Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: American Horror Story "Rubber Man"

Non Spoiler Review:
The identity of Vivien's rubber-suited lover has been the longest mystery on American Horror Story. We get that revelation right off the bat, then the backstory to why it all came to pass, and the reasons why a baby is so important to many in the house.

The Chad/Patrick flashbacks filled in the troubling last days of their lives and really present a tragic story that is similarly unfolding for the Harmons. Connie Britton delivered a strong performance this week as the series continues to avoid the usual pitfalls of the horror genre and charges ahead doing whatever the hell it damn well wants. Rubber Man has it all—tragedy, comedy, disturbing and horrific elements, and it never lets up on the stream of revelations and new questions. The only drawback—no Jessica Lange!

Spoilers Now!
Six months earlier, when the Harmons were a happy family and moving in to their awesome house, ghostly Nora was wandering the halls wondering what the heck was up with all this crazy new furniture. A man consoles her and hears all she really wants is her a baby. So he retrieves the rubber suit from the trash and proceeds to seduce Vivien. When the deed is done, he passes a sleepwalking Ben as he returns to the bedroom from his late night fireplace activities. It's Tate who takes off the mask.

Back in the present, Vivien shows both Marcie and Moira the Nora photo. Marcie dismisses it as likely a lookalike granddaughter who visited the house, but Moira seems to suggest it's a doppelganger. Vivien sees a conspiracy to drive her crazy—as in Hayden, whereabouts unknown. Marcie attempts to calm her down while Moira leans more to the supernatural explanation for things. Marcie's desperately trying to find Mr. Escandarian who has not returned her calls in two weeks.

There's a flashback to Chad confiding in a girlfriend about Patrick's potential cheating—Chad's stumbled upon Patrick's online chats that involve some kinky talk. He's been distant, and even sleepwalking (oh noes!). She suggests Patrick's got some interests he isn't comfortable sharing with him, so Chad needs to make an effort to get involved in his boyfriend's fantasies. So Chad heads to the nearest sex shop and gets advice on how to gear up. The salesman points him in the direction of a particular rubber body suit.

Back home, Chad attempts a seduction that fails miserably. Patrick isn't interested at all, so Chad confronts him about his online activities. Chad queens out and wants to kick him out, reminding him he has all the money. Patrick declares the house is driving him crazy, considering he's seen the bills and knows the bank will take it sooner than later. When they do, Chad won't be able to hold it over his head anymore. He goes out, and by the way, he's into leather, not latex.

What do the ghosts do when they're chillin' all day? If you're Nora, you cry in the bedroom and wonder what's going on. Hayden lets her know she's dead and she needs to pull it together. She's been playing with Beauregard, and doesn't believe it's fair the innocent souls are trapped there, too. But there are others who are bitches—like Moira. Hayden's gotten off on the wrong foot with her, too, given she's been torturing Vivien, and Moira is out to protect the lady of the house.

Hayden explains there is a power in the house they can all use to make themselves unknown or to torment others (like Ben). She confesses she acts out her rage—particularly having sex with Hugo (Connie's husband) and killing him over and over again. Hugo doesn't seem to mind. But being dead has made Hayden excessively horny.

Nora still doesn't believe it, so Hayden shows her the hole in the back of her head. Nora has no memory of any of that, but thinks it might be because of her baby which she continues to languish for. Hayden lost hers too, coincidentally enough, and it's just not fair that Vivien gets to have two. That gives Hayden an idea to get a baby for each of them.

Hayden hatches a plan to drive Vivien crazy because you can't raise babies in a loonie bin. As Vivien prepares to go to bed, she experiences a series of hauntings (from Beau's red ball rolling to her feet, breaking glass, heaving furniture, and Hayden's maniacal laughter). She sees the rubber mask on the bathroom sink.

Flashback to Tate putting on the mask and drowning Chad in his barrel of apples. Patrick comes in and gets a thorough beating by Tate, culminating in a disturbing mutilation scene. Both men are tossed into the basement where Nora declares Patrick is dead and it's all wrong. She doesn't recognize Tate, but he explains she's suffered and he's here to help. Chad decided not to have a child, so now maybe a new family will move in to give her what she wants.

Ben comes downstairs and overhears Violet talking to Beauregard, asking him to come out and rolling the ball into the shadows. He directs her to come upstairs given they need to discuss the fact that she's not been in school in two weeks. Violet has no patience for Ben's psychoanalysis and asks how he's missed the fact that Vivien has lost her mind and is eating raw brains. And it's all Ben's fault. He's a cheater and pathetic and she declares she's surprised he hasn't gone after her. She walks out.

Moira makes tea for Vivien, who is struggling to keep it together. She seems to think her medication for nausea is causing side effects and promoting her vision problems. Moira launches into a diatribe about men finding excuses to declare women insane throughout history to lock them away. Moira tells her she's not crazy, and the strange things she's seen are, indeed, true. The house is possessed and she's witnessed these manifestations all the years she worked there. Vivien needs to get out while she still can.

Vivien rushes to pack and wake Violet. But when they get out to the car Violet sees Tate watching. The home invader ghosts are in the car and frighten both of them, leading Vivien to run screaming back inside the house.

Ben is enraged Vivien tried to take Violet out of state. Vivien tries to convince him the home invaders were back and Violet can corroborate it. But Ben is trying to diagnose her rather than listen. He wants to discuss the brain eating—ever hear of Mad Cow disease? Vivien wonders if Ben is conspiring with Hayden to get rid of her. She shows him the rubber mask and asks how it got back into the house and just about reveals their kinky night she conceived her child.

Violet appears to have had sex with Tate. She asks if the ghosts can actually hurt them. Tate says no, but she can't tell her mother the truth or they'll say she's crazy and lock her up. And they'll never see one another again. Ben calls Violet down, so when she's asked about what she saw, she lies and tells her father she didn't see anything, but just said what she thought her mother wanted. Vivien looks totally betrayed. Ben says he's staying the night to protect his daughter.

Tate is in the basement when Hayden comes by to taunt him and tells him to man up and take care of Vivien before she escapes with Violet. Tate knows what he needs to do, but doesn't enjoy doing it. Hayden wants to fool around and work his way up to it, but Tate brushes her off.

Vivien summons Marcie inexplicably to ream her out about screwing up the sale. Marcie protests that the missing Escandarian has completely refused to return her calls. Then Vivien feigns a fainting spell and while Marcie gets her water, she rifles through her bag and steals Marcie's gun. Then she says she's okay and sends the realtor on her way.

That night she checks her room thoroughly, but Tate is still there and attacks her. Vivien pushes her panic button, grabs the gun and shoots(!) Ben as he comes through the door. The police and Luke show up. Ben is okay as the bullet has passed through his hand and he refuses to be seen by a doctor despite the paramedic suggesting it. Luke demands more of an explanation and advises the officers that the Harmons are separated and Ben has a mistress with a criminal record. Ben is enraged and tells him to get out of his house.

Vivien's been given a Valium, but that allows Hayden to appear and torture her some more. She wants the babies. She tells him the father of Vivien's babies is there, and Tate appears to try and rape her. Vivien wakes up to Ben on top of her and Luke standing over them. She asks if they saw the rapist in the suit, but he's nowhere to be seen. All her ranting of the rubber suit and Hayden seal the deal that she's lost her marbles. 

Violet comes in to say they're ready for her. The police come in to take her away and Ben reveals he's had her committed. Vivien protests at first, then realizes she'll at least be out of the house, so goes with them willingly while shooting her daughter a look of absolute betrayal. Tate tells Violet it's all okay, because he's there with her.

