets to the Red Keep, her feet are bloody. Qyburn quickly moves to cover her up, and a huge “new Kingsguard” (aka a reanimated Mountain, I presume) picks her up.

We end this episode (and season) at Castle Black. Early in the episode, Jon and Sam have a heart-to-heart chat. Jon tells Sam about the horrors of Hardhome, and Sam tells Jon he wants to go study to be a Maester. He thinks that will keep himself, Gilly, and the baby the safest. Jon doesn’t really want to be separated from Sam, but he’s a good friend, so he acquiesces. Davros tries to convince Jon, once again, to lend men to Stannis to fight the Boltons. In the middle of the argument, however, Melisandre arrives and announces Stannis’ defeat. Davros of course asks how Shireen is, and when Melisandre won’t answer, he knows the worst has happened. That evening, Olly bursts into Jon’s chambers, telling him that some Wildlings have information about his uncle Benjen, who has been missing since the first season, I believe. When he arrives in the courtyard to hear the news, however, Jon is met with an ambush of his own men. Night’s Watch brothers, including Ser Alliser and Olly himself, stab Jon repeatedly until it appears he is dead. I have a funny feeling this death won’t stick, but we’ll have to wait until next season at the earliest to find out.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Summer TV Rewind: Moonlight 1.11: “Love Lasts Forever”

“You learn a lot in war. Like why some people make it and others don’t.”
- Mick

So I know I said “12:04AM” was one of my least favorite episodes, but “Love Lasts Forever” also rates pretty low on my list. Again, it’s one of those situations where I understand the need for the ultimate plot move but the way they got there just didn’t interest me very much. Mick is being extra brooding over his burgeoning feelings for Beth while brooding over Coraline’s humanity. Beth is dealing with Josh drama. He’s apparently trying to file charges against a creepy El Salvadorian drug cartel leader. The guy, Tejada, is kind of ruthless according to the things he’s done in his home country. He tends to intimidate people by attacking their families and loved ones. At first, Josh is all no fear, go ahead with his plan to file charges. But on his way to the parking garage at his office, he’s attacked by two masked me who toss a picture of Beth on the ground with an x over her face. She’s been marked.

While Josh is getting beaten up, Mick and Beth are plotting to take Coraline’s blood in for analysis to see what made her human. Those plans are derailed a bit when Josh comes home all beat up. Beth tells Josh he can’t step down from the case, even if she’s in danger because he could never live with himself if something went wrong and Tejada got off on the charges. This of course leads to make-up sex. Which Mick interrupts because Beth failed to show up for their lab date. He does overhear Josh ordering the cops to assign a protective detail to Beth. So Mick offers to protect Beth. He’s not thrilled that Beth and Josh are apparently back together (he was contemplating telling Beth how he felt) but he clearly loves Beth and wants to keep her safe. So while Josh is serving an arrest warrant on Tejada at his daughter’s sixteenth birthday party, Mick and Beth head back over to the lab. It turns out there’s nothing odd about the toxicology of Coraline’s blood. The lab tech is surprised that it wasn’t a child’s sample because the blood was so pure. And it’s a rare blood type: AO negative. Which is Beth’s blood type. I guess that explains why Coraline picked her as a child. They don’t have much time to revel in this realization before one of Tejada’s men opens fire with a sniper rifle. That’s when it pays to have a vampire bodyguard. He gets Beth out of harm’s way and takes off after the shooter.

Josh is determined to move forward with the case but things take a dangerous turn when Tejada’s bail is set at only $5 million. Tejada sets his guys on Josh’s trail and this results in a hasty kidnapping right out of police protection. Mick and Beth are in hot pursuit (literally, they are in a freaking car chase) when Beth starts calling Josh’s phone. I get that she wants to find him but didn’t she think it might alert his kidnappers and they might hurt him because of it? Mick loops in vampire hacker Logan to track Josh’s cell GPS and they end up following the kidnappers to an abandoned part of a park. Mick takes out the thugs who kidnapped Josh and things look like they are on the side of our heroes when one of the thugs (who Mick threw back into the car) grabs a gun and shoots Josh several times through the backseat. Why Mick didn’t pull Josh out of the car first (or have Beth do it) is beyond me. It would have avoided all the ensuing drama but I guess it wouldn’t have served the same purpose. Ultimately, despite Mick’s best efforts to stabilize Josh’s three bullet wounds (including using Beth’s necklace to clamp off an artery in Josh’s leg and use a car cigarette lighter to cauterize a wound, Josh’s heart stops beating and CPR doesn’t work. The ambulance arrives but even they can’t bring Josh back. Beth had begged Mick to turn Josh to save his life but Mick refused. I was honestly surprised Mick was able to hold it together in the sunlight for so long surrounded by and covered in so much blood.

Mick uses his “scary face” to get the one thug not in the hospital to give up Tejada’s location. He feeds an incorrect location to the cops so that he can deal with the cartel boss himself. Despite Mick’s misgivings about being a vampire sometimes, he is loving the power and the rage right now. He gets to beat up a bar full of thugs and get a tasty snack along the way when he sinks his chompers into Tejada’s neck. He doesn’t kill the guy (I don’t think) but I’m sure he thought about it.

Beth is very clearly struggling to accept Josh’s death and she doesn’t want to talk to anyone or be around anyone. This doesn’t stop Mick from coming in anyway. I guess they never did establish that vampires couldn’t come and go as they pleased. Well with all the other myths debunked on this show, that’s just another one to toss aside. Anyway, Beth is still furious at Mick for not saving Josh but Mick says it would have been taking a life. When Beth questions why Mick keeps on going as a vampire if he hates it so much, he feeds her some line about trying to make up for all the bad things he did in his early vampire days. He can’t say that he does it because of her. When she asks him if he would have made a different choice had she been the one dying, he says he would have made the same choice (i.e. let her die) but in voiceover, he questions what he would have done. He isn’t sure and I can understand why. Love is a powerful emotion but it can fade over time. If he turned Beth and they fell out of love, it would be another Coraline situation all over again and nobody wants that!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Falling Skies 5.08: "Stalag 14th Virginia"

“Right now we have the upper hand. Right now we have the advantage. If we could push that advantage, if we could work together we could win.”
- Tom

As you may recall, last week ended with the majority of the Mason clan being convicted of treason and sentenced to death. This week we begin in media res with some choppy shots of a firing squad getting ready to perform their duty and a person being walked out with a hood over their head. Cut back to seven hours earlier, we find Tom and Hal locked in separate cells in the brig. Ben gets dragged in a little while later and he’s looking pretty bad. He hasn’t had any more spikes removed but he’s still trying to heal from the last one. Tom is outraged that they would torture his son and I don’t blame him. Ben is a teenager. A kid. That has to be illegal, even in the military. Weaver is still trying to convince Marshall that all of this is crazy but she’s definitely not listening. She bids him good night and then heads out on a patrol.

