Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: True Blood "Sunset"

Non Spoiler Review:
It becomes apparent another force is at work within the Authority compound while Eric and Nora come to a decision about their future. Bill presses Jessica to convert to the cause by forcing her to see Jason. Sookie continues to seek answers about the pact her ancestor made with Warlow. Sam and Luna get into deeper trouble in the search for Emma, while Pam and Tara's actions at Fangtasia catch up to them.

Another brisk episode that brings an assortment of characters together for what should be an exciting finale. While the show is slowly ridding itself of the dragging plotlines, we're still left with one of the big pitfalls—the fairies and their ridiculousness. And this week was no exception, delivering one of most poorly conceived scenes yet.

Spoilers Now!
Bill has a vision of Lilith telling him she chooses him to lead the vampires. He's directed to drink all the remaining blood from the vile, but leaves instead. Nora is having bad memories of her vision of Godric. Salome interrupts, who tells her Russell is inconsequential to their plans and not to worry. In his quarters, Eric is visited by Nora and has some passionate make up sex. She asks his forgiveness and he promises to get them out of there.

Jessica asks to use Bill's phone to warn Jason that Newlin is on the lose with Russell, but he refuses. Bill admits accepting the word of Lilith has distanced him from the trivial matters of humans. She then muses about making Jason a vampire, given that is supposedly the greatest gift according to Lilith. Bill asks her if she thinks he's an idiot and won't be manipulated by her lies. So he takes her up on her offer and instructs his guards to take Jessica to sire Jason. 

Sookie deals with learning she's been sold to a vampire 300 years before, and plans to talk to the fairy elder for further answers. But Jason has to go, leaving her there where it's safe. 

An army general, Connor, is brought in to Salome and wants to see Roman. He knows they bombed the TruBlood factories and wants to know what's going on, but Eric tells him he's in no position to make demands. The US government and the Authority have an arrangement for mainstreaming. He was working with Roman for twenty years, but now there are talks at the Pentagon to eradicate vampires. He's informed the regime is sanguinista now and he's advised to be careful. Roman was the only one keeping the world from sliding into the dark ages, he says. 

Connor shows him video of Russell and Newlin killing a frat house the previous night. If anything happens to him that video will be released to the public. They lied about Edgington, and if it goes viral the human population will rise up. He adds that they're prepared, and they own the day—they have weapons they've never heard of. He suggests the Authority makes its next choice carefully, and leaves. 

Eric stops him and breaks his neck. The others are furious, but Eric says he can fix it—a glamor campaign to eliminate knowledge that the video exists. He and Nora get permission but Bill suggests they take a security detail.

Jason finds Jessica and her guards at his place waiting. They refuse to leave them alone. She tries to subltly get through to Jason to kill them, but he doesn't get it. She tells him to trust her and bites him. They're buried together in a grave, but Jason is only faking and she gives him the word to kill her guards. She explains what's happened with Russell and the Authority. She admits she would want to spend eternity with him if she'd had to do it. He goes off to warn Sookie.

Pam has cleaned her office but is worried the death of the sheriff will go up the Authority and explains the situation to Tara. They cant talk about it ever again. Jessica comes in and wants to be hidden there. She knows where Eric is and will tell her if she hides her. Pam isn't impressed but agrees. Jessica fills her in.

On the drive, Eric and Nora kill their guards. Now that they're fugitives, she throws away her chancellor medallion. 

Sam and Luna shift back within Authority headquarters, wondering where they are. They can sense Emma is there. 

Sookie is brought to the elder, the oldest fairy to escape the portal. She has difficulty focusing given so many realms she's passed through. In fact she's quite loopy. Sookie asks about John Stackhouse, whom she knew. There's a reason she finds vampires irresistable—her destiny is entwined with Warlow. Dark times are coming and she needs to hold on to her light. She begins to tell her something else, but Jason arrives to inform everyone of what's happening. The elder is horrified to learn Russell Edginton is alive.

The faeries are in a panic, but Sookie tells them he'll come for her and then the faeries, so they should fight back together. The elder agrees and vows to fight with her. Later, Sookie and Jason agree on their plan of attack. 

Andy makes peace with Holly's boys. Terry and Arlene seem to be back to normal and happy. Mirella shows up in Merlotte's and tells Andy he swore to protect her and the fruit of their union. Andy takes her in the back... he only saw her a week before. She tells him he swore on the light. To ignore the pact will be an act of war against her clan.

