It’s probably easy to explain our slight ambivalence to Episode 7: The Zygon Invasion with the knowledge that the Zygons are our least favourite of the Doctor’s intergalactic enemies. Not only do they look a bit rubbish, but they’re also a million miles away from having the same momentous impact as other big hitting baddies like the Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels or the Silence (not to mention the Master!).  Episodes with them included are generally less about the action and more about talking and alliteration, however, these were definitely not as bad as some of the others we’ve seen in recent years.

The dangling subplot of the Zygons from “The Day of the Doctor” was picked up here.  We learn that humanity and the Zygons did manage to reach an agreement that enabled 20 million Zygons to secretly settle on Earth in human form.  Unfortunately, a splinter group of militants has formed made up of Zygons who do not want to live as humans, who wish to embrace their alien heritage.  They regard humans as the enemy and assimilated Zygons as traitors.   The revolutionaries, led by a Zygon known as “Bonnie,” are motivated by the dream of a society that is totally free from both the presence and ideology of anything that is not Zygon.  They are willing to commit horrible acts of violence to achieve this “perfect” world.

They’re joke references from the Doctor about them stealing our jobs and rational debates about atrocities and the impact of perceptions and propaganda on the way people behave, which all feels very relevant to modern day socio-political problems. However, there are a couple of instances when this becomes a little too stretched to make a point, which wasn’t really needed. When the soldiers are going after the Zygons, about to shoot them down, they end up giving up because they adopt the faces of their family and loved ones. This would have been fine if they hadn’t then also been lured to their, as a result, which seems way too far fetched to fill well into the series. It just ends up with a mixed message, which starts with the premise of what would you do if they were your family and ends with a heap of scorched mounds where once there were soldiers.

However, they’re sort of not meant to be out-and-out villains, acting more like mirrors on humanity, so perhaps we’re being a little harsh on the big blobby-headed face robbers. Our biggest issue is that they look a bit naff, more like a dude in a costume than an advanced and complex alien race with their own fight for survival to work on. On a more positive note, writer, Peter Harness, has put a lot of effort into building in some of the complexity behind race relations that have got very clear parallels in real life. Bonnie intends to cause the Zygons who have assimilated to return to their original forms, realizing this will create massive panic among humanity.  This will force the assimilated Zygons to join her group solely to survive the inevitable human violence.  Bonnie even recognizes that realistically 20 million Zygons do not stand a chance against six million humans, but she would rather die on her feet in pursuit of her goals, taking as many humans with her as possible, than live on her knees.

Etoine: I’m not part of your fight. I never wanted to fight anyone. I just wanted to live here. Why can’t I just live?

The Doctor: We are on your side.

Etoine: I’m not on anyone’s side! This is my home!

Seeing no way out, Etoine commits suicide in front of the Doctor.  It’s a heartbreaking scene, with a sad, moving performance by Asbury.  It really demonstrates the suffering that ordinary people endure because self-important revolutionaries prize ideals more than they do actual lives, when fanatics espouse the belief that the ends justify any means.

UNIT, in turn, faced with millions of shape-shifting aliens who have the ability to infiltrate all levels of government, to assume to guises of friends and loved ones before they strike, are ready to wipe out all of the Zygons, guilty and innocent, in order to prevent more violence.

There’s also a flippancy to the episode, which is a little to be expected from the character direction in the series, but doesn’t feel quite right this time around with such weighty topics underlying the episodes story. This is all the more at odds in The Zygon Invasion when you also take into account (SPOILERS ALERT!!!) that Clara bites the dust towards the end of the episode. It’s not impossible that this could be a clever decoy death and that somehow she’ll be restored to life in next week’s episode, The Zygon Inversion, but it’s also possible that Clara is no more and all we’ll have of her for the rest of her stay is the Zygon shadow of her former self.  I know that at this point a number of viewers, myself included, are experiencing a bit of Clara fatigue.  The character has been around for a while now and, as with other companions, the quality of writing given to her has been somewhat inconsistent.  Given that, I think it can become easy to overlook Coleman.  But she actually is a great actor. This is ably demonstrated when Bonnie takes on Clara’s form for the majority of these two episodes.  Bonnie is a completely different character from Clara, and Coleman plays the part perfectly.  It definitely demonstrates her versatility.

It’s genuinely a shame that Jenna Coleman is leaving the show as she had built up a very strong on-screen relationship with Peter Capaldi, but it’ll be more of a shame if she has been written out inEpisode 7, because it lacks the momentous delivery to give her passing the credit it deserves. The episode doesn’t stack up as well as the previous two entries in Series 9, but with the second of the two-part story going out next week there’s at least some scope for a reprisal.