Being clever, Weaver hides in the back of her truck and sees her meet with an Espheni overlord. You had to see that coming a mile away. I mean she’s acting so paranoid and crazy. Weaver kills the overlord and hoofs it back to camp. He’s got some Masons to save. Some of the 2nd Mass gets rowdy and wants to see Tom and the boys but Marshall shows up and orders them all confined to the internment area. Yeah, this whole plotline is making the civil rights activist in me twitch. It seems some of the men in the 14th Virginia feel the same way. One of the guys, Wolf, whom Weaver knows is willing to follow Weaver to see the dead overlord. They come up with a plan to see who is willing to stand with them and judge how Marshall reacts. So they drag the overlord back to camp.

While Weaver is making pots of his own, Tom is doing his best to bond with the guard and starts to bring him over to the light. The guy admits he doesn’t think it is right to be killing people and the more he listens to Tom, the more he realizes they aren’t traitors. So he agrees to help them. Which is a good thing because Ann is too trusting and gets locked up after she admits to her patient that Lexi was half Espheni. I figured they had to bring that up at some point. Wolf returns with the dead overlord just as Weaver runs into Isabela and Maggie and orders them to meet up with Matt and Cochise and company. Marshall’s reaction is burn the body and get back to post. It should have been to send troops out and get hunting. So Weaver how has a decent chunk of people on his side willing to go to DC for the final fight. And Tom and the gang get broken out of the brig.

Their full-on escape attempt doesn’t end well for the gang. Tom and the guard (Shelton) get to the weakness in the perimeter but Ben and Hal get caught. Some gunfire erupts and Wolf gets shot trying to protect the boys. Tom takes off after Marshall ha everyone rounded up and Shelton gets shot by the pig soldier that tried to rape Maggie and Isabella. So the firing squad is still a big fat go. It’s kind of distressing really. I thought they were going to overthrow Marshall and she would be the only one getting shot. Alas, that prediction didn’t really come true.

But it wasn’t all bad in the long run. Anne gets to give a rousing speech to the 2nd Mass about how she hopes they will find their humanity again once the war is over and if that means she has to die for that to happen, then so be it. It was definitely a Mason-worthy speech for sure. The soldiers put hoods on all four “traitors” (Wolf gets lumped in too) but the when it comes time for the firing squad to do their duty, they don’t pull the trigger. And then the cavalry arrives led by Tom in a big ass truck. The rest of the 2nd Mass that was still at their old camp is with them and they take control of the situation pretty quickly. Maggie shoots the pig when he started to take aim at Tom and company and Weaver ends up stabbing Marshall to keep her from shooting. Then things just get bizarre. She’s bleeding black so she’s not really human. We don’t really get any answers on what she was other than some kind of Espheni creation. She might be the real Marshal with some alien enhancements. Who knows? But it’s kind of tragic nonetheless. And I have to admit that the closer we get to the finale with all the Masons still breathing, the more I get jumpy every time they are in a bad situation. At this point, I’m hoping the rumors are wrong and none of them die.

Tom gets to give a rousing speech of his own about how it is a little confusing in the war when enemies look like friends and friends look like enemies (at which time he brings out Cochise as a prime example). It rouses the rest of the 14th Virginia to side with the 2nd Mass so they’ve got some numbers on their side. Huzzah. And as Weaver and Tom study the Espheni device, Ben’s spikes light up and he offers to use the device to see if he can learn any information. He finds the overlords chanting to some higher being. Cochise seems baffled as if the higher being is a myth or something. I hope we learn more about it in the next episode. I wish the episode had ended at that point but it didn’t. We got stuck with the guy that Anne patched up with maggots running from camp and gets scooped up by Pope’s gang of drunken brawlers. Seriously, Pope used to be interesting and he was making some good character growth. Now he’s just disgusting and I hope Tom kills him next time they cross paths. And that should be next week because Pope now knows that Tom is alive.

Summer DVR Dump: 12 Monkeys 1.11: “Shonin”

“Hope? Hope is the luxury of those unburdened by fate. My last breath will be here.”
- Dr. Jones

I have to admit I was not expecting this episode to focus so heavily on Ramse but it does. We see him land in Tokyo in 1987 and he is massively disoriented. Cole shows up not long after and when he can’t find his old buddy, he heads for the night club where he knows Goines is going to be. Leland is more than a tiny bit high at the time when some Japanese buy is trying to sell him the virus origin for $500,000. Leland is not having any of it at first until Cole tracks him down and jumps him. Of course, Ramse has to show up to the party and he and Cole get into a knockdown, drag out fight. They shout at each other about when they should have killed each other and it ends with the Japanese guy pulling them apart and then tossing a knife between them to let them settle it. Ultimately, although Cole initially gets the upper hand, Ramse stabs Cole and then flees the scene. While Jones and the team freak out over Cole possibly dying, Ramse is getting arrested for stabbing Cole (thank you creepy eyewitnesses). Oh and thanks to the fight, Goines decided to take the corpse after all. Good job, Cole. Way to not avert the end of the world…again.

