Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review: The Event "Face Off"

Non Spoiler Review:
After weeks of flatlining, the status quo gets a big kick in the junk. As expected, a standoff begins at the cathedral as Sophia attempts to use her leverage to secure everyone's release, but Martinez has turned into George W. Bush. Unfortunately, Sophia is Osama Bin Ladin. As a result, a landmark falls victim to their mutual pissing contest. More Sean and Vicky is endured, though it's a level more tolerable than Leila, and it's a matter of just an episode before they fall into bed together. They're off to France in pursuit of Dempsey, who is off on some bizarre archaeological shenanigans.

This is probably one of the more pivotal episodes for the overall plot as several key characters are advanced—Simon's constant cell phone usage is coming back to haunt him. The detainees get a thorough shakeup. And even the war room might be shut down for a week! However, any sense of drama is bogged down by endless conversations and debates, and a hell of a lot of footage of marines running, climbing, sniping, jumping, etc, around the cathedral. 

Spoilers Now!
Sean and Vicky escape the fundraiser by running really fast. As she changes in front of him Vicky announces she's done now that she helped him with Jarvis. But Sean is all "You're done when I say you're done." Remember the Internet? And his hacking powers? Get him to France and he'll worry about the rest. Or her kid goes viral.

Lee decides to make an appearance and catch up with Sterling. As they join the president in the war room, Martinez calls Sophia and tells her to surrender peacefully. And no sass this time! But she won't give up. 

Sophia wants Thomas to give her access to the portal to get everyone out, but it takes time (oddly enough) to get through the security protocols with Gerard in the Himalayas. Buchanan suspects there are special forces outside (he was in Korea), just as Leila walks up and says "Hi, remember me?". He's surprisingly not that upset to see her in mortal danger (like us).  Or even care who's looking after Sam.

Sophia calls Simon to see what options she has. He and Sterling are hoping to ensure they can interrogate the prisoners, but Martinez is a hawk now. Sophia tells Lee their planet is dying, and they can't surrender now. Earth has become their last hope.

Thomas calls Gerard and needs the portal activated for 188 people, but Gerard pulls a Montgomery Scott and says "I canna do it!" That uses way too much fuel and it will take hours for him to load enough uranium rods to transport them. Sofia suggests they use what fuel he has for something else.

One of Thomas' men shoots a recon man, prompting Martinez to order them to go in. Sophia phones him to tell him not to engage his men, but he hangs up. She gives the order to Gerard to take it down.

The war room begins shaking and the president is rushed out. The Washington Monument abruptly topples (apparently bringing down a large building takes less power than one person). Martinez orders the men to stand down. He gets ready to announce to the country the city is under a terrorist attack. Sophia phones him all bad ass, threatening to destroy Washington if he doesn't deliver three buses to get her people out in one hour.

Vicky managed to secure a private jet after calling in a lot of favors. She wants to talk to her son so Sean sets up a video link on his laptop. Her mom tells her terrorists blew up the Washington Monument. Sean has used his Google skills to learn Dempsey has a company that does archaeological digs, and has one now in the French mountains. 

Dempsey arrives in the Jura Mountain Range and is brought to see a recent discovery—a dozen containers made in 2000 BC. Dempsey seems to think they're older than that (as if he has firsthand experience, perhaps?). They're inscribed in an unknown language and there are more inside the cave but Dempsey is furious his archaeologist entered the chamber without his approval. That's unfortunate, he says, and shoots him.

Dempsey enters the cave and looks upon the wall, which shows drawings of white guardian angels, surrounding a really big figure. He says guardian angels are real, because Oprah says so. He's got a tattoo on his wrist that matches one of the hieroglyphs, too.

Sophia and Thomas have an argument about the untrustworthyness of humans but they eventually make up and have a hug. Which thoroughly pisses off Thomas' girlfriend who continues to limp around holding a grudge about the whole shooting herself in the knee thing.

Sterling asks to speak to Martinez alone—he's remembered where he saw Thomas before. He was the lab tech at the hospital when they gave Simon his blood test. Sterling has been monitoring Simon's encrypted phone calls and is close to breaking them. Busted!

Simon is making one of those calls to Sophia and is pretty angry she's threatening the president. Sterling is monitoring it and is close to breaking the code. Sophia tells him they used all their fuel on the monument, but the rest is all a bluff. They're defenseless.

Driving in the French mountains, Sean is wakened by his alarm to enter his code. Vicky takes particular notice (perhaps she's annoyed he could have overslept and her mother and son would be killed). Their contact in France is named Henry. He has an outrageous French accent, and over a lot of wine, reveals he and Vicky were both CIA and she got the blame for one of her superior's mistakes. He tells Sean that Vicky doesn't do anything she doesn't want to do. And Sean shares a puppy dog sex look with her. 

Leila's upset with her dad about the terrorist attack. She thinks they're all monsters, but Buchanan says humans will always hunt them. And now they'll treat her the same way, so she has to come with them.

Sophia gives her people a pep talk before everyone loads onto the buses. Thomas has pretty much relinquished power back to her. Meanwhile, the phone message is decrypted just as the buses pull out, and Martinez learns that the threat is a bluff. He orders the military to take them out now. 

An Apache helicopter heads off the convoy and blows up the first bus. Sophia is all WTF? Luckily the major cast is inside the second and third buses. Gerard has fuel enough for one vehicle now, he tells Thomas (so we go from no fuel to teleport even one person, to a whole bus in an hour!). Thomas and Sophia remain in separate buses. Sophia advises they surrender, but Thomas orders Gerard to lock coordinates on Sophia, and tells his mother he's willing to sacrifice himself. 

Martinez gives the go-ahead to blow up Sophia's bus, but Thomas' pulls ahead. They share a brief look before the helicopter fires. Luckily for Leila, she's on Sophia's bus, and the portal opens and swallows it up.

The Event needed a good massacre, but the pacing is still tedious, and did we really need to go through all the infighting to get to a place where Sophia is back in charge? Collapsing the Washington Monument was likely not the best thought out decision on her part.

Dempsey's crazy storyline feels really out of place, unless he turns out to be some immortal Atlantean or something. Have the aliens been on Earth in the distant past? Given the lack of any science whatsoever, it's questionable if the writers would explain the human appearance of the extra-terrestrials at all.

Again there was way too much talk, talk, talk this week, without actually saying anything useful—like Sophia being honest with the president and maybe avoiding all the bloodshed in the first place?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: Being Human (USA) "Dog Eat Dog"

Non Spoiler Review:
Being Human continues to improve, this week delivering on the mysterious Dutch—the Pennsylvania vampires we last saw hanging in the barn. They're a hoot, and promise a lot of trouble for Bishop and Aidan. But their high maintenance demands lead to a really bad situation for Josh, allowing Aidan's actions to finally catch up with him.

This week also brought an interesting flashback to the 50s, with a new perspective on the Bishop/Aidan dynamic. The writers don't let anything fall by the wayside, dealing with the fallout from Bernie's death, and Josh's involvement with the vampires, among others. It carried a lot of weight that will have lasting effects on the Aidan/Josh/Sally friendship.

Unfortunately the final package was insufficient to bring it to its conclusion. I was left disappointed when the climax abruptly resolved itself after the commercial break offscreen. And though we're left with some ominous threads yet to come, it was a big cheat for this episode, at least.

Spoilers Now!
Rebecca doesn't take the Bernie news well at all. She even invokes Aidan's human son, which touches a nerve. Bishop shushes them both, as apparently The Dutch are here—ultra-orthodox vampires from the old country who seem to maintain control over the various families. Aidan doesn't want to stick around for that.

