Gul Dukat
Gul Dukat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I enjoy DS9 because I find that a space station is an interesting setting, I’m curious about the different situations that might happen there and this book really delivered for me on that front. In the original series episode, Devil in the dark, we were introduced to what seems to be one of the series’ most unusual aliens, the Horta. This book is set in the second season and begins with a mother Horta, named Ttan, and her unhatched eggs being brought to DS9 to assist with mining operations on the planet Bajor.

Cardassian high command takes interest in the unique alien and a deep space encounter occurs where the Ttan is kidnapped from the ship. The unhatched eggs are separated from their mother and are taken to DS9, but without their mother’s guidance, the hungry alien babies soon hatch and begin eating away the station, causing a serious emergency. Major Kira leads a rescue mission into Cardassian space and is forced to enter, again, into the horrors of the Cardassian occupation of Bajor.

I have mainly positive things to say about this book, so I looked to some other reviews and found that a recurring complaint is that the characters are underdeveloped and isn’t a true reflection of the progression of these characters during the second season. There’s some parts that seem to justify that, I didn’t find it to be jarring but I can’t seem to remember many noteworthy pieces of dialogue, except from Sisco, to be honest. There’s some scenes with O’Brien and Odo wracking their brains, trying to come up with solutions, and Sisco has to employ delicate diplomacy with Bajoran officials and Cardassian forces, so I happen to think there’s something to enjoy.

The Horta are interesting to read about, the authors explored the characteristics of these aliens in great detail and they have many memorable moments, in that way it feels like a continuation of the episode from the original series. During the station emergency, I couldn’t imagine how they were going to resolve it and payoff was great, not what I expected.

I found this story had a great premise with more substance than I’m used to getting from Star Trek novels, I think the characters were written with affection for the DS9 series. My only complaints are that the characters Quark, Julian Bashir and Dax feel very much like they’re stuck in the background. To sum it up, I have no doubt that this would have made for a unmissable episode, if you like a good space adventure I’m sure you’ll find a lot to enjoy.

Yesterday, at the Apple Keynote “Spring Forward” event, a new trailer for Season 5 of Game of Thrones was launched. With it came the announcement that HBO Now would be available on Apple devices beginning this April in an exclusive partnership.The confirmed pricing for the streaming service will be $14.99 a month.

The new season of Game of Thrones premieres April 12th with an episode titled “The Wars to Come”, and features new characters played by Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow of King’s Landing, Alexander Siddig as Doran Martell, Keisha Castle-Hughes, and Jessica Henwick, Rosabell Laurenti Sellers, and DeObia Oparei as the Sand Snake sisters.

You can watch the trailer below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6a3HfOxlsI

From HBO’s official press release:

Upon launch, customers can subscribe using the HBO NOW app on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, or directly on Apple TV for instant access. Users can purchase HBO NOW directly in-app for $14.99 a month. Upon registering, subscribers will also be able to watch at HBONOW.com. HBO will offer a 30 day introductory free trial period to new HBO NOW customers who sign up through Apple in April.

HBO continues to be in discussions with its existing network of distributors and new digital partners to offer HBO NOW. At launch, HBO NOW will be available on iOS devices and on PCs.

Highly-anticipated upcoming original programs like Westworld, the drama series starring Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris and Evan Rachel Wood; The Brink, the dark comedy series starring Jack Black and Tim Robbins; the new season of the Emmy®-winning True Detective with Vince Vaughn, Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams; and HBO Films’ Bessie, starring Queen Latifah, will become available on HBO NOW as they air on HBO.

In addition, HBO NOW will showcase Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, named “best of 2014” on many critics’ lists; VICE, the Emmy®-winning, cutting-edge news magazine series hosted by Shane Smith; HBO Sports documentaries, series and World Championship Boxing events; and groundbreaking documentary programming like Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst and the Oscar®-winning Citizenfour.

I know you’re probably thinking its a little bit insane starting up another TV show when you’ve got so many currently on the go – Agents of Shield and Once Upon a Time are both in progress as you know, and we’ve just finished Agent Carter – but sitting on the couch watching The Flash (another show that will need some posts written) recently on TV I kind of wanted to see you where he came from and I knew that the linked show and where he first appeared was Arrow.

Now while I generally try to cover shows on an episode by episode basis even those that have been around for awhile – you can see what I mean with Supernatural (that Nia and I are both covering) and also with Once Upon a Time – I don’t think I can devote the same amount to Arrow even though I would definitely say it is worthy of that treatment. What I will do however is instead of giving you a full season recap, I will rather do a multiepisode recap / review instead so that over the course of a couple of posts we’ll both be on the same page with this show and we can then do an episode by episode review of the season that’s currently on. So without further ado let’s jump into the first couple of episodes from Arrow Season 1.

Green Arrow
Green Arrow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Episode 1 – Pilot (Recap)

As in most superhero and movies and television shows the key criteria is to introduce the character as well as their motivations and reasons for acting the way that they do. In the pilot episode of arrow we are introduced to Oliver Queen who was shipwrecked on a remote Pacific island for 5 years.

