Thursday, May 31, 2012

The 2012 Summer Re-Watch: Everwood "Blind Faith" Review

"Blind Faith" marks the return of the soon-to-be-blind Reverend Keyes as the wedding nears for he and his new bride. The concept of blind faith is usually about spiritual or religious faith. The best believers are the ones who believe without any proof at all. Rev. Keyes quotes Soren Kierkegaard late in the episode about "affliction awaking the dreamer" and it's no coincidence that Kierkegaard coined the term 'leap of faith.' Rev. Keyes experienced a spiritual crisis in season though. The initial news caused him to question God and left him devoid of hope until he heard Andy Brown pray for inner-peace aloud in the church. Rev. Keyes and his soon-to-be wife must take a leap of faith with one another as they embark on married life. One need take a leap of faith anytime he or she loves someone and wants to try to be something more with that person. "Blind Faith" is about love.

Amy and Ephram will eventually love one another. Ephram already loves the Abbott girl. He's loved her since the day he met her in the halls of County High. Amy feels a pull towards him but resists it, afraid of what might happen and also unwilling to let go of Colin, knowing she'd be with him if he survived the surgery or never got into an accident at all. Amy and Ephram barely interacted in season two before "Blind Faith." Ephram told Bright about the college party. They joked around in class. Ephram gave her his Fatal Flaw assignment and she hugged him. Beyond that, Amy's been in her own world, and Ephram's been in his house, with Madison, slowly developing a crush on her, apparently, given what happens after Ephram passes his driver's test.

Fans absolutely loved Ephram and Amy during the show's original runs. I include myself among the fans who wanted to see Ephram and Amy together. As a dumb teenager, I thought their romantic union would assure me that I, too, could woo my high school crush(es). "Blind Faith" was an episode I didn't understand as a dumb teenager because I hadn't yet immersed myself in the world of TV writing and how it works and how writers prefer to waste time until two characters who would be great together finally get together. The Ephram-Amy scenes are a gigantic tease. The teens get milkshakes together and take magazine quizzes and look at each other with flirty and glittery eyes, and they're getting along so well that it seems the night will end with that long-awaited kiss. Of course, though, Amy only went to Ephram when Layne blew her off. Ephram learns the truth and feels hurt. He doesn't yell at her or demean her like Dawson Leery would; he acknowledges the fact she probably didn't think about how it'd make him feel at all, but stressed he needs to be her first choice if their friendship will work.

Ephram takes a 'leap of faith,' if one wants to refer to his move as that, but not with Amy. Instead, the baby-sitter he hated just two episodes ago ensnares his heart. Ephram kisses her after he successfully passes his driver's test. Madison helped him ace the parallel parking part of the test. The excitement overwhelmed him, and he went right for her mouth in celebration. She talked him down and reminded him of their age difference and all. Ephram settled. A ways away, Amy leaned on her Kia Sorrento, disappointed to see the kiss, because Bright just convinced her to give Ephram a chance, gave his sister permission to date a new guy after Colin, ensured her no one would be mad, in sum, told her what she needed to hear. Timing is everything when relationships are involved. Amy and Ephram just have terrible timing.

The Keyes's wedding brings the town together on a sublime sun-drenched day in Everwood. Afterwards, the reception's held in a posh room, and the townspeople drink and dance and merry-make. Amy apologizes to Ephram, though the apology's essentially a break-up, a clear message to him that the thought of her with him shouldn't stop him from being with somebody else. She admits she's a mess. Ephram can't speak. Amy breaks their dance to give him a long hug so full of feeling it makes one's heart crack just a tiny bit, and one just wants to hug Amy for eternity until she isn't so sad. The one thing to remember from this dialogue is: this, that is Amy and Ephram, isn't going to happen for awhile: she's sad, and Ephram's dying to love somebody and to have somebody loves him back. They're just not in sync.

Irv delivers a positive little piece of narration as "Blind Faith" closes which seems aimed at Amy. Irv tells the audience about the artist Michelangelo and how he threw a piece of rock down a hill and would work with whatever was left, considering what's left to be important, that the unimportant parts broke off. Life is like the rock; it flings folk down a hill, pieces of one's self break off during the tumble, but the strongest parts of one's self remains, and one's infinitely better for tumbling. Amy's still going down the hill, but one hopes Irv is right, that Amy will be stronger than ever when she reaches the bottom.

Rev. Keyes reached the bottom and found the woman of his dreams. Despite his reservations, he tried an experimental form of eye treatment in hopes of delaying his impending blindness. The treatment failed. His eyesight left him a day before the wedding, ending the hope he'd see his wife on their wedding day. Keyes doesn't despair for long. If he does, the despair lasts only a night. Andy feels terrible for his friend, but Keyes insists he's experienced so many great things with his senses in the last months. Blindness isn't death, it's just the death of seeing, but one can still smell the air and a spouse's scent, feel her body, and hear the sound of her voice and her laugh. The man who wondered where God went last year is wise enough to tell Andy that God may seem absent to help one's faith increase and become strong in its doubt. Logic and reason will never satisfy someone. Faith is different; logic and reason aren't necessary to justify God's existence. Faith is a leap. The Rev. Keyes is a better man because of his blindness. A smile doesn't leave his face. Andy and Keyes were mirrors of one another last season; two broken men who lost the women in their lives, one to death and one to divorce. They were supremely unhappy; but, now, one of them is peaceful and happy. Andy Brown should be more than hopeful for his own future.

Other Thoughts:

-Harold made it his mission to prevent Linda from dating Andy Brown. I'm the biggest Harold Abbot fan there is, but his quest to find his sister's suitors is worse on repeated viewings. Rose tells her husband he can't control who his sister dates. The Linda-Andy coupling seems to be only a matter of time. Andy drank chai tea after her recommendation to drink it. Linda admires Andy. And though she says she has no interest in dating Andy, this is TV. Dating will happen.

-Emily Vancamp looked radiant in her black dress.

-Bright had a line of little girls waiting to dance with him at the reception. Delia earned several dances with him, much to chagrin of the other girls.

-The Ephram-Madison storyline is just beginning. Bad times.

-David Hudgins wrote the episode. Sandy Smolan directed another fine episode.

UP NEXT: "Three Miners from Everwood"--When a coal mine collapses, Dr. Brown rushes to the scene, along with Edna, Linda and Dr. Abbott (Amazon synopsis). http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0030FGB8C

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Whedonverse Classic: ANGEL's "The Price" Review

Credit: Buffy Wiki
There are many terrific/great/outstanding/insert-your-own-adjective-here episodes of Buffy and ANGEL and Firefly and Dollhouse. The greatest ones have been written about ad-nauseum. I've been brainstorming ideas for awhile now about what to write during the uninteresting summer TV months. I knew I wanted to write about the Whedonverse again. Joss is the biggest name in Hollywood thanks to the success of The Avengers. Joss must have many news fans; perhaps they're eagerly devouring 12 combined seasons of the Buffyverse or finally realizing why Firefly's been as popular as it's been the last ten years. I don't know. TV With The Foot won't be the site on the internet where new fans will feel at home though, because I plan on writing about the more overlooked/ignored/forgotten/whatever-you-want-call-them episodes over the next three months. Specifically, I'll choose one episode from the five seasons of ANGEL and seven seasons of Buffy to write about.

Anyway, the third season of ANGEL is intense and barely stops to let the characters collect themselves and think about what's just happened and what's supposed to happen. ANGEL's sort of forgotten. No one ever thinks they need to watch ANGEL like they need to watch Buffy. Maybe the spinoff aspect of the series causes people to dismiss Buffy's sister show. I already wrote about my fond regard for ANGEL, and I even consider the series as better than Buffy. I thought about beginning the Whedonverse Classic with a Buffy episode but decided to start with ANGEL, particularly an ANGEL episode that's barely remembered or thought about.

Darla gave birth to Connor in "Lullaby." Baby Connor spawned a mini-arc about demons feverishly pursuing the child because of a prophecy. After demon threats were eliminated, Angel realized he needed to provide for the baby, so he took on more cases than ever, one case nearly resulted in Fred losing her head and so the gang stopped taking on every case they could. Bad Guy Holtz continued to train pissed off people to kill vampires. Wesley uncovered unsettling truths about the prophecy, 'The Father Will Kill The Son,' and conspired with Holtz to save Connor from a gruesome fate. Episodes #15-7 are dark, sad and painful. Holtz betrays Wesley, kidnaps Connor and jumps into a demon dimension. Wesley betrayed his team and nearly died from a sliced throat. Angel then tried to suffocate his former friend and co-worker with a pillow in a hospital. Desperate to find a way into the demon dimension, Angel dabbled in the dark arts, tried to create a portal, but the plan failed. Episodes #20-2 are about Connor's return as a badass demon fighter who's pissed off at his dad. He eventually finds his way through the portal.

Most fans probably remember these six episodes extremely well. Two episodes happen in between these insane events though. There's Gunn's "Double Or Nothing" in which he needs to repay an old debt to a demon, and then there's "The Price," which I'll write about today. In a random Google search of 'ranking angel episodes' I discovered one site that ranked "The Price" #76. I also saw a certain season two episode ranked #109 which, if mid-drink, would've caused an explosive spit-take. I feel confident in my belief that "The Price" doesn't occupy a special place in the minds of even the most ardent AtS fans.

"The Price" is about the price Angel pays for the dark magic he used in hopes of finding his son. Dark magic has a price, always. Supernatural slugs from Quar'toth come through the portal. If they jump into a human, the human's body eventually turns to sand. The slugs require a ridiculous amount of water. Of course the episode just isn't about killing the thirsty slugs; it's about Angel dealing with what's happened, the fallout with Wesley, a debate over whether the spell was worth the price of the slugs and etc.

