Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer DVR Dump: The Librarians 3.04: “And the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy”

“The Guardian protects the Librarians but who protects the Guardian?”
- Cassandra

This episode of “The Librarians” has kind of an odd structure. We start with Jake, Eve and Ezekiel waking up in a cave. Their phones are dead, they’re covered in water and holding an hourglass. As they try to figure out why they can’t remember anything before they woke up, things get weird. A Spanish-speaking cleaning lady wanders into their little section of cave. Then they start to remember some times.

They were in Vegas looking into an actual pyramid beneath the Luxor Ezekiel, being him, took some coins as a souvenir. Silly thief! Oh, and the team tries to include Eve in their fun hanging out because they worry she’s lonely now that Flynn’s gone off chasing Charlene (or whatever little quest he’s on this season). But before they can have any fun, the lights go out and a shadow figure with two scythes shows up and taps a weird compact mirror that someone sent Eve, turning it into the aforementioned hourglass and some random black cube (kind of like the ones in the episode of Doctor Who when Eleven tried to live with Amy and Rory). Anyway, according to Jenkins, the figure is the Reaper, a super power magical assassin who can only be summoned by extra powerful magic. So, someone clearly wants Eve dead because she’s the target. The cube is modeled after one from Greek myth and holds a snippet of Eve’s fate. She insists on looking at it even after the rest of the team warns that by looking at it, she’ll create a self-fulfilling prophecy. It turns out, Eve sees herself die in the Library. Jenkins thinks this is preposterous seeing as the Library is specifically Reaper-proof but she’s not having it.

Back in the cave, we run into two more people: a swim team captain and the principal from the kid’s high school. The cleaning lady also knows them and as we jump back to earlier in the story we see the clipping book give them the location of the school as there is a lot of luck being thrown around somehow. They get to the school and after some questions, they figure out all the lucky kids (serious grade improvement and winning the lottery) were on the swim team. The kid that’s stuck in the cavern with them admits to bringing back water with supposed magical properties to help improve the team but it didn’t work. Or at least not the way they’d hoped. The swim goggles they’ve been using are working a little like the cube. Cassie takes a set back to the library just in time for the rest of the group to get dragged through the pool and into the cave.

Eve puts on a pair of the goggles and sees what she assumes is the way out. But it just leads to more confusion and drama. Eve, the principal and the cleaning lady get separated from Jake, Ezekiel and the swim captain. Oh boy. While Eve and her gang try to figure out which door to go through, the guys have to get across a room full of Greek symbols (and avoid being struck by lightning).

Back at the library, Jenkins and Cassie make some discoveries of their own. For one thing, they go back to the school and find a second cube in the pool. They’re examining it when Cassie finds a couple of ways to break self-fulfilling prophecies. Someone outside the prophecy can intervene or you create a bigger prophecy that blows the smaller one up. Case in point: The Oracle of Delphi saw her own death at the hand of one of her high priestesses and then she forged new cubes showing each of them being murdered on their wedding night. She married each of them and killed them all so they couldn’t kill her, negating the earlier prophecy. Cassie also sees a prophecy in the new cube of the Oracle predicting her own death again by bathing in the waters of Delphi.

In the cave, Eve and Ezekiel have visions of the other attacking. And they almost end up bashing each other’s heads in with really heavy weapons until the swim captain intervenes. At that point, they figure out the two ways to beat a prophecy. They also come to the part where Jake saw himself opening a Medusa door with a black eye. He’s bitching about not wanting to cheat fate but when he tries to open the door, he conks himself in the face. There’s your black eye buddy! But things quickly turn wonky when one of the librarians mentions prophecy glass and only the swim captain and the principal ask what that is. It turns out, the cleaning lady has been inhabited by the spirit of the Oracle and she’s been running from her own fate (about bathing one last time in Delphi water). She’s been trying to cheat fate by giving the Reaper Eve. Apparently, our guardian has a big future ahead of her and will change the fate of the library forever. The Oracle thinks this will shatter her own prophecy cube (which by the way, they’ve been stuck in the whole episode). Knowing that they are in the library, Eve uses the mirror (I was wrong in thinking the Reaper had changed it into the cube and the hourglass) to get Jenkins’ attention and signals for him to toss the cube through the back door to the other side of the world. It breaks Eve’s fate and since they end up in sunny Australia, the Oracle is dry and her water bottle is empty. The Reaper takes her and releases Eve from her fate (presumably for now).

The rest of the gang heads back to Vegas (including Jenkins) and shares a drink in celebration for wining another battle. I do have to admit I like seeing Jenkins tag along outside the library these days. Knowing he’s an immortal and a contemporary of King Arthur makes him more entertaining. I’m also intrigued to see what really lays ahead for Eve and the rest of the team as the season continues to unfold.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer DVR Dump: The Librarians 3.03: “And the Reunion of Evil”

“I don’t think you’re fragile. I think you’re too smart to be this reckless.”
- Jake

So it appears that the team is going to be split in two this week. Cassie and Jake are off in the mountains of Sweden tracking an artifact (that apparently Flynn was supposed to grab but he’s off chasing Charlene so he couldn’t do it). Cassie wants to use magic and Jake is against it (that’s going to be a running theme I’m sure). When an intruder attacks and Jake gets distracted, Cassie does use some magic to free the artifact….which then ends up nestling itself in her chest! They need to get back to the Library but end up in caught in a blizzard. They find an inn and hope to use the phone but there’s a reunion going on and they are not normal people. Cassie uses some goggles she rigged and sees that they all look like mystical creatures. I’m guessing elves or giants.

Back at the Library, Eve is trying to get Ezekiel to be more heroic and leader-like (like the game simulation last season). She’s set up a series of obstacles and traps that she wants him to guide her through using only his voice. But he wigs out and is more interested in playing a game on his phone. Plus, he’s got a point. She set up the traps so there’s no real risk. But when Jenkins says he needs to fix an incubator for Nessie’s egg, Eve gloms on and sets Ezekiel to the task of keeping the egg warm until Jenkins is finished.

Cassie and Jake get split up pretty quickly as the festivities begin. Jake kind of bonds with the guys and uses his super smart Art history brain to blend in. And as the evening goes on, it becomes more obvious these guys are not normal (or good). And Cassie isn’t faring much better. She’s getting hit on by one of the women (who apparently had a thing with the guy Jake is pretending to be a few centuries back). But Cassie does learn that they are all there to share the power of the crystal (aka the artifact currently residing in her sternum). Oh boy. And back at the Library, Jenkins and Eve are trying to get to our duo but it’s proving difficult since the door Jenkins opened up was a giant block of ice and Ezekiel is now busy taking his egg sitting duties somewhat seriously. What a time to be literal, man!

Cassie manages to sneak away and tries to contact the Library but her goggles short out. She does eventually get Jake to see that his drinking buddies are not human and they need to find a way out, especially since there is a very real possibility that the evil guys will eat Cassie for the crystal currently residing in her chests. Meanwhile, Jenkins, Eve and Ezekiel figure out that the baddies are the Frost Giants and they are in fact after the crystal. Some of them even have weather-control powers (turns out Ezekiel was tracking weather patterns to make sure he wasn’t missing out on the fun). I guess he wasn’t being as annoying and duty-averse as we all thought. That doesn’t help our stranded duo that much, though because just when they try to make a break for it, the ceremony (where consuming the crystal happens) begins. And then, as they try to sneak out the back a second time, the real guy whom Jake has been impersonating shows up. They had to know that would happen eventually. I mean, after all, their luck could only hold out for so long.

Jake almost manages to make the room think he’s the real guy until his last answer. That just leads to he and Cassie being strung up and nearly killed (especially after they realize Cassie has the crystal inside her) and they reveal they are Librarians. Jake also outs the guy he was impersonating as the one who attacked them in the ice cave. The guy denies it of course but we as the viewers know it’s true, too. But thanks to the annoying government people who have been tracking magic, Ezekiel is able to track the magic and a little help from Nessie’s egg lets them pinpoint the magic of the storm. But as Cassie and Jake are being chased by an angry mob, the attempts to get them back fail. The portal is too unstable given the fact that location is manifestation of the magic. Lucky for our gang, Cassie figures out a way to get them home and the giants end up fighting amongst themselves until the place is literally destroyed. Cassie will have to let the artifact pass naturally (which is should do in a few days…joy) and Jake is left with some rope burns but they, at least they are all alive and mostly okay. Also, Nessie’s egg hatches and the baby monster imprints on Ezekiel (not in the creepy Twilight way mind you) which is kind of cute. Perhaps most importantly though, Cassie and Jake have a very honest conversation about magic. She points out that they wouldn’t be able to do what they do without magic. He also acknowledges that while there are good parts of magic and he’s impressed with how far she’s come with what she’s able to do magically speaking, he fears that people will see the good parts and think the bad parts aren’t really that bad (when in reality they can be catastrophic). Cassie acknowledges his point and I think we are seeing the next level of their relationship. I don’t really ship people on this show (I mean I know Eve and Flynn are a couple in canon) but I’d be interested to see where this goes if they decide to take a more romantic turn. I do also like that we are beginning to see a more precise fighting style from Jake. It’s nothing close to Eliot Spencer but it ain’t half bad if I’m being honest.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Doctor Who 10.09: “Empress of Mars”

“Fight, yes, fight for the future not a dead past.”
- The Doctor

Now that the Monks have been expelled from the planet, the Doctor and Bill can go on another proper off-world adventure, this time to nearby Mars. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Doctor go to Mars and have some moral dilemmas. After all, Ten got super angry when he was last on the red planet. The Doctor, Bill and Nardole get to Mars by way of a visit to NASA where their new space camera finds a message below the surface of Mars’ icecap that says “God Save the Queen”. So, they headed back to 1881 because that’s when the TARDIS determined the message was carved.

Things quickly get confusing. First, Bill finds a fire so there’s oxygen. And then she falls down a dirt shoot. Nardole goes back to the TARDIS to get some rope and the TARDIS just takes off and won’t leave the Doctor’s office back in London. Unsure of what else to do, Nardole goes down to the vault and asks Missy for help. Yeah, don’t do that! She can’t be trusted. It’s going to end horribly for everyone. She may be putting on airs for the Doctor but I don’t believe she’s capable of change.

Back on Mars, the Doctor and Bill get a crash course in how a bunch of nineteenth century British soldiers ended up on Mars. One of the Ice Warriors crashed to Earth in Africa and the alien promised the soldiers riches for return to Mars. But there are no riches and the Ice Warriors appear to be dead so everyone seems to be losing out. The men have been digging for treasure and finally the machine breaks through a wall. But the Doctor isn’t happy with what he sees. Sure, it’s a nice gilded sarcophagus with some crazy gemstone rock formations but he suspects it’s the tomb of an Ice Queen and could in fact be the entrance to the Ice Warrior hive. When the Doctor and Bill question the remaining Ice Warrior, he just says that he’s old and tired.