Because Ramse obviously doesn’t have a passport or an ID or a social security number, the US consulate can’t help him and he’s sentenced to eight years in a Japanese prison. About a year in, he gets the crap beat out of him by a big hulking guy. And then he starts getting mail from a mystery woman named Olivia who seems to know who he is and about his predicament with protecting his son. Over the next seven years, Olivia’s letters help Ramse find some inner peace until he can confront his attacker and out him as a snitch to the guards. He doesn’t have to lay a hand on the guy in order to kill him. The rest of the prisoners do that for him. So as of 1995, he’s a free man with a (fake) passport and he heads to Virginia to finally meet Olivia. It’s the woman we’ve seen before with all the Red Forest mumbo jumbo. She and some other welcome him into the fold and it turns out the necklace Jennifer gave him in 2043 is the same one that one of the other guys is wearing. Olivia uses them to create a paradox and apparently the fact that the trees start turning red as a result of the boom is a sign that Ramse is the one they’ve been waiting for. Something tells me that he is the Witness they’ve all been talking about and that kind of pisses me off. Ramse started off such a good guy and now whether he knows it or not is going to bring about the freaking apocalypse. Even if it means his son is still born, he’s killing billions of people. Maybe it’s just because we are rooting for Cole but I’m on Team Splinter here. Don’t let the crazy people win!

As time passes, we see how Ramse and his people work things to their advantage and to keep the timeline intact. They approach Goines in 2011 to invest in his company and in 2013, they take care of the scientists. When Cole kills Henri in Haiti, Ramse reminds Olivia that the interference period (the point where Cole and Project Splinter begin trying to stop the Army) has to play out like it did in order to ensure the future is protected. Along the way we see Goines pay a visit to Jennifer in the mental institution in 2014 where he leaves her there to try and keep her safe. We then jump to 2015where Cole shoots Goines. This of course leads to Jennifer getting taken and then Cole showing up to rescue Cassie. While we don’t see exactly what Olivia told Aaron to keep him at bay we do learn that the Army has the active virus and is all set to release it.

In other news, Senator Royce is running for President and Aaron’s been booted from the team. He drunkenly rants about Cole (move on buddy) until Cassie tells him he needs to go back to Royce and convince him to take action. She shoots down his idea to run and hide but it seems he’s going to get involved in setting up shelters. Which of course Ramse and Olivia have their hands in, too. Fantastic. Olivia goes to pay Jennifer a visit (after she’s apprehended) and plays on Jennifer’s need to be loved and be someone’s daughter again. It’s kind of sad really how broken Jennifer is by a father whose sole focus was his work. He sacrificed his own daughter’s sanity to protect his work. But the timeline needs to be preserved according to Ramse so female bonding it is.

We briefly jump back to 2043 where Jones manages to send Cole to 2015 right before he gets shot in Tokyo in 1987. So at least he’s maybe alive to continue fighting. But no one else is going to be around in the future. Whitley up and leaves when Jones refuses to give up the fight. And the last remaining scientist leaves Jones to go down with the ship as it were. And in 2015, Cassie gets back to the bookshop to find Cole bleeding out on the floor. He proclaims he knows who the Witness is and the reason they’ve been one step ahead the whole time. Ain’t time travel a bitch sometimes?

I have mixed emotions about this episode. It felt like filler until the very end and a lot of t was just a giant rehash of the season to date. But it did provide a somewhat different perspective on the 12 Monkeys and how they operate and what moved them forward. It still hurts that Ramse is now at odds with Cole. I can’t see them both coming out of the final two episodes alive. Granted, Cole is going to need some medical attention before they do anything because you know sucking abdominal wound. But the last few minutes definitely set things up for a big showdown.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Summer Travel Through TV: Les Revenants (The Returned) 1.05: "Serge et Toni"

“Zombies have to stick together.”

We’ve entered the second half of the first season of “Les Revenants,” and it is the moodiest episode yet. All of the returned are finding adjusting to their new lives more difficult than they could have imagined. Their return has stirred up all sorts of emotional turmoil in their loved ones and even other acquaintances. This episode saw a series of confrontations related to that turmoil. For some of the returned, the confrontations are due to the fact that they hoped they could just slip back into their old lives (or maybe, more accurately, what they wished their old lives had been), and for others it’s about confronting people who may have been involved in their deaths. We also, as you can guess from the title, learn more about Serge and Toni. I was glad to see that despite his predilection for gnawing on people, Serge doesn’t seem to actually be a werewolf, like the episode where he first appeared might have suggested. There is plenty of supernatural interest in this show without throwing werewolves into the mix, too!

Given the name of the episode, we open with a flashback to Serge and Toni seven years ago when Julie was attacked. Toni catches Serge essentially gnawing on Julie’s abdomen. He pulls Serge off of Julie, drops Julie off at the emergency room door, and drives Serge to the family farm, where he proceeds to bury him alive. In the present day, Léna is sleeping in the bedroom of that same farm house because Serge, for some reason (I guess the nasty open wound on her back), decided to try and nurse her back to health instead of eat her. Serge is tempted to touch Léna’s wound, but he keeps getting distracted, first by a phone call to Léna’s cell from Frédéric. Serge’s response to that is to chop of Léna’s cell phone with an ax. Then Toni comes to visit and gets suspicious when he hears noises coming from the bedroom. Serge lies and says their mother has returned from the dead and is in the bedroom, and she also doesn’t want to talk to Toni right now. Toni believes it, probably because he believes his mother hasn’t forgiven him for killing Serge.

Camille and Simon kind of find themselves in similar situations where the people they loved (or puppy loved as a teenager in Camille’s case) in their previous lives are cutting them off in their returned life. Camille wants to walk home from school with Frédéric again, but this time he blows her off, presumably in response to Léna’s rather violent reaction to their hanging out in the previous episode. At the library, Adèle gives a good info-dump presentation on the history of the lake to a group of kids. There is a whole village underneath the lake’s surface, the result of a huge flood in the past. When she gets home from work, Adèle is still very upset about the recent revelation that Simon committed suicide, and she goes right to bed. Thomas asks Chloé to let him know if immediately if Simon appears again.

