I must admit that initially I had reservations about Jessica Jones. It didn’t seem like the logical follow up to Daredevil. I mean, Daredevil is a premier character with a storied history who deserved a quality movie or TV show. Jessica Jones just didn’t have the grandeur behind her name to get me excited. I admit only being aware of a handful of important comic stories featuring her.

After watching the trailer I was more on board with the whole thing, and even more so, after positive word of mouth began to head my way.

Well, I watched it, and it was damn good. How good? Let’s dive in to find out.

The Pros:

The story itself is good, but not terribly original. It contains classic troupes that have been done before. A loner detective with a knack for finding trouble opens up a P.I. firm while battling her demons and trying to right her wrongs. Pretty much the makings of any Noir story. Add super powers and throw the characters in to the Marvel universe you get something a little different that works.

What makes it work so well is the execution. It could have easily felt stale but it didn’t. This is actually in part, due to the relative anonymity of the source material. We want to see what Jessica Jones can do. What are the limits of her powers? How did she get them? What misdeeds has she done? And the question that soon enters everyone’s minds… Just who is Killgrave?

The thirst for answers, in many ways drives the show. It doesn’t hurt that the writing( Particularity the dialogue) is quite good. It feels as real without being too dour. In true Marvel form, there is humor. But I found it to be thrown in at the right times. Like Daredevil, This show had more dramatic weight than most of the films. I felt for most of the characters and, I connected to Jessica Jones struggles a bit more than usual.

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The look of it was reminiscent of Daredevil but not quite as innovative. Nevertheless, the production was of a high quality. The acting was, a general positive for the show. Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones was excellent. I’d seen a bit of her work before. She was always good, but nothing outstanding. She usually played to her strengths, nothing more. As Jessica Jones, Ritter is forced to push her self past her comfort zone and showcase a more varied skill set. For the most part, she succeeds. Playing a bitchy, yet cool woman is where she is most comfortable, but I enjoyed, and bought it when she went to different emotional places.

Her supporting cast was mostly strong as well. We’ll get to the weaknesses in the cast later. Luke Cage, played by Michael Colter was very good. He certainly nailed the look of Luke Cage. I would say that he also had his comfort zone and excelled more when he was in it. A bit underutilized but since he’s getting his own show, I can’t nitpick. Trish Walker, played by Rachel Taylor was a solid support for Krysten Ritter’s Jessica. She added just enough without taking away from the lead. Carrie Ann Moss makes a refreshing comeback, playing defense attorney, Jeri Hogarth. It was good to see her again, even if it was playing a cold calculating bitch, which she did very well by the way.

Lastly, we get to the best part of the show… The villain. Killgrave, played by David Tennan. phenomenal across the board. I’d say the best villain Marvel has brought to life on the small or big screen. I have to say that when it comes to TV, Marvel seems to execute it’s villains much better. If you look at Kingpin or Kilgrave, one thing is clear. They’re threatening and they don’t mess around.  Personally when I watch Avengers I don’t find Loki threatening at all. Same goes for a throw away villain like say,  Yellow Jacket. So there’s that.

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With Killgrave you get a guy who can get you to do anything he wants with simply the sound of his voice. Imagine that power. Sounds like fun doesn’t it? What harmless, yet selfish things could we do with that? Give those powers to a deranged sociopath and you get a whole new perspective on just how much a power like that can corrupt someone.  Credit to the writers for putting it out there, but even more credit to David Tennant for bringing Killgrave’s evil ways to life.

He plays him with so much charm and wit that it’s almost impossible not to root for him, at first. That quickly changes once the mysteries begin to unfold and his true nature becomes more apparent. One thing that’s for sure is that your attention is on him whenever Tennant shares a scene with someone. You can help but ask to ask yourselves questions about him. What makes him tick? What will he do? How far can he truly go?  He ends up makes the unlikable likable as much as he can. So much so, that you may even end up hating what he stands for ,but not hating him. Or maybe his powers of persuasion even worked on me!

The show can get quite gory at times which might sound like a complaint, but it’s not. On the contrary, I think the gore was key in showing the severity of what Killgrave could do and what it really means to have such power. It shows us why the trauma for many of his victims is as scarring as it is. That is, if they live to tell about it.

The Cons:

While, the meat of the story was good the rest suffered at times. There were definitely a few plot holes and character moments that just didn’t jive with me. This series really could have done without needing to make it 13 episodes. It dragged at various points in the middle and was clearly stalling things so they could get to episodes 12 and 13. The subplots that  were shoehorned in slowed things down and were, frankly uninteresting. Even ( SPOILERS) Jessica’s eventual immunity to Killgrave’s mind control seemed rather convenient and lame to me. Although for the most part, I was willing to overlook it.

Some things did seem repetitive and eventually became pointless. For example, Jessica’s crass attitude and constant disregard for D.A. Jerri Hogarth’s time. I found it hard to swallow that Jessica could just burst into a lawyer’s office and start making demands. Especially a lawyer that is her client. Minor but still…

As I mentioned before, most of the supporting cast was good but I have a bone to pick with a few of them. Will Simpson, played by Will Traval is one of those low points for me. Perhaps, even the biggest low point. He plays a cop who becomes one of Killgrave’s mind controlled slaves. He is sent to kill Trish Walker but fails in doing so. Jessica manages to save him as well. Done, right?

Wrong. He pops up again and again, for reasons that are about as flimsy as a straw. It doesn’t help matters that the actor playing Simpson isn’t very good.  This is especially apparent whenever he shares a scene with Trish Walker, played by Rachel Taylor. Not good. Not good at all. Both actors benefit greatly from Krysten Ritter acting in the majority of scenes with them. Going back to Simpson… His motivations are all over the map. His story line even seems to contradict itself at times. At one point he laments how he could not forgive himself from trying to harm another person and the next he murders an innocent man in cold blood! The worst part is that that death had no point to it either. When you get to it, you’ll see what I mean.

