Saturday, May 16, 2015

Grimm "Cry Havoc" Review

If Grimm could maintain the pace, the intensity, the urgency, and the emotion of episodes during season’s launch and May sweeps it’d be a near-great genre show. Grimm bogs down in procedural storytelling for half a season, in between serialized episodes, and it’s fine because Grimm’s a procedural-based series. It’s a genre procedural in the style of ANGEL’s first season that never tried to repeat ANGEL’s evolution as a story. ANGEL abandoned the case-of-the-week formula in the second season and never returned to it. If the writers told a stand-alone case-of-the-week story, it involved and revolved around the characters, whereas Grimm’s writers develop short fairy tale inspired stories about characters that appear and will (almost always) never appear after the episode ends.

“Cry-Havoc” doesn’t have any of what drags down Grimm in mid-season. It carried the craziness from “Headache” and didn’t stop. Okay, it stopped during Renard’s scenes. Renard’s miserable Jack-the-Ripper sublot that lasted decades continued as two cops the viewer never saw before investigated the homicides. I’d like for those two to become active detectives in cases that Nick and Hank don’t reach first. Grimm could do a solid arc that challenged Nick’s role as a cop and as a grimm. Nick announced he wouldn’t be a cop as he tracked down Kenneth and Juliette. Wu, too, removed the badge. The end of the season, with the amazing and unnecessary reappearance of the FBI agent, may lead to an arc that challenges Nick’s dual roles in society. Who knows, though.

Kelly’s death motivated Nick. He used the badge in his search for Kenneth. Kenneth, an impressive villain and a far more active than Viktor or Renard’s brother, doesn’t last long against Nick. Their fight included Nick low-blowing the Prince—a first for a choreographed fight that I’ve watched, and I’ve watched many choreographed fights. I feel frustrated when an antagonist can battle a specialized and unique super-powered person for minutes. Nick basically owns him in the fight and finishes him off with a spear through the neck. Nick moved on to finding Juliette afterwards. Juliette spent much of the episode with the King and Diana. Juliette fluctuated between regretful and villain. Her possible last scene is confusingly constructed. Juliette left in the helicopter; however, the King’s thrown from the copter by Meisner. Juliette is nowhere inside the helicopter. Nick found her in his house. They converse about Kelly, Juliette’s role in setting his mother up, and Juliette seems apologetic and regretful.

Of course, the scene is bonkers. Nick strangled Juliette…and strangled…and strangled…and…. He didn’t kill her. Nick’s reluctance to kill Juliette turned Juliette into full-on villain. She hexenbiested out, slapped him around, threw him through the front window, and lifted her claw to finish the job. Trubel, after Juliette said “I’m getting started” or something along those threatening lines, said she’d finish it. Juliette took two arrows, one in the chest, and one near the neck. She seemingly died in Nick’s arms. Juliette turned once again from hell bitch goddess into sorrowful Juliette. Did she die? I think so. Kelly died off-screen, so Juliette’s on-screen death looked final. Could the writers have redeemed Juliette during season five? Yes. Her insane transformation during season four stemmed from Nick/Adalind, and her hatred towards the gang for bringing her into their crazy world. It’s an incomplete story.

I wonder will the King’s death mean the end of the narratively vacant Royals story. I don’t think so. The Royals have involvement in the story beyond the baby. If I recall correctly, they want the Keys. Viktor’s still around if Alexis Denisof ever returns. Whatever, though. Renard was uninvolved because of the stupid Ripper storyline.

Trubel’s a brutal badass grimm. Nick looked shocked after she shot two arrows into Juliete. No one knew she returned. The element of surprise allowed her to strike Juliette when she had Nick down and ready to die by her hand. I couldn’t be less excited by the return of Chavev, and even less excited that it was the cliffhanger. At least it may blow up Nick’s world and force him to choose between the Law and the law.

I’ll see in the fall.

Other Thoughts:

-That’s Grimm season 4. It was a mixed season. The end of the season was great. Most of the season didn’t hit a groove. Rosalee and Monroe were underutilized. I thought Bree Turner was awesome in the second half of the season.

-Renard and Hank used Kenneth to end the Jack the Ripper investigation. That’s fine. If Renard spent 15 episodes next season shifting uncomfortably while receiving updates about the case, I would’ve ate a bar of steel weekly.

