Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: Being Human (USA) "Don't Fear the Scott"

Non Spoiler Review:
Sally has to come to terms with all the damage she's done to ghost and human alike, while Josh is making the attempt to move forward with Julia—enter Nora to cause problems. But why not have a dinner party in the meantime with Suren and Julia? Sounds like a great idea.

A lot of decent ideas were thrown into this week, but the pay off is not there. The characters continue to respond to what the writers throw at them rather than have events evolve naturally out of their lives, amounting to contrived scenes and plot devices. So often we're told how we should be reacting to these people (the usual musical montage and flashbacks to fill in the gaps of story that we should have gotten long ago). It's driven home by having just watched the final episode of the UK season four, which has about twenty times the emotional investment of this version. 

Spoilers Now!
Mother is visiting again, so Henry and Aidan make preparations. Josh wants Julia to stay over, but she has issues with how Aidan treated her. Sally is still being tormented by her reaper persona and tries to ignore him, while lamenting about the lives and ghosts she's ruined. To make matters worse, Aidan fills her in that the doctor's girlfriend, Janet (whom Sally possessed) was brought in to the psychiatric ward.

Josh convinces Aidan to make peace with Julia so he can get on with his relationship, so Aidan suggests dinner (with Suren as well). At the dinner party, Julia is the only human present and Sally just watches making annoying commentary. It starts out awkward but Suren behaves quite well and treats Julia rather decently, and is okay with the fact that Julia was with Aidan before. 

But afterwards, Suren isn't sure she fits in with Aidan's human life now. However, Julia is comfortable enough with the situation that she will come back to Josh's place again. Except they run into Nora. She's come back to try to fix things, but Josh says she's too late. She was confused when she left and admits it was a mistake. Julia's worried Josh will leave her again.

Sally wants to possess Janet so she'll at least know she's not insane. The boys don't think that's a good idea, but she crosses paths with Nora at the hospital (failing to get her job back) and they commiserate about what's happened. She wants to help, so Nora visits Janet and tells her she knows who Sally is too, and explains why she has her memories. Janet decides Nora's just a mental patient like her, and tells her to prove it by reciting a poem Sally wrote when she was nine. She does. Janet believes her and they ultimately get her out of the hospital. 

Mother applauds her daughter's success and says she will remain in charge in Boston (much to Suren's chagrin, who just wants to go somewhere better, like the coast). She's yet to make up for eight centuries of disappointment, though. Mother does keep up her bargain with Aidan and grants him freedom, sealing off the vampire world from him, and anyone who does contact him will be put to death. That's not exactly what he meant by getting set free, so he lunges for her and is thrown out. 

Josh is elated Aidan is free. But Aidan explains he's banished, and that's not the same thing. He's in love with Suren and freedom means nothing to him now. So Aidan calls Henry in to help. He wants Suren to run away with him and announces to Sally and Josh he's leaving. So it's a final (cough cough) goodbye as there can be no communication (ever). They say their good-byes, and there's even a montage of all their happy times in the house which lasts all of three seconds.

Nora comes to see Josh again, apologizing for all she's done. She learned Brinn was the violent one, not Conner, and she got tired of it. But she's brought an interesting tidbit about werewolves she learned. He can get back everything he wanted and lift the curse—finding the man who turned him. If he finds Ray and kills him while he's still a man, he's free. 

Aidan and Suren go into temporary hiding in a hotel, but he has to run out to get Suren some food because she's being a bitch and turning into Sally. He's confronted by Henry and a few vampires with stakes who tell him they won't let him run.

The Verdict:
There's zero tension with Aidan's decision to abandon his friends in favor of Suren. The whole season has shown he's looking out for himself and not Sally and Josh. Why not ditch them for the crazy vampire princess? Why not ditch his own protege, as well, which he's fine to leave behind in Mother's company? Add in Aidan's send off that was a bit much...queue the lame music and (brief) montage. This season has obviously spanned a large amount of time (due to Josh's regular full moon transformations), so the three of them haven't been spending an enormous amount of time together. At least that we've seen, which is the whole point of seeing them interacting rather than just assuming.

Nora plays plot device in several ways—disrupting Josh's happiness, and providing an extra supernatural revelation that offers Josh the promise of a cure. He just has to become a murderer. Her whole scene with Sally and Janet was just ridiculous—oh my god, I can't remember that poem, but wait, oh ya I can. And the whole ordeal from last week really didn't accomplish much if Sally is still seeing the reaper. What was the point of all that, aside from filler?

Would Josh really let Aidan bring Suren in the house to meet his girlfriend and put them in the same room together given their history? I can't see it. But the writers seemed to feel it would make for some lighthearted Josh and Aidan moments. This American version has too many episodes and slashing it in half would make the writers hopefully come up with a concise and taught script absent of unnecessary scenes like Sally lying on tables (which they seem to love).

Review: The Walking Dead 94

Non Spoiler Review:
Issue 94, A Larger World, charts the journey to meet up with Jesus' people. Carl returns to the storyline as he talks to Jesus and seems to like him, then tags along as the group gets on the road to see if the stranger's story of a greater society is true.

The whole gang is back together for this trip, so it promises to be interesting once they get to the new settlement. It's been awhile, but Carl is finally back in the action of the story. 

While this whole storyline has been on a slow burn, at least it brings events to a point where it feels the world for our characters is going to change in a big way.

Spoilers Now!
Carl gets his bandages tended to, and sneaks in to see the prisoner, Jesus. Meanwhile, scouting around the borders of the community, Rick and Michonne find no indication that Jesus' people might be lying in wait. When Rick returns, he's alarmed to find his son talking to the captive. He informs Jesus he's going to lead them to his hilltop outpost, and if Rick doesn't like what he sees, he'll kill him on the spot.

Later, Aaron has a chat with Rick, making the comment that Rick didn't trust him at first, either, and things ended up not too bad. If he pushes Jesus too hard, he could damage some potential opportunities. Rick asks Andrea to stay behind, but she realizes he's protecting her given his feelings. She convinces him he needs her on this expedition.

Abraham joins the group, as well, so he, Rick, Glen, Michonne and Andrea drive off in a van with a tied up Jesus. On the way, they find Carl has stowed away, which infuriates Rick, but he opts to take him along. Carl just wants to see the place Jesus is talking about.

The next day they have to clear the road of some vehicles, and Jesus reveals he's been free all along. He and Rick seem to have established a measure of trust. Jesus sees they're good people, given his talk with Carl has impressed him that he's raised his son pretty well given the circumstances. Now he asks Rick to trust him, as they've arrived within sight of the hilltop.

The Verdict:
This was an interesting chapter. On one hand I did enjoy that Carl was getting back into the action of the book again, as well as the interplay among the characters along the journey. But Kirkman is taking his sweet time building up to whatever is waiting on the hilltop fort, so I will definitely be happy to actually get through the doors next month.

Rick can be very infuriating at times, and Aaron voices what is likely going through everyone's mind—that Rick's mistrust could royally screw up everyone's chances for a better life. It's very hard to gauge who is right in this circumstance, as the journey did bring up thoughts of Woodbury and all the mess that happened there. It will be interesting to see what kind of leadership lies within the hilltop, and if it raises the spectre of the governor.

The series has been about survival. Now they're reaching a place where it might be about rebuilding, so the implications of this storyline for the future of the The Walking Dead is really exciting.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review: Spartacus: Vengeance "Monsters"

Non Spoiler Review:
While dealing with his own personal problems, Spartacus attempts to create a new brotherhood among the rebels. Glaber gets a lead on their whereabouts and prepares to end the rebellion for good, but is met both with surprises from Rome and within his household.