Another annoying character was Jessica’s irksome neighbors upstairs. Creepy brother and sister that just grate on you to no end. The less said about them the better. I also wasn’t particularity fond of Malcolm( Jessica’s junkie “friend”) but as the series wore on I came to like him more.

People tend to say that the show’s finale was anti climatic but I didn’t find this to be true. I thought it was a tense and appropriate end to the story.

In conclusion, a solid show. Not as good as Daredevil ,but high quality nonetheless.I look forward to see what Marvel does as a follow up to Killgrave. I think that it’s going to be very tough to replace such a memorable villain. The journey to find out should be interesting. Go watch Jessica Jones season 1 and share your thoughts!

 

 

Hell Bent – Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 12

An interesting name is one of the first things that jumps out at you in this episode that follows the almost perfect Heaven Sent.  Personally, I didn’t like this one as much as the previous episode and perhaps surprisingly given how the previous Christmas episodes have panned out, didn’t like it nearly as much as The Husbands of River Song (review coming).  Now while most of my previous reviews have been more of a retelling of the story, I’m going to change tack a little bit from this point forward and focus more on my thoughts and feelings of the episode.  If you do still want and need a retelling there are lots of great sites that offer it (heck I read them too!) and you can check out some of these:

In Hell Bent we start with the Doctor entering a diner seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  With a guitar (a theme throughout this season) in hand, he strums a tune and while my initial thoughts were how exactly does this follow from him breaking through the Crystal matrix(?) when his waitress in the diner turns out to be Clara – well that definitely was a bit of a surprise as I thought we were done with her after Face the Raven.  I’ll be honest while I did initially enjoy Clara as a companion – I think she was better with Matt Smith.  I just didn’t like her as much with Capaldi and I didn’t think she should have stayed nearly as long as she did.

River Song (Doctor Who)
River Song (Doctor Who) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anywho!

When the Doctor speaks to the waitress, you’d expect that he’d be overjoyed to see Clara back – considering all of the pain and anguish that he’d gone through in Heaven Sent but he seems somewhat unmoved which is initially a bit surprising.  However as he starts to relate the story of how he got there, things start to make sense.  It seems that he actually had arrived in Gallifrey as initially expected at the end of Heaven Sent, and while I wouldn’t have expected it to look like a dust bowl and desert wilderness with a single futuristic city (my thoughts of Gallifrey were always of a technological marvel really … something along the lines of a Trantor or a global mega-city) this is what it turns out to be.

The Doctor has a confrontation with a bunch of Timelords and soldiers and in the end he wins & kicks the Lord President off the planet.  The soldiers all consider the Doctor to be a hero (which is actually quite nice I thought) and everyone consents to the Doctor being in charge.  In the end the Doctor uses some Time Lord technology to remove Clara in the seconds before her death thereby “saving” her.  Unfortunately however her death like so many things is a fixed point and is something the Doctor is unable to truly change.  While it turns out that the “Hybrid” is not Clara or Me (the last of the immortals), but is rather the Doctor and Clara together.  Each pushing the other to terrifying extremes.  The Doctor realizes that the only true solution is to use the neuro blocker to remove all memories of the Doctor from Clara so that she can be safe but Clara booby traps it and it ends up removing all memories of Clara from the Doctors mind instead.  This allows Clara to travel through time with Me on her own missions in their Tardis/Diner pending her eventual and inescapable death, while the Doctor searches anew for another companion.

Sorry ended up giving a bit of a recap afterall, but I think it went fairly quickly?

So what worked for me?

  • I really liked the fact that the Doctor was so well respected by the Soldiers and citizens of Gallifrey and while the Timelords might consider him somewhat of a troublemaker, they still fear and respect him too.
  • I liked the fact that when the General regenerated it was as a female and that was her previous sex also.  The fact that a white person becomes black was pretty cool too!
  • The Sonic Screwdriver is back!  Thank god they got rid of the stupid glasses!

What didn’t work?

  • I didn’t like the fact that the Timelord planet looked so backward … as mentioned earlier, this should have been an awesome and amazing place with technology run rampant – not a barn in the middle of a dustbowl.
  • I didn’t like the fact that the Doctor used a gun and killed the General – even though the regeneration was quite cool.
  • I didn’t like the whole archives and the way they were … it didn’t make any sense?
  • I didn’t like the fact that Me was the only other immortal to survive?  I still don’t understand how she is immortal as while I get that the chip implanted into her revived her from the dead, how does it not work similarly with the aliens that it was taken from in the first place?
  • Perhaps most importantly … I didn’t like the fact that Clara came back … the transition of a companion should be a traumatic effect, not just for the Doctor but also for us as an audience and while I stopped caring for her, her death in Face the Raven was complete.  This … it feels like cheating.  Saying goodbye to Rose hurt, saying farewell to Donna – well that was just tragic.  Amy and Rory … can you say ouch!!  With Clara … there is nothing.  She was gone but now she’s not.

Chapter XII – Hell’s Keep

The marine fell through the portal, spinning head over foot through thin strands of throbbing energy. He fell through an alien sky toward an unknown world, a large circle was below. An invisible force oriented him and guided him gently to the ground in the centre of the circle, Hell Knights and Cyber-demons could be seen in the area beyond. Looking around, he found himself in the centre of a circle of tightly assembled slabs of stone, energy from the portal continued to radiate upon him from above. He looked at the ground, ancient bones protruded from the dry dusty ground and eyeless skulls looked up at him, spewing a steam-like gas from below the ground. It was a hellish stonehenge that rose five stories high.

The marine walked out to explore the area but found he was being pushed back by some force. A breeze swept through his mind, a thousand voices called out to him. The voices were animalistic but seemed to imply a query.
“Why were we summoned?” the voices asked. The voices plucked the answers from his mind. The voices commanded a louder tone, “You have violated our sacred conduit” the screaming voices implied. The marine could feel the presence moving through him, the Cyber-demons began to slowly stomp around the outside of the structure, watching the marine with eyes of pure hatred.
“You are much like the other,” the voices said in a slithering voice, making the marines skin crawl. “Hell’s icon will consume you both” said the voices clearly. “Baphomet!” The name echoed through the area.