Sometimes I forget how simple TV writing can be i.e. how effectively simple TV writing can be. There are podcasts, books and blogs devoted to teaching one how to write for TV, and they're full of great advice most of the time, but remove the neurosis about writing, the rules, everything which causes one to over think it, and all that remains is the page and yourself: you just need to tell a good story, a story that makes sense, and I won't argue "The Price" deserves more praise or recognition than it does (such arguments aren't the point of this 'series'). This episode is a great example of what an aspiring TV writer should watch to learn how to write a good spec. The one word I keep thinking of to describe "The Price" is professional. It's kind of episode TV writers are hired to do, why they get paid; it's the 19th episode of a grueling season, probably broken while scripts were being drafted, re-written, going into production, and the production draft might've not been finished until two days or even one day before production began (knowing how Joss shows worked). David Fury wrote the episode. He was on the Buffy staff, which means they ANGEL writers were probably in a crunch and needed help from one of the best writers on the staff or something. I assume Fury wrote this script as he outlined the season six finale or something. Anyway, the point is, "The Price" is a tight, polished, and professional episode.

The episode is also rather good: it's creepy and reminds me of older horror films about creepy crawlers terrorizing local youth. Transparent lobsters would probably elicit more laughs than anything else if mentioned at party in a hypothetical 'what would you do if transparent lobsters invaded your home' sort of way, but the post-production special effects team made these creatures creepy and icky. They sound like birds but scream like banshees. They force themselves into the mouths of unsuspecting people and feed on the moisture in the body and overheat them to the point where their body slowly disintegrates. There's a great 'turn' halfway through the episode when Angel makes the call to shut off the power to better see the supernatural slugs because they glow in the dark. Any horror film or creepy scene is enhanced by removing light from the scene, leaving only characters holding flashlights, unaware of where the slugs are but completely paranoid that they're always there.

The second half of "The Price" is dominated by the dark and the flashlights and the brainstorms about how to kill every single slug before they're accidentally released onto the populace. The first half is quiet and conversational. Nearly fifteen minutes pass before Spivey drops dead on the floor of The Hyperion lobby. Angel and the gang clean Baby Connor's room. As he cleans, Angel comes across an old snow globe he bought, but he doesn't remember why he bought Connor the snow globe, remembering it never snows in California (except for one time, Cordelia mentions, which adds another emotional layer to an already outstandingly moving scene because one thinks Angel might've bought the snow globe because of the time the snow saved his life, or maybe he just thought it'd be pretty for his to look at). Angel pushes his feelings down. He's so on-guard about people prying into his head to talk about these issues that he doesn't catch onto Groo's suggestion about the color of paint for the wall until a couple of seconds later, which also motivates Cordelia to sit Angel down and open him up.

When Angel opens up, he becomes angry because he's talking about the stuff he doesn't want to talk about. Cordelia thinks he needed to vent. Cordelia though vents more and wonders why she wasn't called to come back during the time when Angel got drunk on his own son's blood. She thinks she'd be able to do something. Angel tires of the conversational and quiet component of his interactions and demands a case. Fred reminds him of the fact that they haven't received a case in a week. Angel finds a guy in the lobby, but he quickly leaves after ingesting a slug; however, Angel thinks the dark magical pentagram in the center of the floor scared a potential client away, so he orders everyone to scrub away the pentagram. It's not until later, when the slug leaves what's left of Spivey's head, that the gang realizes their paying the price for using dark magic.

The episode's heart or core whatever you want to call it is the Wesley situation, which no one wants to deal with except for Fred, who feels bad for Wesley, and guilty for pushing him away and not giving him the chance to explain why he did what he did. Fred tries to persuade Cordy into discussing the matter with Angel. Cordy rejects the request. Gunn advises Fred to let it drop. Angel can't utter two sentences about Wes without wanting to punch a hole through every wall in the hotel. Fred thinks the gang needs him; she needs him. Angel puts her on the books. The books overwhelm her. She thinks of Wesley. Wes is an integral member of the team. They struggle without him; in fact, it's Wesley who saves the day.

The slugs are annoying and the thirstiest damn supernatural creatures on plant Earth but they're not any more than that until one goes inside Fred's body. (Fred was the damsel in distress alot during season three.) Suddenly, the stakes are raised. Gunn confronts Angel about the spell when his girlfriend is in danger of dying because of it. Gunn can't agree that the price was worth it especially when it failed. Connor isn't back. Connor's dead (Gunn's words). There are probably no words to describe what Angel wants to do to Gunn then and there. Things come full circle though. Gunn's desperate to save Fred. Angel, Cordy, Groo and Lorne don't know what to do to kill the slugs besides turning on every oven and attacking them with weapons. Wesley's the man they need. Gunn goes to Wes and convinces him to help, which Wes does, but only for Fred. Gunn saves Fred by forcing a bottle of alcohol down Fred's mouth (now not an actual bottle but the contents of the bottle i.e. the liquid). Cordelia takes care of the rest of the supernatural slugs through her demoness light or whatever the hell it is. Later, when Angel asks about Gunn's whereabouts, Gunn tries to sidestep the Wes part, only to admit he did what he needed to do and doesn't care if Angel gets that, but Angel does, because Gunn jumped down his throat not more than a couple of scenes ago about the same thing. Angel, cross-armed, says, "I think I get it," and asks, "We good now?

ANGEL's a serialized drama. But one can watch and enjoy "The Price" without needing to know the nuances of the story or the mythology and such. Maybe the accessibility of the episode turns passionate ANGEL fans away from "The Price" when ranking episodes. Die-hards tend to perceive stand-alone episodes as okay but they just want the really important episodes, the one that's for them and about them, and the one where their non-fan friend is sitting in the room completely befuddled by what's taking place. A non-fan would quite like "The Price." The story is effectively simple and arcs come full circle in a clean way. "The Price" also moves the story forward too. Connor returns. Lilah feels more heat from Linwood and Gavin. Wes pushes everyone away entirely, which sets him up for the dance with darkness over the next run of episodes into season four.

So, "The Price" is an overlooked episode in ANGEL, an episode people like but never particularly remember, but it's an example of the wonderful consistency of the show. Whether ANGEL was mythologically intense one week and a little horror film the next that took place by and large outside of the central arc the show was just good.

I think the first week of Whedonverse classic went well. Next week I'll write about an overlooked episode of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. I'll alternate between the two shows until I run out of ANGEL episodes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The 2012 Summer Re-Watch: Dawson's Creek "The All-Nighter" Review

So, I probably should summarize "The Dance" quickly before "The All-Nighter" fun begins. I wrote about "The Dance" last September to cap off the 2011 Dawson's Creek Re-watch, with no intentions of writing about season two; however, I'm in possession of a stunning lack of DVD options, so I returned to the old DC chestnut, which means I barely wrote about the actual episode. Anyway, things happen in "The Dance." Joey breaks up with Dawson to "find herself." Jack is punched in the face by Dawson for kissing her in "Full Moon Rising." Jack walks Jen home. Pacey nearly destroys his chance with Andie when he dances with Ali Larter's character, but the charming and creative Pacey Witter woos Andie on the Capeside docks with a dance and a kiss.

"The All-Nighter" revolves around another high school staple, less fun and iconic than 'the high school dance' but iconic, though laughable in hindsight: a mid-term English examination with material that ranges from old English texts to the Romantics, Elizabethans, Victorians, etc. As someone who studied English extensively for 4.5 years, the amount of material the fictional English teacher packs into a mid-term is insane. It's like the writers forgot they were writing for a high school class and instead decided to create some bizarre seminar course that encompasses the entire history of literature. Mr. Peterson, the English teacher, is worth noting for his vitriol towards the students and love for insulting their intelligence and encouraging failure for all of them. The character is a piece of work, one who'll be back with a vengeance in Jack's important two-parter. Mr. Peterson insists the students attend his study session. Dawson, Joey, Andie, Pacey, Jen, and Chris Wolf, plan on attending the session until Peterson cancels it due to a cold, which he deems more important than his students. Charming man.

The study session moves to Chris Wolf's luxurious house. TheWB's favorite actor in the late 90s, Jason Dohring, portrayed the good-looking, rich and charming Chris Wolf. Chris just wants to hook up with Jen, which is why he invited her and her friends to his house. The house is palatial. The inside is lined with wooden floors and painted an immaculate white. The wine shelf is global. The backyard includes two porches, a pool and a Jacuzzi. The satellite dish includes a Cantonese-language version of The Three Stooges. Pacey's seduced by the two hundred channels the satellite provides, and the others, besides Andie, become distracted by each other or pizza or a purity test from one of those Cosmopolitan type publications or a precocious youth named Deena.

Of course "The All-Nighter" wouldn't revolve around the characters dutifully studying their books in preparation for the examination. The house is large, yes, but no one can easily leave the property, because Chris drove everyone. The biggest house can become really small when there are conflicts, hurt feelings, and secrets revealed. Woody Allen's September is set in a house in The Hamptons on one night where a family's drama escalates and explodes. A house setting isn't new to television. (The device will probably be deployed in the upcoming season of TV.) Its effectiveness depends on the writer. This episode is dramatic and hysterical but it's not without its fun moments.

Dawson spent the nights following his breakup with Joey watching tearjerkers with his mother. Mitch and Gale decided to separate in "The Dance." Mother Leery and Son Leery are sad. Dawson opines about Shakespeare's ability to tackle every subject worth writing about and how it makes sense that his best works end with Danish folk dead on the stage. Aside from Dawson's generalization about Shakespeare's tragedies, Leery makes a rather sad and despairing point about Shakespeare's view of human existence. Of course, Shakespeare wrote his most tragic plays during the darkest period in his life. Dawson, though he may believe it, is not experiencing the darkest period of his life. Dawson might breathe in such a way that it sounds like his lungs are collapsing on the inside, and he might flare his nostrils like they'll never be flared again, but Dawson didn't lose his son. A girl broke up with him. It sucks. But in the grand scheme of the universe, it's small potatoes.

