Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Grimm "Goodnight, Sweet Grimm" Review

"Goodnight, Sweet Grimm" picks up where "The Waking Dead" left off. The Baron releases a few from the crate to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting Portland public. The Baron's involvement puzzled me throughout the episode. I waited and waited for Eric's plan to make sense. Why would he hire a guy to put wesen trances on humans? If he's searching for The Key, why did he lounge in a large room while sipping a drink? Renard went through various papers with passports and body transfers that was odd but eventually fell into place in the finale.

Grimm's second season moved slowly yet deliberately. I think the use of deliberately is the word I want to use. Last season ended with momentum; it had the pace of a Cristiano Ronaldo in the final 1/3. Grimm's structure is tricky to figure out. The finale starts off well and continues at a steady pace during the middle portion of the episode. Nick, Monroe and Rosalee investigate the waking dead folk wreaking havoc in Portland. Adalind's trying to restore her hexenbiest power. Renard's putting the pieces together as to why his brother made a surprise visit to Portland. The three storylines have resolutions, all with built-in cliff-hangers, but resolutions nonetheless.

Renard's investigation ties into the final scene of the episode when Nick's being carried off in a case to Europe where he'll surely have a bad time with the royals. The blank passport was for Nick as well as those body transport papers. Eric's a gambling man, though. He counts on a number of factors to get Nick one-on-one with The Baron. Actually, I suppose it's not a big gamble. Nick always finds the wesen he needs to stop, so it was just a matter of time. Kouf and Greenwalt carefully plotted it in the last two episodes. Rosalee figures out an antidote immediately after hearing about the case. Nick gets into trouble when saving those waking dead folk because The Baron hops around like a video game character. They fight, but Nick doesn't win. The Baron spits the goo in Nick's face, rendering him motionless. I probably should've seen the 'twist' coming, but my eyes were heavy during the episode and my head was cloudy. I wanted something to happen because "Goodnight, Sweet Grimm" felt like a typical episode. There wasn't a distinct finale feel to it.

Nick's taken by Eric at the worst possible time. Juliette's fully on board with him. They have a lovely, intimate night together. The key moment for them is Juliette's insistence about tagging along for the case work to see what his life's like on a daily basis. Fans speculated about Juliette dying in the finale, which wouldn't have worked. The writers spent months and months getting her memories back. David Greenwalt worked with Joss Whedon for a number of years. Killing Juliette wouldn't have been a complete shock considering his history, but I didn't think she'd be killed off after the insane build to her re-learning everything she learned in the last finale. I think the payoff was worth the time it took to get the character to her place of acceptance. Season 1 Juliette freaked out, but her specific amnesia of Nick, plus the general weirdness she experienced in getting her memories back. It took time but she got her place of acceptance naturally. Bitsie Tulloch portrayed Juliette's panic at the end really well--it was more heightened because she just got him back.

The episode's other resolution involved Adalind. Adalind's a hexenbiest again, if I read those scenes correctly. Resolution's not the best word to use since the baby stuff is still up in the air. Adalind's plan involved using the Frau Pech to get killed which would then allow Adalind to get her powers. I think. Remember, my eyes were heavy and my head foggy. Adalind adds a dangerous sort of femme fatale element to the show. She didn't interact with Nick at all this season. She needs to get back into Portland because the character is the best when she's an atagonist. One of the problems this season was the lack of tangible antagonists for Nick. Each episode had the stand-alone antagonists, but Adalind was a thorn in his side from the "Pilot" on last season. Eric hung out in Vienna for most of the season. Adalind was in hiding. Renard was teased as a consistent antagonist to the hero, but it was only a tease.

I don't think the second season of Grimm was a rousing success. The season had its ups and downs, with a few more low moments than high moments. I wanted the show to make the ANGEL leap, but Greenwalt and Kouf seem content in sticking with the established format and structure. ANGEL only made its leap from stand-alone procedural into serialized storytelling because of its universe. Buffy had established the long-form serialized arcs. Grimm's a traditional procedure, but it is a more interesting procedural. The genre elements are always well-used. The season was not what I expected it to be; however, the series' ideas stand-out from the pack of network procedurals. I usually admire the chances the show takes week-to-week. Overall, I enjoyed the season; it was just lighter than I thought it'd be. But that's me.

Other Thoughts:

-One more time: Bree Turner and Silas Weir-Mitchell are terrific together. The dinner scene in the beginning of the episode was delightful.

-I wonder if any story was scrapped for Hank after Hornsby's injury. Wu still couldn't take on a more significant role in the investigation. I'm hoping for Wu to get clued in next season after a 20 episode build-up.

-Grimm returns to Friday nights in the fall. I had trouble with the Tuesday at 10 change. I'm glad Grimm's going back to Fridays.

-The epigram is part of a quote from Hamlet. Horatio says it Hamlet after Hamlet dies. I don't think it's important for the story, but before Hamlet dies, he wishes for his story to be told for "the rest is silence." I don't think anyone will tell Nick's story quite yet. Hamlet had quite the complicated relationship with his mother, though. I'm wondering what happened to Mother Grimm. Perhaps she comes back to rescue her son.

-Jim Kouf & David Greenwalt wrote the finale. Norberto Barba directed the episode.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Finale Fun: Hawaii Five 0's "Aloha, Malama Pono"

I learned last week that CBS can put Hawaii Five-O anywhere on their schedule and it won't matter a darn because the show pulls in great international numbers. Thus, Hawaii Five-O will move to Friday nights beginning next fall where even less people will notice it. Hawaii Five-O has a nice and loyal fanbase, though, that'll follow it wherever it goes. I won't count myself among the loyal fans since I forget plot points. I'm glad Hawaii Five-0 is able to beat bad numbers domestically because of its numbers internationally. I wonder what international fans love most about the series. Perhaps it is Steve and Danny's playful buddy cop relationship or the character Kamekona. For me, I just enjoy the episodes most of the time. I'm entertained, often engaged. I like the characters. I like the relationships. The shots of Hawaii are lovely, breathtaking, and momentarily transports one to the paridisal isle.

Season 3 wasn't different from the first 2 seasons. I mean, the series won't change its formula or structure. 23 episodes of Five-0 is not ideal over a 9 month span. The ongoing arcs move at a snail's pace. Joe White's shelbourne nonsense took me out of season 2 completely. I can't even tell you what happened. Last week's adventure spy time with Christine Lahti and Treat Williams had its delights, mostly Lahti and Treat Williams. Alex O'Laughlin must play his scenes with his mother so seriously because Steve's ever mistrustful of her. The McGarretts get what they needed by the end of the episode because, of course they do. The whole Yakuzi plot is mostly a drag because of Adam's involvement. I think Adam's the blandest character, and it doesn't help that any memory of a Serious Kono plot causes me to curl up in the fetal position, rocking back and forth madly, uttering, "No...no...no." So, how did the finale resolve these bits of nonsense?

-The finale's the kind of Hawaii Five-0 episode I get into, for lack of a better phrase. There's excitement, adventure, good character stuff, and more Wo Fat nonsense. When McGarrett heard gunshots and explosions, I immediately thought, 'here goes Wo Fat blowing stuff up again" only to be surprised by the cliff hanger, somewhat. My memory of past episodes isn't the strongest, but I remember one in which McGarrett needed to protect Wo Fat. A couple of episodes of McGarrett begrudgingly protecting the man responsible for his father's death should be fun. McGarrett's scenes with Doris don't go anywhere, and she ends up leaving on a boat with Adam and Kono to Shanghai. I think she just said, 'to be continued' to Steve, and Steve just stared at her. Hawaii Five-0's all about incremental steps in its serialized storytelling. Wo Fat's burns add a more menacing aspect since he looked like a model before the burns and was not intimidating.

-The Adam/Kono nonsense had a nifty payoff. Adam ends the episode on the run from the Yakuzi. Kono, out of love for him, leaves with him on the boat. Adam's forced to shoot his own brother during a scuffle. Michael used the gun to frame Kono, which the team should've predicted last week. I mean, Steve and Danny should've told Max that someone must've stolen Kono's gun and used it. Max acts like Kono turned into Embrace The Hate Kane. The previews guaranteed Kono would be out of the team by episode's end. Any promo that promises the team will lose a member always means the team will lose Kono. Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park had a lovely scene together as Chin and Kono said goodbye. I felt sad for Chin; he lost his wife, and now his cousin was going away. I cheered, sort of, when he called prison riot lady for a second date.

-Autumn Reeser came back to the show after being absent for a full season. Reeser was busy on ABC's Last Resort, which is why you are forgiven for forgetting about Danny's girlfriend. Danny didn't do much this season, so hugging Autumn Reeser takes the cake for his shining moment.

-The stand-alone terrorism plot repeated the basic beats of the kidnapping episode from two weeks ago. Lenkov never fails to introduce some bad guy in need of protecting, e.g. this villain in the finale who killed five CIA operatives but then needs protection because he knows the target of a terrorist attack. The kidnapped child was actually kidnapped by the CIA for leverage. I'll always remember Five-0 being tasked with protecting a brutal dictator and then being celebrated as heroes because the dictator chooses to pay for his crimes. Hawaii Five-0, everyone. I kid. It is part of the show’s charm.

-Anyway, good season. That’s all, folk.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Game Of Thrones "Second Sons" Review

Game of Thrones is a terrific series. The A Song of Ice and Fire series is epic in scope, populated by seemingly endless amounts of characters, with different, intricate storylines. Some characters get a scene every two episodes, but the strength of the material, as well as the strength and skill of Benioff and Weiss' adaptation helps the material land for the viewer. The Sam the Slayer scene could've been shorter. Benioff and Weiss could've cut in as Gilly, her unnamed son, and Sam, camp out, only to be interrupted by a white walker. Instead of quickly cutting in and then cutting straight to the action as Melisandre does with Gendry, the scene is allowed to breathe, grow, whatever you want to call it. Sam and Gilly talk about the baby's possible name, which reveals Gilly's extremely limited worldview as well as Sam's relationship with his father Randyll. Gilly criticizes his fancy talk; she thinks he's speaking fancy purposefully. Sam's not, though. Sam is who he is in the scenes we've seen. He's not malicious, deceptive, sneaky; he's one of the few honestly good men in Westeros. He's been the outcast of the Night's Watch, been called piggy, and could barely walk the rest of the way to Craster's earlier in the season. His men wanted to leave him to die, but Commander Mormont wouldn't allow it. He escaped the Night's Watch mutiny and wandered around the dangerous northern woods where the dead walk. All of Sam's history matters. Gilly's perception of him matters because if it doesn't then his slaying of the white walker doesn't mean anything. Sam's had about seven scenes this entire season. The scene lands as terrifically as it does because of the writing.