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Before his eyes the hellish dimension began to fade and the Earthly realm appeared between the clouds of shifting atmosphere. The marine reached toward it, he stumbled and bumped his way through the rift. He stood in the centre of a free-way lined with crashed hover-cars. The imagery of destruction shocked the test-marine, being trapped in a computer simulation for so many weeks he had no idea that the demonic invasion had occurred. He rationalized that whatever he had been fighting on that Phobos hangar seemed to have made the Earth it’s new home at some point. How many of my people have perished? Surely, Earth’s forces can’t fight like he did on the hangar moments ago—Wait a minute, what happened on the hangar? How did I-? Explosions in the distance brought him back from his troubling thoughts. A very strange structure was in that direction, likely a stronghold for these monsters he thought. It looked like someone was fighting in that direction, he made his way toward the sounds of explosions. As he trekked along he soon saw some moving green light followed by a sound of imploding energy. Someone was in that direction was using a BFG 9000, whoever this person is they’re my new best friend, he thought to himself as he quickened his pace.

A few kilometres away, the other marine fought onward. Despite his enhancements from the mega-armour and a previous injection of the BSK serum while on Phobos he was getting fatigued. The constant onslaught of demonic invaders was unrelenting. His nano-enhanced chainsaw was slicing through several imps at a time, stinking carcasses trailed behind him. He pushed the saw against a demon’s head, a large slice of its scalp fell away, blood splashed freely. He spotted an Arch-vile, he heaved the plasma rifle and charged toward it. The Arch-vile shot a stream of fire after him, he ducked behind a car, firing burst from behind. The alien made a hideous roar in defiance and threw another volley of fire. The marine dodges and ran toward the alien.

The charred monster raised it’s clawed hand, poised to strike. The marine jerked the chainsaw, the blade flipped out and came to life. He cut off the offending arm and then thrust the saw through its chest and pulled it upward, the blade exited through the top of the alien’s skull, exposing steaming organs and splattering blood and bone. He heard the growls of more demons approaching, he kept his chainsaw at the ready as he continued along. He soon came across a mob of Lost Souls, a few shells from the shotgun shattered them to pieces. More of the flying skull monsters accompanied by Cacodemons and Pain Elementals attacked. The grotesque floating orbs were moving in a ‘vee’ formation. The marine gripped his shotgun and more Lost Souls fell to the ground in pieces. He was in the process of stashing the shotgun in favour of the rocket launcher, when an explosion ruptured against the side of one of the cacodemons, cratering that side of its bloated body, exposing mysterious organs. It fell to the ground with a splash of blue blood. Who could that have been? Surely the Echelon didn’t return he thought to himself.

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Shrugging, he turned his sights on a Pain Elemental and let the rockets fly, he was hardly in a position to turn down the help. Lost Souls flew toward him and were shattered against his bare fists, one of them was kicked hard enough to send it high into the sky. He continued firing rockets at the remaining aliens accompanied by the efforts of the marine from the test chamber. He was firing a grenade launcher he got recently from a former human whom he promptly disarmed, (literally). The floating bloated freaks burst wildly under both of the marines co-ordinated attacks, sending chunks and blood flying.

They kept their distance and silently traveled to the demonic structure that was growing larger in the distance. They passed by scenes of destruction, buildings were reduced to rubble, impaled and burnt bodies of the marine’s countrymen scattered the city, and they had to climb around the rubble of an intersection that collapsed into the sewer tunnels below. Oh—and it smells like rotting s***, luckily the helmets of the mega armour filtered out the odour. Soon, they heard a low rumble coming from South-West. They moved toward the sound and, using the advanced functions of their helmet’s visor to scope out the source of the sound, they could make out an army of Hell Knights moving to intercept them.

“Get psyched” said the Phobos marine. They took their positions and fired at the aliens. The projectiles traveled two hundred meters before exploding against the targets leaving a small crater surrounded by blood, limbs and organs. The platoon of Hell Knights changed their direction slightly and moved toward the marines, throwing balls of burning plasma. They were covering behind a partially destroyed wall. The blobs of plasma sizzled against the bricks. The test-marine lobbed grenades over the wall, while the other blindly fired plasma from the corner.

The grenades killed off pockets of the platoon, the plasma slapped against the facing side. The Phobos-marine gripped his BFG and broke for more cover near-by. He then dashed closer to the aliens and took cover behind a toppled bus, his BFG was charging when he jumped onto it. The blob of convulsing energy flew through a pocket in the aliens’ formation. The resulting explosion decimated the surrounding Hell Knights, those that were closest to the explosion suffered complete disintegrated. The test-marines’ grenades provided support, the Phobos-marine jumped down and unleashed quick succession of rockets, defiant, the hell knight roared and threw plasma. Crack-boom. The test-marine’s grenades cut their frustrations short.

A horrible choir of alien voices sounded. Arch-vile emerged from the collapsing platoon, they immediately began using their mysterious abilities to resurrect the fallen Hell Knights, while others shot flames back at the marines. The Arch-vile raised their arms above the pathetic remains of the charred aliens as the remaining Hell Knights advanced on the marines. Light glowed brightly between the Arch-viles powdery, pale hands, chunks of burnt flesh began to bounce and roll toward them, ashy remains twirled through intricate swarms. The chunks and ash flared red brightly, it soon resembles churning flesh. An unimaginable sight of bubbling and stretching flesh quickly took the form of the alien reborn. The sight caused the test-marine to lift off his helmet and vomit loudly. The other marine shrugged, its not the kind of thing one would ever expect to see. He fired another BFG round, the green blob sailed toward the Arch-vile but was intercepted by a Hell Knight and detonated prematurely, the Arch-vile stood unharmed and attacking. The Phobos marine jumped out of the way just before flames engulfed the area.