Alcide is staying with his father when they're visited by a fellow werewolf warning them of baby vampire packs running wild. Alcide knows his father was kicked out of the pack for stealing money. His father won't talk about it. 

Pam tells Tara and Jessica that when vampires feed off one another for a long time it creates nest behaviour and makes vampires crazy (especially with Lilith's blood). When Pam leaves, Jessica sees that Tara likes Pam. Tara is mortified. 

Rosalin enters Fangtasia looking for her progeny, the sheriff. Tara tells her he moved on but Rosalin can smell his blood on her. She sensed her progeny die and wants to know who killed him. Pam admits it was her and gives her attitude. Rosalin calls in security and arrests her. As Pam is taken away Rosalin sniffs out Jessica and tells her her daddy is looking for her.

Bill continues to hear Lilith's voice in his head. This time he kneels before her and drinks from her as she instructs. 

Jason stands guard at the Stackhouse place. Russell and Newlin show up and takes his gun. Russell glamours him and learns Sookie is with the fairies, and gets him to lead them there.

Sam and Luna come across a room of cages of humans, as well as Emma. Guards find them and throw them back in the cells. They're advised Compton is expecting his breakfast, so Sam volunteers to go. Rosalin arrives with Jessica and Pam. Pam's taken to her own cell but runs into Sam being led away. 

Bill goes into the vault to find Kibwe there. He tells Bill Lilith came to him and chose him. Bill cuts off his head. He goes out to find Jessica, who apologizes for her failure, but Bill is outraged she chose a human over two vampires. She tries to reason with him, explaining he's in a nest and that's what is making him crazy. He strikes her and informs her he's the chosen one. Meanwhile, Salome has a vision of Lilith herself, receiving the same you are the chosen one message.

Jason arrives in the meadow with Russell and Newlin, and he shows them where the portal is. The scent of them nearly drives them mad, but they can't find where it's coming from. Inside, the elder refuses to reveal them to fight, telling Sookie the plan is changed. Russell threatens Jason, and then the elder appears to him. Her power sends Newlin flying across the field. She is about to banish Russell to the realms and beyond, but Russell puts Jason in the path and he's thrown into a tree. Russell grabs her and feeds from her, and she dissolves. Russell realizes he can see the portal entrance, and rushes towards Sookie and the group of fairies.

The Verdict:
The season continues to improve and come into better focus as it reaches its conclusion. I especially enjoyed the insight into the vampire/human relationship via the general and his hints of the arrangement between the government and the vampires going back decades.

Bill seems to have completely drunk the Kool-Aid along with the others. But is the Lilith apparition simply the result of this nesting condition that Pam spoke about? It's a bit too convenient of a solution, so I hope we get a sufficient explanation.

There are lingering plotlines I wonder how will fit into the finale—Alcide and his father, for one. There are also plenty of questions remaining from Lafayette's visit to Jesus' grandfather, and now the appearance of Mirella to Andy. Regardless, the finale looks to be an exciting conclusion even if it doesn't give us these answers.

So it all worked...that is, all except for the fairy elder which was so ridiculous it took me right out of the scene. What were the writers thinking? I get a sense of what they were hoping to achieve with this (and previous fairy portrayals) but it just does not work and came across so stupid this time around. The fairies lack any cohesive ability to fight on a good day, much less dealing with this terrible leader.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Review: Falling Skies "Death March"

Non Spoiler Review:
Death March is a very chatty episode that guides the 2nd Mass on the last leg to Charleston, leading many of its characters to interact within the confines of the convoy of vehicles. On the way they encounter a few surprises before reaching their ultimate destination.

Death March was strictly a character piece that only got exciting in the last five minutes, but at least there was some significant plot movement. The character stuff played out lazily, and some of it worked while others did not—Lourdes being a bitch, the introduction of some odd plot points that don't seem to go anywhere, as well some unspectacular revelations. But it ultimately serves to set up the finale of the series with a nice ending, heavily drawing from Battlestar Galactica.

Spoilers Now!
As the 2nd Mass is on the road to Charleston, the characters are cooped up in their vehicles along the convoy. Tom's thoughts are of Ben. Matt writes out his will and wants his father to keep it for him just in case they don't make it. Weaver attempts to learn more about Tector and has him pegged as military given his sniper skills but needs to know he can trust him. Their conversation is interrupted when their truck hits a harnessed girl.