Some negative thoughts

Peter Capldi and Jenna Coleman put in some amazing performances, but there are some mind-boggling daft moments, like pretty much anything involving UNIT. First we have Kate Stewart being a little too bloodthirsty (“Science leads, Kate”, remember?), then Colonel Walsh being pretty much in charge of nothing, based on how many of her troops just ignore her orders. Then we have those troops, who one would, considering the job they should be used to doing, assume that situations involving aliens might be more than they first appear. Yet they roll over for what is a pretty obvious trick by the Zygons without much fuss, which makes them pretty ineffectual, something they’ve struggled with since the show returned in 2005.  In addition the Director of ultra black ops top secret agency goes to investigate enemy stronghold, in her best ass-kicking pantsuit. Alone. Armed with a sidearm and incomprehensible gullibility, she’ll surely get the job done! I mean, you just happened to stumble into the sole survivor of a massacre done by aliens that can look like anyone. What luck! Definitely didn’t need that backup now that you’ve got Officer Alien… I mean Officer I-Survived-Somehow watching your back! Great reaction time with that sidearm by the way while she slowly “killed” you, wink wink. Though I’m quite sure we’re going to be subjected to the easiest to see “twist” ever written in the next episode.

The Fury of Firestorm went into full gear as we were introduced to the new half of Team Firestorm and some new developments with our other characters. Besides the return of Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), there was also the aftermath of Francine West (Vanessa A. Williams) coming back into the West family’s lives. There was a lot going on in the episode, but not all the pieces fit together nicely in a package.

The episode started with the search of Professor Stein’s (Victor Garber) new partner as the scientist was struggling with his body’s molecular structure now that Ronnie Raymond is gone. The hunt for the other half of Firestorm turned into an entertaining hour despite Stein facing certain death. The search was narrowed down to two candidates, scientist Henry Hewitt (Demore Barnes) and former athlete Jefferson ‘Jax’ Jackson (Franz Drameh). We were given a little of Jax’s back story at the beginning of the episode where we learned he was a high school quarterback at his local high school team and given a chance at a scholarship. However, he was robbed at the opportunity after the particle accelerator incident. Now working as mechanic, STAR Labs found a likely candidate to take the mantle of Firestorm.

In the present we pickup right after Stein’s collapse last week. Cisco quickly cobbles together a device to stabilize his condition. The team is on edge, knowing it’s only temporary. The race is on to find a compatible meta human to merge with the professor and share the custody of the Firestorm matrix before he dies.   While the team discusses the two most promising candidates – “Jax” Jackson and Dr. Henry Hewitt, Earth-2’s Harrison Wells lurks nearby studying Team Flash.   It was interesting to see Earth-2’s version of Wells appearing in this universe stalking our heroes. It doesn’t help that he is being hidden in the shadows while observing Team Flash, but he was probably aware of the reputation that his doppelganger has in this Earth. But after seeing Wells saving Barry from the clutches of King Shark towards the end of the hour, it looks like he may soon become an ally to the team. Of course it will take some time for Team Flash to get used to having him around after what the other Wells did to them.  Later at the precinct Barry runs into Patty, who is embracing her role on the metahuman task force with vigor. She asks if Barry can run analysis on some shark teeth she found in connection with a possible man shark roaming Central City’s back alleys. The energy between these two is delightful. As a viewer I want to see their relationship develop faster; as a writer I hope they drag it out a bit to keep the show rich and fulfilling for as long as possible.

Drameh made a good first impression as Jax in the episode. He managed to bring some charm and made his character likeable to viewers. Drameh was able to portray the character’s sorrow and frustration of being denied a chance at greatness. It all paid off in the end as Jax was able to get a second chance at following his dreams with the help of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Team Flash.  However, Barnes didn’t impress us as much as Drameh did, due to the fact that there wasn’t enough development for his character. The episode didn’t go into detail building this week’s villain. Hewitt went from an overachieving science genius into a crazed and vangeful supervillain in a few scenes. Without any actual motivations, it was hard to believe Hewlitt going on a rampage against STAR Labs. Jackson takes well to his new abilities and teams up with the Flash to quickly defeat Hewitt, who gets the code name “Tokamak”. With all the build up to finding a match for the matrix this battle seems a little anti-climatic. But the show saves its best for last — as always. Iris makes the difficult decision to meet again with Francine. Using her investigative talents she confirms her diagnosis, but finds another startling secret in her mother’s past: she had a baby boy eight months after leaving Joe which seems like the show is ready to introduce Wally West soon. We should expect to learn more about Iris’ lost sibling as the season continues.

Jackson and Stein depart to train and improve their abilities and prepare for their debut on Legends of Tomorrow. Barry contemplates how to proceed with Patty and gets a two jaw dropping shocks to cap the episode. Patty’s suspicions become startling true as a 9 foot talk shark man grabs the Flash around the neck and is only stopped by a hooded man. The episode took advantage of some great visuals, showing us more of what Firestorm can do. Hopefully, we can learn more of Firestorm’s abilities as in the comics since the show didn’t go into depth the first time around.