Because humans are complete assholes, of the men drugs his superior with the intent of stealing the precious metals from the tomb and heading off world in the actually repaired ship. The Doctor is going to be very cross about all of this when he finds out. And in typical fashion, the guy steals some jewels and gets obliterated. And now we have an angry Ice Queen to deal with. The soldiers are all about fighting with guns but the Doctor tries to reason with the Queen diplomatically. He explains how the humans helped her sentinel return home and Bill even says that the world is dead and there’s nothing left. But one of the soldiers gets off a shot that pings off the Queen’s head and in response to the Doctor’s request for mercy, she promises to kill them all quickly. Yeah, this is not going well guys! I do have to wonder who the Doctor will choose when it comes down to it. I mean, he’s always been humanity’s champion for the most part.

The colonel quickly gets relieved of his command when the second-in-command brings up the fact he was nearly hanged for desertion (okay, he was hanged it just didn’t take). So now the colonel, the Doctor and Bill have been tossed in the brig while the half-cocked asshole readies his men to fight off what they assume are only two Ice Warriors. Much like the Doctor surmised, the Queen is waking her forces and these colonial morons are no match for Martian tech. As predicted, the Martians kick the colonial ass and then the colonel does something a little brave and killed the other guy. The colonel expects to be executed but the Queen sees fit to let him live. She’s impressed by his bravery and willingness to stand up for his people so she asks him to pledge his loyalty to her and she’ll ensure he dies in battle someday. He seems quite pleased with that outcome and hey, no one else has to die. Bill seems surprised that it all worked out this way, but as the Doctor points out, he knew it would end peacefully because he still thinks like a warrior.

We also see that the Doctor and Bill are responsible for the “God Save the Queen” message on Mars. See, the Doctor sent out a request for any space-faring races to pick up the Ice Warriors and take them to a new world. The message is for the incoming spacecraft to locate and lock on to. So, it didn’t end as badly as I expected and at least at this point the Doctor is a lot less angry than the last time he set foot on the planet. Well, that is until Nardole manages to show back up with the TARDIS. He just about warns the Doctor of what he’s going to find inside before the Doctor walks in and see Missy at the controls. We get some very odd music cues, that almost remind me of the drama between the Master and Ten when Ten regenerated which I have a feeling was done on purpose. I mean, we’ve known all season that the Master was supposed to show up. But the Doctor looks very confused and says he has to put Missy back in the vault. She seems okay with that but then asks if the Doctor is okay and he doesn’t answer. I’m very interested to see where the final three episodes of the season go. Will we actually get a regeneration prior to this year’s Christmas Special or have the actors and writers been pulling our legs? And will Missy actually find some sort of redemption? The Doctor/Missy relationship does make me want to go back and see what they were like in the Classic Who years because it’s clearly a very storied past and one that was obviously already explored that I just don’t know about.

Doctor Who 10.08: "The Lie of the Land"

“However bad the situation is, if people think that’s how it’s always been, they’ll put up with it.”
-Nardole

The final episode of the Monks trilogy was especially timely. It was all about how we shape our reality and what we accept as normal. I believe at one point the Doctor even utters the phrase “fake news.” Bill and pretty much everyone else on earth are all struggling against the Monks attempting to rewrite history. The Monks want everyone to believe that they have always been around, guiding humanity, but in actuality, they have only been on Earth for a few months. For a while, they even have the Doctor making propaganda videos for them. When the Doctor, Bill, and friends finally go the Monks’ headquarters to defeat them for good, they have to keep headphones on with a recording that constantly reminds them of the truth in order to not succumb to the programming. It’s unsettling stuff. The ending was more than a bit handwave-y, in typical Moffat fashion, but episode writer Toby Whithouse (who has written some of my favorite episodes of “Doctor Who”) did the best he could with what he had to work with. The worldbuilding was especially strong, and like I said, unsettling. As it should be.

We see right from the building of the episode what the world is like now, several months after Bill consented to the help of the Monks to restore the Doctor’s sight. A family watches a propaganda film made by the Doctor, where he talks all about how the Monks have been around forever and how they’re so benevolent and helpful. In the middle of this, the episode’s equivalent of the Thought Police (I think they were called the Memory Police?) raid the house and take the mother away for possessing false history. As she is taken away, she yells about how the Monks have only been around for several months. Bill sees the commotion and walks away with the rest of the crowd. It’s easier to survive in this world by complying and not standing out. The same could be said for our own world currently, too. At home, Bill holds an imaginary conversation with her mother, where she explains that after she consented to the Monks, she suddenly woke up and everything had changed.

As Bill is deep into musing with the memory of her mother on the state of the world, Nardole appears. He has been spending a great deal of time looking for the Doctor, and he has found him. He’s on a very large ship. Bill and Nardole decide to try and sneak on the ship, which is almost made very complicated by the fact that Nardole doesn’t have identification papers, and Bill’s says she works in food service at the university. Luckily for them, just as one of the guards on the ship is about to ask to see their papers, he is distracted by the arrival of one of the Monks. Bill and Nardole find the Doctor, but he doesn’t really seem happy to see them. He has solders hold them at gun point, while he explains that he really agrees with the Monks. He says that humanity had its chance to show they could govern themselves properly, at they failed (it’s actually kind of hard to argue with that sentiment, especially in the past year). Bill is so upset by this that she pulls out a gun and tries to shoot the Doctor. That’s when he reveals that he was faking it and trying to gauge how brainwashed Bill was. All the guards in the room are on his side, too.

Once the Doctor has explained himself, it’s time to try and put a plan for defeating the Monks into action. The first step is to visit the vault for a conversation with Missy. Missy tells our crew that the only way she knows of to release the Monks’ hold on the planet is for the person who originally gave consent for their help (Bill) to die. Bill’s brain is basically being used to amplify the Monks’ brainwashing signal. If she had any kids, that power would be passed on to one of them upon her death, but when the consenter dies without children, the signal eventually dies out too. Understandably, the Doctor doesn’t like this plan one bit, so he’s got a backup plan. He thinks that the signals, while amplified by Bill, originate from the Pyramid, so that’s where they are going to go. They’re going to cut off the brainwashing at the source. The Doctor thinks his own brain is powerful enough, if he plugs it into the Pyramid, to overcome the brainwashing signal and transmit the correct history to the rest of Earth.

There’s a bit of a fight between our heroes and some of the Monks when they first enter the Pyramid. Our crew is all wearing what look like old-school Walkmen that are playing a mantra Bill recorded about how the Monks are fake and the history they are kind-of remembering is real. There’s a bit of the scuffle when one of the Walkmen breaks, leaving the soldier wearing it vulnerable, but they finally make it to the broadcasting hub, where a Monk is plugged into everything. Surrounding the Monk are screens that show the fake (Monk-filled, of course) history it is broadcasting. The Doctor grabs on to the Monk’s head, and he starts changing the surrounding images. Ultimately, though, the Monk is stronger, and it starts changing the images back, making the Monks even more prominent in its fake human history than they were before. The Doctor is knocked unconscious by all of this, and so Bill decides it’s time to step up.

Bill grabs on to the Monk’s head, and at first, it seems like the power of its thoughts is going to overwhelm her. Nardole, for one, certainly seems to think Bill is on a suicide mission. Luckily, though, Bill starts to remember images of her mother, specifically the photographs the Doctor went back in time to take earlier in the season. This gives Bill the strength she needs to overpower the Monk, and soon the scary pictures of Monk history on the screens are replaced by pictures of Bill’s mother. Across Earth, people start to snap out of their Monk-induced stupors. Instead of fighting back more, the Monks simply slink off to terrorize some other planet. I think Missy kind of implied this is what would happen if they were defeated. Apparently the Monks don’t care much about any particular planet. When the Monks leave though, so does most of the memory of them. Most people don’t even remember they were even there, and so the lessons about accepting fascism in exchange for security will go unlearned. We say those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it for a reason, and I feel like we’re in a moment like that right now in real life. The episode closes with the Doctor having a conversation with Missy, where she’s starting to seem like she might actually be remorseful for all of the damage she has caused over the years. We’ll see if that sticks.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Summer DVR Dump: The Librarians 3.02: “And the Fangs of Death”

“He knew that this is where we’d find the pendant. He knew that this is where we’d see his message. It means it’s a trap.”
- Flynn

It seems our Egyptian God of Chaos has not gone quietly into the night. Flynn has a dream where Charlene comes to him and shows him the world on fire, saying “he’s coming”. So of course he drags Eve off on a mission to find her and rescue her. It turns out she doesn’t need rescuing and she’s charmed (magically) a cult of half-naked men to keep her company. When Flynn tells her that the God is afoot, she says they’ll leave at sun up. Unfortunately, at some point in the night all of her devotees have slaughtered each other. Flynn foolishly thinks he can find Charlene by re-wiring the door. We also learn that Judson was the very first Librarian and Charlene was his Guardian.

The Librarians get through the door and end up in an underground super collider facility where most of the crew has gone crazy and been infected with something (it’s unclear what it is although when the team hears wolf howls I know what I’m thinking). Jake and Cassie stick in the command room to monitor things while Flynn and Ezekiel go with some of the remaining security team to try and get to the server room and see some back up footage (and to see if Charlene actually showed up there). I have to admit I kind of thought the God of Chaos had somehow possessed her and was tricking Flynn. Meanwhile, Eve and Jenkins end up top-side within a 5 mile radius of the rest of the gang and have to find them on foot.

Flynn about loses his mind when Cassie is able to get a clearer image of some of the video footage. We see Charlene in a hazmat suit and then everything blows up. And we also see that a figure emerges from the collider shortly before the explosion. It appears that the God has possessed Charlene (called it) and killed her from the inside (the only way to kill an immortal apparently) and summoned Anubis to turn all the people into werewolves. Speaking of that pesky lycanthropy, as Jake leads the gang toward the infirmary (to confirm that Charlene has in fact died), Ezekiel gets bitten by one of the creatures. Definitely not a good thing!

Above ground, Eve and Jenkins run into an overly friendly security guard who lets them in and leads them on a long trek through the woods under the guise of getting them to the facility. But as Eve questions why Jenkins came with her, the guard eavesdrops and lets slip about their four fiends. The God has slipped into the guard to ensure that the Librarians are in his trap. To avoid getting shot themselves, Jenkins lobs himself and Eve off a cliff. He breaks the fall and Eve is ok (he’s a little banged up but he’ll live). Back at the facility, Jake notices Ezekiel’s bleeding arm and asks Flynn to help figure out how to stop the transformation. But Flynn at this point is in a catatonic state. He’s snapped out of it briefly when the lead security guy triggers a self-destruct of the facility. Awesome!