The final flashback shows Tate dragging the still living Chad to the basement. Moira tells him not to kill him, given the last thing they need is a murder investigation, and Tate should get over his need to please the women of the house. She gives him a gun, so he shoots into Patrick, puts the gun in Chad's hand and shoots him too to make it look like a suicide. Tate muses it's romantic they'll be together forever.  

The Verdict:
I'm ambivalent about Tate's reveal as the rubber man. Given we already saw Tate wear the rubber suit in the past, the fact he is the culprit was kind of a logical no-brainer, but why all the ominous devil stuff regarding Vivien's baby? Tate now appears beyond redemption, despite my initial impression he might be saved. He's completely insane (crazier than Hayden, even?) simply for the brutal deaths he inflicts upon the likes of Chad and Patrick to satisfy his own sadism.

Tate's deeds are sure to catch up with him when it comes to Violet, though, and I'm anxious to see if she'll stick with him (given how she sacrificed her mother this week) if it comes to light who he's killed and the paternity of her unborn siblings. Is it too much to hope that our dear departed Adelaide (somehow) fills Violet in on the truth?

I was left feeling a little relieved for Vivien given she's gotten out of the house at last. Extra marks also goes to Frances Conroy's long-winded diatribe against men. But what's her ultimate plan (aside from getting her bones dug up). Moira at first conspires with Connie to keep Vivien and her baby healthy. Now she's encouraging Vivien to flee the house. If the babies die in the house, will Nora and Hayden be able to take them? Are Tate's motivations exclusively to get a replacement child for Nora?

The collapse of Chad and Patrick's relationship was tough to watch, especially knowing their imminent doom. Seeing its parallel with Vivien and Ben was a great contrast. And to add Violet's betrayal of her mother (especially given how she went to town on her father's infidelities) really made me cringe at the level of suffering in store for Vivien.

Ben is also acting extremely aggressive and belligerent this week. Are we to read anything into his refusal to go to the hospital to get his gunshot wound checked out? That all seems extremely odd.

So I'm kicking myself for not thinking of this, but I've been reading a few theories that Vivien actually died from her overdose and that's why she's not been in school the last couple of weeks (or been seen outside the house this episode). If so, what happened to her body? Is it hidden somewhere on the property?

The writers are to be commended for not letting this show have a moment's rest. The characters are continually in flux and pretty much anything can happen from week to week. The level of revelations that get dealt with each episode is a stark contrast to other genre shows that seem to hold all their cards until the end. I don't doubt there are numerous other surprises coming, and I'll be eagerly watching the final two episodes.

Review: Terra Nova "Now You See Me"

Non Spoiler Review:
Now You See Me was a meandering mess, coming off the reveals of last week. Taylor and Jim continue to search for the Sixers' contact on the inside with Terra Nova on lock down. Meanwhile, the commander embarks on his own mission to see what he can find of Lucas, only to encounter Mira. And he leaves Jim in charge (shivers).

So boring. I've decided any episode with a dinosaur attack mean there's really nothing much going on in the story. And we get those. Plus Zoe's little pet dinosaur that serves no purpose whatsoever except to eat up ten minutes of story time, because the writers obviously can't use that on character development.

In fact Now You See Me exhibited all the mistakes of bad science fiction writing—the team up between enemies, the techno fix to a problem that takes precisely the length of the episode, and throwaway CGI action. Given how little I care about any of these characters, I'm pretty much certain the show has slipped off the rails completely for me at this point.

Spoilers Now!
Taylor heads outside the gate and consoles Skye as it's the anniversary of her parents' deaths from fever several years before. The colony is on lock down given the ongoing search for the spy, and Taylor puts Jim (nooooo!!!) in charge until he gets back.

Taylor goes to see the rock carvings and starts recording them until Mira finds him. She's looking for Lucas, too. She ties him up and heads back to the Sixer camp with him, though he tries to escape on the way and she blows him off his feet with sonics (all a clever ruse to grab something sharp to cut his bonds, though).

Had things gone as planned, she explains, she would be back in 2149 with her daughter. She had an opportunity for a better life for them and took it, so Taylor should just stop judging her. Taylor abruptly gets free and turns the tables on her. 

Now tied up, Mira taunts him by saying Lucas told her to ask him about Somalia, which gives him pause (ooh, another big secret that won't amount to much). She does believe Lucas is crazy now, though, and it's him that controls Mira, not the other way around. They're interrupted by a dinosaur attack. 

The lookout towers detect signals being flashed to the colony. Eagle-eyed Reynolds spots similar response flashes from a construction site inside the walls. Jim and Reynolds head off in that direction, while it's Skye who's the spy, and manages to cut herself with a shard of the broken mirror (because she can't find an actual non-dangerous unbroken mirror to signal the Sixers). She runs off (except she dropped some blood in some paint solvent).

The dynamic duo arrive, and Jim finds the incriminating blood, but messes up as he attempts to extract it intact, so has to take it to Malcolm to analyze which is going to be difficult (and take the entire episode). Malcolm refuses, given the chemical neutralizes red blood cells. Jim behaves as his usual ass self and threatens to break everything in the lab, so Malcolm agrees to help. 

Remember the dinosaur baby we haven't seen in weeks? Well, Zoe is just getting around to naming it. Malcolm tells Liz he thinks the dinosaur should be released soon in order to interact with its own kind. Liz admits Zoe will be heartbroken but oh, well. So that leads to Zoe making an attempt to sneak out with the dinosaur. She's caught and shot Liz and Jim have a heart-to-heart talk with her and Zoe is her usual pouty self about it all.

The Sixers are waiting for Skye after her communication was cut off, so she decides to use Josh to get outside the gate given he's digging a water main on a work team. She gets put on the detail and easily slips away to rendezvous with her contact. She delivers her intel and is taken to see her mother, who remains alive with a steady supply of meds courtesy of the Sixers. They're the only ones with a cure. 

Malcolm extracts the blood sample and passes it to Liz who says it will take a day to run through the computer. Skye shows up that night to help at the hospital and sees her sample. She later destroys it, so Jim assumes someone must have access to the building (wow!). Liz prepares a list of everyone who could have come to the hospital. Computer does say that the spy is a female, which narrows down the search to about 40.

Taylor and Mira are attacked again and have to jump over a waterfall, losing their weapons. He offers her a knife to help fight the creatures tracking them, meaning they will have to (gasps!) work together. By nightfall they're attacked again and manage to defend themselves with arrows and spears, leading Taylor to comment they make a helluva team.

As they walk the next day Mira tells him Lucas is close to making the portal work so it's almost over. They'll find out how it all ends soon enough. That seems to be good enough for Taylor and he lets her go back to the Sixers.

Despite his search for the spy Jim finds time to be with Zoe when she releases the dinosaur. Luckily, one of its kind is right there behind a tree, and comes out of the jungle and eats it adopts it.

Taylor returns to Terra Nova and is debriefed by Jim, who says they still have a list of 40 people to check through to find the spy. Taylor offers up his usual "Get on it, Jim!" He neglects to mention he just freed the Sixer leader. Skye shows up to say hi and she and Taylor go for a walk through memorial field, but she seems to have something on her mind.

The Verdict:
This week reached new levels of tedium. I would like to know what the point of the baby dinosaur was to Zoe's *cough cough* character arc, given it appeared twice. It served absolutely no purpose to anything on the show.

Jim remains an unlikable bastard and putting him in charge of the colony didn't help his ego at all. If anyone is set up to become a ruthless dictator, it's him. In fact, that would actually be an interesting storyline for him.

And *gasp* Skye is the spy! She has gifts of super-speed, as well, considering she virtually teleported to the Sixer camp and back without being missed on the work crew, then got inside the hospital (which, with 2149 technology, can't manage any security cameras). And for all his police work, Jim doesn't even post a guard to protect his precious evidence.