Dawson would be wise to carefully read Romeo & Juliet, a tragedy about two lovers from Verona, who love each other to a foolish end. Romeo & Juliet is an early play of Shakespeare's. He's finding his voice throughout the play. It's no coincidence that the dialogue is as flowery as an arboretum garden. Dawson's utterly lost on how to interact with Joey Potter once he realizes they'll spend the entire night together. Joey, too, feels uncomfortable, especially considering the terrible conversation the former couple had in the hall not more than four hours ago. Dawson doesn't understand Joey; Joey can't magically make Dawson understand her. They just glance at one another uncomfortably. The precocious youth doesn't help matters. The purity test is the straw that broke the plastic lid though. The 100 question test ends on a question about love, and Dawson nearly breaks a vessel when the youth informs him that Joey loved two men in her life. Joey couldn't fall in love with Jack after a kiss, right? Dawson runs his hands through his hair then yells at the precocious youth Deena. Joey watched in horror.

Dawson's just a ball of pent-up emotions: frustration, anger, disbelief, sadness, hurt feelings, etc. Joey kissing another boy was just a shot to the shin after she kneed him in the testicles, figuratively speaking. The purity test isn't a silly game to him but, rather, a window into the soul of the girl who just got away, his best friend and soul-mate, and question 100 made Dawson feel like a piece of shit. It's over-the-top dramatic, but it's absolutely Dawson's Creek. Joey tells him that she fell in love with Dawson twice, once as a friend and once as a boyfriend. Dawson calmed down and told her he'd give her her space but added he'll never stop feeling the way he does about her. And then he gives the precocious youth a kiss on the forehead to make up for his monstrous outburst (Dawson told her that kisses are great but then things turn to shit afterwards; Dawson even contemplated telling Joey he regretted their kiss; regardless, Dawson's redeemed as much as he can be redeemed).

The purity test isn't a silly game to Pacey or Andie either. The test lets out Pacey's secret about Ms. Jacobs. The revelation momentarily crushes Andie. At the docks, they had a romantic moment that defined them as a couple; now, Pacey's different from what she thought. But then she thinks about herself and her secrets and how the passage of time will reveal more about her to him and vice-versa. The house doesn't become a prison for the new couple. Anywhere else Andie would've run away from the issue. The only places to go in Wolf's house are other rooms. Pacey can locate her in a house and explain the situation and completely dedicate himself to her. Andie's first instinct is to run away because of her past, which will be explored very soon in season two.

Pacey's in the process of transformation. The teen wanted his own storyline early in the season and even changed his hair color. Transformation isn't as easy as changing the color of one’s own hair though. Pacey takes two significant steps in his arc: the reconciliation with Andie and taking the lead when the group has only four hours to study before the examination that's worth 50% of their grade. Pacey thinks he's no good, a loser, a slacker, but he needs a push and someone to believe in him. Dawson will never be that person. Andie very well could be. The Pacey-Andie relationship is still in its infancy, but the important groundwork has been laid. Their relationship is really well-done.

Jen Lindley's in a better place just two weeks after "Full Moon Rising" when she felt badly about herself. However, she's still vulnerable. Though she insists she's in control of the Chris Wolf situation to Dawson, she finds herself naked and alone in his bed the next morning. Chris is in the room, but the intimacy of the night before is gone. Jen doesn't want to be wanted as much as she wants to be loved and cared for. The girl won't find what she wants in Chris Wolf's bed.

There are fun moments in "The All-Nighter." The fun happens after the sun rises of course. The purity test ruined the night for everyone. No one studied. Feelings were hurt. The morning brings a new day as we've seen in the Dawson-Joey story and the Pacey-Andie story. The teenagers cram like 50% of their grade depends on it and then they take a dip in the pool. The test is actually post-poned once they get to school, so they go to the football field and do what they barely did the whole night: sleep, re-charge, so when they wake up they feel better.

Greg Berlanti, Everwood's creator, wrote the episode. David Semel directed it.

UP NEXT: "The Reluctant Hero"--Joey's "semi-date" with Jack prompts a resentful Dawson to join Jen at a party where he saves her from doing some things she'll regret. Pacey proves his worth when Andie's mother has a psychotic episode during their study session. Mitch fails to understand Dawson's views on their divorce.

Watch it on Xfinity Streampix or Netflix Instant Watch.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Monday, May 28, 2012

Game Of Thrones "Blackwater" Review

The Battle of Blackwater is a really cool and well-done battle because of the way George R.R. Martin makes us care about the Lannisters winning. The Lannisters, with the exception of Tyrion, are full of villainous individuals: Cersei and Jaime produced abominations in the eyes of Westeros, if only the Westerosi knew, of course. Cersei raised a monster in Joffrey. Jaime pushed Bran out of a window. Cersei failed to control her monster at the Sept of Baelor when Joffrey called for Ned Stark's head. The Lannisters are fighting against the Starks. Sansa is a hostage; Arya's presumed hostage by the Starks and presumed dead by the Lannisters. The final two episodes of season one made one want to see the Lannisters pay their debts, reap what they've sown, and so on. So, it's amazing, and a testament to Martin's ability to manipulate/tell a story, that I knew, never quite wanted it, the Lannisters needed to win the Battle of Blackwater.

Martin uses Sansa Stark as a way to manipulate the reader/viewer into rooting for the Lannisters in their battle against Stannis Baratheon. Stannis is a cold figure, one who's not easy to root for. The man is exact. Still, though, Stannis is a preferable ruler to Joffrey, and the Lannister lot. Stannis won't be a popular ruler; he won't be someone who inspires love and devotion, but he won't be mercilessly cruel. Cersei gathered the high-born women of King's Landing and their servants in Maegor's Holdfast while the men fought the battle. With each gulp of wine, Cersei lost control of her manners and tact. The war worried the Queen Regent. She imagined the brutality of Stannis' men once they've sacked the city, killed her son, and made their way into the Holdfast. Sansa was forced to drink wine and listen to the queen's insults as well as the queen's way of crushing whatever dreams or ideals Sansa had left, dreams and ideals that weren't destroyed on the day her father died. Cersei rambled and then made a threat but before she made a threat she told Sansa that a woman's most important weapon is between her legs.

Cersei's been somewhat neutered by Benioff and Weiss. The character isn't as severe. TV Cersei has a warmness, a vulnerability, that is lacking in book Cersei. Each scene in which the character tore into the women made me smile because Cersei needs to be an unapologetic bitch. The advice she gives to Sansa about being a queen isn't the only way to rule of course. Perception changes power; perception changes how people use their power. Cersei meant to kill herself, Tommon, and Sansa, if Stannis took the city. Ilyn Payne stood silently, sword in hand, awaiting the moment the city was lost to take off the head of Sansa. Cersei was seconds away from drinking Evening of the Nightshade with her dear Tommen before Tywin Lannister burst into Maegor's and announced the Lannister victory.

Sansa listened to the queen, did as she was bid, but she didn't lose her essential self, despite the crushing blows from Cersei's mouth. Sansa didn't despair when Cersei told her what she brought Ilyn Payne into the Holdfast for. Instead, Sansa became a leader, the kind of queen Westeros needs. Cersei sent for Joffrey. The King left the Battle. Morale dropped. The women panicked. Sansa comforted them and urged them not to lost hope. Cersei continued drinking wine, utterly dejected and defeated. Sansa's triumphant moment was followed by Shae's urging for the girl to flee the Holdfast and hide in her room. I wanted Sansa to live all along. Only victory would ensure that, and her magnificent moment with the women showed a side of Sansa that was worth saving (many fans would be happy if Sansa was written off or simply forgotten about).

Tyrion is everyone's favorite Lannister. Season 2 has been triumphant for the Imp. In season 1, he went from The Wall to a Sky Cell in The Eyrie to the fields of battle but was knocked unconcious before it even started. Tyrion leads the Lannister men into army. It is Tyion who hatches the plan to send a single ship loaded with wild-fire into Stannis' fleet and wait while the ship explodes and burns the river, transforming it into the mouth of hell. Stannis' men outnumber the Lannisters 5-to-1, and Stannis wastes no time attacking on foot. It's not long before King's Landing is in danger of being taken, especially after Joffrey leaves the field of battle, leaving men even more disenchanted and frightened. The Hound flees the city as the enemy grows and the fire continues to burn, which is the lowest moment for the Lannisters in the battle.

Tyrion delivers a stirring speech to the men which ignores the cliches about fighting for the king and the king's capital but, rather, it taps into each man's sense of honor and integrity. Stannis means to burn each man's homes, rape each man's wife, kill each man's children. When brave men come knocking on their door, they will answer by 'fucking killing them.' Tyrion kills Baratheon men. The other men kill many more as well. For a moment, Tyrion's speech seems like the turning point in the battle, the difference between death and victory. Well, like the Battle of Minas Tirith, the triumph is short-lived. More men rush in. Tyrion's betrayed by Ser Mandon Moore, slit across the face, at death's door nail, and the episode ends on a montage of Tywin's arrival and Tyrion sinking into Pod's arms, seemingly lifeless, as Cersei tells Tommen a story about lions in the old forest. I wanted the Lannisters to win for Tyrion's sake, but the victory is bitter, as Tyrion lay dying in Pod's arms.

To use a cliché: victory came, but at what cost?

Other Thoughts:

-"Blackwater" is a special episode. The 'main text,' as it were, ended rather abruptly, didn't it? Anyway, from the moment the camera pans over the fleet to the final image of Tywin bursting through the door, it feels truly special. My experience of the battle was hurt by watching it on a lousy TV somewhere in Northwestern PA though.

-The Tyrion/Varys scene is a highlight of the season, like their riddle scene. Varys helpfully pointed out Podrick Payne for the viewers because Pod's just walked around in the background. Pod's moment of triumph feels less triumphant on TV than in the books but that's no matter. Perhaps Pod will finally take on a new role from here on.

-Davos is wiped out very early into the battle. This scene is a microcosm of what I love about A Song of Ice and Fire. Davos experienced a wonderful moment last week when Stannis decided to promote him to Hand of the King. The scene packed in a lot of detail about Davos' smuggling days, his ability to steer a ship sight unseen into the enemy to deliver onions or some such thing. One would expect him to experience some measure of victory, but the explosion blows him off the ship. Now he may be dead for all we know.

-I'd love to write more in depth about the battle. Again, the TV I watched the episode on was atrocious. The green explosion was clear though, and it was beautiful.

