Saturday, March 28, 2015

Grimm "Double Date" Review

The teaser for “Double Date” made little sense. Renard woke covered in blood after a nightmare about being shot in the chest. He didn’t learn anything about why he woke covered in blood. Next, the villainous Wesen of the week was introduced in a bar, crying over a broken marriage, and lulling some dope into a con. They kissed, ripped off clothing, and then she left for the bathroom. Her husband, Linus, burst into threaten the future victim for coming to his house with his wife. The future victim died before the end of the teaser after demanding his phone and wallet back from Stacy. Stacy responded by killing him.

The twist of the story is that Stacy/Linus share a body. The ending of the “Double Date” teaser makes the conclusion blurry and ambiguous, but if that’s not the twist, then the entire teaser is nonsense without context. It’s the Kouf family and David Greenwalt thinking, “We’ll start here and see where it takes the story.” Writing without a clear direction isn’t a mortal or venial sin. It’s not even a sin. Every writer’s different. Joss Whedon knew where he wanted the story to go, but the writing staff wouldn’t finish a script until the day shooting began. Tim Kring had no idea what he wanted Heroes to be, and that was a mess. Vladimir Nabokov had completed every novel in his mind before he began while William Gass has said he didn’t know where he wanted to go when he began a story, adding that’s why he re-wrote however many times needed so that he knew where he wanted to take the story.

“Double Date” tried to shroud Stacy and Linus with ambiguity but very sloppily. Stacy yells at Linus. Linus yells at Stacy. Neither yells at the other in the same room. Well, I suppose they do, but they don’t face each other-unless Linus had switched in front of a mirror. It’s silly the way the writers decided to keep the mystery of Stacy/Linus as one person, a less powered up Glory and Ben. Monroe went undercover for consecutive episodes to catch Linus. The payoff to Monroe’s undercover work was a jealous Rosalee. Nick, Hank, and Wu would’ve had no leads if not for Monroe. The pursuit of Linus and the confusion about the disappearance of Stacy was comical, because the cops never met a male/female Wesen. It happened in the second to last act, a Grimm staple, and the guys were at a loss to catch Linus/Stacy. They chose the right bar soon after and caught Linus after dosing him with Rosalee’s hormone-made shot.

Nick and Juliette don’t share a scene in this episode. Juliette goes to Renard’s place after sleeping in her car. Renard began to help her by using blood rituals. “Double Date” concluded with a series of scenes, montage style, of the relationship between Juliette and Nick. It ended with a question, “Do you want to be with me?” I don’t remember the line verbatim.

Adalind received one scene after her unexpected positive pregnancy test. The writers wrote off Viktor in a better way than Renard’s brother, who died in a car explosion. Viktor hadn’t done an adequate job. Alexis Denisof probably doesn’t have time to guest on Grimm and be a regular on Finding Carter. Viktor follows a line of poor, ineffectual, pointless, aimless villains. What did Viktor do since his introduction? He locked Adalind in one or two dungeons. He failed to develop any leads on Kelly’s whereabouts. Viktor did take away Nick’s powers for a stretch that now affects his relationship with Juliette because of magic. So, yeah, he did that. Adalind will work with another German. Let’s stop with the Royals. It’s not good, Grimm.

Other Thoughts:

-Briana Lane portrayed Stacy. She’s among the most beautiful actresses I’ve watched on television. She’s stunning. I liked the edge she brought to Stacy. I hoped that the shot would’ve permanently fixed her visage instead dopey Linus.

-Karen Gaviola directed the episode. Brenna Kouf wrote it.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Grimm "Bad Luck" Review

NBC’s premise for the episode, or maybe the cable provider’s premise for the episode, or whatever department wrote the premise for “Bad Luck,” included a bit about Monroe and Rosalee going undercover in an effort to stop a Wesen who hacks off one foot of another Wesen for the sake of helping Wesen couples that struggle to conceive. I had visions of a multi-act Rosalee and Monroe romp under disguise, elaborate and parodic, but they’re undercover antics last two scenes. It’s far from the hook of the episode. What is the hook of the episode? Well, one wants Nick and Hank to find the killer, for certain; one wants the victim in the teaser’s sister to survive; there’s also Nick’s bad reaction to Juliette’s hexenbiest transformation. The reveal changed the relationship. Juliette regains his trust of her authentic identity by mentioning the nonsense around their proposal. Nick wanders off into the Portland night and recollects their past. The leaps of faith she took for him and so on. Henrietta suggested to Nick, later in the episode, that he accept her for who she is rather than seek out a solution, which doesn’t exist. Indeed, his blood can’t cure her, because that’s dramatically uninteresting. The couple must redefine their relationship.