Monsters sets up a precarious situation for many as the season races towards its end. The stakes are high for all the characters (and some meet a surprising death this week in typical fashion). Monsters left me with a bit of a sickening feeling in what happens, and I completely forgot that next week is the finale, so I'm both sad and excited to see it arrive so soon (at least season three won't be such a long wait this time).

It will take a lot top last season's carnage, but it appears all the pieces are in place to create a similar ending for what has been a fantastic comeback for the series.

Spoilers Now!
Three Romans manage to get into the temple while the rebels sleep. It turns out to be Crixus, Spartacus and Gannicus, wearing the armor they stole and testing their security measures. Oenomaus promises not to be taken unaware next time.

Glaber is wooing a frigid Seppia when Ilithyia suddenly and dramatically appears in the door and collapses in the pool. As she recovers, Glaber is more concerned to find out if she recalls anything of where she was held (stone, beams of wood, she recount, and writing on the walls that appeared to be Greek). She realizes he hasn't put her in their bed chambers, and Spartacus was correct that her death would have held no meaning for him. He confirms her fears—he's been turned into a monster out of necessity, due to her actions.

Spartacus attempts to calm the angry rebels who are fighting among themselves, but they want to know why he let Ilithyia go. He explains they're better than the Romans. Oenomaus begins training, but Crixus describes them all as fingers looking for purpose rather than a fist. Spartacus has Agron capture another wagon—this one full of wine—to forge some bonds among the freed slaves, and have sport between those with personal quarrels to work out their aggression.

Meanwhile, Mira confronts him about what happened, and Spartacus confesses that he cannot give any more of his heart to her. That's not enough, they both realize, and that appears to be the end of that relationship.

Lucretia finds Ilithyia (she hadn't been told she was returned), and they have a happy reunion. She confesses the child she has grown to love is Spartacus'. Lucretia informs her about Seppius' murder and how Seppia has been made aware of it and now burns with thoughts of vengeance. Ilithyia suggests she and her child may rise from the ashes.

Glaber and Ashur attempt to glean a location of where Spartacus might be, and determine they are moving around a central area. The Egyptian brings the head of Lucius to them, and once he is identified, know he dwelt in a temple in the shadow of Vesuvius. Glaber declares they march at nightfall.

Ashur continues to gloat to Lucretia about his rise and reveals he's discovered Spartacus' location. As a reward, Glaber will give him freedom—and has presented the ludus as a gift, and Lucretia as loving wife. She's mortified that he strives to see the rise of a new house of Ashur on the ashes of her husband's.

As Glaber makes preparations to fight, Varinius arrives with orders from the Senate to send him back to Rome. He says rumour of Ilithyia's abduction is known, but she abruptly makes an appearance and explains she's only taken to bed from the pregnancy. Varinius has brought an army to bring Spartacus to justice, and if Glaber refuses he will have no hope of rising any further.

Seppia is relieved to see Varinius, and apparently she had sent him message that Ilithyia was missing. He's annoyed that he's found her safe and sound and doubts the veracity of her story. The bracelet alone will not be evidence enough to incriminate Glaber for Seppius' death.

Oenomaus is pleased with the success of Spartacus' strategy as everyone is getting along famously now, so Spartacus offers a new contest between Agron and Crixus against Gannicus and Oenomaus. Crixus and Agron are bested but everyone seems to make their peace.

Lucretia consoles Seppia and continues to gain her trust. She suggests Glaber's desire presents opportunity and gives her a dagger. She convinces Seppia that they must spill blood to avenge all the wrongs that have been done.

Lucretia reports to Ilithyia, and she agrees with Glaber's death given there is no hope he will reason with them. Seppia goes to Glaber, who is about to return to Rome. She sends away his slaves as he prepares for the bath and confesses she doesn't have faith Varinius can defeat Spartacus. As he moves in to seek comfort, she smashes the wine urn over his head and knocks him down. As she raises the dagger it's Ilithyia that stops her hand and slits her throat, letting her fall into the bath. Glaber is in shock, but realizes she saved his life.

They can't be what they were, so she suggests they be what they are. She would see their venom turned to those truly deserving—Seppia, the Senate, and Varinius. They're both monsters and she wants to be so together. They kiss, and he vows to march to Vesuvius.

Crixus and Naevia finally reconsummate their relationship. As the festivities continue into the night, Gannicus joins Spartacus and tells him he still believes he'll lead them to their deaths, but it will be a glorious one. They suddenly spy the lookout signalling from the mountain that the Romans are approaching. Spartacus assembles the rebels and rallies for battle.

As the Romans make their way through the woods they're set upon by the rebels, but there are too many and they're forced to fall back. Spartacus and Gannicus attack the praetor directly. The battle is taken to the temple. Spartacus realizes it's not Glaber, but Varinius in charge. As Varinius is brought back to the temple, he's ordered to tell his men to lay down their arms. Crixus recognizes him from the ludus.

That's when a fireball is catapulted inside the walls and the temple comes under bombardment—this time from Glaber's force in the forest. Battle is resumed and Crixus pushes Varinius in the path of one projectile, and he's killed.

Ashur and the Egyptian lead the men inside the breached walls. Spartacus orders a fall back into the tunnels. Oenomaus fights the Egyptian and escapes, but loses an eye. In their retreat, Spartacus, Agron and Crixus break jars of oil and cover their escape with fire. When they emerge into the woods they're attacked again by Romans and Spartacus tells everyone to flee up the mountain path.

In the temple ruins, Ashur says there is no way up the mountain aside from the single pass, so Spartacus holds the high ground. Glaber is pleased with that, and will let them feast on mud and rock. When hunger drives them down he'll kill them all.

The Verdict:
Monsters really brought out the viciousness of Glaber and Ilithyia. I'm left wondering (hopefully) that Seppia's death was part of Lucretia's plan, because Ilithyia could have acted alone again to secure her own future. We won't see until next week, but I'm leaning towards Lucretia being behind it all along. It's quite the gamble if that's the case, given Glaber could have easily turned against Ilithyia too (and still may).

Spartacus' major defeat really shows their desperation, leaving them with just one tactical option to climb up Vesuvius. It's still so early in the rebellion I'm wondering how this will all play out and who might be sacrificed to make a more permanent escape. And speaking of sacrifices—poor Oenomaus can't get a break.

I dont know what to make of Spartacus' break up with seems to fall a little flat, given what they've been through together (on the run and back in the ludus)—that he would give her such grief for her good (albeit misplaced) intentions. That just seemed contrived to suit plot developments (could Saxa be his next gal, or has she already chosen Gannicus?). And could this breakup mean that Mira's number is up in the finale?

Next week is sure to be a bloodbath. Something tells me Agron's days could be numbered, too, so I'm hoping I'm wrong. But it seems the rebel cast is getting winnowed down enough that there are few sacrificial lambs left for the finale. As long as Ashur gets his just desserts at the hands of Lucretia, I'll leave the season satisfied.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: Mad Men "A Little Kiss"

Non Spoiler Review:
After one of the longest waits I've ever endured for a series, Mad Men returns with its fifth season. Opening about six months after the finale, we find Don about to celebrate his 40th birthday as he and new wife Megan live in a lavish Manhattan apartment. SCDP continues to struggle with finances, but things appear to be stable—although Roger has become something of a dead weight given he's bringing in no business, and that causes friction through the office. Joan is enduring her somewhat single-mother status (as hubby is stationed at a military hospital).

