Saturday, February 25, 2017

Grimm "The Son Also Rises" Review

Grimm switched the detective duo for one episode only in “The Son Also Rises” because of Juliette’s sudden hospitalization. She went to the hospital after The Face’s arm came through the mirror and knocked her out. Nick, after learning about Juliette’s hospitalization, rushes to be by her side. Nick even called her Juliette. Finally, one character noticed what’s been plainly obvious since last season. 

Nothing happened at the hospital besides Nick remembering the mostly bad times him and Juliette shared, such as the time Aunt Kate told him to leave her because the Grimm couldn’t have love in his life; but the memory of his mother telling him to keep the people he loves around him balanced the other memory. Of course, then Nick remembered Juliette’s betrayal and her major responsibility in his mother’s death. They’ll reunite.

Anyway, Grimm switched out Nick for Wu in this episode’s case, which was a modernized adaptation of the Victorian classic Frankenstein. The teaser introduced Dr. Victor Shelley, an overt allusion to the literary work. Shelley lost his son in a car accident, but him and three other scientists restored him to life using dead wesen body parts. The resurrected son’s new wesen nature made him a murderer, but he didn’t murder anyone besides the scientists that made him a murderer and a monster. Hank theorized that the wesen parts changed the son, but he was wrong. Vengeance drove the son throughout the whole story. The wesen parts made him harder to stop. He asked his father to kill him in the last act when Dr. Shelly, Dr. Levy, and Hank and Wu found him.

Grimm’s modernized Frankenstein was decent in parts. The writers maintained and updated some grisly Victorian gothic tropes such as the body snatching (except it’s body selling in 21st century Portland) and weird science experiments. Body snatching/graverobbing was used as a plot point and a plot device in a number of Victorian novels and short stories. Robert Louis Stevenson liked using grave robbing in his stories. What comes to mind is his “The Body Snatcher” story. Dickens had a “resurrection man” in his great novel A Tale of Two Cities. And the source material, of course, has all that Victorian gothic fun. Grimm began by mining these stories, sources, and modernizing them. The show wandered away from that over the seasons as the writers became distracted by an ever-inconsistent and protean mythology, but I liked that the writers returned Grimm to part of its roots in this final season.

Other Thoughts:

-Do you know how much I wanted that Rosalee/Monroe scene to be real? I would’ve written novella about Grimm reaching peak “I don’t give a bleep’ mode”. It would’ve been wonderful. Instead, the scene served to highlight Monroe’s anxiety about the triplets to come. Also, Monroe and Rosalee said that they’d look into the mirror, but they decided to lock it away without doing any research. Rosalee gave a tiny backstory about how the mirror came into her life (it involved princesses).

-Again, nothing happened in those Nick/Juliette scenes. Light work week for David Guintoli. It’s a wonder he didn’t direct this one. At the end of the episode Juliette repeated what we already knew. The end even had flashbacks of what we watched not more than thirty nine minutes ago; however,Juliette’s dialogue at the end broached meta when she said something’s coming and it’ll be here soon. Well, yeah, the series is over in five episodes. The writers could’ve really trolled the audience by doing a Waiting for Godot thing. There’s so much about the symbols, their meaning, a possible history with a painting, that it’d be incredible if nothing arrived or happened in the March episodes except for the same old Grimm.

-Speaking of the symbols, Renard contacted to a woman named Dasha. She repeated old information but added that Diana must be connected with the upcoming event.

-Todd Milliner & Nick Peet wrote the episode. Peter Werner directed.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Vampire Diaries "It's Been a Hell of a Ride" Review

Why don’t I ever listen to Kai’s line and think, “Oh, the opposite of what he said will happen”? Last week, Kai said redemption was out of the question for the brothers Salvatore. This week, Stefan kills the devil and destroys hell. Of course, Kai mentioned the part about destroying hell by destroying Cade. Kai lied. Kai always lies. Now, hell has a new heiress.