A lot of the non-case of the week action has moments amid frustrating creative choices. Adalind’s proposal to Renard about working together to find Diana doesn’t make sense. It allows for convenient conflict in the same way Juliette going to Renard first allows for convenient conflict. Nick’s freaked by the hexenbiest news, but he didn’t like Renard’s initial involvement in helping Juliette. Renard and Juliette have a past Nick would like to forget. The plot involving Adalind, Renard, Juliette, and Nick is unpleasantly soapy, but soap is needed to sustain twenty two episodes worth of content and story in a network year. “Bad Luck” dovetails into melodramatically soapy revelations that stem from the roots of Juliette’s unpleasant situation. Nick needed to become a Grimm again after Adalind took his power of sight (or whatever makes a grimm a grimm). To do that she slept with him. Juliette needed to sleep with Nick as Adalind to restore his grimm-ness. She became a hexenbiest, and Adalind became pregnant. She screamed an anguished ‘No!’ at the end of the episode, which anticipated the loud oratory and prolonged “No!” from the audience. Baby stories always disappoint in TV as do stories about conflicts involving the mother or father of that unfortunate baby born from a degree of laziness in the writers room.

The case of the week involved another Wesen acting outside the parameters of what the Wesen Council set. The Wesen Council, though little seen, and only through its mediators (or whatever), have become more prominent in the series. Perhaps Greenwalt and Kouf will involve the council more in season five. The council admonishes cruel Wesens, but the council is not without its cruelty. A confrontation between Nick and the council as a multi-episode arc’d out story in season five that’s focused may be the thing Grimm needs moving forward; however, a single season focused story hasn’t been Grimm’s style. The Wesen Council seems destined to remain a vague threat, a warning to those tertiary Wesen that act out of accordance with the laws. The organizations and Royal Families and et al are fragments, shadowy ideas that need form and substance.

Other Thoughts:

-I guess my Grimm reviews will continue. I’m not sure that I’ll refer to the posts as reviews. I might meander about whatever, or I may not write if I’ve nothing to write. The 5 weeks between episodes helped produce this jawn.

-I made a bet that the high school introduced in the teaser would die. That’s the easiest bet to make whenever a procedural is on.

-Thomas Ian Griffith wrote the episode. Terrence O’Hara directed.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Vampire Diaries "A Bird in a Gilded Cage" Review

TVD subverted the ‘Stefan saves Caroline’ storyline by having Stefan DESTROY Caroline. Stefan the inhumane rips the heads off of drama directors as casually as someone ordering soup and bread. Stefan the inhumane wants Caroline, she who forced him to turn off the switch, to have fun with her humanity-free year. Rip the heads off of strangers, feed off cute college girls, and destroy the gas tank in a motorcycle. Stefan wants her to go for it without abandon and without fear of the guilt she’ll feel in a year. Stefan’s plan doesn’t involve switching the switch in a year. Ah, vampires.

Damon, in the beginning of the episode, beats the stuffing out of a chair. He feels frustrated by his brother’s foolish decision to flip the switch. Humanity free Stefan will commit atrocities, feel guilt, and brood. Damon doesn’t want Stefan to repeat the cycle. “A Bird in a Gilded Cage” has instances of meta-narrative-the reformed popular culture definition, not the literary definition. Julie Plec and Caroline Dries don’t insert themselves into the narrative the way in which a Gass or a Nabokov did. Characters refer to humanity-free nonsense of the past. Caroline’s driven to avoid the horrific post-inhumanity spree her other friends experienced. The writers know flipping the switch has been done, and that the challenge is writing it with a new spin. Stefan’s attempt to destroy Caroline is a new and interesting spin. The humanity free arcs are filler stories for that rough middle stretch of the season when the beginning is behind and the end far away and when the 22 or 23 episode order more potently a beast of burden. The arc allows for brief but temporary emotional conflicts that plunge into dark depths for two or three episodes. Never more. The stories benefit the actors more than the storytelling, because whatever atrocities they commit, atrocities that would enshrine them in their own hall in Skizzen’s Inhumanity Museum, won’t linger or last. Like magic, the switch is a narrative cop-out. The writers have a lot of fun without having to seriously deal with what happens after the inhumanity. Example: Damon Salvatore.