It's always a bit of a struggle to catch up with everyone, especially after such a long hiatus, but A Little Kiss succeeds in bringing things up to date, all while the civil rights movement and women's liberation provide a backdrop, and promise a lot more development as the season progresses.

I'm excited to see what directions this season takes, given there are so many possibilities in the little tidbits we see this week. Visually, the episode looks amazing, including a memorable musical number that will likely stick in your head. Costumes and sets are vibrant and sexy and make the whole two hour premiere a really great experience—welcoming back all the characters that both endear themselves and annoy us. 

Spoilers Now!
With the civil rights movement in full swing, protests in front of rival ad firm Young and Rubicam prompt some employees to toss water balloons on the picketers below, and creates a minor scandal in the press that Roger takes delight in rubbing their nose in. He posts a fake equal opportunity ad for new secretaries in the paper as a joke. Unfortunately, Joan, now with her new baby and very passive aggressive mother—who wants nothing better for her daughter to stay at home and never go back to work—sees the ad and is distraught that the firm has abandoned her.

It's Memorial Day, and the kids are staying at Don and Megan's swanky Manhattan apartment, celebrating Don's 40th birthday early. Megan and Don go into work together, as Don takes pleasure in doing as little as possible, while Megan works under Peggy in creative.

Pete still feels he gets no respect, especially from Roger, who has garnered virtually no new business but still maintains his large office while Pete is stuck in his tiny nook. Pete and Carolyn are now living out of the city and have a child. Pete is especially outraged when Roger shows up at all his client meetings (flirting with Pete's secretary so he can get a peek at his calendar) and takes delight in belittling Pete as much as possible.

Peggy presents a campaign to Heinz, but they're not fond of it at all, and when Don shows up for his customary appearance, he sides with the client. Peggy is annoyed that the old Don would have sold the creative rather than send them back to the drawing board. He's too agreeable and patient these days. Meanwhile, Megan needs Peggy's advice for a surprise party she's throwing for Don. Peggy immediately warns her Don hates surprises, but Megan just wants help with who to (and not to) invite (and excludes Joan).

Pete meets with Don to advise him Mohawk Airlines wants them back and Don is the big draw. But Pete wants Roger's office in order to make an impression, and calls a partners meeting to discuss. Roger walks out when Pete wants to put it to a vote. He knows the rest see he's right but Lane won't extend their credit any further for more office space.

The night of the party everyone gathers at the apartment given it's a surprise for Don. Peggy is still dating Abe, and Lane and his wife are still together, as well. Megan takes Don home from dinner, but they run into Roger and his wife at the front door about to knock. Don realizes it's a surprise and reluctantly goes in. 

As everyone gets to mingling, Roger offers Don some advice about his younger wife, who is off laughing with her younger friends—that being that they're not laughing about him. Peggy gets a little lippy about redoing the Heinz pitch after a few drinks. When it comes time for Megan's present to her husband, she sings Zou Bisou Bisou, which is a tad sexually suggestive and makes Don squirm. 

Afterwards, tired and ready for bed, Don asks her not to use her money to embarrass him again. He's been 40 for half a year (as Dick Whitman), but only he knows that. He never had birthdays when he was growing up and he doesn't like them. Megan leaves him to sleep and goes to clean up.

At work on Monday, Roger wastes no time in mocking Don. Don warns him not to make fun of each others' wives.

Lane finds a wallet in a cab, but doesn't want to leave it to the black cabbie to return it (though he does tip him). He and his wife are having money troubles with their son's private school, as well. He finds a photo of an attractive woman, Delores, and gets her on the phone. They have a flirtatious conversation as she claims she's the man's gal. He oversteps himself by suggesting he deliver it personally to her, but then they both decide she'll come in to the office to pick it up.

Having had enough of her mother, and in fear for her job options, Joan opts to take the baby to SCDP. She has an awkward exchange with Megan, given she wasn't invited to the party. Roger shows up and makes some thinly veiled quips about the child being his. She finally meets with Lane who explains that wasn't an actual ad, but a barb from Roger. She's in no danger of having her job phased out. Joan vents about her frustrations raising her baby and being out of the loop at the firm given no one came to visit her, but Lane puts her mind to ease and they share a laugh as he fills Joan in on the party.

Harry gets caught talking about Megan's performance, so he assumes he's in trouble when he gets called in to see Roger, who wants Pete and Harry to trade offices. He even offers Harry a personal bribe to sweeten the deal. But Pete isn't happy with the new office change, given that's not the point.

Megan is angry with all the fallout from her party, and has words with Peggy about her Heinz remarks. She breaks down and tells her everyone at the firm is so cynical and doesn't know how to have fun. Peggy apologizes, but Megan needs to go home. Peggy goes to Don to set things right about her comments, but lets him know Megan is kind of upset about the whole thing, so he heads home himself.

The owner of the wallet arrives, but absent his gal, so Lane goes out to greet him (but not before keeping the picture of Delores). He returns the wallet, but the man makes a point of checking that everything is there, leading to a tense moment before he remarks that it's all good. Lane refuses to take a reward, and the man comments his girl said he was real polite and sounded foreign. So he tucks a bill into Lane's coat and tells him that's the way we do things here.

Don returns home to an angry Megan cleaning the house in her underwear. After some bitter barbs and roughness, they have sex on the floor. Don didn't want the party because he didn't want those people in his home. And all the problems in the office were there before Megan. She wonders if going to work with him isn't a good idea anymore. He doesn't care about work. He wants her, not her at work.

Pete sits in his new office and tells his secretary to let Roger do whatever he wants and pencil in a 6 AM appointment with Coca Cola on Staten Island.

Don and Megan arrive at SCDP in the morning and the lobby is full of black people applying to Roger's joke ad. They have no option but to go through with the interviews, otherwise be taken to task like Young and Rubicam (who also just happened to send over an African idol with a resumé that everyone in the lobby saw). Don suggests they just hire one. Lane goes out to thank everyone for coming and collects their resumés.

The Verdict:
Don and Megan are really a charming couple (and Megan is just so awesome and a great boon to the show). But I'm getting the impression that perhaps Don's actions are going to turn our lovely Megan into a Betty. If she happens to get pregnant, I could see her become the lonely stay-at-home housewife that turned Betty into the unhappy thing she is. But Zou Bisou Bisou stole the entire episode.

Roger's the loose cannon more than ever, unhappy in his own marriage and wandering around SCDP causing trouble. After enduring his shenanigans last season (Lucky Strike, the Japanese, etc), I'm wondering if this year he'll do something so destructive that he'll force the other partners to act. He's managed to create sympathy for Pete, who has achieved a level of respect (if not likability).

Sally appears to have matured considerably, but until we see what her home life is with Betty, I don't count her out of the woods yet. And if Megan should get pregnant, I imagine the Draper children aren't going to be happy about it.

Lane's subplot was an odd one, but it was a nice little parallel in how his treatment of the cabbie got thrown back at him by someone far beneath his station, and a pretty awkward scene for everyone. His marriage looks to be pretty frigid, which makes his scenes with Joan so enjoyable. They have amazing chemistry.

There's not much to say about the rest, aside from catching up with Peggy, Kenny, Harry and Stan. The civil rights movement has finally come to the forefront. It shouldn't be too hard finding a secretary to fire at SCDP and provide an opening, given the amount of incompetence we saw this week.

