Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Grimm "Endangered" Review

Grimm finds yet another interesting angle to its stories about the creatures Nick and his ancestors have spent their lives hunting and killing. It's been established that Nick's a game-changer of a Grimm. He's learned the differences between Wesen, Blutbads, etc; he's put an effort into understanding their fears and then putting those fears to rest. The show has done good work showing the differences between the creatures, showing how the few bad eggs don't represent the minority, and how the good will band together to beat the evil. "Endangered" ends on Rosalee, Monroe, and Nick, banding together to protect gluhvenholks from a Wesen who will kill them and take their baby to sell on the black market.

It's no secret that I'm a fan of the darker stories the show likes to tell. It may be unknown to anyone who's never read my reviews of Grimm episodes before, though. That's besides the point. "Endangered" isn't quite as dark as episodes such as "Organ Grinder." There's a purposeful scene in which the leads, who act as moralists in the scene, express shock and horror at what the supposed UFO hunter is actually doing in his van. The episode introduces the gluhvenholks. Their appearance is striking in the world of Grimm because it leads a farmer to thinking an alien killed his farmhand. The gluhvenholks bear a striking resemblance to the typical depiction of alien creatures from the eyes to structure of the head. They glow in the dark, a translucent blue that looks heavenly. It's a lot like Mr. Burns glowing in the X-Files episode of The Simpsons.

I expected "Endangered" to bring in a bunch of Portland extras for an overblown "Aliens are among us" storyline. The alien angle is quietly dropped though as the second half of the episode begins. Law enforcement doesn't take the claim seriously, radioing in that a mental health evaluation may be in order for the farmer. Kouf and Greenwalt, and the other writers, don't use the traditional beats in their story. In their worst episodes, the writers fail trying something different, like in the regrettable video game episode, "Nameless." The A story isn't risky, but it's quite interesting in the way it develops. The gluhvenholk who kills the farmhand and slaughters cow is getting cow ovaries for his pregnant gluhvenholk wife to eat during her gestation. It's crucial that the episode establishes the glowing alien-like being as monster-like.

The Portland PD investigate the murder and try to find the suspected alien. Nick's quickly investigating from his Grimm side. Wu loses track of him as Monroe and Rosalee take on a greater role. The twist is that the gluhvenholks are not monsters. Rosalee tells the story of the gluhvenholks with wonder in her eye. Bree Turner plays the scene as if Rosalee's been transported to her childhood in the telling. The gluhvenholks are mythic creatures for Wesen, Blutbad, etc., like leprechauns are for humans. They didn't cause nightmares in young child but were actually a sign of good luck and fortune. The gluhvenholks were thought to be extinct, but in a small barn in the Pacific Northwest live two and, soon, a third, a tiny baby. The story isn't about locking up the male gluhvenholk for killing the farmhand. Instead, Rosalee and Monroe, and Nick, work to preserve their lives, and the baby's, for the future.

Their motivations are helped by the presence of the bounty hunter. He preserves the creatures he gets with a chemical that keeps the dead volga'd so that a perfect specimen is delivered to the buyer. Monroe, upon learning what's going on, remarks, "This is so wrong." The hunter's never a significant threat; he's just a complication, a conflict, a means to the end. He's killed, injected with his chemical, and found by humans who identify him as an alien. His fate is left to the imagination. Meanwhile, the new family drives far from the Northwest for a destination that'll provide them security and a future. It's another instance in which Nick stands up for the people his family's been battling for centuries.

Nick's ancestry is a part of the C story in which Nick learns more about the key from Renard. The Key unlocks a mysterious item in Constantinople. The Royal Family want nothing more than what's inside. Two keys are unaccounted for. Renard will help Nick locate them if Nick trusts him to. Nick's still not cool with him. The story of the Grimms, the Royals and The Key is progressing slowly. It's nothing new. Grimm takes its time.

Juliette's story continues to progress to a more positive resolution. She remembers the first time she exchanged I love you with Nick and even takes the news about Nick-as-Grimm well. I assume she takes it well. The episode doesn't return to her after Monroe's story. Monroe doesn't have the chance to tell Nick about what happened. Juliette feels guilt and remorse for how she's treated Nick since she lost her memory since she now remembers the love she has for him. Next week's episode seems like it'll give resolution to the storyline and like it'll allow Juliette to finally move onto other things--with Nick in her life, of course. One can only hope. Juliette's slow journey to her memories of Nick has not been riveting television. It's more like Sunday's game between relegation bound QPR and Reading in the EPL.

I really liked the A story. The C story promises an intriguing endgame to the season. The B story is what it is. But, yeah, the A story is cool. It's different; it's more like a fairy tale than other case-of-the-week stories have been. Rosalee's story about the gluhvenholks helps to communicate the sense of fairy tale, especially the wondrous element of fairy tales. Grimm's consistent dark tone protects it from the cheesiness of Once Upon a Time. One other thing: Kouf and Greenwalt didn't plan on moving to Tuesday nights, but I thought "Endangered" worked well for an episode that needed to launch a new timeslot. New viewers could enjoy the stand-alone A story plot and even get into the Juliette story. Folk love fictional characters that are in love but currently separated by nonsense.

Other Thoughts:

-Erin Way portrayed Jocelyn, the female gluhvenholk! Erin Way portrayed Kat during the second season of Alphas. She didn't get much to do besides cry and look fearful. The actress possesses a ton of energy and flair. She's a joy to watch.

-The gluhvenholks did look cool in the night.

-Once again, I thought Wu would get a Hank-sized role only to disappear from the story by the second half. Oh well.

-I botched the gluhenvolk name throughout review. My apologies. Pretend I spelled it right. I'm tired.

-David Straiton directed the episode. I cannot remember the last name of the credited wrtier. The first name is Spiro. The last name begins with the letter S.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Monday, April 29, 2013

How I Met Your Mother "The Bro Mitzvah" Review

Act III of "The Bro Mitzvah" was a rehash of the previous two acts, except for Barney's acceptance of what happened, and the William Zabov reveal. I think Bays and Thomas, and the other writers such as credited writer Chris Harris, ran out of gas. Perhaps "The Bro Mitzvah" is the very best the writers could do. They must've known the fans wanted a Barney bachelor party. What would've been crazier than that?!? Ted and Marshall feel hopeless when planning Barney's bachelor party. Barney's average night out is better than a bachelor party. I assume the HIMYM writers said aloud, "We've written Barney bachelor party episodes for 8 seasons now! What more could fans want?" I also assume that what followed was "Barney's worst night ever!" followed by bro fives in the writers' room.

No, "The Bro Mitzvah" is not a good episode of television. I dreaded watching the episode for a week. Barney's one of the top seven worst characters on television. HIMYM's gone to the Barney well often this season. Nothing changes about the character. Change in the character's only a trick and then undone when convenient for the story. Barney/Robin scenes are off. Fans of the show love the characters together, but their impending marriage makes little sense. Robin worries his mother won't think she's good enough for her sweet son. Of course Robin's night out with his mother is completely staged, so I doubt I should even write about the B story at all. I'd like to think the set-up of a horrible bachelor party so that it'd turn out to be effective had its roots in personal issues with Barney. Ted angrily leaving the van after Marshall's kidnapped could've paid off. Ted and Barney had a confrontation, albeit minor, about Robin that suggested it wouldn't be dropped the following episode. Put your money on that bit of nonsense coming back in the finale.

Lily uses the set-up to overtly flirt with surprise guest star Ralph Macchio, but the writers never delved into issues the gang might've brought to the set-up. Quinn uses the failed engagement against Barney; Ted seems pissed in the van. Resolution happens fast in Act III since the first half of the act is a rehash of the previous two acts. Barney's at first dismayed and then totally blown away by his friends’ generosity. Yeah, thinking you blew your marriage, 80 grand, ruined an ex's life, got Marshall's hand chopped off, and so on, is really an idea of a good time; however, Barney's a psycho and a sociopath. He's the only character who'd admire the effort into making his bachelor party the worst night of his life. Unfortunately, Bays and Thomas thought the viewers would be as accepting. I'm always in the minority of HIMYM fans. I think the majority of the episodes are terrible. I'm expecting an outpouring of praise for the brilliance of the episode. Why not? Our culture's at a place where folk describe James Joyce's work as 'junk' while praising the Red Dawn re-make. Yes.

There isn't anything under the A story than what's on the surface. Barney gets his memorable night that Robin planned. I suppose Robin's involvement in the bachelor party planning further solidifies their coupling. Robin's accepted Barney's ways and now she's successfully planned a night without women. She controls the night. The episode doesn't emphasize Robin's role in the party in that way. What you see is what you get in "The Bro Mitzvah." The gang shows their love for Barney by following the checklist he created for his big bro bachelor mitzvah.

The story is a complete failure, but there are little bits of scenes that are decent, such as anything revolving around The Karate Kid, plus the call-backs to Barney's fandom for all the villains in movies. The marriage storyline has been a drag this season. I want it to end though I'm certain nonsense awaits. I don't know what else to write. I could rant some about the show using tired sitcom tropes and then justifying the use of the tired sitcom tropes with its terrible ending. I'll just end the review here and direct your attention to the Beach College episode of Boy Meets World below.