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The Arch-vile approached the demons who had recently fallen and resurrected them quickly, the Hell Knights sprang to life, tossing plasma. The scream of a chaingun sounded, lightning fast gunfire tore across the battlefield. The test marine emerged with fire in his eyes, the chambers on the gun turned wildly, another gift from the former humans. The Phobos-marine gripped his shotgun and advanced on the dwindling horde, he rolled to evade plasma, then took aim at a Hell Knight’s head. He fired, reloaded and fired again, the aliens skull blew apart, revealing its green brain. He then took to punching craters into the chests of the Knights, the gunfire drew the attention of the aliens. He drew close to an Arch-vile and unloaded his plasma rifle in multiple bursts at it’s head, which promptly turned to ash. The Hell Knights fell defeated, revealing the remaining Arch-vile, running madly. They were caught in the crossfire of plasma and bullets, they were soon wiped from existence. The victorious marines stood before the smouldering remains of thousands of aliens. The alien structure lay closer than ever, they wasted no time.

Last night’s episode of “Agent Carter” titled The Lady in the Lake (Agent Carter Season 2 Episode 1) introduced a ton of amazing new mysteries for its second season. They brought back Black Widow baddie Dottie Underwood, they teed up the mystery of a frozen, radioactive woman, and they revealed a secret society that looked way too much like Hydra.  Now it must be stated upfront that while I expected Dottie to be back at some point this series, I didn’t expect to see her so soon!  Carter as I mentioned in my previous reviews doesn’t waste time and while the short seasons somewhat contribute to that, I expect another reason is the lessons learned from Season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D which just dragged.

Season two of Marvel’s Agent Carter begins the same way season one did: with a sassy brunette in a red hat. But this time the brunette is Russian super-spy Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) dressed like everyone’s favorite SSR agent — Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) — and she and her goons are robbing a bank. Just when you think they might get away with it too, Peggy pops out of the safe with a shotgun and gets into a showdown with Dottie and while we don’t have one of the epic fight sequences that May made famous in S.H.I.E.L.D we still do have a quite exciting showdown between the two girls.  The brawl ends when Peggy smashes a bag of coins into Dorothy’s head, and having the bag burst as it smacks Dorothy accentuates the impact of the finishing move, using the explosion of coins as a visual representation of the force of Peggy’s hit. Managing to capture Dottie, Peggy is in the midst of her interrogation … and you can tell that things have changed at SSR as the other agents obviously hold her in extremely high esteem which Thompson is not too appreciative of.

The SSR’s new west coast chief Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) is in Los Angeles, and let me say that he’s never looked better. The SSR gets called in to help the LAPD because there’s a frozen lake in the middle of a heat wave and a dead girl at the bottom of it. But Sousa is the only agent in LA and he wants backup for what he thinks will be a huge, high profile case. Thus the east coast chief, Jack Thompson (the very angry Chad Michael Murray) sends Peggy to the west coast, interrupting her Dottie interrogation. The main reason he does is because he thinks this will annoy Sousa and Peggy, which doesn’t give me much confidence in his leadership abilities. And then he proves incapable of interrogating Dottie — whose lipstick remains perfect while in custody — before the FBI swoops in and takes her away, so all in all, not a great day for him.

Meanwhile, everyone’s favorite sassy butler Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) has also moved to Los Angeles because Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) has decided to start making movies. Unlike Sousa, Jarvis has not changed his wardrobe at all, and he’s annoyed that Californians “eat avocados with everything.” Never change, Edwin. When Jarvis brings Peggy to the Stark mansion, Peggy finally meets his wife, Ana Jarvis, who last season seemed to maybe be a figment of his imagination. Those expecting a dowdy housewife for Mrs. Jarvis will be surprised by Ana’s effervescent disposition, and her personality carries over to her bold wardrobe of dresses in brightly colored floral patterns. She’s a housewife that has clearly spent her free time keeping up with the latest fashions, and Ana’s expertise comes in handy when Peggy needs help getting ready for a date with Dr. Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin), a scientist working for the company directly connected to the murder Peggy is investigating.

Peggy Carter is relocating to Hollywood for Agent Carter’s second season, but it’s far from the only big change for the series. As expected from the new setting, the visuals are brighter and the fashion is more glamorous, but there’s also an influx of new female characters, a love interest of color, and a story that pulls Peggy away from the workplace misogyny that defined so much of the first season.  But back to our Jane Doe, who’s not only frozen, but glows in the dark. The dumb LAPD detective Sousa and Peggy work with keeps trying to stop them from following leads, as his main investigatory strategy is to leak the story to the press. This is so ridiculous it’s clear that he’s up to no good. Later he’s outright racist toward hot black doctor James Wilkes (Reggie Austin), so you can tell he’ll be gone soon.

Right, racism! Season one (rightfully) faced criticism from fans for its very white cast, but this season adds hot Dr. Wilkes, a scientist at Isodyne labs, where the dead girl — he tells us her name, Jane Scott — worked. Rumor has it she was sleeping with the boss, Calvin Chadwick (Currie Graham), who’s also running for Senate. It’s clear from his first moment on screen that Wilkes is supposed to be her new love interest, but Peggy seems sort of uncomfortable about it. It’s unclear if this is because, as Peggy says, he’s a person of interest, or if because Peggy might be a little racist herself.

Peggy and Jarvis go to feel out Chadwick and his wife, actress Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) at a horse race, where Jarvis poses as an executive at Stark Pictures Productions and Peggy impersonates an American. I love when British people do American accents, so this was great. Chadwick gets defensive very quickly, joining the other characters doing a bad job hiding their evil intentions & Carter realizes immediately that he’s somehow involved.  When the dumb LAPD detective gradually starts to freeze also, he decides that the only person who can help him is Dr. Wilkes – perhaps he knows something? – and kidnaps him.  Peggy and Sousa are in immediate pursuit and while they are able to corner, him, he is shot by another police officer – one who claims that he didn’t hear the no fire order.  It looks like team is left with very little to go on now, although they’re going to dig further into Isodyne that’s for sure!