Tyrion and Sansa's wedding is another example of the series' terrific writing and its terrific understanding of their characters and the world. Their marriage is one of circumstance. Tywin won't allow the Tyrells to gain more power than the Lannisters in the Seven Kingdoms. The wedding's wildly depressing for the participants. Tyrion's piss-drunk by the reception, and Sansa's looks close to vomiting in each of her shots. The wedding scenes don't solely emphasize the dispositions of Sansa and Tyrion; the scenes also re-emphasizes Cersei's cold and cruel bitchiness and Joffrey's cruel prodding of Sansa and Tyrion. Cersei hasn't behaved as cruelly as she did in season one. I thought the writers forgot about her stinger. No, indeed, the writers did not. Margaery sweetly calls her sister, and Cersei responds with threats of strangulation. Loras weakly attempts to converse with his bride-to-be and Cersei blows him off, leaving Loras looking more awkward than he looked in the scene's beginning.

Joffrey's an insufferable bastard throughout the wedding scenes. He embarrasses Tyrion at the service. At the reception, he threatens to rape Sansa after Tyrion's done with her. He tries to force the bedding ceremony, which leads to Tyrion putting his drunken foot down. Tyrion threatens to cut off his nephew's penis should he continue his bullying. Tywin dispenses with the bedding ceremony and reminds his grandson that his uncle is drunk and making bad jokes. Tyrion's drunkenness is amusing and sad. He's a pawn now. Sansa won't kneel for him without him asking. She's sick to her stomach every waking moment with her. Tyrion stops her from undressing because he won't share her bed until she wants him to, and Sansa may never want to share her bed. Tyrion's denied happiness when he earns it, denied accolades when he deserves it, and is made a mockery of throughout the wedding. Sansa would be wise to remember Littlefinger's words about life as a song but only realize she's not the only person miserable. Of course, she is just 14.

Across the Narrow sea, near Yunkai, Dany attempts to enlist sellswords, known as the second sons, to her cause. Among the sellsword captains is Daario Nahaaris, who turns on his other two captains after being ordered to kill Dany, for he is taken by her beauty and wishes to fight for her. The episode takes its title from the sellswords. Daario's a fascinating character. He's neither rough nor brutish like his fellow captains. His eyes seem to pierce Dany's. Dany's not afraid of him after he brings her the heads of men who wished her dead. Indeed, she rises from her bath tub, nude, staring her new friend and captain in the eyes. Daario doesn't look away. for her beauty is unparalleled. Dany has 10,000 men strong, three dragons, along with Jorah and Barristan. I'd say the girl is doing well in Essos.

Stannis does not include Dany in his three curses of usurpers after he drops the leeches carrying Gendry's blood into a fire. Dany may be his biggest threat. Robb's strength hinges on a wedding with an irascible old man. Joffrey's busy being a piece of shit. Tywin's marrying his children off. With the Tyrlls, the Lannisters are in good shape. They'd dismiss Stannis because Stannis is reliant on a half-bastard born son of King Robert. Stannis and Melisandre plan to sacrifice the boy to the Lord of Light. Stannis informs Davos of a vision he had in which he fought a great battle in winter, which is designed to show Davos that gods aren't make-believe. Davos feels Stannis freed him from his cell because he felt conflicted over the sacrifice of Gendry. Gendry has Baratheon blood in him. R'hllor demands a sacrifice, though. A sacrifice seems inevitable. When do the powerless ever overcome the powerful in the Seven Kingdoms? Gendry's not in Essos where slaves are freed.

Season 3's showed a more layered Stannis than season 2 did. Stannis' family was introduced, he did go to Davos for restraint, and he reveals in this episode that he never wanted to be king until it was foreseen. Stannis hasn't always been blinded by power. During the chaos after Robert's death, Stannis remained in Dragonstone. Visions by a red priestess, seen in fire, signs from a god, led him to commit fratricide, to turn on his closest friend, Davos Seaworth, and to contemplate sacrificing the life of innocent Gendry. Stephen Dillane's figured out the character. I think Stannis' story needed deepening this season. Season 2 highlighted the essentials, but the details of Stannis, revealed this season, are crucial.

Other Thoughts:

-How about that: the Hound is taking Arya to the Twins so he can get ransom money from Robb and Cat. Arya expected way worse as the audience must have as well. They had one scene. Well, then. Onto the wedding next week (or two weeks. Indeed, two weeks).

-Cersei provided exposition for the Rains of Castamere, a song in the books from which the next episode takes its title.

-David Benioff & D.B. Weiss wrote the episode. Michelle MacLaren directed her second episode in a row.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK



Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Vampire Diaries "Graduation" Review

The beat goes on and the beat goes on, doesn't it? Never trust a CW promo when said promo promises an epic season finale. The swelling of contemporary music had an epic feel to it. Stefan and Elena's relationship was epic. The story of the season was not epic. The deaths, the resurrections, et al, are the stuff fan videos are made of. I'll be stunned if a new Bonnie/Jeremy video doesn't post on YouTube by midnight. The Silas plot had an epic build and its payoff was okay. Silas' helpful piece of exposition in the final scene helped make sense of his appearances this season. The ever-changing ancient vampire hid his appearance because he's Stefan's shadow self. He's not really a ripoff of The First. I opined on the significance of never seeing the man's face and overlooked another direct parallel to The First. Harping about that now just seems unnecessary.

The finale's not even about Silas or any of the other supernatural threats hanging around Mystic Falls with the veil down. Lexi talks about letting go and moving on with Stefan and Damon. Graduation's a symbol of moving on for teenagers into the next phase of their life. Alaric listens to Lexi's words about moving on and letting go. Alaric wonders how he can when the people he loves keep screwing up. Lexi shrugs. Letting go and moving on is for the dead. Fresh starts is for the living. The other side is TVD's version of purgatory where the dead pay for the wrongs they committed while living. Graduation is about fresh starts, though. Every living character needs a fresh start heading into the fifth season.

Fresh starts wouldn't mean anything, really, if Elena chose Stefan in the finale. Stefan's solid, loyal, loving, devoted. They loved each other for a long time. He believed in her from day one and never wavered, and her faith in him saved him during his dark ripper days. Elena's indirect goodbye to him was soft, gentle, subdued, and she offered him the freshest start with the cure. Stefan denied the cure and had her keep it, which was handy when Katherine tried killing her. Damon endured false starts with Elena this season. The sire bond derailed their relationship. Elena became an emotionless bitch for a time. Free of the sire bond, Elena makes known her feelings for Damon. She owns her feelings just as Damon's ranting about losing out on her, damning his past mistakes because his past mistakes will always keep him from her. Elena acknowledges that he's a terrible person, but he made her feel more alive dead than she felt alive. Damon/Elena, free of anything, is definitely a fresh start for both. Stefan even helps Damon feel like less of an ass for getting the girl.

Jeremy Gilbert gets a fresh start. Bonnie's final deadly spell wasn't for nothing. At the moment of disappearance, Jeremy returns to life. Bonnie's ghost stands in front of him, making him promise to keep her death a secret for the summer. Jeremy doesn't want to, but he acquiesces. I don't know what to make of Jeremy's resurrection. I thought the writers ran out of ideas for the characters once they sent him off to Denver last season. Elena needs an emotional anchor besides the Salvatore brothers. Jeremy doesn't have a specific direction, but I'm sure he'll get tossed around by shadow-self Stefan, or something.

Meanwhile, Klaus receives a hero's welcome to Mystic Falls. Dude mercilessly drowned Tyler's mother five months ago in real-time, so that's less than 3 months in the show's timeline. We've all seen Klaus' fresh start in New Orleans. The man has learned how to forgive, step aside when he needs to step aside, and, most importantly, how to be decent. It's a start for Niklaus Mikaelson. He allows Tyler to return to Mystic Falls, and he reminds Caroline that Tyler's her first love, but he'll be her last, no matter how long it may take. Klaus' hero scene actually involves beheading that witch Caroline killed, which led to the final massacre that completed the expression triangle. Caroline took lives to save one. Stefan said something about being as bad as Klaus earlier this season, but his words don't seem to have a lasting impact. The writers forgive the characters alot.

Stefan, too, plans for a fresh start. Elena chose his brother, so he sets out to move on. After Lexi leaves him, he takes Silas' body for burial. Of course, Silas isn't dead. Stefan won't get a fresh start after all. Shadow Stefan stabs Stefan in the gut, locks him in a crate, and throws him into the water below. I've compared TVD's fourth season with the entire ANGEL series throughout the fourth season. Why stop now? Stefan was dropped into the ocean trapped in a box. No one knows what happened to him, and someone will walk around acting as if nothing has changed. Paul Wesley relishes his time to play the bad guy in TVD. Wesley is able to play any kind of character. His silent reaction to hear Elena's choice was one of his best moments of the entire show. I'm excited for Shadow Stefan because of Paul Wesley's glee in playing the bad guy. I'm curious how this character will be different from switch-off Stefan.

TVD season four had its highs and lows. It never reached the heights of the second season. I felt the fourth season was an extension of the problematic back half of season three. Season five seems poised to offer something different, something new. Elena's journey into darkness was worth the risk the show took at the end of last season, though I am curious about Elena's character going forward, because she was tethered to something, constantly, this season--whether it was the sire bond, the switch, etc. Who will she be, as a vampire, now that she's free, her own vampire, should be a worthwhile journey to follow.