Taylor's dalliance with Mira made no sense, either. They seem resolved to just let Lucas get to the end of his mission and deal with the fallout from there. And yet he lets her go? At least there's no shortage of humour in this series with Jim and Taylor in charge. No doubt the populace will be welcoming their future overlords on the Eleventh Pilgrimage.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: The Walking Dead "Secrets"

Non Spoiler Review:
Secrets is definitely the most chatty and character driven episode his season. While a lot was said and everyone seemed to have a talk with everyone else, not a lot happened otherwise, and it felt considerably slower than what we've been used to. 

Sophia is still missing. That allows Andrea and Shane some bonding time, and Lori and Glen and Maggie and Dale to trade secrets about pregnancy and walkers in the barn and suspicions about Otis' death. Rick continues to urge Hershel to allow them to stay on the farm to little success, but by the end of the episode quite a few of the secrets catch up to everyone.

I realize the writer is establishing such a sense of peace and tranquility that when they pull the rug out from under everything (next week) it will be that much more shocking. A lot of important comic book stuff did happen as far as advancing the characters in their respective roles—including Andrea's savvy with a gun—but next week had better end the mid-season on a bang or I'll really feel the show has slipped this year.

Spoilers Now!
Carl is up and about helping his mother feed the chickens. But Patricia has taken off with some of the hens (whose legs she breaks) and heads to the barn where she feeds them to the walkers. 

Meanwhile, Maggie has asked Glen to keep quiet about the barn's contents. He's also keeping Lori's secret, too, and considering he's so terrible at lying, he urges her to let Rick know given all the help she'll need.

Andrea apologizes to Daryl for the whole shooting in the head thing, and he's pretty laid back about it and just suggests she not try it again.

Prior to going out on the search, Shane takes their crew out on the range to practice shooting skills, including Patricia and Hershel's other family members. Carl wants to, as well and approaches Shane with a gun he's carrying. Dale had let him into the RV and Carl had stolen it. Lori is so not impressed with that, and that leads to a serious discussion where Rick agrees to let Carl learn to shoot, despite their parental concerns.

Once everyone's gone, Glen confesses to Dale about the walkers and Lori's pregnancy so Dale decides to confront him. Hershel tells him he doesn't shoot sick people, and that's what the walkers are. His wife and stepson are in the barn, and he suggests the best thing Dale could do is keep it to himself given some of the trigger-happy people in his group.

On the firing range, Andrea is proving to be an expert marksman, so gets bumped up a level for some more difficult sharpshooting training with Shane. She takes the opportunity to ask him what changed about his decision to leave, but he doesn't answer. 

Lori finds out from Hershel that he expects them to be leaving soon, which comes as a big surprise to her. She confronts Rick about keeping that fact from everyone and tells him he has to change his mind. As if Lori didn't have enough on her mind to be bitchy about, Dale tells her he knows she's pregnant. While Dale is aware she and Shane were together on the road, Lori protests that she can't tell Rick that.  She believes there's no hope for joy for their baby, much less Carl, and challenges Dale to convince her that any child will live to his ripe old age anymore.

Andrea and Shane team up to investigate a housing development, but what they find is a house full of dead people while outside walkers begin to surround them. They shoot their way out, and in that intense environment Andrea seems to find her mojo and her reason for living, and calmly begins to pick them off. Following that escape, Andrea's pretty aroused and she and Shane do it in the car on the way home.

Lori asks Glen to make another run into town for her, so he and Maggie go off together. She's annoyed with Glen for telling Dale about the barn, but when she gets attacked by a walker at the pharmacy and Glen kills it, her attitude about the zombies seems to abruptly change. When they get back Maggie pitches a fit on Lori for sending them on their mission and throws down her abortion pills at her feet. She tells Glen he needs to smarten up because all his so-called friends just use him for walker-bait.

Lori apologizes to Glen. They're actually Morning After pills and she's not even sure they'll work, but given it's the apocalypse, she has to improvise. Forward thinking Glen also brought her prenatal vitamins too, with the suggestion that she not make her choice alone. Lori does, in fact, take the pills but throws them up.

Dale notices Andrea and Shane acting odd upon their return, so when he's alone he suggests Shane should just take the car and leave given he seems to know what kind of a man Shane is. He suspects there's more to Otis' death than he's telling, given he saw him raise his gun on Rick in the past. Shane counters that if that were all true and he's a raging lunatic, it's probably not a good idea to piss him off. 

Back at the tent, Rick finds all the pregnancy supplies. This comes as a surprise to him, so he confronts Lori. After a bit of a fight where he digests the baby reveal, he asks if there's anything else he should know about. She confesses she and Shane were together. Of course he's known, he says.

The Verdict:
While it made for a bit of a quiet episode, there were copious amounts of revelations being passed back and forth, all to set up the finale next week. I do applaud the show for not stretching out Lori's secret for too long and letting Rick reveal he knew about her and Shane.

So my suspicion that Jenner told him she was pregnant is not true. He told him something else equally disturbing. Does it involve the virus itself, which would tie back into the books? That would mean that for all of Rick's optimism, he's been carting around an even bigger secret that would affect everyone.

Hershel appears to be the lone voice in trying to get the group off his farm. Maggie seems to have come around a bit in her feelings about the walkers after nearly being killed by one. Her siblings haven't received near enough attention to get a sense of where their loyalties lie, either, but they do seem excited at the prospect of having other people on the farm. What's Hershel to do if everyone sides against him?

Andrea's resurrection is a welcome one. Her suicidal tendency was a good (and thankfully brief) stage in her growth, but I'm happy to see her character take her place as a major player now. I figured an Andrea/Shane pairing was probably inevitable the longer he stuck around, but I don't think it can last if the truth starts coming out about Lori's baby and Shane starts feeling like a daddy.

Some subtle, but important, developments for Carl continued this week—his matter-of-fact attitude about their situation, as well as learning to shoot are all crucial elements for his evolution. I hope this continues and he will be as important a factor in the series as he is in the books.

Future developments will reflect on how important Secrets was to this season. There's a lot of set up here, and everything will depend on how big a conclusion we get next week, and if we begin to get a sense of direction of where this group is going.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Review: American Horror Story "Open House"

Non Spoiler Review:
The murder house gets a potential wealthy Persian Armenian buyer, which has Vivien, Marcie, Ben, Larry, Connie and Moira all in a tizzy for a bunch of different reasons. Remember Connie's other children? Where, oh where are they? Vivien continues to tax the health care system by asking for more pregnancy tests to alleviate her concerns she's carrying the Antichrist. Surviving among the crazy is Violet, who manages to pull herself together with Tate's help.

The humour was coming in spades this week, mainly from realtor Marcie who just wants to be done with the murder house and get her commission. I'm wondering if she has some deeper connection to it that we haven't discovered yet. But everyone is in a mad frenzy to seal the deal and pass the house off to its new buyer.

When faced with the potential sale, Connie, Moira and Larry really shone as they struggled to ensure they don't lose contact with their loved ones. The final moment proves that change is the only constant for the Harmons these days.

Spoilers Now!
1994. Larry consoles Connie in her house, who finds out she's being charged with criminal child neglect (imagine!) and her boy, Beauregard, is being placed in an institution. She and Larry are having an affair, and he'll do anything for her. So she tells him he knows what to do. He goes into the attic to find Beau chained to the floor (he kind of looks like the guy from Mask). Larry puts him to bed and smothers him (!).

Back in the present, Vivien and Ben await their amnio results. But nothing is out of the ordinary says the exuberant doctor, except that she's having perfectly healthy demonic twins. Gasps.