The solution for humanity free Stefan and Caroline exists in 1903. Lilian Salvatore, the brutal vampire ripper killer, can trigger Stefan’s humanity. Stefan’s humanity will trigger Caroline’s humanity. Bonnie and Kai bring Damon and Elena to 1903. Bonnie agreed to bring Kai because she didn’t plan to bring him back with the others. Damon consulted with his mother about helping with the Stefan problem. Lillian’s an insane vampire. She keeps desiccated vampires in the basement of the 1903 Salvatore home; however, she’s Stefan’s angel. She came to him after her resurrection because she loved him, but her lust for blood kept her from him and Damon. Lily reacted to the news about the death of her husband, via Stefan ripping his throat out, with laughter. Damon convinced her to leave without her friends, her ‘family’, because he emphasized why Stefan needs her. So, she goes, but she’ll want her ‘family’ back. Kai has the misfortune of meeting her family after Bonnie and friends left him.

Kai became more apologetic and remorseful after merging with Luke. Luke’s essence cured the psychopath in Kai. Kai, in the middle of season six, apologized to those he hurt or tried to kill or maim or torture. Bonnie represented to Kai the last piece to his reformed nature, as it were. Her rejection of him, her abandonment of him, and his lingering psychopathic tendencies, seem likely to return him to a less forgiving and redemptive person when he returns from the 1903 prison dimension. Bonnie’s revenge against him will change him back into the person she hated and wanted trapped. She’ll be responsible for newly evil and psychopathic Kai by May sweeps.

Enzo hatched his own plan to stop Stefan and Caroline. Alaric joined him for reasons I don’t recall 90 minutes after the episode ended. Alaric and Jo had been involved in a delightfully light subplot about the name of their baby. Oh yeah, I remember. Enzo called Alaric soft. He thought Alaric would run away from danger because of his baby. Alaric challenged that and then almost died. Jo, while treating him, called him an idiot and said he needed to stay alive for 18 years for the sake of her and the baby. Jo’s line of dialogue almost guarantees her impending untimely death and a zany ‘Alaric raises his child as a single father!’ storyline for seasons 7-14.

Much of “A Bird in a Gilded Cage” sets up future storylines; so what of the episode? Is there a story? Sure. A gilded cage is gold, beautiful, but a cage. Stefan and Caroline have sex, bite good-looking necks, banter over headless corpses, but they’re in a cage of inhumanity. Lily’s in a cage-physical and mental. Elena, too, is in a cage. Her and Damon share an overtly heavy-handed scene about infinity prior to Bonnie giving to Damon the gift of the vampire cure. She tells him they have forever together. Damon has the vial of cure a scene later-the cure he wanted for Elena. Either he or Elena will receive the cure. No more forever. One of the trio won’t remain eternal. Plec mentioned moving The Vampire Diaries towards an ending. Whomever takes the cure seems a more significant thing than Katherine taking the cure last season, because it signifies the beginning of the end, not a stop-gap, but the end.

Other Thoughts:

-Maybe it is a stop-gap. Who knows. I’m a barely read blogger that referenced two authors that would be horrified to be referenced in a review of a TVD episode.

-“But I cannot sleep without the radio on…” Tell me where that lyric is from and I’ll give you a signed print copy of my review for the 14th episode of season 3 of The Vampire Diaries.

-No Tyler and Matt again. The absence of Tyler is fine. Matt should’ve been part of the last two episodes. Cut the music budget to find money for Zach Roerig.

-Enzo’s no longer interested in using Sarah as pawn, but he soon told her her last name. Damon mentioned reunion possibly thrice times in the episode. There’s going to be a nonsense Salvatore reunion in a few episodes.

-Neil Reynolds wrote the episode. Joshua Butler directed.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Vampire Diaries "The Downward Spiral" Review

Liam returned, that multi-use plot device; Caroline didn’t remember he existed before he, buzzed, hit on her at the bar, hours after her mother’s funeral. Switch off Caroline felt more hurt in her feet in her heart. I didn’t remember Liam. Oh, he’s put to use. First, he serves as Caroline’s personal blood bag. Second, she uses him to brutally torture Sarah Salvatore. Caroline’s use of Liam allows one to see her descent into inhumanity in a different way. Liam fights against the compulsion, but the compulsion is stronger than whatever mental fight he has. He won’t act unless Caroline forces him to act. Caroline’s a bad, bad girl. The sexy hairstyle, low-top, suggestive conversations with men, or grinding dances with those men, showed that Caroline had embraced her humanity-free existence, but when Liam took out a drill for the heart extraction surgery, one knew for sure. Caroline’s a bad, bad girl. Stefan switched his humanity off to save his niece, seconds before Elena saved the day.