Continuing on from part 1 – here are another 5 amazingly awesome TV intro’s for you to reminisce on!

15. Fresh Prince OF Bel Air

What a change up from American Horror Story. It’s hard to argue that Fresh Prince’s intro was not a big reason for the popularity and success that the show enjoyed. I remember kids singing it all the time when I was in school. It’s catchy and it tells the story. You don;t really need much to go into it fresh. No pun intended. Even to this day I’ll bet anyone who even remotely watched the show can sing the whole song verbatim.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qHA366oRMs

14. Ekk The Cat

I am very much a product of the nineties as you can tell by now. Ekk The Cat is a strange choice, I’m sure. Once again due to it’s relative obscurity. A fairly violent kids cartoon with a fairly violent intro that I don;t know think would get made in today’s day and age. The intro just makes me laugh because it’s so fitting. It’s starts off heroic and goes on with a faster tempo and a zany guitar riff. It perfectly shows what the character goes through on each episode. It’s also extremely addictive to sing randomly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-e5R9bJZwk

13. MacGyver

How I loved this show when I was a kid. Very super heroic in a way. Strangely enough, a lot of what Mac did was scientifically sound…sort of. This is 80’s cheese 101. Every cliche from that time period is in this intro. Smiling? Check. Mullet? Check. Random Action? Check. Random eating of ice cream?…Check? Let’s not forget the music. Could they get a sappier or more upbeat song than this? Another amusing observation is the fact that when the name ” MacGyver” pops up on screen the world blows up. I’m not sure why. Macgyver is known for not using guns and pretty much rejects most forms of extreme violence, so having the world explode is highly unusual. Nevertheless one of my favorite chessy intros for sure.

12. Gargoyles

A highly underrated animated show in my opinion. Problem was that at the time there was a plethora of cartoons on and this one, arguably got lost in the mix. The intro showcased the stunning animation that everyone had come to expect from Disney. It was mysterious and was just action packed enough. I particularly like the intro as of season 2. They added the main character’s ( Goliath) voice as a narrator. I mean, Goliath was voiced by Keith David, and Keith David can pretty much say anything and make it sound cool.

11. Nighthood

I believe this is another show that may have been better known in Canada and possibly France. It focuses on the exploits of fictional character Arsene Lupin. The intro is one of the most outstanding animated shorts of all time. Right up there with a certain pointy eared crusader that may pop up later on this list. The composition of the intro is excellent. Well paced visuals with an intriguing and memorable score. The random silhouettes of real people running across fits so well. It’s a period piece and you really get that sense without it feeling old. Sadly the actual content never matched the quality of the intro. Not bad but not great either.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhO6oC8KMyQ

The third, and final installment of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight saga finally arrived yesterday. The news of even having a third sequel to The Dark Knight Returns may have had you a little worried. You may even still be worried. I know when I heard the announcement, my immediate reaction was ” Why? Just let The Dark Knight Returns live on it’s own! Stop ruining your legacy Frank!” The reason for such  a contemptuous response is due to Frank Miller’s awful sequel ” The Dark Knight Strikes Again”. A story that was, pretty much universally panned. Not to mention the lazy and uninspired art to go with it.  Ths third time around things are a bit different.

DARK-KNIGHT-III-MASTER-RACE-main-cover

Frank Miller hasn’t been left to his own devices. He is mainly overseeing the project and plotting it. On art we have Andy Kubert and original inker to the Dark Knight Returns, Klaus Janson. Writing it, we have Brian Azzarello. Kubert and Janson are still in fine form and consistently preform. Azzarello made a name for himself working on projects like 100 bullets, JOKER, and most recently, the new 52’s run on Wonder Woman. Therefore, I went in to Dark Knight III with a more open mind. I even got excited for it. How did it turn out? Let’s see…

STORY

There is a lot of setup and mystery in this first issue. The time line seems to be about 3 years after “Dark Knight Strikes Again. After not being sighted for said years, Batman is spotted, which sparks a media frenzy. Everyone has an opinion on what to do or think about Batman’s return.”Much like, ” The Dark Knight Returns”, it seems that the media will be playing a key factor in regards to the storytelling.

This comic is clearly trying to establish itself in our current time. The media characterizations reflect that. They are all parodies, mind you, but if you look closely you’ll find versions of Jon Stewart, Bill O’Reilly & Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan to name a few. It was sort of refreshing when I read it to say…” Hey! I know those people.” Azzarello’s strength for believable dialogue is on full display here. Much of the first half of the comic employs cell phone texts that may be difficult to read at times, but are, nevertheless, still effective.

It’s a fast paced first issue that spends a bit more time on action rather than characterization. It gives you just enough information to advance to the climax. And what a climax it is. A major game changing moment occurs at the very end of issue one. It’s a great cliffhanger that leaves some burning questions.