Sally is lamenting she doesn't get to do things like Josh and Aidan and doesn't seem to impact their lives as they go off and have experiences she can't (well...ya). But when Josh goes to take the garbage out around the alley Sally hears a commotion and finds him gone.

Flashback—1950s and Bishop's girlfriend is a human and it's her birthday and she's sad about getting old. But she doesn't want to be turned, as that's unnatural. So Bishop is sad as she walks off to work, and James Dean Aidan appears, urging him to drop her and move on. He's there to bring him to the family, who needs him now. Just turn her, he suggests. She'll thank him.

Back in the present, Bishop and Marcus are standing watch over the four coffins as they open. The leader Haggeman rises, wanting blood. He's been asleep for fifty years. 

Josh awakens in a cage. His captor is an old man named Douglas who knows he's a werewolf. He's called The Professor and works for the vampires. It's gonna be a gladiator-style dogfight, with the vampires watching for sport. And by the way, Douglas is the other dog. He's been there for years and years, and doesn't try to escape because he's afraid he would hurt someone. Imprisoned beneath the funeral home, he's contained.

The Dutch are pretty hard to please and don't agree with all this new-fangled modernity. Aidan does show up at the funeral home to greet them, but when they're led down to the basement, there's Josh and Douglas, and Aidan says nothing. The two are ordered to strip while the creepy vampires examine them. Bishop whispers to Aidan this was all very spur of the moment.

Flashback—Bishop meets with The Dutch who seem to favor Aidan over him. They abruptly kill the previous owner of the funeral home, Carlos, who was Bishop's maker. Bishop does not rise up to defend him, even after he allowed him to carry out his heresy under his roof, Haggeman notes. But they'll help him back on his feet by giving him Boston—if he drops the girl.

Aidan runs home to a frantic Sally, but he already knows about Josh. He tries to find his keys to the funeral home, but Sally decides to act on her own and appears to Josh and Douglas. Josh is in no mood to hear about Aidan.

Aidan then goes to Rebecca to help him and sway Marcus to get his keys. Sally appears, recognizing her from the video. Rebecca refuses to help and leaves Sally to rake Aidan over the coals for not taking a stand and giving up the life he's built.

Flashback—Aidan thinks Bishop is being a hypocrite for not giving up his girl when he forced him to give up his family back in the day. Bishop can't lose her. Well, then Aidan says he can't support or trust Bishop anymore. So there. Break up. He'll renounce him as his maker.

In the present, Aidan goes to Bishop and says he'll come back to him if Josh is freed, but he's already being led into the ring and chained up. Bishop goes to The Dutch and tells them the older wolf is sick and they should cancel, as it would be unfair. He suggests they just watch Josh transform and leave it until next time.

Haggeman suggests he have one of his men fight him, as he has soooo many vampires to spare. Marcus comes up to say there was a problem, and then the doors open and wolfy Douglas enters. Both werewolves circle one another.

The next scene is Josh in his room and Aidan is sitting with him. He killed Douglas, apparently (!?). Aidan admits they didn't lock Josh back up because he agreed to go back to them, at least for a little while. He has to repay Bishop's favor. 

Aidan admits to being scared and selfish and it was really Sally who saved him. After what he saw in there, Josh doesn't see how Aidan can go back to it, especially since their house was all his idea in the first place.

Flashback—Bishop sees his nurse girlfriend at work, kisses her, and says they won't have to talk about vampires anymore. If she remains, he's reminded of his weakness and he has to be strong like he used to be. So he strangles her. 

Aidan arrives with Bishop to entertain The Dutch with a night on the town. Aidan wants to know what they're doing there, and Bishop admits they both know tomorrow they're going to kill Bishop. And they walk off with them.

The Verdict:
The Dutch were suitably creepy, and the insight into the gangland style organization of the vampire world was a good addition to the show's mythology. Bishop seems to be taking his imminent death pretty well, so he undoubtedly has something planned. Especially welcome was Sally (finally) participating in the goings on with Aidan and Josh, and taking an active role in trying to help matters.

All that neat stuff was completely overshadowed by an ill-conceived ending, and a big slap on the wrist for the complete mess of the werewolf fight. For a title of Dog Eat Dog, to show the wolves circling one another, cut to a commercial, and come back to a little chitchat between Aidan and Josh is completely unacceptable (I realize the CGI would be expensive, but come on). Telling us that Josh is upset for committing murder really lacks any impact when we don't have a sense of what happened at all. Boo.

The show desperately needs an Aidan/Josh flashback to put their friendship into some kind of perspective, because right now Josh is letting Aidan off the hook on a lot of stuff—murder, vampire snuff films, creating vampire children, killing vampire children, getting kidnapped, and now he's forced to kill someone! That's a ridiculous amount of baggage to have between friends, yet Josh just keeps forgiving everything. Implausible.

Review: Outcasts "Episode 1"

Non Spoiler Review:
Outcasts is a BBC sci-fi series focusing on the human colony on planet Carpathia. The story begins with the settlement of Forthaven in its tenth year as a transport ship approaches. Its arrival is greeted with surprise and hope, given it's been five years since the last vessel and all contact with Earth has since been lost.

The situation on the ground is in a state of flux, as president Tate's regime, with his head of protection, Stella, governs Carpathia seemingly with a pacifistic ideology, but that doesn't sit well with Mitchell Hoban (Battlestar Galactica's Jamie Bamber) and his comrades in the expeditionary forces charged with exploring their new home. They believe their utopia is growing more and more oppressive.

This first episode was a strong beginning. Though some of the accents were a bit tough (child Linus was difficult to understand at some points), the character introductions and backstory were handled pretty well with a lot of stuff to work with over the season. We were thrown into the initial conflict brewing with Mitchell right at the start, and it culminates in a very dark ending for a first episode, promising that this could get into some weighty themes.

The series is filmed in South Africa, and the visuals are suitably unfamiliar enough to stand in for an alien world that isn't too alien. There's no sign of Carpathian native fauna at the moment, but the special effects are well done and serve to accent the story—vistas of the colony ship orbiting the planet, and the frontier town look of the settlement built up around the massive landing shuttle. The setting of Forthaven is the right mix of technology and rustic community—thrown-together architecture that is believable for a town that's had a decade to grow.

Outcasts has been compared to Battlestar Galactica in its dark view of humanity, and one certainly gets a sense of that from the premiere. For fans of BSG, the colony could easily be a callback to New Caprica ten years on. There's a strong sense that this is going to be a character-heavy drama, with a lot of interesting people to develop and broader plotlines set into motion. There are some additional science fiction elements thrown into the mix—mystery viruses and alien weather, for starters. Plus, the ending has a sufficiently head-scratching shocker to bring me back.

Spoilers Now!
As CT-9 approaches Carpathia, the captain attempts to raise someone on the ground, unsure if there's anyone down there. After a five year journey, they've suffered thermal shield damage, which is going to make landing on the surface difficult.

Mitchell returns to the settlement of Forthaven from exploring the frontier. President Tate and head of security Stella Isen greet him, but he's not supposed to be bringing weapons into their community (a new rule). He reminds Stella they're not pacifists, but expeditionaries, but Tate advises him everyone will respect the new regulations.

Tate is drawn away as communication has been made with CT-9. The captain advises of the damage. Tate says it's been five years since their last transport of colonists arrived. As far as the captain knows this is the last ship, as they lost all contact with other vessels in their flotilla after leaving Earth. Contact with Earth has been lost, as well, and the captain has little information for him aside from adding that if there are people left, they're not having an easy time of it.