Stefan switched his humanity off to save two women: Sarah and Caroline. Stefan, The Vampire Diaries’ perpetual martyr, blamed himself for Caroline’s switch. He withheld love from her in her darkest moment. Liz asked him to take care of her, but he felt afraid of the love he felt for her, and waited until she had already snapped Elena’s neck to tell her. Throughout “The Downward Spiral” he observes unhinged Caroline. She uses Liam for blood and potential murder. She dances wildly and drinks at the Whitemore Warehouse Rave. Elena and Stefan strategize a way to get her back. Stefan’s plan is refreshingly simple: he tries honesty with her. By the bar, he steals a moment. He smiles, she smiles, and then he confronts her with truth (Tolstoy’s favorite character). For a brief instant she closes her eyes, lets him caress her cheek, as he tells her he’s sorry for not telling her he loves her and that he’ll help her through her personal hell. “Come back,” he pleads; however, it’s episode sixteen, and she’s not coming back.

The resolution to the A story is not great. Stefan without humanity’s appeal is Stefan without humanity. He’s Angelus-lite, brutal, and a wildcard. The last two acts improved the dreadful Enzo/Sarah plot. Caroline outs the whole Sarah thing. Enzo sort of gave up after she reacted to his vampire admission with disinterest. Humanity-free Stefan and Caroline seems like a potential Spike/Harmony dynamic. Angelus and Drusilla don’t work as parallels, because Dru was mad and insane. Caroline hurts badly, made a bad choice, and will come back from that feeling terrible. Spike and Harmony, though, was a sad, messed up thing. Switch off Stefan could ruin Caroline. Their dynamic will be dramatic, murderous, sexy, a temporary detour from whatever the hell the endgame of season six is, and an opportunity for Elena and Damon to grow closer because two close people to them will act horribly and murder and all that.

Of course, Damon’s and Stefan’s mother is a ripper, trapped in a 1903 prison dimension for murdering over 3,000 people-according to the unreliable narrator, Kai. He feels pangs of guilt, but he’s still a psych-and-sociopath. Damon is preoccupied with the truth about his mother. His day involved breaking Bonnie’s trust, working again with Kai, and then collapsing after Kai told him the truth about his not so dearly departed mother. Damon’s choice not to tell Stefan about his mother is an instance of the twenty two episode beast. The writers need drama coming later between the brothers. Well, Stefan might learn during his switch off fun because of the hysterics and heightened emotion of that particular dramatic choice.

The best scene of the episode was, and is, Bonnie and Damon in her living room. Kai demanded an opportunity to apologize to Bonnie for attempting to murder her multiple times in 1994 in exchange for using magic to transport Damon to 1903 for a meeting with Mommy. Bonnie expressed her rage, feelings of violence, and sense of isolation within a minute. Damon surprised her with Kai at the stupid rave. Bonnie left after threatening to melt Kai’s face. Damon went to Bonnie, and she made him suffer through what Kai did. She couldn’t recreate the loneliness. The intense, violent reaction she had and what she inflicted on Damon showed how the loneliness affected. Later, she called Jeremy to tell him she returned but that she’s not the same person anymore. It happens when growing up and in college. Someone disappears for awhile and he or she changes. “The Downward Spiral” anticipates Caroline’s human downward spiral, but we see Bonnie’s spiral. It’s not different from Caroline. Bonnie was left alone, without friends, without a sense of anyone coming to get her, crawling to get out. Two things, besides the Damon scene, stand out as a portent for things to come: she burned the arm of the pushy dude in the warehouse, and she immediately lit a roaring fire in her house. The fire’s as intense within her.

I didn’t like “The Downward Spiral” much. I’m fatigued by the humanity-switch-is-off storyline. It’s an easy place for writers to go for drama, conflicts, and future drama. I think it’s less risky after every character’s done it besides Caroline. Caroline notes what’s different about her. Switch on Caroline would feel morally responsible for her actions; humanity free Caroline doesn’t. Stefan babbled about Caroline feeling guilt. Elena did, too, and compared Caroline with her. Elena does not want her to friend to feel the pain and guilt and blah blah. She will for one or two episodes, but she’ll move on. The Vampire Diaries moves. It’s an unsubtle show. The most time the characters spent mourning was at the end of “Memorial” in season four. Caroline will hurt. Plec and Dries will throw in an mushy, melodramatic, sappy, saccharine contemporary pop-rock track over Caroline’s grief and pain; teenagers will feel the feels, and they’ll move on. That’s what television writers get wrong about what happens after the death of a parent: there is no moving on.

Other Thoughts:

-That son of a bitch Liam.

-I liked the 8PM family-friendly rave. I was reminded of Dawson’s Creek rave episode, which ended with Andie overdosing on ecstasy. The Whitmore Warehouse rave was tame, quiet, but with distracting lights. I wonder how Somerhalder liked directing that. First time directors usually have a sprawling set piece.

-Enzo’s hair, you guys. Goddamn majestic.

-Brian Young & Caroline Dries wrote the episode. Ian Somerhalder directed.

About The Foot

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