Victor and Mrs. Costa have both left the Helping Hand, and they have a meal together at the diner. Victor mentions being able to hurt people in his returned form, and Mrs. Costa asks him who he might want to hurt. Victor doesn’t say anything in response, but it’s obvious that he’d like to hurt his killer (and he currently believes that is Pierre). Back at the Helping Hand, Pierre tells Simon he has to leave because the police are going to be stopping by to investigate the disappearance of Victor and Mrs. Costa, and Simon can’t be seen there. As part of the investigation, Laure stops by Julie’s apartment to ask if she has seen Victor. Julie is disgusted that Victor has gone missing so quickly, and she shuts the door on Laure.

Since Simon has to leave the shelter for now, Pierre takes him to stay with Claire and Camille. Camille is pretty excited to have another returned person to talk to, and she peppers Simon with questions. He’s not rude to her, but he doesn’t really say much, either. I think being aloof is kind of his style. He does, however, tell her about Adéle and their daughter. Camille, sympathizing with Simon’s plight due to her own feelings of rejection by Frédéric, agrees to deliver a message to Adèle. She tells Adèle that Simon wants her and Chloé to meet him at the bus stop that evening so they can leave town and start their lives together. Camille highly recommends Adèle take him up on the offer, although Adèle understandably seems skeptical.

Camille, continuing to unapologetically pursue Frédéric, goes to the Lake Pub and shows Frédéric and his friends photos of Simon, saying he is her twenty-six-year-old ex. Presumably, she’s trying to make Frédéric jealous. The group, including Camille, then starts downing shots with abandon. Meanwhile, Jérôme pays a visit to Lucy in the hospital, where she is mysteriously making a miraculous recovery. She’s still unconscious, but her lacerations have begun healing significantly. After that visit, he goes to the Lake Pub to continue searching for Léna, who is still missing. At the Lake Pub, Frédéric loses a drinking game to Camille, the penalty for which is that Camille gets to do whatever she wants to him. Of course she kisses him, and that is exactly when Jérôme arrives at the bar. Understandably, he breaks up the make-out session and drags Camille home.

Léna is awake, and Serge puts nettle paste on the wound on her back, swearing it’s an old remedy of his mother’s that works wonders. He has to really fight the urge to pry open that wound, but he manages to keep his self-control. He decides to get out of the house and go deer hunting. It is definitely very interesting to watch Serge try to be nurturing, although kind of stomach-churning, too. Meanwhile, the divers for the company running the dam have made a rather gruesome discovery in the lake. There are a large number of what seem to be recently dead animals floating beneath the water’s surface. Thomas is investigating this, although he doesn’t learn much other than how the animals died.

At Laure’s invitation, Julie goes to the police station and is able to talk to Mrs. Costa. She recognizes Mrs. Costa from the pictures she would see all around the house when she would visit Mr. Costa for his medical needs. They talk about how she (Mrs. Costa) and Victor both died long ago, and Julie says that sometimes she wonders if she died too. Her recovery from the attack, like Lucy’s, was rather miraculous. Mrs. Costa says there is only one way to know for sure. Back at her apartment, Julie decides to take Mrs. Costa’s advice, and she starts positioning herself to jump out of the window. Luckily Laure is still acting kind of stalkerish and manages to find Julie before she actually jumps. She gets Julie to come back inside by telling her she loves her.

The rest of the episode, like that previous scene with Laure and Julie, is a series of confrontations between the returned and people they knew in their past lives. First, we see Frederic sneak into Camille’s bedroom. They start making out again, but when Camille confirms her true identity, Frédéric completely freaks out and leaves. Meanwhile, Victor returns to the Helping Hand, where he confronts Pierre about killing him. Pierre says he didn’t kill him, and he actually tried to stop his partner from killing him. Victor’s not having it though, and he somehow manifests Pierre’s old burglary partner, who seems about ready to shoot Pierre. Pierre is cowed against the wall in the dark when the police arrive in a completely bizarre scene. Laure eventually lets Victor just go home with Julie.

In other confrontations, Toni finds Serge by road, bloody from hunting. Serge says it was just a deer, not a person. Toni seems a little skeptical, but ultimately believes his brother. He then asks Serge’s forgiveness for killing him. To say Serge is not amused by this revelation would be an understatement. Meanwhile, Adèle doesn’t show up at the bus station, so Simon pays her a visit. She tells him to go away. Chloé makes a quick phone call to Thomas then joins in on the request for Simon to leave. She’s upset that he voluntarily chose to leave them by committing suicide. Simon leaves the house, devastated, and as he’s walking down the driveway, he encounters Thomas, who immediately shoots him. Simon appears to be in pretty bad shape, although I have a feeling he’ll recover, since as we see in the final scene of the episode, Lucy regains consciousness at the hospital.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Summer TV Rewind: Marvel's Daredevil 1.08: "Shadows in the Glass"

“I don’t want anyone to be a hero, Karen. I want you to be safe. And I want to protect this firm and everything we’re trying to build here. We know the law, we’ll use it to our advantage. Agreed?”

“Shadows in the Glass” focused heavily on Wilson Fisk, and like the previous Fisk-heavy episode, it was very violent. Fisk, for all that he tries to say he’s not like his father, is a very violent man. In this episode, we learn about Fisk’s childhood and why exactly he is so messed up. Fisk’s father is played by the always impressive Domenick Lombardozzi, aka Herc from “The Wire.” I do like my villains in shades of gray, rather than pure moustache-twirling, so I appreciate the care that has gone into developing Fisk, however I don’t think I can take too many more of these ultra-violent Fisk-centered episodes. I want to follow the sometimes goofy, sometimes dangerous misadventures of Nelson and Murdock. Although that could be a double-edged sword. If we see them spend too much more time in the courtroom, my “I hate shows with legal inaccuracies” reflex could be triggered. The creative team didn’t exactly give me much confidence in that department the only other time we’ve seen a “law” heavy episode.

At the beginning of the episode, we learn that Fisk has a very precise morning routine. He gets up, looks at the white painting Vanessa sold him, makes a particular scrambled egg recipe, picks out a similar black suit and tie, and puts on a particular pair of cufflinks (we later learn the cufflinks once belonged to his father). The creepy part, though, is that when Fisk looks in the mirror, he sees himself as a child covered in blood. The soundtrack to Fisk’s morning routine is Bach’s first suite, which as a cellist through college, is ingrained in my brain, and I’m not sure how I feel about associating it with Fisk. We also see Matt waking up. His apartment (and his face) are worse for wear from the fight with Stick. Matt is still upset about the Stick situation, and he barely drags himself to the office.