A very interesting episode as we get significant insight into the way in which the boy’s grew up when they were shuttled around the country in their Dad’s battles against evil.  Enrolled at Truman High in Fairfax, Indiana for one month in 1997, the boys learn of a killing at the school and realize that they need to investigate the story.   In a series of flashbacks, the brothers definitely show their personalities as they try to fit into the school.  Sam is a bit nerdy and a bookworm, while his big brother Dean is all about cars and babes – specifically the hot blonde, Amanda Heckerling.   On his first day of English class, Sam defends Barry Cook from the bullying of Dirk McGregor, while the teacher, Mr. Wyatt, assigns the class an essay on “their most memorable family experience.”  Mr. Wyatt questions the “horror story” at the center of Sam’s essay about family, but praises his writing abilities and asks him if he really wants to go into “the family business.” It’s the first time anyone’s asked him that question — and the answer is “more than anything,” no.

Investigating the murder, Sam poses as a janitor, while Dean, in an outfit of gym shorts, tall socks and red headband, lords over a gym class that has never been allowed to play dodge ball before. Initially the brothers can’t find any of the common factors that they look for in their cases – sulfur, black smoke or hex bags – and they start to wonder if there is actually anything nefarious at play after all?  Perhaps it was just a girl that snapped after being made fun of, one time too many?  However when a student in home economics jams the hand of a homework-copying jock into a running food processor – they realize that must be something going on!

Sam realizes they’re dealing with ghost possession, which is rare but not unheard of. The only violent death on the school grounds was a 1998 suicide – that of Barry Cook – the boy that Sam defended so many years ago.  Dean guesses that his ghost is now attacking the bullies that tormented him and while Sam regrets the necessity they search out his bones and salt and burn them.  When Sam returns to the school to say good-bye to Mr. Wyatt now and thank him for the advice that he gave a lost boy so long ago he’s confronted by a student in the hallway that attacks him and calls him by his name! When he fills the student’s mouth with salt, the ghost is forced from her body. Dean realizes that all the possessed students ride the same school bus, which is driven by Dirk McGregor’s father. As it turns out, by his freshman year Dirk had just watched his mother die of cancer; he later turned to drugs and alcohol and was dead himself before he graduated. Dirk’s father laments that he had a rough time from other

While Sam remembered the story of defending Barry from Dirk, his inadvertent use of the nickname – Dirk the Jerk – ends up being something that remains and follows Dirk himself.  Dirk later turns to drugs and alcohol and while he does not commit suicide like Barry, he too is dead before graduation.  Dirk’s father however doesn’t remember his son as a bully but rather laments the fact his son had a rough time from other kids and while Dirk’s body was cremated, he’d kept a lock of his hair in his bible that he stores in his bus.

That night, Sam and Dean chase down the bus, which is transporting a sports team to an away game. Dirk possesses two different people and attacks the Winchesters; fortunately the brothers are able to find the lock of hair and destroy it before Dirk’s ghost can do any serious damage.

After, the boys return to the high school so Sam can finally have his goodbye with Mr. Wyatt. Their first farewell was a mixed experience: the whole school is congratulating Sam for taking down Dirk and his bullying, while Amanda Heckerling tells Dean how sorry she feels for him, that he thinks he has to posture so much and pretend to be so tough. Dean is humiliated, and delighted when the Impala pulls up in front of the school. In the present, Mr. Wyatt remembers Sam fondly, and asks about what he’s done with himself. His last question is whether Sam is happy. Sam is unable to answer.

The Darkness and the Light had Team Flash facing a big obstacle  – let’s be clear when I say big … I mean BIG!!!  While we saw King Shark last time and the return of Harrison Wells to the show – this time the real Harrison Wells and not the reverse Flash posing as him – this episode brought in some new participants into the game and went a little dark in some corners while balancing it with some romance and comedic scenes.

Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) made his return to The Flash, but it turns out that he’s the Dr. Wells from Earth Two. While you’d expect the team to react somewhat strongly to his reappearance and treat him with a little bit of wariness – especially Barry – they’ve actually been quite trusting and accommodating which is somewhat surprising to say the least. While Joe and Jay are a bit tentative with Harrison Wells’, the rest of the team seem to just take it in stride. Seeing that lack of anger was a bit of a shock, making us wonder if there was some missing scene where they buried the hatchet that we’re just not seeing? It must be stated that Tom Cavanagh does an excellent job of playing the same character in two completely different ways.  The original Harrison Wells was serene and devious, Earth Two’s version is uptight, insulting, and doesn’t care who he pisses off. 

Linda Park as she appears in Justice League Un...
Linda Park as she appears in Justice League Unlimited (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Watching that opening sequence with a quick glance into Earth Two was a grand way to start off the episode. It was so cool to see the big differences between both worlds when it comes to the design and style. By looking at Earth-Two, you can immediately tell how much further advanced they are in certain elements in comparison to ourselves.

While Well’s return by itself would be enough for most shows, The Flash also introduces to another villain from Earth-Two. It turned out that Doctor Light just so happens to be the Earth-Two version of Linda Park (Malese Jow), Barry’s ex-girlfriend and Iris’ colleague.  While some of the other villains sent through the portal were a bit two-dimensional, in this case, Doctor Light didn’t want to be a villain – she was being forced by Zoom.  Her plan was to kill Linda and take over her life so that she could hide from Zoom.  The fight scene between Light and Barry was one of the best we’ve seen, especially when Barry learned how to use the Speed Mirage.

While there were some romantic sub-plots at play throughout this episode also … Barry and Patty having a very cute first date, Caitlin and Jay sharing a kiss and Cisco and Kendra getting into some flirting action, the biggest reveal was the return of Harrison Wells’.  It was great to see Wells back in action, even though this version is different but it works. 