“It’s Been a Hell of a Ride” marked the end of the season eight specific narrative; in other words, it was the season finale. Stefan killed Cade. Damon sacrificed his soul to save his brother and his love. Caroline and Alaric sent Kai back to an eternal personal hell, for Jo. Afterwards, in typical season finale style, with peace and calm restored in Mystic Falls and the personal lives of the main characters, Alaric mentioned his intention to open a school for Gemini and supernatural children, including his daughters, with Caroline, his collaborator. Damon and Stefan had an epic bro-moment that helped clear Stefan’s mind about his human life, his past, and his love for Caroline; then, Stefan re-proposed. Finally, Bonnie sent Kai to a private personal hell, its soundtrack The Spin Doctors.

Now, the series begins its long goodbye, its coda, its epilogue. The writers ended their season eight narrative, but they haven’t ended their series. That’s in two weeks. This episode was spare, despite the histrionics. Remember how full the cast used to be during TVD’s peak? Matt didn’t appear in the episode, but even with him it would’ve been spare. Season seven and season eight have been spare and empty in writing and in casting and in ratings. The show had to end. Imagine a ninth season without Ian Somerhalder and Kat Graham.

If the show continued into a ninth season and “It’s Been a Hell of a Ride” had been the finale, or something like it, then it’d be a fine, predictable finale. I’m a sucker for supernatural characters sacrificing themselves for the people they love. TVD could never escape comparisons to Whedon’s two WB classics. Often, TVD invited comparisons; so, of course they’d throw in an intentional-or-not homage to Spike’s sacrifice in “Chosen”. I could’ve done without Damon’s negativity about ANGEL’s premise during the scene, post-Cade’s destruction, by the waterfalls when Damon urged Stefan to remember his list of the people he loves, explaining that it’s all he needs for redemption. Of course it isn’t, but I’ve repeated that point over and over and over throughout the series, and the series is finished in two weeks, so, as I did weeks ago when the show, quite amazingly, never referred to Damon ripping Sybil’s heart out of her chest and placing it beside her at the bus stop, I’ll let it go.

Of course, with Katherine reigning supreme in sweet, sweet hell, my prediction from seasons ago that every main character in the show would go to hell may work out. I liked the initial dreadful anticipation of the episode’s twist about hell’s new supreme rule and its natural build to Damon’s half-humorous line of “We’re toast”. Katherine won’t take them all, but she’ll take one of them.

Elsewhere, Stefan apologized to Bonnie, an apology she didn’t accept even after Stefan destroyed the devil. Bonnie’s early season one psychic premonitions reached full potential when she dueled the devil for Damon’s soul. Bonnie has spent much of her scenes with Enzo’s soul in her private dimension for him. Enzo gently urged her to forgive Stefan—not for him, but for her, because the magic of forgiveness lives in the act of forgiving and letting that bad energy go.

Overall, “It’s Been a Hell of a Ride” was a good transitional episode but an expected conclusion to the prolonged bland misery of the Cade/Siren/hell arc. We didn’t need so many episodes of the sirens, mind control, Cade, and all that bland, uninteresting nonsense. It was busy work. At long bloody last, the season has reached the indulgence part of a final season. I hope. Please.

Nonetheless, we’ll have to wait two weeks until we see Katherine, unless Julie Plec sneaks Nina Dobrev into the last shot of the penultimate episode.

Other Thoughts:

-I laughed every time those little Gemini witches lit something on fire or accidentally siphoned their mother. Unintentional comedy, I know. It was like something out of Python.

-So, I’m thinking that those series finale previews work as an olive branch to lapsed TVD fans. The commercial tonight showed Damon seeing Elena for, perhaps, the first time since she went Sleeping Beauty. The CW knows that many more people don’t watch the show now compared to several years ago. People who stopped watching won’t really need to know anything about the last two seasons if they stopped watching after Nina left the show in 2015.

-Alaric’s conviction to open a school returns him to his roots as a high school teacher in season one. That’s the start of the ‘full circle’ ending ahead.