I would still like some answers to lingering questions—how does Joan's doctor husband not know he's not the father? Watching Peggy hold the baby makes me wonder if we'll ever see Peggy's child who must now be around five years old? I thought Bert left after Don's anti-smoking letter. Will we ever see Sal again? So many lingering plot points after four seasons, I hope some get addressed.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review: The River "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"

Non Spoiler Review:
The first season of The River comes to an end as Emmet attempts to reforge his relationships with his family and crew. A random event throws the Magus into turmoil and forces the crew into a race against time to save Lincoln.

Like many episodes, Row, Row, Row Your Boat was a taut roller coaster ride, and I certainly was entertained. This week's paranormal bit was yet another take on a tried and true formula. Not much new here at all in that respect. The final minutes were the major twist that sets up a possible next season (which may or may not happen at this point). 

I'm interested enough to stick with the show, but given the body of episodes under its belt, The River needs to evolve beyond the supernatural riff of the week format, and really put a new spin on things. It gets marks for effort and certainly surpassed the other new genre shows this year. It would be unfortunate if it didn't get a chance to grow with a second season.

Spoilers Now!
Happy reunions abound on the Magus as Clark interviews everyone for their final reactions for his documentary. Only Jahel is pensive about how lucky they were to have seen the Bioúna and allowed to leave. And it's also time to get answers from Emmet.

Emmet explains he thought he was supposed to find something in the Amazon, but that's over. He should have died, and admits to failing Lena's father. Lena wants to know what the mark means. He confesses he thought she was meant for something special but he realizes now all the signs he's seen were signs to just get out. She presses him to know what the source is, but he prefers that she hate him rather than suffer from his knowledge.

Emmet tells Lincoln the tapes of the expedition will go in the fire, and no one will know what's happened. Then a shot comes through the window and hits Lincoln and kills (!) him. Distraught Tess demands someone confess to it. Accusations start getting tossed around, including to Kurt, as Clark reveals overhearing the conversation where he said he would put down Emmet. Kurt hands over his gun and tells them if he'd wanted them dead they would be.

As Jahel pilots the boat she hears static on the radio and asks if anyone is there. Emmet questions Tess about where she found Kurt. Then Jahel runs in and tells them there's a way to get Lincoln back from the dead—the Bioúna. But Emmet says there's some things they don't call upon.

In private Tess asks her to bring back her son no matter what it takes. The two of them perform the ritual in secret (which is being channelled to Jahel). Emmet runs in as the boat takes on water and Jahel creates mayhem. They run into the infirmary and find Lincoln alive and awake and he tells them it was Kurt who fired. Emmet is happy Lincoln is back, but confides his fear with Tess that they brought back something dark.

Jonas chats with Lincoln as he's recovering and having something to eat in the kitchen. Lincoln reveals he knows it was him, not Kurt, who shot him (in an attempt to kill Emmet). He didn't tell anyone because he has unfinished business with Kurt, and then kills Jonas.

Emmet thanks Clark for funding the expedition but Clark dismisses any gratitude and says he was just making a documentary and didn't expect to see him alive. He's hurt that Tess and Emmet are obviously getting back together. Emmet reviews the footage to catch up, including what just happened in the kitchen, except the video shows Jonas walking out after a friendly exchange, and Lincoln staring (evilly) at the camera.

Emilio reveals to Jahel that her mother isn't dead, and used her gift just as Jahel has done. She was unable to silence the voices but he won't tell her where she is. But it should serve as a warning to her.

Lincoln visit Kurt, who immediately recognizes he's not Lincoln. He beats up Kurt and tells him they've met before. Meanwhile Clark is drowning his sorrows about losing Tess in the kitchen when AJ comes in, and they both find blood dripping from the ceiling—Jonas' body.

Lena finds Lincoln on deck. He confesses he wants to be with her again, so they go inside to hook up, but he abruptly throws up as Emmet approaches and demands it let go of his son.

Lincoln is locked up and Emmet tells them he needs Lena to help free Lincoln from what has him. He's possessed by the black snake—the Bioúna itself. Emmet tries to get a dragonfly down his throat. The spirit remains too powerful and Emmet can't do it. So Tess goes to Kurt to plead for his help. She asks if he tried to kill her husband, and he says yes, but he isn't going to now.

Kurt apparently knows more than them about the Bioúna. The spirit has to be forced out by Lincoln so he advises they talk to him and not the demon. Emmet appeals to all that he's missed about his son's life and Lincoln's body rises, blowing out all the windows. AJ films something swimming away underwater.

Day 38. Apparently free, Lincoln apologizes for his behaviour, but Lena can't really deal with him. They are within two kilometers from exiting the Bioúna, and everyone seems to be making some amends after their arduous expedition. Except they realize the signal has been lost and they're not on the map anymore. They send up the drone which shows the river itself is closing and changing with the jungle. Lincoln says it's never going to let them go.

The Verdict:
After a string of supernatural themes—ghosts and demons, zombies, mad science, etc, the inevitable possession gets a role this week. It didn't really offer anything we haven't seen from any recent exorcism movie. Sure, it made for an interesting episode, but quite predictable, right down to the familiar he has to beat the demon himself idea.

Jonas' attempted murder of Emmet really got surprisingly little play (or real motivation), as did Kurt's story, which I'm guessing is planned for a next season (if there is one). It all came off pretty contrived, and relied on the pace of events, again, to divert attention from the plot holes. 

I'm hoping for a second season. I'm not entirely sold on the series yet, but would keep watching if it were to improve. The current television crop has very little innovation and The River can't be faulted for making an attempt at something different, even if it did slip into cliches after its impressive premiere. It's got a pretty decent cast of characters that can carry it forward, if given the chance.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: Being Human (USA) "Dream Reaper"

Non Spoiler Review:
Sally's living life in a dream world, which you would think would be awesome for everyone in the real world, given she's out of their hair. Except ghost Sally has arcane locked the house and Aidan and Josh are stuck together's a full moon! What is a werewolf and vampire to do—call Zoe for help!

Sally's reaper business gets dealt with this week, but it's nothing that we haven't seen before, complete with evil demon voices revealing secrets, mind melds and all manner of exorcisty-type stuff. It served to get Josh and Aidan to hash out some grievances, but it's bad when the best thing about the episode is the set design of Sally's dream house.

Spoilers Now!
Sally's in a dream world where she's actually a nice person and dating her imaginary reaper persona. Meanwhile, Josh and Aidan are having a petty bitch fight about what to do. It's also the full moon (AGAIN), so Josh is easily agitated. And it's been over 24 hours since Aidan last drank blood, so he's testy, too. They decide only Zoe can help.

Zoe gets filled in, and chastises herself for not seeing it all coming. Josh apparently has not heard the reaper story yet (after how many months now? What do they talk about at home?). Zoe assumes the reaper is her alter, and if he wins it won't be Sally anymore (which wouldn't be so bad, would it?). 

In dream world, Sally gets IMs from Aidan asking her to come back to them. The reaper gets wise to them and manages to lock them all in the house so they can't get out. That means Zoe is locked inside with two monsters, and Josh decides to berate Aidan for not filling him in about the reaper.

Sally can hear their voices through the dream world. Zoe has an idea to meld their minds. That only aggravates Sally/reaper who remains trapped in the salt prison, but claims Sally is gone. She taunts both of them for being prisoners in the house and claims they did this to her from their neglect, and the reaper is just protecting her. A couple of more hours and they'll finally be dead. She brings up some valid points about Aidan killing in Josh's house. She also drops the bomb on  Zoe that Sally shredded Nick. 