After being rescued he is returned to Starling city where he is reunited with his mother (Moira) his younger sister (Thea) and his best friend (Tommy). Oliver informs them all that his father died when the ship went down along with a girl – Sarah – taken on the trip with him. Unfortunately Sarah’s sister – Laurel – was actually Oliver’s girlfriend at the time and she is less than pleased to see him return from the dead. In addition Laurel’s father – police detective Quentin Lance – also has a bone to pick with Oliver as blames him for the death of his daughter.

However what none of them really realize is that while they can see Oliver has changed during his time away they have no idea how much. Oliver has been given the mission by his father to “right the wrongs of his family; to fight the ills of society and to restore Starling city to its former glory”. Oliver similar to the Batman myths and legend takes it upon himself to right these wrongs by becoming a vigilante and using his skills to find and defeat the men on the list that his father provided.

Oliver’s first mission and his introduction to Starling city is an attack on Adam Hunt. Adam has scammed millions from the citizens of the city and it is up to the Arrow to get it back. The police chief detective obviously does not want vigilantes running around in his city and takes it upon himself to capture him.  We also find out that his mother has an ulterior objective as she organized a fake kidnapping of her son to find out if her husband and actually told him anything.

Episode 1 – Review

As introductions go its actually not bad as we get to see all the main characters, we get to understand the motivations and while I don’t know DC as well as I do Marvel so can’t really tell you whether or not this introduction is accurate to the comic, it’s got me interested and wanting to see more. I do know that the Green Arrow has been around for a while and that he’s a member of the DC equivalent of the Avengers (the Justice League), but his books are definitely not as popular as Superman and Batman.

Oliver Queen is a billionaire’s son. He’s a playboy. He’s neither a genius nor a philanthropist. While on a boat trip with his father and his girlfriend’s sister, the boat goes down and Oliver is left as the sole survivor, forced to try to survive on a remote island for another five years. Personally I would state that a bow and arrow seems a little bit old school in today’s world however that’s probably what makes it work. There are many, many similarities to Batman

  • the billionaire playboy with parent issues
  • a deep seated need to right the wrongs of the world etc…

but it still stands alone quite well as the constant flashbacks gradually give us an idea of how this boy became a man!

Well I know if I mentioned that I got into the show because of the Flash … I’m actually very curious to see if they have plans on doing another crossover in the future – perhaps this time with Gotham as I think that would be very interesting!  On to Episode 2!

Episode 2 – “Honor Thy Father

OK this is where other characters from the DC Universe also come into the picture so I’ll try to provide you with some detail on them also as I think I’ve mentioned previously I’m more of a Marvel geek vs. DC.

In this episode we’ve got another target – Martin Somers – that is also on the list (mentioned above) … Martin is being targeted for prosecution by Laurel as she is representing the daughter of a man that Martin Somers had killed.  Oliver confronts him as the Arrow and forces him to make a confession (not too sure how admissible this would be?) but is forced to fight China White, an assassin working for the Chinese Triads.

On the island we see Oliver attacked by a hooded figure (similar to his Arrow persona) wielding a bow and arrow.

China White

In the comics China White is a drug czar and has enslaved the inhabitants of an unnamed Pacific island.  She gets these people to work in her heroin fields and supplies the bulk of the drugs throughout the Pacific rim.  On the Arrow however she is the leader of the Chinese triads in Starling city although in her first appearance she seems to be more of a paid gun for hire.  She has a recurring role in the show however and I’ll provide more details in subsequent posts.

Episode 2 – Review

Overall not too much advancement here in terms of Oliver/Arrow.  Its good to see other characters from the DC universe included at such an early stage of the show as it indicates that they will be bringing more characters into the mix at a later stage.

To be honest due to my slowness in writing this, they’ve already had a cross over between Arrow and the Flash and I expect that we’ll see more secondary characters and shows introduced in the future.   I’d probably state that the best part of this episode is the end when Oliver is struck by an arrow by the unnamed bowman on the island.  It gives a clear indication of the trauma he went through and hopefully starts to explain how and why he became the person he now is.

Well I guess it had to finally happen.  The little “filler” show in between seasons of Agents of Shield had to finally end and I’ll be honest I’m somewhat mixed up in my feelings.  While I’ll be really happy to have Agents of Shield back & more specifically of course, find out what the heck happened to Raina and Skye, I’m going to be quite sad to see Peggy go as I’ve gotten quite fond of her and the rest of the gang – Jarvis, Sousa in particular and even Thompson (although he’s still a bit of a snake also).  The cinematography and costumes that they utilized to bring that world to life … well, lets just say that its extremely lifelike and believable and while I realize they are somewhat restricted to the stories they can tell, I hope that Marvel finds a way to bring back Peggy in her own show again in some way or form.