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Game Of Thrones "Kissed By Fire" Review

Beric Dondarrion told Arya, who wasn't really listening, that he's less each time Thoros brings him back from the dead. Beric's reflective when he speaks those words, possibly wondering is it worth it to come back more broken than before. What will be left at the end? Broken people, whether from multiple deaths, lost limbs, a nasty disease called greyscale, the loss of a parent, or something that's just missing inside, are the focus of "Kissed By Fire." There's a question about how one lives after a tragedy. Arya tearfully asks Thoros if he could bring a man without a head back. Beric fails to comfort her with words about the peace her father has in death. Beric does not want her to wish for it. Arya will wish for it because a dead man's speaking to her in that moment. Moments before Arya's engaged in this discussion, she's reciting the names of the people who caused her pain. The thematic ties between Beric's words about how he's 'less' and what's being expressed to Arya is deliberate.

Jaime Lannister's also a broken man engaged in self-reflection. Locke takes him and Brienne to Harrenhal where Roose Bolton's running the show. Bolton's kinder to Brienne and Jaime. Jaime's injury is treated by Cyman, a maester well worth remembeing for the revelation that he lost his chain. Jaime takes a bath following the painful work done to treat his severed arm. The bath tub scene is one of the most famous passages in the book, and Game of Thrones does it justice. It is the ultimate Jaime moment thus far in the series. Jaime has done bad things, none worse (on screen) than pushing Bran out of the window for witnessing his incestuous relationship with Cersei. Jaime's chats with Catelyn were neither respectful nor honorable. He pushed her to the brink, trying to get her to use the malice he's been reputed to have. After all, he is the Kingslayer, the only man of the Kingsguard to kill his king. Jaime's never told his side of the story. As he sits in the water, he tells his side of the story. His story is utterly captivating. It starts with the end of Aerys reign when he was The Mad King in the correct sense. He burned men alive with wildfyre. The Lannisters and the North moved to take the kingdom from him, save it from ruin--complete ruin. Aerys ordered Jaime to slay his own father and instructed his pyromancer to burn the town, the families in their beds, the crops, the fruits, the very life of King's Landing. Aerys resembles a figure from the bible in Jaime's re-telling, a King Herod so threatened he orders the slaughter of the innocents. Jaime absorbs the magnitude of King Aerys' words. What's worse for a man in Westeros? Regicide or patricide? And to boot the thousands of innocent burning to death. Jaime kills his king. Ned Stark walked in just as Jaime stood over Aerys, his back wound and throat slit. The honorable Ned Stark remembered the scene for years and defined Jaime forever for it. Jaime about passes out at the end of the story, hardly speaking and choking out the words, a few tears running down his cheeks; he spits on the word 'kingslayer' as he speaks, like it's vermin in his mouth. His last words before he passes out are "My name is Jaime. Jaime." It's that whole 'my name is my name' business. It is a striking scene perhaps on par with Dany's triumph over slavery in Astapor. There is a man (or a woman) behind the bloodshed, the carnage, the reputations. Words are wind, remember. A man looks the man he's putting to death in the eye before he does it, as Robb does with Rickard Karstark before he cuts his head off for betraying him, for killing innocent Lannister boys in retaliation for the deaths of his sons and for the release of Jaime. Jaime's story suggests a man undergoing transformation; a man who is prepared to look into the eye of his past to see what's been done and to see what's to be done. Jaime Lannister's story is just beginning.

Stannis' familial life is another portrait of what drives men in Westeros. Melisandre was called to him because she's a priestess of the red god and has promised a true son for the rightful king, the red god's king. Stannis doesn't have sons, but he has a daughter with greyscale, a leprosy-type disease. She's kept away from seeing eyes. Selyse, her mother, is ashamed of her. Stannis doesn't appear to feel ashamed of her. He visits her in her chambers. Shireen is young, innocent, singing a song, asking for Davos. Stannis put Davos in chains for being a traitor, a string of events that began when Melisandre came to Dragonstone. The sweetest scene of the episode happens without Stannis around. Shireen visits Davos, her friend, and promises she'll teach him to read. In a world of swords, wildfyre, red gods, massive armies, etc. reading is among the most dangerous weapons.

Robb Stark, meanwhile, possesses a broken army. The Karstarks leave the Northern army after the beheading of Lord Karstark. Robb won't tolerate betrayals regardless of what the Karstarks represent. Rickard reminds him both families have the blood of the First Men running in their veins, but his last words are a curse upon his king. Robb's sort of screwed until he happens upon an idea to take Casterly Rock, the Lannister home. Casterly Rock can't be taken with half an army, but old Walder Frey has enough men and isn't with the Lannister's. The only issue is that Robb married Talisa over Frey's daughter. So, his new plan is contingent on a man who, last time we saw him, was rancorous.

The Lannisters aren't broken at all. The Tyrells assistance has given them more strength. Tywin intends to strengthen the south further by marrying Tyrion off to Sansa Stark, anticipating the end of Robb's army which leave Sansa as heir to Winterfell. Tyrion objects for moral reasons. Sansa's been treated horribly by his family and deserves peace. She's a child. Tywin does not give a golden shit. He tells her to wed her and to bed her. Tywin orders Cersei to marry Loras for the sake of the south. The finale scene saps all the joy out of Sansa's scene in which she's contemplating two paths to freedom for King's Landing. Sansa hasn't looked so happy since the day she set eyes on Joffrey, which was way before he killed Ned and abused her. Her expression is reminiscent of the day she watched Loras compete in the Tourney of the Hand. Littlefinger's old words should echo: life is not a song. So, yeah, poor Sansa.

Tyrion gets a small victory when he successfully negotiates splitting the costs of the Royal Wedding with the Tyrells.

Other Thoughts:

-Admittedly, that's not the most memorable way to end a review. Alas. I'm working fast this afternoon. Man needs to write HIMYM review in two hours.

-Jon's sexy time with Ygritte in the cave is among my favorite scenes in the books. The scene on the screen is just okay. Cogman's script threw in the "You Know Nothing, Jon Snow" line as a bone to book fans. Ygritte tells Jon he knows nothing CONSTANTLY in the books. Let's hope she says it more and more and more for the rest of the season. Oh yeah, and Jon moves fast. Good gravy, Snow. Sexy time with Ygritte's notable because he broke his Night's Watch celibacy vows. Also, Tormund and Harwen still don't trust him.

-Gendry's not going to follow Arya as she heads North to reunite with her family. It is a testament to Maisie Williams skills as an actress that the scene hits as hard as it does. Arya's story has been cut and condensed so much and in doing so the writers sacrificed time for her to actually bond with Gendry and Hot Pie. "Kissed By Fire" is a great Arya episode, though. I'm satisfied.

-Barristan and Jorah have a scene in which they talk away from Dany about what to do next and express their respective doubts about one another.

-The review is late because I chose to write about Revenge last night. No, I'm not proud of it.

-New character alert: Grey Worm; Lady Selyse, Shireen.

-Bryan Cogman wrote the episode. Alex Graves directed it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Revenge "Identity" Review

"A person's identity is hard to discern," narrates Emily Thorne in the beginning of the episode. Indeed, the identities for almost every character in the series is not their own. Emily's not who she says she is; the Graysons have a vault of secrets. The search for the falcon's identity underlines the objective of the episode. "Identity" exposes people or further corrodes one's image, one's perception of someone else, in some way or another. Jack and Declan are the only genuine characters on the show. Of course, their respective behaviors are being shaped/influenced by people who are playing someone else, who are not being themselves; thus, Jack's opinion of Emily drops even further. With all of the crappy stuff that's happened to him this season, he's resorted to doing what the powerful in the Hamptons do--he's using Ashley, who is not a saint, but Jack's indifference marks yet another character's who is being dragged into this nonsense.

Takeda and Aiden share a worthwhile talk about the mission. Takea loathes his people getting emotionally invested in what they're doing. Emily gets pulled in very easily, but Aiden's ceased playing by the rules. The Initiative broke their word to him when they killed his sister, which changed the game completely. Trask's murder was meant to help Aiden, as he thought taking the man's life in an act of revenge would purge the rot in his soul. It did not help him, and he tells Takeda he'll help Emily complete her mission as fast as possible. Takeda makes an angry face at him.

The takedown of the Graysons has been Emily's goal since the "Pilot." Aiden's feelings about revenge finally address a necessary element of the show. The Graysons, right now, are like a toy a kid's waited for all year for Santa to deliver, but then the toy lets him down. The takedown of the Graysons won't bring her father back or anyone else Emily lost. Each person taken down by Emily and Nolan serves as a band aid. Emily never feels good. Band-aids mask a wound. When it falls off, one sees how the wound hasn't healed. So it is when Emily and Nolan taken down the falcon. The falcon's a young girl named Edith Lee. She's responsible for David's demise as well as Padma's. Nolan fools her with an external drive and he gets the FBI on her. Emily and Nolan celebrate. Edith is a takedown, but Emily's still a stone. Nolan has a glass of whiskey and a picture of Edith he drew on, but he's alone. Worse still, Victoria shows up at his door. The Graysons are there, always.

Several things of note happen in the Graysons Nightline plot. The search for the falcon and Victoria's abandoned child cross paths. Nolan uses Victoria's abandoned child secret to get the falcon out into the public, and Emily tips off Nightline about the abandoned child. The truth about why Victoria abandoned her son is revealed in a series of flashbacks and confirmed by her on Nightline, furthering the divide between her and Conrad. Victoria's flashbacks are horrible to watch, especially any involving art. Who'll forget the regrettable James Purefoy artist storyline last season (late in the season actually)? I'm never sure what the purpose of Victoria's flashbacks are. I know the writers design them to induce sympathy and empathy in the character, to give her layers, and make her less of a vindictive bitch. The truth about her abandoned child does not redeem Victoria. It's basically the laziest storytelling I've seen on TV this season. Young Victoria tells a bearded gentleman that she likes a painting and an art school. The bearded man works as the dean of admissions for the school, likes that she likes the painting in front of them, and offers her a scholarship. Victoria later regrets and looks as torn about leaving her son as Emily looks torn bringing the falcon down.

