Saturday, May 23, 2015

Supernatural 10.23 Review: Brother, I'm Done

So, Supernatural’s tenth season officially closed this week, in an episode titled ‘Brother’s Keeper’, and I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, I love this cast and the characters on this series have some really great moments. But on the other hand, I’m not even sure how fresh they’re keeping this show after ten years on the air, when only five of which were planned. Especially with that ending, which reminded me a little too much of the way it went when the Leviathans were introduced – and let me just tell you, I was not a fan of those incredibly disappointing monsters.
Anyways, let’s go for a brief rundown of this season finale. Dean had gone AWOL as Sam and Cas desperately searched for him and the ingredients needed to strip Dean of the Mark of Cain. Turned out Rowena had to kill the one she loved as an ingredient to the spell – and, even more surprising, she amazed us all by having loved anyone to begin with. Cas garnered the help of Crowley to retrieve all three ingredients for the spell; all the while Sam tracked down Dean as he haphazardly hunted down a nest of vampires. Dean, in the end, summoned Death to help him make it so he wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone, but ended up killing Death (I mean, how?) when Death required Sam’s death. Okay, that’s a lot of use of the word death in one sentence. Anyways, in the end the Mark was rid from Dean’s skin, which (dun, dun) brought forth the Darkness that came Before. Did I forget to mention the Mark of Cain was actually a plug that kept the Darkness at bay that God and his angels had rid the world of? Yup, so, if your town or city gets plunged into darkness, you know who to blame.
This wasn’t an altogether bad episode. I mean, we did get to see Dean trash a room, and Jensen Ackles use those lovely arm muscles he has to do that. What is it about a rugged man in a black t-shirt that’s so lovely? I swear, even red eyed, Dean looks fantastic. Jensen Ackles looks better now than he did in the pilot episode over ten years ago. Not to mention, Rowena. Now, I wasn’t so much of a fan of Crowley falling for her obvious manipulations (then again, I don’t usually like Crowley), but I’ve grown quite fond of the three hundred year old scarlet haired witch. And speaking of Crowley, I do have to say he has some of the greatest lines in this series, even if everyone seems to forget most of the time how many terrible things he’s done. Cas “begging” Crowley was just precious, as is the character so often in this series. For an angel, he can act in such a na├»ve way that’s absolutely adorable most of the time – kudos to Misha Collins for that. Oh, and, while I’ve had my ups and downs with Jared Padalecki’s character Sam, this week I couldn’t help but think poor Sammy. I mean, did you see that face he was giving Dean close to the end? It was just so sad. The man may be taller than Dean, but he looked so incredibly small in that one crushing moment.
In the end, I don’t think I’ll ever stop watching this series until it actually ends, but it has still become something of a caricature of its older self. I’m still not over Charlie’s death, but I do love that the brothers were together in the end, and that Cas at least shared scenes with half of them – though it’s preferable when they’re all together. I still am curious how it was possible to kill Death – I mean, he’s Death – so I greatly hope repercussions of that becomes apparent next season, otherwise how would that even make sense? Otherwise, I’m just looking forward to Dean without the Mark next season, and getting all three of them back together in scenes (Dean, Sam, and Cas), plus bringing Charlie back.
My rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Best Lines:
“What about Crowley?” – Cas asks Rowena, regarding whom she loves. “Happy to kill him. Let’s not call it love.” – Rowena replies.
“Who summons anymore? Couldn’t you call?” – Crowley asks. “You’re not in my contacts list.” – Cas responds.
“Brother, I’m done.” – Dean tells Sam.
“The darkness.” – Dean says to Sam, with regards to what the Mark protects. “What the hell is that?” – Sam asks. “What does it sound like? Does it sound like a good thing?” – Dean responds.

“Fantastic. I think I just killed Death.” – Dean tells Sam how he feels.