Anne thinks her harness is damaged, though she's displaying some scaly growth from it. Weaver can't afford another enemy agent. The girl, Jenny, wakes up asking for Tyler, her brother. Matt immediately befriends her and brings her something to eat. Her guardian and the others were killed by humans, she explains. Matt tells her all about Charleston (!?). Jenny can sense Tyler coming so they stop the bus and Tyler (who is a scitter) tries to get in to her. She wants to go to join him and runs out. Matt gets knocked out in the process but he's okay and the convoy gets back on the road.

Scouting ahead, Hal, Maggie and Pope run into trouble when the truck overheats. Pope sends Hal to get water for the radiator. Alone with Maggie, Pope asks her how long she's going to lie to Hal about the truth about her—who and what she really is. When the three of them get back on the road Maggie confesses to Hal that after she got out of the hospital for her cancer, she had to get away from everything. She found herself living with a guy doing as much drugs as she could. They started breaking into houses and eventually got caught. She ended up in prison, three months pregnant. She had a boy, but they took him away. Considering the entire planet is nearly destroyed, Hal doesn't react too seriously to this. Then they run into something on the road, as well.

Weaver learns Tector was a gunnery sergeant in Iraq and Afghanistan. He admits he once unwittingly led his patrol into an ambush because he was tired. But when he gets them to Charleston he wants to move on. Weaver commiserates with him about making the hard decisions and how he nearly left the 2nd Mass himself after their losses.

The convoy slams on the breaks as they come to a destroyed bridge. They disembark and observe the distant ruins of Charleston.

It's quite a lot to absorb for Tom, who was looking for hope and a chance at a new start. Anne consoles him, telling him they're not dead yet. Weaver doesn't know what to say to his people, so Tector suggests he make something up. 

Weaver gathers them around. Charleston was a bust, he admits, and he should have known better. But the dream wasn't bad. They'll have to work harder to make it happen so they'll press on. As they return to the vehicles they find a surprise—Colonel Porter. There's a welcome reunion. Even Porter has heard of Tom's months with the aliens. Looks are deceiving, he says. They're from Charleston, and Hal and Maggie are with him, as well. Buoyed by the news, the 2nd Mass makes ready to head to the new American capital.

The Verdict:
This episode on the road did bring some further character insights, particularly to Tector who has been in the background all season but with little development. I hope he's not next on the list of axed characters. Interesting that the secondary characters don't really get noticed until plot warrants. I have difficulty even catching names sometimes. Maggie's new revelation lacked a lot of impact as well. Humanity is nearly extinct, I don't see why she (or Pope) would put any weight on what's happened in the past.

What was the point of Jenny? Is she another throwaway harnessed kid or will she be making an appearance? There seemed little to be gained plotwise from her appearance aside from Matt's inexcusable reveal about their destination. At least Weaver was wise enough not to trust her presence but we'll see if the damage has been done.

The tone was very much Battlestar Galactica this time, even arriving at the ruined city. But I'm pleased that the dream that was Charleston isn't dead and the capital does exist—just not in the open. Also welcome to see is Colonel Porter. So a decent episode leading into the closing arc of the season, which looks to change the game for our characters.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: True Blood "Gone, Gone, Gone"

Non Spoiler Review:
The vampire crisis escalates to a worldwide situation, but there is infighting among the Authority and Russell remains the wild card. Bill appears firmly converted to the cause. Pam and Tara must deal with the new regime's effects in the outside world. Hoyt comes to a critical life decision. Sam and Luna search for Emma, while Sookie and Jason team up to figure out gran's last message.

Gone, Gone, Gone presents one of the more heart-wrenching scenes in True Blood memory as it sends off a regular character and redeems a couple of others along the way. It's refreshing not having to deal with Ifrit or supernatural vigilante scenes this week. Now that the extraneous plots are wrapped up, the season is firmly back on a track, making for an exciting episode.

Spoilers Now!
The news reports all five TruBlood factories are destroyed with a spike in vampire attacks worldwide. Steve Newlin, the new Vampire League spokesman stresses there is nothing to fear. At night Sookie gets a visit from the familiar Bontemps coroner, who is suddenly a vampire and attacks her. She kills him with chopsticks. Andy arrives to take care of Sookie's problem and they determine he couldn't have been a vampire for more than a day or two. 