Recap

Valediction picks up right after last weeks excellent episode – Snafu – with the SSR agents investigating the horrific scene from the movie theater.  If you don’t remember what happened, let me give you a quick reminder – Dottie placed a baby carriage in the theater  loaded with some sort of poisonous mind-control gas that transforms everyone in the theater into raging maniacs. They end up killing each other—all of them. Not a single person is alive when an unsuspecting theater attendant finds them. It’s gruesome and bold and when the credits roll, you’re left with the image of brutalized corpses littering the theater.  When Sousa inadvertently takes a wiff of this gas, he immediately tries to kill Thompson and knocks away Peggy with manic strength giving you a real insight into the potency of this gas.

Following the incident at the cinema, Howard Stark arrives at the SSR and we learn that the chemical in question is something called Midnight Oil and it was meant to give US soldiers the ability to stay awake forextended periods of time.

By the way (and this is an aside) … have you noticed that Howard is a bit of a nutjob with his inventions?  He definitely does not have Tony’s skills as it seems that his inventions more often than not, not only DO NOT WORK, but they tend to leave the user in something of a less than healthy state!  To paraphrase the comic book guy from the Simpsons“Worst-Inventor-Ever” … really makes you question where he got his incredible wealth from?!

Well it seems that the US Government in their infinite wisdom decided to “help” the Russians in their attack and it was this gas and its effects that actually caused all the horrible deaths and mutilations that we found out about during the course of this series.  Johann Fennhoff (Dr. Ivchenko’s real name) was the one of the only survivors of this massacre and he’s made it his life’s work to revenge himself on the inventor of Midnight Oil – Howard Stark (I’m not sure if you recall from my post last week, I did mention that he doesn’t seem all bad when he was helping the wounded soldier, however what he did to Dooley was just mean, but I guess to some extent this does explain his motivations).

In an attempt to trap Ivchenko and Dottie, Thompson and team agree to hold a press conference hoping that it will lure them back to town where they can trap them.  During the press conference where they basically exonerate Howard Stark for all wrong doing, shots go off and a shooter is seen in a window across the street.  While Peggy and Thompson rush to investigate, Jarvis hustles Stark to a waiting police car, but before he can jump into the passenger side it rushes off leaving Jarvis to stare in horror at the dead bodies of two police officers slumped on the ground nearby.

When Peggy and Thompson break into the room that the shots are coming from they find a gun has been rigged to automatically shoot, but its been rigged to miss!  Wondering why Dottie would do this, they come to the horrifying realization that they must want Stark alive for some nefarious and unknown purpose when Jarvis informs them of his kidnapping.

With Jarvis’ help they track them down to an airfield outside the city where Stark had squirreled away some planes and classic automobiles (turns out this is another vault he’d shown Dottie when she was seducing him), but unfortunately they are minutes too late as Ivchenko has managed to hypnotize Stark into flying a plane over New York city loaded with Midnight Oil.  As Jarvis takes off in another plane with the intent of shooting Stark down if necessary, Peggy, Thompson and Sousa enter the airfield hanger in an attempt to stop Ivchenko and Dottie.

Peggy tracks them down in the control room and battles Dottie while Ivchenko makes his escape but is stopped by Sousa and Thompson.  Peggy’s battle with Dottie while cool, unfortunately doesn’t match the epic May vs. May fight from Agents of Shield and to some extent is a bit of a cop out as Peggy shouldn’t have really won, but regardless, Peggy eventually manages to “de-hypnotize” Howard and gets him to bring his plane back to the airfield.

By the time it’s all over, Senator Walt Cooper personally congratulates Agent Thompson – who was put in charge of the New York SSR branch now that Dooley’s dead – and Thompson accepts the accolades despite the fact Peggy did all the work. Considering his unearned medal from WWII, clearly Thompson is used to accepting praise for things he didn’t do.  A now restrained Ivchenko appears in Prison with Dr. Zola (infamous from both Captain America movies off course) while Peggy destroys the last remaining vial of Captain America’s blood as she says a final, tearful goodbye to the man she loves.

Review

Well I think I’ve already mentioned it … I’m not really happy that Peggy is no longer on the screen as while some of the episodes have been weaker than others, the fact that it was in such a compressed period of time meant that they didn’t drag things out, and we weren’t forced to endure filler episodes which I personally abhor!

Most importantly, the opening of the season was stronger than the close. As exciting as the last two episodes were, they lacked the charm of the earlier segments. When Carter was more the sleuth, and she and Jarvis were out trying to unravel the mystery of Howard Stark’s lost inventions, the show was far and away at its strongest point.  Even when the SSR thought Peggy was working against them, it felt less like a personal struggle for Carter than what she faced in the earlier episodes. Carter as the odd-woman-out was more interesting than Carter-on-the-lamb.

I liked the little smile/conversation between Carter and Sousa at the end as it very much did imply that perhaps there is a future for both of them and Peggy won’t have to live her life as a war widow, but I personally didn’t think that Carter should have been able to defeat Dottie as I really believed a graduate of the infamous Black Widow program far superior to a regular US Agent – regardless of how talented he/she might be.  I was actually hoping/expecting that Sousa or even Thompson would have been required to help subdue Dottie and felt that this was somewhat rushed and in some ways they didn’t really give her the exit that she so richly deserved (I mean that in the best possible way!).