Other Thoughts:

-Matt's going to travel Europe with a hot blonde for the next while. Lucky dude. Matt's still human and alive. The Aleksander/Rebekah/Matt plot was insignificant, though it had Rebekah's big moment of selflessness that's endeared Matt to her. Saving a dude's life has that affect.

-Damon's quick recovery from the wolf infection was a nice surprise. I'll never miss another scene in which any character begs Klaus for mercy.

-TVD's use of music gets distracting. Relax on the music in post-production. The beats will still hit without needing to use music to manipulate the viewer into feeling an emotion they'll feel with or without the music.

-Caroline Dries & Julie Plec wrote the finale. Chris Grismer directed it. Ms. Plec is a busy woman. She's going to have three series on the air in the fall. That's a rare feat in television. Kudos to Ms. Plec. She's a heck of a writer. Dries has been a driving force in the show for at least three seasons now. I'd like to give the tip of my hat to all the other writers, directors, cast and crew for their work this season. 23 episodes is a tough order, but moreso for TVD.

-Bring on season 5. Also, thanks for reading, everyone. I'll be back in the fall.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Arrow "Sacrifice" Review

Arrow's first season modeled the structure of a summer popcorn comic book movie. The mid-season finale showed Oliver's personal crisis. Oliver alienated those around him a few weeks ago before inevitably winning them back. Summer popcorn comic book movies end with the salvation of a city or planet Earth. The hero always endures personal loss. Always. Arrow's season finale is the explosive final act in a movie. The bad guy seems unstoppable. The evil plan is in place. People across the city freak out, turn on one another. The ugliness inside the villain comes out in all those he wishes to destroy. Oliver's triumphant moment over Malcolm, wherein he kills him and listens as Felicity relays the good news about Det. Lance deactivating the earthquake device, is momentary when Malcolm reveals he planted a second one. The second one is deadly. Buildings go down, and a character meets his ending.

Tommy's death is somewhat surprising to me since I thought he'd succeed his father as a villain. I tended to compare Spiderman and Arrow involuntarily; well, at least, I saw parallels between Peter/Harry and Oliver/Tommy. Tommy suffered from a lack of direction in the early episodes. Like Oliver, he suffered the tragedy of losing a parent. The surviving parents of both children changed. Moira sacrificed her morality to protect her children. Malcolm also sacrificed his morality to avenge his wife's needless death in The Glades. Had anyone stopped to help her, she wouldn't have bled to death on the sidewalk in The Glades--a part of the city she chose to work in to help save through free medicine. The love of a woman helped both men. Tommy changed his ways as he realized Laurel believed he could. Oliver stayed out of the way until Tommy's fatal flaw reared its ugly head.

"Sacrifice" had a bit of the Shakespearean element to it. The early part of the season reminded me of Hamlet. One early episode used The Tempest, which was Shakespeare's final play that centered around an exiled duke who realizes the error of his ways on a magical island. The tragic elements of Shakespeare's plays were borrowed by the Arrow writers tonight. A.C. Bradley wrote thoughtfully about Shakespeare's tragedies over a century ago. Mr. Bradley identified the most tragical elements of Shakespeare's famous tragedies and its characters. Tragedy stems from the character which then creates catastrophe. Tommy's hate for Oliver blinded him to Oliver's warning about his father. Malcolm's hate for The Glades created catastrophe. The sins of Robert Queen forever changed Oliver and re-defined his life. Malcolm tells Oliver he'll lose because he doesn't know what he's been fighting for, and he won't know what's worth sacrificing in his fight.

Oliver knows what Malcolm meant: giving up his life to save the lives of others. Since the day Robert shot himself in the head Oliver probably thought he'd die fulfilling his father's wish to right his wrongs and save Starling City. The final flashback to the island shows Oliver making a choice to kill the bad guy, to save Shado. Oliver's showdown with Fyres is a moment of bravery for him, a transitional moment in his personal arc. Tommy's death represents a different transition for Oliver. Oliver cries, repeating over and over that it should've been him dying. Tommy makes amends for his bad behavior in the past. He's redeemed in saving Laurel's life. Oliver tells his oldest friend a lie in his final moments. Tommy thanks Oliver for not killing his father, mumbling that he's just misunderstood. The season ends with the city burning, fires burning throughout The Glades, and more change for Oliver Queen.

The season finale is incredibly dramatic. There are false cliff hangers and real cliff hangers. Oliver's self-doubt about his ability to beat The Dark Archer makes sense. The Dark Archer beat him twice, but he's Oliver Queen. The dude survived five years alone. In his first year alone he stopped a terrorist attack. The flashbacks were consistently strong. The additions of Slade and Shado were wonderful. I thought the flashbacks would tie into Malcolm's plan in some way. I'd bet they will. Malcolm's fighting skills were advanced. I have a nagging feeling that the stories were connected. Now that both have been defeated, the flashbacks should transition to other areas of intriguing story such as Slade's transformation, the whole Russian mafia deal, and whatever happens to Shado. Celina Jade is my favorite addition of the season, narrowly beating Emily Betts-Rickards. Many shows struggle to integrate flashbacks into the ongoing narrative. Flashbacks can be distracting, slow, or even unnecessary. Guggenheim, Kreisberg and Berlanti integrated the flashbacks into the DNA of the show from day 1 and showed the present could not be understood without the past. I quite liked the flashbacks. Usually, when stories in the present faltered, the flashbacks wouldn't, and vice-versa. It was a nice balance--that balance helped Arrow remain consistently solid throughout the season.

Det. Lance finally stopped chasing The Hood after The Hood tipped him off to Malcolm's plan. Moira validated his claim to the department about the planned attack (indeed, Moira turned herself in for 'failing the city'). I liked how Det. Lance's story finished. He was a drunk for the first half until he accepted that his daughter's death wasn't on him, and then he stopped thinking of The Hood as the city's major villain. Oliver told him he needed to save his city, which mattered to a man who thought he couldn't save anyone. A vigilante took out the men he should've gotten. A playboy took his daughter from him to a doomed boat trip. Before Det. Lance saves the city he's prepared to die for the city. Det. Lance and Laurel have their Armageddon moment just before Det. Lance momentarily saves the day, which is right before Malcolm reveals that he planted a second device. I'm looking forward to a happier and more cooperative Det. Lance next season.

I'm most attached to Oliver's small circle of Diggle and Felicity. Oliver was open throughout the episode. He told Laurel all he held in his heart. With Diggle and Felicity, he simply told them he loved them and that he couldn't accomplish what he has without them. I felt moved watching Felicity try to shrink herself as the building shook along with Diggle and Oliver's quiet concern for their girl. Family was a dominant theme this season, but Oliver's makeshift families, both now and in the past, are the best for him.

I'm very glad that Arrow's a legitimate hit for The CW. Arrow's similar to other genre shows I adore. Thus, Arrow is my favorite new show of the 2012-2013. I had high hopes for it last season. Its gritty yet it doesn't forget its adapted from a comic. The creative struck a terrific balance in season 1. Arrow has the best fight scenes on network television. Stephen Amell emerged as a solid lead, sort of like a young David Boreanaz when Boreanaz figured out the Angel character. Simply, Arrow's awesome.

Other Thoughts:

-Cliffhanger for Thea and Roy: Roy remained The Glades to help folk. Thea drove off. None were accounted for at the end. Expect both characters to survive.

-So, will McKenna return next season? Probably not. I liked McKenna.

-The Deadshot story will carry into season 2. Every character but Diggle had their small triumphant and/or redemptive moments this season. Diggle asked out his dead brother's widow. He did help Oliver fight Malcolm. I was glad Oliver finished Malcolm alone, though.

-Marc Guggenheim & Andrew Kreisberg wrote the teleplay. Greg Berlanti got the story credit. David Barrett directed it. Impressive directing in this episode. I should mention the director of photography, too. And the stunt cooridinator. I give a standing applause to the entire cast and crew for a fun, entertaining, moving, and action-packed season.

-That's a wrap for the season 1 reviews. I'll return in the fall for season 2. Thanks for reading.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Grimm "The Waking Dead" Review

Grimm's stretch run last season was thrilling and exciting, recalling to mind the yesteryears of ANGEL when David Greenwalt ran the show with Joss Whedon. The season two stretch run hasn't been as exciting, though the stand-alone episodes have been worthwhile. I quite liked the imagination of the last two episodes of Grimm. "The Waking Dead" is the penultimate episode which means stand-alone plots are discarded for the sake of the finale build. Greenwalt and Kouf's script introduces a new villain and also brings Eric to Portland for a one-on-one chat with his brother. The C story brings Juliette together with Monroe, Rosalee and Bud for a session of Volga, so that one wonders how she'll react, and whether the truth will keep her away from Nick. The A story introduces a man with a top-hat who uses a deathlike trance goo on people and puts them away in a shipping crate. The final scene reveals top hat man is a Baron working for Eric of the Royals.

Grimm's second season premiered in August 2012. Renard's brother, Eric, and the whole of the Royals storyline has unfolded in spurts. Adalind arrived in Vienna to seduce Eric. Once impregnated, she inquired about the price a royal baby would get on the market. There's a divide between the brothers. Renard has a partnership with Nick. Eric's not interested in grimms; indeed, he's tried to kill Nick once or twice, if my memory is right. Eric, of course, wants the key that unlocks Something. I'm not really interested in the Royals storyline. Half of the episode is concerned with the Royals. Adalind hears two conflicting things about her royal baby growing inside her womb. The woman the audience met some episodes ago tells her everything is good and that no danger will befall her. The Frau Pech tells her danger WILL befall her, warning her that the womb could be her tomb. Basically, the royals will kill her and save the baby. Adalind's desperate to get her powers back, so one can forgive her for overlooking an obvious drawback to her plan. She's power-hungry; her hunger makes her vulnerable. Adalind's not a sympathetic character. Yeah, she's in a bad spot after losing her powers, but she's not been written redemptively. So, it's difficult to care about her fate.