Molly is brought to the chancellors to have one last chance for a confession but Molly knows she's dead anyway and refuses. Bill performs the execution himself, activating the app that kills her. Russell and Newlin go out to eat. Bill goes into Lilith's vault and extracts some of the blood from the vile. Eric is then brought to him. Eric is willing to accept the true death, but Bill wants to save his soul given he saved his own life. Eric refuses the blood, but Nora insists and they force it upon him. He feeds Nora too and leaves them. 

Eric and Nora have their vision, but this time of Godric. He has evolved, which is what they've failed to do, but Nora refuses to listen. Lilith appears behind him and tears out Godric's throat until he disintegrates. Bill mysteriously watches the two of them from the video feed.

Maxine drives a recovering Hoyt home. She wouldn't let Jessica give him her blood in the hospital, but Hoyt has decided he won't waste his life and has taken a job in Alaska. 

The new sheriff, Elijah, is suggesting new business practices to increase revenues at Fangtasia. He also announces a new mandate from the Authority to create 30 new baby vampires in their area, or he takes Pam's progeny. Pam and Tara debate their orders. Pam refuses to make new children and tells Tara they don't need anyone else, much less Fangtasia, if it comes to losing the club.

Jessica's appearance at Merlotte's isn't good for business, but Sam sticks up for her when someone pulls a gun on her. Lafayette gets both of their backs and sends the two men on their way. Jason arrives, as both of them were called there to meet Hoyt, who explains his plans to leave. He asks Jessica to glamour him to forget about her and Jason. He wants to move on and have his life.

Sookie prepares to move in with Jason and consoles her brother over Hoyt. They opt to continue their investigation and search for other stuff under gran's bed. They find a compartment with a velum scroll they get analyzed at the university. They learn it's 200 years old, but the glyphs are indecipherable.

Sam is trying to track down Emma by calling Newlin's office. No one will believe he kidnapped Luna's daughter anyway. Newlin's in New Orleans for a debate with a congressman so Sam and Luna sneak into the studio but are forced to hide in Newlin's bag, which he takes with him.

Bill sends his security to pick up Jessica. The vampires watch Newlin do well in the debate while Eric seems to have accepted Lilith. He announces his conversion and also appears to have relinquished his vendetta with Russell.

Jessica arrives at the Authority where Bill wants to keep her safe. He gives her the tour, but she gets a little alarmed when he starts talking about them being chosen. It's reminding her a lot like her old bible studies. 

Sookie and Jason pass Hoyt's vehicle on the road, so Jason insists on stopping him to talk to him. He quickly realizes Hoyt only remembers growing up with Sookie, so he has to come to terms with losing his friend.

Tara leads Elijah in to a victim she claims she's accidently killed. It's all a ruse to kill Elijah. Pam arrives, advised by Tara that no one fucks with them in their house.

Emma shifts back into human form much to Newlin's annoyance. But Sam and Luna are now within the Authority and sneak away.

The chancellors meet discussing their next move but Russell is impatient—he tells them the blood of the fairies allows them to daywalk. Russell want to harness and study the blood, breed them if necessary. Salome explains they are of the night. Fairies are an abomination. She reminds him she can put him back in the ground, but he throws her across the room. Russell reminds them he's 3000 years old and stronger than all of them. He will not be constrained by Lilith. He will have the sun. He leaves.

Sookie shows the scroll to Hunter, who confirms it's their old language. Mirella is brought to them, who is 500 years old (and very pregnant). She explains it's a sacred pact. It dates from 1702, and is an agreement signed by John Stackhouse granting M. Warlow his first fay bearing heir. That would be Sookie.

The Verdict:
Hoyt's departure and mind wipe was one of the more touching moments we've seen in the series for quite some time. I'm guessing the character is gone for the near future, and that's a good thing. He's been pretty much exhausted the last couple of seasons, so Hoyt's story needs a break. 

What is Bill's game? The scene where he watches Eric and Nora's reactions on video implies he might have a different plan up his sleeve, but we'll see. We end with the inevitable—a renegade Russell. But it does leave the (new) Authority with a potential way to save the mainstreaming movement when the dust settles—blame everything on Russell.

It seems that Sookie's arc has now been relegated all the crazy, eye-rolling stuff. If the fairy burden weren't enough of a cross to bear, we get an attack by the coroner that was so out there it had me thinking it was a dream sequence right through until Andy showed up after the credits. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: Coriolanus

Non Spoiler Review:
I'm a big fan of Shakespeare on film, so the initial trailer for Coriolanus made me eager for an exciting interpretation of this play, starring the likes of Gerard Butler (300), Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter), the always awesome Vanessa Redgrave, and Jessica Chastain (Tree of Life).