Conversely however, Dr. Zola’s surprise appearance was truly a surprise and a very welcome one.  While it obviously hints at the Winter Soldier and mind control it perhaps also implies a more involved future for Peggy and the agents at the SSR in the overall MCU.

I had the chance last night to catch up with the season finale of The Flash last night and must say I’m left with more questions then answers. Starting with why didn’t they even follow their own internal logic? The sin of Revolution as I’ve always called it. Full disclosure I’m not a true die hard fan to this adoration of The Flash but I’ve kept my eye on it this past season and as any of my friends will note anything to do with time travel does grab my attention so I payed special attention when I heard about those episodes.

“there’s no such things as coincides” the (should have been) prophetic dying words of Eddie Thawne. Spoiler alert if you hadn’t already surmised in an act of bravery? and to stop his decedent from doing ill deeds Eddie Thane shoots himself so Eobard’s fore bearer’s are not born and his evil plans are stopped before they can start.

But hold on a second what was Dr. Welles/ Thawne’s evil plans to begin with? Oh yes as one of The Flashes rogues from the future he discovered The Flash’s true identity as Barry Allen and went back in time to kill him as a child so he wouldn’t have a Flash to foil his evil schemes. He then looses his connection to the speed force cannot return to the future to be his bad self all over the place so so then takes over the identity of recent car crash victim Dr, Harrison Welles so in a decade or so could create an advanced particle accelerator that would have a little “accident” that would give Barry Allen his power and access to the speed force so he could get Barry to send him back to the future so ostensibly he could go ahead and figure out a way to kill The Flash back in his future time.

What we have on hands is a predestination paradox that doesn’t sit right with me. So the existence of Flash is dependent on Thawne having fought him in future going back in time to kill Barry as a child being trapped. Then somehow figuring out he’s one who made Barry The Flash in the first place then put into place a decades long plan to control and shift his young life all while building an advanced particle accelerator in the dead center of a major metropolitan city so it could have an “accident” on start up making Barry The Flash.

Hold on those who remembers or still read the back issues every version of Professor Zoom is dependent on The Flash already existing so in a future century he can fan boy his heart out go back in time to meet Flash and in the process lose his mind and become a villain.

So what happens in the show after Eddie Thawne turns the gun on himself thus unmaking Eobard’s existence? Well not a lot really, nothing has changed everyone remembers everything. Victor Garber is still in that sweater! The villain is not only slain he is unwritten from history itself Joseph Campbell should be rejoicing but he isn’t. Because if Eobard does not exist then he cannot go back in time to try kill young Barry only to be trapped. Then to realize he created The Flash to begin with using an advanced particle accelerator he built in the guise of Dr. Harrison Welles so he in the far far future could be inspired by The Flash go mad while trying to meet him (maybe) become mortal enemies.

The maker of The Flash the Reverse Flash has been unmade, but wait the Reverse Flash existing is dependent on The Flash existing and so clearly as the entire season has laid out The Flash is totally dependent on the Revere Flash’s existence.

So by the internal logic of the show since detective Eddie Thawne is now dead Eobard Thawne no longer exists so he cannot go back in time to try and kill a young Barry Allen. Only to realize he created the Flash and needs him to create a wormhole/singularity to send him back to the future so again he can figure out a way  that he can kill Flash but in the future. If Eobard no longer exists to make The Flash the one that possibly inspired him to become the Reverse Flash in the first place. Two things should be happening right now, one you should have a headache and two everything should be different in the show.

Because Eobard did not exist to go back in time to make the accelerator that makes Barry the Flash everything changes. He’s never The Flash to begin with STAR labs as we know doesn’t exist nor does the partial accelerator that blows that merges Martin Stein with Ronnie Raymond creating Firestorm or any of the meta human criminals they like to keep locked in that pipeline without benefit of due process of toilets from what I can see.

What does happen on the show is nothing absolutely nothing changes. Barry Allen remains The Flash everything remains the same only now the looming singularly created by the now unstable wormhole Eobard Thawne had Barry create so he could use it to travel back to the future in. The season cliffhanger that is Barry fast enough to close the this singularity.

If you don’t get this message call me. I would genuinely like the producer and the writers (@FLASHTVwriter) of The Flash to explain to me how this singularity exist within the internal logic of there own story if their is man who creates the machine that creates The Flash that later with the Flash’s assistance makes a singularity that will possibly destroy the planet? He is prevented from being born then how does The Flash continue to exist how does the singularity exist if the lynch pin that made both of them possible never happened?

Again I’ll admit I’m not a die hard fan may not have seen every episode but these seem like some rather enormous planet sized logical plot holes in the very core of the story stemming back to the pilot. Call me old fashioned but I do like my shows to make sense even it’s just in the four walls on my screen.

Well it had to happen sometime I guess … I mean the good thing about the SSR & Agent Carter is that while they are always a couple of steps behind Peggy, they are still playing the same game unlike other shows where the only person that seems to be able to do anything at all is the title character.  This is a refreshing change as I’m sure you would agree!