The immediate impact of Victoria's confirmation of the rumored abandoned child involves Conrad's governor campaign going straight to hell, but who cares about Conrad Grayson. The character's never interesting. Jack and Ashley work to screw him together but really who cares. Maybe this storyline will lead to the final disintegration of the Grayson marriage. Ashley volunteers to save Conrad's campaign, though she's secretly working with Jack to bring him down (unless she's not because Ashley's motivations are incredibly inconsistent).

Emily's relationship with Daniel continues to deepen. She commits to marrying into the family. Jack reacts poorly to the news and fires her as godmother to Carl. Jack's genuine good guy personality is being corroded by the demands of Emily's revenging. Emily seems on the verge of telling Jack everything. Of the three men on the show, Emily shows the most genuine and honest affection her childhood friend and crush. He softens her. I won't be surprised if she gets her revenge, isn't satisfied, the show then wastes four seasons on Emily doing other stuff she'll hate herself for, before finding peace with Jack because he's the only person who'll truly love her in this cold world. The episode ends with a hook. Emily will marry Daniel, destroy the family, break his heart, and then go off somewhere and have passionate sex with Aiden. They plot this course and then go wild on one another.

Of course, in the midst of all the treachery, hurt feelings, and what-not, are scenes of displaying the other side of the character. There's Emily's affection for Jack; there's Victoria asking Nolan to help her find the son she abandoned; there's Nolan's elation after beating the falcon. Happiness won't come anytime soon for anyone in the show; but happiness is there, hard to see and bring out, but it's there.

Other Thoughts:

-Declan and Charlotte are again involved in a storyline that's horrible. Charlotte suddenly becomes BFFs with the girl she punched at the masquerade party and makes out with her for the paparazzi to record. Declan is mad. Until this storyline doesn't suck, I'm not writing about it.

-Emily Vancamp's hair is excellent now. I'm elated she got rid of the pound cake color highlights.

-Joe Fazzio & Ted Sullivan wrote the episode. Charlie Stratton directed it.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Grimm "Volcanalis" Review

Tonight's episode was originally titled "Ring of Fire," then it was changed to "Volcanalis" sometime this week. "Ring of Fire" dances around the specifics of the volcano story; that title calls to mind the actual ring of fire. Upon completion of the episode, the "Ring of Fire" title would've worked. Volcanalis, the villain of the episode, is an ancient evil, made of fire, descended from the Greek gods, etc. Monroe's freaked by the idea that Volcanalis is responsible for all the eruptions in the world. The concept of the episode is big. Sometimes, Grimm's risks don't have rewards.

Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt sat down and wrote the episode together. They are the show-runners, and they are the same two guys who decided on Hitler's Wesen history. Immediately upon seeing their names in the credits, I knew the episode would be bigger than 'Wesen lights folk on fire with his magic hands' or anything involving an actual volcano. I love the bold ideas of the show. Grimm takes chances. It is a pleasure to watch an unexpected plot choice, or turn, work amazingly that you want to tell your friends about the cool fairy tale show on NBC. "Volcanalis" is a mixed bag, though. I'm a fan of the structure of the episodes. The stories sometimes don't come together until the last two acts; in rare cases, it doesn't come together until the last act, and you're left wondering what will be resolved in the end.

A woman is found burned alive in her home, yet her home isn't burned. Nick and Wu investigate together because Hank's on vacation. Nick catches a Wesen in the area the woman was attacked the day before and chases him down. No progress will be made with Wu as his partner for the case, so Renard joins to help Nick figure out which Wesen is connected to the murder. The case brings together a few elements. Nick's still wary of Renard, especially after Juliette told him to stay away from her. Nick's going to think she's still in love with Renard. Wu's allowed to do slightly more than make awesome quips. While the partnership is short-lived, Reggie Lee does make the most of his screentime (as always). The Wesen Nick sees is unfamiliar. The prospect of 'untapped Wesen creature' is fun because newer Wesens haven't been too prominent lately. At the very least, this episode promises something different.

Indeed, something is different about the one behind the murder of the woman from the teaser--he's not Wesen. He is made of fire and bears a striking resemblence to the prince of darkness, the Devil. I already mentioned his name and origin in the opening paragraph. Kouf and Greenwalt went big with their reveal. The significance of Volcanalis may be in its actual use. I mean, Volcanalis expands the mythology of Grimm even further. There have been non-Wesens before; however, the past villains shared humanity in common. Volcanalis isn't human; he's fire and impossible to kill. He burned Pompey in the past; he's killed those who take his fumerol. The crazed man from the woods is trying to kill Volcanalis for killing his wife. The crazed man succeeds, with help from Nick, Renard and Monroe. Other episodes in season two continued the growth and expansion of the show's mythology. Volcanalis was a decent addition to the story. The crazed man's story could've used another pass. Kouf and Greenwalt, to the episode's detriment, took too long to get to 'the point.' I did wonder how the episode would resolve itself, though.

Elsewhere, Juliette continues to deal with her flood of memories. I interpreted Juliette's visions of dozens and dozens of Nick's as a manifestion of her mind rather than as an actual thing happening. TV shows can't get inside the head of a character like novels and short stories. Perhaps the dozens and dozens of Nick's in the house were brought out in her mind, that it is the house she needs to get away from, because the house meant a lot to her and Nick. Juliette leaves the house in a desperate fashion. It's unclear what exactly is going on, though it seems likely we're seeing what she's seeing in her mind.

Of the two women in search of something, Juliette finds a modicum of peace in her story. Adalind's in search of her lost powers and will exchange for her baby blessed with royal blood for its restoration. A unifying theme of the episode is the process of trying to find something for what was lost, to make sense of it, to hang onto something. The crazed man is driven by the death of his wife. Only Volcanalis' death will satisfy him. Juliette learns she needs to become her past to overcome her overwhelming memories. Adalind will feel complete when she's hexenbiest again.

Nick doesn't have a moment of reassuring peace in the episode, not even an olive branch that represents hope. He mopes during the Portland Timbers game. Monroe can't even cheer him up. The best thing for Nick is that Juliette remembers his proposal. Right now, though, he's out of her life. Perhaps Nick saw something of himself in Volcanalis. In one moment he is as full of fire as Volcanalis; in the next, he's frozen, fragile--just glass waiting to be shattered. Good glass, though. Obsidian.

Other Thoughts:

-I'm almost positive Grimm just showed the world's first fictional fans of the MLS. I know the MLS has diehard fans. The West Coast loves their teams. Portland's a great soccer city, too. I do wonder if an otherwise disinterested person re soccer might tune into a Portland game because of Monroe. I love soccer. I'll support any glimpse of it seen in mainstream TV.

-Grimm has a quick turnaround with its move to Tuesday nights. The next episode airs Tuesday at 10PM after The Voice. Four episodes remain this season.

-David Grossman directed the episode.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Vampire Diaries "The Originals" Review

Julie Plec recently revealed the original plan for Joseph Morgan's Klaus: he was going to die at the end of season three. Big Bads come, torment the good guys, make their lives hell, and then get defeated in the last or second to last episode of the season. TV's about as organic as any medium gets. For every Joss Whedon, David Chase, Matt Weiner, and David Simon, who all claim to have a grand plan for their series, there also exists the show runners who let the story take them wherever it may. The LOST show runners, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, tried to convince their fans about a plan. Cuse liked to say the writers knew their destination but hadn't mapped out the entire journey. The fun in television writing is in changing things up, of realizing that James Marsters fellow is doing something great with Spike and keeping him around beyond a few episodes in season two, and of recognizing what Joseph Morgan's brought to the TVD world as Niklaus Mikaelson.

I think Julie Plec might regret the number of characters she and Kevin Williamson killed off early. The number of surprising deaths early in the series gave TVD its incredible unpredictable quality that made it one of TV's stand-out shows. Had Plec and Williamson, and the room, decided to part ways with Joseph Morgan, there would not be a backdoor pilot in which to tell Klaus' grand redemption story. Maybe Klaus is killed off if TVD cast a lesser actor. But they didn't hire a lesser actor; they hired Joseph Morgan. And he's going to be the lead of The Originals.

So, how is "The Originals"? The episode works quite well as a pilot. Indeed, the episode is a pilot. I was most interested in the plan to transform Klaus into a leading character, one the audience could sympathize with and root for. Klaus is a wild and remorseless villain. He slaughtered twelve of his hybrids this season because they tried to break free of him. A few episodes ago, his mind was messed with by Silas. Caroline was a witness to Klaus' suffering. I compared his suffering in front of his beloved to Spike's suffering in front of Buffy in the seventh season of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Last week, Klaus decided not to kill Tyler. Baby-steps. Klaus hasn't been nearly as murderous as in the massacre episode. Since then, the writers have worked to move the characters toward "The Originals."

The redemptive arc of Klaus will be aided by the villain of The Originals. Marcelle, the King of New Orleans, learned from Klaus. Marcelle learned that mercy is for the weak. Witches can't practice magic because it carries a death sentence. Not every vamp is allowed to wear a daylight ring. Innocent people live or die based on his assessment of their bravery versus their cowardice. The purpose of Marcelle is easy to understand--he is Klaus' mirror, and if he disgusts Klaus, then Klaus is on the path towards redemption. Of course, having a baby with Haley also has something to do with Klaus' contemplation near the end of the episode.