-Will I write about Grimm next season? Most likely. I’ll spend my summer in seclusion atop the Besh Barmag Mountain in Azerbaijan contemplating the question of whether to write about season five of Grimm or not.

-Thomas Ian Griffith wrote the episode. Norbeto Barba directed.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Vampire Diaries "I'm Thinking of You All the While" Review

And in the end Elena’s in a magic coma until Bonnie Bennett dies. 

Kai, that card. 

The writers couldn’t kill Elena off, because she’ll need to return for the series finale—whenever that may be. Next season? How will the show continue without its lead? I don’t know what the majority opinion is among the fanbase. I sort of write my reviews in isolation and never interact with other fans of The Vampire Diaries. One comment from a fan on a Hitfix article predicted disaster for the series next season. I think The Vampire Diaries will be somewhat more interesting and revitalized in season seven. It’s a creative challenge to write a story after the main character leaves the story. All that is in season seven. I’m not writing a season seven premiere review, am I? I’m writing a review for the season six finale of The Vampire Diaries—“I’m Thinking of You All The While.”

The first nine minutes of the finale was among the darker nine minutes I’ve seen in a network TV finale. Kai, recently returned from the 1903 prison world, murdered his sister and her unborn twins. Alaric cradled his dead wife in his arms. Afterwards, Kai jammed a piece of broken glass in his neck. The Coven died with him. His parting words to his family are about proving to his family that he is an irredeemable piece of garbage. Tyler helped Liv die without added suffering, which triggered his curse. Minutes later he ripped into Kai’s throat. A werewolf bite seemingly spells the end for a vampire. Kai, I should not fail to mention, drank Lily’s blood before his grand act of brutal mass revenge and returned as a witch-vampire. The werewolf bite is not the end for witch-vampires—yet another convenient magic rule in The Vampire Diaries—because Kai siphoned the wound shut using vampire healing as well as his infinite power resource.

Kai’s a damn worthwhile villain, though. The magic’s too much. It makes things too easy for him; however, the convoluted spell he did that linked Bonnie and Elena worked wonders for the story of Damon, Bonnie, and Elena. I don’t recall Damon wanting to kill any other character more than Bonnie Bennett. Maybe Jeremy. Damon killed Jeremy in the season two premiere. Elena told Stefan that night, “I hate him. I know he’s your brother, but I hate him.” Damon committed other bad, bad acts leading to and during his courting of Elena. The challenge of bringing Elena together with Damon was their past. The vampire transformation changed Elena’s character and brought her closer to her dark side, but that happened because of the sire bond. Their relationship stopped and started. One would think it better for the two to get together in the finale. Anticipation for a romance may exceed the depicted romance.

Damon and Elena struck me as a little forced. Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder played the hell out of it over the years, but their characters together never fit like Elena and Stefan, which was the zenith of romantic pairings in this crazy story. Elena’s memories returned after she took the cure--memories of Damon’s horrible, violent behavior that initially kept human Elena from Damon. It didn’t, though. The test became about Damon when he wanted to take the cure and live out his life with her.

Kai, that card, gave Damon the best chance to prove his love for Elena. Two seasons ago, three seasons ago, and definitely five seasons ago, Damon would’ve murdered Bonnie the very next second a Big Bad told him he couldn’t have Elena until Bonnie died. If Damon let Bonnie die, Elena wouldn’t forgive him. The early part of the season developed the Bonnie and Damon bond, trapped together in 1994, making breakfast, and shopping for more breakfast items in an empty store. Kai, angry at Kai for betraying him, links Damon’s love with Damon’s new platonic female bestie (no one replaces Alaric). Seasons of Damon treating Bonnie badly leaves doubt in the viewer’s minds about what he’ll do when Kai gives him a dying Bonnie. They shared a look before Damon left the wedding hall. Seconds later, Damon surprised Kai from behind and ripped his head off. Saving Bonnie means he loves his friend and he loves his girlfriend, i.e. he’ll wait however long he must for Elena to wake while Bonnie lives her life.

The last two acts of the season revolve around the characters’ farewell to Elena. The farewells are saccharine, referential, nostalgic, and saturated in Nina’s real-life departure from the series. For example, Elena asked Bonnie to float feathers for a final time, which Bonnie did in their first scene together; Damon and Elena repeated their dance from “Miss Mystic Falls”; Stefan and Elena went to the place where she told him why she didn’t want to be a vampire. Elena encouraged Matt to go for the badge; she urged Tyler to leave and find comfort in himself; and she promised Alaric would find strength in the future.