A somewhat different episode to the one that I was expecting, Heaven Sent worked – although it wasn’t without its flaws.  One thing I’ve come to expect from Capaldi at this point is the ability to pontificate at great length.  He’s demonstrated it quite ably in some of more recent episodes of the show (The Zygon Inversion had an excellent example of this as did the amazing conversation between the Doctor and Davros in The Magicians Apprentice), however in each of those cases he had someone else to speak to and play off.  In Heaven Sent, it’s somewhat new territory as Capaldi has basically done a Tom Hanks and is all by his lonesome on the desert island. When you have an episode that is, more than any other in the show’s history, a one-man performance, what you don’t want to do is spend the entire review just talking about how amazing an actor Peter Capaldi is, even if it’s true.

I loved the insights into the Doctor’s character and his thought processes. It was interesting to see how his so-called miraculous escapes are really the result of him retreating into a mental space in his head (represented by the TARDIS console room) and working though all of the variables and possibilities.  Before I dive into this, let’s just get this out of the way. There are some fans out there bemoaning the use of the TARDIS as the Doctor’s Mind Palace and calling it Moffat ripping himself off with Sherlock.  However, while the idea might be somewhat similar the representation of it is extremely different and since these are out of sequence you can see the way Sherlock’s mind palace works – in the Abominable Bride – and it’s extremely different to the Doctors.  The Doctors’ if anything seems to be more like the villain from Season 3 of Sherlock – Charles Augustus Magnussen – as the Doctor’s is more of a physical room (albeit one that is extradimensional and infinitely large) simply shaped to look like the TARDIS console room.

What’s it all about?

The Doctor is trapped in a place he cannot escape, wracked with anger and guilt, with only himself for company, and hunted by a creature he cannot outrun, fight or reason with.  Constantly searching for answers he seems to always end up in the same place and his death (over and over and over) is painful to watch and experience.  Sure, he’s “talking” to Clara, but he’s not, is he? He’s talking to himself and the heart-breaking self-awareness of that takes us somewhere we’ve never actually been: Inside the mind of the Doctor.

However, the one thing this episode really does show us more than anything else is that the Doctor is a survivor first and foremost.  While he might constantly be dying, his deaths are not without a purpose.  See the Doctor always looks at the long game and while we’ve not necessarily seen it to this extent previously, it’s really clear in this episode as his seemingly inconsequential deaths eventually lead to his escape.

Showing how he deals with grief? We’ve seen some of that before, too, in the 11th atop his cloud or the 10th’s casual cruelty towards Martha, but we’ve never been inside the man as he wrestles with it. And he loses here, because he can’t save Clara, because she dies and there’s nothing he can do about it, and she made the choices that led to her death. He knows that, and he acknowledges that she kinda got herself killed, but he also clearer than ever before admits that she did that by trying to be like him. It gives the Doctor another reason to hate himself, and it wounds him in a way that few things have, so much so, that when he realizes what is actually happening to him, it makes him seriously ask himself if he can’t just give up and lose for a change.

There was that moment towards the end of “Heaven Sent” when it’s finally revealed that the Doctor had been repeating the same sequence of actions over and over and over again, hundreds of thousands of times, as he attempted to break through that twenty foot thick wall, wearing it down ever so slightly, before dying each and every time. There’s that awful instant when you realize that every single one of those skulls at the bottom of the lake belongs to the Doctor, each one of them the result of another cycle, another death.  It’s a genuinely chilling moment.  Dying and knowing the only way to break through the Wall in Room 12 is to repeat the process of arrival, fear and death, again and again, the Doctor drags his bloody, broken body from the bottom of the castle to the top. He thinks he has enough time to make it to the teleport room before he dies, and he thinks he’s figured out the way to beat the trap, but he knows that he’s too broken to even escape through regeneration, and that if he doesn’t try… well.

How many times did the Doctor have to die and be reborn within the Confession Dial before he finally broke through that wall? It seems that it couldn’t have been more than a week for each sequence.  There are 52 weeks in a year.  The Doctor was imprisoned for approximately 4.5 billion years.  Very roughly speaking, that comes to 234 billion times.  And now my head hurts.

 

While inside the Confession Dial, the Doctor refused to divulge what he knew of the Hybrid, the entity that “will unravel the web of time, and destroy a billion billion hearts to heal its own.” And that begs the question, of course. This Hybrid that we’ve been told of all season — this thing that is not a fusion of Time Lord/Dalek — is “me”, or is it “Me”? Is the Doctor saying that he is the Hybrid, or that he created the Hybrid by making Ashildr an immortal? And another question: if the Doctor is the one who saved Gallifrey — and has, in fact, saved it over and over again — then why have the Time Lords treated him in this way, by setting up the circumstances that brought the Doctor and Clara to the Trap Street, and ultimately leading to the events that claimed the life of his friend? Are the Time Lords so afraid that they have forgotten who the Doctor is, and how that he can be both savior and destroyer?

While this site has primarily been focused on the more Scientific and Fantastic elements of the world, I’d be remiss if I missed the latest episode of Sherlock (it’s only been 2 years – but who’s counting).  After all, I am a SuperWhoLock fan & I’m guessing so are you!

While the biggest complaint I have for Sherlock – which I’m sure is echoed by many – is its lack of continuity – i.e. the huge gap in between seasons, not so much in the story itself, the addition of a Christmas Special was a good way to help tide the gap between seasons.  Sadly with Benedict Cumberbatch going the way of Hollywood (you do know he’s the next Doctor Strange in the Marvel Universe don’t you?) I expect that this gap will not get any shorter and we might have to either say adieu to him as the titular character or get used to even longer gaps between seasons.

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The Case at hand

Previous episodes and seasons of Sherlock have focused to a very large factor on the modern day era vs. how the character was actually written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  This episode, however, puts our characters into that long ago & bygone era and has us deal with a murder somewhat dissimilar to one we’ve grown accustomed to from our favorite sleuthing duo.  The mystery of the story is that of the deceased Mrs. Ricoletti, who after randomly firing at people in the street blows the top of her head off with her last shot. Inspector Lestrade fearfully recounts how Mr. Ricoletti was murdered the evening after by… Mrs. Ricoletti. Sherlock takes the case but for several months, nothing happens until more deaths occur at the apparent hands of the vengeful Mrs. Ricoletti.