As he approaches the office, Matt hears Foggy and Karen telling each other to “don’t tell Matt” something. They’re talking about their investigative exploits with Ben, obviously. Once he’s inside the office, Matt confronts them about what he heard, and Foggy and Karen tell all. Matt is upset because he thinks his friends are putting themselves in danger, never mind the fact that Karen is coming close to the line of breaching the NDA she signed with Union Allied. Matt says that going forward, they are going to do this the right way, and on their home turf, through the legal system. We later see the trio doing some research into the corporate structure of the company that did the “renovations” to Mrs. Cardenas’ apartment and what became of Union Allied. They start to see some connections.

Throughout the episode, all three of Fisk’s associates meet with him to express their displeasure with how he has been running the business recently. The first meeting is with Nobu, who is still extremely angry about losing Black Sky in the previous episode. Fisk is equally angry, because he thinks he deserves more respect. Next it’s Owlsley, who meets with Fisk at Fisk’s tailor’s shop. Owlsley feels that the business is in danger, and he essentially tells Fisk to get it together. The final complainant is Madame Gao, who shows up directly at Fisk’s apartment. She says she has heard that Nobu and Owlsley are upset, and she warns Fisk to get his house in order, or she will start dealing with Nobu and Owlsley directly. She also warns Fisk that not everyone around him is loyal, since she found out his home address, a closely guarded secret.

We also get a number of flashbacks to Fisk’s childhood in the 1970s that really help explain what makes him tick. We learn that Wilson Fisk’s dad, Bill, decided to run for city council, essentially because he thought it was a meal ticket. Unfortunately for the Fisks, Bill took out a loan from a loan shark to finance his campaign. Bill ultimately loses the election, and a school bully makes fun of Wilson for it. Bill takes Wilson to confront the bully, and when the bully says that his father called Bill a loser, Bill attacks the bully. Once he is on the ground, Bill has Wilson kick the bully repeatedly. Later, Bill and Wilson’s mom, Marlene, get in an argument about Bill’s needing to repay the loan shark. Wilson is in time out watching the wall (which looks like the painting he bought from Vanessa) as Bill starts to take a belt to Marlene. Wilson eventually has enough, and he kills his dad by bashing his head in with a hammer. Wilson and Marlene chop up Bill’s body and drop the pieces in the river.

There is some additional drama for Fisk to deal with in the present day. Detective Blake, who has been hospitalized in a coma since being shot by Fisk’s agents, is conscious again. Fisk and Wesley hatch a plan to make Blake’s partner, Hoffman, kill Blake. They’re old Academy buddies, though, so the plan is easier said than done. Ultimately, though, money talks, and Hoffman agrees to kill Blake. Hoffman sneaks an injection into Blake’s hospital room inside a sandwich. Just after Hoffman injects Blake, Matt bursts in, incapacitates Hoffman, and tries to interrogate Blake before he dies. Matt doesn’t get much before he has to rush off. Of course the whole incident is later spun as being the work as the vigilante.

Following the confrontation with Madame Gao, Wesley can see that Fisk is upset, so he sends for Vanessa. After hearing the story of his childhood, Vanessa says Fisk is not like his dad. Fisk, for his part, seems more at peace with someone to support him. Meanwhile, Matt pays a visit to Ben Urich. At first Ben is afraid, but Matt assures him he’s not a killer, and most of what has been in the news are lies. He gives Ben Fisk’s name and says Fisk needs to be dragged into the light. Just as Ben is in the process of writing an article about Fisk, though, Fisk gives a press conference saying that he’s going to step out of the shadows and make a big donation to help Hell’s Kitchen stop the masked vigilante. Ben deletes the article he was in the process of writing. Fisk has won this battle, but hopefully not the war.

"Show Me a Hero": A Public Housing Desegregation Primer

The miniseries "Show Me a Hero" premieres at 8:00 pm on HBO tonight, with the first two of six episodes airing. Written by David Simon ("The Wire" "The Corner" "Treme") and directed by Paul Haggis ("Crash"), this miniseries combines some creative talent I deeply respect with an issue about which I feel very passionately: public housing desegregation. I lived in Baltimore City for three years when I was in law school, and during that time I developed a love for both the city and David Simon's depiction of it in "The Wire." I also spent a summer working on oversight of the consent decree that partially settled Baltimore's housing desegregation case, Thompson v. HUD. I had the pleasure of interviewing families who had received special housing vouchers to move to higher opportunity neighborhoods about how their lives had changed since the move and challenges they were facing. "Show Me a Hero" is a dramatization of a similar desegregation effort in Yonkers, New York that completely tore that city apart at its core. Since this is an issue I have spent a good deal of time with in my "day job" professional life (although I have since moved on to other things), I figured I could provide you with a primer of the issues you will see dramatized if you tune into HBO tonight.

Like I mentioned, "Show Me a Hero" tells the story of public housing desegregation in Yonkers, and the title, an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote, ("Show me a hero and I'll write you a tragedy") comes from the nonfiction book by Lisa Belkin on which the miniseries is based. Another great resource to learn about what happened in Yonkers is "Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story." For much of the second half of the 20th century, public housing in many cities was provided in the form of high rise apartment buildings. As you might predict, such concentrated poverty served to concentrate the problems that come with poverty, amplifying them. Yonkers was no different. The NAACP filed a lawsuit alleging discriminatory housing practices in 1980, a case which was not fully settled until 27 years later in 2007 (this is not uncommon with this sort of case - the Thompson case spanned multiple decades as well). In an earlier stage of the case, however, the City of Yonkers was ordered to build 200 housing units on the white side of town. This set off the events you will see depicted in the miniseries.