OK to do a quick recap of the episode, Peggy has determined that the only way Howard Stark could have been robbed is if he was taken advantage of by a woman as he is such a womanizer & after what she saw last week with the Russian training facility she further determines that this woman must be in some way associated with Leviathan is also probably the killer of Kresminsky and quite possibly still maintains some of her patterns from that time – namely sleeping with a shackle/handcuff – and as such should have the scars to match.  Obtaining a list of Howard’s paramours, she sets out with Jarvis in tow to visit each of them & while Jarvis is quite reluctant (it seems Howard’s rejection of these women is through Jarvis) he eventually agrees to speak to them also, which unfortunately means he gets more than one slap from a woman truly scorned!

Simultaneously, as Peggy’s search is progressing Sousa has also been putting the pieces of everything together, and has determined that there is enough information to pull Peggy in as being in some way involved with everything –

  • He identified the marks on her back as matching those from the blonde lady at the club
  • He spoke to the driver of the milk truck that they had captured in episode 1 & verified from him that Peggy was the person that had disarmed/disabled him at the farm
  • He spoke to the homeless man two episodes ago who’d indicated that a lady and a well dressed man (Jarvis) had left the dock

Once he’s able to persuade Dooley of all of these facts a massive “woman”hunt for Carter ensues and they initially try to apprehend her at the Diner where she’s speaking to Jarvis.  Managing to disarm and escape from all of the agents sent in after her, Peggy escapes out the back door but is confronted by Thompson … however before he’s able to apprehend her, she knocks him out also.  When Sousa finally arrives, she persuades him not to shoot and makes her escape back to the boarding facility where she searches in her room for the Captains’ blood.

Prior to the grand hunt however we had Dottie apparently targeting Dooley or the escaped Psychologist but surprise, surprise … this man isn’t what he seems as he manages to speak to Dottie through morse code and tells her that she needs to kill Peggy.  First of all I got a little bored with the Soviet Scientist Ivchenko’s scenes towards the end of the episode. While they ended up building to a rather shocking climax they still felt kind of superfluous once we knew that he was still a Leviathan agent trying to infiltrate the SSR to find a mysterious item that was obviously one of Stark’s bad babies.

As the search continues for Peggy in the boarding hostel, both Thompson and Sousa are obviously frustrated at the fact that Peggy was able to trick them so soundly – Thompson perhaps for the camaraderie that they’d developed while in Europe and Sousa for the friendship he’d shown her since day one, but they’ve also both realized that the reason she was able to trick them is because they underestimated her so badly (pretty much a sign of the times as Agent Carter has taken pains to show to us throughout the series).  But without a doubt the best woman-besting-men moment (and there were quite a few in this episode) was when Angie burst into tears to prevent Agent Thompson from finding Peggy. While it was quite funny by itself, the fact that she did it without a second thought to help her friend well … that gives you a nice warm feeling and something else? … well, Thompson and Sousa had just realized they’d been tricked, but they completely fell for it once again!

Unfortunately before Peggy is able to make her escape though, Dottie is able to casually approach her and gives Peggy a kiss with the “special” knockout lipstick that Peggy had used herself in the 1st Episode and Peggy collapses to the floor.  Dottie pulls out her knife and is about to kill Peggy, but is stopped by the arrival of Thompson and Sousa who march Peggy away in handcuffs.

Review

OK, well things are definitely heating up and you can see that this show is coming to a climax.  Peggy now knows who the Leviathan lady is and while it is somewhat late, it is something that will come in useful and although she’s been captured, she’s not in any way out of the game.  I didn’t love Dr. Ivchenko as a character, but I have to admit that I was surprised with his being a spy – I hadn’t considered that, so kudo’s to you for tricking me! I guess the question though is the kiss … I mean girl on girl in a primetime Disney production?  Well all I can say is that it wasn’t sexual at all and it completely suited the needs of the story … I would say that as a Black Widow – Dottie is trained to use her sexuality as a weapon and she does so without regard for gender. That’s pretty cool.

Hot off the heels of the CW’s announcement for their fall line up a thought had occurred to me after watching the sizzle reel for “legends of tomorrow” narrated by the great Victor Garber. Will the center hold on the DC television universe? This coming September were going to have not one not two not three but four DC related television shows on the air. With more already in development and expected not long after.

Monday Fox’s Gotham prime time slot, which granted has not been determined to be connected to any other show but statements have been clearly made that the television division is separate from the film division. So this means Gotham, Arrow and The Flash are not connected to Man of Steel or the forthcoming Dawn Of Justice picture. Tuesday The Flash prime time slot. Wednesday The Arrow prime time slot. Thursday the highly anticipated Supergirl displacing The Big Bang Theory for it’s prime time slot.

https://youtu.be/Lm46-envrHo

That’s four one hour shows all in a very similar vein when it comes down to story and target audience. Even DVR’d that’s quite a commitment to even the most die hard of comic book fans. Me personally I LOVE hot pepper sauce but if I use too much with my lunch then I tend to have none with my dinner. It’s as if when I gorge on this good thing that I love I need a break and to have something totally unrelated.