At first Flynn doesn’t really care and thinks blowing the place up would be a great idea. But then thanks to a little pep talk from Jake, he comes up with a plan. They can shut the power off in the collider room and kill the self-destruct. And Ezekiel thinks he can keep the wolves off them by getting amongst them (since he’s turning) and nail them with steam. Lucky for the rest of the Librarians, Eve and Jenkins manage to get into the facility just after the God of Chaos slips in (oh and Jenkins explains that the ultimate battle for good and evil is being waged as we speak and apparently Judson and Charlene were the only ones who knew how to keep the God from taking over … oops).

The plan works at first until Flynn realizes that the collider is overheating and about to have a power surge (which will create the same anomaly that brought Anubis into this world). So he tells Ezekiel to turn off the steam to get the wolves and Anubis to follow him. Our resident thief can’t follow that command because he’s passed out with the wolf virus taking over. But some of the remaining crew manage it and Flynn draws the masses to him. It almost works until the God shows up alongside Anubis. Thanks to Flynn talking a good game and Eve showing up at just the right moment, the team manages to get rid of the wolves and Anubis and for the moment, the God as well. And after many cups of wolfs bane tea, Ezekiel is mostly back to normal. Flynn, however is still upset over Charlene. But Cassie has some good news. The woman they thought was possessed wasn’t Charlene after all. So she’s out there somewhere and much like in past seasons, Flynn goes off on his own to track her down. He writes Eve a letter about how people died because of his decisions and Ezekiel almost was lost and he won’t put the rest of the team in danger. Eve gives a little knowing smile as she reads the letter. They have an interesting relationship I must say.

I suppose it’s a good way of keeping Noah Wylie around but also allowing the rest of the team to flourish as themselves. I mean, the show is based on the “next generation” of Librarians after all and whenever Flynn is around he kind of tends to upstage everyone. I did like that we get the continuing overarching plot of the season while still having some fun adventures. It’s pretty typical light fare and works well for a sci-fi show like this.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

iZombie 3.10: "Return of the Dead Guy"

“Watching my zombie roommate talk to a ghost? That’s just what I call Tuesday.”
- Peyton

Things are getting pretty crazy and dire for our gang of undead heroes. We had three main storylines this episode and we got movement on all of them, and not in a great way. First up, Peyton convinces Liv to eat some of the blue juice brain of the man who killed the Dominatrix. Sure, he had mental health issues and was hallucinating his dead wife but that’s okay. So of course, Liv starts hallucinating Drake. I do have to say, I miss him. But his random appearances made it rather difficult for Liv and Justin to take things to the next level. At least by the end of the episode, Liv had forgiven herself and dealt with her grief so she was able to move on and be with Justin. And the blue juice did have the desired effect. First off, Liv is able to definitively confirm that he killed the dominatrix. Peyton was a little annoyed about that but it gets juicy when Liv has another vision and sees that the guy was murdered (rather than having committed suicide). We also got kind of a funny bit with Liv having Peyton dress up and spank her to trigger a vision.

This leads Peyton, Liv and Clive to do some more digging into the guards on duty and talking to the dead guy’s daughter. She’s kind of reluctant to speak with Clive and Liv and then we see that she and her friend are zombies. So, the fact she told our duo she asked if the voices in her dad’s head made him kill the dominatrix wasn’t correct. I’m guessing it was Fillmore Graves, given that the current mayoral candidate was a client! The case just keeps getting crazier. I honestly wasn’t expecting them to keep going with this plotline the whole season but it’s kind of interesting to explore how deep conspiracies like this go and how the zombie and human worlds continue to interact and collide.

Elsewhere, Major and Shauna are basically just hooking up and hanging out in a blanket fort. I don’t really trust her but that’s probably to be expected. She hasn’t revealed what she did that made her sympathetic to Major’s plight and that just worries me. Besides, Major is just sort of hopeless at this point. I’m not really sure why they need to keep him around at this point, other than he’s mildly pretty to look at. He doesn’t really add much to the storyline. This episode would have been perfectly fine without their scenes this week. While they are busy cuddling and whatnot, Blaine is busy dealing with the return of his former boss. The guy (after stopping by his house—his clueless wife sitting in the living room and grabbing a briefcase full of cash—) shows up at Blaine’s place and shoots him several times. Blaine then zombie-hulks out. It made me wonder when he got turned back into a zombie. I suppose the episode where he got patched up from the gunshot he could have gone to a zombie to be scratched again. Ultimately, Blaine convinces his former boss to work for him as his international brain supplier. I’m not thrilled with this storyline mostly because I found the former boss to just be really annoying and I don’t want to see him again. I also miss the progress Blaine made at being a better person when he wasn’t a zombie. He was making strides until he massively backslid. But I guess you need that kind of morally grey character around to keep things interesting.

Ravi is having the worst of it this week for sure. The zombie truth nuts have caged up Don E and have decided to starve him so he goes full Romero and then they’re going to use a cattle prod on him (oh, only if they 100,000 views on their livestream). Because people are terrible in general, they of course make it to that number. Along the way, Ravi tries to find a way out of the situation for both of them. The guys took his phone so he can’t call Liv for help. Don E has a phone stashed in his sock and Ravi manages to finally get in touch with Blaine to send a cry for help. It was interesting to see Ravi feign ignorance about a lot of things about zombies. He even sat there straight-faced while one of the guys rambled about Middle Eastern origins and such. Honestly, I would have told him he was a complete idiot. Then again, he actually is a complete idiot. Ravi, rightly, drugs him to try and formulate his plan with Don E. Unfortunately, Don E isn’t in much shape to do much else but moan and thrash about. At some point, the photographer woman from the meeting shows up and then things take a dark turn. The guys are going to go in and torture Don E but Ravi is standing in their way. He first says he needs more time to study Don E to “protect humanity” and then he points out that Don E feels pain and he’s a person. By the end of the episode, all of the truth guys have their sawed-off shotguns pointed at Ravi and they’re going to shoot him if he doesn’t move. I suspect it won’t come to that because Blaine shows up at Liv’s place and asks if she wants to kick some ass. They arrive at the gun range and get zombie-hulked out (Blaine burns Liv’s hand and she smashes his head into the dashboard a few times). It’s a dangerous move going in that angry but I suspect it will work out in the end. I suppose they could all just end up dead (and not turned). But, whatever does happen next week, I’m sure it will be intense.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

iZombie 3.09: "Twenty Sided, Die"

“I can’t believe grown adults play this for hours at a time.”
-Babineaux

So, I need to preface this post with a confession. I most definitely play Dungeons and Dragons. Specifically, at the moment, I play a Level 4 elf ranger named Auriel. She likes to shoot things, which makes her fun to play. Anyway, I for the most part enjoyed this D&D themed episode of “iZombie.” There was one scene in particular that I found ridiculous (I’ll get to that later), but for the most part, it was fun. I especially enjoyed Babineaux’s fondness for the game. He brushes it off as childish at first, but after he plays a session, he’s super into it and wants Liv to continue as DM even after the case they’re working on is over. The episode was a lot of fun, although the juggling too many plots problem became even more problematic. I’m just hoping that Rob Thomas (that Rob Thomas . . . not the other one with the Grammy!) and company have a cohesive way of bringing all these plots together.

The episode opens with Ravi at a meeting of the anti-zombie hate group. Billy the security guard from the Max Rager party is there, and he does speak to the group, but he seems to be a little freaked of by the vehemence of the zombie hate. Ravi also meets a new friend named Rachel, who also seems a little more chill than most of the zombie haters. Johns, addressing the group, announces that he wants to kidnap a zombie and broadcast it for all to see. Ravi intervenes by saying he’s a doctor and that he is working on a zombie vaccine. He wants the group to hold off on the kidnapping until he has a few more weeks to work on the formula. Rachel ends up giving Ravi a ride home in her massive RV.

Meanwhile, Blaine announces to the Scratching Post staff that the establishment is under new management, and Don-E is going to be his right-hand man (which doesn’t seem like the best choice to me, but whatever). He is playing around with Ravi’s blue juice that enhances memories in brains eaten by zombies, and Don-E’s toady volunteers to try it out. The toady reports back that it took five minutes after eating the piece of brain to have a vision, and the vision lasted for two hours. When everybody else leaves the room, Don-E takes his own, rather large, piece of blue juice brain and starts having visions immediately (visions of a WWII veteran, to be precise). Don-E ends up going completely crazy at the bar, using the taps as guns, and then he runs off. Johns and one of his minions eventually finds and captures Don-E, and they bring him to Ravi.

Next we move on to the case of the week. A group of friends (including our own Jimmy the sketch artist) are playing a session of Dungeons and Dragons. The DM, Dan, seems to have a flair for the dramatic. At a particularly crucial point in the story, Dan suddenly chokes and dies. Of course, it’s our team that’s investigating the murder. They figure out pretty quickly that Dan died due to a rare poison that was in the wine he was drinking. Eating Dan’s brain has turned Liv into an uber-DM. She wants to narrate everything dramatically. Babineaux is not impressed by this. Nerding out for a minute, I’m not sure why Liv said a dice roll she made was sufficient to let her join Babineaux in his investigation. I could have sworn I saw her role a two. She certainly didn’t succeed on that roll – she just barely avoided a crit fail!

Babineaux and Liv first interview “Vampire Steve,” and they learn that all the players’ characters had died in the previous week’s session due to a situation involving poison in a cave. There was a dispute over the effectiveness of the absorption stone Steve’s character possessed, and he still seems sore over it. Liv takes Dan’s side on that dispute, naturally. Liv roles a D20 and has a vision of all the players being really upset when Dan says their saving throw failed and they all die. They had level 15 characters, so I’m thinking they had put quite a lot of time and effort into this campaign. Their next stop is to a comic book shop where Zoe, another of the D&D party, works. When Liv and Babineaux interview her, Liv has a rather disturbing vision of Zoe and Dan having halfling cosplay sex. Now I’m a nerd, and I’ve been known to cosplay and identify with halflings, but that just grossed me out. They also notice that some cover art Dan had been missing was for sale in the store. Zoe says he lost it in a bet.

Jimmy the sketch artist is next up to be interviewed. It turns out he was also into Zoe. Babineaux and Liv find naughty sketches of both Liv and Zoe (and Jimmy) in Jimmy’s sketch book. It turns out that even more of the party was into Zoe. Jimmy says that Steve used to be a blonde, but he turned himself into a “vampire” for Zoe. A second interrogation of Steve happens, but they don’t get much useful out of him. Liv has a new plan. They’re going to have a D&D session to see if it will trigger another of Liv’s visions. The D&D session itself is awesome and hilarious and involves Ravi’s character giving Peyton’s character mouth-to-mouth. The best part, though, is how into it Babineaux is when he finally tries it. He wants Liv to keep running campaigns by saving a bit of Dan’s brain to eat each week.