Tate begins an ongoing conversation with the captain over the course of the episode as CT-9 makes repairs. Though he won't say, he is very worried about the condition of the ship and there is mention of previous dangerous entries into the atmosphere. He tells him Carpathia is warm and hospitable, but with occasional white outs caused by their imposing lunar system.

The captain advises Tate about the growing panic among the passengers, but they can't attempt entry until the ship is ready. Tate asks to address the ship and gives them a pep talk about how welcome they are on Carpathia. The planet is named after the rescue ship that attended to survivors of the Titanic. After ten years they have food and energy, and their expeditionary teams continue to make exciting discoveries. That seems to do the job, and the waiting game begins.

Meanwhile, Mitchell's son Linus recites Tyger, Tyger as his mother Karina comes in. His father returns home just as she happens to be checking her phone regarding a message that says Mitchell Hoban update

He's reunited with his son and advises Karina that they're nearly ready to break away from the colony and establish their own settlement. Mitchell asks her to trust him. He's excited to explore the planet beyond Forthaven. When she goes to leave he gets more agitated, asking her if she'd ever betray him. No one can find out what they're doing.

She's a bit too vague for his satisfaction, saying she only wants to do what's right for Linus. When she's gone he goes through some of their belongings and finds buried in Linus' things a psychological profile on him that describes Mitchell as suffering from multiple personality disorder. 

Rumour of the ship's arrival spreads, leading Tate to make a public announcement about the transport's troubles. Stella is especially concerned but is optimistic because she's hoping her family is on board.

Karina and her friend Fleur are local security and on patrol. They come across two men appearing to be in the midst of a deal of some kind. One of them is Tipper, a local black market dealer. They all share some friendly and flirtatious banter, but Karina is going to write them up with some violations. But then the white sands begin to swirl and an approaching white out rushes through before they have much time to find cover.

The cloud of dust ends just as abruptly. Karina is okay, but as she turns to get  up a figure walks up and bashes her head in. Fleur finds her and takes her to the hospital. Stella is alerted and updates Tate about the situation, and Mitchell now appears to be missing. Both Stella and Tate are aware of his plan to break off from Forthaven. Karina was a spy after all.

Tipper is also a suspect, so is interrogated by another member of security, Cass Cromwell and Fleur. Stella arrives to use a process called deep brain visualization that will tell if he's lying or not, so he agrees, avoiding her having to get a warrant. The machine allows Stella to see his memories, and it's apparent that he's innocent.

Karina's condition is unchanged. Cass is one of the few willing to defend Mitchell. He hasn't always been so unstable, and reminds them he did a lot for them in the early days. He and Fleur are tasked with finding him, so first go to see a man named Jack Holt.

Jack has no sympathy for Karina, as she was always spying on Mitchell. He's told to advise them if he hears from Mitchell, but after they leave we see he's hiding there. Mitchell will head out to the lake and orders Jack to follow him out there with the rest of their group. The weapons ban is a sign that the government is on to them, so they need to go ahead with their plans now. Jack's not entirely sure the time is right.

Meanwhile, Tate makes inquiries about the passenger manifest on behalf of Stella. But she appears to have some issues herself. She's off using her brain machine to relive memories of her husband and daughter. Later, she arrives at a bar where Tipper is hanging out, advising him that he was cleared of any suspicion, and, oh, by the way, do you want to go somewhere? 

Cass and Fleur debate the idea that Karina might have been spying on Mitchell. Fleur is very much a pacifist and holds the ideals of Tate and Stella, so there's no love lost between her and Mitchell. But Cass still holds some loyalty to him.

Mitchell has showed up at Tate's office for a confrontation about his wife's spying. Tate says she did her duty. Mitchell accuses him of being in love with his wife, and admits he did, and she's far too good for him. Then Mitchell reveals that they are still out there, beyond the fence, brooding after he spared them from Tate's executions. One word from him, and they'll destroy Forthaven.

Mitchell is about to kill Tate when Cass comes in. He backs away, gun drawn, telling Cass he's never breathed a word about whatever it is he knows. He backs out, opts to shoot one of the staff, and runs off. This time, he's heading to the school, where he throws the teacher in the closet and runs off with Linus (who is still practicing Tyger, Tyger).

After causing such a ruckus, Tate orders Cass and Fleur to go off in search. He won't confirm that Karina was spying on Mitchell, despite Cass' questions. Then it's off to Jack's, where Cass and Fleur tell him they'll close down his base of operations if he doesn't help. Jack says Mitchell is their leader, and has too many followers to be stopped.

But Jack does go to meet Mitchell and Linus outside of town to talk. Jack doesn't think they're ready for this yet, but Mitchell continues to act erratically and will hear no opposition. With new doubts, Jack returns to Fleur and asks for some assurances before he cooperates. He tells them there's a secret place by a lake where Mitchell's planning the new settlement, so she and Cass leave to find them. 

Tate goes to Karina's bedside and it's obvious he has some feelings for her. Stella comes in and he reveals that Mitchell said the others are still out there. She seems to think he's lying.

Tate returns to command to continue his chat with the captain. He admits his children were killed by a disease called C-23 when they first arrived, a virus that created a halo around the heads of its victims. His wife couldn't come to terms with it and died. He's happy to hear more children are arriving on the ship. But they had to make tough decisions to cure the disease—quarrantine and that sort of thing. Things aren't perfect, he muses.

Stella admits to Tate she's been using the DBV on herself to remember her husband. Apparently that can be dangerous, and he warns her to be careful. Then she admits to picking up Tipper at the bar. It's his turn to fess up and says her daughter Lily is on board the ship, but Daniel isn't. He didn't want to tell her given the tenuous situation.

Cass loses some of their supplies in a bit of a mishap on the trail so they decide to set up camp before nightfall, but they hear strange noises and then someone attacks them when they're sleeping, but they scare them away. They don't know who it could be, given there shouldn't be anyone else out there.

Cass and Fleur arrive at the lake. Mitchell greets them, concealing his weapon. Fleur tells him Karina likely won't recover, but Mitchell won't come back with them. He says they all tried to start over again in a new home and messed things up again. There are things about Tate they don't know. Then He pulls his gun on Cass, and challenges Fleur (a pacifist)  she'll have to stop him from killing him. And she does. She shoots him. 

The captain gets his final shield updates. They attempt re-entry. But that isn't enough and it looks like the ship isn't going to make it, so the captain releases the emergency shuttles, and all contact is lost.

Cass buries Mitchell as Fleur looks after Linus, while above them they realize the colony ship is breaking up in a fireball. Linus sees the falling debris and recites his poem. Karina dies. Tate tells Stella there are survivors, as they've detected the escape shuttles coming down. And Julius Berger, an architect of the evacuation program on Earth, was also on the transporter. Both are pensive about what it will mean if he's survived.

As an escape shuttle enters the atmosphere, panicked passengers prepare for impact, and one in particular seems unusually calm.

The Verdict:
The premiere did a great job setting in motion plenty of storylines and establishing a lived-in world for Forthaven and Carpathia. There's a lot of stuff going on beneath the surface implying some sinister goings-on in the past when the colony was being established. 

There's very little to critique given it is the beginning, and the show is finding its footing. But I found the whole Tyger, Tyger bit with Linus to be more annoying than anything, given it didn't really have much of an impact (despite him reciting it every five minutes).

Mitchel is dead?! I'm not sure what the story is with him, as I thought Jamie Bamber was a regular, so his death came as quite a surprise.