"The Originals" is straight-forward. Klaus comes to New Orleans after reading Katherine's leter, tracks down his old friend, watches his way of doing business, tries to figure out what's going on for himself, and then Elijah shows up to force Klaus to think through his options. The witches of New Orleans want to take the town back from Marcelle. They want to practice magic without being put to death. Klaus will work with them if he wants his baby to survive the pregnancy. Klaus, of course, doesn't like orders. He rejects the witches, as well as his brother's insistence he listen to the witches. A little power struggle crops up, though. Klaus hates power struggles. He craves power. All his life he's craved it. Years of running from Mikael added to his lust for power. Klaus wants to be King.

I liked Klaus' motivations for staying in New Orleans to help the witches because it didn't betray the character. Klaus is a bit more of a hero. There are scenes in which I rooted for him; whereas in TVD, I mostly root against him. TVD's writers, and Morgan, try their damndest to layer the character. Caroline's role in his transformation is another way to feel for the character more. Sometimes, the show just needs to embrace Klaus as a blood-thirsty, power-hungry hybrid. The character's even painted in broad strokes--light and dark, literally. Klaus chats up a bartender named Camille, a cute blond psych major (similar to Caroline in appearance), about what a street painter is painting. The painting is of a face, half of it dark and half of it light. Camille thinks the painter's depicting the duality of man and the specific darkness that exists inside every person. Coheed and Cambria's single from their latest album is titled "The Dark Side of Me," and it's hard for me not to think of the song (being a big Coheed fan and all) during this scene. The key line of Camille interpretation is about the demons controlling the man rather than the man controlling the demons. Klaus doesn't cry, but he fills up, and leaves before he connects with her. Klaus is responsible for his unhappiness. Each time someone reaches out to him, he reacts violently, and with grave finality.

New Orleans will be different. For one, Klaus is the leading man in a series, so he's not going to be a raging so and so. Secondly, Elijah's committed to helping his brother until there's nothing left to help, nothing left to redeem. I'm down with a story about a vampire with a violent past, torn between the forces of good and the forces of evil, starting to atone. You know, there was another spinoff that built the playground The Originals play in.

I think The Originals could be a captivating series. It parallels TVD's early episodes. Klaus is the Damon figure and Elijah is the Stefan figure. Family's important to the Salvatore's. Family's important to the Mikaelson's. Elijah sees Klaus' future child as a hopeful sign of brighter days for their family, as a way to escape the darkness of their past. Klaus warms to the idea. Kings need heirs. New Orleans has been ruined by Marcelle's bloody reign. Klaus has the chance to reform himself and the city he loves, the only city he loves. So, yeah, I'll definitely watch the series in the fall.

And since "The Originals" is a backdoor pilot, the twentieth episode of season four, there are some scenes with Damon, Stefan, and Elena. Elena's not going to give into their plan to get her humanity back. The episode ends with a standoff in the Salvatore dungeon.
"The Originals" is all about Klaus and Joseph Morgan, though. Joseph Morgan shined, the set-up's got a great hook, and I'm looking forward to what follows.

Other Thoughts:

-I've compared story choices in this season to Buffy and ANGEL. Why stop now? Angel also fathered a miracle child in season three. The miracle boy Connor had a significant role in the show's fourth season. I'm in the minority of fans who loved the storyline.

-I'm used to seeing New Orleans in HBO's Treme. TVD's New Orleans, as I've pointed out already this season, is much different. I liked the tour guide's words early in the episode about the supernatural history of the city. It digs into a different history of the city. It's also an intriguing line w/r/t individual episodes in the future.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Arrow "Home Invasion" Review

Act III of the season begins.

With the first of the final four episodes of season 1, Oliver alienates his best friend even more, and his bodyguard, all for the love of a girl who could love him back but who he won't let because of his extracurricular activities. Season 1, in my opinion, is following the structure of a summer superhero flick, only the writers have successfully spread it out over 18 hours and counting. "Home Invasion" marks the time when Oliver loses the people he trusts because he's selfish with the people who've gone above and beyond for him. Diggle's gotten burned more than once by Oliver since joining him in his crusade against the bad men of Starling City, and he gets burned again when Oliver chooses to take down a man named Edward Ramus rather than the man who took his bodyguard's brother's life.

Oliver's various mistakes throughout the episode aren't made because he's a selfish dude who only wants the love of Laurel. The issue is deeper, going back to his time on the island. Arrow's emphasized Oliver's isolation sparingly this season. One of the best stories involving Oliver's isolation was Oliver's and Thea's distance and their shared acknowledgement that they both went through changes that can't be undone. Too much happened for both of them. Thea dealt with the double blow of her father's and her brother's death and she turned to substances that helped her feel less sad and horrible everyday while Oliver went through a ton of nonsense that transformed him. Isolation didn't change him, but betrayals did. Oliver has trust issues. Diggle stood by him for months, but Oliver continues to keep him at a distance. What happened on the island, and what will happen in future flashbacks, will inform the character and his actions this season more than any scene in which he chooses Laurel over Diggle.

The island flashbacks are ho-hum until Yow Fei walks into Wilson's shelter. Oliver's learning to shoot a bow-and-arrow. Shado is his teacher. Shado and Oliver make eyes at one another throughout the training. The bow-and-arrow training seems like an elaborate bit of foreplay. They eventually kiss. Oliver won't let himself move past the kiss. Feelings of regret, and love, for Laurel discourage him from doing anything with Yow Fei's ridiculously attractive daughter. Thoughts of Laurel move Oliver in "Home Invasion." He saves her life twice and tries to have lunch, alone, with her. Oliver threw himself into The Hood after McKenna left, but now he's all about her, i.e. Laurel.

Thoughts of Laurel move Oliver in the present, but memories, or whatever, of Yow Fei, and whatever else happened that we've yet to see, move him always. Yow Fei's surprising appearance is less fun once army of armed men storms the camp and assume power over Oliver and Wilson. Yow Fei's acting in the interests of his daughter, which isn't that different from present Oliver's motivations. Oliver accepts collateral damage. Diggle gets on Oliver for bailing on the Deadshot capture because four agents were killed. Oliver chose to stop someone who ordered a hit on a family, with only a small boy surviving the attack. A consistent theme of Arrow has been Oliver's acceptance of what he cannot control. Someone dies, regardless if he chooses Deadshot or Edward Ramus. It's like the scene in The Dark Knight when Batman needs to choose between Harvey and Rachel. Batman won't win because one of them won't be saved. What's a super hero to do then? Yow Fei seemingly, and indirectly, taught Oliver this that day on the island.

Diggle leaves Oliver's side after the Deadshot failure. Deadshot declines killing Diggle because he's not paid to kill him. Deadshot continues to shoot high-profile men. Oliver wants to make amends, but Diggle tells him that nothing short of an arrow in his back will stop him from walking out the door. Oliver watches him go, just as he watches Tommy push him away further after a pointed discussion about Laurel. The day she learns about Oliver's other life is the day she chooses him over Tommy, and Tommy won't let it happen. Tommy left Oliver's side and he leaves Laurel before she can leave him.

Oliver protects Laurel, Tommy, and the seven year old boy, from an assassin named Mr. Blank. Mr. Blank hates when people see his face and live to identify him. Blank's hunt for the seven year old boy is the darkest story yet involving Oliver-as-The Hood. J. August Richards plays Mr. Blank coldly, without remorse, more machine than man, with the unsettling reaction to being seen. Mr. Blank's an easy to loathe villain, so it's great when Oliver kicks his ass in their fight scene before he puts a fire poker through Blank's chest. Their fight scene is another excellently staged/choreographed fight in a season of many.

The triumph over Blank is temporary, though. People Oliver cares about have left him. Bad folk are still at large. Oliver's personal journey has focused on his re-integration into Starling City. Blank wonders what Oliver learned on that island before his death. Oliver responds, "You're about to find out." In a related story, Roy's trying to find the vigilante. Det. Lance takes him and Thea to look at the corpse of a man killed by Oliver to show the violent nature of the vigilante Roy reveres for saving his life. Is The Hood a monster or a man? That's an easy answer: he's both.

Other Thoughts:

-I sense a set-up for Roy to become Oliver's sidekick. Roy's dating Speedy, so he'll be sidekick Speedy by proxy. I don't know. Willa Holland's gorgeous.

-I don't think I've seen J. August Richards in a television role since ANGEL ended nine years ago. Rumor is he's been cast on S.H.I.E.L.D., which would be great. Mr. Blank is a good character for Richards. The character reminded me of late season five Charles Gunn; specifically, the conduit Charles Gunn who's all stone-faced and evil.

-Thea promised to help Roy find The Hood for him. I suppose I should just run with what’s been stated on the show. The writers don’t really seem to try to do anything interesting with Thea. The little kid in tonight’s episode had more development than the Roy/Thea romance. Thea told Roy that he means the world to her and that is why she’ll help him.

-I don’t care about romantic couplings on TV shows unless couplings make sense and aren’t just there for characters to do stuff. Dawson’s Creek basically ruined TV couplings after the writers relied on couplings for its final three seasons. The Secret Circle only defined its character through relationships. I never cared about the LOST love triangle, and LOST is my favorite show of all-time. I was most invested in the Sayid/Nadia relationship. Anyway, I prefer Shado/Oliver over Laurel/Oliver. Celina Jade and Stephen Amell have lightning chemistry. Katie Cassidy and Amell do not have any chemistry. If Arrow plans to shove romance nonsense in my face, bring Shado to Starling City.