There is a school of thought among a segment of civil rights and housing advocates that the only way to make strides to repair the damage done by discriminatory public housing policies is to enable public housing residents to move to "higher opportunity neighborhoods," generally defined by poverty level of a particular census tract. This is the approach we see implemented in Yonkers (in the form of scattered site public housing) and in Baltimore (in the form of special Section 8 vouchers). In Baltimore in particular (since I know more about it), African American residents of public housing projects have been given the opportunity to apply for special housing vouchers that can only be used in particular "high opporutnity" census tracts. The theory is that to break the cycle of poverty, you need to have mixed income housing and give underserved individuals access to more peaceful neighborhoods and better schools. The existing residents of high opportunity neighborhoods often become apprehensive when former public housing residents move in, and those apprehensions turned especially nasty in Yonkers.

These efforts have not just taken place in Yonkers and Baltimore. The first, most well known housing desegregation effort happened in Chicago, and was known as Gautreaux. Per the Gautreaux consent decree, the Chicago Housing Authority issued special Section 8 vouchers to 7,500 residents. Participants were randomly assigned to private market units in either the city or the suburbs. The suburban participants generally fared better, being more likely to find work, no longer be dependent on cash assistance, and have more academically successful children. The Gautreaux project later become the model for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Moving to Opportunity project, where desegregation efforts took place in five Public Housing Authorities. Voucher recipients in all of these programs receive housing counseling in addition to vouchers, which is essential to helping the recipient be successful in their new neighborhood.

After my summer working on Thompson, I remained conflicted on the central premise of this particular way of addressing public housing desegregation. On the one hand, I think we have a moral obligation to do better by those who are in need of public housing assistance. On the other hand, I am uneasy with the idea of writing off cities as places that people need to leave in order to have a good life. As my boss from that summer put it, however, we need to do something now while we work on other policies to strengthen our cities, and Moving to Opportunity-type programs happen to be the "something now" that has been used thus far. Regardless, I think that addressing affordable housing on a metropolitan area basis just makes good sense. City/suburb boundaries aren't impermeable, and it benefits everyone to work together on affordable housing. Lack of affordable housing isn't just an urban problem.

I have linked some resources below if you would like to read, watch, and learn more:

Show Me a Hero by Lisa Belkin
Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story
The Baltimore Regional Housing Campaign (Thompson v. HUD)
Waiting for Gautreaux: A Story of Segregation, Housing and the Black Ghetto by Alexander Polikoff
Moving to Opportunity

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Summer Travel Through TV: The Straits 1.10: "Fatherhood"

“I can’t just get on a bus, Joel. It’s not that easy.”

And so we have reached the end of a second summer travel adventure. We visited the Vegas of the UK in “Blackpool,” we’re just wrapping up our spent time among Raskols and stingers in “The Straits,” and for a few more weeks, we’ll continue to be emo as all get out in the French Alps in “Les Revenants.” It’s been quite a journey so far! I think this is the first episode where I really felt and understood why the Montebello family was so feared and respected, both in Cairns and in the Straits. They really came together, and everyone (other than Sissi, surprisingly) was quite impressive. Maybe that’s a fundamental flaw of the show that kept it from getting a second season. Until now, the Montebellos seemed like has-beens who were just being reactive. In this episode, they took out their threats decisively.

Harry really ruminates on fathers in this episode, as you can probably tell from the episode’s title. He’s got a big opening voiceover on the subject, and “The Straits” isn’t a show that generally uses voiceovers. He also discusses the subject of kids and parenthood with several other characters through the course of the episode. The first of those instances would be when he and Vince call for a tow. The tow truck driver, by design, is none other than Puff, the bikie who tortured Marou. Harry asks him about his kids before having Vince drive the tow truck while Puff is tied behind it. It appears that the old Harry is most definitely back.

Meanwhile, a very messed-up Marou arrives back on Zey Island, where he is greeted by Gary and Bridget. He basically acts like a complete ass, especially towards Bridget, making sure to say often how much of a player Gary is. Even once they get back to the house, Marou continues to make lewd comments about Gary and Bridget. Gary is distracted, though, because Cousin Leroy and another Raskol goon have parked themselves outside in a truck. Bridget eventually decides it would be best to leave when Marou’s comments start to get especially explicit. Sitting outside, Gary and Marou finally talk about what’s been bugging Marou. Gary finally admits to sleeping with Lola. He does have a good point, though, that at least he didn’t kill her like Marou did. Cousin Leroy and his buddy are still watching as all this goes down.

There’s also plenty of Sissi and Joel drama going on in this episode, and it largely takes place separately from the battle with the Chinaman that everyone else in the family is dealing with. I’m not sure how I feel about that, really. I was liking that Sissi was really the most competent of the kids, but now she’s sidelined when shit actually does go down because of her boyfriend. Anyway, Sissi finds Joel waiting at the bus depot, and she’s extremely upset that he’s planning to leave. Sissi says she is afraid she is going to become her father, and she and Joel decide to basically run away together. They’re going to take a boat instead of a bus because it will be harder for Harry to track. Later, Harry is tromping around the house after a few too many beers, and Sissi has to hide her packing when he decides to talk to her. Harry tells her that he heard she’s still been talking to Joel, and Sissi insists she broke up with him. Harry is glad to hear this, and he tells her to feed Coco while he goes to Zey for a few days.

Thanks to some intel from Vince, Harry soon arrives on the island where Noel has been hiding out. Kitty is there too, and she tells Harry that they are planning to sell the family’s weapons cache to pay for Noel to start up a pizza joint in South America. Harry is very angry about this, but Kitty says that he doesn’t rule them. Things go from bad to worse when the buyer arrives with his entourage. It’s the Chinaman, who has definitely become a thorn in the side of the Montebellos. The Chinaman keeps taking phone calls, even while they’re eating dinner and talking about parenthood. Interestingly, the Chinaman has sent his kids to study in other countries, because he doesn’t want them following his example. Kitty has the opposite philosophy. She would rather keep her kids close so she can protect them. Anyway, to Harry this whole scenario just doesn’t feel right. Something stinks, as he puts it.