Tate appears an idealist, but there's a lot of ominous talk about bad stuff that went down in the early days, and he seems willing to make harsh decisions if necessary—very Machiavellian despite the pacifist veneer. Stella comes across somewhat the same way, but a little more easy going (as taking home Tipper attests too). It's interesting to consider the fifteen year stretch of time since leaving Earth for these colonists. The fact that Stella would leave her family for that long in the hopes they would join her in the future speaks to quite a long range view of things. But a lot of them would be scientists and valuable members of society to warrant passage on the first transports.

Cass, Fleur and Jack all seem likable, and a lot of their time is spent chatting about the old days on Earth and what might have happened back home (given they have all left people behind). It is ten years in, so that's a lot of history to have built up together in a very intimate survivalist setting.

It will be interesting to see if the writers keep Outcasts out of hard science techno babble, or address some of the key questions about where Carpathia actually is—it can't be any farther than five light years at the maximum, but that limits its star system possibilities. Lots of questions—what are the white outs? What was the story of the mystery disease? Who attacked the camp? Who are still alive that Mitchell didn't kill? What's the story on the DBV machine and Stella's reliance on it? Will we see some of the native fauna?

Ultimately it looks as though Outcasts is first and foremost a character drama, and this premiere proved it's on the right track with that. The destruction of the colony ship shows it's got a very dark tone, as well. I'm definitely sticking with the series if it maintains this level of quality.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review: The Event "A Message Back"

Non Spoiler Review:
Hmm...What can we expect? Martinez and Sterling standing around the war room watching stuff on the big tellie. Dempsey being creepy. Thomas being vague. Sophia being pensive. Sean and Vicky dressing up in posh outfits and wigs. And the plot of the week—Thomas receives an answer to his space telegram...and takes the whole hour to tell anyone.

This barely warrants comment at all. The Event grows increasingly more tedious to sit through. It's ironic when one considers the writing brushes off any need to explain details in order to forward the plot—breaking easily into a presidential fund raiser, managing to coordinate hundreds of people to meet from around the world in the course of a day, messages crossing light years within weeks, etc.—yet the story still advances at a snail's pace.

"I never got to go to fancy dress parties with my ex, Leila."
Spoilers Now!
Alarms go off at a radio telescope as a message comes through, and the geeky scientist is pretty excited until his partner shoots him in the head. He's a sleeper, who calls Thomas to tell him what the message says. Thomas is upset by it, so orders him to copy it and wipe the data clean. Something terrible has happened back home.

Dempsey is hanging out at the park creeping little kids he can recognize as special, so he tells the new creepy doctor character to gather up one particular girl so he can keep using his de-aging juice.

Sean uses his computer powers to secure Vicky's help—he threatens her with a virus (computer virus, that is) he has in place to put her daughter and mother's identities on the Internet if he doesn't enter a code every two hours. So she confesses she worked for Dempsey, but she already tried to take him down and he's since vanished. He and VP Ray worked together on the president's assassination attempt, so Sean has a bright idea to go talk to him.

Speaking of Ray, he shows up to applause at the president's war room meeting (not from Martinez and Sterling, who just give him the stink eye). Martinez is prepared to bring in the marines to get Sophia, which violates something called the constitution, or some crazy thing, but he doesn't care. He's out to prove he's not going to be pushed around by no aliens.

Sophia is angry for Thomas playing her as a fool, but her son phones and tells her they have a response to the message that changes everything. They can't be divided any longer. Of course, he'll only explain in person. He's assembling all their people to tell them, and he hopes she'll come. It'll be catered.

Ray wants to put the past behind them, but Martinez prefers he stay out of sight. Ray says if he tries to stop him he'll expose everything, which leads to Martinez ruffling his lapels. Sterling interrupts them with news that Sophia's location has been tracked and the marines are on their way.

Ray's attending a party fundraiser in Washington that night and Vicky suggests Sean hack the guest list. They find a pleasant young couple who already have an invite and tie them up, knock them out and steal their identities. Simple.

After Sophia and Buchanan opt to go to the meeting, the marines surround the house. But Sterling advises that 200 other people just got a text like Sophia (hopefully it wasn't for lower long distance rates), so they watch them leave and Martinez guesses they're all heading to a big alien meeting. He has her followed to find them all in one spot.

Vicky and Sean get into the party (via technology and plot devices) and meet Ray. Even in a horrible blond wig, he recognizes Vicky, who threatens he better cooperate or he's a dead man (she snuck in a gun, too). They go somewhere private to talk and Sean tells him he's going to help him take down Dempsey and just wants the proof to put him away. But Dempsey's threatening his family, Ray says and he has no proof. Sean decides to get rough and advises he has nothing to lose, so maybe he'll kill him. Ray admits Dempsey left for France. The secret service start banging on the door (the real guests woke up and called the police) so Vicky and Sean escape through the window.

The aliens, including Sophia meet at an abandoned cathedral. Carlos has shown up too, and somehow Leila has tagged along and sneaks around in the background. Sophia meets Thomas and wants to speak privately first, but he won't have any more secrets. Martinez and his war room detect over 200 heat signatures inside. Sterling says not only Sophia is inside, but Thomas! Apparently not everyone is there, as Lee is nowhere to be found. Must have had the day off.

Thomas announces that the message has been answered. Their calculations were wrong and their sun is starting to go supernova, which is much sooner than they anticipated. They have two weeks before lethal gamma rays reach their solar system (?) and the planet will be uninhabitable in less than a year. The only choice is to bring everyone to Earth and make it their home.

One of the guards outside notices the troops assembling and warns Thomas, so he prepares to make his escape. The marines prepare to storm the cathedral while Sophia watches indecisively.

Yawn. Here's what I learned—The entire secret service must be fired. All the detainees around the planet can apparently rendezvous at the same place in a day. Thomas is a drama queen. Martinez doesn't care about the constitution. Carlos is a horrible babysitter. Hal Holbrook is too creepy to be on primetime. Space messages can travel faster than light. Supernova gamma rays take weeks their solar system. Next week I'm guessing we'll get a full hour of the marines laying siege to the cathedral, and someone will make a big deal about revealing information we already know.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Revew: V "Mother's Day"

"Would you say that's lavender? What do you think? Lavender? No?"
Non Spoiler Review!
What could be the final episode of V promised a cast cull and plenty of excitement. What we got was more of a checklist of items unfolding in the usual manner to push along the plot. That being said, the second half moved things along more briskly than the first. The two queens plotline is wrapped up, we get some deaths, though all of them happen in such an offhand manner there isn't really a sense of loss. We see the Visitors without their skin, and lots of Blissing and serpentine tails being lashed about (that appear to be extremely stretchy). As usual, multiple characters act foolishly and create disaster for everyone. The only saving grace was the guilty pleasure of watching Anna (literally) chew up the scenes with her over-the-top villainy.

V returns to the religious themes it loves to dance around, and perhaps that might have worked had it not been the end of the series. Something on this scale should have been at the forefront of the invasion rather than a spontaneous idea to try to Bliss humans as Anna decided last week.

The big reveal at the end lacked any punch, highlighting the writing flaws that focus more on standalone episodes than a serialized arc that promises build up and foreshadowing. A sad way to go out, if that's the case, given the string of failures the Fifth Column has already endured since Erica took over. If there is a season three, it will certainly be a changed dynamic. But the plotlines seem in such a mess I wonder if it's even worth it.

Never fails when you wear a white dress—impaled on spiky reptile tail.
Spoilers Now:
Erica wakes up in bed with Anna sitting there, and a gun on her. No one but her knows what it's like to have the fate of an entire species on her shoulders, Anna muses. "I'm nothing like you!" Erica protests. Anna shoots her. And Erica wakes up from her of course it's a dream. But she is sleeping with Hobbes again. It's going to be a big day, because today is when they take down Anna.