The episode keeps Nick and Juliette apart. Nick works the zombie case with Hank while Juliette sees the other faces of Bud, Monroe and Rosalee. I usually don't nitpick Grimm, but the Juliette scenes with two of my favorite characters in the show, and Bud, were a waste of time. Greenwalt and Kouf are veteran writers. They know they shouldn't devote two or more scenes to information the audience already knows. Juliette's reaction to the Volga-ing of the trio of Wesen is important for the story. Her reaction will tell the tale of her thought process--will she stay or will she go? The scenes unfold slowly, really slowly. Bud's freaking out. Rosalee and Monroe must freak out Juliette more by the deliberate caution they're showing when they should behave like someone diving off a high dive for the first time. Close your eyes, jump, and remember your ability to swim. Grimm could've trimmed these scenes, focused a little more on the disposable villain to be dispatched next week, or have any decent character stuff for Nick.

The Baron character or book man or any of his other names including the one he'll be referred to as hangs in the shadows for half the episode. Nick noticed him at a crime scene. Nick and Hank learn interesting details about their suspect. He creates zombies in a way, but he doesn't kill folk and then reanaimate them. He's spits green goo in the faces of people that renders them deadlike. The Baron's amassed a small army of faux-zombies for a mysterious reason. The Baron drops off the radar by the final act as Nick's focus shifts to Juliette. The Baron meets Eric in the hotel, which means The Baron's plan is Eric's. Eric's small speech about the superiority of Vienna over Portland was delightful, but a man of his tastes shouldn't use something as kitsch as zombies to do his dirty work in Portland.

Of course, Grimm's use of its zombie figures is more sophisticated than in other works of fiction. The backstory of the Baron is rooted in Haitian vodou. I'm not well versed in the history of Haitian vodou, but I read about vodouists' beliefs in a creator as well as their beliefs in their Ioa's power of different aspects of life. Ideally, the finale will show a piece of the history between Eric and the Baron insofar as the Baron's role in matters of the royal family. I wonder whether or not the Baron's involved with the key. Perhaps he's simply a man called in because he can send people into a deathlike trance. Right now, the character's just a top hat and green goo. He's Kwang if Kwang had exchanged his mask for a top hat.

I wasn't into the 'To be continued' to tag to end the episode, because the suspense was non-existent. Nick arrives for dinner with Juliette, unsure of her feelings about what he does; however, the audience knows Juliette's all-in. Why the cliff-hanger? The Baron and Eric shake hands to end the episode, as I've already stated. Eric's been horribly developed as a villain. He's all hair, and The Baron barely spoke. Renard's alarmed about his brother's surprise arrival, but I'm not. I'm detached from the storyline. Grimm can be amazing when it delves into its mythology and embraces serialization. I'm just not into this story. It hasn't taken me yet, which is a problem since the season ends next week. Season 1 had a quite good Royals-related plot. It's not all bad, but the execution of the storyline's been lacking in season 2.

Last season's penultimate episode had more momentum than "The Waking Dead." I'm hoping for an awesome finale next week to send me into the summer feeling good about Grimm.

Other Thoughts:

-Rosalee, Monroe and Bud together should be a hole-in-one for the show. Nothing about those scenes worked except for Bree Turner's and Silas Weir-Mitchell's chemistry.

-NBC moved Grimm back to Fridays starting next season.

-David Greenwalt & Jim Kouf wrote the episode.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

How I Met Your Mother "Something New" Review

Bays and Thomas are really going to tell the story of a wedding during the entire 9th and final season of the show. HIMYM will attempt to stretch a 56 hour story out to fill 24 episodes. The show has not been good for four seasons now. Any one wearing the HIMYM beer goggles will eventually remove them only to shudder at what they see a la Bart in the Duffland episode of The Simpsons. Carter Bays and Craig Thomas probably want the show to be remembered for its unique storytelling approach to the final season. Roseanne's last season is remembered because Roseanne Barr broke the formula of the previous seasons for a dream season. HIMYM emerged in 2005 as a worthy successor to Friends. The early seasons have allowed the show to get away with horrible story choices, character assassinations, and lazy storytelling for four years. The last season is going to be a gosh darn slog. Of course, it may not be just the wedding. Either way, though, I lose.

I wondered, a few weeks ago, how the series would contrive a way for Lily and Marshall to leave for Italy and return by the 9th season premiere. I hadn't heard the rumors about the 9th season. I forgot about Marshall's judge storyline. I will wonder no more. It'll take another 9 months to resolve the dangling story threads from the 8th season. Let that sink in, friends and well-wishers: nine months to resolve dangling story threads. The worse part about the delayed resolution to any stories from season 8 is the contrivance of it all. Characters will behave like sitcom characters because they are characters in the sitcom. "Something New" had everything old in it. Ted reveals his shocking plan to move to Chicago one day after the wedding; Marshall receives judge offer but won't tell Lily because 'this is face-to-face' news; a flashback shows the audience the time Robin acted like Ted before his marriage to Stella; Ted realizes Robin's locket has been on his desk for the past five years. Ted's epiphany last week disappears as soon as he sees another reason for him and Robin to end up together.

Anyway, "Something New" has a story about Robin and Barney. Robin and Barney went to a restaurant to eat dinner. The couple is excited for their wedding in one week. They feel close to each other. They've been practicing their first dance. Another couple gives them attitude at the bar, though, as they wait to be seated. I turned on the Robin/Barney relationship during season 5. I've disliked their storyline strongly for the entire season. Barney's plan for proposing to Robin was disgusting, and his subsequent stories in which the show domesticated him failed. Barney's a sociopath, and Robin's more unlikable every episode. So, I hated tonight's Robin/Barney story. The other couple, featuring Casey Wilson, are rude, obnoxious, pretentious. The guy's the type of guy who'll correct someone's pronunciation of Camus without reading any of Camus' works. The woman, Krirsten, is a typical terribly written one-off female character. Barney and Robin plot their revenge throughout the dinner, resolving to ruin the couple's relationship for stealing their table at their restaurant. The plan works. The couple breaks up. Barney and Robin celebrate in a park.

Of course, the couple finds Robin/Barney in the park. HIMYM's New York City is the size of Smalltown U.S.A. in Gremlins, apparently. The couple did not break up at all; instead, they really got engaged. Robin looks at Barney with a smug-as-shit look on her face, and Barney meets her look with the same smug-as-shit look, and they congratulate themselves on their awesomeness. Being dicks to strangers led the strangers to profound and prolonged bliss. No, what they did makes them more unbearable and unlikable.

Ted wallows in his nice Westchester home that he just finished restoring. With Marshall in Minnesota, Lily hangs out with Ted and gets to hear about Ted's feelings about Robin. Their conversation recycles old dialogue. The only new thing comes in the way of Lily's memory of the locket. I already addressed the locket situation and Ted's interpretation of it. I've written plenty about Ted/Robin. Until he meets the mother at Farhampton, the character's treading water. I think about Dan Harmon's opinion about romantic comedies when Ted Mosby's speaking words. Harmon hates romantic comedies because the story of whether or not some girl likes some guy isn't a story but a plot point. Ted's arc comes down to which girls like him and don't like him. Bays and Thomas are doing due diligence with Ted/Robin, though. Victoria told him he wouldn't/couldn't be with someone or love someone until he overcame Robin. The wedding should do that for him just in time for Ted to meet his wife.

I could write about Lily/Marshall or I could end this sentence in mid-sentence. Future Ted said the spring of 2013 tied up loose ends. Future Ted doesn't lie. The spring of 2013 will tie up loose ends, but not until spring 2014. I wrote about Revenge's finale last season. Revenge and HIMYM shared a disinterest in telling a story during their respective seasons. Go ahead and remind me all that happened this season, fans. I know; I remember. Barney and Robin got engaged; Ted continued chasing his tail; Lily lived her professional dream. Stuff happens, but that's just plot points. It's not a story.

So, hey, Bays and Thomas, try telling a story in season 9.

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Game Of Thrones "The Bear And The Maiden Fair" Review

George R.R. Martin would write the most sexual episode of the season. The first half is full of naked bodies, thoughts of naked bodies; characters think in perversely about sex, lovingly about sex, or try to squash thoughts of sexual conduct with youths. Game of Thrones is a dirty, gritty show with lots of blood and sex. Martin doesn't romanticize much in his story. Fittingly, Martin wrote the script for "The Bear and The Maiden Fair." Martin oversees, yet again, the castration of poor Theon Greyjoy, and the packed final scene. Brienne's been an outcast for her entire life because of her interest in fighting, in serving the king, for not being maidenly in Westeros where women are destined for nothing but. Women marry men they loathe, bear children they don't want, and live with their husbands cheating on them with any whore, if they're high-ranking--a lord or a king. The sight of Brienne in the pink dress is jarring. She was introduced in knight's armor, swearing her loyalty for Renly, but she's been reduced to a plaything by Locke and the men of the North. The final scene showcases reversals: Brienne's put in a dress and dropped in a pit with a bear. Locke combines what she loves with what she loathes in an effort that cannot win without the intervention of Ser Jaime Lannister. The Northmen are overseeing the cruelty. Season 1 established that the north was good, and the south was bad. It's similar to last season's blackwater battle: I didn't want the Lannisters or Stannis to win--it was a lose-lose. The reversal of perspective is integral to the series. Bad men become good; good men become bad.

The last time Arya saw The Hound she wished him to burn in hell. So, Arya's pissed they let The Hound leave after killing Beric in the trial-by-combat. Arya's pissed the Brotherhood allowed Melisandre to take Gendry with her, and then she nearly loses it when Thoros and Beric decide to attack Lannister ravagers nearby, delaying her return to Riverrun by two days. Arya runs out of the cave, into the forest, where she's taken by The Hound. Arya's just stated her opinion about gods. Death is her god. The poor girl's in a bad place mentally and physically. Qyburn explained to Jaime before Jaime returned to Harrenhal that the war changed men. The Brotherhood represents another aspect of the effects of war. They aren't bad men. Arya may wish she didn't run off now that she's with a grumpy Sandor Clegane.