Marcie is promoting the house to a developer, Mr. Escandarian (sp) whom everyone thinks is Persian but is really Armenian. Vivien is happy to see someone expressing serious interest in the place. He sees Moira as her voluptuous self, who suggests he build a swimming pool, which would require him digging up the entire yard. He wants to know what's wrong with the place, so Vivien is candid about the violent deaths of the previous owners. But he remains interested, and wants to know if anyone else tries to put in an offer before he gets back to them. Marcie isn't pleased with Vivien's truthfulness.

They hear a noise and find Larry, who's there for the open house, too. Macie informs him it's over for the day, but the two of them seem to know one another. He accuses her of discrimination against his burny affliction. Macie abruptly pulls out a gun and orders him to get out. Vivien is shocked. Larry says he'll sue. She puts down the gun and they show him the house. He's particularly enamoured by the fireplace.

That night Vivien tries to relax in bed, and has an erotic dream about a certain security man who morphs into both Ben and the rubber man.

Tate asks Violet to stop cutting herself, so she promises him. She heads down to a family dinner with her mom and dad, and it's probably the first time we've seen all three eating together. They're worried that she's depressed given she never leaves her room. She admits to being depressed but she's not suicidal, so they should go back to their habitual neglect. She leaves, and Vivien and Ben discuss the buyers, and Vivien comments that one of them is severely burned. Ben agrees with Marcie about not revealing too much of the history of the house. That prompts another argument and Ben warns her not to screw up selling the place.

Mr. Escandarian shows up again and is greeted by Moira, who is happy to show him around. She proceeds to seduce him in Violet's room. They come out to find Ben in the hallway, and Moira introduces the potential buyer to him. Escandarian informs him he's going to bulldoze the house and build apartments.

Larry returns to his apartment to find Ben waiting to confront him about his so-called plans to buy his house, given he has no money. Ben's done some fact checking and learns Larry never went to prison for burning his family, but was institutionalized instead. He believes it's all lies. Larry tells him the house has power and admits he was trying to scare them out of the house. He needs the house to be happy again...with her.

There's a flashback to Larry and his wife Loraine. He confesses he's fallen in love with someone else, Constance from next door. Larry suggests she and the girls move in with her mother and he'll provide for them. Later on he goes upstairs to find the girls' bedroom on fire. That's apparently what really happened.

Larry still wants Constance back. Ben says they have a real buyer with money who will raze the house, and that makes Larry furious that he'd let him do it. Ben departs to file a restraining order against him.

On the murder tour, Marcie and Vivien check out all the backstory on the house. We get more on the Montgomery family saga—that little baby Thaddeus was sewn back together by Charles and apparently brought back to life by one their patient's hearts. Charles informs his wife that they won't have to have a funeral. The baby is upstairs and waiting in the nursery. Nora goes up to have a look and sees something, then comes down looking a little worse for wear. She calmly tells Charles he's a genius. That's all he wanted to hear. Nora tried to nurse the baby but it wasn't milk it was craving. She was unable to kill it. She says Charles is a man after all, and as he hugs her she shoots him in the head. She declares they're damned for what they did to all the girls, then she blows out her own brains.

Connie is in the basement of the house searching for Larry. She got his flowers and the card to meet him at their house. Larry comes out. She taunts him and asks if he's seen her new beau (Travis). He loves her, but Connie calls him disgusting and weak, letting the house get the better of him. If she catches him peeping in her windows again, she'll ruin the other half of his face. He tells her they're going to tear down the house. 

Violet hears movement in the attic so goes upstairs. A ball rolls out to her and she sees Beau. Tate appears and tells him to go away, then comforts her. Violet feels she's going insane. Tate explains they're the ghosts of people who died in the house, and they're appearing to her now because she's evolved. She just has to tell them to go away. Tate's found a bunch of stuff hidden in the attic—jars and photos of babies, including some of Charles and Nora. Violet then sees Maria's ghost and tells her to go away. And it works!

Connie meets with Mr. Escandarian at his home, but her usual manner of dealing with men doesn't work on him. He asks her what she wants for her house and is willing to pick up her property too. He's a developer and has no patience for her long-winded tales. She advises him to stop unearthing things while he's ahead and to show some respect to the old lands. He pretty much tells her off. She warns him his time is going to end and someday they'll be building on top of him too.

Ben sees Tate again, who puts on a great act assuring him the therapy has helped him a lot. His visions are gone. Ben is happy to hear that, and then privately asks him if Violet is in trouble and to come to him right away if she is.

Connie shows up and runs into Moira. She wants to speak to Tate, given she knows he has an appointment with Ben. But Moira notices she was crying. Connie wanders the house searching for Tate. He appears and is not that happy to see her. Tate sarcastically adds it turns out he hates his mother. She then goes up in the attic to see Beau and tells him she has to say goodbye. They're going to take everything away from her.

Connie returns to the kitchen and Moira, chiding her for throwing herself at the Armenian. If she gets her swimming pool, they'll find her bones and send Connie to prison, Moira explains. Connie reveals he's actually tearing the whole thing down, which will seal her tomb for good. But when the walls come down she'll lose her family forever and she won't have that. Moira realizes he lied to her too. She wonders why they (men) always lie. Connie assures her they can help each other and Moira asks what she wants her to do.

Moira gets Mr. Escandarian to come over for a second round. This time she takes him down to the basement where she proceeds to service him with too much teeth. Larry puts a plastic bag over his head and smothers him. Connie watches from the shadows. She's finally come to appreciate Moira's talent, and tells Larry to make sure he's off the property before he dies because she doesn't want to encounter him again.

Vivien talks to Violet about the offer on the house, explaining they'll go stay with her aunt until they find a place. She apologizes for how it's all gone since they moved to LA. Violet asks how she knew she loved Ben, and her mother explains love makes you do crazy things. Then Violet shows her the old photo of the house and the other photos from the attic, including the Montgomery family. Vivien recognizes Nora.

The Verdict:
I'm throwing down right now that Vivien's doctor is in on the demon baby. She seems to be too much of everything's fine, and the ultrasound malfunction smacks of a cover up from someone higher up.

With the introduction of another of Connie's progeny, Beauregard (and not Thaddeus) appears to be the one rolling the red ball in the basement whom Adelaide was playing with some episodes back. What's the fate of the remaining members of Connie's brood, and are they in the house too? It actually kind of makes some bizarre sense from her perspective to have all her kids dead and preserved in the house, and the thought of losing them all really made for some more great Connie scenes.

I don't entirely buy Larry's new story about how his family died, but it does explain why the missus and the two girls haven't popped up in the house as ghosts. Does Connie now live in Larry's old place?

The Charles and Nora drama gets filled in some more, which just leaves the fate of Thaddeus himself, given we haven't seen the little tyke for quite some time now. That's assuming that the creature in the basement actually is Thaddeus.

Just as Violet has come to terms with the spiritual nature of the house, now it seems Vivien will have to take a similar journey given she's found the incriminating photographs of Nora. There's little logic left to explain away all the insane happenings. But how will Ben take it all in? He's yet to receive his epiphany, despite having Hadyen thrown in his face and his usual sense of denial when it comes to his own affairs means he'll likely fight the truth right to the end. With only ten episodes this season, I'm curious to see where this will all end up by the finale, given the Harmon family is virtually torn apart. Could they all end up as ghosts in the house for a new family to arrive next year?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: Terra Nova "Vs"

Non Spoiler Review:
Well, a rather interesting episode this week, which is certainly a change of pace for the usually tedious Terra Nova. Vs presents an infodump of secrets after a human skeleton is discovered that raises a bunch of questions about Taylor and the truth behind the early days of the colony. I'd like to say this was a riveting hour and that the characters actually rose to the occasion, but that's not the case. 