Liv does eventually have a helpful vision of a secret door in Dan’s apartment. She and Babineaux go to investigate the door, and they find it leads to a fancy computer room. One of the computers is displaying information about a Russian power plant, but it self-destructs when Liv tries to log in. Babineaux and Liv then interview Zoe about the room, and she says she knew about it. The interview is stopped short, however, because the FBI is taking over the case (Dan could have been killed by a Russian agent for knowing too much about the power plant). And, of course, the case is specifically being given to Bozio. Babineaux runs outside to find her, and they have an awkward reunion. She doesn’t want him back, and she’s not going to share any information about the case with him because she doesn’t trust him.

In other romance news, Liv has another date with Justin. They are going to a fundraiser for Barachus’ mayoral campaign. She takes “Z rations” (the stuff Filmore Graves feeds their mercs) beforehand so that she can truly be herself with Justin. Major is at her house while she’s getting ready, too, which seems like it could be all kinds of awkward. Thankfully, he leaves not long after Justin arrives. At the fundraiser, Liv meets Chase Graves, and can I say how excited I am that Jason Dohring is on the show? Anyway, he wants Liv and Babineaux to put a rush on that zombie family murder case. Also at the fundraiser, Peyton tries to talk to Baracus about the Weckler case. He tries to downplay it and tells Peyton to let it go. Later, Liv tells Peyton about Baracus’s involvement with the dominatrix, and his reaction makes more sense to Peyton. Justin tells Liv about how Chase once shot him, and Liv immediately goes to confront him. Before she can, though, shots are fired and Baracus is hit trying to protect his son. Liv has to work really hard to keep Baracus calm so he doesn’t go into full-on zombie mode.

Let’s wrap this up with some of the more minor plots of the episode. Major finds out that Ravi has been hiding all of his hate mail, and he’s started reading it now. He finds one sympathetic letter from a woman named Shawna who says she has also been misunderstood. By the end of the episode, Shawna is coming over to Major’s house, and that seems like it can’t possibly end well. She seems exactly like those women you hear about on TV who were obsessed with killers like the Menendez Brothers. We also see Blaine talking to his dad, who is still in the pit. He reads an article about Baracus trying to save his son. All is not going to be rainbows and unicorns for Blaine much longer, though. Mr. Boss has returned to Seattle, and he wants what’s his.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Summer DVR Dump: The Librarians 3.01; “And the Rise of Chaos”

“The only way to defeat Chaos … harmony”
- Flynn

So, it’s been a while since we’ve hung with the Librarians on More TV, Please. I took a season off blogging it but now we’re back with season 3! And now that “Falling Skies” is off the air, Noah Wylie is in the series more which means more fun and craziness. Since last we saw our team, they’ve been a roll, really utilizing everyone’s talents to collect artifacts. But Eve is a little worried, given that when she saw Duloc cut the Loom of Fate, she was able to see the potential of our Librarians in Training. She can’t shake the feeling they don’t have a decade to get them there. So she’s been trying to train them, including teaching Stone to box. It is kind of odd to watch that scene knowing how badass Christian Kane really is (and how precise he was as Eliot Spencer). It seems that they are going to have to pull everything they’ve got because things are going really wonky around the world.

In Egypt, a man is complaining to his wife that he wants to leave because he expected to see mummies instead of urns and other stuff at the tour they’ve been doing. But then he hears a voice calling to him through the headphones. And then he gets taken over by some ancient evil (locusts or something). Then a museum guard in Boston gets attacked by a bunch of mannequins. Back at the library, the clipping book bursts into flames and it takes Cassandra’s brains (Jenkins and Flynn strike down using magic) to figure out it was the museum guard in Boston (although as a transplanted Bostonian, the fact they made up names for things kind of irritates me). But once the team is in Boston, they start to figure some things out. Well, okay, so Stone and Ezekiel want to go check out a really old sub and Cassie wants to check out some fancy science clock but Eve and Flynn are able to keep them on mission (mostly). Flynn and Eve go talk to the guard at the hospital and they learn that the mannequins were all saying the same word and after the guard says it, all the patients around him start chanting. And back at the museum the rest of the team realizes that the mannequins definitely moved of their own accord. Creepy!

Back at the library, Jenkins gives us a bit of a lesson on what types of entities possess different types of objects. The ones who tend to go after inanimate objects (or coma patients) are sort of guardian type spirits. So they were warning about something bigger coming. Stone figures out it may be linked to ancient Egyptian. Which takes the team back to Boston to see the clock thing that Cassie was so excited about. Girl needs to tone down her excitement, though. Like for real she’s kind of annoying. While they are chasing down the clock, we see the man from Egypt who got possessed walk into a diner and release some sort of magic that gets everyone in the room to start fighting. The effect wears off as soon as he leaves. And we are also introduced to the government agency that is tracking magic. Eve is not happy that they exist. In fact it really worries her that the government is trying to interfere. I suspect she’s going to have to deal with them a lot going forward. But first, they have an Egyptian God of Chaos to deal with. I have to imagine when he uses his powers on the team, it won’t be pretty!

Things get dire for the team pretty quick as Stone and Ezekiel get stuck on the sub (they were going to repurpose the sonar equipment to see into the box so they could get this mystical key that could unlock pure evil and unleash it into the world. Course, when Cassie and Flynn figure out the combination (after getting whammied by the God of Chaos), the key is already missing. So now, they’ve got to find the God and the key and stop the sub from firing a torpedo into the museum!

The guys manage to stop the sub from doing too much damage, except it’s too late and then realize that the God wanted them to blow a hole in the ground to get to the portal he needs to unleash pure evil. The gang follows him down into the hole and he whammies them again. But after Eve gets bumped out of range, she realizes what’s going on and manages to get the rest of the team out of there. They decide they need to be a team and that means singing for some reason. It was pretty funny and I have to admit that the gang sounded pretty good. I mean I knew Christian Kane could sing but not the rest of them. Kudos to the directors for letting their actors stretch their other creative muscles.

And then Flynn gets to be very much like the Doctor (including theme music and it was glorious!) So fantastic in fact, I cheered several times during the scene. But even though they’ve recovered the artifact, things are not all back to normal. The government agency people showed up again and the God is still out there (although without a host body). Even though Flynn assures Eve that they don’t need to worry about him anymore, Jenkins knows that’s a lie. In fact, he finds Flynn literally burning the midnight oil reading up on the book of the dead in the middle of the night. Flynn can’t shake something Judson told him many years ago: that there is a war coming between good and evil that will test the power of the library. The ultimate battle, if you will. When he wonders if it’s still coming, Jenkins calmly informs him that the war has already begun.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

MTVP Binges Out: "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" Season 3

Netflix released the third season of Tina Fey’s masterpiece “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” last month and naturally, I’ve watched the whole season already. Kimmy’s perseverance and enthusiasm for life in the face of adversity and a troubled past is addictive, and once you watch one episode, it’s hard to stop. Last season involved some heavy stuff, with Kimmy seeking therapy and confronting the failures of her mother. This season was more pure fun, although there were some more poignant moments when Kimmy had to figure out how much of her past she was okay with other people knowing. Kimmy has reached the point where, since she’s feeling more comfortable in the world outside the Bunker, she’s trying to figure out what’s next for her life. She wants the education and career that the Reverend denied her, but the road to achieving that is going to be difficult.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the breakdown of what’s what in the world of Kimmy Schmidt. Kimmy was one of the Indiana Mole Women – she was kidnapped as a teenager and lived in a bunker with a few other women for fifteen years before she was rescued. Once rescued, she moved to New York City, where she lives were her fabulous roommate Titus Andromedon (their landlady, Lillian, played by the great Carol Kane, is pretty fabulous too), and she’s been trying to figure out how to live her life ever since. In the first season, she worked as a nanny for a wealthy woman named Jaqueline (Jane Krakowski), but now Jaqueline is no longer married and is just a friend to Kimmy. Kimmy went on quite the journey in the first few seasons, just trying to learn to live on her own in the first season, and dealing with lingering issues with her mother and her experience in the bunker in the second season. Whatever challenges life throws her way, however, Kimmy tries to approach it with positivity and a kill ‘em with kindness attitude that I admire. If she can still be enthusiastic about life after being abused in a bunker for fifteen years, then we all can!

This season juggled several interesting plots. There was the mystery of what happened to Titus while he was working on a cruise ship. There was Jaqueline’s continuing efforts to get the Washington Redskins to change their name (spoiler alert: by the end of the season, they’re the Washington Gun-Takers!). That particular plot went full-on “While You Were Sleeping,” which I appreciated, considering “While You Were Sleeping” is one of my favorite rom coms. It was Bill Pullman and Sandra Bullock at their 90s best! Kimmy decides she wants to try going to college, so she has adventures related to that (and a career test that says her ideal job is crossing guard).

The highlight of the season for me was the presence of Daveed Diggs as Perry, a love interest for Kimmy that doesn’t quite go anywhere. Diggs won a Tony award for playing the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the original Broadway cast (and the Off-Broadway cast, too!) of “Hamilton.” He’s known for his incredibly fast rapping, both in the “Hamilton” song “Guns and Ships” and with the hip hop group clipping. In this show, Perry meets Kimmy when she’s touring what looks to be a scammy, for-profit college, and he tells her he’s transferring to Columbia. When Kimmy (spoiler alert) gets to go to Columbia, too, they get to know each other better. They have a brief falling out when Perry tells Kimmy that he’s studying theology and wants to be a Reverend, but they end up working out their issues. Perry is charming, and Diggs has impeccable comic timing. I enjoyed the chemistry between Perry and Kimmy, and I think the storyline worked rather well.

My favorite episode of the season, unsurprisingly (or at least it will be once I describe it a bit) is the sixth episode of the season, called “Kimmy is a Feminist!” There are two main plots going on, both of which are highly entertaining. And it’s one of the three episodes of the season to feature Daveed Diggs (see, told you it wouldn’t be a surprise). Kimmy and Perry are both studying at Columbia at that point, and Perry is also working in the student bookstore and as a bus driver to make ends meet. Kimmy doesn’t have that problem, but I’ll keep the reason why a surprise. Kimmy goes out for a night of partying with some of her newfound college friends, where she encounters Perry several times, and they bond over basically being “too old for this shit.” Of course, as I already mentioned, they hit a snag when Perry reveals his vocational ambitions. But Diggs and Ellie Kemper have great comedic chemistry together. Meanwhile, Jaqueline enlists Titus and Lillian’s help to get her through a romantic evening with her comatose brother’s husband (I told you they went full-on “While You Were Sleeping). The cast milked that situation for all the comedy they possibly could.