Gods become the centerpiece of Bran's only scene in the north. Osha's cranky. The Reeds hang around Bran too much. Jojen's in his ear about visions. Osha wants to travel to Castle Black and drop Bran off with Jon. Jon's not in Castle Black, and Jojen's convinced Bran to travel Beyond The Wall to find the raven from Bran's dreams. Last week was the lowest moment for Bran's story. Finally, the series gave viewers a sense of what they're going to do. Osha tells a sad story about life Beyond the Wall in which an old lover turned into a wight. None of the younger folk seem bothered by Osha's story. I didn't care about Osha's sob story, but I did care about Bran's feelings of fate and purpose about his fall, that it was meant to be, that it's no longer something happened to him for no reason, but it's something that'll give his life meaning. Westeros is a shit hole, friends and well-wishers. Osha shouldn't try to take away anything that'll help Bran feel better about his lot in life.

Melisandre tells Gendry about his lineage as her boat sails in the Blackwater. The scene provides back story for Melisandre. She grew up a slave in the east before the Lord of Light gave her direction. Gendry thinks he's nothing but a poor boy from Flea Bottom with nothing to offer the world except for masonry until Melisandre tells him he has royal blood in him as he's the true-born son of Robert Baratheon. The Lord of Light is the most active and present god in the Seven Kingdoms (that we've seen). The Seven are stones, a forgotten song remembered only from childhood in desperate moments, but the Lord of Light lives in flames and recalls dead men to life. His followers don't doubt because he's in front of their eyes; that's way easier than staring at stone.

Other Thoughts:

-The major binary of the episode is life and death. Robb and Talisa's scend had a pregnancy reveal. Sex creates life. Theon nearly has sex with a brunette and blonde, but his time with them ends with the nameless one cutting him like Varys was cut.

-The trip to The Twins is delayed by rain. Roose Bolton left Harrenhal for Edmure's wedding. Catelyn's not confident in Edmure being enough for Walder's daughter. She's very worried about the delayed arrival. Robb seems comfortable, but he's internally beaming from news about his heir.

-Tywin and Joffrey have a chat in the throne room. Grandson and grandfather are not cool with one another.

-Tyrion endures Shae's whining about his arrangement with Sansa. Sanda whines about her impending marriage to Tyrion because he's unattractive. I have a soft spot for Sansa. I thought the ending of her scene with Margaery was sweet. Sansa had no idea what Margaery was getting at.
Dany's arrived in Yunkai. She meets Razdar and then threatens him. The look of Yunkai is great. The show nailed its Yellow City character. Emilia Clarke's just awesome when she's staring daggers at a man.

-My apologies for a shorter review, but I have limited time. I'm positive no one cares. My reviews will post late Sunday nights for the next three weeks.

-George R.R. Martin wrote the episode. Michelle MacLaren directed it.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Revenge "Truth" Review

Grimm recently completed a near year long arc in which one character couldn't remember another character. Revenge just completed two seasons in which a character who should've known everything from the beginning didn't. Instead, Jack Porter's gone from horrible plot to horrible plot while Emily goes about her revengin' despite the havoc she's unintentionally causing. Tonight's two hour season finale had Jack reach his breaking point, and Emily desperately trying anything to prevent him from ruining his life. Jack learns Emily's actual identity in the final scene of the episode just as he's about to pull the trigger on a shot that'll kill governor-elect Conrad Grayson. Just as Jack's reached the end of his rope because he thinks everyone he cares about has been taken from him by Conrad, his childhood friend/soul mate reveals herself in his darkest hour.

The action in "Truth" is driven by Conrad, Emily, Aiden, and the other characters who are collateral damage. Normally I'd kick myself for not seeing the Initiative twist coming, but I don't think about this show at all after I publish the post. Conrad becomes the master villain in "Truth." He's accidentally killed Charlotte's baby daddy; he admits to orchestrating tragedies for profit, to be one of the driving forces of what he's named The Initiative; he admits to committing horrible acts and then bullies whomever may feel disgusted; he tried to kill Jack. There was no way he would've been killed off, not when he's going to be hated by Revenge's most hated fans. Victoria, meanwhile, begins her redemptive arc. There are several moments to choose from: she hits bottom by telling Conrad about Jack's actual plan; she warns Emily to not marry Daniel so that she may avoid the misery and emptiness of her own life for marrying Conrad for the wrong reasons; she asks Jack to shoot her, which is TV's way of telling the audience that it is okay to finally root for a character even after other failed ways to make the character sympathetic, like through failed trysts with David Clarke or an abandoned child. Patrick, Victoria's lost son, returns in the finale's penultimate scene (which concludes on a cliché shot of glass shattering (come on, J. Miller Tobin, you're better than that)).

The Conrad/Jack/Emily/Aiden/Daniel nonsense is, for the most part, fine and entertaining. The blackout during hour one affects cell phone calls. None of the characters think to use a landline to call anyone since this is 2012 (in show's timeline) and landlines are for lame people (landlines are not for lame people but awesome people). The only surprise of the A story is the explanation of The Initiative. I had horrible expectations for the shadowy organization. Conrad's explication really gave a new perspective to 'shadowy.' The show's still hacky for shooting those conference call scenes with the big business folks shot in shadow. A Grayson needed to drive the horrible acts; it couldn't be passed off to characters the audience won't care about such as Helen and Trask. So, yeah, good on Mike Kelley for fully embracing Conrad as master villain of Revenge.

Takeda would've shook his head in a disapproving way had Aiden not stabbed him dead last episode. Emily's rattled, frazzled, and dazed once the bomb goes off. She takes Aiden's confession about killing Takeda badly, and the thought that Jack is dead nearly destroys her. She's pulled in different directions. She helps Nolan fight the cyber attack, then she runs the gamut of emotions after finding Takea dead and about who killed him, and then the bomb goes off and she's desperate to find Jack. Emily tries to save Jack from doing something stupid while she play-acts with the Graysons. Her plan's never in danger of falling apart in front of her, but she's dealing with the what her plan's wrought. Victoria's right when she tells Emily they are more alike than Emily knows. Emily's similar to Conrad, too, as far as plans go. Conrad doesn't care about consequences. Emily cares when her actions affect people she cares about. I wouldn't think Aiden would need to preach to her about the reasons she'd be better off leaving her plan behind. Declan's dead, Jack's life in absolute shit, Fake Amanda is dead, her mentor is dead, anything good Nolan experienced didn't end well, Daniel's a puppet with less free will than a tree, and Aiden's transformed into a Lifetime Movie of the Week character. The show dies if Emily decides to live out the rest of her life in peace on the Cayman Islands. Plus, someone needs to take down Conrad or elsethe bad guy wins on network television, and the bad guy never wins. Emily accomplished nothing in season two.

Indeed, Emily accomplished nothing this season unless one counts the ruination of lives she cares about. Mike Kelley left the show because he didn't like to stretch a season of Revenge over 22 episodes, according to reports. I'll wager a 13 episode season of Revenge would be as wasteful as season 2. The fireworks in "Truth" were absent for the majority of the season, except for the Fake Amanda/Ryan brothers climax. I suppose the writers wanted to show a side of Emily wherein she's not in control. I don't know. Characters changed on a writer's whim. Storyline after storyline was filler. I often pitch my idea for networks to forget about profit by shifting their focus to telling a great story without stretching it beyond its initial premise. Revenge is an example of why I avoid mainstream thriller novels one finds in grocery stores or airports. Revenge could've told this story in its first season and disappeared forever; however, people watched, ABC renewed the show, gave it too many episodes, and the horrible season that is season 2 happened.

The teased storylines for season 3 should be fine if you're invested in Revenge. Nolan's the chief suspect in the terror attack. Padma turned on him from beyond the grave in a video made before her untimely death. Aiden's possibly dead, and Daniel's possibly his murderer. I care more about a fork a character uses in a dinner scene than I care about any story Daniel's involved in. Charlotte's yet to learn about Declan's death; however, no one cares about Charlotte/Declan stories. Another baby in Revenge is not what it needs. "Truth" basically re-focused the series since this series definitely got off track.

I, for one, do not care where the show goes from here for I will not continue watching or writing about the show. Leaving Revenge in the past is part of my plan to change it up. I've never liked Revenge. I gave it a chance for two seasons. I wrote many, many words about its 44 episodes. Indeed, I only wrote about season 2 because of the number of hits for season 1 reviews. The numbers did not remain consistent. So, good day, Revenge. It has not been fun.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Finale Fun: Community's "Advanced Introduction to Finality"

Chic-fil-a's chicken will never be as good as Popeye's chicken, nor will a Dan Harmon-less Community be as good as the three seasons when Dan Harmon ran the show. Television works differently than other mediums. Network executives want money. Community's still kicking because Sony wants syndication money. Dan Harmon was fired. Moses Port and Dave Guarasico were hired to replace Dan Harmon. Many of the other writers left. Throughout the fourth season, fans and critics were split into two groups. One group disliked the show more with every week, wondering aloud what it'd be like with Harmon. The other group told the first group to stop complaining and enjoy the show since it is still enjoyable. Neither group is wrong or right in their opinions. Art is subjective. TV's a collaborative medium. Writers come together to tell a single story. Novelists are alone; artists are alone; dancers are alone, and on and on. Singular voices in television are rare. Roland Barthes would've probably liked TV because the author barely matters.

Moses Port and David Guarasico were in the spotlight from the moment Sony/NBC hired them to run the show. Folk wondered what kind of show they'd run. At Comic-Con, they promised to maintain the style of the show. Indeed, throughout the season, Community had 'community' episodes. The show took viewers to the Inspector Spacetime convention and showed them the gang as puppets. There were other episodes such as the body swap, another documentary filmmaking with the focus on Chang this time, and a semi-homage to Hitchock's Rope. The writers brought back the Annie/Jeff dynamic, openly explored Troy and Britta's relationship, in addition to all the callbacks from past episodes. Their hearts/intentions were in the right place. Some episodes worked rather well while others failed terribly. The reworked origin stories finally drove me to listen to Harmontown. I missed Harmon's insane perspective.