-George R.R. Martin wrote the episode. Martin authored the series. Martin's voice was clear in every scene. The secondary characters were magnificently written. "Blackwater" had a quality other episodes were lacking, an intimacy with the story, or some such thing.

-Neil Marshall did a spectacular job directing this mammoth episode.

-Next week's the finale. Get ready.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Thursday, May 24, 2012

The 2012 Summer Re-Watch: Everwood "Daddy's Little Girl" Review

Delia Brown didn't get many spotlight episodes, mainly because Vivien Cardone was a little girl during Everwood, and rules exist to limit a child actor's amount of work. Delia's usually around though. She sits around, does projects, plays with her friends, and observes people and their situations. The writers use the character incredibly well; she keeps the Brown men grounded, and she's wise beyond her years. "Daddy's Little Girl" isn't just about Delia though; it's about the precious time a dad has with his daughter before she grows up and experiences a world of joy and a world of sorrow completely separate from her relationship with her father; it's about the inability to protect her and the sense of helplessness that comes with growing up and getting older.

Irv brings us into the episode by opining on the uniquely special relationship every father has with his daughter. There are adorable shots of little girls and their dads. The Irv narration will always lay the theme on thick to anyone watching lest someone miss it. (Irv Harper is the most overt fictional author in TV history.) The episode tells three stories about fathers and daughters. Delia's bothered by Andy's new friend; Harold's bothered by Amy's desire to use anti-depressants; Brittany, Delia's best friend, is bothered by a new woman in her husband's life too. Brittany's dad tells Andy how he longs for the day when a problem could be solved by just buying new nail polish, but, alas, the problems are deeper than simple nail polish or a bad day or a profane reaction to tofu.

Andy and Linda's newfound working relationship began in a book store where Delia researched various women to write about for her 'personal hero' project in school. Andy and Linda flirtatiously discuss eastern medicine philosophies. Delia finds them in conversation and reacts badly to it. The girl sulks for the rest of the episode. Madison tries to figure out the problem. Ephram figures Delia will let him know. Madison needs to clue Ephram in on something, especially when Delia solemnly exits the kitchen once she hears about Linda coming over for dinner: Delia is bothered by Linda's presence, how she's the same age as Julia and single, therefore she is a threat. Delia lashed out last season when she thought Nina tried to replace Julia. The same feelings remain in Delia, who feels her mother is irreplaceable, which she is, because anyone's parent is irreplaceable. Delia doesn't communicate her feelings to anyone because she's a little girl. Plus, her father and brother barely realize she's a person with her own feelings. She's sort of conditioned into silence, unconsciously so. As she eats Linda's home-made tofu, she remarks that the food 'tastes like shit' which cracks Ephram the bleep up and is one of the best Delia moments in the show. Any parent knows when a child behaves in such a surprising way, some deeper problem exists.

Andy and Linda fight about their respective medical philosophies when Andy tries to prove western medicine is better than eastern medicine. Linda reacts to the outcome of the C story medical mystery about the nail polish by insisting Andy find the emotional core of the problem. Once he discovers the emotional center of the problem, the case will truly be solved, and the patient can truly be cured, but with a different kind of healing. Andy's stubborn and headstrong. The man would miss a kite flying high above him and argue that it wasn't flying unless he saw it firsthand. (Now, that's a terrible example, but oh well.) Andy needs a heart-to-heart with his son before realizing Delia didn't flip out because her dinner sucked--this aspect of Andy Brown is charming yet infuriating because so much drama comes from him acting like a total jackass--and so he finds Delia to talk to her. Delia believes what her father says about his friendship with Linda, and he even points out how he'll need to actually date before he considers remarrying. Delia makes him promise never to date Linda. She emphasizes, "It can't be her."

The Delia story concludes bittersweetly on her presentation of her hero. Delia's a simple character. No woman will replace Julia in her eyes. Andy looks on proudly as his daughter tells her class all about Julia, but the scene is tinged with sadness. Delia will never have her mother in her life again. Not even Andy can fill the void she left. Delia's road of sorrow was paved way too early. Andy would've protected her if he could, but fathers can't protect their daughters from pain.

Amy Abbott literally dreams about the symptoms of depression i.e. they manifest in her dreams as a swimming event in which she drowns because she can't emerge from the depths. The school therapist wants Amy prescribed on anti-depressants because her mourning of Colin gets worse by the day, not better. Harold doesn't want to numb his daughter's grief and believes he raised her to be stronger than whatever drug she wants to take. Andy and Ephram described the layers of Delia's emotions as exhausting. The Amy situation is exhausting for everyone. She's so desperate for relief from how she feels post-Colin that she tears into her father for not prescribing the medication. Harold later tells Rose about how their daughter looked at him with hateful eyes and admitted that they're losing her to the grief. Harold's exasperated by his inability to remove the pain from his daughter or to destroy her road of sorrow. No magical cure exists for her daughter that Harold likes; it's not like when she was a little girl and sad over her Easy-Bake oven breaking and her parents could drive to the store and buy a new Easy-Bake oven.

The Abbotts are powerless against the chemicals in their daughter's brain. They run the risk of driving her away by their reluctance to treat her. Rose wants to; Harold doesn't. Harold runs the risk of hurting his marriage by making these calls without Rose's opinion. Indeed, relations between daughter and parent will worsen. Indeed, they will lose her for a time. But I'm getting ahead of "Daddy's Little Girl."

Other Thoughts:

-Madison complimented Ephram's old soul and then she told him to stop whining like a 16 year old. She described his old soul as 'attractive' which I missed on previous viewings of the episode. This is bad.

-I really liked the C story and how it bookended the other stories.

-Greg Smith is great in "Daddy's Little Girl." He doesn't play angst or bratty; he just needs to react to everything. His reactions are terrific.

-Rina Mimoun & Joan Binder Weiss wrote the episode. Peter Lauer directed it.

UP NEXT: "Blind Faith"--There's a wedding. Also, Amy hurts Ephram's feelings. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0030F6GE6

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Revenge "Reckoning" Review

A sense of foreboding looms over "Reckoning." Nothing can possibly work out the way Emily planned. Indeed, nothing works out the way Emily planned. Jack isn't hers after all once Amanda strolls into town visibly pregnant. The evidence and the key witnesses in the case against the Graysons exploded in a plane crash. Many tears fall from many eyes as the first season of Revenge concludes. The shadowy organization that the silver-haired man works for emerges as a clearer threat, a company more powerful than Emily imagined, powerful enough to reduce the Graysons to mere puppets in the David Clarke coverup. Mind you, I didn't like anything about the finale.

The revelation of the shadowy organization is a regrettable choice by the writers. Revenge works well on a micro-level, when the dramas limited to the immediate Graysons, Emily and the others characters established as 'players.' Very few shows succeed in expanding the narrative by bringing in huge elements like a powerful corporation hell bent on protecting themselves by any means necessary. Conrad desperately tells Victoria about the dangers they'll face should the trial happen; not only will the children be harmed, but they themselves will meet a rather unfortunate end, because the cover-up needs to stay covered-up. The specific details of the company won't be hashed out until the second season, but Mike Kelley shows what the company is capable of when they blow up an airplane carrying Victoria, Lydia and the damning evidence. I'm troubled by Nolan's line in which he stresses to Emily how dangerous and BIG the company is because this basically guarantees a long and involving arc about conspiracies.

Emily had the chance to kill the silver-haired man but she honored her father by sparing his life. The man's death wouldn't have changed anything, unless he's the most important part of the shadowy company, but he's been portrayed as an assassin. Emily's act of mercy isn't a case of her hesitating or being distracted. Maybe Takeda will admonish her for not killing the silver-haired man when she had him on the floor, and the axe pressed against his neck, but his death would've been a bonus. Takeda returned her to reality because she lost her way in the battle against the Graysons. Emily wasn't hesitant at all in Grayson matters; she ended things with Daniel, and she planted the evidence in a way that would ensure its safety and the further internal destruction of the Grayson family. It was a throwback to the days when Emily got her revenge on people quickly and easily in a single episode.

The series basically cheated their way to the Emily's Revenge climax though. I wrote about the show's lack of ambiguity some weeks ago and argued its absence hurt the show. Indeed, the lack of ambiguity hurts scenes, characterization, and relationship dynamics. I don't understand why the writers spent so much time developing Daniel into a relatable and sympathetic character only to destroy his character. The deterioration of his relationship with Emily seemed like a case of the writers realizing that they wrote them too well, which would cause problems when Emily needed to kiss Jack and commit herself to him. Throughout the season, Daniel's been a guy who hated his family and who vowed not to become his mother or his father. The dude made mistakes, hated how his parents bought his way out of punishment, and wanted to be his own man, live in Paris, marry Emily, and such; but then Tyler confronted him on a beach, Daniel got amnesia, went to jail, had the charges dropped, and did a complete 180 as a character. Conrad told Daniel the truth about David Clarke. Daniel responded by committing himself 100% to the family business.

I'm sure Mike Kelley can spin the Daniel transformation to an Entertainment Weekly report. I'm sure he has and I'll find a story on EW.com about the 'shocking' Revenge finale immediately after this posts. Anyway, Daniel was poorly written in the final six weeks of the season. The moment when he declared David Clarke deserved to die cemented the heel turn. Also, the moment gave the audience permission to feel zero sympathy for the character when Emily quickly broke things off without a hint of warmth in her voice about Daniel. This lack of warmth is consistent with her feelings about him since he heard him accept his father's offer to join the business despite the miserable truth. It seemed too easy, too soapy, and lazy. Daniel's horrible arc is capped over drinks with Ashley.

Revenge is about families. The Grayson family finally falls apart in "Reckoning." Victoria slapped Daniel, which isn't very significant when one remembers how she hired men to beat the shit out of her son in prison, but it's significant in the show's eyes because Daniel is Victoria's golden child. It wouldn't be a season finale if the writers ignored the similarities between child and parent. Daniel regressed into Conrad Jr. and Charlotte became her mother after ruining the random brunette girl's reputation. Charlotte's 'turn' was written better and seemed, well, planned, as opposed to thrown together haphazardly for the sake of drama. They were a united front in the beginning. Now, the fall of the family created a monster in Daniel, a Charlotte who overdosed, a plane crash, and so on. They destroyed one family, and, now, karma has destroyed their family.