Important note:  

Issue #1 includes a mini comic featuring The Atom, written and drawn by Frank Miller. in the print version, it’s square in the middle of the book. READ AFTER COMPLETING THE MAIN STORY. Major spoilers if this advice is not heeded.

 

ART  

Andy Kubert does a good job on pencils. They are slick and dynamic. He pays a heavy tribute to Frank Miller’s style. He’s clearly emulating the look but not in a gratuitous way. Kubert’s art style still shines through.

Klaus Janson is as clinical as ever. He always manages to improve upon any artist that comes his way. He did with Frank Miller in 80’s and this time is no different. One of my favorite inkers of all time for good reason.

The action sequences are the highlight of the art. They are exciting and eye catching. You want to study every panel to see if you catch a glimpse of anything extra. One particular fight scene comes to mind. Batman’s shadowy look is used to full effect.

 

OVERALL CONCLUSION:  

The first issue manages to meet my expectations. A solid start that delivers some cool action and some great art. The story seeds have been planted, and they seem interesting enough. After the cliffhanger in issue #1, I expect the story to get even more interesting. The Atom mini comic also manages to add depth and merit the extra price tag on the book overall.

3.5 out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

As someone who enjoyed the Enterprise series, this novel served nicely to bridge the story onward from when it was taken off TV, although there are a few other novels preceeding this one. This was another story I got a lot of enjoyment from, it has espionage missions, space battles, phaser and disruptor shoot-outs, and a ruthless bat’leth duel.

Starfleet intelligence is operating in Romulan society, on a mission to secure plans for a starship engine capable of reaching warp 7. The Romulans are also testing a new weapon, known as the arrenhe’hwiua telecapture system. Handled by technicians, the Romulans use this weapon to a hijack starship systems, putting the hardware under their control. They use hijacked vessels to carry out attacks under the guise of another planet’s starship. Captain Archer sees the violent conclusion of one such remote-controlled attack and rescues a Klingon after their hijacked battle cruiser was destroyed. Archer learns that the Klingon vessel had its controls hijacked and visits the Klingon home-world to find answers, all the while, some of the delegates of the Coalition of Planets are preparing for war with the Klingons.

ST:E Captain Archer

Despite Archer recovering further evidence from the Klingons about starships being hijacked, the Coalition has doubts about the quality of Archer’s intelligence and many in the Coalition have sworn oaths to defend their galactic quadrant. Coalition vessels soon fall victim to the telecapture system, which places Captain Erica Hernandez and a severely outgunned USS Columbia in a space battle against hijacked Coalition vessels. This battle was very intense, Captain Hernandez and her bridge crew had some great moments throughout.

Later, the Romulans try to capture the USS Enterprise by using the Kobayashi Maru hauling freighter as bait, forcing Captain Archer to make one of his most difficult decisions, in my opinion. This scene chronicles the origin of the Kobayashi Maru Starfleet test, seen in the movies Wrath of Khan & Star Trek (2009).

The book ends with the Romulan telecapture operation being exposed and the Coalition of Planets declaring war with Romulus, leading to the Romulan war series which picks up right after this book, in the story ‘Beneath the Raptor’s wing’.

This story was fairly easy to read through, there’s lots of interesting scenes and action. Both Capain Archer and Captain Hernandez’s character took on new forms in this story, Archer evolved a lot during season 4, so it’s nice to see the Captain of the Columbus being tested as well when she plunges her ship into battle. I also enjoyed the touchy diplomacy among the Coalition as they discussed a potential war with the Klingons. The infiltration of Romulan society by Starfleet intelligence was well thought out and had a few different scenes of disruptor shoot-outs. I have very few complaints about this book, just that it might stand to be a little shorter and that Romulan words are difficult to read and pronounce. Other than that, this was a five star novel in my mind. Definitely worthy of being its own movie.

“4,722 Hours” makes it clear that, though she may not seem like the best candidate to survive on an alien planet, Jemma Simmons has some pretty mad skills.   When “4,722 Hours” began with the flashback to the scene where Simmons got pulled into the Monolith and taken to the other planet, I wondered “Wait, is this episode going to only be about what happened to her?” And then the title came up – and it wasn’t the usual logo on the black screen, with the big sound effect. It just quietly appeared over the desolate, blue landscape Simmons was trapped in. And it was clear that yes, this was going to be a very different episode…  The story is one long character study giving Elizabeth Henstridge the opportunity to show off the depth of her acting ability, and the rich development given to Simmons this week makes me wish every member of the cast could get teleported away for a terrifying extraterrestrial experience.