Zoe's distraught and refuses to help, forcing the boys to come clean about their vampire/werewolf nature. She tries her meld again, and enters the dreamworld where Sally is hosting a party. She tries to get her back to reality. She's interrupted as she starts to bleed because Aidan is chowing down on her back in the house. Josh intervenes and pulls him off her. 

Josh is furious and berates him for feeding under their roof. He's the only one trying anymore. Aidan cries like a baby. Josh offers himself up to feed on, but apparently vampires don't drink from werewolves. He does so and enjoys it a little too much and seems satisfied after only a little drink. Then he starts throwing up blood (and that's why vampires don't drink from werewolves).

Nick is at Sally's dream party having a toast with the reaper. But Zoe's words are starting to sink in and she begins to remember. The reaper steps in to strangle Zoe, but Aidan's screams bring them back to reality—Sally chooses her friends and falls down the stairs to rejoin them.

The house is unlocked and Zoe wakes up. Sally assures Josh she's okay and he needs to go. Aidan manages to recover. Zoe's fine, but will never forgive Sally for what she did. Alone, Sally contemplates everything that's happened, and sees her reaper by the window, telling him she wants him gone. But it's not that simple. He's a part of her, and he'll wait until she he can catch her.

The Verdict:
Sally's dream house was amazing! And everyone  there wore sweet colour-coordinated clothes. Sadly, that's the best part. Because Sally seemed so much nicer and happier in her own faux life that I kind of wish we'd seen her in real life (and out of that terrible outfit she's stuck in). It would have been nice to end her story and leave her in that happy dream time, but, of course, that would mean everyone else got torn apart in their real house.

Back in reality she was speaking in cliched demon voices and still grumpy pants and I didn't care a hoot about her. That whole bit was something we've seen so many times before—the whole your friends just need to talk you back from the abyss thing. Even then, it looks like her reaper side is just waiting for a time when the writers have nothing for Sally to do (which could be in two weeks).

She managed to produce the ability to arcane lock the house and force Josh and Aidan to finally have a real conversation in months. But has it resolved anything? I still find Aidan to be such a whiny addict, that having Josh make his escape and run off with Julia is the only logical course for him right now.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review: Spartacus: Vengeance "Balance"

Non Spoiler Review:
Ilithyia's capture creates shock waves at both the temple and the ludus. Spartacus is put in a difficult position that makes his decision with what to do with her far less simple. Meanwhile, Glaber tries to manage the issues around his missing wife, and his new love, Seppia. Lucretia endures further insults from Ashur, prompting her to come up with a new plan.

More fun melodrama this week, and some interesting internal struggles, especially with Spartacus, who is still coming to terms with revenge for his wife's death. The plot moves briskly, as usual, as plot points set in motion in the last couple of weeks get played out.

At this point it's growing tedious to say it all works. I can't remember the last episode where I thought the story fell short, so I'll just continue to applaud the writers for making every week just as compelling as the last. On a side note, I'm enjoying the forest setting, as it makes for some nice visuals that we're not used to, given the Capuan focus for the previous season and miniseries.

Spoilers Now!
Ilithyia is led through the forest by Gannicus, until they come upon a couple of travellers, requiring him to remove the blindfold and explain his wife fell off her horse on the road to Pompeii. Ilithyia takes the moment to plead for help, and Gannicus quickly dispatches all the men. He promises to hack out her tongue if she raises her voice again. 

Mira and Spartacus are hunting together as Gannicus arrives with his captive. He proposes Spartacus take the life of Glaber's woman as he took the life of Spartacus', and end the vengeance that is causing so much suffering. That leaves Spartacus with much to consider.

Lucretia is distraught that her slip of the tongue led Gannicus to know where Ilithyia was travelling. Spartacus and Gannicus have never met as far as she knows, but Glaber can't assume that she hasn't been taken there. They guess he must need her alive, but he forbids any word of it escaping his walls. Ashur has seen all traces of the attack covered up.

Training continues at the temple under Oenomaus' eye, and Naevia is showing quite a skill. Spartacus returns with the captive, much to Crixus' shock. Gannicus and Oenomaus meet eyes. Spartacus takes Ilithyia inside as she's taunted by the rebels, while Lucius wonders if their cause now involves killing a woman with child.

Glaber pays a visit to the brothel to ask about Gannicus' whereabouts. He has no patience for their silence and kills several people to extract the information.

Spartacus confronts Ilithyia and vows he'll have vengeance for his wife. He draws sword, only to have her reveal the child is his. Her monthly blood ceased after he came to her at the villa. She tells him to take her life if he choses, but his wife will turn from him in the after life. 

Saxa appears interested in Gannicus as she first lays eyes upon him. Crixus sits with him and suggests the disagreement with Oenomaus will pass, and congratulates him on the capture of the praetor's wife. But his only motivation is to end their cause, then goes to Spartacus, who tells him Illithyia still lives. Gannicus is not impressed. Spartacus wants Glaber, not a woman, so Gannicus informs him of the women tortured to death who whisper his name, and countless more will fall in the name of his rebellion.

Lucretia attempts to bond with Seppia, who is now firmly supporting Glaber. Lucretia suggests summoning Varinius from Rome—if she sends message she could regain his affections. But Seppia is more interested in Glaber now and suggests the gods have led her to this path as they've led Ilithyia away.

Lucius brings dinner to Ilithyia and recounts how Sulla ruined his life. He has no love for the Romans anymore. But she suggests she can help him, given her husband's influence. He tells her he can't free her. She just wants a message delivered and tempts him with suggestions all that was taken from him could be restored. 

Spartacus has confided the revelation to Mira, and how it was Ilithyia beneath the mask the night in the villa. She suggests Ilithyia be killed soon, but his mind has already turned from it, feeling he would become like Glaber.

Ashur was unable to glean any new information of Gannicus' whereabouts, despite massacring and torturing everyone at the brothel. As he sorts through his newly acquired treasures from his victims, Lucretia suggests she will entreat the gods for a response, but Ashur wants sex and tells her to abandon Ilithyia. She slaps him. Ashur pushes her to the ground and demands her apology, then rapes her again. On the floor she spies Seppius' serpent bracelet that has fallen out of Ashur's treasure chest.

Gannicus has words with Oenomaus again, who accuses him of simply wanting to lighten his conscience. Gannicus claims he would not see his brothers fall to their foolish cause, but Oenomaus feels they no longer stand as such—the brotherhood was all lies and deceit. He holds no further vengeance against Gannicus, given his death would not see Melitta returned, and would be a mercy only to Gannicus. He stands for nothing, as he always has.

Mira catches Agron and Nasir fooling around when they're supposed to be standing guard. She tells them to take to their beds and she'll watch over Ilithyia. She goes in to see her and asks if it's true. Mira won't let Spartacus be destroyed by having to kill her, so she'll take responsibility for killing her herself and begins to strangle Ilithyia. Spartacus arrives to save her, angry with Mira and tells her she doesn't know his heart. He orders her to leave them.

Lucretia finds Seppia in the morning, who his virtually gloating about her new position with Glaber (they finally got around to resuming their previously interrupted tryst). Lucretia warns her about the man she has affections for, and has something to show her. But Tarsus arrives with news of Ilithyia—Lucius has brought his message and reveals she's being held by Spartacus.

Glaber wants to know where she's being kept, promising reward for the information. Glaber assures him it's within his power to grant anything. What of his own wife and children, Lucius asks. Is that within his power, too? Lay a hand on him and his wife dies, he says. Lucius explains that if he does not return in a reasonable hour, she dies. Any attempts to follow—she dies. Lucius tells him he is to enter a nearby town on foot in exchange for a single wagon loaded with weapons, and he will return Ilithyia. If not, she'll be lost to him forever. Glaber lets him go.