Lisa is fertile and ready to mate with Tyler. That's sufficient for some Anna gloating. But they haven't found the secret of the human soul yet, negative Marcus counters. Amy is the answer, she tells him. She'll help them Bliss humans. Marcus remains skeptical, but a terse I'm the queen! from Anna shuts him up. Then Amy runs in. She's had a dream something bad happened to her mommy, but Anna promises to never abandon her like her father. Lisa walks in on them hugging. 

Diana has contacted the resistance with an urgent message. Marcus informed her Anna's plans are moving along and they can't wait any longer for their coup. Erica's less of a fascist these days, so she asks for everyone's vote, but everyone agrees anyway. She orders Ryan to redeem himself and break Diana out. 

Lisa shows up in a coffin for some reason and has brought some V weaponry to Hobbes. But she didn't get Tyler off the ship and wants to know the plan. Erica needs to get Anna away from her security, so they'll fake Lisa's kidnapping. Oh, and by the way, Lisa will be the one to kill her.

Chad breaks the news that Lisa has been kidnapped, saying the Fifth Column has unprecedented demands—Anna's life in exchange for Lisa's. Anna watches on Vcam, sending her best tracker and readying her shuttle. 

Anna arrives at the embassy and meets with Paul and Erica who are acting FBI again. They've been instructed to bring her to Jack, and if she agrees to the trade, they'll take her to her daughter. Paul has a body double ready, but Anna says she must meet their demands. 

Anna opts to meet with Jack. She can't help but remind him his anti-V rhetoric has cost him his collar. God is telling him to do the Fifth Column's bidding? He doesn't answer to her, he counters. He was told she was to turn herself over in one hour with instructions in an envelope, at which point he'll be informed where they're holding Lisa. She also wants to someday meet his god, she whispers. 

She gives the envelope to her tracker who sniffs it and heads off to locate the human scent. He does this rather quickly, advising that Lisa's alone in a warehouse. The Fifth Column must have left already. Anna addresses the crowd gathered around the embassy. If anything happens to her she hopes the world with accept her daughter as they have her. Then she directs her agents to ensure Chad Decker is there when the FBI gets her daughter.

Hobbes is still with Lisa, though (tracker must have missed that) and then leaves after getting her ready for her mission. The gun is behind her in a desk. The FBI got an anonymous tip that Lisa was inside and arrives at the warehouse with Chad and crowds of people. Anna wants to adhere strictly to the Fifth Column's demands so she won't use a body double. Marcus advises her it's safe for her to go in.

Anna finds Lisa and unties her, then begins to rage about the Fifth Column. But she sees her daughter's reflection and watches her reach behind her to get a V gun. Anna starts going on about how worried she was, and realizes her human skin has made her feel emotions she felt when she might lose her. She turns around as Lisa hides the gun behind her, and walks over. Everything will change—there will be peace between humans and Visitors. Lisa sucks it up and embraces her as Anna confesses her love for her daughter. She slips the gun back in the desk.

Lisa comes out first, then Anna, leaving a horrified Erica and Chad. Anna goes to get interviewed by him, leaving Erica and Lisa to talk. Lisa says her mother's changed, but Erica is incensed that the entire plan is blown open. Lisa says they can trust her. She's merciless, Erica says. But no more merciless than you can be, Lisa snaps back.

Ryan gets on the mothership via shuttle, meeting with Joshua, who takes him to Diana's cell. They get Diana, who is sporting a funky white dress now. They contact Erica who informs her Lisa failed and they have to abort. But Diana won't go back to her cell and instructs Joshua and Ryan to gather her people.

It doesn't take long to assemble thousands of Vs on the mothership apparently, as Diana walks out among her people, her children. She explains Anna had her imprisoned and is ill-equipped to be their queen. The human soul must be embraced. Together they can live side by side. Her people kneel around her. Then Anna suddenly appears (no one saw her, Marcus and Lisa walk across the stage) and impales her with her tail and hoists her up above the crowd, throwing her down. Diana tells her with her dying breath that she's doomed her species.

That's how you kill your mother, Anna tells Lisa. Snap! Anna explains to the crowd (who isn't startled at all given they have no emotion) that Diana was imprisoned because she was stained with human emotion and would have subverted their species. If anyone defies her will they'll meet the same fate as her mother. Then she orders Lisa taken away, and, oh yes, everyone kneel. Joshua and Ryan are watching in the crowd, and Ryan says he's not leaving without Amy, so he scurries off.

Amy's in her funky bedroom when Ryan shows up. She's not happy to see him at all, and he tries to explain they have to leave before Anna finds out. But she won't go with him, and her lizard tail appears. He abandoned her and let her suffer, she says, and she'll never let him hurt her again. She strangles him with her tail and just like that breaks his neck. 

Erica calls Tyler and tells him to get off the ship now. She's kept things about the Vs and it's time he learned the truth. But Tyler wants to hear all that from Lisa herself, and tells her he loves her and hangs up. Meanwhile, Paul and Chris are listening to the whole thing, as they have Erica's house bugged. 

Chad reports world leaders are flocking to Anna after her selfless decision. Anna is pleased. And she finally brings Marcus into the loop that Lisa won't be mothering the species. She takes Marcus to Joshua, who is watching the queen egg hatch, and there's the first full frontal Visitor in the flesh. Anna tells them to put skin on her new daughter and ensure she looks exactly like Lisa. Tyler's in for a surprise!

Jack and Chad meet up with Erica. Hobbes has vanished and everything has been cleared out of their headquarters. No one can get a hold of him or Ryan. Erica's a bit upset with everything that's going on and Tyler still being on the ship and all. Bad day overall. She decides Jack is the only one who stuck to his beliefs while she became someone just like Anna. So they're friends again.

Marcus confesses to Anna that he watched her fall prey to emotion and betrayed her to her mother, so he offers up his death as punishment. She says no, given he acted on what he believed was best for their species. But she has learned emotion can be useful—it's how she stopped Lisa from killing her by preying on her vulnerability. Using it to manipulate humans will make her more powerful than ever. Grrr.

He's sad he can't give up any of the conspirators, given he only dealt with Lisa and Diana, but she pulls up the Fifth Column hostage video on Vcam and uses human technology (?) to unscramble the voices of the kidnappers. Uh oh. It's Chad. She tells Marcus to bring him to her (and don't betray her again, by the way, or she won't go so easy on him!). Joshua brings Lisa 2.0 in and she's just perfect. In fact she's apparently a completely functional mental adult, as well, so Anna sends her off to Tyler.

Lisa's waiting in bed as Tyler arrives and needs to talk. He says he heard that they don't really look like humans underneath and they're there to hurt everyone. That's just crazy, Lisa says. And seduces him.

Lisa 1.0 is being held in grandma's old home, and Anna welcomes her there. Anna won't kill her, because she wants her to suffer, and turns on the Vcam to watch her new sister having sex with Tyler. After they're done, Lisa opens her fangy mouth and kills him. Other Lisa screams.

Erica's still trying to reach Tyler but instead gets abducted from her home. She's tied up in a dark room and a shadowy figure emerges who is none other than Mike Donovan himself (!)—except he's named Lars. She's there because of what she knows and must now deal with the consequences. 

She's brought into a ginormous war room a mile beneath Manhattan that Lars suspiciously says can withstand a nuclear bomb or the destruction of a mothership (!)—obviously a graduate of the same school as Erica when it comes to planning Fifth Column operations. Poor Manhattan. This is Project Ares, a cabal of high ranking military and government leaders that long suspected the Vs were not of peace and have been on Earth a long time. And there's Chris and Paul! They've been tracking her long enough to know she can be trusted. This is humanity's last best hope.