If only there was some other successful franchise that’s weaved in and out of television and movies with great success? Oh wait There’s Star Trek I forgot about it for a moment because it’s not on TV (CBS that was directed at you). A very successful highly popular scifi show that translated to movies then more television. Yes there was more then one show on at the time and they were on two different networks on different nights on different schedules but make no mistake they and the movies were all still very connected.

I’m not saying I feel cheated by DC in anyway but I feel as if I have or will see Amanda Waller 5 times before I need to replace my shoes. In recent memory She was depicted on Smallville she’s a semi recurring character on Arrow and is a totally different version is a major part of the forthcoming Suicide Squad movie. I’m just saying maybe pick one and stick with it model yourself after Star Trek a little. Please don’t get me wrong I don’t hate you DC I want you to entertain me. You have a direct conduit to your audience coming on four nights a week now and the best part is their inviting you in the hard work is done.

It’s not like anyone else is doing anything even remotely similar and is being widely successful entity telling one grand story like a “universe” if you will instead of pockets of cross talk selling variants of same the thing. #CoulsonLives.

The thought remains will DC be able to hold there core television audience with such a bombastic barrage of comic book related television shows stacked almost on top of each other? We’ll find out in September.

 

Theatrical poster for the live-action movie Da...
Theatrical poster for the live-action movie Daredevil starring Ben Affleck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On January 7th, Marvel and Netflix announced the release date for the latest live-action adaptation of the Daredevil franchise. Marvel’s Daredevil will make its entire 13-episode season available to stream on April 10th, much to the delight of compulsive bingers everywhere.

Fans of the visually impaired vigilante are looking forward to a series that is 12 years clear from the blast radius caused by the much maligned big screen adaptation. The internet’s hate-boner for Ben Affleck still rages on to this day because of the fictional events that transpired back in March of 2003. Still, if you were to weigh that collective nerd rage against the more measured response of film critics you’d objectively conclude that most people didn’t like Ben Affleck in Daredevil. Not an unfair statement, considering that even Ben Affleck didn’t like Ben Affleck in Daredevil.

Affleck animosity aside, the movie as a whole is considered a resounding flop. Yet all the components of a classic superhero movie seemed to be there; a hero born of tragedy, a menacing and well-rounded villain, plus a romantic subplot for whoever the hell cares about romantic subplots. What was it then, that made this movie so unlikeable? Here’s a hint: the exact same things that made this movie so fantastic. Daredevil may just be the greatest superhero movie that nobody liked. Here’s why:

The Tone is Dark, But Not Too Dark

Matt Murdock, for all his efforts advancing the rights of persons with disabilities, still doesn’t stack up against Marvel heavyweights like Spider-Man and the X-Men, both of whom happened to be successfully captivating moviegoers back in 2003. An acrobatic blind man, nimble as he may be, just doesn’t out-cool a dude with a metal-laced skeleton and knives for hands. So rather than punch above its weight class against established blockbuster franchises, Daredevil bobs and weaves in a different direction; it diverges from the flamboyance of contemporary superhero movies by ultimately choosing gritty over grandiose.

 

English: Ben Affleck at the premiere for He's ...
English: Ben Affleck at the premiere for He’s Just Not That Into You. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tone is dark, but not hopelessly so. The film paints a grim picture of a New York that it is overrun with murderers and rapists in order to validate Daredevil’s hard-line, surgery-by-subway approach to crime fighting. However, the gloom is tempered with just the right amount of gaiety so the movie doesn’t spiral into what can only be described as “Dark Knight territory.” Here, our protagonist is not so heartless that he’ll pass up an opportunity to engage in a good old fashioned game of full-contact flirting (or kung fu courting, I can’t decide which bad line I like better) with token love interest Elektra. It is perhaps because this movie walks a tightrope between cynicism and optimism without committing fully to either, that the audience was sold on neither.

 

Daredevil Isn’t Your Friendly Neighborhood Vigilante

So you’ve decided to become a vigilante? Great! Congratulations on taking in the law into your own hands. Wait, what’s that? You say you’re not actually going to execute those rapists and murderers? Oh, you’re going to just rough them up a little then pass them on to law enforcement? In that case, well done, you’ve entirely missed the point of becoming a vigilante. You can go ahead and return that costume. Maybe you can still get back your deposit.

As an aspiring vigilante, you really only have two choices: you either take matters into your own self-righteous hands, or you stay out of the way while the legal system does what it has been put in place to do. There’s no middle ground. A true vigilante believes the legal system doesn’t work, which is why they’ve appointed themselves to bring the lost causes of civilized society to justice.

Matt Murdock understands the dichotomy that exists between being a vigilante and being a law abiding citizen, and he is able to craft his alter-ego accordingly. By day he attempts to bring the legal system of New York back up to respectable standards, and by nightfall he hunts down the criminals who slip through the cracks. Reintroducing criminals back into a failed and/or corrupt system is baffling decision that a lot of comic book vigilantes make. Daredevil isn’t as forgiving at the Batmen and Spider-Men of the world, which might have cost him some popularity points with fans.