Hovering over the whole season, however, is the continued (understandable) trauma that her fifteen years in the bunker has caused Kimmy. The Reverend wants to get married, but it turns out that he’s already marrie to Kimmy thanks to a situation where Kimmy was trying to save one of her sister wives. Kimmy goes back and forth on what to do about the situation: how much compassion to show the Reverend’s intended and how difficult to make the Reverend’s life. She equivocates for so long, though, that she only ends up hurting herself again. Her marriage to the Reverend keeps her from reaching one of her dreams. Additionally, she’s not prepared for the reality, in the Internet age, of having control over who knows her story and when. She gets very upset when she finds out that many of her classmates Googled her and figured out she’s an Indiana Mole Woman. Since they’re all going to find out anyway, she almost agrees to go on a campus talk show about it, but she backs out at the last minute. Kimmy’s past is still very much affecting her present, but she’s determined to not let it affect her future or her sunny disposition.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

iZombie 3.08: “Eat a Knievel”

“You want to honor your friend? Help us find his killer.”
- Clive

Things are not going well for some of our gang of zombies. For one, Blaine is demanding the location of his dad’s new brain business from some guy and it looks like he’s also still sporting that nasty gut wound. Poor guy. And Major’s secret (that he’s human) comes out when Vivian checks his pulse after a debrief. The crazy guys who we think killed the zombie family posted a video of Justin going all zombie and now we have to do damage control. We also have to figure out who blew up Vivian’s helicopter while she and the head of the military unit were on it. The first step is for Liv and Ravi to infiltrate a gathering of the zombie truther hate group this coming weekend.

Something tells me that task is going to be made more complicated by the fact that Liv is going to have to eat the brain of some internet idiot who burns to death doing a crazy “ride a bike covered in hay through a flaming ring” stunt to impress a girl he went on one date with thirteen years ago. Liv gets rather obnoxious and prone to stupid stunts as she and Clive investigate the case. At first, they come up against some roadblocks when the rest of the crew cite and NDA regarding their former cameraman. Eventually, one of the guys explains that the guy did a stunt that went bad and they all had to pay a lot of money to cover it up. It seems pretty obvious that the prop guy isn’t entirely innocent. I mean, he’s racing up to Clive and Liv at the scene ranting about the suit he was supposed to wear and then Liv gets a vision of him freaking out from a stunt our victim pulled. Thanks to one of the other crew members, we learn that the prank involved our victim allegedly pretending to sleep with the guy’s girlfriend. After some extra sleuthing, including paying a visit to the prop guy’s house and seeing his wife’s new (very mixed race) baby, Clive and Liv get the prop guy to admit he killed the victim. Clearly, the guy did sleep with his wife and she got pregnant. He lost it in the delivery room and set up the prank to fail. He doesn’t even seem very broken up about it.

Elsewhere in the episode, Liv gets Justin to try some of the victim’s brains so they can party together. They steal some Super Max drinks and throw lawn darts into the air. It seems like they are starting to really bond. Given Liv’s track record for zombie boyfriends, I’m a little worried about him. Even though the writers have said this season will be different. I’m even more worried when Jason Dohring’s character (Vivian’s zombie brother-in-law) shows up and shoots Justin for stealing the Super Max (it isn’t a head shot so he’s fine but still). I’m excited to have Jason back on my tv. I’ve missed my dear Logan!

Lest we forget Blaine, he’s making plans for payback on dear old Dad. He uses the information he’s gleaned about the location of the bar to his advantage. While Blaine is making his plans, his father is also planning on how to expand the business, knowing now that Fillmore Graves is full of zombies in need of brains. So, Blaine manages to get the drop on his father and kills the two zombies that are in the bar with him. Instead of killing his father outright—which I was kind of hoping for because he’s despicable and doesn’t deserve to eat brains—he takes him back to the family homestead and strings him up over an open well (his feet encased in concrete and his hands bound together so it’s harder for him to escape). Blaine taunts his father that whenever he used to beat Blaine as a child, he’d come out to the well and toss a penny in, hoping his dad would drop dead. That’s an awful thing for a child to wish on a parent in most circumstances but this I don’t really blame Blaine. So, he leaves his father in the well (still alive) and goes back to the bar. He’s going to keep the brain business going and expand and let Don E. run the bar himself.

At the tail end of the episode, Liv and Ravi are still heading to the zombie truther gathering. Liv’s all done up with make-up and a wig (and I bet she was thrilled to come to set for that scene and just have to be normal) but Ravi ends up making an excuse up so that Liv won’t have to stay. They are testing people’s blood pressure and I’m guessing that no matter how much adrenaline Liv has running through her, it won’t be enough to mimic a human blood pressure. I just have to hope Ravi is okay on his own. When the episode ends, he’s getting his blood pressure taken while Liv heads out to “check on their children”. I can tell Ravi is scared to be there but I hope he’s a trooper and we get some good information out of the meeting that the team can use to find the zombie family killers.

As I mentioned, I’m super excited to have Jason on the show. I love when Rob Thomas is able to bring back Veronica Mars cast members because it’s just so fun for the fans of both shows. I also hope they are able to wrap up the zombie murder storyline this season because that feels like it needs to be done as well. And for goodness sakes, Major needs to get out of Fillmore Graves. If Jason’s character shot Justin for stealing the Super Max, what is he going to do when he finds out Major is human again. He clearly is interested in protecting zombie kind. I can’t imagine he’d be thrilled to know there’s a cure. And for that matter, we better find out who actually stole the cure before the season ends!

Doctor Who 10.07: “The Pyramid at the End of the World”

“What it’s doing, Colonel, is sending a message: Bring it.”
- The Doctor

Where to start with this episode of “Doctor Who”. It felt rather disjointed for a lot of it until the last 10 minutes or so. Fresh off the weird simulation in “Extremis”, Bill is on a date with Penny but again they are interrupted by another important head of state: The Secretary General of the UN. He’s looking for the Doctor, because there’s a crisis and he’s the President of Earth in such situations. I believe that started with the Zygon drama a few seasons ago. Or when Missy turned all the dead people into Cybermen as a present for the Doctor. So, Bill gets whisked away and they pick up Nardole and the Doctor on their way to a made-up former Soviet bloc country where a 5,000-year-old pyramid has materialized overnight on a disputed military area split between the US, China and Russia. Man, if our current President had any say (although I did like Bill’s comment about how she didn’t vote for him, especially because he’s orange), we’d all be dead or enslaved.

The Doctor still hasn’t told anyone but Nardole that he’s blind and that’s going to prove problematic later on. When they first gather the heads of the three militaries, they think they can work things out, especially by coordinating attacks on the pyramid. The Doctor has confirmed that the monks are responsible and man are they creepy. Although, I almost prefer the Silence to these guys. They just give off weird vibes. Their whole thing is that they can show the future and the planet is just completely dead. They’re willing to save the planet but they need consent from the power of the planet and it has to be pure. So first, the Secretary General says he consents but it’s out of fear, so he gets turned to dust.

So, they regroup and the Doctor sets out trying to find what causes the planet to die. He gets Nardole to narrow down biochemical tests being monitored by UNIT to 428 but the other military leaders think it is the best strategy to surrender and let the monks do whatever it is they do. The Doctor sends Bill off with them to make sure they don’t screw up while he and Nardole figure out what’s going to kill the planet. As we’ve watched the Doctor and company overseas, we see a pair of scientists working in a lab. Due to the guy being out late and drinking, he puts in a decimal point in the wrong spot and creates a super bacteria that just turns everything to sludge (including the scientist). The Doctor and Nardole zero in on this facility after they shut down all the feeds and wait for the monks to turn the one they were watching back on.

The Doctor and Nardole arrive at the lab but things aren’t going well overseas. The monks determined the world leaders were consenting out of strategy and therefore were also impure. So, they, too, get turned to dust. Now it’s just Bill holding the fate of humanity and the world in her hands. The Doctor implores her not to consent and for a while she bides her time by asking questions about what the monks mean by consent and why it has to be pure but then she gets into a sticky situation. Or rather, the Doctor forces her into one. He’s decided that they are going to blow up the lab to keep the bacteria from being vented automatically into the atmosphere. That’s all well and good but when he gets to the second airlock door and it’s a combo lock, he can’t see it. And thanks to giving Nardole human lungs, he’s out of play too. Poor Nardole is passed out in the TARDIS. So, this leaves the Doctor with no choice but to come clean to Bill about being blind (he’d tried to do it twice before in the episode but kept getting interrupted. So, now the Doctor is running out of time and he can’t see to do the lock. Bill is furious and she goes to the monks with love in her heart for the Doctor, asking them to give him back his eyesight. The Doctor rails against this all the while, insisting that Bill has to let him blow up with the lab but she refuses to give up on him. With his eyesight restored, he is able to get clear before the bacteria explodes. So, they managed to stop the bacteria from getting out and decimating the world but Bill has given her consent and asked the monks to help her. So now the Doctor is going to have to find a way to oust the monsters from his second home. Although, based on trailers for the next episode it seems Bill may be the one who has to do the rescuing (perhaps with a recovered Nardole). I could see that team-up being interesting in a way.

Something I’ve noticed of late (and by that, I mean basically since Moffatt took over as showrunner) is that the episodes are far more convoluted than they need to be. Maybe I’m just getting fed up with the stories he’s telling because this feels so much like when the Silence took over in seasons 5 and 6. But at least then they were interesting and properly creepy. These monks are just weird. It’s a sad day when I’m just waiting to see when the Doctor regenerates and how both Missy and the Master factor in because we’ve been promised both of them and we are rapidly nearing the end of the season. I want to enjoy “Doctor Who” again but they are making it really hard for me to get there. I think what I loved best about the show was that the serialization of the season wasn’t so apparent and necessary in the early years. Now, everything is so connected. It just feels like a bit much.

Doctor Who 10.06: "Extremis"

“You don’t do this. The Pope doesn’t zoom around the world in the Popemobile surprising people. Why would you do that?”
-The Doctor

“Extremis” was a rather experimental episode of “Doctor Who,” even during an era that has been rather experimental in general. It was existential, really, in the vein of “The Matrix.” Are we really alive, or is our experience just a simulation? If we’re in a simulation, are we as “real” as people not living in a simulation? How does survival instinct play into it? I thought the story generally held together, although I’m still anxious for the show to move on to the post-Stephen Moffat world. It takes a lot of work to follow the plot in each episode this season, and not in a good way. I like challenging television, I don’t like nonsensical television trying to be “deep.” I will be very interested to see where the big reveals in this episode (the person in the vault and a major threat approaching Earth) will take us through the rest of this season.