I also listened to a Nerdist Writers Panel with Andy Bobrow. Bobrow wrote for the series its last seasons. Megan Ganz stayed on as a writer after Harmon's firing. Port and Guarasico, as Bobrow told it, invited Bobrow and Ganz to teach them, and the new writers, how to write the show. Port and Guarasico took beatings for ideas that weren't their own. Bobrow admitted to having the meta-heavy idea for the premiere since so much changed. Community's identity, its formula, essentially demanded some kind of reference to what happened. Bobrow continued with more stories about post-Community situation and how he and Ganz enjoyed freedom to continue telling the story they started. Sometime near the end of the season, Bobrow wondered if he was killing the show. Again, their hearts were in the right place, but this season definitely had its issues.

The finale--"Advanced Introduction to Finality"--combined with last week's "Heroic Origins" was difficult for me to watch as a purist. I approached each episode with an open mind. I enjoyed the early part of the season; however, I had more problems with the latter half of the season. I'm one of those fans who watched for the characters rather than to see what crazy thing the show would do next. I understood why Troy would play-act a body swap with Abed to break up with Britta because play-acting is what Troy and Abed do, but Troy learned maturity in past episodes. The body swapped seemed like an indulgence rather than something that came from the character. Of course, Troy faked an injury in high school to get out of playing football, so he's had trouble expressing himself. Anyway, the series indulged fandom. Indulging fandom should work. Of course, rooting stories in a character works more than inventing something new to make the character work in the story.

I watched the bulk of the finale in horror as the darkest timeline took over the show. The writers clearly tried to respect Dan Harmon's vision during the season. Respecting his vision extends to keeping some things on the white board. The darkest timeline was wiped out in "Introduction to Finality." The timelines are Abed's thing. It is nonsense that Jeff would dream the darkest timeline out of fear of graduation. The darkest timeline dominated the middle part of the episode. I felt deflated. Why, show, why? I'd like to forget about the last two episodes of the show. Jeff Winger's graduation/wedding at the end was a well-written and well-acted scene. Those moments are delicate. Make it too big and it won't work, but make it too small and it might feel like it's not important. The simplicity of Jeff's speech, the ceremony, and what-not, was good. I liked that Jeff had trouble finding the words for his experience. I appreciated the idea of Jeff worrying about returning to the real world that ruined him, forcing him to return to school and find himself with a group of other misfits who had nowhere else to go.

Also, NBC renewed Community for another season. Chevy Chase won't be part of the series. Chase famously quit the series. Pierce barely mattered in season four. The writers' hands were tied. I'd like Chevy to be less difficult to work with since I love Pierce. The Pierce scene in "Heroic Origins" just bummed me out. This post is ending rather unmemorably.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Vampire Diaries "The Walking Dead" Review

Silas failed as a villain. The best villains this season were the vampire hunters. In next week's epic season finale, the vampire hunters will threaten the town's vampires in their pursuit of the cure. Nonsense needed to happen for the vampire hunters to make their triumphant return, but the nonsense is worth it. Season 4 may not totally be a weird homage/ripoff to the entire Whedonverse if the nail the finale.

One of the trademarks of TVD, after the surprising twists and crazy character deaths, is their rockin' penultimate episode. Two years ago, I thought the penultimate episode of season 2 was its season finale because of the insanity of the episode. "The Walking Dead" isn't a crazed 41 minutes of television that tricked me into thinking it was meant to conclude the season. "The Walking Dead" is crazed, though. Elena's really mad for awhile, but then she isn't. Bonnie seems to get a great victory over Silas until she gets greedy. The brother's work together. Caroline tries to cut her hands off because Silas is a twisted baddie. Kol comes back to Mystic Falls to kill Elena during the temporary lifting of the veil, which allows Rebekah to complete her transformation from evil original to, uh, not-evil original. Alaric's back and drinking bourbon while giving Damon love advice. Silas does his best The First impression again, and then Bonnie finally goes dark for forty seconds before she dies.

The action ramps up in the final act. The vampire hunters return en masse, pissed off and all because they were killed by vampires. Bonnie awakes from her spell and learns from her Grams that she's dead. Bonnie's death, whether or not it lasts is up for debate, was horrible not because the show lost a character but because it was horribly written. TVD's been a mixed bag this season. Bonnie's never been a well-written character. The writers forget about her for weeks, pair her up with a dude to give her something to do, and then they have her perform magic in the finale. I found myself appreciating her series arc during "The Walking Dead." I remember the innocent girl who told Elena about what she did in her kitchen one night that involved magic, and I remember her curiosity about her ability. Of course, curiosity kills a cat, and magic eventually kills Bonnie Bennett. Bonnie's arc meandered for long stretches, but the writers consistently improved her magic prowess. Prof. Shane taught Bonnie the deadliest form of magic: expression. Expression was used to manipulate her. Shane and Silas made her feel dependent on them to control it. Magic's often used to tell stories about addiction. Instead of a drug or alcohol addiction, a character's addicted to magic. Silas and Shane were like socipathic AA sponsors. Grams is the right sponsor for Bonnie. She teaches Bonnie about the other side of expression. Expression is a manifestation of one's will--Bonnie's controlled it the whole time; she just didn't know it. I love the idea of magic transforming from an addiction like dependency into a tool of empowerment. Buffy concludes on magic-as-empowerment and Willow, a former magic addict, is glowingly white during the spell. I felt disappointment when Bonnie immediately decided to permanently bring back the dead. Martin got greedy once with stocks and so, too, did young Bonnie Bennett. Now she's dead. I think.

The dead don't stay dead on any genre shows really, but especially on The Vampire Diaries. Lexi's appeared more since her death than she appeared alive. Hell, most of the characters are dead. "Memorial," which is the second episode of the season, dealt with loss. The second-to-last episode of the season brings the theme of "Memorial" back. Alaric's hanging around, drinking liquor, which is great. Elena needs closure, though, and closure means Jeremy will return to help her gain closure from the tragedy. For most of the episode, Elena's the same as she was during her switch off spell. She's mean to Stefan and Damon, a bully to her friends, and so intent on killing Katherine that she nearly kills Bonnie. Elena won't apologize because she doesn't want to feel bad. The wave of grief that awaits her will crush her. Kol finds her and beats her, and threatens to kill her for her brother killing him. Moments before, Elena knelt on her brother's grave and told him she gave up. Moving on is impossible. She can't do it, and she wants to die. Jeremy saves her in time. Stefan snaps Kol's neck before he overstays his welcome. Elena and Jeremy have their moment to say goodbye, to heal, and to cathart. Jeremy's appearance helps Elena return to her old self without the massive flood of emotions that'd send her to a psychiatric ward or to local police, out of guilt and remorse. No, Elena won't pull her hair out over the waitress. She was only an extra.

Silas' last stand as the villain of season 4 brought back The First stuff without abandon. Bonnie saw the monster of Silas followed by Stefan and then Caroline. Grams told Bonnie she didn't realize how deep Silas went into her head. Silas' face is never seen. He took many forms but never his own. There are multiple readings of the scene. I'm drawn to the idea of Silas as a tragic character. Aside from the plan to send all the dead supernatural folk to the other OTHER side, Silas was a sad guy mourning the death of his wife and who went a little mad. I mean, his ultimate plan is to cure himself and then kill himself. Silas is sort of as an example of what Elena might've turned into if she continued to exist with her switch off. His true form is a stone with his face hidden. Silas lacks form, an identity. Abject sadness ruined the lives of 33 people. Silas did suck as a villain. The writers ripped off The First in Buffy, and I had flashes of Adam in tonight's episode. I tip my hat to writers for never showing his face. It's a nice touch.

Graduation Day is approaching for the Mystic Falls teens. Of course, they don't attend school, but graduation's a rite-of-passage, a symbol of moving on. Elena doesn't want to move on, but she has to. The world moves on. If she doesn't move on, she'll turn to stone, bitter and old and evil like Silas. The return of the vampire hunters should provide an entertaining distraction on graduation day. The show chose to show Caroline and Elena mailing graduation cards, and the show emphasized the splintered friendships. The idea of moving on is the takeaway of the episode and of the season. The bad guys are distractions now. Characters have talked about moving on for months now. How long ago was it when Stefan promised to move on after Elena's better? The dead come back and need to move on after the spell ends. Bonnie's gonna need to learn to really move on next week. So, yes, indeed, the series will move on to something new next week. It's only natural.

Other Thoughts:

-Matt's committed to graduating as a human. I wondered would Vickie appear. Alaric told Damon some don't want to return to Mystic Falls. Vickie falls into that category. The last time she came, Matt told her to leave. I'm also down with Matt/Rebekah. Claire Holt's been great during Rebekah's transformation from spiteful bitch to protector of ALL.

-Kol's my second favorite original. Many fans dislike Kol. The character sucked last season, but he was amazing in his brief season 4 stint.

-I cracked up after Sheriff Forbes said she didn't know what the hell Damon was talking about when he explained the nonsense Silas plot. The writers know how ridiculous this stuff is.

-Let's hope TVD contrives a way to keep Matt Davis around next season. Cult failed miserably. Matt Davis doesn't have job. Have Alaric drink magic resurrection bourbon next week.

-I thought I saw the mascot of Mystic Falls wearing Chef's hat in the gym poster. No one from the show reads these reviews. If any one from the show does in fact read these reviews, please confirm or reject the Chef's Hat question. I guess it's too late to introduce a half-animal/half-Chef mascot for Mystic Falls High.