Meanwhile a team of V heavies show up at the network and tell Chad he's to come with them to see Anna. It's not really a choice, either. Bye Chad.

Anna is dressed all in white and attempting to Bliss humanity, but Marcus thinks it will surely kill her. As her eyes bleed, Marcus tries to stop her. Then Amy arrives and tells her she can do it for her. So Amy takes over.

Alarms go off in the war room. The computers are detecting something is happening to people... everywhere, as around the world they dreamily stare up at the motherships as Amy's Bliss seduces them. Anna praises her as a miracle.

Erica gets up to the surface (maybe not the best idea if she was in a secure location and safe) and sees everyone in a trance as far as the eye can see. Oh, and there's Jack, too, and it looks like his faith has been turned to something else now. The camera pulls back from the mothership and out into orbit where the masses of Visitor ships lie in wait.

Devotion to the Visitors is finally manifested on a worldwide scale. But there appears to be little room for maneuvering if it comes back next season—does everyone just wake up from the V's rapture and move on?

Is V actually commenting that faith can be swayed so easily? That's a bold statement, which falls short given it's had so little play on the series. If this had been an ongoing theme that the masses could be moved at Anna's whims, the final moments would have proved a culmination to that agenda, rather than just another plan of the week.

If this is the end of the series, the finale is quite a dark one, with the defeat of humanity and Anna victorious. Given the Fifth Column never really struck any lasting victories under Erica, it serves as a monument to her failure, despite the reveal of the Ares Project.

After all the incriminating talk in her house over how many weeks, it takes the Ares Project until this moment to determine she can be trusted to be part of their cabal (yes, they call themselves a cabal). She was sleeping with Hobbes there, for Pete's sake.

It was really unclear just where Marcus' loyalties lay through the whole episode. He was giving everyone, including Erica, suspicious stares, and even filled in Diana about the situation, yet is suddenly loyal to Anna again. What was the ultimate purpose of taking him out of commission anyway, leaving Thomas with nothing to do now.

The soap operish moments provided the most entertainment, including the fully grown, fully functional Lisa 2.0 who is apparently an adult mentally, as well as physically. Anna's delight in her grandiose revenge schemes against her mother and daughter brought some chuckles, showing she's likely the most emotional of all the Visitors.

What exactly constitutes loyalty to one's queen? Anna kills the mother of a lot of the Visitors right in front of them, yet they do nothing at all. That means Anna's rule was never in question from the start if she could take over with a few angry words without any worry of repercussions from Diana's subjects.

As much as I hated Tyler and Ryan, their deaths were so casually brushed off, it just felt like the writers were checking off an itinerary for the episode. I am a bit surprised Lisa 1.0 survived (especially given how her choice pretty much doomed everyone), but they do need a queen in waiting to write themselves out of a bind if necessary.

I feel like ranting about all the wasted storylines that went nowhere—Karen and Thomas? Tyler's on and off phosphorous levels? Hobbes' absent dead-alive girlfriend? There seemed to be no desire to create a cohesive arc. While the advancement of the plot did benefit from this shortened season, the series has never really escaped its problematic beginnings—attempting to expand a series out of what was a successful miniseries, but never allowing it to evolve beyond its initial scope.

It would be nice to see V renewed just to imagine the crazy of a season three full scale war. A series like this needed a more adult venue on cable like AMC or HBO. I'm holding out hope that the forthcoming Falling Skies will pick up the many balls V dropped delivering a decent alien invasion.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review: Primer

Non Spoiler Review:
When I first watched Back to the Future, the final scene with Marty returning to the present to save Doc Brown from the terrorists had me scratching my head. Won't another Marty be arriving afterwards. And then another? And another...

Primer is a small but really thought-provoking film from 2004, and it seriously surpasses some of the best time travel movies. Shane Carruth wrote, directed and stars (as Aaron) in the film, along with David Sullivan (Abe).

Primer deals with some engineers who, on the side, attempt to assemble some patentable inventions out of their garage. Abe and Aaron are the primary players of this foursome, and when they discover their invention has achieved a practical form of time travel, they keep it to themselves and proceed to build a human size box that allows travel into the past.

This is an extremely well-thought out film that addresses a lot of the idiosyncrasies of time travel that many big budget movies ultimately fudge, overlook, or ruin entirely. Abe and Aaron have no grandiose notions aside from travelling a few hours into the past to buy stocks. They take great pains to not impact causality and create paradoxes—these are engineers, after all. But mistakes do happen, and ideas get a little bolder that start impacting events.

The first thirty minutes were a bit tough to get through, as it begins with a lot of random conversations introducing the characters and engineers discussing patents and experiments. It's filmed very low budget (something like $7000) but it does deliver an interesting look and feel once you get used to it. The equipment and eventual time travel tech is nothing outrageous and seems plausible when you buy into the concept with its own inherent logic.

Halfway through Primer, things get extremely complicated, and the consequences of these multiple time journeys suddenly unfold into a  tangled situation for Abe and Aaron. The movie becomes a mystery and a thriller as we're brought along with the main characters struggling to figure out what's going on. There were some genuinely creepy and disturbing elements, as random events occur that the characters can't explain, as well as mysterious physical maladies, and like Abe and Aaron we're left wondering what alternate timelines have suddenly disappeared altogether.

There are annoying aspects that could be off-putting to the average filmgoer—the narrator's voice is a bit overly dramatic at times. The conversations appear very unscripted, and so it's easy to lose key plot points as Abe and Aaron ramble on about mundane things, and I found myself rewinding and re-listening quite often. But the film is less than 90 minutes, so it does reach its climax quickly.

Be warned. Primer left me extremely confused, and I sat in rapt attention throughout. But I immediately wanted to rewatch it, and  the notions put forth prompted a lot of thought afterwards, much along the lines of Inception or Donnie Darko, so if that's your thing, it's very likely you'll love this and find it rewarding. Think of Primer as a challenge that ages well with multiple viewings.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Review: Being Human (USA) "I Want You Back (From the Dead)"

Non Spoiler Review:
Wow. This was a seriously dark episode, and for that alone it's the most powerful of the season (so far). The whole Bernie mess from last week explodes, creating the worst possible situation for Aidan yet (thanks to further Rebecca interference). It's hard to see how things can get worse for our favorite messed up vampire.

The secondary stories are actually quite decent, as well, including an epiphany for Sally after she meets a ghost she used to know in life. Josh is struggling with the idea of maintaining a relationship and his secret, prompting some rash decisions with Nora.

First, Sally. I'm pleased with what came out this week and I'm hoping it's the final push to make her a full member of the monster trinity. The writers have been very successful making Josh and Nora a couple we can root for. Of course, both were overshadowed by the terrible events with Aidan and Rebecca. It was one of those episodes that make you wonder if they're going to go there, and they do.

One other plus was the good balance of light humour here and there among the weighty stuff. No slapstick craziness at all. This is one I need to rewatch.

Spoilers Now!
Now that Aidan is pegged as a potential pervert, he avoids Bernie at all costs, including when he's getting bullied, and just walks away home. Sally chides him for not helping, but Aidan watches from the window and says Cindy would be after him with torches and pitchforks if he goes near him. And then Bernie is hit by a car trying to get away from the bullies.

Aidan rushes out, and with a frantic Cindy, gets a room for him at the hospital, but Bernie is in bad shape. Cindy later thanks him for his help as she sits by her son's bed. Aidan goes into a storage room and has a meltdown.