In this modern take on the story, Rome is in turmoil over food riots, and its greatest hero, Gaius Martius (Fiennes), has no sympathy for the masses, as he's engaged in conflict with the rebel Volscians, under the command of his nemesis Tullius Aufidius (Butler). Once achieving victory, Martius is named Coriolanus, and with the help of his powerful mother Volumnia (Redgrave) is named consul. But a conspiracy in the Senate by his enemies forces him into exile and into a new alliance with his hated enemy to exact revenge on the city that spurned him.

Like recent interpretations of Titus Andonicus and Romeo and Juliet, Coriolanus takes place in a reimagined modern Rome, effectively using news broadcasts and war footage to convey this city beset by invaders at its borders. I had never read this play so went into it with no preconceptions aside from the trailer.

The performances are all quite good, with extra compliments going to Fiennes, Butler and Redgrave who really pull off some intense dialogue and scenes together. Additional performances by Brian Cox (X-Men 2) and other secondary characters are equally notable. Really, the only one who suffered from lack of anything interesting to do is Julia Chastain as Coriolanus' wife, Virgilia. But that's no fault of hers. The play just doesn't really offer a meaty role for her.

And so to my only criticism of the film, which lies in the culmination of the plot. This is a really well made and interesting movie up until the very end. Like the more recent Tempest by Julie Taymor, it suffers from a resolution that lacks the impact necessary for a more epic cinema experience, and rather more suited to live theatre. Even having not read the play, I saw this rather no-brainer of a climax coming, but was still surprised when the credits abruptly rolled and I was asking myself if that's all we get after such a great build up.

That's not to say it's horrible by any means. Just disappointing, with an ending that feels more of a whimper than a bang, given most of the film unfolds a compelling political plot. Definitely watch this for the performances and style. Just don't expect to be blown away at its conclusion in a manner that my favorites, Titus and Romeo and Juliet, deliver.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Non Spoiler Review:
Faced with closing a final act to a trilogy that included the nearly flawless Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan has taken great pains to create a suitable ending to the saga of Bruce Wayne with The Dark Knight Rises. Eight years after the death of Harvey Dent, Gotham City is a much changed place. Peace reigns in the streets due to the strict Dent Act that has allowed police to round up a thousand criminals in Blackgate Prison. The vigilante blamed for his murder, Batman, has disappeared, and Bruce Wayne is a recluse believing the city no longer needs him, while mourning the loss of his true love, Rachel. Wayne Enterprises has floundered after some expensive and failed humanitarian endeavours. But trouble brews with a band of mercenaries led by the notorious Bane who have set their sights on Gotham.

The entire cast returns—Christian Bale as Bruce, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Michael Caine as Alfred and Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon. This time they're joined by Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, Marion Cotillard (Inception) as Miranda Tate, G. Gordon Levitt as John Blake, and Tom Hardy as Bane. Add in a few very nice cameos, and it's an amazing ensemble.

At a three hour running time, Nolan has indulged his final act with every bit of emotion and plot fitting this epic trilogy. The film juggles a lot of themes, and even wades into the class divide currently in the thoughts of everyone. Fans of the comic book will note that Nolan has taken the best threads from a variety of storylines—Miller's Dark Knight, as well as epics like Knightfall and No Man's Land. And the sense of a three movie arc is brought home with flashbacks to Batman Begins, and ongoing plot threads resolved in this film.

There are usually two types of Batman fans—the ones who enjoy the gadgets and super-villains, and the ones who are drawn to the story of Bruce Wayne. Nolan's series has always been about the latter, and Dark Knight Rises brings to a conclusion the definitive cinema version of Bruce Wayne, courtesy of the talented Christian Bale.

When I heard Anne Hathaway was cast as Selina Kyle, I had my doubts. Suffice it to say she put them to rest wholeheartedly. She's a Catwoman for a new generation (filling the shoes of Michelle Pfeiffer's iconic performance).

It's not a perfectly plotted film—anyone can always find holes if they look hard enough—but the story and acting overwhelm any big ones. One critique I had was the lack of mention of the Joker. I know this was done in honor of Heath Ledger, but seriously? After the mayhem he created, to have Gordon and Bruce only speak about Harvey again and again without bringing up the Joker at least once was a bit much.