Revenge, though, wanted the audience to invest in Emily's family and their tragedy. The episode ended on the revelation that her mother lives (which is yet another show to end a season on a 'hey! MOM'S ALIVE!' cliffhanger). Emily just wanted to clear her father's name and restore the good name of the Clarke family. The Graysons' idyllic life was an illusion whereas the Clarke's were a good family (well David and Amanda). This aspect of Emily was sometimes lost in the soap opera plot mechanics. Emily's dejected when the plane crash happens, until Nolan tells her he backed up the evidence, but then warned her about the aforementioned dangerous company. Emily was ready to come clean to Jack about everything and begin a new life; however, nothing goes according to plan. It couldn't, you know, because there's a second season happening in the fall.

Inevitably, Revenge will spin its wheels. The wheels could spin for several years. The show will replace Desperate Housewives on Sunday nights. The 'mythology' of the show is bound to get deeper. I already think it's a mess, so more elements will definitely hurt the show more. As a season finale, though, "Reckoning" accomplishes the necessary things: it teases season two, concludes some season one arcs, and throws in two cliffhangers. It was nothing special.

Other Thoughts:

-My Revenge reviews will end on a cliffhanger. From the feedback I received throughout this season for the two ABC shows I wrote about, no one wants me anywhere near their beloved ABC dramas. Some Revenge reviews were as unpopular as some OUAT reviews. The shows share a night now. Once airs at 8 followed by Revenge at 9. Surely I won't write about both back-to-back, right? One will need to return to The Foot in the fall to find out which show I'm writing about weekly.

-I'm sure I forgot to write about certain parts of the finale. Honestly, the show has worn me down. I am tired of Revenge, friends and well-wishers.

-This is my last review of the official 2011-2012 TV season. This season of television disappointed me. I wrote about a decent number of shows but didn't like many. I enjoy writing every single review though. However, writing about "Reckoning" felt like having to write one last assignment for school before summer vacation. The blog won't be offline for the summer. I'm writing about Dawson's Creek's second season and Everwood's second season. I'm brainstorming other ideas (and have been for over a month). So check back during the summer.

-Mike Kelley & Mark B. Perry wrote the episode. Sanford Bookstaver directed it.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The 2012 Summer Re-Watch: Dawson's Creek "Full Moon Rising" Review

The characters in Dawson's Creek don't like to take responsibility for their actions. Dawson never examines his conscience to assess his own part in whatever drama that's unfolded. When something bad happens, it's never Dawson's fault; it's the fault of Joey or his parents or Pacey or Jack, etc. Joey blames external circumstances for her own weaknesses. Pacey and Jen fall into this trap, but not as much. I'm not sure whether it's deliberate characterization, a way for the writers to protect the characters when they behave badly with one another. I'm referring to the show as a whole. "Full Moon Rising" is the first of the episodes to drop in some cosmic element to explain away or apologize for bad behavior from the characters. The element isn't just cosmic or lunar. Sometimes, the element, actually plot device, is as small as a tape. The devices are used, aside from its effect on characterization, to bring forth truth, for the characters to learn something they've either not noticed or worked hard to miss.

The full moon shines in the Capeside night sky during "Full Moon Rising." Dawson and Joey kiss on the rooftop just off of Dawson's room while a werewolf movie plays in his room. Werewolf movies popularized 'man becomes beast during a full moon' because of its relationship to man's idea of the full moon. The image of the werewolf communicates the idea that man is powerless against a full moon. Joey's dialogue intimates what'll happen in the course of the episode. Dawson finds the full moon 'romantic." Joey worries about the full moon because she believes it affects people in the same way it affects the tides. Dawson nearly falls off the roof seconds after he attempts calm his girlfriend about the moon. Dawson gulps and tries to laugh it off.

One should know that every act ends on a shot of the full moon. Additionally, in every act, you'll see a shot of the full moon to remind the viewers the characters might be behaving in weird ways because of it. Indeed, one could get concussed from the anvils being dropped upon one's head. Tamara spoke about subtext for a whole scene in last week's episode, and yet the writers employed nary a piece of subtextual dialogue.

The marital strife between Mitch and Gale becomes too volatile to contain their little bubble. Dawson catches on to their troubles when they decided to fight in front of him in every scene the three characters share. Gale stupidly invites a male colleague over for dinner in the hopes of landing a deal with a New York station or something. Mitch wonders aloud if this activity shouldn't happen on a Thursday. Gale repeats the business aspect of the dinner, but Mitch makes a good point, considering it's a Saturday night. Mitch lucks out when Tamara comes over to finish their deal for the warehouse. Dawson watches both parents curiously, especially when both continue drinking wine with their guests. Gale does not explain why she chose to invite the male over rather than wine and dine him on the company dime at a posh Capeside restaurant. Just assume it's the FULL MOON. They fight throughout the night. Dawson observes. Eventually Tamara and tertiary male colleague/coworker leave, though neither Mitch nor Gale seem particularly worried about blowing big opportunities for themselves in a professional sense. It's the FULL MOON.

Dawson puts the obvious pieces together after Abby suggests an open relationship for him and Joey. The light bulb comes on, and he rushes downstairs to call his parents out on their shit, which is not a byproduct of the full moon. Understandably, Mitch and Gale would prefer to handle the matter with Dawson when they aren't entertaining guests. Dawson gets the truth from his parents and urges them to sit at the table and work out their differences. Mitch venomously insults his wife, stating how he never wished for her to cheat on him. Dawson tells his father to 'just get over it and forgive her.' Mitch can't. He tells Dawson that his father never gave him advice for when one's wife sleeps with another man. Dawson promptly leaves the house to find Joey and cry. And why am I writing about the storyline I swore not to write about? THE FULL MOON.

Dawson's not the only one who cries during the episode's closing montage. The full moon induces plenty of sadness from the resident Capesiders. Pacey asks Andie out on a date, which should be happy, until Pacey goes to Andie's house to pick her up. Andie thought she'd meet her date at the movies or the Icehouse, and then she freaks when she realizes where he is. Pacey meets Mrs. McPhee and hears about the family, including celebrated oldest brother of Andie's, Tim. Andie arrives just in time to fill in the details of her family's history; specifically, her mother hasn't been the same since the car accident that killed Tim, how her father more or less abandoned the family, but she doesn't want Pacey's pity. Pacey looks at her with feeling and embraces her. Pacey's sweet throughout the story, equally so with both McPhee women. The writers have begun the transition in Pacey and Andie's relationship.

Jen stupidly decided to entertain Vincent the Boatman at her house whilst Grams attended bible study. The plan backfires. Vincent would've forced himself on her had Grams not burst through the door. Jen is ashamed, especially when Grams makes it clear she won't allow her to return to her New York behavior, which was reprehensible, according to Grams. The Vincent date is another instance of Jen's desire to be wanted. She feels as badly after her date as she felt after coming onto Dawson in "Alternative Lifestyles." Perhaps Grams' words were what she needed to hear. Jen realizes she went too far in her 'act' when Vincent won't get off of her; and, perhaps, she realized that being bad ultimately means feeling badly.

The full moon motif is most prominent in the Icehouse storyline with Joey and Jack. A solitary old man drinks cup after cup of coffee at a table as Joey becomes more frustrated with each minute the tip jar is empty. No one is eating at the Icehouse. Jack figures it's because of the FULL MOON (wow that makes a whole lot of sense, writers). Their whole night is weird: the lobster tank breaks, the coffee man helps fix it and then leaves poetry and a $100 dollar bill. The night concludes with a kiss by a window in which Joey and Jack are silhouetted by the full moon. Joey's the vocal believer in the full moon causing people to act strangely. She doesn't know how to react to the kiss or the old man who dropped way too much money on Icehouse coffee. Dawson walks with her from the Icehouse to his house. The truth about her night is on the tip of tongue, but she decides against telling him. Instead, she reiterates her comments about the full moon. Dawson opened up about his parents and needed to blame something else other than his own parents for the decline in their marriage: ah there it is.

I've had my fun with the full moon motif, but the device connects the four storylines of "Full Moon Rising." People attached significance to the full moon for centuries. The significance and meaning attached to the full moon grew through the years. These characters are all sad and confused in the present moment. Dawson tries to blame his terrible night of discovery to the moon, but it doesn't work, and he cries in Joey's arms. Jen wants to think she's better than who she was in NYC. What if she's not? Jen gazes at the full moon, perhaps wondering if this phase is just part of a phase she'll get over. Andie wanted to hide her family from the world. If no one knew about it then maybe it isn't real could be the impetus behind Andie's actions. Now, the secret need not be painful or shameful, because of Pacey; and, perhaps, life will get better for her, and Pacey will bring some peace to her and her mother. Joey experienced conflicted feelings about Dawson in "Tamara's Return" which were unresolved. She, too, feels like the moon had a part to play in kissing Jack; that surely her feelings for Dawson haven't waned that much; but she's just stumbling onto the foundation of her relationship with Dawson: her feelings will wax and wane.

So, I like "Full Moon Rising" because of its portrayal of the teens in situations they're not familiar or comfortable with. Teenagers don't know what the hell is going on. Teenagers now will realize they were clueless when they see teenagers as a twentysomething year old. Teens don't know how to deal with serious, life-altering events. Dawson and his friends don't know how to deal with things in this episode. This aspect of teenage life is portrayed extremely well. So, things came to the surface this week, and two of these things will be dealt with in "The Dance." Stay tuned.

Other Thoughts:

-Don't expect two paragraphs on Mitch and Gale ever again.

-Every director loved extreme close-ups of Van Der Beek and Holmes making out. Whoever decreed such close-ups made a huge mistake.

-Abby continues to be written as the girl who sees and understands way more than the Capeside core do.

-Dana Baratta wrote the episode. David Semel directed it.