Daredevil Doesn’t Waste Time on the Learning Curve

Unlike the majority of cinematic superheroes, Daredevil has his shit together before the end of the first act. We see a few minutes of young Matt bumbling his way into toxic sonar vision, and from there we jump straight to an adult Matt who already has a strong grasp on the fundamentals of superheroing.

Being introduced to a superhero in his prime is a welcome change of pace from watching an emotionally troubled loner blundering through their early days of superherodom. Daredevil’s early days of crime fighting are glossed over, perhaps to the chagrin of the people who like a good old-fashioned origin story.

Kingpin is a More Grounded Villain

Wilson Fisk is a refreshing take on comic book villains, in that he isn’t inexplicably committed to mass genocide or establishing a trans-continental dictatorship. He is just a unethical businessman with simple ambitions: stay in business by influencing and/or murdering anyone who threatens the stability of his organization. In other words, he’s your typical oil company CEO, only with the physique of a steroid-riddled pro wrestler.

The Kingpin doesn’t pursue some otherworldly weapon that will grant him the power to destroy all who oppose him; his weapon is influence, and he is ruthless when yielding it. Though admittedly, an intangible quality is not as resplendent as, say, the Tesseract.

It Isn’t a Traditional Superhero Movie, Mostly

Daredevil is at its best when it doesn’t acquiesce to standard superhero movie tropes. For most of the movie, Daredevil’s take-no-prisoners approach to crime fighting is a welcome deviation from take-all-prisoners approach of most comic book heroes. The choice to kill off the main protagonist’s love interest is an undeniably ballsy move, and one that few superhero movies have tried.

When it does succumb to genre cliches, however, Daredevil falls flat. The kiss in the rain is clearly borrowing (if not blatantly stealing) Spider-Man’s iconic kiss from the previous year. Furthermore, when Daredevil spares the life of Kingpin, it feels like a copout and a thinly veined sequel setup.

Daredevil may have been a critical failure, but it needs to be stated that the movie introduced some relatively innovative ideas to the genre that are now becoming popular in superhero franchises. Perhaps the world of 2003 was simply ill-prepared for the awesomeness that Daredevil unleashed upon it.

 

I first read this book in my early teens and it had a profound impact on me.  The character of Sparrowhawk and his trials and tribulations were both inspiring and at that age somewhat terrifying!  Not a large book or series of books, it was easy to read and finish these books in a couple of hours of concentrated reading and it was even easier to simply fall into the Earthsea universe and completely lose yourself!

A Wizard of Earthsea is the first book in the Earthsea series and while there are other short stories and books in the sequence the primary novels are:

Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle is an adventure tracing Ged Sparrowhawk’s ambitious years, youthful exploits, and confrontation with an undead menace released by his own reckless vanity.

Earthsea is an ocean littered with islands, some of which disappear with the tides.  The people are wary of travelers, and what they know of the world consists of their understanding of their land, and the few stories they may have heard about other islands over the years, but even those seem distant dreams.  With a distinct magical system at play in the Earthsea universe – the power of “real” names is paramount – Le Guin pulls you in from the first word.

In a Wizard of Earthsea, Ged Sparrowhawk begins his magical journey into power and wisdom.  Although just a child, Ged saves his island home (Gont) from rampaging raiders through the use of magic.  Realizing the power inherent in the young boy, Ged is apprenticed to the master (hermit) magician Ogion but Ged does not believe he is being properly trained by Ogion and disobeys his direct orders.

Ogion sends Ged to study on the Wizard island of Roke where he meets Vetch and Jasper.  Ged as an impoverished wizard is looked down upon by the wealthy wizards on Roke and Ged and Jasper particularly do not get along.  Conflict with Jasper escalates until Ged uses magic beyond his control and summons a gebbeth, a creature form beyond the wall of death. Realizing that this creature can kill him if he leaves Roke, Ged stays on the island for many years studying and learning – perhaps the most important lesson he learns is humility!

 

A fully functioning and extremely powerful Archmage, Ged is eventually sent to the Ninety Isles to serve the people there.  Unfortunately his use of magic attracts the gebbeth that he had previously inadvertently released and Ged flees from its arrival.  However Ged is no longer the same callow youth that had first arrived on Roke – even though he had to run, he was not going to leave his new charges defenseless.  Using his power and knowledge, Ged is able to subdue a nearby dragon that had previously been tormenting the people of the Ninety Isles.

Ged continues his travels from island to island always staying just one step ahead of the gebbeth and eventually arrives back on Gont.  Here he reconciles with Ogion and determines that instead of running from the gebbeth he should in fact be hunting it!  Turning around and now pursuing the gebbeth, Ged chases the monster from island to island and eventually beyond the known world itself to the wall of death.  Here Ged manages to defeat the gebbeth not by magic but by knowledge and acceptance.

My Thoughts

As previously mentioned, this is not a heavy read and is suitable for all age groups.  While written in the third person and perhaps a bit slower than more more modern epics, A Wizard of Earthsea definitely stands the test of time.  As a (1979) Lewis Carroll Shelf Award winner, Le Guin’s works can be ranked among the best in the genre.