Plot, not character, continues to drive the show, and nothing spectacular happened with the good residents of Terra Nova themselves, aside from new light being shone on Taylor. In other news, Zoe gets the lead in the harvest play (yawns). But the play is a plot device itself. At least we got some answers, so I won't be outrageously critical. If this is a sign of things to come, there might still be hope for the series.

Spoilers Now!
Mira's secret spy is a dragonfly! Well, maybe not. That would just be C.R.A.Z.Y.! Boylen is being interrogated by Taylor but he's not giving up much information, so he's left to stew in prison. Meanwhile the Shannons are preparing for the harvest festival, which is kind of like Halloween, but also somehow celebrates Taylor's arrival in Terra Nova. Josh tries to convince his father that Boylen isn't all bad and now the bar is closed and no one's heard from him and no one has anywhere to drink. But Jim only cares about grounding him for nearly destroying all their hopes and dreams in the past.

Taylor brings Jim in to see Boylen, but when the commander is called away on an emergency at the power grid, a delirious Boylen tells Jim to look for the pilgrim tree where it's buried. Later, Malcolm does what he does best by revealing background information and tells him it's the tree Taylor lived in when he arrived. Jim pays the tree a visit and finds a one-armed skeleton buried there.

He brings it back to Elizabeth to analyze, who suggests it's been there 4-6 years, and may have been shot. He plans on keeping it from Taylor until she can learn more about who he was. He goes back to chat with Boylen, but they're interrupted by Taylor's return.

The other plot involves Zoe being cast as Taylor in the harvest play. While practicing, the kids are grossed out by the appearance of the dragonfly, but luckily it suffers a pride-obliterating swat out of the air by a soldier. That's when they find a microchip on it, and Malcolm determines that's how Mira is spying on Terra Nova. The chip is damaged, so there's no way of knowing what was on it. And the bug's wings are damaged so they can't send it back to follow it to it's source. Taylor rails against science yet again.

Reynolds is leading a convoy that's attacked by the Sixers (I somehow missed what this was for). He's allowed to return to tell Taylor in the next scene because the Sixers are very poor at taking hostages. The convoy was assembled after Boylen was arrested, so he couldn't have told Mira. Maddie's glad to have Reynolds back and safe, and plants a big kiss on him.

Liz has determined that the dead man came through the portal somehow between the second and third pilgrimages given his temporal signature can be used to date his time in the past. Boylen is released so he tells Jim all he did was help bury the body, but has no idea who it was—a few years back he was on patrol duty and saw a light in the jungle. When he checked it out he saw Taylor with the body. Back then he and Taylor were friends. Taylor needed his help to get rid of the body and talked about how it was Lucas' fault. It was Lucas who had brought the man from the future, and that was the last night Lucas was seen. Boylen strong-armed Taylor to give him his bar in return for keeping the secret.

Malcolm discovers Liz's work on the corpse and gets all pissy given he's the head of sciences, so Jim lies and says he got an anonymous note to check out the pilgrim's tree and he found the body. Taylor thinks it's a Sixer who had falsified their DNA records to come through time. Taylor subtly warns Liz that she should have advised him of this.

Malcolm figures out the dragonfly homes in on sonics so identifies the frequency the Sixers are using. They should still be broadcasting and he surgically repaired its wings, too. They release it at the festival and it flies straight to the Shannons.

Meanwhile, the boring play introduces the character of General Philbrook who sent Taylor on the mission to the past. He had one arm, like the skeleton. Considering this is the first time Jim (and us) have ever heard of him, Jim concludes that Philbrook came back in time to relieve Taylor of his command. That's when Taylor arrives to arrest him and declares he's the Sixer spy.

Taylor suggests he'll let Jim go if he drops his investigation, but Jim is too much of a knucklehead to do that. Taylor then admits if he hadn't killed Philbrook, he would have killed Taylor. The people who sent Philbrook were the same ones who sent the Sixers, because he was on to their plan—to mine Terra Nova for its resources. If Lucas has anything to say about it, the fracture will go both ways.

When Lucas came on the Second Pilgrimage, Taylor didn't know he was secretly on their side, working on calculations to make the portal work from the past to the future. When he found out, Taylor destroyed all his work and Lucas left the colony. Taylor followed him into the jungle where General Philbrook abruptly appeared to relieve him of his command. The general tried to shoot him when he refused to give it up, so Taylor had to kill him. Lucas pulled a gun on his father and Taylor disarmed him but refused to kill him. He left him in exile (his most favorite thing). But Lucas continued working on his calculations and left them on rocks for Taylor to find in order to taunt him. Taylor's kept everything to himself so the population won't know the lie Terra Nova is based on.

Jim vows to fight alongside him.

Later, everyone enjoys the harvest dance. Taylor had planted an emitter in Shannon's house to broadcast at the same frequency in order to draw the dragonfly. He won't tell Malcolm the reason why, though. Taylor then addresses the crowd with a whole bunch of hippie talk about the promise of Terra Nova, while Lucas watches the fireworks from the jungle.

The Verdict:
We learn the truth about Terra Nova—that it's basically a resource to be exploited by the evil-doers from the future. That's probably not the most exciting revelation I was hoping for, and it all felt rather mundane and unspectacular, given Lucas' weird inscriptions on the rocks and such (no lizard aliens, sadly). Oh well. It leaves the colony at the mercy of the next pilgrimage to come through—meaning pretty much anything could be waiting to enter that portal.

But is Taylor telling the truth? Jim's not the brightest bulb and appears to accept what he's saying without question, despite the fact Taylor framed him and threw him in the brig on a whim. He's also been witness to some of Taylor's other egregious behavior with dishing out punishment. So it wouldn't be surprising if Jim has put his faith in the wrong person. My only doubt about that theory is that Terra Nova has shown no indication that it's anywhere near that complex of a series, with no evidence of moral grey areas so far.

General Philbrook's "Oh, hey!" appearance as he casually steps through the time portal was a bit odd and funnier than they likely intended. He seemed to take it all in stride considering he stepped back 85 million years and was relying purely on Lucas' success to ensure he survived coming out the other end. It looked like he just walked in from next door. 

In many ways the show continues to remind me of BBC's Outcasts, which faced a very similar season ender (evil-doers wanting to exploit the colony arriving en masse with the power to take over). I hope Terra Nova isn't copying that show, because it was frankly much better.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: American Horror Story "Piggy, Piggy"

Non Spoiler Review:
After a breathless two-parter, the focus narrows on Tate to expand upon what happened at Westfield High. Violet begins to uncover the truth about him, and the ramifications of what it all means for her family living in the house. Ben continues to see patients there, too, and his latest has a weird phobia. Vivien tries to get to the bottom of her ultrasound.

Piggy, Piggy was pretty disturbing given the main plot centering on the school shooting. I'm not sure what we're to take from it yet regarding Tate. Evan Peters and Taissa Farmiga really get a chance to shine here. Very often in horror movies characters easily accept the craziness going on around them, but Farmiga convincingly conveys her confusion, terror and shock at coming to terms with the assault of information she's been getting over the last few weeks.

Given the intense subject matter of the shooting, it's Vivien's situation that is so outrageously bad it provides a lot of much-needed humour. I'm really wondering how far the writers are going to take this pregnancy (I've read their inspiration is Rosemary's Baby). Ben's storyline with his client wasn't as strong, and I'm not sure what it was there for, though it provided a scare (albeit a needless one given everything else going on). Nevertheless Piggy, Piggy remained a strong episode that continues to rearrange the status quo.