Let’s begin with the big reveal. As many of us predicted, the vault the Doctor and Nardole have been guarding contains none other than Missy. We learn how this came to be through a series of flashbacks. Missy has been sentenced to death, and apparently there’s a planet that specializes in that sort of thing. The people of this planet have devised a mechanism specifically for killing Time Lords, but it involves 1,000 years of observation post-execution to make sure the death sticks. It also requires a Time Lord to actually pull the trigger. The Doctor is the only Time Lord who could be found, so he’s been drafted into being Missy’s executioner. Just as the proceedings are about to get started, he is interrupted by Nardole, who was sent by River before her death, with permission to kick the Doctor’s ass. Nardole insists that River would not approve of the Doctor killing Missy. Obviously, the Doctor doesn’t go through with killing Missy, but he does vow to watch over her for 1,000 years.

Meanwhile in the present day, the Doctor is sitting outside the vault talking to Missy when, through his sonic glasses, he gets an email with the subject line “Extremis.” Next that we see him, he is in a lecture hall when he is waylaid by a bunch of Cardinals and the Pope himself. They need his help, naturally, and he comes highly recommended by Pope Benedict IX (who was a woman, incidentally). The Cardinals explain that a text called the Veritas has been stored in the most remote library at the Vatican, and any time someone reads it or translates it, they commit suicide. They figure it must say something horrible, since these were all very pious individuals who would consider suicide a mortal sin. The Doctor picks up bill to get her assistance, but unfortunately, he whoops the TARDIS into her house right while she’s in the middle of a date with a woman named Penny. Penny, who is new to the whole same-sex relationship thing and is feeling kind of guilty about it, completely freaks out when the Pope arrives on the scene, and she nopes right out of there, much to Bill’s chagrin. Anyway, once that drama has settled, we learn that the Vatican wants the Doctor to read the Veritas.

The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole are taken to the Hereticoma, the library of blasphemy deep within the Vatican. One of the monks warns that it is easy to get lost in the library if you don’t have a guide. An incident happens when the Doctor thinks he can detect some sort of door opening, but the monks waive him off that and take him to a reading area, which is a cage with a chair you can strap yourself into. A priest is already there, and he apologies about sending something out before running away and ultimately killing himself. He was the one person who had read the Veritas who hadn’t killed himself yet up until that point. The Doctor sits down to read the Veritas and sends Bill and Nardole off to explore (probably because he doesn’t want Bill to realize he’s blind, because as Nardole put it, then the blindness would be real). The Doctor hooks a device up to his head and tells a figure in the distance that it will either temporarily restore his vision or completely blow out his brain.

Meanwhile, as Nardole and Bill are doing their exploring, they come across what seems to be another portal. They step through and end up in a round hub-type space, with portals all around. The first portal they happen to go through ends up being the Pentagon, and when they realize their location, they high tail it right out of there before they can be caught for a security breach. The next portal ends up taking them to CERN. Of note, the priest who emailed out the Veritas en masse definitely emailed it to CERN. Their response was “pray for us.” Bill and Nardole quickly encounter a scientist, who tells them to join everyone in the cafeteria, because they all want to be together at the end.

We quickly find out that all is not as it seems in the most significant ways. The Doctor starts to get some very fuzzy vision (interestingly, he says he will pay a price for that in the future, although he doesn’t know what just yet), and he sees the outline of one of the monks. He asks for help getting chained into the reading chair, and the monk obliges. As his vision improves, the Doctor realizes that this is definitely no human monk. Instead, he’s a corpse-like alien of some sort. The alien tries to take away the Veritas, but the Doctor thinks a few steps ahead. He frees himself from the chair and takes a laptop that has the Veritas on it with him. What follows is a chase scene where the Doctor is trying to avoid the now angry monk alien things. When he finally has a few seconds to look at the Veritas, his vision starts going fuzzy again.

Bill and Nardole follow the scientist to the CERN cafeteria, where everyone is drinking wine and looking morose. The scientist says everything is ready to go and points out a countdown clock that has about five minutes left on it. Then Bill and Nardole notice that explosives are wired up under all the cafeteria tables. The scientist says they’re trying to free themselves, because they are not in the real world (at least according to the Veritas). He gives Bill and Nardole a “shadow test” where he asks them to recite the first numbers that come into their mind every time he hits his hand on a table. They do indeed say the same numbers every time, and soon the whole cafeteria joins in. Bill and Nardole are freaked out, and the countdown is coming to a close, so they hightail it back to the hub room before CERN blows up. That’s when they realize that the hub room looks like of like a projector, and Nardole starts hypothesizing that the Vatican, Pentagon, and CERN were all actually holograms. Then he realizes that, since he piloted the TARDIS perfectly to the Vatican, they’re probably simulations, too. He goes to the center of the room, out of the light of the projectors, and promptly disintegrates. Bill toys with the idea of doing the same, but she ends up following a trail of blood to another portal, hoping to find the Doctor.

Bill next finds herself in the Oval Office (poor thing) with a no longer living President slumped in a chair by the window and the Doctor sitting at the Resolute Desk. He tells Bill that he has listened to the Veritas, and they are part of a simulation. He compares the people who have committed suicide to Super Mario deleting himself from his game. There’s some existential conversation on the meaning of reality, and then Bill starts to disintegrate. A monk appears from behind where she was standing, and the monk wants information. The Doctor is on to the aliens’ plans. They’ve been running their simulation to practice invading Earth. The Doctor has his own plan, though. He uses his sonic glasses to email his memories of the last few hours to the “real” Doctor outside of the simulation. He claims that anything, even the simplest subroutine, can send an e-mail, but I’m dubious on that. Regardless, the Doctor receives the message, and he calls Bill. He tells her to call up Penny and ask her out because something bad is coming, and she might as well have some fun first. He also may need Missy’s help to fight whatever it is.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Lucifer 2.18: “The Good, The Bad and the Crispy”

“I’m coming over now to tell you the truth about me. I think it’s time I opened your eyes to why strange things sometimes happen around me, why my brother is so saintly and why Maze is so not and why I’m so, well, magnetic. I want to tell you everything. No more going backwards.”
- Lucifer

We’ve made it to the finale, folks and man was it crazy. I have mixed feelings about the ending and the fact that we had originally been promised 4 more episodes (which have now been tacked on to the start of season 3). It is definitely an intriguing cliffhanger that makes me excited to come back for more but I’m also just sad we have to wait longer for the additional episodes that have already been filmed and produced.

Anyway, let’s get into the plot of the episode. We pick up with Charlotte where we left her, having charbroiled the tequila empress’ son. She makes a call and then the body is stripped naked and shaved to try and obscure his identity. As soon as the body is discovered and Ella and Chloe identify the body, Lucifer goes into crisis mode. Well, he mostly freaks out when he finds Charlotte visiting Linda and there’s a big old hole in the wall from where she opened her wound (after previously stapling it together). Clearly, Lucifer can’t have Chloe finding out that Charlotte is responsible for their dead body. So, Lucifer tries to derail the investigation as much as possible. He breaks molds (which turn out to be a totally different case) and he just generally tries to deflect the direction of the case. But, Chloe is good at her job and they find the crime scene cleaners that Charlotte called. And then one of them ends up dead!

While all of this is going on, Lucifer and Amenediel are fighting about what to do with the key to the Flaming Sword. Amenediel is quite gleeful that apparently he is the Favorite Son. Finally, he has something that has always been associated with Lucifer. But Amenediel doesn’t want Mom and Dad to destroy each other (and he’s not too hip to Lucifer’s plan to just boot Mom back into Heaven) and so he goes and hides the key somewhere safe. We also get to see Amenediel try to do improv comedy. I don’t think he understands the concept of either comedy or improv. He’s going on, giving this great speech, to God when the scene was a domestic setting. And then when someone suggests birthing a baby giraffe in a zoo, he still doesn’t get it. But I think he had a good time bonding with Dan (Dan thinks the whole family is still super weird).

While Chloe tries to figure out how Charlotte is involved (because she’s’ got an inkling that Lucifer is hiding things), Lucifer pays Maze to track down Amenediel. She finds him at the improv group and Tasers him. It was pretty funny. But he’s still reluctant to give up the key, even though Lucifer mentions the two dead bodies. Amenediel seems like he might go along with sending Mom away now, except she’s escaped her prison of the wine cellar at Lux.

And she’s gone off the rails. When she went to Linda for a patch up job, Linda made a comment asking if Lucifer had stabbed her. So now Charlotte wants to know the whole plan and poor Linda is at the mercy of an enraged Goddess. After brutally torturing our sweet doctor, she goes and confronts her two sons about the plan to kick her back to Heaven without them. We then get a rather comical attempt by Lucifer and Amenediel to suggest perhaps she become the ruler of Hell instead of going back to Heaven. I mean, it needs a ruler and she could do with it whatever she wished. She’s not interested and she tosses her boys into Lucifer’s beautiful baby grand piano. She even threatens Amenediel but he won’t give in. So obviously she makes the next logical choice and puts Chloe (and a whole mess of innocent civilians) in harms’ way.

While Lucifer races to save Chloe, Amenediel and Maze go to and find Linda in a very bad state. Charlotte has stabbed her (amongst other things) and it isn’t looking good. She desperately needs a hospital but there isn’t time. With his newfound status as Favorite Son, Amenediel is able to channel a little bit of his time-stopping mojo, giving Maze enough time to get Linda the help she needs. It also has an unintended side effect of helping Lucifer in his quest to keep Chloe save. I have to say, my heart broke a little bit when Lucifer was telling Amenediel that Charlotte had gone after Chloe and he used her name. The way his voice broke was just crushing. Despite hating his parents for their manipulations, he clearly loves Chloe. Lucifer finds the key on Dan (clever hiding place Amenediel) and then manages to drag Charlotte off the side of the Santa Monica pier to keep her away from Chloe and bullets flying. He then uses the fully ignited Flaming Sword to cut a hole in reality to a place of nothing, instructing Mama Morningstar to create her own world. After all, going home would mean war and lives would be lost and Charlotte doesn’t really want to hurt her children. So she goes, leaving the real Charlotte somehow alive and with no memory of anything that’s happened (sort of to Dan’s dismay).

And after Lucifer pays Linda a visit in the hospital, he calls Chloe to tell her that he’s ready to explain everything and share the truth with her. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get the chance because an unseen figure knocks him unconscious and when he wakes up, he’s covers in blisters and burns (only wearing pants) in the desert. And as he stares up at the sun, we see that he has his wings back. What a way to end the season!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Lucifer 2.17: “Sympathy for the Goddess”

“What am I Lucifer, some pawn in one of your plans?”
- Maze

We are one episode away from finishing out season 2 of “Lucifer” and after the last episode, it’s hard to imagine things can get crazier. But, they do. At the top of the hour, we see Lucifer and Amenediel watching as Charlotte brokers a deal with a sleazy thug for the final piece of the Flaming Sword. Of course, Charlotte is pretty na├»ve when it comes to human interaction and she just gives him the briefcase full of money without first taking receipt of the item. So, after a little prompting from her boys, they go to find the guy and get the piece of the sword. But all they find his him dead.