-Ken Fink directed the episode. Ben Sokolowski & Beth Schwartz shared the writing credit.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Finale Fun: Lost Girl "Those Who Wander" Review

Lost Girl's second season received criticisms for its narrow serialization and its attempt to drag the major arc of the season for 22 episodes after a surprise order of the back-nine. Season 1 was a great season because of its focus on stand-alone genre episodes. Michelle Lovretta's series about a succubus felt like a throwback to TheWB genre dramas, e.g. Buffy and ANGEL, Roswell, even Smallville. The most common comparison was with ANGEL. ANGEL's second season is, perhaps, the best season of the show. Joss, Greenwalt, and Minear made the decision to write the series like Buffy, which meant ANGEL had long-running arcs spanning a season, deep and detailed, and awesome. Lost Girl tried its hand with ambitious serialization in season 2. Season 2 was a mess, and I thought about quitting on the show. The promise of a thirteen episode order for season 3 brought me back. I even wrote about #303 in January (or early February--can't remember).

Season 3 of Lost Girl mostly returned to the structure of season 1. The early part of the season delved into Bo's succubus nature, her role in the mythology, and whatnot. Bo had a cathartic return home in the middle of the season, she experienced The Dawning, and she's just met The Wanderer. I read criticisms of last week's episode which argued the show didn't know what it wanted to do this season. Obviously, Bo's journey was designed to strengthen as she takes the next step. Bo said goodbye alot throughout the season. She said goodbye to her old life, to Trick as mentor, to Lauren as lover, and, finally, to her mother (who, of course, isn't dead).

The other characters weren't trapped in dead-end storylines this season. Kenzi didn't have a wet blanket boyfriend who played music and who took all the fun out of her. Dyson didn't have a filler relationship with a girl from the pack. Lauren didn't have a possessed-by-the-garuda girlfriend or a storyline that took way too long to get anywhere. At least Lauren learned quickly that her new job wasn't the altruistic job she agreed to when she left unnamed Canadian city the action takes place in. Hale's role as the new Ash barely mattered until the last two episodes of the season due to the actor's limited availability during the shooting of season 3. Trick even got a love interest in the season. Dyson, with his love back, was once again hopelessly devoted to Bo.

The true star of the season was the newest addition to the cast, Ms. Tamsin. Rachel Skartsen was terrific throughout the season as Dyson's new partner with attitude, then as a Valkyrie with a secret, and then as a love interest to Bo, and, finally, as a reluctant heroine, which mattered regardless of her heroism leading to the arrival of The Wanderer. The Wanderer's basically like a significant weather system that lasts thirty seconds before the sun shines once more. Lost Girl makes the character memorable with two revelations, 1.) The Wanderer is Bo's father (no surprise), and 2.) he disappears Bo. Bo disintegrates into the thick black smoke that swirls around her in Trick's bar at the end of "Those Who Wander."

The immediate action in "Those Who Wander" is essentially inconsequential. Lauren's doctor boss fails miserably to achieve his dream. Emily Andras' script seemingly loses interest in the story for awhile. Lauren's stand against the fae was a nice beat for the character especially after all of the nonsense she's endured since the beginning of the season. I've thought the character was written too passively for too long. Ever since she's become an active character, as it were, she's been engaging and more than a piece in a boring love triangle. Lauren's swerve heel turn doesn't work, though. Lost Girl uses the history of the triangle to trick the audience into thinking Lauren will kill Dyson for Bo's love. A better villain would've sniffed her plan out long ago. Lauren didn't lie about her intention to remain far away from the faes, which is smart since the faes declared war on humans.

Kenzi's on the run (and so is Trick) because of the Morrigan's anti-human kick. Hale's protecting Kenzi from afar with the big teddy bear that is Bruce. While Rachel Skartsen delivered in every episode she appeared in this season, Ksenia Williams continues to be the best part of Lost Girl. The girl showed range in her little Fake Evil Kenzi arc that resolved the cliffhanger from the second season finale.

My favorite part of the season, though, was the amount of stand-alone filler episodes centered on Bo's and Kenzi's adventures. Lost Girl's first season was fun. I thought season 2 forgot how to have fun for long stretches. Lost Girl achieved a solid balance between serialization and stand-alone fun. I never wanted game-changing genre television from Lost Girl, just solid genre entertainment. Lost Girl rebounded decently from a (mostly) miserable second season.

Other Thoughts:

-I thought Lost Girl dropped the potential Hale/Kenzi romance after Kenzi’s never-ending relationship with musician dude last season. I thought wrong. Hale’s not only interested in Kenzi, he’s epically interested in her. The dude’s saving her life right now. When they reunite, their relationship should finally begin.

-Rachel Skartsen’s eyes are mesmerizing. I’d get distracted for stretches during an episode because her eyes were like eyes Nabokov described in one of his short stories. I wondered what eyes that looked dusted with winter’s frost looked like. I need not wonder anymore. Skartsen’s eyes look dusted with frost.

-I don’t know whether or not the dawning episode revealed the stingy budget of the show. Bo’s dawning happens in established locations. The writers made the sets work for the story, but it still felt like a me move. Yes, a me move.

-Vex’s return in the finale made me aware of what I forget during a season. I did not remember Vex’s delightful time with Bo and Kenzi during the early part of the season until he returned. Ksenia Williams usually has chemistry with every actor she has a scene with but she and Paul Amos have a special kind of chemistry. I’d watch a spinoff with those two.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Game Of Thrones "And Now His Watch Has Ended" Review

The fall of Astapor is a magnificent conclusion to "And Now His Watch Has Ended" because it underlines the theme of the oppressed rising up against their oppressors. The theme isn't black-and-white. The Night's Watch mutiny is far different from Daenerys' powerful stand against Kraznys and the other masters of Astapor as she completes the deal for The Unsullied. Daenerys' stand against Kraznys and Astapor is a crucial part of her arc. Daenerys was sold to Kahl Drogo and the Dothraki because Vaserys wanted an army so that he could sack King's Landing. Dany earned Drogo's love, became a true Khaleesi, endured his death and the red waste, endured the nonsense of Qarth, made mistakes along the way, and corrected them in her masterful deception of Kraznys that culminated in the fall of Astapor and its masters. Now the Astapori are as free as the one true queen.

The mutiny in the Night's Watch is different from the powerful conclusion in Astapor. The history of the Night's Watch is known. Their numbers are horrible, they're ignored when word is sent south with the ravens, and they've been stuck in the forest for a decent amount of time. Craster's a true bastard. The Night's Watch receive lodgings and bread covered in sawdust. The men are starving, wounded, and near crazed. The Fist of the First Men adventure ended horribly, and Craster starved one of their men to death. Jeor tries, but fails, to calm the tensions. Craster continues to poke at the men until they crack. When they crack, they crack. The Night's Watch is literally splintered. The Lord Commander, Jeor Mormont, is twice stabbed. Sam runs for Gilly and her son and flees the Keep. The sounds of swords and men's screams echo into the night. The Night's Watch mutiny was borne out of desperation, despair, and frustration, whereas the sack of Astapor meant so damn much more.

Varys and Tyrion share a scene that centers on the theme of the episode. Tyrion wants revenge on the people responsible for ordering a hit on him during the Battle of Blackwater. Tyrion doesn't take kindly to those who'd try to kill him. Varys is a man of many words and doesn't respond directly in terse sentences to Tyrion. Instead, he tells him the story of when he was cut as a boy. A sorcerer cut him after rendering him powerless to speak or move, but Varys felt the sensation of the knife and the burning. Revenge, Varys advises, is better suited for letters rather than with thievery or physical violence. Years may pass but the time between the initial act and its revenge is important. The sorcerer is in a box Varys has received from a ship, a sign that Varys means what he says. The attempted murder of Tyrion on the battle field is but one of many grievances in the man's life, dating back to his unfortunate incident with the whore when he was younger and he thought he saved her from a raping.

Arya, Gendry, and The Hound, are taken to the dwellings of the Brotherhood Without Banners where they met Beric Dondarrion, a former Northman before he abandoned a banner to fight for the poor and for justice. The Hound stands to face a trial for the crimes he committed. Beric lays the savagery of the King's Landing sack at his feet, accusing him of killing the babes that his brother actually committed. Sandor pleads innocence and cites his duty as the prince's guard for any wrongs he committed. Arya won't let Sandor plead his innocence without challenge. She accuses him of Micah's murder in front of the brotherhood. Beric can't try him in the traditional way because no one knows the specifics of the murder, but Beric can make Sandor fight for his life in trial by combat. Sandor practically salivates at the thought of taking on any man in one-on-one combat. Beric announces that he'll face The Hound. It represents a chance for Arya to feel some kind of satisfaction in what's been quite a horrible journey since she watched her father lose his head.

And in this episode about the good guys, as it were, sort of getting a feel-good moment is Theon, who believes he's heading for Deepwood Motte to reunite with his sister. His mysterious comrade takes him back to the dungeon, though. Theon screams and despairs. Moments earlier, Theon delivered a touching monologue about the mistakes he made for a man who doesn't care whether he lives or dies. The speech touches on the sadness he feels for betraying the man who was the only real father to him--Ned Stark. He regrets killing the miller boys for Winterfell, for letting his brothers down, and for never being able to right the wrongs he's done. Alfie Allen is terrific in the speech's delivery with the way he goes from proud to contrite, from boastful to mournful, right down to how he sits on the floor and contemplates what he's done, capped by the tears that roll down his cheeks that mix with the blood and dirt on his face. Fiction's littered with characters who will bear beatings to repent for their sins. Theon's story seems to have swung towards redemption; but winter is coming.