-Netflix Instant Watch is streaming the series now. Join the re-watch!

UP NEXT: "The All-Nighter"--I wrote about "The Dance" last summer (Read it here!). Here's the tease for #207: Facing the scariest English test of their lives, the gang has an all night study session at wealthy, horny Chris Wolfe's house. During the night, secrets are revealed and friendships are altered. Watch it on Xfinity! Streampix or Netflix or buy the DVD.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Monday, May 21, 2012

Game Of Thrones "The Prince of Winterfell" Review

Yara refers to her brother Theon as the prince of Winterfell in the least respectful way possible. After all, an Iron Born man claimed Winterfell by taking the castle from a cripple and then he spilled their blood when they disrespected him by fleeing the castle. Theon tries to defend himself and his honor and his title as prince of Winterfell: he TOOK Winterfell with twenty men. Yara just wants to bring Theon home. She pokes fun at her baby brother in front of the boys but dismisses him when she needs to illustrate the point that he'll die should he linger in Winterfell. The North will hear about what happened, and they will kill him. Theon won't leave. Yara recalls a story from when he was a bawling babe and how he stopped crying when Yara looked at him.

The scene is fantastic because of the depth it gives Yara (Asha) Greyjoy. I worried about this scene before the episode. Benioff and Weiss needed to nail the beats between Yara and Theon. The Theon who came to Pyke, and the Theon who left Pyke, are different. Post-Pyke Theon is a man desperate for power and validation. Yara doesn't care about humiliating her brother; she cares about her brother. Theon doesn't listen to her. Yara leaves to return to Deepwood Motte. Later, Theon and Dagmer discuss payment for the farmer who allowed the orphan boys to be taken and burned by Theon. Bran and Rickon weren't killed; but a prince must do what's needed to send a message to the kingdom. It's a different kind of power play, a desperate kind, but a power play. This aspect of power, through threats and illusion, is seen throughout "The Prince of Winterfell."

Arya desperately tries to find Jaqen before Tywin leaves Harrenhal for battle. Tywin, Kevyn, and his other men, were strategizing their plan of attack for Robb Stark. Tywin admitted the difficulty in plotting against Robb, the king who's never lost a battle he fought, and decided on riding in the night and attacking the North before they caught wind of the Lannister army. I don't want to call Tywin's decision desperate just to fit my argument for what the theme of the episode is; however, the decision is a bit desperate, especially when Stannis moves on King's Landing. Tywin's most concerned about Robb attacking Casterly Rock. Arya, naturally, wants to kill Tywin, but she doesn't find Jaqen in time. Instead, she turns Jaqen's promise against him, as her third name is Jaqen, unless he helps her, Gendry and Hot Pie escape Harrenhal. Arya's decision is desperate. The boys wonder whether Jaqen is trustworthy. Arya can't help but believe. Her belief is rewarded as her and her friends walk through the gates, passing decapitated guards on the way.

Two of the episode's strongest scenes occur at King's Landing. Cersei smiles devilishly as Tyion finishes off his lamprey pie and Arbor wine (no idea if it's actually arbor wine but who cares, right). No, the pie isn't poisoned, nor the arbor wine, but Cersei feels like she caught Tyrion's beloved whore in a web. Tyrion's genuinely concerned until he sees that the captured whore is Ros and not Shae. Cersei imprisoned Tyrion's whore because he sent Myrcella to Dorne, and she's worried that Tyrion is plotting Joffrey's death by suggesting he fight in the impending battle. The move is about power, but the power is illusory, and while Tyrion's sad to see a woman suffer because of him, and bothered enough to level a menacing threat against Cersei, Cersei's power play is ultimately fruitless; however, that Cersei still made this move is grounds for concern. Tyrion promised to turn something she loved into ash before he left. His dear sister sipped her wine and said, "Get out."

The second best scene in King's Landing happens as Tyrion and Varys gaze out at Blackwater Bay. Tyrion wondered why Varys led his sister to the wrong girl, so he asked the eunuch what he wanted, and Varys answered enigmatically. He switched his tune to the Targaryen girl in Qarth to tell Tyrion that once her dragons are grown, they'll have a whole new mess to deal with. Of course, Varys spoke more eloquently, because he's not only a master of whispers but a master of language. Tyrion stated his desire to remain the active Hand in King's Landing. Varys complimented Tyrion's ability to play the game, which suggests Tyrion won't meet an end like Jon Arryn or Ned Stark. I loved how their conversation emphasized one of the story's essential elements, which is a reflection of their riddle conversation in that power is in the eye of the beholder and the smallest man can cast the biggest shadow; but a eunuch can be as dangerous as Jaime with a sword. It's just a matter of perspective.

Meanwhile, Catelyn let Jaime escape with Brienne because she wants her daughters back. Robb arrests her and sends forty more men to join the forty men already hunting for Jaime. The betrayal deeply wounds him and lays waste to his advantageous position. The kingslayer is gone; Theon holds Winterfell; things have gone to shit. Robb and Talisa soon copulate. Robb takes a stand for himself when he says "I don't want to marry the Frey girl." Perhaps, in his mind, he thought his mother took away his power in front of his men. Robb's declaration about the Freys, and the subsequent naked time with Talisa, suggests this thought process of Robb Stark.

"The Prince of Winterfell" really emphasized that kind of thought process. There's security in power, in free will, in not being a pawn in the game. I thought it was handled masterfully.

Other Thoughts:

-Brienne and Jaime began their journey to King's Landing. Jaime insulted her 8-10 times in two minutes. Brienne basically ignored him whilst keeping a watchful eye on her surroundings. This arc has the potential to be terrific.

-Stannis hasn't been used enough in season two. Benioff and Weiss left him out of the last two episodes. Stannis returned with his best scene in the series; the character delivered a long monologue about the rebellion against The Mad King, which showed why he's so loyal to the onion knight, Davos Seaworth, and why he's so bitter and pissed off at his brothers, both dead now. Stannis promised Davos the position of Hand of the King once he's seated on the Iron Throne.

-Qhorin and Jon Snow's scenes with the wildlings actually fit into what I discussed in the main text of the post. Qhorin told Jon to win the wildlings trust and then decided to attack and curse Jon for disappearing with Ygritte, which caused two good men to die. The scene isn't explicit enough to warrant any further comment, considering Jon doesn't know what the hell just happened when Qhorin throws him down a mountain, so I'll just wait to write more about Jon and Qhorin. Also, Ygritte spares Jon's life when the Lord of Bones wants him dead.

-Oh, Dany. Oh, oh, Dany. The Qarth adventure hasn't been good. Dany just needs to follow Pyat Pree into The House of the Undying.

-I tried to convince people that Bran and Rickon were dead. I really did. No one bothered to play dumb elsewhere on the internet. Perhaps playing dumb is a detriment. Folk want to appear intelligent and 'in the know' about a show. The fake-out wasn't handled well. I'll admit that. The fake-out in the book really got me. I wanted people who never read the books to feel the way I felt in that moment. There isn't always a need to 'call' things. Sometimes, if a show says something happened, just let it be. It can be more fun that way. I don't know. Anyway, I'll also wait to write about Bran/Rickon/Osha/Hodor in the crypts.

-Bronn stressed the importance of food and how food can be used for power during a siege. Keep that in your mind, friends and well-wishers.

-Talisa also delivered an important monologue about her time in Volantis. Speaking of Essos, Jorah mentioned a placed called Astapor. That's all.

-Grenn and Sam found a bunch of dragon glass a.k.a. obsidian in the Fist of the First Men. Yes.

-Next week is George R.R. Martin's hour, "Blackwater." I'll be away. I'll write about the episode on Monday night or Tuesday morning.

-David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wrote the episode. Alan Taylor directed it.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Friday, May 18, 2012

Grimm "Woman In Black" Review

I expected the Grimm finale to resemble ANGEL's "To Shanshu in LA" for no other reason than the fact I've been comparing the two shows throughout the first season of Grimm. The previews suggested everyone would discover Nick's secret; by everyone, I mean Hank and Juliette. Upon their discovery of Nick's other life, I expected the gang to join Nick, Monroe and Rosalee in kicking creature ass in season two. "Woman in Black" is much different from "To Shanshu in LA." No matter how many episode trailers I watch, or film trailers, I seem to forget that trailers are all about the hook. Networks and studios want to hook people enough to devote their time or money or both. More often that not a hook doesn't tell the whole story; heck, it barely scratches the surface of the story.

The most common complaint of Grimm has been the way the writers kept Juliette and Hank separate from the main narrative. Every week it seemed like fans wanted one or both to learn about Nick, convinced it'd somehow change the series in some way. Glenn Mazarra, on a Nerdist Writers Panel podcast, spoke about the fans' cry for flashbacks. Mazarra's take is: why? What would they add to the show? Similarly, Grimm's writers have shown a lack of interest in bringing Hank and Juliette into the loop. I'm not sure if the show would become better had Hank and Juliette learned the truth in "Woman in Black." There would be cohesiveness to the characters, but I think it's more interesting to watch Hank fall victim to paranoia from seeing what he can't believe he saw and being unable to understand what he saw.

The climatic scene between Nick and Juliette, the scene folk waited for and perhaps stuck around the show for, lasted seven minutes and occupied an entire act. I paid attention to Guintoli and Tulloch's acting first and foremost. Nick didn't say anything I didn't know, but, of course, it was written in a way we never heard it before. TV's a crazy place for imagination where viewers will pretty much drop themselves into whatever world the writer presents, no matter how fantastical or whimsical or just plain unbelievable it is, and so the "Pilot" and subsequent second episode laid out the Grimm mythology. We followed Nick until he knew he needed to take over for his aunt in the family duty. Nick rambles on about his ancestry, the Wesen, the Hitler film, the Verrat and Seven Royal Families. Juliette cries and leaves the trailer because Nick's scaring her, and she wants him to seek professional help, because he resembles and sounds like a mad man. The scene is exactly what it should've been.