The Dark Knight Rises is an immensely satisfying film. It is quite dark, and many critics preferring a more comic book feel will be disappointed. While it might excel just a bit more as the final act of this trilogy rather than on its individual merits, viewers will leave a film series that is wrapped up very neatly. It's now an epic that can be rewatched as a complete story in the same way as Lord of the Rings. Whatever Warner Brothers does with Batman next, it will be a different take on the character. For now, this one remains a masterful work.

Spoilery Musings:
While I did guess that Miranda Tate was likely Talia Al Ghul, I also assumed that Bruce would die but leave her pregnant with little Damien (his son in the comics). But it certainly looks like that's a dead end. And I would have loved to have seen a resurrected Ra's. But at least we got Liam Neeson's cameo.

I also found myself focusing on one of the MacGuffins in the film—the unlimited power source never really gets a good explanation. Bruce's failed endeavour was to create a fusion reactor to provide unlimited power to Gotham—a classic science fiction trope. Yet I was left wondering how such a thing would go over in the real world if an industrialist just switched on a new energy source in a major city. One would think the various power companies would be filing some lawsuits. And why not just flood the reactor to prevent Bane from getting it?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Review: True Blood "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"

Non Spoiler Review:
Events come to a head for both Terry and Patrick, as well as the vigilante storyline, as the identity of the dragon is revealed. Sookie continues her investigation into the identity of the vampire Warlow, while the politics within the Authority spill into the outside world.

There are the customary plot devices thrown out here and there, especially a convenient message from gran to get the ball rolling on Sookie's investigation. But it was satisfying to see two of the many storylines get (hopefully) wrapped up to free up screentime in the remaining episodes, as well as killing off a couple of characters here and there. So not too bad at all.

Spoilers Now!
As TruBlood factories are bombed, Salome and her entourage (including Eric and Bill) prepare to feast on a human captive. Meanwhile, Molly finds she has lost her clearance and Eric seeks her out for a private chat. The place is locked down so neither of them can get out, but she has an idea.

Sookie consults Lafayette about her vision of Warlow but he can't detect any spiritual goings on. Getting back to Tara, he informs her she's refused to talk to either of them. As they talk, Lafayette picks up several spirits, including gran. Gran is apparently glad the fairies are looking after Sookie, and offers a clue to the vampire mystery. Sookie takes out a box under her bed full of plot devices mementos. A newspaper article informs her the Stackhouse bodies were found by then deputy (later sheriff, and now retired) Deerborne.

Sookie goes for a visit. He admits it could be a vampire, but at the time they didn't know about them, so assumed it was alligators. She quickly finds out he's hiding something and asks him about Warlow, realizing he doesn't recognize the name as she reads his mind. She gets knocked out by Deerborne's girlfriend, Sweetie.

Jessica offers her testimony at the sheriff's office, though tries to defend Hoyt's actions and doesn't want to see anything bad happen to him. Jason sends her home and promises to find him.

Luna appears to be recovering and insists on helping Sam on the investigation. They return to the basement and pick up the scent of pigs. Andy tells them both to go home so they transform into flies to listen in on what's going on. Andy and Jason realize the two prisoners they have were both arrested by Deerborne once for drunkenness. Whoever the dragon is they're scared of him. While reviewing the hate group's website, they recognize the boots one of them are wearing in a web video, and realize Deerborne is involved.

Patrick takes Arlene hostage at Merlotte's, then calls Terry. Terry wants a fair fight and let the best man win, but Patrick realizes he's stronger than him, so orders him to sacrifice himself for Arlene. Arlene stabs him in the neck and Terry wrestles with him as Arlene pulls a gun to his head. Patrick stands down. Bleeding out from his neck, he tells Terry to either shoot him or take him to a hospital. Arlene wants him to shoot Patrick, but Terry struggles and sees the ghost of the woman, telling him to do what is right. Terry shoots Patrick in the head. Blood has been paid with blood, she says. The Ifrit appears and consumes Patrick, then disappears. Problem solved.

Pam is pensive about the TruBlood news, but insists on continuing to serve it so as not to start a panic, but discretely feed on humans. Tara suspects someone who blew up the factory wants the mayhem, but Pam stays out of politics. Tara knows she's worried about Eric.

Eric finally gets a chance to chat with Bill about what he's doing. He knows Bill is putting on an act. Bill wonders, what if god is a vampire, given they saw Lilith, and doesn't know who to trust. Eric asks if Sookie is just food to him now and Bill is more than a mainstreamer than he'll ever be, and they're leaving. There's only one way out—the chancellor's blood. Bill has to steal it so they can open the door, and Eric will handle Nora before dawn.