Obviously the concept of a character marooned by themselves is not a new one – the writers utilized Enemy Mine (an excellent SciFi film) for their inspiration and there is also the not as excellent Cast Away featuring Tom Hanks.  Series like Galactica and Star Trek have told similar stories of this sort, among others. But this is Agents of SHIELD, a big, Marvel/ABC network TV series with a specific, (Earthbound) vibe and feel to it. So for them to take this show in this direction, even for a week, was bold and exciting.

When Simmons first arrived on the planet, she realizes that she is not in the same solar system as Earth by the stars she sees. Remembering her S.H.I.E.L.D. training, she decides to stay stationary until an extraction team can find and rescue her.  After 13 hours, Simmons decides to go to sleep. Awakening eight hours later, Simmons realizes that the sun has not arisen. She begins to cry and screams for the sun after being on the planet for 71 hours.  At 79 hours, Simmons decides that she must find food and water in order to survive; a normal human can survive without water for a hundred hours. Twenty hours later, as she climbs a ridge, Simmons sees an approaching sandstorm. Simmons awakens after 101 hours on the planet and discovers a nearby pond; she laughs as her thirst is quenched.   For quite awhile, it was only her onscreen and she was excellent showing Simmons try and approach the situation with an optimistic, even scientifically curious perspective, before the true direness of what was happening set in.   Now on the planet for 109 hours, Simmons swims in the pond; suddenly, she is grabbed from below. Fighting for her life, Simmons cuts a tentacle from the creature and drags it ashore. Two hours pass before Simmons finally decides to eat the tentacle. By 492 hours, Simmons’ hunger is so great that she decides to fight the underwater foe; she wins the battle, makes a fire, cooks, eats, and burps. Watching sweet, wide-eyed Simmons go almost feral, killing and eating that creature, was a sight to behold and it was emotional seeing her leave her messages for Fitz as time went on and things got worse and worse (that phone lasting at all is also a miracle, but hey, SHIELD tech, right?!).

Simmons has now been on the planet for 752 hours when she hears movement that she does not recognize. She goes to investigate;  falls into a trap and sees a man close it as she faints. Nine hours later, the man goes to check on Simmons; she is awake but fearful. At 783 hours, the man realizes that Simmons is not a hallucination. Simmons introduces herself to the man as the 824th hour passes; he brings her a bowl of food. Twenty-seven hours later, Simmons feigns a stomach ache and asks the stranger why he has poisoned her. As he enters the cage to investigate, Simmons hits him with the bowl and escapes. She runs but injures her leg. Her captor grabs her; he says that It can smell blood and will soon come. He takes Simmons to his cave and hides as a sandstorm roars above. He tells Simmons that his name is Will. Simmons stitches her leg while Will asks what year it is. At hour 853, Will Daniels reveals that he has been on this planet since 2001.   As an aside, I assume it was likely a purposeful nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey having Will trapped on that planet since the year 2001 (given we already had a Monolith in play), though given Dillon Casey is 31, let’s just assume he was playing a few years older than his actual age – or else Will was the Doogie Howser of both the Air Force and NASA, considering his history.

When Simmons stumbled upon Will (Nikita’s Dillon Casey), yeah, you could see where this was going – that she would bond with him and maybe even get romantic with him (as was indeed the case) – and he’d be the reason she needed to go back to the planet. The journey is more important than the destination, though, and the bond between Simmons and Will develops organically as their hours together turn into days, then weeks, then months. For most of this time, Simmons is still intensely devoted to Fitz. When she first finds herself stranded, she keeps her composure by thinking like a scientist, but once it starts to sink in that no one is coming for her, she starts to get more emotional and turns to her memory of Fitz for support. She imagines the date they’re supposed to go on and worries that their bond won’t maintain in a romantic context, and Henstridge does great work showing how Simmons’ relationship with Fitz gives her the strength to press on.   Throughout the first half of the episode, Simmons records voice memos for Fitz detailing her fear regarding the scarcity of food and water, her insecurity about her chances of making it through this alive, and her pride when she discovers what she’s capable of accomplishing when survival is her one and only goal. It allows Henstridge to vocalize all of Simmons’ turbulent emotions, and she fully captures all the desperation Simmons feels as she spends more time alone on an alien world. The thing that keeps her motivated is the hope that she’ll one day make it back to Fitz and the rest of her friends, but when that hope fades, her romantic commitment to Fitz fades with it.