Wayward Pines 1.01 Review: There's No Place Like Here

With the official premiere of the ten-episode event series Wayward Pines this week, in an episode entitled ‘Where Paradise Is Home’, a whole onslaught of questions has been introduced to the television audience that had the pleasure of watching it. This is a series that has started off introducing a lead character we can’t quite trust (in the past Matt Dillon’s Ethan had hallucinations due to his guilt towards some kind of Easter bombing), thrown him straight into the belly of the beast (he’s somehow popped up in this town with no memory of getting there), and turned us on our head by managing to twist time (Juliette Lewis’s Beverly has been there one year and she arrived in 1999, while Carla Gugino’s Kate has been there twelve years but only arrived around five weeks ago in real time). So many pieces thrown at us without being able to see the whole picture; much like Ethan, we’re following along with mostly clues from his point of view, with only a couple from outside with his family and the lead secret service agent Adam.
From the get go, I can already tell this series is not for everyone. This is a show that requires patience because we’re not getting the entire image of what’s going on. Similar to the opening shot, we’re only viewing the close-up of what’s occurring, when we really need to be able to pull back and view everything in a big picture kind of way. Given what has been provided to us already, this series appears to be something of a slow burner. Much like many a thrillers in the film format, this show appears to be one that will be slowly pieced together, we’ll be given the whole picture, and then we’ll have to deal with the repercussions of that big picture. I mean, why are these specific people there? How are they all okay with being held there against their will? How many of them are being held against there will. What is keeping these people there, and why? What did Adam do; did he give them Ethan? Is this a Truman Show situation, just with some kind of time warp? How has Beverly only been there one year, when in real time it’s been fifteen years, while Kate has been there twelve years in five weeks real time? Why can’t they leave? See, already so many questions – and I’m sure numerous audience members have more, with working theories far beyond my own grasp – with so many answers hopefully to be received.
Regarding the more behind the scenes kind of aspect to the show, with a few nitpicks about the technical parts; I’d like to start off by commending the casting of the series. This show has got names like the aforementioned Matt Dillon, Juliette Lewis (who I am loving already), and Carla Gugino, and then it also boasts the likes of Melissa Leo (as crazy nurse Pam), Terence Howard (as the sheriff), Shannyn Sossamon (as Ethan’s wife Theresa), and Reed Diamond (as Kate’s husband Harold). Such a phenomenal boat of talent, I expect this series will fly when it comes to the acting aspect. The cinematography has some kinks, but so far what’s been used is certainly working for it, and is in no way a hindrance such as the third season of American Horror Story’s technique was. The colouring and lighting left something to be desired, but I suspect that came more from a creative standpoint of making this town seem cold and alien to our unreliable hero. One thing I had the most issue with was the sound; it was so very raw, it almost made the episode seem a bit unfinished. Perhaps they’re going for an unnerving quality to the series, but I got more low-budget horror film quality from it. Even so, there was an intriguing quality to the series.
Overall, I enjoyed this series premiere. I don’t know how willing I’d be to stick with it beyond one season, but if they stick to the ten-episode event they’ve showcased for this series, I’ll certainly be a happy camper. Like I said, this is a series meant for someone willing to test their patience, and speaking as someone with a very low threshold, I wouldn’t be happy to have that patience stretched into obscurity. I can handle the slow build and burn of ten episodes, but I expect to get pieced results throughout those ten episodes, even if that means new questions arise. So far, the writing, the way this whole series is constructed, is working for it, but I strongly urge all those involved not to tempt the audience by giving too little too soon, or too much too soon, because I already watch a fair amount of series, and have several on my docket to catch up on, so I’d have no qualms dumping this one if it doesn’t continue to hold my interest. That’s just one woman’s advice.

My rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.21/2.22 Review: They're Only Inhuman