Of course, the best and most near perfect scene of the episode happened without Elena. She overwhelmed the scene. Caroline talked to Stefan about what it meant for him to watch Elena in a permanent sleep. They’re soulmates. Stefan agreed that they are soulmates. I wonder if the scene challenged Caroline Dries and Julie Plec the most. They couldn’t cheapen Stefan’s and Elena’s history, they needed to move Stefan towards Caroline by him stating he had moved on from Elena. Maybe it was the easiest scene they ever wrote in the series. I’ve written for years about the fraternal love of Stefan and Damon dwarfing their respective love for Elena. Stefan, in a wonderfully written monologue, told Caroline that Elena loved Damon—no one had loved Damon. Not his mother. Not his father. Not Katherine. Elena’s love for Damon allowed Stefan to love his brother again. His love for his brother meant more to him than the meaningful love he shared with her. Elena helped them find each other and love each other. That’s beautiful, my friends and my well-wishers. I would’ve liked Stefan confiding in Elena about the gift she gave him during their memory trip. Alas. Still a damn fine scene.

Season six improved upon a lackluster fifth season. TVD would benefit from a reduced episode order. Enzo bounced from useless story to useless story. Another character turned the switch off because there was time to kill. Kai was the best written and developed villain since Klaus. I know The CW ordered another full 22 episode order for TVD in 2015-2016. The story already jumped forward in time. Mystic Falls resembled Hill Valley. Matt drove through deserted streets. Damon stood on the clock tower, dressed like a goth scene kid. Ugh. That can’t be good.

Other Thoughts:

-Lily found her friends in the last act. Lily and Enzo bonded over feelings of abandonment and wholeness. Enzo, who would definitely join a doomsday cult, seems keen to fit within Lily’s crazy family. Presumably, Lily and her family contributed to Mystic Falls’ Hill Valley-esque post-apocalyptic squalor.

-I’d be remiss if I ignored Stefan/Caroline. Would I really? Stefan’s ready for Caroline when she’s ready. They had a moment lifted from a hack romantic comedy. Stefan told her he made of list of reasons why he can love her—a day after Caroline told him why she couldn’t love him.

-Michael Trevino won’t return for season seven. I think the other actors will return. McQueen, who is even more all chest, won’t return for season seven.

-I really wanted Jodi Lyn O’Keefe to return for season seven. I loved her fifteen years ago in mediocre teen comedies. Her death was among the top five most twisted in TVD. I rank ahead of her death Stefan’s brutal beheadings, Caroline massacring 12 innocents, one of Klaus’ atrocious murders, and I can’t think of another.

-I’ll miss Nina Dobrev. I began watching the series in summer 2010 for several reasons. I read great reviews of season one. I dismissed it as Twilight-lite. The second reason is Kevin Williamson. His meta-horror movie, Scream 2, blew my 11-year-old mind away. Scream, which I watched after Scream 2, also scrambled my brain in a good way. I began writing screenplays at age 11 and 12 because of Kevin Williamson. The third reason is Nina Dobrev, who is so pretty. I will watch TV shows for pretty girls. I watched Life Unexpected for Britt Robertson. I watched and reviewed The Secret Circle for her as well. Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley played one of the greatest fictional romances in a teenage melodrama since Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson in season 4 of Dawson’s Creek, and Gregory Smith and Emily Vancamp in season three of Everwood. I look forward to seeing her return to the series for its finale episode.

-That was season six of The Vampire Diaries, folks. I will write about season seven in the fall, which will mark my sixth season reviewing the series.

-Caroline Dries & Julie Plec wrote “I’m Thinking of You All the While”. Chris Grismer directed.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Grimm "Headache" Review

Grimm resolved the Jack the Ripper story in “Headache.” The silly accent belonged to Captain Renard, who had been possessed after dying, and being brought back to life by his mother, another hexenbiest who may be of use as Juliette continues her transformation to total villainhood, by the wesen Nick, Hank, Wu, and Monroe researched in the previous episode. The resolution of Renard’s blackouts, the bleeding out from the bullet wounds, and the reveal of who killed prostitutes in Portland, means that no longer must the viewer endure the aimless and seemingly purposeless flashes of Renard being shot, bleeding, waking up in pools, in the ball room at a Chuck E. Cheese, and covered in his own imaginary blood after jolting awake from nightmares.