By 3,010 hours, Simmons decides that she wants to go to the “No-Fly Zone” despite Daniels’ protests that that is the place where “It” lives. Going there nonetheless, Simmons finds a bottle of wine and a sword, along with a mass graveyard. Observing the stars, she realizes a way off the planet. Suddenly a storm approaches; Simmons sees a figure in the dust and runs. She places dirt on the cut she gets and peeks from behind a boulder. Simmons returns to Daniels, who was watching her through binoculars, and tells him that she now believes.  Twenty-two hours later, Simmons explains to Daniels her plan to find a portal that will return them home; she can use the battery from her cell phone to power his computers to calculate the stars and their movement. She watches the video of her friends for the last time. The battery dies at hour 3,183, but Simmons has accumulated enough data to determine that in eighteen days a portal will open in a canyon that is thirty meters wide. Weeks pass; by 3,561 hours, Daniels has created a way to get them across the canyon and Simmons has put a message in a bottle to drop in the portal as a back-up plan. On the 3,575th hour, the stranded ones arrive at the canyon to discover that it is now over a hundred meters wide and impossible for them to cross successfully. The portal opens and Daniels shoots the bottle to the opening. He misses by one second.  Hell, we knew for a fact that Simmons would safely make it home eventually, but it was still heartbreaking when she and Will tried to get Fitz a literal message in a bottle and failed, because we’d seen just how desperate they were and felt their pain in that moment.

Simmons and Daniels have become a couple when hour 4,720 arrives. Simmons has calculated that a once-every-eighteen year sunrise was to happen in a couple of hours. The couple celebrate the occurrence with the bottle of wine that Simmons found; it tastes like vinegar. Suddenly Simmons sees a flare streak across the sky. Daniels and Simmons run to the spot of the flare, but “It” comes for them. Daniels tells Simmons to continue, but she refuses to leave without him. Simmons then sees an astronaut coming and thinks that NASA has come for Daniels; he tells her that it is a trick as the sand becomes blinding and separates them. Daniels fires his only bullet at the figure as Fitz calls to Simmons. Simmons is rescued. Daniels is once again alone as the sun rises at hour 4,722.

There’s a noticeable change in Simmons’ disposition once she and Will kiss and start sleeping together (at least that’s what we’re led to believe by the shot of their two beds now side-by-side), and showing Simmons at her bleakest point earlier makes it easier to accept this new relationship by showing how it drastically improves her outlook. Her romance with Will significantly complicates the one she has with Fitz, but Fitz doesn’t let jealousy take over when Simmons finishes recounting her experience. The final scene between them — the only one not on the alien planet — was terrific, as Fitz processed what she’d just told him and decided he would do everything he could to help her (because of course he would) and save Will. And Henstridge got one more terrific moment showing Simmons tear up as she realized what he was doing for her. He rushes out of the room, but it’s not because of anger. Instead, he rushes to the lab to start figuring out how to bring Will back because Fitz is that good of a friend.

 

Really sorry for being so far behind in my Doctor Who reviews but will do my best to catch up quickly!  A continuation to the Girl Who Died, we find out quickly that Ashildr is no longer the innocent girl we left in the Viking village.  Much like that episode, though, the story here plays second fiddle to the characters and their interaction.

While we’ve obviously seen the effect traveling with the Time Lord has on Clara, this is more about the unforeseen effects of his actions, however, good intentioned they may be, specifically on Ashildr, or as she prefers to be called here, “Me”.  We also explore here the question of immortality as Ashildr is unable to maintain the memories from all of her time on Earth except by means of a massive library which contains all of her diaries.

While the Doctor with his Timelord physiology is able to retain and remember everything, Ashildr as a simple human, does not have this same gift and her journals take the Doctor through the moments in her life that systematically stripped her of her empathy and emotional connections with those around her, by watching those she loved die of old age, sickness and more.

We don’t often see what happens after the Doctor leaves, and what he leaves behind when he goes. A few stories have given us glimpses that it isn’t always the happy ending at the end of the stories, but only a few.  This episode definitely falls into that group  however and lets us see – perhaps somewhat painfully – how much the Doctor really needs the “Mayflies” in his life.  Without the Amy’s, Donna’s & Clara’s he loses his objectivity and becomes a bit too arbitrary without any consideration for humanity.  Ashildr too has this same failing &, in fact, becomes somewhat of a thrill seeker herself as the bandit Nightmare.

That, of course, matters because of what Clara seems to be becoming. As the Doctor watches his friend become far too much like the person he likes the least – himself – he is also always aware of how fast human lives go by in comparison to his own. To see that awareness echoed back at him in the almost inhuman Lady Me, and to see what he had hoped would be a gift become a prison hits all to close to home. Ashildr’s smacking the Doctor in the face with the fact that Clara – no matter what she may or may not be becoming – is one of the Mayflies, just adds to the Doctor’s growing horror over what that “gift” has wrought.

And this all in the character moments. Like so much of this season so far, the magic has been in the dialogue and the interaction, often very quiet, between two people. The Doctor and Davros, Missy and Clara, and here between the Doctor and Ashildr. In all these cases, while enmities may remain, an odd kind of understanding has resulted, and we’ve seen deeper into the heroes and villains ofDoctor Who, in a way we haven’t before.

With the return of Ashildr, the story on the screen perhaps takes second fiddle to the story about her.  Her growth and changes and eventual salvation by Rufus Hound’s – Sam Swift.  The second best highwayman behind Ashildr’s Nightmare. The – literal – gallows humor bit was actually funny.