Knowing that this is a sensitive issue, Charlotte and Lucifer hilariously convince Chloe to get on the case. But first, they have to get her there without revealing they know what’s going on. Charlotte is a terrible liar (and charade player if I might add). But they get there and things take a weird turn. Ella finds a phone that belongs to the son of one of Charlotte’s biggest clients (a woman named Bianca who owns a tequila empire and uses it to launder everything from money to traffic in people). But, Charlotte offers to help. Especially since she knows a lot of what’s going on with the woman. So, we get some interesting team-ups on the case. Charlotte and Chloe go to a big opening that Bianca is throwing while Dan and Amenediel spend some time together. It was rather funny seeing the two of them hanging at a bar, talking about improv and how Amenediel always feels less than Lucifer. For what it’s worth, Dan prefers this celestial sibling to our titular devil.

We all know Charlotte isn’t Chloe’s biggest fan and we also know the feeling is mutual but seeing them work together was fascinating. Especially when Chloe got caught listening to Bianca chastise her son for killing one of her guys (the one that Charlotte was dealing with) because she knew about his side project dealing in artifacts). The son is a wannabe musician and having listened to some of his music back at the precinct, Chloe feigns being his biggest fan. We also get an interesting little exchange between Chloe and Lucifer during the episode where Chloe says that Charlotte told her everything, including that she is Lucifer’s father’s ex. Now, Chloe doesn’t put that together as bio mom. But stepmom is close enough and I’m kind of glad Chloe almost knows. I mean, it would be great if she was clued in on everything but something tells me that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

While the case is going on, Lucifer gets dragged into another mess by Maze and Linda. Linda, foolishly, used her own name to help break Lucifer out of the mental hospital in the last episode and so now she’s being suspended and put under investigation by the review board. Maze takes personal offense to all of this, primarily because she’s still pissed Lucifer didn’t keep her in the loop. She’s still new to feeling feelings as we know, but she feels them hard and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep Linda from losing her job. So, Maze forces Lucifer to go see the head of the review board to plead Linda’s case. Why he doesn’t just tell the guy that Linda was helping him with an undercover police investigation is beyond me (or use his powers to find out what the guy wants and use it against him). Instead, he is just typical Lucifer and spews word vomit all over the place, including that he and Linda were lovers.

This leads Maze to confront Lucifer about his secrets and his schemes and how he doesn’t think about anyone but himself or how his actions affect other people. And then we get to see the pair of them beat the crap out of each other for a bit before they take a breather and Lucifer explains that he didn’t tell Maze his plan because he needed her to be angry with him. They end up back in Linda’s office where she quite bluntly tells Lucifer that Maze is hurt because he didn’t consider her feelings. Which is true and you can see on his face that it never did cross his mind that he had hurt her this way.

By the end of the episode, the tequila queen is out of the picture. Charlotte went in with a wire (and got a safety deposit key) and managed to get the woman to confess. The family is a little skeptical of what they find in said box: a weird book in an ancient tongue that neither Charlotte nor Lucifer speak. But lucky for them, Amenediel studied in his youth and he can translate it. While Lucifer is tinkering on the piano, Amenediel finds the passage they need. It explains that the sword was broken into three pieces and the last piece is the key to bind the other two together. It was given to God’s favorite son. And Amenediel just rips into Lucifer, demanding his baby brother hand over his ring because that has to be it. But as they soon realize, the feather necklace Amenediel’s always worn is in fact the key. And they might want to hurry in assembling said sword because Charlotte is losing it, big time. Bianca’s son confronts her and stabs her in the stomach. She pulls out the knife and a ray of pure energy hits the guy, burning him to a crisp. Well, that doesn’t look so good for Mama Morningstar! They are certainly setting things up for a big crazy finale episode. I know the producers have said it is their most effects heavy episode they’ve done which makes me wonder if they will be going to Heaven after all.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

iZombie 3.07: "Dirt Nap Time"

“This is me, Ravi. This is me controlling my anger.”
-Liv

Considering Liv being a zombie is a central premise to “iZombie” as a show, it’s probably not a shocker that by the end of the episode, even though we now know that Ravi’s cure doesn’t cause permanent amnesia, Liv is still a zombie. She’s really not happy about it, but she’s going to have to make do, at least for now. And at least she still has her work with Babineaux to give her zombie existence meaning. There was also apparently more than meets the eye going on with that dominatrix case from a couple weeks ago, although I’m a little dubious about adding another overarching story to juggle along with the big events already happening in the lives of Liv and her friends plus the case of the week. Maybe it all will weave together somehow at the end of the season.

This episode picks up right where the last left off. Major tells Liv, Ravi, and Peyton that he gave his dose of the cure to Natalie, the hooker zombie he’s been trying to save. Liv’s not angry at Major for that, though. She’s angry at whoever stole all of Ravi’s other doses, and her prime suspect is Blaine. Peyton, pissed off that Blaine has been lying to her, encourages Liv to confront him after his usual piano lounge gig. Ravi tries to be the voice of reason, and he’s there when Liv punches Blaine and knocks him down outside the club. He keeps the attack from going farther, really. Blaine swears that he doesn’t have the other doses of the cure, and also that he’s estranged from Don-E. Liv eventually lets him go.

Meanwhile, our case of the week centers around a preschool teacher, Jamie Brennan, who keeps his kids happy with songs and puppet shows. At the end of the day, however, the school pick up circle turns straight up Big Little Lies, when it is revealed that Mr. Brennan has been sleeping with three of the moms at the same time. Only one of those moms is actually single. Not long after, Jamie turns up dead, and Babineaux, Ravi, and Liv are on the case. The looks between Babineaux and Liv when Babineaux realizes she’s still a zombie speaks volumes. Anyway, somebody, probably related to the massive love polygon he found himself in, shot Jamie in the head with a nail gun repeatedly. The construction crew working on a house across the street is missing a nail gun. Babineaux notices “STD 36” written in letter magnets on the refrigerator, which will be important later on.

Liv and Babineaux visit the preschool, where they learn from the principal that Jamie had been sleeping with three of the mothers of children in his class, Piper, Macy, and Eleanor. Piper, the single mom, is the first up to be interviewed. She thought Jamie was her boyfriend and that she had finally found a nice guy, and she’s devastated that he’s been sleeping around. She also doesn’t have a good alibi, because she was at home taking care of her sick kid. Liv is now acting like an exaggerated version of a preschool teacher, by the way, which is kind of annoying. She tries to put Piper in time out at one point during the interview, which Babineaux puts a stop to right away.

Blaine’s super depressed over the end of his relationship with Peyton (I’m not really sympathetic…Blaine’s a terrible person), so he’s being moody on the job. One of his employees, Candy, reminds him that it’s time to make up the brain orders for the week. After they finish the work, Candy asks if she can take the day off, and Blaine says he doesn’t really care what she does. Meanwhile, at the DA’s office, Peyton is meeting with the attorney representing Weckler, the guy who has been charged with killing the dominatrix. The defense attorney tries to point out how flimsy the evidence is, but Peyton’s got a signed confession, so she’s not inclined to go too easy on him.

Major and Justin are hanging out in Baracus’ kitchen, and Justin is super exited to try out the mayoral candidate’s collection of hot sauces. Baracus wants an update on the anti-zombie guys, but Major and Justin don’t have much new to report. After Baracus leaves, Justin tries to get Major to eat some brains with Tibetan hot sauce on toast, and when he declines, Justin asks Major if he’s been cured. Major explains the whole situation (he’s been cured, but there are no other available cures at the moment), but says he still wants to work for Filmore Graves, even if he’s not a zombie anymore. Justin says he’ll keep the secret, but he also wants to know what this situation means for Liv.

Next up to be interviewed is Macy, who is married and catches shade from the other moms for how she dresses. Her husband ends up being her alibi. Babineaux and Liv expect that he’s going to be upset when he finds out his wife was having an affair, but he says that they have an open marriage and sometimes he would watch Macy and Jamie from the closet. Babineaux puts an end to the conversation after learning that tidbit. Finally, they talk to Eleanor, who says her husband is away on a fishing boat for long stretches of time, but he’s in town now, so he is her alibi. Babineaux says they’re going to have to tell him about the affair, which upsets Eleanor. When they actually talk to her husband, who is a burly fisherman, of course, he starts crying, which is kind of hilarious and sad at the same time.

The situation with Weckler and the dominatrix case keeps getting weirder. Weckler’s lawyer is trying to convince Weckler to take the plea deal Peyton is offering. Peyton wants the memory card Weckler took in exchange for a lighter sentence, but Weckler says the memory card is all that is keeping him alive. Another lawyer, Harry Thorne, bursts into the room and whispers something in Weckler’s ear. Wexler says Thorne is his lawyer now, and Thorne doesn’t seem too enthused about Peyton’s deal. Later, the original lawyer stops by Peyton’s office and asks if she would join him in filing a disciplinary complaint against Thorne. Peyton hesitates at first, but then the lawyer informs her that Weckler hanged himself in his cell.

Major, Justin, and some of their buddies go to Don-E’s zombie speakeasy. Outside, the guys are all given ghost peppers to eat before they will be allowed in. Major is about to have to bite into his when none other than Don-E saves him. He tells the bouncer that Major is cool, and he gets into the club without having to eat the pepper. The guys are generally having a good time, and everybody in the group goes to spend some time with hookers except for Major and Justin. That’s when Justin asks Major if he can date Liv. Later, Major, Ravi, and Liv talk about the speakeasy, and Liv wants to pay the place a visit so she can interrogate Don-E about the cure. Major thinks she should go with Justin, but Liv really wants to go by herself. Ravi and Major start singing a kids’ song about teamwork, which makes Liv have a flashback to Peyton trying to get Jamie to talk to her. When they ask her about it, Peyton says she wanted to tell Jamie they were through, but he had someone else at his house. She saw the Honda Civic, and she thinks it belongs to Eleanor.

While Liv is deciding what they have earned stickers for, Babineaux looks up Eleanor’s records and learns that she doesn’t actually drive a Civic. The Civil belongs to a PI, naturally. Later, Liv meets Justin at the speakeasy. They talk for quite a while as they wait for Don-E to show up, including Justin telling a story about the time his preschool teacher read a love note he wrote to another student to the entire class. Don-E does eventually show up, and he claims he doesn’t have the cure. If he did, he’d be rolling in money and not still working at the club. He’s got bigger business deals going, though. Blaine gets back to the funeral home to find Don-E and a few others, including Candy, waiting for him. Don-E says they’re taking over his business, and they’re buying off the last of his product. After most of them leave, Angus’ heavy says that Angus has a message for Blaine, and he shoots him. Blaine offers a large sum of money to not be killed.