-Kai, as always, is best in small bursts: a joy, yes, for an episode or two, but a chore for most of a twenty two-episode season. Chris Wood was great again. Loved the Spin Doctors stuff at the end.

-Brett Matthews & Shukree Hassan Tilghman wrote the episode. Pascal Verschooris directed the episode.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Grimm "Blind Love" Review

“Blind Love” arrived at the right time for me. I feel mired in the daily doldrums of the American politics between websites, social media, and podcasts. The other show I write about on the blog, The Vampire Diaries, only has time for its ‘serious’ exploration of morality and hell. It took bringing back one of the show's most purely evil characters last night to return levity and humor to the show. Conversations with friends, family, and wellwishers invariably dovetail into the subject of our terrible president, our terrible congress, and the general overarching pessimism and cynicism of the present. Sometimes, a dude needs an escapist episode of TV with silliness and a sense of humor. Much of the humor in general right now is tinged with darkness. Grimm gave me what I needed.

The A story has been done before in TV and movies. A spell takes possession of the characters that causes them to act out of character until the spell is broken and all returns to normal. These stories are easy, fun, and light affairs. I find it easy to feel entertained by them. I really liked the reversal of the ‘kidnapped child’ trope in TV procedurals, though. Grossante, the lieutenant who killed for Renard back when Renard was 100% evil (now he’s at 45%), kidnapped Diana to force Renard into giving him what he wanted and was promised: Captain of the Precinct. Renard didn’t bother with the demands. Instead, he let his powerful daughter handle it, and she did. She beat her kidnapper senselessly throughout the day.

Nick, Rosalee, Eve, Hank, Wu, Adalind, and Kelly spent the weekend at a hotel for Monroe’s birthday. The son of one of the men Nick arrested years ago worked at the hotel and gave them a love spell. Their mad-love passion for each other would’ve eventually killed them all if not Rosalee not drinking the wine because of her pregnancy. It was a fun, slight story made near-legendary by Russell Hornsby’s turn as a Hank in love with himself. I could’ve done without the in-media-res opening, (That device is tired out in network TV) but that’s my only gripe. The birthday dinner scene also briefly transformed “Blind Love” into a throwback flashback episode with Nick recalling the time him and Monroe met in the “Pilot”, the time when Rosalee saved Monroe, and the time when they first kissed. It was a nice easy breezy nod to the show’s past as it begins its countdown to the last episode on March 31.

I didn’t like the gates of hell opening in Nick’s bathroom mirror as Juliette looked into it. I’m all helled out. Will any genre show resist using hell as a final season Big Bad? Diana showing Renard the symbols of death will likely increase Renard’s evilness to 50% if not more. (I presume the writers returned him to his default state of morally ambiguous). I’m grateful that the writers gave us a fun, silly, inconsequential episode before hell comes for Nick, Eve, and the gang in Portland.

Other Thoughts:

-The epigraph quoted Shakespeare’s A Midsummers Night’s Dream. Wu quoted several lines from Shakespeare. His knowledge of the Bard isn’t limited to Shakespeare’s aforementioned wonderful comedy. He quoted Hamlet as he prepared to jump from the cliff. Monroe, too, quoted Shakespeare’s aforementioned wonderful fairy tale comedy. He could’ve thrown in Sonnet 33 as well in wooing Juliette.

-“Blind Love” was not without awkward dialogue and awkward character interaction, which is one of this show’s marvelous peculiarities. Diana, out of nowhere, told Juliette, the person responsible for beheading Kelly, how much she liked Kelly. I’m sure Diana will never learn about what happened there. Also, Diana told Juliette that she’s sad because she, Juliette, is not Nick’s anymore. Well, that’s because of the whole beheading thing.

-Sean Calder wrote the episode. Aaron Lipstadt directed it.