Lucius returns to Spartacus and has done what he was asked. The rebels are in desperate need of good weapons, and the deal should see them well-stocked for battle. Spartacus insists that the rebels will honor their word and take just four men with them—Agron, Crixus and Oenomaus want to be counted among them, but the latter has not yet recovered, so Gannicus offers to attend, given it's a cause Oenomaus believes in. Mira says this is all madness. Spartacus trusts in his friends and will get his means to strike back at Glaber.

In the town, the Romans arrive with the wagon. Spartacus and his men emerge to greet Glaber, Ashur and Tarsus. Spartacus gives Glaber a strip from Ilithyia's dress to prove she lives. He refuses to kill a woman for Glaber's crimes, and one day soon he'll have his life. Glaber prays his decision is not one he regrets. The wagon is offered, and Spartacus assures him his wife will be returned, and then, when his child is born, he'll look into his eyes and see Spartacus' reflection. 

Glaber counters that he's not like him at all. He doesn't care about his wife. As Agron opens the wagon Ashur's men spill out and battle begins. Spartacus' men put up a valiant fight, but the numbers begin to overwhelm them. Spartacus shouts now! and Glaber is shot in the chest with an arrow (!). Mira and Lucius arrive to even things out. Tarsus takes Glaber off the streets as the horn is sounded, bringing more men towards the gates who have been lying in wait. Crixus is nearly killed by Ashur's deadly Egyptian mercenary, until Lucius shoots the man in the leg. Spartacus orders them to fall back but Lucius prefers to cover their escape and is killed by the Egyptian.

Wounded Glaber is being tended to back at the ludus, and Lucretia is horrified he never intended to make the bargain in the first place. Glaber is sick of hearing about the gods and announces he will grieve the loss of his wife and child in coming days, and that's the end of it.

Lucretia finally confronts Seppia as she gets wine for Glaber, telling her his actions have brought them to ruin. Seppia has grown increasingly impertinent with her now that she's sharing his bed, so Lucretia produces Seppius' bracelet, explaining the gods led her to the truth—hidden among Ashur's treasures from those who have died at his hand. And Ashur moves only upon the command of Glaber. 

That produces the desired result. Later in the bath with Glaber, Seppia is silent as he muses that without such tragedy they would not have found themselves in each others' arms.

Spartacus takes Ilithyia into the forest and asks if she knows what it is to love. As he removes her blindfold he tells her Glaber chose vengeance against him over her own life, so taking hers now will balance nothing, given Glaber doesn't love her as Spartacus loved his wife. He warns her not to think of it as a kindness, and leaves her in the forest. 

The Verdict:
Balance is another character-heavy episode dealing with the weight of Spartacus' vengeance versus the greater desires of the rebellion. He could easily have killed Ilithyia, but chose not to, and likely delivered just as sharp a jab by letting her know her husband was eager to sacrifice her. Ilithyia's fall from grace has been really satisfying (and so well-played by the actress).

Ilithyia's pregnancy and how it's going to play out now is certainly up in the air. Does Spartacus have any wish to see his child born? Will she want to keep it, knowing Glaber has absolutely no need for her? I'm guessing given Lucretia's move against Ashur and Glaber, Ilithyia might completely throw in with her now to attempt to free themselves from their mutual servitude.

It's good to see Oenomaus back to his old self, and not wasting time with further battles between him and Gannicus. And even shallow Gannicus gets a bit more depth with his interesting motivation at securing Ilithyia for Spartacus. He definitely seems to have the greater good in mind, and it does suit his past characteristics—a man with no motivation would want to take the easiest way to end the suffering of so many rather than pursue Spartacus' more grand scheme. And many thanks to the writers for not having Lucius betray the group. He was a noble character (albeit with a brief arc) who went out with honour.

Ashur's massacre at the brothel was pretty disturbing, even for this show. I will definitely be cheering when Lucretia (I hope) ends his life this season (I hope). Now that the incriminating bracelet has crushed Seppia's dreams, it could make for an interesting alliance between her, Lucretia and Ilithyia.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Walking Dead "Beside The Dying Fire"

Non Spoiler Review:
Beside the Dying Fire jumps immediately into the fire, so to speak, as Rick and Carl have barely enough time to process Shane's resurrection before a massive herd of walkers encroaches on the farm. With the survivors divided and fighting for their lives, death and destruction get doled out in healthy doses. And that's only in the first twenty minutes. What follows after that are some interesting shifts in the power dynamic, new directions and a little revelation from Rick that he's been keeping secret since last season.

The Walking Dead ends the season on a great high. If the first act wasn't tense enough, the fallout and drama between the characters as a result made for a nail biter of an episode. Finally, there are so many awesome reveals in the last few minutes I was giddy by the end of it. Season three is another long wait, but the sometimes questionable pacing choices of this one can be put behind it now that we've seen this string of top-notch episodes, and my fears for Walking Dead's future alleviated. 

Spoilers Now!
Back in Atlanta...a helicopter alerts a group of walkers and sets them following its sound out of the city. After a long journey into the country they reach the fences of the Hershel farm, and it's an extremely large group that break through in shear weight of numbers. In the night, the sound of Carl's gunshot gets their attention, and they follow Carl and Rick as they walk back to the house.

Daryl and Glen return to the house first, advising everyone about what they've found with Randal, as well as Shane's tracks that indicated they were together. Daryl goes out (at Lori's request) to find Rick and Shane.

Meanwhile, Carl wants to know what happened, wondering if they were attacked by a walker. Rick stops to respond, but they quickly hear the walkers approaching and take refuge in the barn, given they can't get to the house. The horde begins to pile against the barn doors, so Rick scatters gas on the floor and sends Carl to the loft to drop the lighter in order to provide a distraction. He throws open the doors and the walkers flood in as he escapes to the loft and the barn erupts into flames.

Daryl, Andrea and Glen see the walkers approaching the house. Lori suddenly realizes Carl is gone and refuses to leave without him. On the porch, everyone passes out the guns and decide to kill as many as they can and use the cars to lead the rest off the farm. Daryl gets his motorbike as the barn catches fire. Using the vehicles, they attempt to corral the walkers but they are proving too many to herd.

Lori is freaking out (as usual). They're guessing Rick set the barn on fire to draw the walkers so Hershel's son takes the RV to pick up Carl and Rick from the loft. They jump on top, but the walkers pile inside the RV and kill Jimmy. Rick and Carl flee.

Hershel makes a stand to hold them off at the house, while the women try to figure out where Carl is. Carol tries to make Lori listen to reason and not to go off into the woods. The girls prepare to leave, but Hershel won't pull back. Patricia is grabbed as they make a run for it, and Lori has to drag Beth away to leave her as she's torn apart. Carol is cornered but Andrea saves her. A walker falls on Andrea and they think she's dead, so T-Dog has to drive away with Lori and Beth and leave her and Carol both.

Glen tells Maggie to drive and get off the farm as walkers begin swarming the vehicles. Rick gets Hershel's back and wants to know where everyone is. He tells them they have to go and forces him to come. Andrea tries to flag them down but they don't see her. She runs off with the bag of guns. Daryl watches the barn burn from the distance, then hears screaming and takes off to the house. He finds Carol nearly over run and saves her. Hershel watches the barn collapse as he, Rick and Carl drive away. 

As dawn comes, Maggie and Glen circle back to the highway. She's in shock at abandoning everyone but he tells her they can't go back. She stops the car so he can drive while she has a breakdown, and he attempts to assure her the others must have made it too, and tells her he loves her.