Liv and Babineaux pay the PI a visit. From the pictures hanging around his office, they come to the conclusion that the PI was hired to follow Macy. So they end up talking to Macy again. It turns out that she wasn’t actually in an open marriage, and it was her husband who hired the PI and ultimately killed Jamie. On the Weckler front, Peyton pays Ravi a visit, asking if he can help with the case at all. He didn’t see any evidence of foul play in his autopsy, but he does still have Weckler’s brain. He puts it in the memory-supercharging blue stuff in the hopes that Liv will have some helpful visions from it in about ten days.

The episode ends with Major and Justin in a rural area, drinking beer and talking about Justin’s evening with Liv. Liv wrote Justin a note, which is kind of adorable, although I’m not really feeling them as a couple yet. Justin gets a call that Harley Johns is in the area, so he and Major go to confront him and another man who are driving in a car. Major does the talking while Justin hangs back. Harley and his companion run over Justin, and when Justin is able to get back up, they realize he’s a zombie. Justin goes into full-on zombie mode in front of them, and their dash cam captures everything. They’re able to get away from Justin and Major, and they’re super excited that they now have proof zombies exist.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Doctor Who 10.05: “Oxygen”

“You only see the truce face of the universe when it’s asking for help. We show ours with how we choose to respond.”
- The Doctor

I wanted to like this episode but the way it ended, it just pissed me off. Honestly, we know Peter Capaldi is regenerating prior to the Christmas special so there has to be some reason why he needs to change but what they’ve gone with is borderline offensive and unnecessary. Anyway, at the top of the episode, he’s giving a lecture about space and how it can kill you in rather gruesome, horrible ways. Nardole points out after the lecture that Doctor misses traveling but he has to keep his oath to stay on Earth and guard the vault. I really wish they would just give us information about this plot point. It’s playing such a repetitive point in the show this series but we have no idea of who or what is inside and who or what tasked the Doctor with guarding it.

Much like he has the rest of the season, the Doctor ends up hurtling off in the TARDIS with Bill and a very grumpy Nardole in toe. They’re responding to a distress beacon from a space station in the future. We see some people in space suits running out of oxygen and then get attacked by dead people in suits. It’s rather creepy. But when the Doctor, Bill and Nardole arrive, they find the place basically empty. And lacking oxygen. Because humans can be idiots and so profit-driven, the company that owns the station sells the oxygen in the personalized suits at a very high premium. As the Doctor says, capitalism in space. It also turns out that when the Doctor extended the oxygen field of the TARDIS into the station so they could take a peek around, it set off some protocols to vent it into space (again to make them pay for it). Once they are forced into the suits, they have to find their way back to the TARDIS (it’s on the other side of a door exposed to the vacuum of space.

As they go along, our trio finally runs into the surviving crew members. They think the suits are malfunctioning and have been instructed to eliminate the “organic” component (aka the living being inside it). But they’ve sent out the distress beacon and they believe help is on the way. We do get a little side bit with Bill reacting to her first non-human looking alien. A blue fellow who kind of reminded me of one of the races on Star Trek and also the Blue Man Group. Anyway, things sound like they might be looking up when the other suits hit a part of the station that’s not on their maps yet. Because the inhabitants are dead and the suits aren’t that smart, they have to rely on building schematics to get around. The other thing about this episode that was kind of annoying was our heroes being chased around a futuristic station by a machine that wanted to kill them. It wasn’t the creepy mechanical jellyfish inside the Tessalecter but they did have their own special little catch phrase. Really, it feels like Moffatt and company are just recycling bits from previous scripts. I can’t wait to have fresh blood at the helm.

The suits do eventually find a way through (after killing and assimilating one of the survivors). And Bill’s suit is having all kinds of problems. It keeps freezing up on her and she keeps kind of panicking and freaking out. Which is understandable. She even has to be exposed to the vacuum of space without a helmet on because the suit is so severely malfunctioning. I will admit I can’t recall them putting a companion in such life-threatening danger in a while. She does manage to survive the experience pretty much unscathed. That’s mostly due to the Doctor giving her his helmet. But then he’s exposed to the vacuum of space and he doesn’t come out so easily. For some reason, he’s blind (this is what I mentioned at the start of this post). This just seems like too convenient and so unnecessary a plot device to later facilitate his regeneration. Besides, I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the Tenth Doctor use some regeneration energy to heal himself without totally changing. But then again, that was RTD era and Moffatt doesn’t like to stick with a lot of that continuity. But yeah, so now we have a blind Doctor trying to save everyone. And of course, he manages it (even when he lets Bill get caught by the suits and electrocuted). In the end, he reveals that he knew Bill’s suit power was low so it wouldn’t really kill her and she’s ultimately fine. I do sometimes hate his cockiness. He also discovers that the suits aren’t malfunctioning. To keep profits going and such, the company that runs the station was likely conserving the oxygen to resell to people. So, the two survivors agree to go to the head of the company to complain (and according to the Doctor, they succeed in shutting everything down). The Doctor also manages not to get everyone else killed by linking their suits to the cooling system on the station. IF they die, the place goes boom. Simple cost-benefit analysis I suppose.

Bill, having survived this ordeal, is happy to be back on Earth but you can tell she can’t wait for her next adventure. The Doctor is more subdued though and he ends up snapping quite angrily at Nardole (who to be fair is kind of laying into the Doctor for being so reckless). We think we’ve seen the Doctor’s eyes healed but it turns out he’s still blind (and hiding it behind his dark glasses). Hate to tell you Doctor, but that’s kind of a blind person stereotype. So yeah, if you’re trying to fool people it isn’t really working. So, now we have to endure however many episodes of him trying to hide it before he can’t anymore and he regenerates.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Doctor Who 10.04: "Knock Knock"

“Honestly, Doctor, there’s nothing going on! Nothing weird, nothing alien! Just an old house and a dodgy landlord, which is pretty standard for students.
-Bill

In this season of “Doctor Who,” we’ve already hit two of the mail genres that the show’s various creative teams over the years tend to draw on: far future sci-fi and historical. With “Knock Knock,” we hit the final point of the trifecta with horror. Bill moves into a “too good to be true” old house with a bunch of roommates, and of course, all is not as it seems. There are bugs and dead mothers involved. Given that Bill’s mother also passed away when she was a baby (and the Doctor is quite protective of Bill as she moves out of her foster mother’s house for the first time), there is a general thread of parenthood running through this episode. I think the episode did some decent work to help solidify the how the relationship between the Doctor and Bill is going to be going forward, but as with most episodes in the Steven Moffat era of “Doctor Who,” the plot was more convoluted than it needed to be.

Bill and five of her friends/aquaintances are looking to move into a house together. They go to see an estate agent, but the pickings at their price range for a place with six bedrooms (couldn’t they double up if they’re that broke?) are slim. The places they are being shown are tiny with improvised bedrooms and they’re just not going to work. Just as the kids are feeling rather dejected, they are approached by a rather creepy older man who asks if they are looking for a place to live. He leads them to his rental house, which is rather dilapidated, but it’s huge, so the kids love it. Bill is a little hesitant to sign the contract, because she wonders if a big house at the price quoted is too good to be true (she’s a smart one, that Bill), but she agrees fairly quickly, too. Soon she’s packing up her stuff at her foster mother’s house and loading it into the TARDIS for the Doctor to transport to her new place.

When the Doctor and Bill arrive at the house, the Doctor starts to notice that some things seem off, and he gets very curious, wanting to know what’s going on. The branches on the trees are moving while there’s no wind, for instance. Bill introduces the Doctor as her grandfather (a nod to the First Doctor and his companion Susan, perhaps?), which the Doctor doesn’t take kindly to, because he doesn’t think he looks old enough to be Bill’s grandfather. This scenario, coupled with the Doctor’s natural curiosity, leads to the Doctor acting very much like a worried parent who is reluctant to drop their child off at college for the first time. It’s kind of adorable, really. Bill finds it rather irritating, though, especially when the Doctor starts playing the music on Bill’s phone for her new friends.

The first oddity is that roommate Pavel, who had moved into the house the night before, is in his room listening to some violin music on repeat and doesn’t seem to want to leave. Actually, if the other kids were paying attention, they would realize that he’s not making any noise at all. One of the kids, when asked about Pavel, says he just “does that” (hide in his room listening to music. Later, the Doctor observes that people don’t “just do” anything. Two other roommates of note are Paul, a sporty blonde who has a thing for Bill, so Bill has to inform him that, as a friend of mine from college would put it, she doesn’t like his genitalia. The other is Shireen, who seems to be a longer-term friend of Bill’s who is probably the person who got her involved with this whole group in the first place.

When the kids first try to settle in, thy notice all sorts of creaky noises. They try to brush it off as just being an old house at first, but it eventually becomes too much to ignore. The landlord keeps mysteriously appearing, too, claiming that he’s just checking up on them. Things get even more serious when Paul goes into his rooms, screams, and isn’t heard from again. That’s when Bill and Shireen finally acknowledge that something is very wrong, beyond typical student housing problems. The Doctor keeps investigating, and he figures out the source of the problem: basically, space roaches. They’ve infested the wood the house is made of, and they absorb people into the house. Judging from newspaper reports and photos the Doctor finds, about every 20 years, the landlord will find a group of unsuspecting students and sacrifice them to the roaches. The landlord claims it’s to save his daughter.

It’s Bill, however, who helps uncover the rest of the story. Bill and Shireen find their way up into the house’s tower, which the landlord had told them was completely inaccessible (and forbidden to enter even if it was accessible). When they enter the room, they meet the landlord’s “daughter,” who is a woman who appears to be wooden. Clearly the space roaches have been keeping her alive. The Doctor and the landlord both eventually arrive on the scene too (after the landlord makes sure Shireen is absorbed), and the Doctor and Bill figure out one final piece of the puzzle, the woman, Eliza, isn’t actually the landlord’s daughter. She’s his mother. As a boy, the landlord left a jar of space roaches by his mother’s bed (she was sick, and it was a present of sorts), one thing led to another, and the roaches kept her alive. Over the years, the landlord has continued to feed the roaches so that his mother can continue to live. This is a pretty poignant connection from Bill’s perspective, considering she lost her mother at such a young age.

The realization that she is actually the mother and is in control changes Eliza. She takes charge (although it’s never really explained why she believed she was the landlord’s daughter and that he knew best, which is disappointing). She also absorbs the landlord into the house. She doesn’t want to kill children anymore (she only did it because the landlord told her to and she thought he knew best, which, like I already said, pretty flimsy writing there), so she basically destroys the whole house. All of Bill’s roommates are resurrected, although now they’re going to have to start over with their house hunt. We end the episode back at the mysterious vault, where the doctor tells the person on the other side of the door (who happens to be playing piano) about his day. As soon as the Doctor makes the story sound especially gruesome, the person stops playing piano and the Doctor enters the vault to talk. It can’t be anyone other than the Master on the other side of that door, right?