-Brian Young & Caroline Dries are the credited writers. Rob Berry directed it.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK



Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Arrow "Darkness on the Edge of Town" Review

The writers shot Yow Fei in the bleeping head. I'm devastated. I imagined Yow Fei as an influential mentor to Oliver throughout Oliver's five year development into the most badass person on the planet. I felt rage over Yow Fei's untimely demise, over Fyres blatant lies, and the unsettling fact that Yow Fei will take the fall for the horrible terrorist attacks to come. I felt for Shado as she realized what just happened in front of her very own eyes. I wished Oliver was as badass five years ago as he is now so that he could escape without effort and then take out Fyres entire crew in less than 20 seconds--the way he took out the men protecting what's-his-face last week. I'm super invested in the flashback story.

I'm less invested in The Undertaking aspect of the present. Malcolm's not a compelling villain. Yes, he's evil, calculated, and should be taken down with many punches to the face. He orchestrated the sinking of the Queen's Gambit, murdered over a dozen people as The Dark Arrow, kidnapped Walter, and used Moira's family's well-being to get her to commit awful acts for them. He's a horrible father, and he possesses a horrible god complex. I want Malcolm Merlin taken down. Perhaps the rote-ness of The Undertaking blame leaves me lukewarm. Villains in superhero stories have big, bold plans for destruction. They never think of switching out mustard with mayonnaise. No, indeed, the villain's plan always involves the destruction of a city. Of course, Malcolm intends to destroy one part of a city. Regardless, it's the same.

I'm invested in the present, though, with the exception of the love triangle, and the Roy/Thea story. I felt nervous during the break-in scene. I even tensed up, hoping Felicity wouldn't be taken hostage. I fell for the easy devices such Malcolm intercepting Oliver, thus preventing him from intervening on Felicity's behalf when unwelcomed company's heading her way. I fell for it again when Thea showed up; however, momentary excitement took hold when I thought Oliver would tell his younger sister what his hobby is (the key word is momentary). Felicity escapes danger with the help of Diggle, who intervenes as an undercover security guard. I felt relief then. Oliver's creation of a Hood interrogation to find out answers from his mother was terrific as it revealed Moira's motivations. She's basically a woman doing what she needs to do to protect herself and her family. The consequences of her commitment to the protection of her family alienates each member of the family. Oliver leaves her quickly after the staged kidnapping, Walter files for divorce, and Thea's probably going to lash out in the finale.

"Darkness on the Edge of Town" is a typical penultimate episode. Andrew Kreisberg said the episode was as exciting as a season finale. I disagree with Mr. Kreisburg, but there are maybe three cool/shocking moments that'd fit in with a season finale. Yow Fei's death is among the four, along with Fyre's plan and the tease that his employer is a woman, and the final shot of the episode, which is Malcolm looking down on Oliver, beaten and exposed as The Hood. The present day story, and the flashback story, significantly progress. Oliver, Diggle and Felicity track down the location of The Undertaking weapon, but find the box after Malcolm's moved the weapon to a safe location. Oliver learns the truth from his mother, learns about Thea's after-school activity with her boyfriend, Roy. Indeed, Roy wants to learn how to be the arrow because he's lost someone in his life. Roy's motivations are relatable, but he's still a drab character. By episode's end, Malcolm is in control of the fate of the hero and The Glades, which is how to do it in the penultimate episode. Villains never win the Big One.

The island flashback story seemed separate from the action in Starling City for much of the season. Oliver's development in The Hood connected to Starling City. Otherwise, though, the flashback seemed more about Oliver's development and his friendship with trusted Slade Wilson, who, of course, will become someone quite unfriendly to Oliver. "Darkness on the Edge of Town" gives the audience a glimpse of Fyre's employer. Yow Fei's forced to claim responsibility for the attacks and then is shot in the head. Yow Fei's the only character Fyre wants alive yet he lets Slade, Oliver, and Shado live (just an observation; I know it's TV and that Oliver won't die in a flashback). I suspect the stories are connected.

Oliver was way more reflective than he's been in past episodes, particularly in regards to The Hood. What Oliver learns forces him to reevaluate and rethink what he thinks he knows with what he knows. Oliver didn't know what his father meant about his sins. Robert didn't bother mentioning the undertaking plan. Instead, Oliver did things his father wouldn't have liked. I compared aspects of the father-son relationship to Hamlet's scene with the ghost of his father. The Ghost is more specific about what he wants done than Robert. Hamlet's hesitation leads to his ruination ("Words, words, words"). Oliver's the opposite: he's active and committed, but he's gotten nowhere. The weapon's gone, and he's captured. Oliver sleeps with Laurel hours after telling Tommy he's got the go ahead. Who actually cares about the love triangle, though? Shado's his one and only; I'm sure of it.

Anyway, "Darkness on the Edge of Town" is a well-done penultimate episode. I'm invested in past and present. I care about the characters and what happens to them. I'm stoked for next week's finale.

Other Thoughts:

-Malcolm and Oliver fight in the final scene. My lone gripe is about the length, for it was too short.

-Det. Lance gives the oddest approval of Oliver in the world. Laurel recounts everything Oliver did to their family. Det. Lance sort of grins and says, "Well, he IS different now."

-Tell-tale sign of Tommy's transformation from babyface to hell is his facial hair.

-Diggle's back in the gang without missing a beat. Diggle leaves Oliver with some bruises during their staged kidnapping. Payback for the Deadshot business. I think Diggle will have awhile more to wait in getting revenge against Deadshot.

-Drew Z. Greenberg & Wendy Mericle are the credited writers. John Behring directed it.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Grimm "Kiss of the Muse" Review

Nora Zehetner never plays the honest woman. Zehetner's brought onto a show or a movie to play a character that'll mess with the male leads. Zehetner portrayed the femme fatale in Rian Johnson's film debut, Brick, and essentially sealed her fate for the type of female character she'd portray for the rest of her career. Zehetner was excellent as Brick's femme fatale, a woman so sweet and nice-looking but who also packs a deadly kiss. From the second she appears on screen in Grimm, it's certain who Nick will become dangerously obsessed with by the final act. Zehetner's other notable role, for this blogger, was her stint on TheWB's Everwood. She portrayed Colin Hart's sister who dated Ephram for a short while before taking Amy to parties in season two, and then she disappeared entirely from the show, along with the Harts. Her role as Layne happened before Laura role in Brick. She was cute, flirty, had the style of the early 00s 'scene' girl,' and was exactly my type. I pursued a Zehetner type for a stretch of time near the end of 2003.

I did not act like Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Brendan in Brick nor David Guintoli's Nick in "Kiss of the Muse." The highlight of "Kiss of the Muse" is the backstory of Khole's (Nora Zehetner's character) musai nature. Grimm delights me when it goes for broke with its concept, e.g. when Hitler was revealed to be a wesen. The musai has its origins in Germany. Simply, musai's are muses; you know, Homer addresses a muse in the beginning of The Odyssey. Countless authors, musicians, and painters, have their own muses. Grimm traces the musai back to Van Gogh. Van Gogh cut off his ear in a fit of passion for a musai he met, but his musai inspired his greatest works. Nick's finds Khloe, the musai, after an author's found dead at a book signing, and the suspect's found threatening Khloe. Khloe's not afraid, though. Nick doesn't understand why she's not afraid of what's happened. She tries to feign it, but she's a bad actress. She's at her best when she's sensual and seductive, one kiss away from sending a man into madness.

Khloe's a plot device, though. The other creatures can't affect Nick the way musai can. Last week's "Endangered" introduced endangered wesen. Musai's are notable because they get in the head of a Grimm like no one else on the planet. Nick's irritable, curt with his friends, barely paying any mind to Juliette during their dinner date, and cares only to be close to Khloe. Nick's turn as a cold and distant character was disconcerting for the fan, but a nice change for Guintoli. He's been criticized the most, besides Bitsie Tulloch, but he showed his range again. Khloe's created to bring Nick and Juliette back together. So, she serves two roles--as a threat to Nick, and as the catalyst for Nick and Juliette's relationship (sort of).

The Juliette amnesia storyline has felt endless and bottomless, like that time Juliette saw the bottom of her house drop out into blackness. The storyline had the pace of a race between a snail and a slug. Juliette couldn't remember Nick, then she fell for Renard because of magic nonsense, and then she slowly started to remember but became so freaked out by the deluge of memories that she pushed Nick even further away from her. The coupling would never progress until she remembered and accept his Grimm secret. The amnesia-of-everything Nick storyline did little but delay the resumption of their romance for a hell of a long time. Khole's entire purpose crystallizes as Juliette remembers the conversation with Nick in the trailer: Juliette will save Nick with True Love. Alan Matthews would be sick to his stomach.

The emotional climax between Juliette and Nick misses the mark, mostly because of how long it's taken to get to their emotional climax. The Khloe element is frustrating. Grimm clearly threw in another obstacle because that's what TV shows do. It reminded me of the episode of Boy Meets World in which Cory and Topanga get together but fake breaking up only to actually break-up, all in an effort to make Shawn feel like he brought Cory and Topanga together. It's conflict for the sake of conflict, and character development's practically non-existent.

There is a bright side to Juliette becoming aware of what's going on: every major character knows what's going on in Portland. Juliette's memory of Nick in the trailer is followed by the lighting of the trailer. Sun shines through the windows and everything is lit. Grimm's finally got all their ducks in a row. I'm excited for dinner scenes wherein Hank and Juliette join Nick, Rosalee and Monroe for veggie steaks and shoot the shit about the wesens and blutbads and other such creatures populating Portland.

Obsessive behavior is a decent change for Nick's character; however, Khloe fails as a character. Her motivations are rote and generic; she's the type of girl who thrives on chaos, of a boy acting madly and stupidly without her. She defends herself by citing the creations she inspired but also by ignoring their deaths. Renard's threatened enough by her to Volga for her when he demands she leave Portland and never return. Grimm's populated with psychotic half-man/half-wesen/whatever who sell organs, kidnap girls, kill, steal, etc. The biggest danger of all is still lust and desire. Nick's never been more vulnerable than in his scene with Khloe after she kisses him. Ah, love is a bitch.

Other Thoughts:

-Russell Hornsby missed two episodes because of an injury he suffered. Hank's walking around crutches after tearing his achilles in Hawaii. Did Hornsby tear his achilles?
-Musai's are more dangerous than hexenbiests. Good to know.