Meanwhile, Joffrey takes Margaery on a tour of the Sept (which looks beautiful, better than I imagined) and telling her brutal stories about the Targaryens. The history of the Targaryens is one of favorite parts of the books, so I appreciated the sharing of that history even if Joffrey chose the most brutal parts of the story to share. Margaery is aces and handles him well, even urging him to wave to the crowd that tried to kill last season in Flea Bottom. Cersei watches Margaery with disdain as she converses with Olenna. So, Joffrey's happy and content, which allows the women in his life to act behind their back. Cersei, after failing to gain any power advantage with her father, challenges him to get Joffrey listen to him. Tywin intends to get his grandson to listen. Varys converses with Olenna about Littlefinger's plan to take Sansa with him to The Eyrie, which is a really wonderful scene because Varys and Olenna are two of the best talkers in the series, and he suggests she do something to prevent Sansa's leave-taking from King's Landing. Margaery walks with Sansa to propose an idea in which they become sisters by her marrying Loras, which opens up a world of Highgarden dreams for Sansa.

"And His Watch Has Ended" is full of dreams, schemes, rebellions, and powerful displays of power. Locke believes in a dream of sapphires, but Tarth's named for sapphires because of its blue waters. Locke and his men treat Jaime terribly for a second consecutive episode. Jaime's basically done for by the end. His air of confidence and bravado has been cut from him like the hand of his that swings on his shoulder as he rides. He's too weak to fight, to ride a horse, and needs Brienne to prop him up. Brienne's an honorable woman who feels indebted for the man who lied to save her life. She's as rare as sapphires on Tarth, but the Westerosi nevertheless need to believe in the existence of sapphires. Without that, there's just, as Dolorous Edd says, "more shit."

Other Thoughts:

-Bran's one scene does little in advancing his story, though Catelyn shows up in the dream and dream-kills him by freaking him out. Jojen stares at him because he, too, shared the dream.

-Tywin was writing a few letters in his scene with Cersei.
-Game of Thrones has had several iconic scenes and moments in its run thus far such as the end of "Baelor" when Arya closes her eyes and buries her head into Yoren's as her father's head is taken off, the death of Renly, the explosion of Wildfyre, the hatching of Dany's dragons and whatnot. I think the best scene of the series, by far, is the last shot from above as Dany leads her army, with her dragons soaring above her, to another destination. I quite adore Emilia Clarke and she absolutely nailed every single beat in her speech to Kraznys. What a badass. The utterance of Dracarys would've made Ray Hudson yell in exuberance.

-Gwendoline Christie didn't stand out last season. Christine's been awesome this season. Brienne and Jaime have a wonderful dynamic, and she's found the core of Brienne of Tarth. Her scenes with Jaime are just wonderful.

-David Benioff & D.B. Weiss wrote the episode. Alex Hayes directed it.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Vampire Diaries "Pictures Of You" Review

Finally.

The Vampire Diaries' fun prom episode happened. Best friends tried to kill each other; Silas took on the guise of more characters to fool other characters; Steven R. McQueen revealed the worst accent of all-time. Prom episodes are usually great for nonsense drama, confrontations, and wistful sentimental nostalgia for days gone by. Mystic Falls' prom committee chose the unimaginative yet thematically relevant prom theme--pictures of you. Pictures of the senior class lined the path into the prom. There were pictures from freshmen year, of happiness and innocence before supernatural nonsense took over the town, and a lot of characters in those pictures died.

The past wasn't just evoked in still photographs along the path into the senior prom. Silas used Jeremy's visage to speak with Caroline. Damon and Stefan hatched a plan to get Elena to choose to turn her humanity back on by getting her to feel again, which involved intense reminders of what was and what could be should she simply feel. The characters are far from where they were when those pictures were taken. Elena will try to kill Bonnie before episode's end, and Bonnie will try to kill her. Jeremy's no more present than the Elena seen smiling in the photographs. And McQueen's no more able to speak in foreign accent than David Boreanaz.

The Elena story follows the expected trajectory of the story. The brothers don't want to piss her off and have her murder someone, so they resist overtly pushing her. Elena pushes back regardless. She's still hanging around Rebekah because she's in her miscreant phase. Elena's new friendship with Rebekah is like Jen's friendship with Abby Morgan in the second season of Dawson's Creek. Elena and Jen can't 'be' with the friends who care about them. Jen hung out with Abby because she didn't conform to the other Capeside folk, and Elena hangs out with Rebekah because she pushed everyone else away. Jen's friendship with Abby ends when Abby accidentally drowns. Elena's friendship with Rebekah sort of began when she drowned to death in the season three finale. The writers push Elena to some dark places in "Pictures Of You." She wants to kill Bonnie to stop Silas, not because she wants Jeremy and Alaric back, but because they'll nag her about turning her humanity on.

Elena's attempt on Bonnie's life results in the Salvatore brothers gleaning a sign of humanity in her. Elena expresses fear as Bonnie's mind-jawning her to death. The brothers lock her in the dungeon whilst they concoct a plan C to get her wanting her humanity back. Elena's turn as a villain has been decent, though the writers have struggled writing what is essentially a numb character. Elena's certainly a bitca now, but it's only a matter of time before she kisses and makes up with everyone.

Bonnie's another character removed from the person she sees in the photographs. Bonnie was able to control her magic in the past. Expression's uncontrollable. She sleeps and wakes up to a fire on her couch, she gets angry and nearly causes a tornado at the prom, and she almost kills Elena. Silas wants to help her, but she wants him out of her head. Silas continual appearance in various guises is still like The First, right on down to his intimate knowledge of the characters. The First's knowledge made more sense than Silas. Silas is an ancient vampire/with (eh I'm picking nits). TVD's headed to the inevitable spell and subsequent breakdown of the walls between the other side and this side. First thing's first though--Bonnie needs to see the true face of Silas, but his true face is masked by shadow. He's old and much less flamboyant and charismatic than we've seen.

The recurring theme of the episode is this idea about the characters going back to who they were in those pictures. Elijah challenges Rebekah to prove she wants to be human by being human for one night--no compulsions or feedings or anything vampires do. Matt tells her she can't change. Elena reminds her of her worst qualities like torturing her and trapping her with a werewolf to get a lead on the cure. Any character can be redeemed and change in the series. Rebekah chooses to save April's life, though it might ruin her chances to get the cure from her brother. Elena's lone emotion isn't fear. One can see pain and sadness as she looks at the old pictures. Bonnie wonders aloud whether or not Elena not feeling horrible about what's happened is worth committing horrible acts. Obviously, the answer is no, but we're not there yet. Anything's worth more than feeling what she felt that night her brother died for Elena.

Of course, the most significant change follows prom. Prom is the event for a class to gather and remember the four years before they graduate. Stefan talks about moving on from Elena with Caroline and how it is harder to do it than he thought. Change, moving on--it's all part of growing up, and some struggle, and others thrive. We're seeing all that in The Vampire Diaries as season four nears its conclusion. Struggling high schoolers hear that it'll get better after high school. Will it for these characters? Probably, but not without pain.

Other Thoughts:

-TVD set up next week's backdoor pilot for The Originals starring Joseph Morgan. Fans are excited for it. I'm intrigued.

-I'm a fan of prom episodes in television, mostly for the dramatic nonsense. Some of my favorites include the prom episodes from season three and four of Dawson's Creek, the Everwood prom episode where Emily Vancamp is hauntingly beautiful, the terrible Boy Meets World prom episode where Alan Matthews nearly gets his jawn on with Topanga; but my all-time favorite prom episode will always be Buffy's "The Prom" wherein Buffy gets the coolest gift from her class, and Giles reminds Buffy about surprises.

-Tyler's back for a cup of coffee so that Caroline has a romantic moment on prom night with him.

-Nick Reynolds and Caroline Dries wrote the episode. J. Miller Tobin directed it. This is Nick Reynolds' first TV credit.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Monday, April 15, 2013

How I Met Your Mother "Romeward Bound" Review

Veteran shows will usually throw in a plotline about a character or two contemplating a life-changing offer. Dick Wolf famously said he'd never run out of ideas for Law & Order, which may or may not be true as I've never watched the procedural, or its spinoffs, much. I'd wager that, if Dick Wolf never ran out of ideas, his ideas were worse in season fifteen than in season three. The Rome plot in "Romeward Bound" was another instance of a sitcom that's been on too long. The Captain offers Lily a year in Italy with her famiy, but she must decide by the end of the day. Lily and Marshall don't discuss the issue until the last scene of the episode. The ideal couple of HIMYM are terrible communicators.

Lily, Marshall and Marvin will leave New York for Italy, though. Lily stopped herself from saying yes to the offer because of doubt. Marshall asks her when she'll sabotage her dream job again. Lily laughs, unsure of why she sabotages her dream job again and again. The fear of a failure is the lone reason why. The doubt isn't about her friends or her roots, but her fear of failure in Italy, of being found out as a fool, no more able to identify a exceptional work of art than a squirrel's able to identify anything other than an acorn. Lily succeeded in her ho-hum life as a kindergarten teacher, as Marshall's wife, and as a mother. She succeeded in the local New York art scene. Beyond, though, in a different culture, in Rome, the Eternal City, is unknowable until she goes. Marshall builds her up with encouraging words involving his love for her. Lily smiles and says, "We're going to Rome."

HIMYM told the same basic story when The Captain hired her as his art consultant some episodes back. Lily's story of ambition and fear is re-told on a grander scale with an opportunity to have a few scenes look like classic existential Italian films. Lily's and Marshall's inability to communicate with one another is the frustrating aspect of the Rome story. Marshall delivered a nonsense speech about love using one Italian phrase he learned which was the show's way of communicating the strength of their communication. Lily learns that Marshall's been doing nothing in the environmental law world because the company is client-less. Marshall's dream was to save the world, but he's as ready to leave that lawyer life behind for Italy as Barney is to see a pair of bare breasts. Season 8's about Lily's career. Bays and Thomas must want Marshall to save the world in the 9th and final season.