Sam Swift, ribald though he be, is meant to show the lust for life of the Mayflies to Ashildr, and one suspects that at least for a time, Lady Me may have a companion of her own. Maybe longer, given the Doctor’s track record with guessing the effects of the medical chips.

The discussion in the pub, and “Are we enemies now?”: The Doctor has pulled back the mask and shown his sadness before, and the sometimes crushing loneliness of outliving everyone you care about, but here he explains why a TARDIS full of Immortals could be a bad thing indeed.  That someone who lives – functionally – forever has a duty to try and save those lives… when he, or she, can. And isn’t that what makes the Doctor the Doctor?

Of course we’re left with an interesting, and fairly ominous to be honest, image at the end of the episode, contrasted with one of friendship tinged with sadness. Ashildr, in the background of Clara’s life, on a mission to “clean up” after the Time Lord. Someone who is aware enough, somehow, to know that the Doctor will see the photo and her place in it.

It is, of course, that final look on the Doctor’s face that we go out on, both here and in the episode. The Man Who Runs Away, watching the Impossible Girl with the pain of knowing their time is coming to an end, no matter what happens or what he does. Peter Capaldi, in one look, laying bare the lonely man within the Lonely God.

Saturday morning cartoons were all the rage when I was growing up as I’m sure they were (or are) for you too.  However what many people are now watching aren’t just cartoons that we were used to, where Bugs managed to defeat Daffy or the Coyote continually chased but lost out to the Road Runner.

With multi-episodic story arcs, these new “cartoons” are significantly more intricate, artistic and detailed.  In addition, many of the really good ones are surprisingly violent and sometimes quite erotic also!  They definitely aren’t suitable for your typical preteen (& in some cases post-teen!) that’s for sure!!

I’ve written a previous post already on the top 5 Anime episodes on Netflix which you can find here. However, I wouldn’t want you to simply restrict yourself to these titles as there are many more both on and off Netflix that are absolutely worth looking at.

The ones I previously mentioned are – Sword Art Online (now with 2 seasons), The Irregular at Magic High School, Attack on Titan (now also released in Live Action!), Highschool of the Dead & Knights of Siddonia (also up to Season 2).

Some new ones that I think you should consider for your viewing pleasure are:

aldnoahAldnoah Zero

I just watched this one and the one thing I have to state without ruining anything is the ending is a complete shock.  My jaw literally hit the floor!

Aldnoah Zero is a bit confusing in its overall mythology – basically in the 70’s a hypergate to Mars was found on the surface of the moon.  Those early astronauts also found a mysterious property (power?) called Aldnoah that gave them the ability to enhance normal mechanical tools and weapons and gave them a devastating advantage over the rest of humanity.

After a short war that saw the Moon destroyed in an event later referred to as Heaven’s Fall (not shown in the series), an uneasy truce exists between the Terran’s and Martians.  However when Princess Asseylum is seemingly assassinated while on a diplomatic mission to Earth, the truce fractures and all out war ensues between the two planets.

Freezing

Another of those slightly erotic (lots of female nudity) titles, this one still had a really interesting story and was fun to watch.  When Earth is the target of an alien invasion by beings called Nova’s the only defence is genetically altered girls (Pandora’s) and their male partners (Limiters).  Freezing tells the story of Bridget and Kazuya Aoi who together combine to be the best and strongest.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Back in 2013, Fullmetal Alchemist made the list of top anime series on Netflix. That’s still available via streaming, but, now, we’re suggesting that you add Brotherhood to your queue as well. This is a reboot rather than a sequel and it’s one that aims closer to the manga source material. The essence of the story is that two boys attempt to bring their mother back from the dead and, in the process, lose huge chunks of their physical selves. That leads them on the road in search of The Philosopher’s Stone.

Gurren Lagann

At times controversial and often deceptively raunchy, this smart, fast-paced anime is beloved for its wide-ranging plot, its gorgeous animation, its take-no-prisoners plot twists, and its character development.

While many anime series in the mecha genre tend to turn off newcomers because of all the talk about giant robots, Gurren knows how to plunge you into the middle of the action while getting you emotionally invested before you know what’s happening. Even if you’re not up on your Japanese sci-fi tropes, this is an excellent, accessible series. Don’t miss it.

Stay tuned however as Netflix is now also launching another title called the Seven Deadly Sins.  Similar to Knights of Sidonnia this series also exclusive to Netflix & while Knights was definitely SciFi in scope and tone, this one is more of a western.

With the conclusion of the previous season, we had the syndicate and the members of the conspiracy actually being successful in their plans which was very unexpected!  With a significant portion of the city in ruins, Oliver felt that he’d not lived up to the promise he’d made himself and his father and ended up fleeing back to the island.