Who’s got two thumbs and didn’t lose part of an arm – not Phil Coulson! In the second season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., titled ‘S.O.S. Parts One and Two’, not only did Coulson lose part of one arm when Mack cut it off to stave off the melted down diviner metal’s attempts to kill him, but Jiaying attempted to take down all of Shield, Ward killed Agent 33 (mistaking her for May), and Cal went to “Tahiti”. And that’s not even the half of what occurred in the jam-packed two-hour season finale Tuesday night.
For all those that were too busy to watch this series finale, there was certainly a lot to be missed. The two hours kicked off with Jiaying manipulating the Inhumans into believing Shield had attacked first, a whole thing she’d masterminded to eradicate the group that could find them wherever they went. Ward and Agent 33 spent most of the two hours torturing Bobbi because she’d been the one to (mostly unknowingly) give up 33’s position that had caused Bakshi to find her. Skye was locked up when she discovered her mother’s true intentions when it came to the only group of people she’d ever felt a kinship to before finding her parents. Bobbi was shot protecting Hunter, Mack decided not to leave Shield when it was infiltrated by the Inhumans, Jiaying killed Raina so she wouldn’t blab which, in effect, caused Skye to discover the truth, Ward decided to become the new head of Hydra to avenge 33’s death, and Jemma was absorbed by the Cree rock in true Marvel fashion (i.e. in the last scene of the episode). Again, that’s not even the half of it.
While there were a couple of things I did find a little farfetched – even for the Marvel Universe – for the most part I found this to be quite a thrilling and entertaining season finale. The writing was beyond superb; the episode really flowed well from one scene until the next. And this double episode just made me love certain characters so much more. When Jemma actually defended what may have occurred in Afterlife it screamed character development. Mack I loved all the way through, and am so happy he’s sticking around; all that snark he was throwing around, and his brilliance in using an axe on the ship rather than a ricocheting gun. And Fitz, of course, I just love because he’s finally become that happy balance between quirky season one-ness, and the deeper, intricate season two character that I really look forward to enjoying through season three. But the real MVP of the episode was Adrianne Palicki’s turn this week as Bobbi Morse. The actress was simply fantastic throughout her entire torture scene, and then taking the bullet meant for Hunter. So many fantastic actors; this ensemble was really just killing it this week.
There were so many intricacies going on this week in this two-hour episode that I loved. When we discovered the true reason Jiaying has been able to heal and live all this time we really saw just how much she is not the benevolent Inhuman we were first lead to believe. The way she was made into an actual monster by the cruelty she had suffered is a terrible thing for her, but her turning against her daughter and nearly killing her in the name of revenge when the man that had pulled her apart was already dead. And it’s just weird that Raina turned out to be good in the end; just goes to show how easy it is to label someone one thing and they can then turn out to be another. Like Cal, who – despite his Jekyll and Hyde ability – turned out to just want to help his daughter and was manipulated by Jiaying into becoming the monster he had become. That’s one thing I love about this show, people aren’t always just one side of the coin.
If I were to really go into detail about every little moment in this episode, I’d likely be sitting here writing this for a couple of hours. Instead, I’ll leave off with a few final thoughts regarding ‘S.O.S Parts One and Two’. Considering it shares the same network as Once Upon A Time, this series has so much better graphics. Also, I found a few moments to be quite shocking. When Bobbi and Ward went toe to toe, I almost thought she’d stabbed him with the nails under her nails. Also, when Gordon teleported behind Fitz, I almost had a mini heart attack because I though Fitz was the one that had been stabbed by that bar, but luckily it ended up being Gordon. And, of course, when Mack cut off Coulson’s arm to save him from the crystal – doesn’t seem real that that would happen.
All in all, it’s going to be a long four or five months until this series comes back next fall. And other than me not being for Jemma and Fitz actually getting together, I’m really not going to have fun waiting for this series to come back. I mean, if Jemma is still alive inside that “rock”. Jemma is still alive, right? And what’s Hydra – or whatever it’ll be called – going to look like with Ward at the helm? Plus, is Lincoln going to be back next season? I would not be all right with it if he isn’t. Will Coulson get a bionic arm replacement? And if Skye’s destined to lead the Inhumans, will we see more of them pop up next season?
My rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Best Lines:
“I’m sorry, May; you’re not welcome here.” – Skye says to her S.O.
“Oh, no, Gonzales would never attack a base unprovoked.” – Jemma rolls her eyes.
“You know I am capable of finishing my own-“ – Hunter starts off. “Sentences? Yes, you are.” – Fitz finishes off.
“Wanna tell me what you’re really doing here?” – Coulson questions Cal’s true intentions.
“There’s a piece Ward doesn’t understand. When I find him, I’m going to kill him.” – May states glibly. “Glad we’re on the same page.” – Hunter agrees.
“Then take her to Hawaii.” – Bobbi tells Ward, regarding Agent 33.
“Peace? I built this community in the middle of no where so we would be left in peace, yet Shield found us.” – Jiaying explains.
“Ugh, I can’t wait to get off this boat.” – Mack states.
“Oh, I think you’re willing to, but want’s a different thing.” – Coulson says to Cal.
“It’s you and me, tremors.” – Mack tells Skye.
“Careful! I’m a married man.” – Cal teases Jemma.
“It’s Gordon?” – Mack confirms. “And you are?” – Gordon asks. “I’m the guy who kills Gordon.” – Mack tells him.
“What the hell took you so long?” – Mack asks. “It’s a big boat, with poor signage.” – Coulson uses an excuse.
“I’m trapped in here; that’s not possible. What’d you do?” – Gordon reacts alarmed. “Science beyotch.” – Fitz explains.
“We’re not bad; we’re misled.” – Lincoln stops May from killing an Inhuman.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.18 Review: Who's Working With Who?

If last night’s episode of Agents of SHIELD wasn’t exciting enough for you, you’re probably watching the wrong show. It really is as simple as that because I loved the episode, entitled ‘The Frenemy of My Enemy’. Coulson, Mike Peterson, Fitz, and Hunter went after Ward. Skye maneuvered her way into a trip with Cal – which didn’t end up being as one way for her monster doctor of a father as was intended. May (hopefully) seemingly showed her allegiances, just as Simmons continued to display her own. Bakshi returned and went against (Did he?) the team that’d had him brainwashed. Ward and Skye reunited – albeit briefly. And Lincoln and Mike Peterson were kidnapped by Hydra – yes, they are still around.