Hanging out in the haunted ward, Sally finds a familiar name on the wall—Nick—trying to get in touch with his dead parents. Sally goes to the beach where he hangs out and finds him there. She knew Nick back in college, but he's obviously been dead awhile too. They catch up on life, but he doesn't seem to want to stay and hang out for some reason, and head's off...leaving wet footprints behind. He's all she can talk about later when she chills with Josh. In fact, she wonders about the possibility of pursuing a relationship with him. 

Josh isn't much for advising about relationships given he's having second thoughts about his own and is worried about his werewolf issues. He tells Nora they should slow things down a bit. But she doesn't take the idea of no sex and seeing him less very well at all, and soon she's flirting with the doctors again.

Aidan pays a visit to the blood bar to lose himself in his sorrows. But when he gets a little rough with the clientele, it's Rebecca who throws him outside. He's feeling a tad guilty about Bernie, and Rebecca suggests he turn him. But he can't, which makes having that ability to save him all the worse.

Sally and Nick hang out again, and he's had quite a fulfilling unlife since he died. He's used his ghost powers to do lots of stuff like eavesdrop and learn languages and listen to college lectures. Then he starts to cough and has to run out. She goes out and tries to find him, following his wet footprints and finding him trapped in a bubble of water before abruptly disappearing. 

He comes to see her later at the beach to do some explaining. It's his big secret—he drowned. His leg was caught in an anchor rope, and everyday since he's relived it. He calls it his echo. But it's only five minutes of his day, and he has the rest of his time to his self, so he's just gotten used to it. He does confess to always having a crush on her, and Sally wishes she knew that back in the day, because it would have certainly changed things for her (and him). She can feel his kiss, though. And they vanish together in a cloud of energy, or as Josh calls it, their sex cloud.

So Bernie's dead, and Aidan is at the memorial when Cindy has a meltdown. It's a pretty tragic sight. Later, Aidan is sitting in the park brooding in his sunglasses when Rebecca comes over, telling him life doesn't have to be that miserable. And then Bernie comes running up, because Rebecca fixed him (!)

Aidan is so not impressed with that, but Rebecca assures him they can raise him on hospital blood. She did it for Aidan and they can be undead parents together. But while they're arguing, Bernie's disappeared. They just catch him as he's about to bite a little girl. But he assures him he won't hurt anyone because he's more a super-hero now. Aidan has to go to work, so he gets Rebecca to take care of him.

With Sally spending time with Nick at home, she suggests he try his drowning there instead of running off all the time to see if it helps. But he can't, and ends up disappearing again.

Aidan returns home to the neighbourhood and finds a crime scene on his street, with both bullying boys dead and their throats ripped open. Bishop is there, of course. He's very not impressed that they created a little vampire. He doesn't want to hear any regrets either, but Aidan fires back that he was the one who started it by turning Rebecca. This is why we don't turn kids! Bishop says angrily.

Aidan comes clean with Josh about Rebecca, Bernie and the boys. Everything! Josh takes that even worse than Bishop did. Aidan's behaving like a blood-sucking crack addict caught red-handed. They are best friends, Josh admits, but he thinks it's best that Aidan leaves.

Rebecca is not doing well as a vampire mom as Bernie doesn't want to eat his hospital blood. At their motel, Aidan tries to calm things down. Bernie wants to see his mother, but that can't happen, and Rebecca is yelling that Aidan needs to quit his job and leave for someplace with less people. Aidan calms Bernie down and takes him for a drive.

Sally is still trying to help Nick with his echo, thinking it's linked to something. That's when she begins to realize that she's doing the same thing with him as she did with Danny—rearranging her life to be with him. He assures her she doesn't have to fix him. But things are perfect for him, not for her. And that's her echo—she disappears into everyone else's problems. Death doesn't leave a lot of room for change, he muses.

Josh tells Nora there's something in his life, something private about him, that needs to stay that way. He doesn't know how else to deal with it. Nora doesn't want to be the tortured co-dependant girl and Josh doesn't want that for her either. But he doesn't want to be without her. Aw. She says she's seen bad things before, and shows a very scarred stomach (that Josh has somehow missed?). She admits to making some bad choices, too. 

Aidan takes Bernie into the woods to kill a deer. And he promises to teach him a way to do it so it doesn't hurt it. Aidan goes off to lead the deer around to him, and as Bernie watches the deer in silence, Aidan appears behind him and stakes him (!)

Aidan sits at home waiting for Josh. He admits he took care of the situation. Josh agrees he had to, and leaves him alone while Aidan sobs. All very sad.

Bishop thanks Marcus for taking care of those boys—almost as good as if Bernie had done it himself. But they're Aidan's only family and he shouldn't think about starting his own. Evil!

The Verdict:
Being Human left a lot of stuff to ponder this week. But it did address the age old question of why you don't make child vampires. Perhaps the whole descent into bad vampire parents was a bit quick, but it worked. And interesting that Aidan had no problem being around all that blood when Bernie was lying on the pavement.

I'm torn on the ending with Marcus killing the kids. On one hand it was more chilling that Bernie would have done that to his bullies, but after thinking on it, it makes Aidan's execution even more horrifying given Bernie had been truthful with him all along. Again, Bishop is pulling the strings. One wonders if Rebecca will be punished for her role in everything.

At last Sally's story brought her to the conclusion that she loses herself in her relationships. It might have worked a little better had Nick actually been kind of appealing, but all his secrecy added a creepiness factor to him that made it seem like he was hiding something nasty.

It's telling how much of an outsider to the boys' friendship Sally remains, given she doesn't warrant inclusion in Aidan's confessional to Josh. By the end it seemed Josh gave Aidan too much of a free pass after initially wanting him to leave. It's not like everything is solved, and he still has a normal girlfriend to think about with a vampire spinning out of control as his roommate.

Josh has already been on the receiving end of vampire reciprocation, so bringing Nora into that is the last thing he'll want to do. Plus, he's strong enough now he's not going to let Aidan continue to set the agenda. And with Sally slowly getting her bearings and learning her weaknesses, she won't either. Will the season end on Aidan's final push to the dark side? It's not like Josh will be able to hide his condition from Nora for very long either (especially if she's infected). The season ending promises to be very dark.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: The Event "Turnabout"

Non Spoiler Review:
Thomas and Sophia vie for control of their people this week, as her son attempts to secure nuclear fuel rods for the teleportation array. Sophia must convince Martinez to trust her again while she finds power slipping from her grasp. Of course, we get Sean, and the amazing return of Vicky. Plus some Leila.  

Nothing particular exciting warrants comment, aside from a useless bar room brawl to give Sean some purpose (and an edge) now that he's Leila-less. The Event is suffering from too many lazy plotlines rather than focusing on revealing more of the alien situation. Well...okay, it's suffering from a lot of things. But this week I noticed that more.

Spoilers Now!
Thomas takes all the former detainees to a community he owns in the mountains. Some will be taken to the array to finish infrastructure and design. He tells a man named Hanson (whose face is messed up real bad) they'll need a lot of fuel for the array. 

Sterling is back to work and recovering. Martinez is briefed on the Inostranka breakout. He's not impressed that they escaped so easily and tears his general a new one about royally screwing up the Inostranka security. 

Simon contacts Sophia to let her know the bad news. Thomas killed 44 of their people who wouldn't swear loyalty to him. Sophia has the name of the man Buchanan used to procure materials for the array—Hanson. Meanwhile Buchanan is passing Leila and Sam off to his friend Carlos' family. Leila still wants more answers, so he gives her a hug and tells her they'll be safe. But Carlos is thinking of listening to what Thomas has to say, though he does outfit Buchanan and Sophia with supplies and sends them on their way.