On Zey, Cousin Leroy and his Toady are watching Marou as he contemplates helping a young rugby player at the park. They give a bit of an evil speech of evil, saying that since Marou and Gary are fighting, they want to get Marou so drunk that he kills Gary. Then half the work (killing both the Montelbello brothers on Zey) will be done for them. They pull up in their truck and invite Marou to go have some beers, and after hesitating, he decides to join them. He pounds one beer after another, and then Leroy gives him some drugs (I couldn’t tell what exactly Marou was smoking since I’m such a goody goody that my character committee when I was applying to the bar was shocked I didn’t even have so much as a speeding ticket on my record), leading Marou to pass out in the back of Leroy’s truck. While he’s partially conscious, he hears Leroy and the toady talking about working for the Chinaman and how they would be better than Vlad (the man who tried to kill Harry early in the series).

Sissi and Joel are on one of Harry’s nicer boats, but instead of quickly escaping, they’re making out and having sex. Afterwards, they talk about their future plans. Joel wants to go dig wells in the Sudan, because apparently he’s an engineer. Sissi isn’t sure she loves the idea, but eventually she’s on board. Then Joel makes a bad move and mentions that he saw Lola’s body and almost told the police about it. Sissi thinks she needs to protect the family, so she tells Joel she wants to go for a swim. After he gets in the water, she drives the boat away as fast as she can. After a little while, she has a change of heart and decides to turn around, but since “The Straits” didn’t get a second season, we’ll never know if she successfully rescued Joel.

The next stop on Leroy and his goon’s tour is the Montebello house, where he tells Gary he needs a towel to clean up Marou’s vomit in the back of his truck. Gary knows something is up, so he brings the towel (I highly doubt this would actually be true, but I like to think Gary has read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”), but he also brings a gun, and he effortlessly kills Leroy and the goon. Gary has come a long way from the inept, scared of killing person he was in the pilot. Marou, finally come to his senses, tells Gary what he heard, and they decide they need to go to the other island to protect the rest of the family. Eddie stays behind to keep Bridget safe.

There’s a huge showdown on the other island between the Montebellos and the Chinaman and all his henchmen. Each of the Montebello’s get their moment in the sun. My favorite is when Kitty chops off Kingsten’s head with the big knife she was using to prepare kai kai for dinner. The Chinaman, even though he has been shot, tries to run off, and Harry follows him. They end up having guns turned on each other, and Harry puts his down. Just as the Chinaman is about to kill Harry (although whether he could actually bring himself to kill someone is up for debate), Kitty and the boys come to the rescue, and Harry finishes off the Chinaman once and for all.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Falling Skies 5.07: "Everybody Has Their Reasons"

“Loyalty was always your strength. And your weakness.”
- Captain Katie Marshall

So this episode felt kind of like a rehash almost of plots a few seasons back when the 2nd Mass ended up with those weird Patriots. Tom, Hal and Weaver are out scouting an active military base while Cochise and the awesome tech guy are back at camp trying to figure out the Espheni hub device. For the record, they aren’t having much luck with it and they manage to blow out some of the windows of the building. Oops! But they eventually get it loose and head off to join the rest of the 2nd Mass. More importantly though, just as Tom, Hal and Weaver start approaching the base, they get ambushed by soldiers led by Captain Katie Marshall. She and Weaver have history back when wars were just fought between people.

The rest of the 2nd Mass shows up and much like past episodes where they’ve run into other groups of humans, they seem to be welcomed at first. It must be something about the military structure that makes people kind of extra jumpy. Sure at first it seems people are getting along during meal time. Weaver and Marshall chat about old times and it is implied they were maybe romantic despite having spouses stateside. And Hal is kind of defensive of Isabella toward one of the soldiers. Honestly, and I know I’ve said it many times before, I’m tired of the Hal love triangle mess. Enough already. Let him be with Isabella. Hell, at this point I think Maggie just needs to be by herself without a man in the mix. She needs to figure out who she is sans spikes now and she doesn’t need Hal interfering. Also, we get a sweet little moment with Tom and Matt where Matt shows his dad the polling he’s been doing about what they want to keep after the war.

Unfortunately, things take a bad turn very quickly. Some of the 2nd Mass and the soldiers get together and are drinking and inevitably Ben’s spikes get brought up. At the time, the soldiers act like it’s funny but later, while he’s in the bathroom, a bunch of them jump him. He fights them off pretty well (I was worried he might have killed one or two) when he gets a Taser to the neck and when he wakes up he finds himself chained up. I’m tired of Ben being put through the ringer, too. He didn’t ask to be enslaved and set free. But this is just another manifestation of Marshall’s paranoia. Tom and Hal learn that she’s been having her troops go after what they call human collaborators. I’m pretty sure she’s not going to be happy with how much the 2nd Mass has been dealing with the Volm. Also, I’m not really sure exactly what the point of this little side plot is but Anne is dealing with an injured soldier which involves using maggots to eat away necrotic tissue. Gross!

Things are not looking good for Ben. As I mentioned he wakes up strapped down to a table and one of the soldiers (sadistic prick) yanks out one of Ben’s spikes. Just because Maggie survived, doesn’t mean that Ben will! I know we’ve heard that a Mason is supposed to die this season but I was really hoping it would be Hal and not Ben or Matt. Don’t kill the kids, guys! Tom gets into an argument with Marshall when he’s trying to find Ben. Seriously, they can’t go around torturing teenagers! He and Hal get locked in the brig for being suspected of collaboration. This smacks horribly of locking American citizens up in Guantanamo for being suspected terrorists. If the 14th Virginia is claiming to be military, shouldn’t they not be complete assholes?

Before long, a bunch of other members of the 2nd Mass are being rounded up. Weaver goes to have a word with Marshall where she says that she has to do this because they are military and that’s what they do. She claims they’ve been fighting on all sides and rounding up human collaborators is just a part of it. So Weaver sends Matt on a mission back to their prior location to get reinforcements. At least the youngest Mason is out of harm’s way. Though, Anne (having filled the soldier’s belly with maggots) gets threatened with being locked up, too when she finds out her husband and son have been caged. It just disgusts me with what the gang is being put through!