"Woman in Black" is actually about Nick's mom. During Nick's explanation to Juliette, he mentioned the Grimm side is on his mother's side. Later, as Nick fights Akira Kimura, he yells, "You killed my parents! Why?" but the fight ends when the mysterious woman in black cuts into the fight. She throws Nick aside and then stabs Akira in the heart with a knife. Nick's ready to shoot until she turns around and sees his mom standing before him. I didn't expect the mom reveal, though I expected her to be on the side of good. Sgt. Wu thought the woman worked with Kimura, which guaranteed that she absolutely wasn't working with him.

Kimura accidentally brings mother and son together. Kimura is a master killer. He came to Portland in hot pursuit of the gold coins. The dude left a body trail everywhere he went, not giving a shit because he can Volga into his brutal killer other self. He was sloppy without the element of surprise. Renard was caught by surprise and couldn't defend himself, but Nick handles him in a fight, and Nick's mom takes care of Kimura in five seconds. Kimura didn't have any depth as a villain; he wanted the coins and killed anyone who didn't help him. Kimura's presence causes Hank to practically lose it. Hank shot into the darkness out of fear for someone who looked like Monroe bursting from the darkness. The last shot of Hank was of him clutching two guns, ready to shoot.

"Woman in Black" veered from him midway through for the sake of devoting time to Juliette and her cat scratch. Adalind dropped some kind of liquid into her cat's milk. The tainted milk made the cat aggressive. The cat scratched Juliette when Adalind took her there for a check-up. Nick tried to tell Juliette the truth once he found out Adalind's cat scratched her, fearing the worst from a woman whose life he essentially destroyed several weeks ago. Nick and Monroe didn't take Juliette to Rosalee when she fainted. Instead, she went to a hospital and eventually awoke with dark pupils, looking nothing like herself. Rosalee, meanwhile, helped the boys cure the cat of its 'infection' or whatever one wants to call it.

Season one has been about discovery for Nick Burkhardt. I've written about this before, but I figure it's worth repeating one last time before the summer hiatus. I liked how the season concluded on one final discovery for Nick, a discovery more important than the discovery of this Grimm life he must lead: the discovery of his mother, presumed dead, now alive and kicking ass. I look forward to where the second season goes from here. The scene with Juliette in the trailer showed Nick as someone who's essentially a mess; he can't even form one coherent thought for Juliette to understand or absorb; of course, the subject matter isn't easy to discuss but I digress. Nick scrambled to explain things with Juliette just as he scrambled throughout the season whether it was learning to fight the creatures or about the Verrat and the families and the gold coins or the differences in the creatures, etc. Juliette correctly observed how Nick changed once his Aunt passed away. Nick needed his Aunt more than ever as he discovered more and more about his new life and a whole new world of threats and, of course, allies. But Nick has his mother now, and that's what he's needed all along, and I can't wait to watch the next chapter of this story.

Other Thoughts:

-Grimm's first season was a ton of fun. No one gave the show a shot in hell to survive past its initial episode order. Apparently, NBC will heavily promote the series during the summer Olympics. Season 2 is supposed to launch early as part of their plan to get more viewers. I hope the show picks up new viewers in the summer.

-I'm not bothered that Grimm chose not to answer questions about Renard. Renard's past didn't fit into what Greenwalt and Kouf wanted to achieve in the finale. Guintoli spoke to EW.com about the second season and promised fans will learn much about Renard. Guintoli's comments support the thoughts I've had, and written about in previous reviews, about the show's second season.

-Bree Turner's Rosalee is a regular next season. I'd like Caitlin Coffee's Adalind to be around more too. I'll write about season two as well.

-David Greenwalt & Jim Kouf penned "Woman in Black." Norberto Barba directed it.

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Finale Fun: Community's "Introduction to Finality"

Community aired its third season finale last night. Well, rather, NBC aired Community's season three finale along with the 20th and 21st hours of the season. I thought the three episodes represented the show extraordinarily well. First, the characters were transported to a video game, in one of the best half-hours of TV I've ever seen; second, the Greendale 7 staged a heist to save the Dean from the clutches of the tyrannical Ben Chang; third, the finale, the show returned to several storylines, like the darkest timeline, Jeff's career, Shirley and Pierce's sandwich business, the AC repair school, Britta's psychology major, and the storylines combined to produce a half-hour full of heart, good laughs, and a fitting conclusion to the season.

-I felt like I needed to savor the final three episodes of the season because Community is in the process of significant changes. Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan left the series. They co-ran things with Dan Harmon. Harmon, too, seems unlikely to return as the show runner. Hitfix.com's Alan Sepinwall and Dan Fienberg speculated about a post-Dan Harmon show, suggesting it'd be more of a traditional comedy, less experimental, etc. So it is likely that we may never see another episode like the video game one and so on. Perhaps that's why I latched onto that one so much last night. I'd expect to see more episodes like the heist and the finale regardless of who's running the show. Even though the news of its time-change and night-change is ancient news on the Internet, I'm happy Community will lead into Grimm, my favorite new series of the 2011-2012 season. I encourage Community fans to stick around afterwards for Grimm.

-Season 3 of Community had its ups and downs. Last summer, Harmon hired John Goodman and Michael Kenneth Williams and then talked about their roles like they were part of a firm plan, which is stupid, because TV changes constantly. Both showed up in the beginning but then disappeared for long stretches; it wasn't a big deal. I like the focus on the study group most of all. Season 3 produced several outstanding episodes: "Remedial Chaos Theory," "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps," "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux," "Regional Holiday Music," "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts," and "Virtual Systems Analysis." Honorable mention goes to "Curriculum Unavailable."

-The writers focused on the group dynamic more than individual arcs or small relationships. Through this exploration of the group, we learned how the happiest timeline happened without Jeff's presence, and that Troy is essentially the heart of the group, while Abed is the most sane member of the group, though Abed's sanity isn't a new revelation. The study group remained a group throughout the season. There were no break-ups or fights or bottle episodes about a missing pen. They were together in many of the episodes. Troy, Abed, and Annie's apartment became a more important hang-out than the study room; in fact, the study room was barely seen in the final run of episodes. Other characters formed deeper relationships as the dynamic changed as well as the hang-out location. Abed sat next to Annie at the end of "Introduction to Finality" and grabbed her hand because she helped me work through issues in "Virtual Systems Analysis." They have a connection and bond that supersedes anyone else in the group. Britta and Troy's attraction began in season two. Little by little their relationship grew. Their pairing became one of the sweetest parts of the show.

-Jeff Winger's whatever-you-want-to-call-it with Annie and Britta stopped. The writers explored the character through the character rather than through other characters. After the finale, I think Jeff was the stand-out character of the season (Britta is a close second. Gillian Jacobs was so good throughout season three). Jeff learned a valuable lesson about friendship and being a good person; these lessons eluded him since he lost his law degree and came to Greendale. Of all the Jeff Winger speeches, his speech in the courtroom to close his arc is his stand-out moment of the series. Now he can move onto resolving the issues he has with his father, and he can carve out a new life fueled by being a good person, because if you do the right thing, good things will follow.

-Jeff's transformation also erases the darkest timeline. Abed goes mental again and tries to cut off Jeff's arm in order to create the darkest timeline. Abed's can't deal with a Troy-less life (Troy can't interact with anyone when in AC repair school, which he joins to help overthrow Chang and save the Dean, and then, in one of Donald Glover's best moments, Troy flips out and reminds everyone that the school is just a 2 year trade school to get a degree in boxes which cool rooms, because the AC repair school is over-the-top in every way(and also Abed's been worried about the group dissolving or people leaving him and when those fears disappear, the darkest timeline disappears, but he needs a push)), but Jeff's speech kills Evil Abed. The darkest time is, as it were, destroyed. Change swoops in after the speech. Shirley and Pierce happily open the sandwich shop on campus. Troy moves out, but he's able to remain their friend and pursue his chosen trade, with his girl by his side. Jeff searches for his father. The closure to the season was tremendous; and if the show hadn't been renewed, "Introduction to Finality" would've worked as a series finale. If Dan Harmon doesn’t return, it’s great to have this closure for Jeff.

-"Digital Estate Planning" hit the right note in every beat. The gang rallied behind Pierce when his inheritance was threatened. Everyone later rallied behind Gilbert, Pierce's half-brother, when Mr. Hawthorne showed yet another horrible side of himself. The experimental episodes always are built on heart and they involve someone taking an emotional journey. Beyond the story, I loved the animation and all of the little details. It was like watching the best Super Nintendo video game of all-time. I loved Abed finding happiness with Hilda. I didn't even watch the final two episodes until this morning because I wanted to appreciate "Digital Estate Planning" for a few hours.

-Community continues to be my favorite TV show. I really love everything about the show. Before I wrap up the post, Jim Rash deserves accolades for turning in his best season yet as Dean Pelton. I hope his Academy Award winning screenwriting success doesn't lead him to leaving the show (It won't). The cast and crew of Community made TV magic yet again. I'm looking forward to season four and beyond. #Sixseasonsandamovie.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

The 2012 Summer Re-Watch: Everwood "East Meets West" Review

Ephram's tragic flaw essay is one of the series' highlights. His essay caps an episode about the difficulty of change. Irv's opening narration commented on the changes in nature and how humans don't change like rocks after years of being pummeled by water and wind. People change only when other people change. Sometimes people don't even change when others do; they're stuck in the status quo or too inside themselves to recognize a need for change.

Ephram inherited his tragic flaw from his father, Dr. Andy Brown, which is an inability to change. Andy Brown gets in trouble a lot in "East Meets West." First, he hires a babysitter named Madison, which pisses Ephram off, and indeed, she'll be way more trouble than she's worth, so Ephram yells at his father for hiring a babysitter because her presence embarrasses him and makes him less like an 'adult' and more like a 'child.' Nina considered filing for divorce with Carl. Andy's opinion was straightforward: file for divorce and don't look back. Andy doesn't think about the nuances of the decision, the effect on not only Nina but Sam, and his insensitivity gets him trouble. Andy told her to file for divorce in the midst of a phone call. Nina then behaved passive-aggressively (especially after Ephram commented on her divorce to her which should've been a private matter between the adults), which pissed Andy off, and his anger pissed HER off, and she called him out for failing to follow his own advice i.e. telling people how to live their lives or move on without ever moving on himself. In a particularly harsh line, Nina wonders why he still wears his wedding ring two years after Julia died. Andy, hurt, says, "It's not the same." Nina fires venom back, saying, "Of course not because it's YOU." Delia's mad at him when he wants to fire Madison for lecturing him about being a good, supportive and attentive parent for his daughter because he clearly hired her to do the job he isn't doing. Andy Brown loses throughout "East Meets West."