Back on the highway where they left supplies for Sophia, Rick, Carl and Hershel arrive. He had hoped the others would rendezvous there. Carl starts freaking out that they need to find Lori. Hershel tells Rick he needs to get Carl to safety and he'll wait there for the others and they can meet up later. Rick stresses that they have to stick together. 

Lori wants to get to the highway but T-Dog decides they're heading east to the coast. The others are on their own and they can't go back. She wants out and tells him to go back or let them out (and nearly jumps out). He concedes and turns around.

Hershel tells Rick his primary concern should be keeping Carl alive. Rick finally agrees and tells his son they have to leave. That's when they hear Daryl's motorbike, then Maggie and Glen, and finally T-Dog's truck. Happy reunions abound. 

Always ready to ruin a nice moment, Lori asks about Shane and Rick says he didn't make it. Carol tells them she lost Andrea and T-Dog confirms they saw her go down, as well as Patricia and Jimmy. Daryl wants to go back for Andrea (yay, Daryl!). Rick reasons she's either dead or somewhere else and there's nothing they can do right now. T-Dog still wants to head east. 

After driving awhile, the group stops on the road given they're running low on gas and need to make a fuel run in the morning. They opt to make camp. Rick wants to find a place they can fortify and build a life—they just have to find it. Maggie doubts they can ever be sure it's safe, given they fooled themselves that they were at the farm. Daryl then brings up the fact about Randal not being bit, and Lori wants to know what that's all about. Daryl explains Shane killed Randal.

Rick then drops the bomb that they're all infected. At the CDC Jenner told him that whatever the plague is, they all carry it. Glen and Carol are furious he never told them. He thought it best people didn't know and walks off to make camp.

Lori tells him she knows he had his reasons for keeping the secret. Then Rick admits to killing Shane and coldly explains what happened. He knew what Shane was doing, but Rick just wanted it over and wanted him dead. He turned, and that's how he knew Jenner was right. Lori is mortified and storms away.

Andrea is fleeing through woods teeming with roamers. After a day of running she's exhausted and gets taken down by a walker. It looks like the end for Andrea when suddenly its head is cut off by a sword. Andrea stares up at a hooded woman with two armless walkers chained behind her.

At night, Carol tells Daryl she doesn't feel safe with Rick lying and they deserve better. He asks what she wants. A man of honor, she replies. Maggie wants to leave too, suggesting they can't sit around waiting for another attack. Hershel advises them not to be foolish and to trust in Rick. But noises in the woods make everyone skittish to get back on the road.

So Rick tries to calm them down and angrily (and frustratingly) tells them he killed his best friend for them so they should damn well listen to him. They're a little horrified too (including Carl). He explains the whole Randal thing was staged and Shane took him out into the woods to kill him. He tells them his hands are clean. Maybe they're better off without him, he says and suggests they go ahead and see how far they get on their own. 

There are no takers. Carl's crying at this point and pretty much everyone is horrified (though Daryl looks impressed). But if they stay, Rick tells them, it isn't a democracy anymore. Everyone remains silent, and the camera pans up to to show that just over the hill is a prison.

The Verdict:
Having such an insane opening to the finale really worked. After complaints of a relatively zombie-light season, the herd that passes over the farm brought the outside world back to the survivors.

Rick's arc came to a chilling conclusion with this episode, and his scene with Lori at the end was so cold. Her reaction, of course, is typical Lori—and damn, she better understand that she was the cause of that whole mess (and I imagine she's wondering if she's carrying a zombie baby, too). Finally Jenner's secret is revealed, though I would have liked some explanation about the other dead bodies we've seen this season with no explanation of how they didn't reanimate. I can relate to Rick's decision not to tell everyone given he had no way of proving it until this week.

Hershel's development was just as interesting. I'm really enjoying his character now. He's grown so far beyond his initial religious perspective, and seems willing to adapt to the reality at hand and concede to Rick's decisions. Given Dale's unexpected death, I can see how Hershel can rise to fulfil a lot of Dale's role from the graphic novel if he sticks around (and I hope he does). After my initial balking at the way some characters lived and others died in contrast to the graphic novels, I'm actually excited about the prospect of seeing some characters live on, like Carol and Hershel.

T-Dog had a momentary burst of character development, but I found that to be the weakest element. Had we had more dialogue and a sense of just who he was, his threat to just keep driving might have carried a bit more tension. But would we really have cared if he had dropped Beth and Lori off on the road and drove away?

Of course, Michonne's introduction at last was a heart-stopper, and I'm excited that she'll be hanging with Andrea first. I'm pleased that Andrea has achieved her bad-ass status at last and I'm looking forward to these two starting off season three together.

We're left with Rick firmly in the driver's seat for the direction of the survivors (for good or ill), and that awesome final shot of the prison, with an equal mix of uncertainty and hope. Who is in the helicopter (personally I think it's the Woodbury helicopter)? How far did Rick drive from the farm—will they ever try to go back to get supplies? Have we seen the last of Randal's group?

Season three promises to be a very dark ride if Kirkman takes the show on its current path. But with extra episodes, as well, it's sure to be the best season yet.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The River "The Experiment"

 Non Spoiler Review:
The Magus crew explores the seemingly abandoned base, stumbling upon some startling discoveries (including another laptop everyone sits around and watches). The flashbacks fill in the backstory leading up to the expedition, as well as illuminate some details of Kurt's past.

The River definitely stepped up the tension with an interesting direction, turning from supernatural aspects to mad science. I found it a lot more compelling that recent weeks, and the resolution achieved at the end, as well as the questions raised have got me more interested in where the series is going. It's all still very much cliché, but the strength is in the frenetic pacing that keeps the show moving even when the story elements aren't that original.

Spoilers Now!
As the group explores the abandoned base, Kurt phones someone named Hana and gets her voicemail. There's some music playing as they search inside the building. The source is a radio in an office, which also contains books on genetics. The room appears to be barricaded from the inside, with bloody footprints leading to Emmet's hat, and finally a room of bodies covered in bugs.

Lincoln volunteers to check it out but he can't find his father in there. Kurt tries his call again. There are about 20 bodies piled up and Clark urges Tess to leave but she's adamant they keep searching. Everyone realizes Kurt has disappeared, as he's following the sound of running water in a bathroom. Lincoln and Clark find what appears to be an operating room and white board full of genetic mapping that Lincoln handily identifies as pharmaceutical in nature. They finally find a dead tribesman suspended in fluid, bearing the same mark as Lena, plus claw marks on his back.

Kurt finds Rosetta (Rabbit) in the bathroom and she appears in shock. She tells them they're coming and they're hungry. They're intercepted by a man running towards them whom Kurt shoots several times. They make a break for the office as a bunch of zombies give chase, and barricade the door behind them. 

Seven months earlier, Lincoln learns of his father's disappearance while in class (and with an apparent girlfriend). Clark visited Tess to sell her on the idea of the TV show, but she's in a depression. He advises her that a signal has been detected in the Amazon. In Berlin, four months earlier, Kurt leaves Hana lying in bed for South America. He asks her to marry him before he goes. Two months prior, Lena is working at a fitness store, and has a seizure, claiming Emmet is still alive.

Rabbit is sorry for leaving Emmet, but she suggests they just open the door, because it will all be easier to die now. Emmet was there at the infirmary when she got there, and the doctors said he was going to be okay. But then they changed. Tess refuses to believe Emmet could be one of the zombies.