Before the court martial gets called (seriously they need to chill out with all the military crap), Maggie and Isabella have a bit of a bonding experience. Maggie is evading capture when she hears Isabella screaming. One of the soldiers (the one who tortured Ben) is trying to rape her (because we needed yet another reason to hate this bastard) and Maggie gusts in. He’s okay with that because he wants to hurt her too for having had spikes (even if they’re gone now). Luckily, Maggie is still kind of a badass and she and Isabella work together to take the guy out. I do hope they find a way to restore the Mason clan. Speaking of, they’re facing that court martial and all of their accomplishments against the Volm are being thrown back at them as lies and Espheni tricks. These people are so paranoid it is really disgusting. It also makes me question where they are getting all of this information. I mean we haven’t seen Pope in a bit and we know he’s not dead. Maybe they ran across the 14th Virginia and gave them all the intelligence? Weaver isn’t even doing much to defend his people which also bugged me (but hey, he finally cut off that nasty scraggly ponytail!). When Tom admits he has no idea how he got back to Earth after the whole going to the moon thing (I’m thinking not mentioning Lexi being a human/Espheni hybrid was a good move on everyone’s part), Marshall pronounces that Tom, Hal and Ben are guilty of collaborating and the sentence is death. I swear the 2nd Mass better not let their leaders down next week!

Summer TV Rewind: Moonlight 1.10: “Sleeping Beauty”

“I knew better than to get involved with a human. I knew it was a mistake but I did it anyway. It took me over 350 years to find her and only a year to lose her.”
- Josef

We have arrived at probably my favorite episode of the season. Why you ask? Because it is Josef centric and we haven’t had any of those to this point. And it is a beautiful and tragic story that Jason Dohring plays with precision. Before we get to the good stuff, Mick and Beth take Coraline to the hospital. She’s not doing well but the doctor is doing what she can to keep her stable. Beth feels horrible for what she did but Mick doesn’t blame her. He is a little defensive when Beth remarks that he still cares about his ex-wife. Well, duh. She may be crazy and turned him into a vampire but he still obviously had feelings for her.

Over in New York, things are being set in motion that propel the rest of the episode forward. A very old man has hired a guy to kill Josef. So during poker night with a few of his vampire buddies, the guy shows up and firebombs Josef’s office. Mick is quick to get there and tries to figure out what happened by talking with Josef’s head of security, Tom. Everyone thinks Josef is dead and Beth’s boss even sends her over to the scene to cover the story. This only serves to piss Mick off. Until he gets a call from the doctor that Coraline is awake. He shows up to the hospital but she’s so out of his she can’t (or won’t) tell him how she became human before passing out again. He manages to get a vial of blood before heading home. Beth is waiting for him, ready to apologize for busting in on his moment of grief earlier. Just as Mick admits he isn’t sure how he is supposed to grieve Josef, they go inside Mick’s apartment and find Josef is very much alive (well undead) and kicking. Somehow he escaped the inferno and he is damn pissed about nearly being assassinated.

Mick and Beth use a resource of Beth’s at Buzzwire to figure out who the killer is. His name is Martan and he’s a mercenary for hire. Definitely not someone you wanna go up against but it explains the use of military grade explosives. Josef has decided that since he can’t go out, he’d order in but Mick is worried it could have led Martan right to their doorstep so he puts the kibosh on the party. Having his fun spoiled, Josef sneaks out to his office where he runs into Tom. It appears Tom is a traitor because he called the mercenary to come finish the job and gets a bullet in the head as payment. Lucky for Josef, Mick noticed his buddy was gone and knew where to look. Just as Martan is about to put a bullet in Josef’s head, Mick shows up and beats the crap out of him. He even gets the name of the guy who hired Martan, John Whitley. Josef claims not to know who this guy is but Mick isn’t buying it. He doesn’t have time to ask questions because Josef has taken off again.

Beth does a bit of digging into John Whitely and learns that he is 93 and he had a daughter who went missing in 1955 in New York. So they are going to head there and try to stop Josef from doing something stupid. That assumes however that Beth can get out the door without Josh showing up and making the situation awkward. Her relationship with him is really going downhill and I feel a little bad for Josh because it’s not anything he’s done. He’s a good guy and he loves Beth but he just can’t compete with her connection to Mick. Anyway, Josef has gotten to New York and ends up at an expensive looking apartment building. Meanwhile, Martan pays Mr. Whitely a visit and demands to know what Josef is and how to kill him.

Mick and Beth make it to New York and track down Mr. Whitley, too and get the story of how Josef, going by the name Charles Fitzgerald, seduced his daughter, Sarah, and then killed her. His wife kept their daughter’s diary a secret from him until two years earlier. He’s been hunting down Josef ever since. Beth takes the diary and it seems like Sarah and Josef (nee Charles) were really in love and Sarah wanted Josef to turn him. Thanks to a little assist from Beth’s contact at Buzzwire, they have the address that Josef went to. Unfortunately, Martan has been following them the whole time and tails them to the address.

It turns out Sarah didn’t die in 1955. She’s been in a coma and hasn’t aged. Josef tried to turn her into a vampire but something went wrong and she never woke up. He recounts how they met and fell in love. He even started to think he’d been made a vampire just so he could live long enough to meet her. It was a beautiful scene and a great parallel for Mick and Beth’s relationship. Martan chooses that moment to bust in and shoot and stake Josef. Obviously that doesn’t do the trick and Mick gets the upper hand, snapping the mercenary’s neck. Nice save! Josef whines a little as Mick is digging out the bullets but says that what happened with Sarah means that being with humans can’t work. Mick takes the opposite angle and says that if Josef could fall for a mortal then anything is possible. Before they head out, Beth hands over Sarah’s diary to Josef and we get a very brief flashback to when Sarah and Josef were happy before he tried to turn her.

Mick wants to explore New York City a bit before they head back to LA (I guess he wants to just experience life with Beth) but Beth says she needs to get back to try and fix things with Josh. While Mick brushes it off you can tell he’s hurt. I don’t think he forgot that Josh is still around but to anyone with eyeballs, he and Beth aren’t in a good place. Still, I loved this episode for the character depth and history we gleaned about Josef. He’s not just a pretty face with an attitude. He has feelings and emotions!