While he now considers the island something of a sanctuary vs. a prison, when Felicity arrives to get him to return back to the city, he reluctantly agrees.  Especially when she tells him that they don’t want him to come back as the Vigilante but rather as Oliver Queen as that’s who the city now needs.

As an aside, this does kind of make you wonder why no one else could find the island before when Felicity and Diggle seem to find it so easily, but let’s put that aside for now.

However, when Oliver does return to the city, he finds his company is now a takeover target and his family is literally considered to be the cause of the all the cities woes.  Oliver decides that he is the only one that can save the company and save all of the employees from the “evil” Summer Glau (let’s be honest, her character name doesn’t really matter does it?!) and her plans to decimate Queen Industries.

Meanwhile – Thea’s boyfriend is fighting to protect the glades similar to what Oliver did as the hood, however, he simply doesn’t have the same level of skill and while he is able to rescue someone, he also ends up beaten up quite nicely.

Thea has managed to take over the running of the bar but she has not gone to see her mother in prison and while she seems more mature than the first season she still obviously has some serious problems and demons in her own house that she needs to deal with.

Another group of vigelantes however have echoed Oliver’s mantra also and determined that they need to take on his job now that the Hood is no longer there.  They kill the mayor and capture the new district attorney who also happens to be Laurels new boss but she manages to fight them off and they depart empty-handed. We also find that in Oliver’s absence Detective Nance has now been demoted to a beat cop  is no longer able to question Laurel or anybody about what has happened

When the new vigilantes attack Oliver during the course of his board meeting he cannot act in the way he would like to and orders Diggle to keep him safe.  He does however jump out a window and swing down to another floor thereby saving Felicity’s life.

Oliver goes to prison to visit his mom in the effort to get some help and assistance and gaining the funds he needs to save the company from hostile takeover she manages to point him in the right direction.

When the vigilante’s attack the nightclub that Thea is managing, Roy (her boyfriend) manages to incapacitate several of them, but they are still able to capture Thea and escape.  This is the catalyst that Oliver needs to resume his activities as the true vigilante and the true Hood.

Oliver manages to track down the vigilantes to the church but they are unwilling to listen to reason and he is almost forced to kill them even though he does not want.  However he manages to stop them and himself and leaves them tied up so that officer Lance can find them.

The Snarts … talk about a dysfunctional family!  While you might think that Barry Allen and his father are somewhat messed up, or even his potential relationship with his step-sister is a bit weird, the Snarts are definitely the poster children for a screwed up family.

Golden Glider (Captain Colds sister) tracks down Cisco at their local coffee shop and pleads with him for assistance.  It seems that Leonard has taken up his evil ways with their father – a particularly nasty character – played by Michael Ironside in his normal intimidating way.

Lisa tells Cisco that their father used to beat her & Leonard when they were children & she can’t believe that Leonard would have gone willingly with him so she needs the Flash’s help to get her brother out of trouble.  Cisco flexes his tech muscles to track Snart’s Cold Gun & when the Flash finds him, they eventually realize that Lisa’s story checks out.  It seems that their father is even worse than she thinks as he’s planted a bomb in Lisa’s head and is using that as leverage to get Leonard to work with him.

Flash (Jay Garrick)
Flash (Jay Garrick) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While Cisco works on a plan to extract the explosive from Golden Glider, Barry decides to infiltrate the Snart crime family, posing as a security expert. After a tense interrogation by Papa Snart, Barry joins them on their latest caper to steal a cache of valuable gems. Barry uses his wit and some speed to ensure their success. Lewis betrays him at the last minute and shoots Barry. Unknown to Lewis, Barry uses his speed to catch the bullet but fakes his death.

After successfully breaching the security system, Leonard and his father argue over life choices. Cisco informs Barry that he has removed the bomb from Lisa and the Flash arrives to stop Lewis from escaping. When Leonard learns his sister is safe he puts and end to his father’s abuse once and for all with an ice blast to the chest.

On a more personal side, Joe struggles with the truth about his ex-wife and how he can tell Iris that her mother is really alive.  After a talk with Barry he decides to proceed and the show hits an emotional high in a dramatic and touching scene as Joe confesses the truth. Iris shows her maturity and forgives her father for the deception, but is weary of meeting her mother after two decades.

The show ends with a quite delightful scene with Patty Spivot (Shantel VanSanten) picking up coffee at Jitters and inadvertently assuming that Barry was actually asking for her number.  It’s entertaining to have another cast member unaware of Barry’s alter ego. I look forward to that reveal and hope they develop a relationship between these two awkward champions of justice. 

Back at the collider, Jay has stabilized the wormhole, dubbed the Speed Cannon, and plans to leave Earth 1. Stein has a frightening relapse, bursting into blue flame and then collapsing. As the team works to stabilize him a visitor arrives through the newly stabilized dimensional door…