Sookie wakes tied up in a pig barn and sees Hoyt unconscious next to her. He's been drugged. Her fairy powers can't free her, and the vigilantes arrive with Deerborne. He says supernaturals have been murdering people for years and he needs to put an end to it. Sweetie, the dragon,  insists Sookie isn't human and should be treated like a supernatural. Sookie asks what happened to her to fill her with such crazy hate, so reads her mind and finds she was rejected by her boyfriend for a shifter (really). Deerborne tries to drug her.

Andy and Jason show up at Deerborne's empty house. Jason realizes his wife had a pig farm. Sweetie prepares to record their manifesto as they bring in the pigs to feed on Hoyt and Sookie. Sam shifts into human form and captures her, then fights the group naked. Andy and Jason show up with reinforcements. Deerborne makes a move to kill Sam and Andy shoots him. Sookie regains consciousness. Meanwhile Sweetie runs through the woods and is chased down by Luna who beats her up. Jason tries to wake up Hoyt who has been chowed down on by the pigs.

Eric finds Nora in the chapel. While she continues to attempt to turn him to her cause, he acts as though he acquiesces. Meanwhile, Bill is in Salome's chamber watching her dance for him. She thinks Lilith has chosen him for her Adam. As they have sex he sees Sookie, then Lilith. He and Salome both feed from one another and he realizes he has her blood in his mouth.

At Fangtasia, Pam gets the news from vampire Elijah the monarchs have lifted the ban on human feeding and he's the new sheriff, and he kicks her across the room, declaring everyone can feed.

Russell brings Newlin to J.D.'s pack to celebrate his leadership and offers them all his blood. Martha is not impressed. She refuses to drink from him, so Russell takes Emma and gives her to Newlin as a pet. J.D. tells Russell he can't let him do that, but Russell quickly shows him who's boss.

Alcide has a flashback to his father lecturing him about the value of the pack. So he goes to Jackson to see him, where his father is now far less of the man he was and is living in a trailer in the woods.

Hunter and some fairies arrive at Sookie's place, warning her vampires are behind the bombings and are taking over the world.

Nora is pleased to have Eric on her side as he takes her to Molly. Eric drugs her and they await Bill so they can escape. He shows up, but Salome and the Authority are with him. Bill tells Eric he's doing it for him. It's what God wants. Eric is led away.

The Verdict:
While this season continues to be defined by outrageous and messy writing, this week advanced the plot significantly, so made for a decent episode. 

Maxine was the red herring for the dragon, and was a good enough twist, though it would have been nice to have Deerborne back at least on a semi-regular basis rather than the last couple of episodes preceding the reveal.

Cheers to Terry shooting Patrick and ending this plotline finally. Now a respite until next season's customary Terry/Arlene story where she inadvertently hires a zombie nanny.

I'm still unsure what game Bill is playing. If he is fully converted, he'll need some significant redeeming by the end of this, but it still seems more likely he's got some complicated plan in play.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: Falling Skies "Molon Labe"

Non Spoiler Review:
Ben's terrible decision to throw in with Karen backfires, but does offer some strategic value for Tom and Weaver as they make ready to break camp. What emerges is a tense standoff, and a look at some additional weapons in the invaders' arsenal, more teases about their agenda, and some tough choices.

Molon Labe was a great episode that provided equal parts good drama and chills (with hints of The Mist). But AGAIN we get ridiculous decisions by people who should know better by now. At one point the overlords have quite a bag of tricks to use in their war effort, yet they don't take the simplest routes to exterminating their resistance. Once the audience continues to ask these questions again and again each week they need to be addressed at some level, or believability falls out the window.

Spoilers Now!
Ben (foolishly) reveals quite a bit about how the rebel scitters are communicating with him and leads Karen through the woods to rendezvous with it. Instead they meet up with some mechs and an overlord, who Karen then turns Ben over to, explaining he's been in contact with the rebel leader. They hold him down as they prepare to reharness him. Fortunately the 2nd Mass attacks (at just that moment!) and Tom chases down the overlord, which causes all the mechs to stand down.

They bring it back to the 2nd Mass where Maggie is getting stitched up by Anne. Weaver is on his feet as the camp is making ready to move out. Tom returns with his surprise with the intent to take it to Charleston for intel. But the hospital comes under attack by mechs. Tom blows up one in the basement and unknowlingly traps Anne, Lourdes and Matt down there as they're gathering supplies for the trip.