Character Growth & Development –

Ged transforms himself from callow youth to all powerful wizard.  You can’t really ask for more in one tome in terms of growth and development and while its not all about the magic (he develops as a person too) his magical growth is astounding.

Story Growth & Development –

While the magic system is well defined – its not really new.  Ged’s creation of the gebbeth – creating his own villian – was cool, but it didn’t really do anything … it was more the fear of what it could do versus anything else.

Overall Rating –

While it started out a bit slow, A Wizard of Earthsea was a good book and one I’d definitely recommend.  It might not have all the umph and impact of a Jordon or Sanderson or for that matter the character death, dismemberment and overall angst of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy, but for a quick and easy read … its well worth picking up.

Welcome to Episode 5 of Season 1, of the awesome show known as Supernatural! Today, we get to cover a classic theme. Remember back to those good old school days where someone would dare you to stand in front of the mirror in the bathroom? The lights had to be turned off a candle could be lit if necessary. You gaze into the mirror, and say “Bloody Mary” exactly three times. Yeah, we get to cover that today!

This episode of Supernatural actually carries a creepy theme to it and builds upon an urban legend just about every school child has ever heard. A group of teenage girls are at home talking to each other, giggling, and just being general teenagers. One of them dares their friend to go into the bathroom and chant “Bloody Mary” three times. So, the girl does. A jump scare occurs a few seconds after the girl has chanted the mantra only to come out annoyed with her friends scaring her.

As the episode progresses, the father comes to tell the girls to keep it down. He’s annoyed with them, but not to angry. He walks into the bathroom and suddenly begins to start feeling a pain. Blood begins dripping down from his eye and the scene cuts to black. When we see the father’s body again, he’s on the floor dead as a doornail. His eyes have blown out and blood is spread across the floor in a crimson mess.
Sam and Dean find out about the case in the obituary. They go to investigate, and find out the father died from internal bleeding in the brain. His eyes were also nothing but masses of blood leaking out onto the floor at the time of his death. Sam and Dean are puzzled by this and immediately start to investigate. What follows next is a string of murders with “Bloody Mary” causing all of them.

This episode is interesting because it plays on childhood fears. It shows how gullible children can be when it comes to those nightly terrors. Standing in a pitch dark bathroom, and chanting the name of a dead woman to come to you? Not knowing if you’ll see a dark figure reaching out of that mirror to you. Sam and Dean even cover up all reflective surfaces in order to protect the next victim Bloody Mary is going for.

One sad aspect of this episode is that Bloody Mary is actually a spirit. In life she was just a simple girl named Mary who was murdered by a man who had betrayed her. Mary came back to kill the man, and ever since has been murdering people as a vengeful spirit if they “killed” someone else. The girl Sam and Dean protect abandoned her boyfriend when he threatened to kill himself. The boyfriend ended up committing suicide. Mary was so far gone she could not tell the difference between someone deliberately killing in cold blood versus just being connected to an unfortunate death.

There is one scene that is guaranteed to send chills down the spine. Sam is forced to face Bloody Mary alone, and Dean has to fend off some cops who came to investigate the antique store they broke into. Sam is doing his best to fend off Mary and distract her long enough for Dean to come. His eyes start to bleed, but Dean rushes in at the last second. He breaks the mirror, and the brothers believe they have won.

Just as the brothers are turning away, a scene which could have been as easily inspired by the grudge, Mary climbs out of the mirror. The shadows are creeping in, and all you can see behind her is the blackness of the mirror. She has long, tangled lank hair, and goes after the brothers a second time. Sam and Dean eventually fend her off and defeat her a second time. Leaving another town once again the secret heroes no one gives them credit for.

The episode itself is fun to watch. For anyone into urban legends, the writers of the show took it and updated it rather well. You feel sympathy for Mary because she was wronged. At the same time you can’t condone her killing. However, it raises the question, is it morally right to kill a killer? That’s a can of worms best left to higher powers, but you get the point.

It also carries a hint of creepiness to it. While Supernatural is a show about demons, angels, devils, and supernatural creatures all around there is not a lot of truly “scary” moments in the series. “Bloody Mary” definitely takes the cake for creepiness, even if it only is in one scene.

Side Note: For anyone curious, there actually was once a real life “Bloody Mary”. Mary Tudor I was actually the only child of Henry VIII. Mary became Queen of England and Ireland in July 1553 until her death in November of 1558. Mary got her nickname due to her executions of Protestants, and so her opponents coined the term “Bloody Mary.”

The reason Mary executed so many Protestants was because she was trying to restore Catholicism to England. Henry VIII, her father, had already begun the process himself. What is tragic about this tale is that, much like the Mary in the episode, Mary Tudor actually started as a good woman who was actually very kind. She was even lenient during the early part of her reign before she decided it was right to “burn heretics” so they would know what it was like to be in hell.

However, we still don’t recommend you play the Blood Mary game… after all you never know who may come out of mirror!