Lincoln recovers some doctors logs on video on a laptop. They recount their search for a specific gene sequence (from the body in the tank). The specimen was over 50 years old, but with the cardiovascular system of a teenager, so they created a retrovirus out of his genes to use as a cure. Someone breaks in and shoots all the doctors, telling them their research can't be made public. The virus is released in the infirmary and everyone changes. It must have gotten out and killed the rest on the outpost. The girl in the video is Hana.

Someone from inside the infirmary tries to signal them with a mirror. The zombies abruptly disappear, but Rabbit claims they only do so for a little while. But there are tunnels that connect the buildings, so they make an attempt to get to the infirmary. They realize they're walking among the zombies, who are, in fact, sleeping. Kurt finds Hana lying on the floor, and then he kills all of them.

They get to the infirmary, but realize the signal is just wind chimes. Tess has to face the fact Emmet's gone. But...they suddenly see a dragonfly that leads them to another room and a cocoon (!) —containing Emmet.

Cut to an Emmet video where he explains dragonflies retreat into a cocoon to regenerate. 

Tess slices into it and releases him with her knife. He's alive, and they make haste away from the base given it's nightfall and zombies start running after. Back at the Magus, the dog refuses to get on board, so they set sail and take some time to chill after their eventful day.

As Lincoln and Lena decompress, he lets her know that he has a girlfriend back in Chicago. The plan is to stop at the first village, and Tess advises Rabbit she can find her own way back home from there. She suggests Rabbit chooses her words carefully when the reporters come knocking on her door. Rabbit is left alone on deck and is grabbed by someone and killed (problem solved).

Kurt visits AJ in the video room and orders him to erase all the video he took that day. AJ wants to know what he's really doing there. Kurt whispers he's going to kill Emmet Cole. Then he spies the camera shot of the deck showing dead Rabbit. Kurt goes to the bridge and gets Jahel, sending her downstairs to Lincoln. It's Hana who's loose on the ship. Kurt won't shoot, and tries to get through to her, though ultimately has to put her down. There's still another aboard who attacks Tess, but Emmet appears in the nick of time and kills it. He asks how his funeral was.

The Verdict:
I liked, despite it being 28 Days Later on The River. Now that Emmet has been discovered I feel the show can really move forward for the finale and get into the mystery surrounding the source (and whatever it was at the base). Is Emmet crazy, though? Is that even Emmet? Jahel's warnings of demons come to mind, too, so who knows what is inhabiting his body.

As far as the zombie virus, it did provide some exciting (albeit derivative) tension. Has it been contained to the base, or is there a threat of contagion beyond it? The mix of science and the supernatural (always a delicate business) kind of works, with what looks like the attempt to seize the genetic strength of the jungle tribes and market it as a pharmaceutical for longevity.

Kurt gets some intriguing elements added to his backstory, suggesting he has knowledge on par with Emmet about what's going on. But did he bring back Hana himself or did she escape? How did he allow her to get away with everyone so close (and manage to handle a high maintenance zombie, of all things)? It's the little questions like these that one thinks about afterwards that are the more annoying aspects of the series. However, I'm a little more excited about checking out the finale, and hopeful for a possible renewal.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Review: Being Human (USA) "When I Think About You I Shred Myself"

Non Spoiler Review:
Aidan descends into his old ways as he dotes on his wounded protege. Josh and Julia continue to reforge their friendship as someone (else) from Josh' past makes an appearance. Sally's reaper troubles catch up with her.

Nothing really outrageous happened to require a lot of detailed criticism. At this point it was just boring. Josh and Julia do nothing for the greater plot and are so uninteresting to watch given we have no history with her aside from what Josh reveals. And with past weeks, this episode is sporadic in what it picks up from previous plot threads. Sally's big twist at the end might have mattered had I given a hoot for this character anymore.

Spoilers Now!
Aidan brings skinned Henry home, much to Josh's annoyance, while Reaper is taking Sally out to learn the ropes of shredding. Josh suddenly runs into Stu at the hospital (the guy who went camping with him and died when Josh was turned). Stu heard through the ghostly rumour mill that Josh is a werewolf.

Henry isn't getting better (and looks quite a sorry state). Aidan goes out to get food. Flashback to France, 1918—Henry is an army doctor when Aidan is brought in with a gunshot wound. After he removes the bullet he finds his wounds are healing on their own. Aidan is caught feeding on some bloody rags by a rather superstitious soldier who recognizes him as a vampire and tries to warn Henry. Aidan ultimately freaks out in the tent and kills everyone, wounding Henry in the process. He makes him a vampire and they're BFFs after that.

Sally is shocked when Boner shows up at her house (which is horrifying given she was told Stevie shredded him by the Reaper). Apparently the only one Stevie shredded was Dillon to protect her. She doesn't reveal that Stevie's gone, but goes to see Nick and Zoe to get some otherworldly consultation. It's all news to Zoe about this reaper guy and she can't provide any help.

Aidan glamors a couple of girls to bring back to feed Henry. Henry gets a little out of control and starts freaking out the girls, so Aidan breaks both their necks (!) and Henry finishes them off. But that makes him all better again.

After making amends and hanging out so much now, Josh and Julia hook up (but it's Stu who's possessed Josh!). Josh wakes up to a headache and Stu confessing to what he did. Stu loves Julia, and that's why he was at the hospital, not to see Josh at all. Yes, it's all kind of rapey. Julia, is of course, quite happy to be back cuddling with Josh.

When Sally goes back to the ghost group, the room is trashed by the Reaper. He apparently shredded them all, and Zoe is in shock and tells her it's all her fault.

Henry meets Josh again, who kind of understands why he looks so much better (plus moving men are removing a big box that undoubtedly contain bodies). Aidan is promising it won't happen again.

Nick comes to see Sally with news they're going to get her help so she doesn't do it again. There is no reaper. It's Tyler Durden her! There's a series of flashbacks where we see it's been Sally all along shredding people. Though the fact that Sally is both an unlikable creature and a mass murderer somehow doesn't carry as much shock value as they likely intended.

Josh and Aidan walk in as she shreds Nick and tells them (in crazy demon voice) Sally isn't there anymore. Then she goes all poltergeisty. Aidan grabs the iron poker and stabs her, causing her to vanish. She then wakes up on the floor where she died, surrounded in a ring of salt to imprison her, as Josh and Aidan contemplate what to do (I vote shred!).

The Verdict:
Aidan and Henry's backstory came off as a bit mundane, with nothing really interesting in there at all. If this is all going to come around to Aidan realizing Josh is his best friend after all, and really has his back, it's a bit too late for that if I were Josh.

Aidan's appeal has diminished considerably. I really don't care about his fall back into his old ways, because that stuff is actually forgivable and he can be redeemed. But the whole reason for him being in that house appears to be based completely on his own selfish motivations—for Josh to save him. He's done nothing recently to show he's actually reciprocating. Never mind that the whole point of Josh's life is to get a semblance of normalcy, and Aidan is flagrantly abusing that by killing victims in the house.

Interesting that the episode ends with Josh and Aidan actually having to deal with Sally—finally. I can't really hold out any hope that they might be ditching Sally and getting a new ghost. I'm sure it will all work out fine and maybe even mommy Rena will come back to bring her daughter back to reality.

On another note, I've been catching up on the final season of the UK version. Watching one episode this week in conjunction with this one, I was struck with how that show conveys their three characters. Having recast pretty much everyone except for one, a simple two minute scene of the three actors sitting on the couch watching an antique show conveyed so much depth to their new friendship—more than the two whole seasons of the American version has ever done.
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