Spoilers Now!
1994. Connie answers the door to a S.W.A.T. team looking for Tate. Flashing back to the school, the teens from last week are in the library with a teacher when one comes running in to say Tate's shooting up the school. They barricade themselves, but he gets in, shooting the teacher in the spine, and then proceeding to find each hiding student and kill them. Back at the house, Tate waits as the officers storm his room and train every weapon on him. He defiantly makes a move for a gun in his bed and is killed in a hail of bullets.

Following Halloween's traumatizing events, Violet investigates the school massacre online and learns of Tate's involvement. She comes running downstairs to find Connie having a cigarette (her mother is at the store) and conveniently ready to answer all her questions. Connie explains the house will make her a believer, as they were living there, too, when Tate lost his way. She thinks the house drove him to it. She wants Violet to meet Billy Dean Howard, her medium.

Billy helped Connie out with her own problems, and feels she can aid Violet. Connie seems to think she's the real thing, but Violet's pretty skeptical. Billy believes that Tate doesn't know he's dead, so Connie wanted him to see Ben so that he might achieve some clarity on his own and help him cross over. Then Billy mentions a woman named Mary who wants to talk to Violet and she flashes back to an old woman who tells her they never will understand her. Violet runs out. Connie asks if she can trust Violet. Billy isn't sure.

Vivien is sitting in the bedroom looking extremely pregnant and massaging her stomach. A three-fingered hand presses up against her skin. She screams and wakes up from her nightmare, then casually pushes her panic button so Luke shows up. She explains she was hearing things, but Luke is more than happy to pay a visit and check things out for her. She tells him about Ben moving out. As it happened, his wife had an affair on him too!

Ben comes in to see a client, so Luke lets him know about Hayden's disappearance, and to be on guard in case she returns. Vivien isn't happy with him coming back, but he doesn't have the money to rent an office. He promises to leave after his last patient. She tells him she really hates him, but she'll let him see their daughter because he's a good father, if nothing else.

Ben's patient is a man afraid of urban legends, one of which is Piggy Man—a butcher who would wear a pig mask when he killed his hogs. One day he slipped and fell into the pen, and was eaten by them. If you stand in front of a mirror and say here, piggy pig, he'll return. Ben suggests they get to the root of his problem. He manages to convince him to look in the bathroom mirror alone, but all he sees is one of the dead nurses who haunt the house, which doesn't help his condition at all.

Violet is not having a good day. After trying to cut herself, she runs into her father, bursts into tears and apologizes for everything. She claims the darkness has her.

Vivien is attempting to track the nurse from the ultrasound and learns she quit. Connie shows up with a dish and tells her it will help with her violent morning sickness. It's raw pork, and she orders Moira to cook it up (who graciously complies), though she recommends eating it raw. Connie asks about Violet and explains she was such a comfort when Addie died. As she prepares the meat, Moira comments that Ben cheating on his pregnant wife is an unconscionable act and he'll do it again if he has the chance. 

Violet hangs with dark depressing Rita again, and tells her she totally believes her about the house now.  Rita goes on about the Book of Revelations (which she's been catching up on) and the dragon that makes war on mankind. She takes pills to sleep, so Violet asks for one (and gets a bunch). Next she goes to the school and reads the memorial plaque to the dead students, and meets the paralyzed teacher. But he can't give her any answers why Tate did what he did.

At the hospital, Vivien gets an amnio to put her mind at ease. Ben shows up late, but together they learn everything is okay from their new doctor. Vivien comes home and has to let Moira know they can't afford her anymore. Moira is shaken and assures her she'll work for free until they sell the house and hopefully the new owners will hire her. She won't leave an expecting mother in her time of need. She abruptly changes the subject and brings her more meat—a raw brain which Vivien finds pretty tasty.

Violet goes down into the basement looking for Tate, but finds the ginger twins as well as the nurses and the recently dead home invaders, plus Charles asking if she's there for the procedure. She runs upstairs where music is blaring in her room. She sees I love you written on her blackboard. That's pretty much all she can take, so she has a huge fit, downs all her pills and goes to sleep. 

Tate appears and drags her to the bathtub screaming don't you die, and tries to wake her up, forcing her to throw up the pills. They're both a mess.

Ben gets tough with his patient and tells him he can overcome his fear if he just puts his mind to it. That seems to convince him, so he goes home and says his here, piggy pig in the mirror...and gets shot and killed by a robber hiding in the shower (?)

Vivien meets Angela the nurse at a church. The hospital staff had explained the machine malfunctioned, but Angela says she saw the unclean thing in her womb—the plague of nations. The beast. Little hooves! Vivien is so not impressed. Angela pretty much shouts that she's the Whore of Babylon as Vivien walks out.

Connie has coffee with Billy again, who tells her Addie is mad at her. Connie wants to talk to her, so tells Addie that she's sorry for never saying how proud she was of her daughter. Billy reassures her that she's a pretty girl at last where she is now, and Addie thanks her mother for not getting her to the lawn—because she knows what Tate did now, and is scared of him.

In her room, Violet peruses a library book, and sees Tate's name on the library card. Tate shows up and tells her he loves her. But something has changed in her towards him and he doesn't know what he's done. They cuddle on the bed.

The Verdict:
After all the investigation, no one knows why Tate did what he did yet. I guess if the house is responsible, he can't really be held to account. But Larry is also a victim of the house, and he doesn't seem to be that balanced at all, so it remains to be seen if Tate can be redeemed. Then again, having Connie for a mother probably didn't do him any good either.

I stand by my statement that American Horror Story is pretty much a horror version of Six Feet Under. Everyone delivers a stellar performance each week—Tate and Violet really sold this episode, and like I said in my initial comments, I really felt Violet's struggle trying to sort out the craziness in the house.

I don't exactly get the point of the Piggy Man and the random death of Ben's client. It was really the only element that didn't work this week, and the first in a long time that felt tacked on to the story for no reason. Sure the pig mask is scary, but was that all it was for? Or is it there to show that all Ben's clients end up dead and this is just the latest? Is there a reason the house might be killing his clients? Or can it even exert that kind of influence beyond the confines of its property?

But...I love love love Vivien's devil baby! Is the rubber man a demon? It and the creature in the basement don't appear to be ghosts like the others, but I have a feeling my high expectations of his identity are going to be a letdown given how much this baby is being hyped. Also curious is how keen Moira is for the new baby too, so much that she has no problem carrying out Connie's orders to keep Vivien well-fed. She wants to be freed of the house, so is the baby going to somehow help her achieve that?

Probably the worst news this week is that Addie is dead dead. She didn't make it to the lawn in time, so we're left to wonder if she's gone for good. I'd thought it was her under the bed last week, but I guess not. Unless Billy the medium is a big liar, but somehow I don't think so. That's really unfortunate, as Addie was a great character and a loss for the series.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: The Walking Dead 91

Non Spoiler Review:
Food remains a big concern for Rick as a foraging party returns to town with minimal supplies. Meanwhile, he and Andrea are dealing with their feelings for one another, but it's his relationship with Carl that brings some surprises.

Issue 91 looks to be leading into a new storyline at last, judging from the final panel, and I'm feeling it's overdue, despite all the character dramas that continue to simmer against the backdrop of the tension in Alexandria. I'm curious to see where this Andrea/Rick thing goes, but I'm anxious for a greater scope to bring some news from the outside. 

Spoilers Now!
A week long supply run returns without the bounty they hoped, and this time Maggie has accompanied Glen to put her mind more at ease about his excursions. That leaves Sophia to stay with Carl, and the two discuss their current predicaments. Sophia is growing stable enough that she can admit that Maggie and Glen aren't her parents, and tells them as much when they return. They appear happy at her progress.