Sophia zeroes in on Hanson in the next scene, but when he tries to make a getaway Buchanan heads him off. Sophia gets tough because she knows they'll have to kill Thomas, so they torture him to find out where her son is, and how he's going to power the array. Hanson is trying to get uranium from a nuclear power plant in California. 

Sophia calls Martinez with a frantic message—Thomas is teleporting uranium rods out of the nuclear power plant to create their giant portal. The pressing problem is the teleportation thingie itself...the last time he did it was in 1986 at Chernobyl. Everyone in the war room is like "Oooohhh". A strong magnetic field will disrupt the portal, though, (which is why they couldn't teleport the detainees because of the polar anomalies). She says everything she kept from Martinez was to protect him. And hangs up.

Sean's in a hick bar and gets hit on by a girl right away, except her boyfriend isn't too impressed and starts a fight with her, prompting Sean to just get up to go and leave, except the guy won't let him without a fight. So they get into it. Sean manages to beat him up and gets kicked out. 

Then he breaks into a house (!) and eats apples and chicken, but this girl walks in and it's just his old friend, Lisa. She heard he killed someone on a cruise ship but he says it wasn't that and was about the president nearly getting assassinated and crazy experiments and maybe aliens. She doesn't want him staying there. He says he doesn't plan too. He's also talking with his mouth full so he's turned completely bad ass. He just wants her white trash boyfriend to set him up with a fake ID so he can get to Mexico.

Martinez is having some crazy second thoughts about trusting Sophia, and instead suggests putting a tracking device on the rods and allowing a meltdown. But Sterling steps forward to say he believes her after what Maya said at Inostranka. Okay fine, then. The president opts to move the rods, but he isn't happy and angrily folds his arms.

Simon oversees the movement of the rods and advises Sophia. But Hanson is still awake and they've left him alone to rip off a piece of his skin and produce a handy transmitter to alert Thomas. "Sophia took the bait," he says. It's all a ruse to move the rods so they can swipe them (because he can't really teleport). Thomas tells him to take out Sophia.

Carlos and his wife are having a debate about Thomas and Sophia and how Buchanan went native and had a family. If Thomas succeeds and their people come over, it's going to be bad news for the native population. Leila gets nosy and asks what that all means, but Carlos thinks she's just half of two things and not one of them, and definitely not trustworthy. And that's for her father to tell her. Argh!

Vicky's back! Getting groceries. She gets home, only to have a gun pulled on her by Sean, who's not there to kill her, though. He wants to know who she's been working for and she'll help him stop them (Mexico didn't workout).

Buchanan leaves Sophia alone in order to bring the car around, which gives Hanson time to break free of his handcuffs and sneaks up behind Sophia to try to strangle her. He nearly succeeds but Buchanan gets back in time to shoot him. Sophia finds the transmitter and realizes they been played.

The nuclear rod convey is hijacked with an old school ambush. Simon's the only one left to fend them off. But he manages to disappear by the time Thomas gets there, and they take the truck. 

Martinez is informed by Sterling that the convoy was attacked. Just then Sophia calls and he lets loose on her about tricking him. She says she needs more time to find Thomas and stop him. But Sterling's managed to trace the call to San Francisco. All they need is one more call to pinpoint her location. Martinez authorizes the use of lethal force to bring her in.

So, another episode devoted to setting up the teleportation array, and confirms that Sophia likely doesn't deserve to be leader anymore. So much would be solved if Sophia, Buchanan, Carlos, etc. just told the truth to the people they want to trust them. But why give the audience answers at this point? This show is already tired and worn out beyond repair.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: The Walking Dead 82

Non Spoiler Review:
The No Way Out storyline hits its stride this month, as the massive horde of walkers spill into the community, creating chaos. While Abraham and crew attempt to quell the tide, townspeople take refuge in their homes, where the personal stresses inside Alexandria blow up.

This month was fantastic, returning the heightened tension and disturbing elements slowly simmering these past many months. After all this build up, it's disheartening to watch what must be the end of this refuge, the fracturing of so many of the relationships that have been developing, and questions as to the composition of this new band of survivors.

This was a dense, plot-heavy read, with lots of elements advanced, including a revealing conversation between Morgan and Carl, a meltdown with Glenn, and Rick's attempt to manage the untenable situation. All great stuff that was over too quickly, leaving me in anxious anticipation to see what happens next.

Spoilers Now!
All hell breaks loose. Morgan's not dead (yet) and Michonne arrives on the scene and Rick tells her to get rid of his arm before the infection spreads, so she slices it off just like that. A shocked Morgan is hurried back to the house with Rick and Michonne as Abraham and crew arrive to take over the defence of the fast failing walls.

Andrea, Glenn, Spencer and Heath watch from the roof as the walkers swarm into the community, at a loss for what they can do. Glenn suddenly has a complete panic attack, ranting that he has a feeling this is where he dies. Then Spencer suggests on the sly to Andrea that they (she and him) just leave everyone and go off on their own. He gets a punch in the face for that, and she assures him there is no she and him.

Rick has the doctor at his house and it looks like Morgan might make it, but he does have a fever, which could mean he's infected. So Rick lets Carl keep an eye on him while the rest wait downstairs, securing the house. Maggie arrives with the kids, saying everyone's stuck inside their homes.

The battle is ultimately lost and Abraham and Rosita give up and run off home, as well. Douglas watches in despair from his window as the undead move through his community, lamenting his failures and dead wife (again). And cowardly Gabriel waits a bit before being convinced to let some people take refuge in his church (which is better than what he did during the initial outbreak, I guess). And through the night what does Rick do? Cuddle with Jessie, and wakes up the next morning like nothing is happening and saying how much he likes having her there.

Michonne apparently feels more for Morgan than she let on, as she's not impressed Carl is waiting for him to turn. But Morgan tells Carl he saw him kill Ben, and that's okay. And before he dies he wants to tell him he's sorry he'll never learn the things in life that they all had the chance to—like school, and how to deal with people, and becoming your own person. But by the end he's thinking it's his own son Duane he's talking to. Until sensitive Carl advises him that Duane is dead, and Morgan breaks down.

Rick is starting to think they should make a break for it while the horde is still relatively thin. When others protest, he says they can try to figure out how to help everyone after they're out. But Jessie reminds him there are families and children they can't just leave behind. Rick tells her to keep one thing in mind—"They're not our children." And we get a crazy Rick face.

The Verdict:
Stuff has been moving at such a leisurely pace, when it all goes south it's a bit of a shock to the system. Abraham's crew fighting their losing battle with the walkers was juxtaposed nicely with the emotional breakdowns happening left and right—Michonne slicing off Morgan's arm, and his later talk with Carl, with Glenn's enormously out of character meltdown and Spencer's likability factor thrown out the window. A lot to take in all at once, but it certainly made for a wild ride of great character moments.

There was a nice bit played out with the reaction elicited by Spencer's easy suggestion of betraying everyone, then having Rick say pretty much the same thing at the end. Once again we get a final, crazy Rick panel. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise given how Jessie's presence is slowly changing him (for the worse). Why use his Lori phone when he's got a Lori surrogate now? And leaving Carl to stand watch over Morgan was seriously creepy.

My only critique continues to be some of the artwork. I assume that was Eugene trying to get into the church, but it's tough to see given he's in just one panel. I'm always confusing some of Alexandria's plethora of minor characters, too. But then, I imagine there's going to be far less to worry about in the next few issues.
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