There’s just so much about this episode that I really enjoyed. Maybe it’s just from a self-professed TV addict’s perspective, but ‘The Frenemy of My Enemy’ hit many storytelling spots in just the right compelling way. Giving just a taste of Ward and Skye (for all those still hoping that that comes to fruition, despite their antagonistic relationship) was perfect to keep people at the edge of their seats waiting for an honest interaction. Bobbi’s questioning of why the “real” Shield is so gung ho about tracking down Coulson when Hydra is still out there perfectly put into play what many viewers are wondering about this new/old agency. Just the way each piece (or in this case character) adds a layer to this series that when they’re all connected together in the right setting (i.e. this episode) it makes for some tantalizing storytelling.

I’d just like to take a minute (or, really, a paragraph) and toss around a few questions regarding certain aspects of this episode that are bouncing around in my head, and also written down in my notes. If Hydra was able to fix on Gordon’s location when he “jumped” from one point to another, does that mean he is the one responsible for them finding all the powered people? Why is May all of a sudden all bothered by the notion that Coulson has kept secrets? Can it really be linked to the traumatizing events of the last episode? It feels a little lacking if it is. What is Ward and Agent 33’s – excuse me, Kara – end game? Am I the only one not all right with Ward and Kara? Did Ward honestly think it was okay for him to ask Fitz how he was doing? Does Hydra want Gordon, Skye, or just powered people in general? If Ethan was the one dead in the body bag near the beginning of this episode, does the fact that he had yet to transform (that is, go through the mist) have anything to do with Hydra’s inability to find whatever they’re looking for in his genes? When is Ward going to find out what happened to Skye? Is Hydra going to find the powered people’s location if they are tracking Gordon? He does go there an awful lot for them to not find it. And, finally, are Lincoln and Mike going to be dissected? Or, perhaps, just Lincoln? I would really not be okay with that. I’m a sucker for a good love triangle (one that does not dominate the story), and I think Skye, Lincoln, and Ward could be that. Of course, that won’t happen if Lincoln dies. Plus, I like Luke Mitchell’s character, and would like to see him stick around a while. Whew, that was a long paragraph, moving on.

Now, to the casual viewer this series may not be all that great; I know at least one person that has given up on this show after (to me) mild disappointment. But this series has really picked up it’s storytelling since the first season, and season two is screaming to me that this show is just starting to get really good. Although a spin off series (possibly starring Bobbi and Hunter) is being thrown around, the ratings for this show aren’t nearly as good as they should be to secure a definitive third season. So, that being said, I implore all those not watching this show, and/or all those that have given up on this series to jump back on that horse, get yourself settled in, and just enjoy the ride. I mean, I watch a fair bit of TV (at the moment, roughly around twenty hours a week), and not all of that is TV gold, so – in my opinion – when I say something is good, it’s usually worth a watch. This show is good, it’s first season wasn’t bad, but season two is good, and I expect if it were to get a third season it would only get better. But, I guess, if you’re not looking for good television, there’s always reality TV.

My rating: 8 out of 10.

Best Lines:
“Hey, baby.” – Ward answers the phone, thinking it’s Kara. “Hey, sweetie. Why don’t you drop by? Love to catch up.” – Coulson replies, obviously not Kara.
“At least I have my winning personality.” – Mike Peterson states, after Kara tells him there aren’t any more face modulator things.
“Sometimes, as a leader, I have to do things I’d rather not do.” – Jiaying explains to Skye.
“Honestly, I don’t care what’s in it; the only thing I know is Coulson was just trying to protect Skye.” – Simmons says to May.
“Does it matter? You’ve got a cyborg on board with rockets in his arms.” – Ward wonders if three armed men are really much trouble. “He’s not a cyborg, he’s a Shield agent… with rockets on his arms.” – Coulson corrects.
“This is about Skye.” – Ward clues in to what Coulson is after that he needs Hydra for.
“The Skye who shot you three times?” – Kara asks Ward. “Four.” – Ward amends.
“I’m a friend of Skye’s.” – Mike explains. “Sure, and I’m the Hulk.” – Lincoln responds – which took me a second to remember the Hulk actually exists in this universe.
“I had her. Damnit, I had her.” – Coulson murmurs dejectedly. (And an awe moment for the surrogate father-daughter relationship they have.)
“We’re outmanned, outgunned, and our only back up is Fitz.” – Ward describes the situation at hand, feeling not too encouraged by where they stand.

“Take me to your leader.” – Coulson raises his hands to Bobbi and Mack.