Meanwhile, Rick has another meeting of his council, discussing growing their own food and giving out instructions to begin to clear land. Abraham later notes that Rick's getting really good at giving out orders. Afterwards, Andrea wants to talk to Rick about the two of them, but he admits he can't get close to her for fear that she'll die. She understands, but also comments that the two of them are survivors and are pretty much meant for one another. Later, Andrea finds herself justifying her choices to Dale's hat, saying she has had these feelings even before she and Dale hooked up. She realizes she's talking to a hat and stops herself.

Aaron and Eric share some 20-year old Scotch they found on the search and kept from the others.

Rick asks the doctor if she can clean Carl's wound because his son won't let him and he finds it pretty disturbing anyway. She agrees. Later that night Rick asks Carl to turn out his light given it's draining power. Carl starts to rebel, telling him he really has no idea what it's like for him, considering he doesn't have an eye, just a hole in his head, so he might as well just shut up about understanding what he's going through.

Outside the gates someone is observing the community.

The Verdict:
A potential schism between Rick and Carl would really be a change in tone for this series. As Carl matures, he's certain to ask questions about his father's choices, particularly the ones that left him mutilated and his mother dead. Coupled with a potential Andrea pairing, that dynamic is going to be exciting to watch. It was interesting to see her stop herself from talking to Dale's hat, in contrast to Rick's ongoing conversations with the dead.

More simmering on the Abraham rebellion, but I'm not sure where this is going. And a scene with Aaron and Eric makes me wonder what role they'll play in what's to come. Sophia's slow evolution was a nice update too, though I question if that's leading to some new direction for her given it comes out of the blue. 

Finally, who is watching Alexandria? It almost seems inevitable that yet another outside danger is going to make itself known, so I hope this one doesn't follow a similar trend with the recent raider attack, or the Governor. What if it was actually the military or some form of government? Now that would be interesting, given we've seen nothing of that sort at all yet.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Review: American Horror Story "Halloween Part 2"

Non Spoiler Review:
The conclusion to Halloween is a satisfying one to both the supernatural aspects of this two-parter, and the more dramatic and personal side of things with the crumbling Harmon family. Ben tries to come to terms with Hayden's reappearance, as well as his dissolving marriage (and sanity). Vivien also has her hands full with Hayden. Violet and Tate's date is a disaster when they're pursued by a bunch of gruesome teens with a mysterious agenda. It all leads to a whole bunch of revelations and a very long Halloween night.

I'm kicking myself for not guessing the truth about one of the characters, and the surprise came during a very well-written scene. Not only is Jessica Lange a treasure, but Vivien and Violet have the acting chops to face off against her every week. 

With this two-parter, we now have a good perspective on the house and its inhabitants, and a new direction for the Harmons. American Horror Story has proven it's not just a great scare, but a riveting drama with actors who can deliver, kind of like Six Feet Under, had the Fisher house been a nest of Satan.

Spoilers Now!
Let's rewind a bit. When Violet backed up to the kitchen the rubber man disappeared by the time she turned around. So she ran up to her room and barely missed some hands reaching out from under her bed (Adelaide?). Tate appears outside so she comes down to meet him and they head out on their date. 

The Harmons then return home to the house alarm blaring and Violet missing. So when Vivien goes upstairs, Ben answers the door to find Hayden. He slams it in her face.

Vivien gets a call from her daughter letting her know she's safe at the beach. Vivien's a cool mom so says she can be home in an hour.

Ben grabs a knife, but meets Vivien coming down to let him know their daughter is all right. He says he's going to clean up the mess out front (i.e. smashed pumpkins). Vivien's going to take a bath to calm down and then will discuss him moving out. Ben won't give up on the family. 

Outside, he encounters Larry and proceeds to beat him up. He thinks it's pretty funny that Hayden is back and begs Ben to kill him so he can come back and haunt him too. Ben seems to think it's all an elaborate extortion scheme and leaves with another round of threats.

On the beach, Tate and Violet are making out, and she wants to go all the way, but Tate can't seem to, and blames his medication. Then a bunch of teens show up who appear to be wearing various wounds as costumes, only they're not. They have a hate on for Tate and discuss the various ways they're going to kill him. Violet is very confused, so Tate runs off with her.

The doorbell rings again and Vivien greets Luke, the security guy, checking in on the alarm. She assures him everything is okay, despite the neighbourhood kids wrecking their pumpkins. Finally, she gets to her bath, but receives a call from Hayden. Vivien gives her a lecture about once being her age, when she fooled around with a married man herself and was just as disappointed when it ended. Something is missing in Ben, she explains, and it has nothing to do with either woman. But Hayden counters that he found something in her. Vivien snaps and regrets not ripping her face off when she first found them together. Ask him about Boston, Hayden says, and hangs up. Well, bathtime is ruined at that point, especially when someone wrote ask him in the steam on the mirror.

Vivien comes running downstairs screaming Hayden is in the house and to call the police. Ben wants to handle it, as having a bunch of police in front of their house isn't going to help sell it at all. He goes downstairs searching for her and finds her in the basement.

Ben's still thinking the extortion angle, but Hayden is spitting up blood and wondering what's happening to her and why did he bury her under the gazebo? She wants Vivien to know the truth about him. Ben wants to get her professional help. Larry bashes him over the head with a shovel and proceeds to apologize to Hayden for killing her. But she wants to deal with Vivien. Larry is eager to help and takes out his lighter.

Vivien looks out the window to see Chad bashing up the pumpkins in the yard. She goes out to stop him and all he can yell about is how she ruined his Halloween he'd planned with his boyfriend. Patrick has left for the bars for some illicit sex. She runs back inside and shuts the door.

Vivien can't find Ben, but the dog (remember that?) is barking, and smoke is billowing out from under the bathroom door. The curtain is on fire and she stamps it out. She gets another call from Hayden who wants to apologize. She was in the bathtub herself and left a bloody, muddy mess in it. She says she's in the kitchen, so Vivien runs down to see the microwave on and something big and bloody bursting inside. She (and us!) think it's the dog. But the pooch is in the closet as it turns out, and there were just tomatoes in the microwave. Phew.

Tate and Violet return home, but he's avoiding her questions about the teens, who have now followed them back to her house. Violet goes out to talk to them, and they realize she knows nothing of who they are and what he did to them. They tell her to look up Westfield High, as they're quite famous. Tate comes out and runs off to lead them away. 

Larry is tossing gas around the room until Chad shows up and asks him what he thinks he's doing to his house. 

Ben wakes up in the basement, tied up, with Nora (!) standing over him, telling him he's pathetic for allowing Hayden to take everything that means anything to him. Nora unties him because she won't permit another failure in the house, then tells him to save the baby

Hayden confronts Vivien in the bedroom and asks what she thinks Ben is capable of. Murder? She wants to talk about Boston and the pregnancy. Vivien thinks she means her pregnancy, which comes as a shock to Hayden who realizes that's why Ben didn't give a hoot about her abortion. This is the last thing Vivien wants to hear. Hayden smashes their family photo and comes at her with a piece of glass.

Hayden says it's better if Vivien and her baby just die now because Ben will hurt them in the long run. That's when Ben shows up. Hayden demands he come clean about Boston. He confesses he went there to be with Hayden. Because she was pregnant. That means Ben was lying about not seeing her in over a year. He admits he went back months later and lied about that too. Hayden puts down the glass. Vivien is broken. That's when Luke shows up with a gun, answering the panic button again.

Violet calls 911, but Connie shows up and demands she come with her. Addie's dead because of her. Connie takes her home and tells her about her night—going to the morgue with Addie, where she made up her daughter's face as a pretty girl. Violet is so sorry, and Connie admits she was just trying to be kind, and it was her mother that sent her out into the world. Connie confesses Addie was more like her than her other children. Violet wasn't aware of others, so Connie drops the bomb that Tate is her son (!), and he can't know his sister is dead. He doesn't react well to certain things (duh!).