Mycroft & Lady Carmichael

When Sherlock meets his brother Mycroft, he puts him in contact with another victim of Mrs. Ricoletti and asks him to take the case.  While Mycroft (who is massively corpulent) indicates that he’s already solved the case (and in fact informs Sherlock its a case that he MUST lose) he wants Sherlock to take it on to see if he comes up with a different solution.  Mycroft makes a bet with Sherlock to see if he can solve it and Sherlock meets up with Lady Carmichael.  Lady Carmichael recounts how her husband had seen the ghost of Mrs. Ricoletti in their garden and she’s frightened that he will be her next victim.  Sherlock agrees to take the case and informs her that her husband will be protected.  When Sherlock meets up with Eustace Carmichael, he denies any connection to Mrs. Ricoletti but is murdered soon after.

Watson and Sherlock had staked out the Carmichael’s country mansion. On the night of the murder they see an apparition of Mrs. Ricoletti, but Watson fails to pursue her. Sherlock becomes scared when a note is found on Eustace from Moriarty after he has inspected the body. Mycroft berates Sherlock for his failure in dealing with the case. That evening Sherlock takes a large amount of cocaine and undergoes a vision of Moriarty. After taunting Sherlock that he is more than a figment Moriarty again commits suicide by shooting himself in the head.

Moriarity & Sherlock

If you recall from Season 2 and the somewhat amazing finale, Moriarity was Sherlocks most able nemesis and he had seemingly killed himself at the end of the Season by committing suicide. Now while Sherlock himself seemingly plunged to his death at the conclusion of that season only to return from the beyond in Season 3, could Moriarity have also returned from the dead somehow?  The conclusion or finale to Season 3 definitely seemed to imply that he had.

The Addict & the Abominable Bride

Sherlock as we’ve learned previously is not afraid of experimenting on himself with drugs if it will help him solve a case.  Well in a twist that I wasn’t really expecting, it seems the whole case of the Abominable Bride was in fact Sherlock under the influence and in his mind palace trying to solve a long-dormant case! When he wakes up back in the plane, we realize that the case we’ve been following is something long lost to history – and while he’s not fully out of the woods in regards to his drug overdose, now that we understand why he’s in the Victorian era it starts to make sense, but in a somewhat sad way, we also lose the magic that was prevalent in that version of Holmes and Watson.

Sherlock then wakes up back in the Victorian age. At an abandoned church in the countryside Mary reveals she has been working for Mycroft trying to solve the case. In the church they discover a group of woman dressed as cultists. Sherlock reveals to them he knows how they faked Ricoletti’s suicide and used her haunting to go after men they deemed unworthy.  They are the precursors to the woman’s sufferage movement and are trying to gain acceptance for women in society.

Now while the whole case might have been nothing more than a drug-induced coma, it does allow Sherlock to deduce (after a further confrontation with Moriarity at the Reichenbach falls) that Moriarity is truly dead.  Someone else is using his likeness for their own nefarious purposes.  This special episode of Sherlock is hard to judge. It is an improvement over season 3, but the fun and mystery of the first two season’s has yet to return. To sum things up, the first half hour of The Abominable Bride was a bit boring. Sure it was fun to see how Watson and Sherlock became friends in 1895 and how it mirrored the pilot episode. It was also fun to see how certain female characters were interwoven into the story.   The Abominable Bride has a number of big reveals at the end. As a viewer I was only interested in one. How did Mrs. Ricoletti rise was from the grave to kill her husband after her apparent suicide. The revelations that she and her female conspirators left a dead look alike at the scene of the suicide felt novel. That they later on switched the body with that of the real Mrs. Ricoletti, who committed suicide just for the occasion, reminded me of the how good things were during the first two seasons.

Was this one of the better episodes? … well compared to Season 1 and 2, probably not.  It was good as a standalone episode, and was also generally better than most of Season 3, however the best part of the episode was probably simply the return to our screens of Sherlock and Watson!

The episodes ‘Bound in Flesh’ and ‘The Dark One’ also take place at the haunted cabin, so I’m sure all the Ghostbeaters out there got their fill this season.

Ash vs evil dead

At the start of ‘Bound in Flesh’ was a great moment with Pablo & Kelly trying to tell Ash apart from his evil twin. They are then side-tracked when Pablo & Kelly have to divert hikers away from the cabin, where they are confronted by Amanda who has been reanimated by dark forces. Her scene as a Deadite was likely the funniest moment in the show so far. They are saved from Amanda by Ruby who makes her entrance with a surprising acrobatic stunt. Ruby confronts Ash and insists that the only was to stop the dark forces is by performing a ritual to dismantle the Necronomicon, leading to a big twist in events. Ruby then reveals her true sinister intentions.

Ash vs evil dead

The episode ‘The Dark One’ begins with the cabin erupting with chaos. Deadite-Amanda seems to be gone from the series after she bursts into the cabin and Ash has to take her out. Ruby places Pablo under a spell and escapes into the basement with him and the Necronomicon. Ash and Kelly are determined to rescue Pablo, but the dark forces only allow Ash into the basement. The fruit cellar is just as faithful in design as the rest of the cabin. Ash has a really great moment here, dispatching a Deadite with the boom-stick and providing his best one-liner this season. He finds Ruby in the back room, forcing Pablo to help her summon creatures from the Necronomicon.

Ash vs evil dead

Ash initially seems to get the upper-hand, but with Pablo & Kelly’s lives at steak, he agrees to a compromise with Ruby. The season soon ends here. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that Ash certainly has his priorities in mind when he asks Ruby to include gas money in addition to their deal.