The attack subsides and Karen steps forward wanting her master back in exchange for their release. He's the same overlord who talked to Tom on the ship. Ben tells his father the overlord is scared and the rebellion terrifies him. Tom goes to see it.

Jamil is sent to search an access tunnel as a possible escape route, and emerges in the basement bloodied and near death where Anne, Matt and Lourdes find him. He tells them not to open the door. Jamil professes his love for Lourdes as Matt notices holes in the door. Jamil abruptly dies as insects pour out of his mouth. They run, realizing their only chance is to go through another vent, so Matt volunteers to find help. Anne looks for an oxygen cylinder.

Maggie's had a change of heart about Hal and thinks he's the right person for her (Karen's presence likely had nothing to do with that). They're exploring in the lower levels together and open a vent only to see a horde of insect like creatures emerge. Tom and Weaver come to investigate, and Pope joins them, promising to follow Tom's lead. They find Matt in the vent.

Outside, the berzerkers hear gunfire, realizing their scouts are pinned down. Karen returns again with a white flag, calling for Weaver. She has one of his fighters captive and they're forced to watch him get shot down by a mech.

Anne uses the oxygen tank as a flame thrower to burn a way out as Pope and Tom arrive to hep them escape.

Tom threatens the overlord to end the siege. It rises and breaks its chains, takes over Ben's mind and speaks through him. He wants peace. He has no interest in annihilating humans. Just a correction. Earth is spiralling out of control exhausting its resources, and once their task is completed they will move on. He says the humans are crippled by sentiment and cannot win, then causes Ben to collapse and go into a seizure, which leads Tom to rush to his side. Tom orders him to stop it, and he does. He suggests Tom is in over his head and he needs to release him before it's too late. Tom understands and shoots the overlord.

Anne tries to patch him up but she doesn't have high hopes. Weaver is furious the situation is spinning out of control. Tom is convinced the scitter uprising is real, otherwise nothing makes sense.

Karen is brought to camp to see her wounded master. She's furious and rushes to attack Tom but Ben holds her back. Hal shows her there's plastic explosives wired in the building. Let the 2nd Mass evacuate and they're free to leave and she may be able to save his life.

Outside the mechs watch as the 2nd Mass loads up and moves out. They're 500 miles to Charleston. Tom and Anne finally have a chance to talk. Lourdes gets back on her feet but is resolved that sooner or later something terrible will happen again.

Tom catches Ben about to sneak away from the group. He says it's for the best, as the aliens will continue to come after him and there are more kids like him who have their harnesses removed travelling with other resistance groups. He needs to reach out to them. The overlord who invaded his mind couldn't keep his thoughts walled off—he saw what the aliens are all about and they have to beat them. Tom has an emotional good-bye and wishes him luck.

The Verdict:
Apparently molon labe is Greek for come and take them, a response from the Spartans at Thermopylae when the Persians demanded they surrender their weapons. It was good to see Tom take a chance and gain some tactical advantage with their hostage. But while I enjoyed the tension in this episode, my main criticism (as with pretty much each one this season) is how the writers glaze over the escapes and sieges that continue to befall the 2nd Mass. As the scitters rightly point out, they are hopelessly outgunned. The overlords should be sitting in their motherships watching their every movement from the sky, but seem to lack the most basic surveillance techniques.

How many overlords are on Earth? They must really value Ben if one of them would come out of their secure bases and walk around in the open like that. Why are they so terrified of the scitter rebellion if it's been going on at some level for a century?

Jamil's loss would seem to be quite a blow given he's a valued member of the group, so I question the wisdom of killing him off (especially Scott's off screen death between seasons robbed them of another tech guy). Lourdes seemed unusually useless and out of character, but it's evident the writers are putting her on some particular path after revealing the loss of her family in Mexico.

I can give Ben a break for being a teenager and making a bad decision in trusting Karen, but it's obvious now (and in the past with Rick) that he is a source of a lot of intel regarding the alien agenda. Why then would Tom not ask his son to elaborate about the overlords' true plan when Ben just drops that tidbit before he leaves?

The new insect organism brought suitable chills and lived up to the new level of creepiness established by Falling Skies. Are these alive or mechanical? Because my first thought was what happens to these creatures in the hospital when everyone's gone. Will the overlords collect them, or are they free to introduce themselves into the local ecosystem? That's a scary thought.
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