-I adored Bree Turner’s acting during Rosalee’s first time in Aunt Marie’s trailer. Turner played Rosalee with such wonder in her eyes. I was quite taken by Bree Turner in this episode. She’s a lovely looking woman, and I’m sure she’s a lovely person.

-I forget who wrote and who directed tonight’s episode. Apologies.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Monday, May 6, 2013

How I Met Your Mother "Something Old" Review

Robin Scherbatsky never wanted to marry until she wanted to marry. Barney never wanted to marry until the writers chose to make him a character of substance. Robin and Barney had a failed relationship that didn't last long. The fans loved the relationship. Bays and Thomas didn't share the love. The fans' fervor about the coupling might've contributed the marriage storyline. The impending marriage story hasn't been a success. Robin's forced to overlook many red flags of Barney's, including his own admission that he'll never stop being what he is, which is a sociopathic lunatic. "Something Old" is another example Barney's reluctance to change, of Robin's fear of marriage, and of Ted's devotion to Robin, the girl who took his breath away in the "Pilot."

The finale's titled "Something New." How I Met Your Mother likes to view history as circular, or, rather, as rounding into form. Future Ted, the show's narrator, certainly enjoys stories, and gags, paying off later. Why else would he tease nonsense? The reason is because it gives the show a sense of purpose and narrative cohesion, that the writers do have their story mapped out. "Something Old" holds onto the past whether it's in the Lily-and-Marshall-try-to-pack-for-Italy story in which they come across many items from their past, Barney's desire and need for a consistent father figure who supports and loves him regardless and will play laser tag with him for hours on end, or in Robin's search for her something old item wherein her and Ted remember their old feelings for each other, during a rain storm, holding hands, in central park.

Robin's search for the locket she buried in 1994 is an innocent story. Teenager Robin buried it when she thought about marrying a Canadian hockey player. The burial of her something old showed her feminine side to her father that repressed her femininity. Her father always wanted a son, but he got Robin. The locket takes on more meaning so close to her wedding. Robin called three men during her search. Just one showed up to help her. Robin's search reminded me of the coffin and ring test in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Robin's first two calls are to men who won't respond to her. Barney and her father are too caught up in what they need from each other. Her father needs a son figure, and Barney needs a father figure. They wouldn't give up that experience for the world or just for the most important woman in their lives. Deep down, Robin should've understood she'd have more luck hearing a duck recite the alphabet. Ted always comes. He'd pass up anything in the world to help Robin. The set-up is like Portia's ring test with Bassanio or the coffin test. The game is rigged. Ted's going to show up.

The scene in the rain is among the better Robin-Ted scenes in the later seasons. The tests in The Merchant of Venice have a spherical pre-dominance about them; it's not that the tests are connected to the stars, but they have a fateful quality. Of course, Portia's knows which coffin will unlock the key to her hand, just as Ted and Robin understand what they mean to each other. Ted puts to bed nonsense such as 'it was meant to be,' 'it's in the stars,' 'the missing locket and the pouring rain are bad omens for Robin's marriage to Barney.' Ted spits on the idea spherical predominance. People know what they who they want as their companion in their life. Dreams, seeing the person on a certain day and a certain time, the moon phase, etc., are hogwash folk use to complicate their lives.

The holding of hands to end the episode is a bit much, but I've ranted about the show's habit of returning to that well. I'm sure many, many fans are all over the final scene all across social media. Lily and Marshall throw stuff out they won't need in Italy. Ted tries to hold onto a bean-bag chair from their past, the first piece of furniture they bought as roommates. Ted fears he'll be discarded as a friend if not seen for a year. I predicted the outcome of the Italy storyline very early into "Something Old." Lily and Marshall disappear after the completion of their story in Act II. "Something Old" is about the oldest pairing on the show in the end. Now the pieces start to come together in regards to Robin's desire to leave her wedding through a window.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Game Of Thrones "The Climb" Review

Critics and notable bloggers suggested Game of Thrones adopt the structure of LOST. LOST used its ensemble terrifically during the first season. As the story spread to more locations, characters were split apart. The logistics of the storytelling made it impossible to feature every character in every episode. Though a fan's favorite characters might disappear for a couple of weeks, the show runners always made their episodes count when it was, say, Claire's turn, or the Kwons, or Hurley. I'm inclined to compare "The Climb" to a camp episode of LOST. During season 3, characters split between New Otherton, the camp, and a hike to New Otherton. Stories would intercut, but camp episodes were usually focused on the camp. Game of Thrones doesn't have a camp location. The show has more locations, more characters, etc. "The Climb" just caught the viewers up with Sam, Bran, Theon, and gave three or four scenes to Jon's adventures with the wildlings.

Bran's story continues to be vague, and I wonder what non-book fans make of Bran's adventures in the wilderness with the Reeds, Osha, Hodor, and Rickon. Jojen has a vision of Jon Snow after Bran breaks up a squabble between Meera and Osha. I know exactly where Bran's story's going, so I won't express false confoundment about it in order to relate to my readers. I felt surprised by Rickon getting two lines, albeit of the startled nature. Hopefully Benioff and Weiss gave this crew 3-4 scenes in one of the final four episodes of the season to help the viewer feel engaged with their story.

Visions aren't Jojen's alone, though. Down south, but not too south, Arya's learning to use a bow-and-arrow with the instruction of Anguy. Melisandre arrives to the camp of the Brotherhood Without Banners where Thoros mentions R'hllor's name for the first time on the show. More importantly, though, Melisandre came to bring someone back to Dragonstone with her. Arya seemingly just accepted Gendry's decision to remain with the Brotherhood. Anguy assigned him a task in which he'd make little daggers (were they?). Melisandre ruins all the fun. The priestess and the priest share a conversation about the Lord of Light because she wants to know the source of Thoros' power to raise the dead. Their scene is quite well-done. Thoros tells a relatable story about lost faith and how tragedy can reignite the flame that had gone out. Thoros watched The Mountain kill Beric. Thoros uttered lines from memory because he had nothing else to say for he was too sad about his friend's death, but then Beric came back to life. Their scene showed mystery and mysticism. Melisandre came for Gendry, telling him he's leaving soliders to help kings rise and fall. She saw him in her visions.

Melisandre saw something when she looked upon Arya's face. Her examination of Arya's face seemed intentional and deliberate. Melisandre told Arya she'd close three sets of eyes forever and that she detects a darkness in the young girl. Finally, Arya's story is going places. Benioff and Weiss left Arya this week on that bit of intrigue.

Theon and his torturer were absent last week. The nameless torturer played more games with Theon. Theon endured the agony of his skin being peeled away from bone after each wrong guess about who his torturer is and where he comes from and where he's torturing Theon. An expression of sadistic pleasure is fixed on the nameless dude's face. Theon thinks he's being tortured for betraying the North--this guy has to be a Stark bannerman. The scariest part of the torture is Theon's lack of answers. The yet-to-be-named torturer tells Theon that his biggest mistake is thinking there's a reason for why he's being tortured. Theon's past actions aren't why he's being punished since he's not being punished. No, he's being pushed for information. The nameless torturer thanks Theon for letting him know the Stark boys aren't dead. He's not the type of character who should know two important high-born lads are actually alive. Theon's powerless and reduced to begging for his finger to be cut off. Dark stuff.

The man Theon betrayed, Robb Stark, tries to broker a deal with the Freys in his bid to take Casterly Rock. Walder Frey asks for Edmure Tully to marry his daughter, for the rights to Harrenhal, and for the King of the North to attend Edmure's wedding at The Twins. Edmure resists doing his part until Robb brings up the Miller mishap. Robb's line about winning every battle and yet losing the war is among the most important lines spoken in the show. It says so much about the story--how the honorable die horrible deaths while the dishonorable run lands and ruin lives. Robb's like his father: honorable, strong, proud. He's done everything right, mostly. The Freys seem willing to let bygones be bygones. Robb's the most deserving king of a break. Joffrey didn't deserve the Tyrell army break during the Blackwater, though Tyrion did, and Stannis is prepared to do whatever it takes to claim the throne.

The episode ends after Littlefinger delivers a monologue about The Realm, which he describes using a ladder metaphor. Game Of Thrones isn't heavy-handed ever. One should forgive the heavy-handedness of the end, but that was extremely heavy-handed for the show. "The Climb" ends on a shot of Jon and Ygritte overlooking the Seven Kingdoms from atop The Wall. In the game of thrones, though, those who reach the top don't stay there.

Other Thoughts:

-Tyrion delivered to Sansa news of their impending marriage. Tyrion was bummed in his scene with Cersei. Tyrion did learn Joffrey had Mandon Moore attempt to kill him during the battle. Cersei thinks Joffrey will not attempt a hit on Tyrion's life with Tywin in the capital. Also, Joffrey seemingly killed Ros. He is bastard.

-Sam's scene with Gilly to open the episode was wonderful. He showed off his dragonglass dagger to Gilly. She wondered about its use. Sam had no clue.

-Loras dreamed of a big wedding but did not dream of a wife. Poor Sansa never sees the Tyrion news coming. Sansa, of course, weeps bitterly.
The episode takes its name from the climb of the wildlings, but not much happens besides Orell trying to kill Jon Snow. They make it to the top. Ygritte tells Jon she knows his secret. The climb story does lead to the prettiest shot in the entire series, which is Jon and Ygritte standing face-to-face with the sky behind them.

-Jaime struggled to eat dinner. Roose Bolton made him a deal to let him go to King's Landing. Brienne will remain in Harrenhal with Bolton.

-I can't forget the dynamite scene between Tywin and Olenna. Charles Dance and Diana Rigg are great together. Olenna brings to the scene the tolerance and openness of Highgarden and Tywin brings to the scene the rigidity and no-nonsense nature of House Lannister. I'm not sure who's more dangerous.

-David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wrote the episode. Alik Sakharov directed the episode.

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. I write regular posts about Grimm & The Vampire Diaries.