Ted, Robin and Barney encourage Lily to accept the offer in the midst of their attempt to see their wedding planner's body. Ted took a yoga class with Barney's and Robin's wedding planner and described her body as the best he's ever seen, the type of body that causes him to lose his ability to say words. The writers beat around the bush for awhile before getting the point of the story, which is whether or not Barney's capable of asking a pretty woman to remove her coat so he can see her without wanting to use the playbook on her. Robin uses it as a test of his fidelity. The audience, it is assumed, should forget Barney's recent speech about being a creep and not caring enough to change.

Of course, the story wasn't about Barney's task to be faithful to his wife in three weeks. Indeed, the story's about Ted's attachment to Robin. Ted urges his buddy to quit talking about women as if he's single. Robin will get mad, Ted warns. Barney thinks Ted needs to accept the fact that Robin's marrying Barney and not Ted. Ted meekly offers to buy the next round of drinks.

Change seems to unite the two stories. Lily fears the change of going to Rome. Ted seems to fear losing Robin forever. Robin's loomed large in Future Ted's story. He's spent 8 years talking about Robin. There's one intriguing theory about the conclusion of Ted's story. In three weeks, he'll have to say goodbye; however, when something ends, something begins.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Game Of Thrones "Walk of Punishment" Review

Season three of Game of Thrones is going to rip your heart out.

You may or may not know that yet, but it will, and it's worth remembering. I forgot to lead my season three premiere review with the above. Of course, it's strange write 'season three is going to rip your heart out' in one of the more jovial and convivial. I mean, sure, Jaime got his hand chopped off to end the episode, and Theon's chest was basically destroyed, and Lord Hoster is dead and all of the north is sad; however, Hot Pie made Arya an adorable piece of bread, and Pod impressed his whores so much that Bronn and Tyrion wanted tips from him on how to get a freebie from the ladies in the brothel.

But, no, seriously, this season of Game of Thrones is going to rip your heart out. The brutality of the world of Game of Thrones was emphasized in the walk of punishment scene in Astapor, as Dany wonders why the men are bloodied and tied to a cross. What are they being punished for? The men are punished for not obeying their masters. Dany's disgusted, and she tries to give one dying man water. The man declines. Dany later asks Missanadi why he would rather die. Missandei replies, "There are no masters in the grave."

There are masters and servants throughout the Seven Kingdoms and beyond, regardless of whether it's a slave state, which is what Astapor is, or whether it's King's Landing, Dorne, Pentos, Myr, the Iron Islands, or Winterfell, or any of the other lands with lords. Missandei repeats valar morguhlis to Dany as Dany explains what her new role will be with her. Dany reminds her that they aren't men. The men who serve often die, but they are women. Missandei smiles for the first time since her introduction in "Valar Dohaeris."

Jaime Lannister's a guy who's been privileged since the day he took his first breath. Bronn reminds Tyrion, in King's Landing, that he possesses more money than he'll ever see. During Tyrion's promotion to Master of Coin, he reminds Tywin that his inexperience is spending outrageous amounts of cash, not in managing it. The Lannisters, it is said, shit gold. Jaime's like star high school quarterback who's now out of his element. He works Locke like a Lannister. The Bolton men take Brienne off to rape. Jaime, in a rare instance of nobility, stops the rape by telling Locke about the sapphires awaiting the Bolton men should she be returned to Tarth safely. Jaime promises the Bolton men riches, states that they're on the losing side of the war, and that they need to take care of their own. Locke unchains him and takes him to a table for a meal. Jaime hasn't lost it until moments later when he loses his hand. He's not with his family anymore. Daddy isn't here. Locke takes Jaime's most valuable possession: his sword hand, and he screams, and those screams must echo throughout the seven kingdoms.

Jaime's closest counterpart is not Theon; however, Theon and Jaime share a certain misery with one another. Theon's freed from the dungeon by the anonymous chap with the shaggy hair. Theon rides east to Yara, but Yara's not east. The Bolton men chase after him, capture him, but they are murdered by the anonymous chap. Theon was out of his element last season. The sack of Winterfell, the fake murders of the Stark children, and whatnot, have put him in his current predicament. Theon acted out and betrayed his 'brothers' for a man who does not have a fatherly love for him and for a family that dismisses him for being taken as a ward by the Starks. Theon seems to have a friend, but Brienne still sneers in Jaime's general direction.

Meanwhile, Dany offers a dragon to Kraznys for the entirety of his slave army. Jorah and Ser Barristan debate about the worth of a slave army versus the worth of an army built and brought together by the love for the rightful Queen to the Iron Throne. Barristan tells Dany about her brother, Rheagar, and how he fought in the Trident with men who loved him. Jorah emphasizes the benefit of The Unsullied: they will kill whomever she wants because they're told to and were trained to obey. She needn't inspire love and loyalty in her men. Jorah fires back at Barristan, reminding him that Rheagar fought nobly and valiantly but he died. Dany trades a dragon for The Unsullied, and she won't explain her reasons for parting with her biggest dragon.

Dany, like Theon last season, and Jaime this season, was out of her element in season one. Dany didn't even have an 'element' that she thrived in before Vanaerys married her off to Drogo. Dany hasn't collapsed since her marriage, but she hasn't soared like one of her dragons. The Red Waste and the nonsense in Qarth showed her the Iron Throne won't be won by sheer will. The Iron Throne will be a struggle to sit upon, full of sound and full of fury. Dany's face throughout the walk of punishment was intense and purposeful. Jorah and Barristan were unnerved by her offer to Kraznys, but her look never changed. Theon's face expresses fear and dread in every beat, and Jaime had the false sense of comfort molded by years of luxury in Casterly Rock and King's Landing, but the last image of the episode is Jaime's excrutiating expression of surprise. Theon's lost himself; Jaime's going to lose his self. Meanwhile, Dany's finding herself.

Other Thoughts:

-Mance is sending Tormund, Jon, and other wildlings, to The Wall for an attack. The dead bodies at the Fist of the First Men are gone. Thats means wights are walking around.

-Tywin sent Littlefinger to The Eyrie to wed Lysa Arryn, which is why Tyrion's the master of coin. Tyrion discovered Littlefinger's secret: he owes the Iron Bank tens of thousands of dollars which King's Landing cannot repay.

-Cat's father, Lord Hoster Tully, is dead. This episode introduced her brother, Edmure, and her uncle, the Blackfish. Robb got angry with Edmure for losing The Mountain and coming up with just a mill and two teenage Lannisters. Talisa had a scene with the Lannister hostage. The boys are polite. Not all Lannisters, as Tyrion, Tommen and Myrcella showed, aren't villains.

-Melisandre left Dragonstone to find Kingsblood. Stannis wanted to get laid badly. I don't know what goes on in the writers' room sometimes.

-Some great easter eggs for book-readers tonight: the bear and the maiden fair; Martin Lannister asking Talisa whether or not Robb really transforms into a wolf at night; the Myreenese knot. I'll leave it at that.

-Arya called The Hound out on his shit tonight. I'm sad to see Hot Pie leave so soon. I really, really, really liked Hot Pie calling Arya Arry one last time. These beats would've been hit more if the show didn't condense Arya's story so damn much. Hot Pie's astonishment about Arya's lineage is expressed in "Walk of Punishment." The problem is she spent too much damn time pouring wine for Tywin last season to build a connection with Hot Pie. Oh, well. I'll always have her chapters in A Clash of Kings.

-David Benioff made his directorial debut (I think), and he co-wrote the episode with D.B. Weiss.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Go On "Urn-ed Run" Review

The episode description for tonight's Go On promised a cross country trip for Steve and Ryan wherein Ryan would interview for a national host job. "Urn-ed Run" did not involve a cross country trip wherein Ryan would eventually interview for a national host job. The fabricated plot line would've worked for a season finale story. Season finales are designed to provide closure for the season and establish story lines for the new season. Ryan achieved a professional milestone when his show was the #1 drive-time talk show in Los Angeles. Of course, Go On isn't about a man's goal to become a national radio show host. Invariably, season finales return to the roots of the show. Go On's about the grieving and healing process.

"Urn-ed Run" returns to two ongoing things in the series. First, it returned to Ryan's ongoing struggle with moving on from his wife's death nearly a year after the tragedy. The second is the idea that the group members haven't gotten better in the group. These two aspects come together in the fake ceremony in which Ryan spreads his wife's ashes (which said ashes are just Bisquick). The group loses faith in Lauren's process since Ryan couldn't find it in him to spread his wife's ashes. The members' plans for self-improvement, which were motivated by Ryan, implode. Lauren's sad. Ryan's sad. Everyone's sad. After a year together, no one feels better. How can that be?

Go On's been consistently successful in its depictions of grief and healing. Ryan's hit-or-miss as a comic leading man, but he's solid as the chief character in this story about a man who feels lost without his wife and who doesn't know how to feel better or if he's even ever going to feel better. Ryan still wakes up at 1:23AM. He's having nightmares about his wedding day with Janie. The group pressures him to spread her ashes and move on. Moving on's the major misnomer about grief. People expect the grieving ones to one day be over what happened, but that never happens. Go On posits that Lauren's successful in her job once Ryan, and everyone else, are over what's happened to them and have moved on. Sonia and Yolanda concoct a horrible sitcom lie to help Lauren feel better about her role as group therapist with the endgame being Lauren's assistance in helping people move on from the death of a made-up dead guy named Xander. Ryan's Bisquick misdirect motivates Mr. K and Anne to force him to move on. Go On goes off the rails at this point in the episode.