Andy works to correct his mistakes in the fourth act. No, Madison won't be fired. No, he shouldn't have told Ephram about Nina's divorce. No, he won't yell at Ephram and project blame onto him because of his own guilty feelings. Andy communicates clearly with Ephram about the reason he hired Madison to baby-sit Delia: Ephram's homework doubled, and he needs to practice the piano when he's not doing homework. Ephram briefly thinks Madison will be shown the door
after her lecture; however, Delia puts both men in their place by calling them out for never doing the things Madison does with her, like playing or talking about cool stuff. Madison helps Delia feel included and special in a way the men in her life fail because they're too busy worrying about the woman next door and the girl at school; they need to focus on the little girl in their house, Andy's daughter and Ephram's sister. Now, I hate Madison with a passion, and the character destroys the season a good bit, but I loved her takedown of the Brown men. My response to the scene absolutely surprised me, and it'll be the only time I compliment Madison.

Andy fails to impose his will on Mike Hart, Colin's father. Andy usually succeeds whenever he wants people to do something e.g. the mother-daughter from "Extra Ordinary." Mike Hart is an alcoholic and much worse with Colin gone from his life. Andy witnesses Mike's inebriation and immediately develops a plan to combat it. His plan includes placing Mike in a program run by an old Med School buddy of his in the hopes the disease will be cured. Andy blows off Nina to help Mike even though Mike never asked for help. The persuasive speeches of Andy's don’t move Mike one inch. The man wants to drink to forget about the reality that his son is gone. Andy tries to connect with him by sharing his own experiences with grief; but Mike counters Andy, stating, "You mourned for what you had; I mourn for what will never be." Andy doesn't fight him anymore. Mike Hart won't have a happy ending. If I recall correctly, he makes one more appearance for disappearing, and he never cures his alcoholism. The death of his son broke him.

The lessons keep coming for Andy Brown; this won't change as the series continues. Andy's a terrific character when he makes mistakes. The best characters learn from their mistakes and grow and change. The Madison hire will be a massive mistake, but Andy doesn't know this yet, and the audience didn't know this in the fall of 2003 after "East Meets West" aired. I didn't know what to expect after it aired. Boy did I loathe what's to come though.

The Abbott siblings began sharing the family practice in "East Meets West." The title is derived from the differing treatment philosophies of Harold and Linda. Linda believes in eastern healing whereas Harold learned the westernized practice of medicine. Linda re-decorated her office to create an eastern atmosphere; soothing oriental music provided the soundtrack to her acupunctures and other treatment methods. Louise achieved peace and tranquility thanks to Linda's influence on the offense. Harold, as one expects, reacted poorly to the change. Eventually he comes around to his sister's way of treatment after she cures his neck pain. Harold's most fearful of her effect on the patients; he stresses how it took too long to convince the people to stop paying in livestock and vegetables (another fantastic Dr. Abbott line), so he doesn't want Linda to discount people and give them the wrong idea. Their storyline is played for laughs a week after their storyline was played for drama. The back-and-forth is enjoyable. The story effectively showed the other side of their relationship.

Ephram shines throughout "East Meets West." But it's not because he performs any good acts or deeds; rather, he's embarrassed a whole lot and it is outstanding. Madison treats him like a child. He tags along to mini-golf with the babysitter and Delia, runs into Amy with her dates, and mutters, "Kill me now." Ephram's the hero in school, though, when he gives Amy his homework to copy because she forgot. Amy is depressed about Colin. She doesn't talk much, and anyone who engages her seems to take her out some fog. She hugs Ephram because of the assignment, but it's a different kind of hug, like there's a sadness in her embrace, and she presses into him but it's not sexual or romantic, just sort of an instance of the girl needing someone to hug, assignment or not. I don't think the hug's about the assignment either as much as it is about Amy reacting this caring gesture by her friend; but she's too sad to do anything but hug and then walk down the hall, alone.

The season is still young and the storylines continue to form. "East Meets West" is very good. The tragic flaw narration is terrific, as is the accompanying montage. John E. Pogue's script is excellent. David Petrarca did a fine job directing.

UP NEXT: "Daddy's Little Girl"--Delia doesn't react well when Andy invites Linda over dinner. Amy wants to take anti-depressants. Watch it here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0030FG0R4

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Revenge "Grief" Review

Revenge delivered its most devastating punch of the season tonight: they killed Sammy the dog. No, Sammy didn't die by the hands of any villainous character. The dog is nearly eighteen years old, which is rather old if you go by dog years, and died naturally in the Clarke's old beach house. It was sad, moving, touching, and by far the most effective scene in the entire series not counting the scenes with the little actress who portrays young Amanda. The scene was a departure from the tone of the show. So many tearful scenes were the result of someone being a shitty person to someone else. Sammy's death was true to life; I was in the room when my dog passed away too, and I identified with Jack Porter's grief over losing one of his most reliable friends.

From a story perspective, Sammy's death brought Emily and Jack together. They grieved together and comforted one another. Then they met each other's lips and kissed. Ashley watched from outside, heel turn imminent. For whatever reason, death is the ultimate aphrodisiac in TV. If it's not death then grief of any kind is an aphrodisiac e.g. Kate in season five of LOST when she decided to return to the Island, went to Jack in complete grief, but refused to tell him why she was sad, and instead tore off his clothes and made love with him. Jack and Emily cried a lot over Sammy. Jack remembered her aloud. Emily remembered her in her mind, as a girl on the beach with her father and little Jack Porter. Soon, they were passionately kissing. It was weird. I never understood why death or grief equals sex in TV. Writers can be really weird. Anyway, the writers needed to bring Jack and Emily together in time for the finale because this is a nighttime soap and it only makes sense for the fated lovers to get together at precisely the wrong moment.

ABC seems fond of using train metaphors for their TV shows. So Revenge is chugging along to the finish line and picking up storylines and letting them ride until the last stop. Emily's still pissed at Daniel for betraying his own self and brushing off the whole 'my family is responsible for a horrific terrorist attack and framed an innocent man for it' because the Graysons need to maintain their public image for the stock holders of Grayson Global. Emily's passive-aggressive and more interested in killing the white-haired assassin. Daniel's personality shift hasn't been the smoothest transition; it feels more like the writers felt forced to turn Daniel for the sake of dramatic action.

Daniel and Jack are destined to fight before the season's over. There was more set-up for the eventual fisticuffs tonight. Emily, while spying on father and son, heard about a 'plan' for Jack. The Graysons bought Jack off as a witness to protect themselves. Daniel hoped Jack would use the move to sail to Haiti. Daniel will be incredibly pissed when he learns Jack stuck around and kissed his fiancée. During Ashley's pitch for the Daniel-Emily wedding, Emily kept getting distracted by her phone. She received updates from Nolan about her father's killer's whereabouts, but Ashley will assume she texted with Jack and that she was actually prevented from seeing Jack. Daniel will believe anything anyone tells him. In general, the engaged couple bickers all of the time. So tensions will escalate and the action will fall.

The white-haired man is smarter than your average Revenge villain. He immediately catches onto Nolan's ploy. Nolan infiltrated the man's house to protect Emily from making a rash decision based on a journal entry; he planted a camera in his house so Emily could learn more from a safe and anonymous distance. He threatened Conrad for 'getting off track' on behalf of his 'company' which makes him more dangerous because anytime a shadowy company is introduced it means bad news. Unfortunately, Nolan got too cocky. Seconds after boasting to Emily about his spy skills, the white-haired man choked him out. Emily's in a weak position now. The villain knows more about her. Emily doesn't perform well when her plan is altered just a tiny bit, as Tyler showed us mid-season.

The power play between Victoria and Conrad continued. Victoria briefly gained the upper hand when she convinced Lydia to join her in order to escape jail time for perjuring; she also took crucial evidence from Conrad. However, Conrad used his son to regain the advantage. Daniel threatened to cut Victoria out of his life if she destroyed Conrad. Victoria loves her son and handed over the evidence, only to learn she'd been played by Conrad through Daniel. I'm not rooting for either character. I don't feel sympathy for Victoria after she hired someone to beat the shit out her son in prison. I don't feel for Conrad because he's a remorseless piece of shit. Daniel's essentially a plot device. Charlotte continues her wayward ways. The destruction of her family doesn't help her. Revenge succeeded in making the Graysons loathsome; however, they're loathsome beyond redemption. It doesn't matter how many flashbacks we get of Victoria's tortured past, the character sucks, and needs to be taken down by Emily. The 'Pilot' was about Emily's desire for revenge against the Graysons. It's disappointing the white-haired man is the target now, which means Grayson revenge will need to wait a season (most likely). I'll probably write about this next week.

"Grief" darted between the plots like they were Cory and Shawn in the sweet sixteen episode of Boy Meets World when they needed to be in two places at once. It began in media res, a tiresome device for Revenge, as Emily dug a grave; but it was misdirection, for the grave was Sammy's. The show then darted between Victoria-Conrad, Emily-Daniel and Jack and Nolan, with a small portion devoted to Declan and Charlotte. But it's the penultimate episode. Things needed to be set in place for the packed finale. At this point, there isn't much to learn about the characters. Any new aspect of any character has been terrible e.g. Ashley's imminent heel turn, Victoria's affair with James Purefoy, Daniel's weird heel turn after the jump in time, etc.

"Grief" is neither good nor bad--it's simply an average episode. It didn't provoke any strong feelings from me (with the exception being the sad scenes with Sammy). I'm not excited about the finale.

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About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.