The Vampire Diaries "The Lies Will Catch Up to You" Review

Ever since Kai cast his sleeping beauty spell on Elena, The Vampire Diaries’ writers made redemption a key aspect of the final two seasons. Can Damon and Stefan atone for and redeem themselves after over a century of murders and evil acts? Their afterlife looks bleak because of the deal they struck with Cade. The souls of the Salvatore brothers belong to Cade. Stefan and Damon said in “The Lies Will Catch Up To You” to Cade and Kai respectively that they hope they can use their time now to make up for their evil. Is that possible? It’s the show’s question to its audience; not my question to myself and my imaginary readers.

There are varying levels of being good and bad, of atonement and redemption, in this fictional world. There’s Kai who owns that he’s not a good person after half-heartedly pursuing an escape route from hell during the episode but who ultimately decides to continue being the bad boy by disappearing with Elena after he desiccates Damon. There’s Dorian, the intern, whose father and sister were murdered by Stefan during his bloody road trip with Klaus seasons ago, who thinks killing Stefan will be the justice he seeks (only it isn’t). Then, there’s the Stefan and Damon. Stefan can’t change the past; he can only make up for it with his remaining days.  He essentially pulled an Angel in his hospital recovery bed when he told Caroline that he needed to leave Mystic Falls alone and atone for his past, or if not Angel, he’s Jules at the end of Pulp Fiction, recognizing that he is the tyranny of evil men but now trying real hard to be a shepherd. And Damon wants to be good for Elena.

Sometimes, maybe at all times, people who’ve hurt others in their past can only forgive themselves, because it is impossible to return to the past and change it, and resolve never to do those hurtful things, whatever those are, again. “Be the change you want to be in the world,” to use Gandhi’s words. But TVD’s so consistently wishy-washy with morality and its gray characters. These characters personify the inequities of the selfish that Jules quotes from Ezekial. They’ve been driven by self-preservation of their supernatural pack. Humans have always been collateral damage. When Alaric scolds Damon for dragging Bonnie into his bad plan with Kai, Alaric becomes a hypocrite. Damon’s tactics helped him and everyone along their way. It’s not a moral stance when it doesn’t work for you anymore, as Jake Tapper said on Thursday after a presidential press conference. The last two seasons of redemptive introspection has been a bit of a chore to watch.

“The Lies Will Catch Up To You” wasn’t a great episode. Chris Wood in his full episode return as Kai was great, though Kai and Damon mostly meandered around town until he, again, made it harder for Damon to achieve happiness with Elena.  The Dorian/Stefan storyline repeated Stefan’s story from “I Went to the Woods” last season. Caroline and Matt spent their part of the episode undermining the whole ‘moral redemption’ theme of the last two seasons as they systematically re-wipe the memories of all the citizens who’ve lost someone because of Stefan. Bonnie and Cade served to enlighten us about the private dimension Bonnie created in her grief, and the uncontrollable twin siphoning seems like a setup for the Cade endgame that could happen as early as next week if we’re lucky.

TVD still hasn’t hit indulged in that sweet, sweet nostalgia in its final episodes, but there’s still three episodes to go. Who else is ready to stop hearing about bells, sirens, and hell?

Other Thoughts:

-The CW aired a short preview teaser for the March 10th finale in the middle of the episode that showed Elena and Stefan in what looked like the halls of Mystic Falls High. This teaser made moot Kai’s autonomy as a villain. For anyone who didn’t already know, now they know Elena will wake up. We don’t know how, of course. Perhaps Bonnie dies and Elena wakes, but that’s not bloody likely.

-I laughed hard at the scene with the twins at Caroline’s.

-In 2 days, Stefan was impaled and shot. He's not good at being human.

-Kai was tremendous. Everything Chris Wood did was gold: that scene when Damon called Bonnie and Kai said, “Let her know I said ‘hi’’; the physical comedy of him leaving the back of Damon’s car; the detail about Kai tweeting again that Alaric gave.

-Tony Solomons directed the episode. Neil Reynolds wrote it.

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.