Ash vs evil dead

The first season gave me just what I wanted to see from this series. I can’t think of any jokes that didn’t hit their mark, even their groaningly lame group name, ‘The Ghostbeaters’, has grown to please fans. The creepy moments are genuinely effective and serve well to establish the horror elements. I’m still in disbelief that this show was made, if it had to stop right here I’d still be happy with what i got, because I had to see the show to believe it was for real. Bruce Campbell is immensely entertaining, I love the mystery that continues to surround the Necronomicon and the great humour you could only get from Bruce Campbell and The Evil Dead together. My reviews are pretty low on spoilers, so I hope some of you decide to check it out & enjoy. Hail to the king, baby!

I have to be honest. 2015 was one of the worst years in film in quite some time. Some good stuff, not very many great ones, and a lot of duds. This may not be an entirely accurate assessment of the year because I’ve missed watching several films. Mission Impossble 5, Ex Machina, The Revenant   and Star Wars: The Force Awakens are still on my watch list.

Nevertheless, here are some things that managed to make an impression…

 Top 3 movies of the year:

3. Wild Tales – Directed by Damián Szifron, Starring: Ricardo Darin & ensemble cast

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This Argentine movie is a kick in the gut. It might hurt you and it might make you laugh. It’s a series of darkly funny short films rolled up in one film. There is a theme that runs through moat of them. Revenge. The absurdity and sometimes, unfairness of it. The consequences that can come up because of it. The shorts often begin simply enough but end in complication. It’s equally funny and disturbing to see how far human behavior can lead us. The performances are great and the direction is sure handed. Just how cruel can fate be? Watch this film and find out.

2. Creed – Directed by Ryan Coogler, Starring: Michael B. Jordan & Sylvester Stallone

creed ps

Rocky Balboa is back. Except this time, he’s training and not fighting.  Apollo Creed ( Rocky’s greatest friend & enemy) died in Rocky 4. He left behind a son ( Adonis Creed) who seeks out his path as a boxer. Of course, he goes to the former champ to train him. It’s a wonderfully heartfelt movie. It’s very much in the spirit of the first Rocky film. You might even say it’s a, sort of reboot of that film. It feel’s like life. It repeats itself. Not exactly the same, but similar. This time Rocky is the old trainer and Adnois, the young buck with a fire in his belly and anger in his heart. Seeing the two men play off each other is a treat. They both bring their ” A ” game in every scene. Be it dramatic, funny or sad. The boxing scenes themselves are awesome. The direction and camera angles used for the first fight, is reminiscent of Scorses’s work on Raging Bull. This is not a chessy 80’s action movie. There’s real heft here.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road – Directed by George Miller, Starring Tom Hardy & Charlize Theron

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Easily my favorite movie of the year. I saw it twice in theaters without hesitation. Completely out of the box in almost every way. Unique and refreshing are two of many adjectives that can go with this film.  Who would’ve thought that a movie from a trilogy, last seen in the 80’s, could be so well received. It currently has a, best picture nomination at the Golden Globes. This is an incredible feat for just ” an action movie”.  I did a full review of this film earlier in the year but suffice it to say. It was the best film of the year. Not, action film. Best FILM of the year.

Best Director:  George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road

I have to give to him based on the amazing job he did with Mad Max. The movie is completely and wholly his vision, his style and his writing. The Mad Max series is his baby, and Miller’s helped to see it grow and evolve. Miller managed to help gain respect back for the action genre in a big way thanks to Fury Road. The success of this film is even more impressive when you consider that the last noteworthy thing that George Miller did was, Babe 2: Pig In The City!

Best Actress: Charlize Theron  – Mad Max: Fury Road

This was a no brainer for me. Totally stole the show from all the other actors in Mad Max: Fury Road. She was a believable bad ass. Probably the most believable bad ass I’ve seen in a while. She committed to the role and it shows. Her bold haircut was one thing. She wasn’t afraid to get rough and tough when she needed to. She wasn’t worried about pouting, just the right way when holding a gun. She wasn’t terribly worried about looking hot and wearing provocative clothes.There wasn’t a false moment in her performance thanks to this commitment. I honestly wish they would’ve cast her as Wonder Woman.

Best Actor: Sylvester Stallone – Creed

Okay, you could say that Stanllone was more of a support role here but his screen time wasn’t that much different from Michael B. Jordan’s. I take nothing away from Jordan’s performance but Rocky gave the movie a little more emotional heft. Perhaps that’s unfair because, as viewers, we have had the opportunity to watch Rocky Balboa’s character evolve and age,  as we evolve and age. so sue me. Sylvester Stallone’s turn as an aged Rocky was really worthy of the golden globe nomination he received. He was good ol’ Rocky, through and through, but this time he had to go to a lot more emotional territory. In “Creed” , he’s pretty much a guy who’s lost everything. His family has ether, moved away or passed on, and he retired as a boxer long ago. Young Adonis Creed gives him a glimmer of hope. But the journey for Rocky to realize that is a difficult one. I won’t lie, Stallone ( And Michael B. Jordan, but more Stallone.) made me tear up a few times. It’s difficult to picture him being this vulnerable old man after so many years of being the prototypical action star. Because of that reason I think people dismiss him as a serious actor. He CAN act. Even in his most cliched of roles, I find that he always brings a certain degree of heart and charm to them. I’d say, “Creed” is one of his best performances, maybe ever.

Best Comic Book Movie: Avengers 2: Age Of Ultron

Avengers 2 didn’t have the same impact as it’s predecessor but it did pack a punch. At the very least, I thought it was a better story than the first installment. The action was stellar, which is to be expected for many comic book movies these days. I even thought the bulk of the performances were better this time around. High marks go to Jeremy Renner, for his role as Hawkeye. Ultron was a decent enough villain despite Marvel studios instance on making their bad guys “funny”. All and all,  was pleased with Ultron. The problem is I found it oddly forgettable. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I liked it well enough but when referencing movies  I loved this year, Avengers 2 didn’t show up. Still it was miles better than, Fantastic 4, and much better than Ant-Man.  perhaps it needs a few re-watches to know where it’s true place lies.

There you have it! I have a load to catch up on when it comes to 2015. Let’s hope it saves it from being my least favorite year in some time.