The bulk of “Headache” resolves to cure Renard of possession. Rosalee and Monroe work on a cure, because that’s all they do. Rosalee’s less tolerant of helping people that try to kill her or Monroe. “Headache” began by continuing the cliffhanger that ended last week’s episode. Hank pushed Monroe out of the way of the bullet. Juliette left, satisfied by her attempted murder of Monroe, and Rosalee announces she’ll kill the bitch. Renard threatened her when possessed by Jack. The boys asked each other what they’d do if the cure didn’t work. Rosalee said, “You kill him” or something to that effect. I like that evolution for her character. If Rosalee becomes the character that doesn’t forget about another character’s past atrocities, whether possessed or no, character choices suddenly have more lasting import and consequence. Maybe Juleitte won’t re-join the gang.

Of course, I think, and would wage a hill of beans, that Juliette, after a redemption story during season five, becomes reacquainted with the gang. The Grimm writers have gone all the way writing her villainy. Juliette slept with Kenneth in Nick’s bed; Juliette sat still upstairs while the Royals’ henchmen attacked Kelly; Juliette took Diana to the Prince. The cliffhanger of the episode is Nick’s discovery of his mother’s head in a box. The fight between her and the Royals happened off-screen. The camera followed Juliette’s reactions. She was less total evil in that scene and more contemplative. I wondered what the director, Jim Kouf, told Bitsie before filming the scene.

“Headache” moved at a fast clip. Trubel returned during the action-packed episode and even sliced off the head of one of the Royals’ henchmen. Her return is convenient unless Nick, or someone else, tipped her off about Juliette. Trubel did her thing: she investigated, watched, observed, and had enough to tell Nick that something bad seemed imminent. Soon, though, Nick’s a shell-shocked mess, screaming “No!” over again after finding the more-than-likely fake head of his mother inside the box. The Royals had been a non-factor since forever, comparable to gnats, annoying but insignificant. Nick, the hero of the show, never had consistent motivation to fight the Royals. Now he does.

Season 4 has been hit or miss. That’s true of all their seasons. Kouf and Greenwalt always deliver during finale seaso, though. The last two episodes of Grimm have been good, entertaining, engaging, and I look forward to next week.

Other Thoughs:

-“Headache” reminded me a little of ANGEL and Buffy. Greenwalt’s former two shows wrote in demons that hitchhiked from another dimension.

-Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt wrote “Headache.” Kouf directed. I haven’t seen Greenwalt direct an episode of television since “The Girl in Question.”

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Vampire Diaries "I'll Wed You in the Golden Summertime" Review

“I’ll Wed You in the Golden Summertime” neither marries a pair of characters nor does anything in the golden summertime. The closest to gold in the episode is Caroline’s golden blonde hair. Caroline, back from her regret-filled absence last episode, apologized for trying to kill her friends, for forcing Stefan to turn off his humanity, and for the other murders she committed. As always the humanity switch allowed the writers to demolish their characters for a span of episodes. Anyway, I digress.

The penultimate episode of season six is foreboding. Caroline worried that an event would ruin the wedding, She made certain the maid of honor and the best man would be at their spots, beside the bride and the groom. She made sure her friends wouldn’t miss the episode. If she saw glasses of champagne running low, she alerted the wait staff. The acts passed. No wedding ceremony began. Jo passed out. The doctor said she had a panic attack. Nothing more. Jo’s father surprised her, walked her down the aisle, after Damon and Elena barely made it. The hour seemed more lavender than golden, though Alaric and Jo chose a dim hall lit by candles and low lighting. Alaric said his vows. Jo began to say hers, but Kai sticking a knife in her back interrupted the wedding. Caroline forgot to consider the possibility that Kai would escape from the 1903 prison dimension and, thus, ruin the wedding.

The final two acts of the episode were structured and edited similarly to a B-horror movie. The wedding began, followed by a quick cut to Lily and Enzo walking into a truck yard, where she expected to find her family, followed by a quick cut to barely alive Matt and Bonnie, back to the wedding for the fireworks of Kai’s inevitable return to town for revenge. Bonnie even delivered the “It was…it was…” the way Jennifer Love Fefferman delivers the words in “And Then There Was Shawn”—which is Boy Meets World making fun of the tropes of horror films, and if Michael Jacobs skewers a trop that you, a writer, will use, then please think again—and it cut to the wedding where Jo nervously began her vows. How Kai knew about the wedding and where he found a tailored suit in only a few hours are questions the viewer should not expect to receive in the season finale. The tropey writing and editing of the end of the episode, because of the aforementioned tropes, had me wonder about the identity of the phantom strangling folk in a basement. I knew Kai would show his face, but for a moment I wondered what unexpected surprise awaited after the unnecessary build to the return of the show’s best villain since Klaus.