Anne and Ryan have an established history together, comedic and heartfelt. Two episodes ago they laid on the grass together, holding hands, while remembering Janie and Patty, respectively. Now, Anne kidnaps Janie's urn and threatens to spread the ashes if Ryan continues to resist. What the hell is that? Janie's ashes end up spread around a gas station because sitcoms suck. Ryan's, at least, pissed. Lauren calms him down by explaining why he's struggling with this stage of the process. He nearly screwed up the wedding by making it epic when Janie wanted simplicity. Lauren advises he keep the act of spreading her ashes simple. So, Ryan heads to a batting cage, which is where they went after their wedding, and also where they shared their first date, and he spreads them there (without her family, of course, because this show can be heartless).

Ryan's grand moment of moving on leads to a group powwow around a bon fire in which everyone gives something to the fire. Each item is symbolic of each individual's active act of moving on from what first brought them to the group. I would've preferred a final shot of Ryan sleeping in bed, the clock strikes 1:23AM, and he bolts awake. I would've preferred the acknowledgement that moving on isn't the endgame. We go on after loss; we don't move on. How a show titled Go On missed the boat on that slam dunk is beyond me.

Go On's a network sitcom, though. Network sitcoms don't conclude on down beats. Progress and growth need to happen. Ryan sleeps through 1:23AM. Lauren succeeds in helping the group move on from their issues. The episode ends on another Ryan analogy to sports. This time, he compares the group to a baseball team. Sure, whatever; I'll roll with it. Go On got increasingly better throughout its first season. Its increase in quality coincided with its ratings drops, making it unlikely to be renewed by NBC for a second season. I selfishly wanted a portrayal of grief that reflected my own experiences grieving. Beyond that, though, Go On was a reliably entertaining sitcom for most of its season. I laughed during episodes. I was moved. The writers never completely figured out the tonal imbalance of grief stuff versus group shenanigans. Mostly, as Dan Dierdorf would declare, Go On did its job.

Other Thoughts:

-This marks the first time I watched an entire season of a Matthew Perry show. I didn't bother with a second episode of Mr. Sunshine, and I didn't start caring about TV until after Friends.

-Brett Gelman was the standout of the series. I hope he gets plenty of work if NBC opts against renewing the series.

-Bill Cobbs delivered the biggest laugh of the episode when he confronted his old boss, George. Cobbs is the man.

-Thanks for reading my reviews of Go On throughout the season, everyone.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Game Of Thrones "Dark Wings, Dark Words" Review

Debates have popped up before and after the premiere of Game Of Thrones. Critics want to figure out how to write about the show on a weekly basis. They struggle boxing in the episode under a theme. Game of Thrones doesn't follow the traditional episodic structure. The series epic scope makes it difficult to produce self-containing episodes that exist as its own thing. Thus, the stories aren't grounded in beginning, middles, and ends. Indeed, since "Winter Is Coming," it's been all middle. The series end will be its end and that may not be for a long time. So, the complaints have grown about the scattered nature of the episodes. Episodes bounce from location to location, character to character, adding more and more characters and more and more locations as it goes. The series is just going to keep growing to the point critics and bloggers will throw up their hands and cease trying to write about the show until its season is complete.

I quite liked "Dark Wings, Dark Words." The title refers to the saying about ravens bringing messages from kingdom-to-kingdom. The phrase is foreboding and dreadful (i.e. that it is full of dread, not that it is bad). Cat and Robb receive the darkest words of the episode when ravens bring word of Winterfell's fall, as well as the death of Cat's father in Riverrun. Later, Cat has a dark moment in which she confesses to Talia her feelings of being punished by the gods for breaking her promise. The scene stands out because of its length and its content. No other scene penetrates like Cat's confessional to Talisa. It feels foreboding; it adds to Robb's exchange earlier when Lord Karstark tells Robb that the war seems lost ever since he wedded Talisa. Cat tells Talisa about the time she prayed for Jon Snow's death and then for his life, promising the gods she'd make him a Stark should he live; however, she broke her promise and darkness and death has followed her. Cat's story follows the idea established in season one about the past following you and what-not.

Cat's despair is warranted, of course. She believes her sons dead. Bran and Rickon are not dead, though. They're well north of Winterfell. Bran's having dreams in which another boy named Jojen appears to tell him he is the three-eyed raven he sees in his dreams. Jojen later comes to Bran, along with his sister, Meera, to tell him he needs to go much deeper to understand his dreams. Simply, though, Bran and he share the dreams in common (and he tells him they are both wargs; more on that in a bit). The important bit of Jojen's exposition with Bran is that, as a warg, he can see what's to come and what's happened. Both boys saw Ned's death before it happened, which is important, because what's happened in the past, way before his father died, is really important. I think.

The episode catches up with some other characters, so it's not all foreboding doom-and-gloom. Of course, one should expect something horrible to happen in every scene of the series. Arya, Hot Pie and Gendry meet the Brotherhood Without Banners. Thoros of Myr and Anguy the Archer take the trio to a local tavern to shoot the breeze. The Hound shows up as a prisoner just as Arya's about to leave and outs her as a Stark. Meanwhile, Jaime and Brienne are on the road to King's Landing for the exchange. Jaime wants Brienne to kill a passerby, thinking the passerby will lead folk on horses to them. Indeed, the passerby leads folk on horses to them, after Jaime fails to escape because Brienne's a total badass. The Flayed Man of House Bolton is the man on the horse who wants to bring Jaime back north.

Jaime's and Brienne's scenes together are terrific. Right now, they're the odd couple. Brienne's the stoic knight, full of honor, committed to honoring Cat's orders, while Jaime's a smart-ass who loves to get under a person's skin. He goes on and on insulting Renly, poking fun at Brienne for having a crush on her, and then takes one of her swords. I think Jaime wasn't trying to escape, but, rather, testing her honor, seeing what's she made of in the moment. Brienne couldn't kill the passerby. Would she kill Jaime? She doesn't need to since she destroys him in their fight. Jaime immediately turns around and 'swords up' with Brienne when folk on horses arrive.

Arya's scenes with the Brotherhood Without Banners are good but not as rich as Jaime's scenes with Brienne. The first scene is about Arya feeling out Thoros and Anguy and their friends. The second scene continues the trend of stopping Arya from leaving to get somewhere just when you really, really, really want her to go and find someone who can bring her home. The Hound's arrival complicates Arya's situation. Alas, her story in "Dark Wings, Dark Words" is a place-setter.

The sense of unease in "Dark Wings, Dark Words," which is present from the opening scene with Bran's dream, continues in Sansa's meeting with the Queen of Thorns, the lady Olenna Tyrell of Highgarden. Olenna and Margaery dine with Sansa to learn more about Joffrey. Olenna's introduction is outstanding. She's out-spoken, direct, and honest--a complete breath of fresh air in a world dominated by characters who don't mean what they say. Olenna isn't surprised by Sansa's truths about Joffrey. Sansa's scared out of her mind that she'll be hurt for speaking badly about the king. The Tyrells are smart. Olenna and Margaery need to work with what they know. Margaery's next scene with Joffrey plays on his monstrousness. It is the strangest romancing scene I've ever seen, but it's perfect for Joffrey. Joffrey's pissed that she wedded the traitrous Renly. Margaery calms him by telling him Renly went the other way. Margaery uses Joffrey's masochism to bond with him. Joffrey wants to see her kill for him. Margaery transforms whatever uneasiness there might've been to placate the easily angered Joffrey. She is good.

The pervading sense of unease will continue to deepen, too. It's not like things will look up for all next week. The Hound won't say, "No, my mistake. That's Jeyne Pool" or anything like that. Tyrion's given one scene to talk about Shae's feelings of unease about Littlefinger's closeness to Sansa, which leads to Shae getting jealous because Tyrions finds Sansa attractive. Tyrion's also worried Tywin will find out a whore's been in his bed. Theon, of course, is locked in a dungeon being tortured, though a man with no name promises to free him.

Of course, in the north, Beyond The Wall, everyone's not at ease. The land itself is foreboding with its endless white and grey colors. Jon Snow meets a warg named Howell, who sees dead crows at the Fist of the First Men. Mance gives Jon a lesson about people management. Different clans hate one another. Mance keeps them together by telling them they will die should they separate. Meanwhile, Sam struggles keeping up with the Night's Watch journey to The Wall. If he doesn't continue going, he dies. I feel like that's the takeaway from the episode. Stop and you die.

Other Thoughts:

-I love the Reed siblings. I mean, they're basically my favorite characters in the books. They came and totally changed Bran's story for the better. Just wait 'til you see what's to come. You may like it, you may not. I don't care. I love it.

-I'm hesitant to meaningfully write about several things in the episode such as Theon's torture and the Flayed Man. I watched the episode with two friends. I couldn't answer anything about Theon's scenes. I can't even explain why in this post.

-Book-readers: I know. The Cat monologue about Jon Snow. I watched the scene unfold with my eyes wide open and jaw on the floor. It's not the worse. Aspects of the story in the books will change. This, too, has purpose.

-I hope what I'm about to write becomes moot as the season progresses: this series needs to utilize Arya, and Maisie Williams of course, more. She's the best character in the entire series. The absolute best character in the series. The viewers at home are being robbed. Two scenes in this season? Really?

-Vanessa Taylor wrote the episode. Daniel Minahan directed it.

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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.