Tate returns to the beach as the others catch up. He doesn't appear to know who they are, but they go on to tell him how he killed each of them. They want an explanation why they were targeted. Tate thinks they're in his head. The cheerleader says she should be 34 years old, but he doesn't give them the answers they're looking for. They have to go as the sun is coming up, so leave him alone.

At sunrise, all the ghosts in the neighbourhood (everyone we've seen so far) return to the murder house. Moira tells Chad her mother is dead. Chad won't speak to Patrick who was out cheating all night. He tells Moira he feels like he's doomed to be trapped in an unhappy adulterous relationship working on a house that will never be as he wants it. You are, Moira says.

Luke is taking Hayden in to the police, lecturing her about pining after men she can't have and torturing Mrs. Harmon. But when they arrive she's gone from the back seat.

Ben packs up a bag and Vivien says nothing as he leaves.

The Verdict:
I can't believe I was so dense that I didn't catch that Tate was a ghost all this time, but it all fits nicely with what we've seen and the rules evolving around the house. That he's Connie's son is a great twist (and another awesome scene with Violet). Now the question is how he died in the house. Suicide?

Also revealed is that Tate's fantasy of killing everyone in the school is actually a memory and the ghost kids (including Zoe Graystone!) are back to ask why he murdered them. Given the cheerleader's comments, the shootings would have happened in the 90s. 

Connie and Violet's scene was amazing (Taissa Farmiga looks to be quite a talent), and that flashback to the morgue with Addie was heartbreaking. But was that Adelaide under the bed, reaching out to Violet? There appeared to be some red sleeves, like the dress she was wearing for Halloween.

Even more Ben nastiness—he was cheating on Vivien even after he was caught the first time. It's going to be tough to continue to hope for some happiness for this guy unless the writers can pull a twist to explain some of his behaviour (and likely that deals with his past he hinted about with Tate). Though credit goes to watching Ben crumble as all his lies come back to bite him in the ass. At least Vivien kicked him out without any further backtracking. She's definitely going to bang security guy Luke (though I can't see him lasting very long).

There are still some lingering questions. What happened at the hospital? Ben and Vivien aren't even talking about the nurse fainting or what was seen on the ultrasound? And how in hell can Vivien stay in that house now? 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Review: Terra Nova "Proof"

Non Spoiler Review:
This week the focus is on Maddie, who is a nerdy fan of a geologist returning to Terra Nova after a six month expedition, which leads to her becoming his assistant. Things are not as they seem, however, and Maddie must become a prehistoric Nancy Drew to figure it out. In other happenings, Mira abruptly calls in her favor to Josh, and he's forced steal some stuff. Finally, Taylor and Jim are on a weird non-gay fishing trip together.

Maddie's plot was just ridiculous and really did nothing at all for the greater storylines at all. Who cares about these characters of the week who come in and out to drive the plot and we never see again? Meanwhile, Lucas is talked about a lot, but not seen at all, and Josh's arc regarding his divided alliances comes to a really unexpected resolution, which leads me to believe there really is no direction for this series right now.

Spoilers Now!
Taylor and Jim are enjoying some bromance time fishing, which allows Jim to ask about Lucas, and Taylor to respond that he doesn't like much talking about that. Jim gets a catch and nearly gets pulled over the cliff but is saved by Taylor (frowny face).

Back at the ever-exciting Shannon family household, Liz announces that a six month expedition with a famous geologist, Ken Horton, is about to return, which excites Maddie as she's such a nerd. Malcolm greets the man as he returns but gets no respect, whereas Maddie gets a job as his intern.

Horton has had a stroke and appears to be suffering memory problems, so Maddie starts investigating and finds his signatures no longer match some old correspondence. Then Horton pretends to have lost her letter, so Maddie takes it upon herself to rifle through his office, finding her letter burned. Hiding under the table, she sees Horton return, only he seems to walk fine without the aid of his cane.

At the bar, Boylen tells Josh Mira is calling in her favor. The Sixers need medicine for some kind of sickness in their camp, a substance that is tightly controlled. Which means stealing his mother's access card. But Josh wants assurances Mira will actually get him what he wants. So Mira shows him some two-way communication with Kara in the future, which makes absolutely no sense.

Taylor and Jim come upon an encampment a few days old. They assume it's Curran, so Taylor wants to go investigate and send Jim home. After tracking him though the night, he comes upon Curran, who is suffering a leg wound from a venomous reptile. Taylor helps him, though, and scares away the dinosaur that comes back for him.

Taylor likes a good redemption, and tells him if he plays his cards right, he might let him back into Terra Nova. He wants him to infiltrate the Sixer camp and find out who in Terra Nova is supplying Mira information. If he doesn't do it, he'll kill him the next time he sees him.

Josh breaks into the lab and steals all the medicine. But he used a sonic gun which had quite a kickback. Investigating the robbery, Jim feels it was someone trying to steal street drugs and will certainly be hurting from the sonics.

Josh has to listen to Liz and Jim bitch about the stolen drugs. Liz needs the drugs for a patient, but will have to wait for the Eleventh Pilgrimage to even requisition it. Josh storms out in a huff saying they need a way to communicate with the future.

Maddie thinks someone has impersonated Horton, so needs to get a sample of his DNA to see if it matches the real Horton. Malcolm catches her analyzing DNA, so she comes clean about her suspicions. He's eager to help. However the samples match. Unfortunately, Horton's overheard their conversation.

Once Mira gets her meds, they'll let Boylen contact his future contacts and Kara will be on the Eleventh Pilgrimage. Josh tells him Jim won't stop until he finds out the truth. So Boylen gets an idea to frame someone else (a guy who owes him money). He gets him high on the drug and shoots him with a sonic, so when he shows up in the hospital Jim at first suspects he's the robber. But Jim doesn't believe his story and thinks he wants them to arrest him.

Detective Maddie concludes that Horton had an assistant who stole his identity to get to Terra Nova. She uses Terra Nova's library computer and figures out his assistant killed the real Horton. Unfortunately, Horton shows up. Unfortunately for him, they're interrupted, so she leaves. 

But Horton picks up Zoe at school so Maddie takes off in pursuit and finds them at the apple orchard. Horton plays innocent, though, and tells them they need to chat alone. So Maddie sends Zoe home with a message about dinner, which apparently warns Jim of trouble.

Horton attempts to kill Maddie with a  poisonous spider but Jim shows up and saves her in ten seconds. As they chill after that, Josh comes forward and gives his mother one of the vials and confesses to stealing the drugs. He tells them about his conversations with Mira and Boylen. Jim's enraged, and goes to Boylen, who admits Mira can talk to the future, but Taylor insists that's impossible because the portal must be open to communicate. Unless...Lucas might have figured out a way, because that was the reason Lucas was recruited in the first place. 

The Verdict:
The big surprise this week was how suddenly Josh's betrayal was resolved. Excuse me, but what? I was under the impression this was a seasons long storyline dealing with Josh's torn loyalties to get Kara to the past. So Mira wastes her big favor to get meds, rather than, say, help in assassinating Taylor? Then he comes clean to his parents about the whole thing, with no repercussions, and Boylen is turned in. What was the point of all this?

On to Taylor's odd behaviour. Was he planning all along to have Curran be his spy among the Sixers? That's quite a gamble, given Curran is already a murderer and will likely throw in with the much saner Mira.

The idea that people would do anything to get back to the past, even identity theft, is actually a decent idea, but who really cares about these one-shot characters. Bylaw gave us a whole bunch of murder suspects we just didn't care about, and this time another new scientist we'll never see again (did he get banished?). Meanwhile, every series regular, from Reynolds to Washington, remain static. I'm still scratching my head over this one.
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