Kai stabbed his sister and left her for dead in the arms of her husband-to-be, after which he destroyed glass windows and brought the house down that included a chandelier that may’ve fatally injured Elena. Oh, Elena. Stefan brought Damon to the suburbs for the purpose of showing him the human life that awaited him. At Elena’s insistence Stefan was harsh. Damon saw through Stefan’s vampire mind mojo life with Elena as human two years into her residency, after her residency, and after her death. Damon led a drunkenly miserable life in all three. Stefan and Elena didn’t want Damon to choose a human life only because of her. There’s more to life than someone else. Impressionable teenage girls, and some teenage boys, may identify with Damon and think it so romantic that’d he sacrifice what he loves most for Elena. Mature Stefan reminds Damon all that glitters is not gold. Humans need more than one person for happiness. That special someone else matters, but he or she is not enough. Damon, though, believes in true love and vows he won’t hate her or himself for doing it because he’s doing it for them and their eternal connection, which will survive even beyond death. What convinced him to take the cure was an older couple he saw in the neighborhood. The writing for the couple was clich├ęd, uninspired, tropey. They bickered, but then they kissed and nuzzled noses after he ate her soul. No, he tapped her on the behind. Damon saw in them he and Elena. I thought of the scene in Inception when, as Mal dies, Cobb reminds her that they did have a lifetime together. Now, Damon and Elena had less than a lifetime together. Their story is interrupted, has barely begun, has been hurt by circumstances, all of which in teenage melodrama means the characters are meant to be.

Nina Dobrev’s departure looms over all the action in her character’s narrative. Sudden death can only stop Damon from taking the cure for them. Sudden death is it for Elena’s story? No, I doubt it. The Elena/Damon story always was flatter than Elena/Stefan, but I’ll have more to write about both stories after the season concludes.

My favorite part of the second-to-last full chapter in the story of Elena, Damon, and Stefan story is Stefan’s. Specifically, I liked him confiding in Caroline his feelings about his brother taking the cure. Damon would die, Stefan would lose his brother. The best love story in the show is the fraternal one between the Salvatores. I’d pitch to Julie Plec, Caroline Dries, and the room, if I worked in the room during the break for Elena’s goodbye, that in addition to the mind work Stefan does to show him life with her busy or life without another life without his brother. Stefan sort of mentions it. Essentially I want Elena to choose herself and leave the Salvatores together.

Anyway, “I’ll Wed You in the Golden Summertime” is all foreboding, clumsily so with its misleads about trivial wedding things, so of course the deadliest possible situations must arise. Kai’s back, he’s pissed off, he’s left for three women for dead, and has a whole room full of the people that sent him to his first prison and the people that sent him to his second prison. Now to reference another Mal who once remarked to a small town about to burn a very special girl about a man hanging from a helicopter pointing a gun at the townspeople: “Man’s lookin’ to kill some folk.”

Other Thoughts:

-Unlike Arrow’s cliffhanger last night involving the deaths of Oliver’s crew, which was silly, because no actor will leave the show, the cast of The Vampire Diaries had six year contracts that ran out. I know some won’t return, but I don’t know all. So maybe Kai goes wild and kills important folk.

-Enzo is all hair.

-I wanted Damon’s possible life without Elena, after death, to involve him moving himself, his hormonal and angry teenage son, and young daughter, to a small mountain town in Colorado where he’d open a small private practice in Elena’s memory. In episode two he’d dance with himself imagining it’s her while at the fall festival. I’d call it Everwood and hope dumbass CW wouldn’t cancel it after season four.

-Liv returned sporting shorter hair. Unfortunately, any story with Tyler is the worst.

-I think Lily will return next season.

-So, how will Elena leave the show? I don’t really guess, but I’ll bet three beans on her not dying. She’s gotta return for the series finale.

-Brian Young wrote the episode. Michael Allowitz directed.

About The Foot

My photo
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.