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TV Review: Snowpiercer S2E9 The Show Must Go On

Snowpiecer Season 2 "The Show Must Go On"

Snowpiercer is coming up on the end of its second season with an episode that’s full of dread and an ominous overtone. “The Show Must Go On” is that moment when the dictator has taken control and has decided to purge the resistance.

Layton is in jail and Roche and his family are in the locker. Wilford is now in control of both trains and has masterfully crushed his competition. Now, with control, Wilford’s excess can flourish as we learn the true hedonism that drives him.

The episode is an interesting one as we see Wilford more for what he is, a dictator. While that was pretty clear before, it’s without a doubt now. He’s willing to distract the masses, commit crimes against humanity, hold executions without trial, and lie to the masses. And that’s just in one episode.

Then there’s the carnality splitting the people of the car into haves and have nots. A sex-fest meant for Wilford’s own enjoyment. It’s clear he doesn’t see the people on the car as an attempt to save humanity. Snowpiercer to Wilford is an attempt to save himself and everyone else is either a cog to make that happen or there for his enjoyment.

What’s interesting about “The Show Must Go On”, beyond Wilford” is how it sets up the lines as to who stands where. That’s the most surprising aspect of the episode. We see resistance from quite a few. Some of those are surprising. Despite Wilford’s “absolute” control, in reality his control isn’t absolute. While he distracts the masses, he himself is distracted which has allowed numerous individuals to work to undermine his rule.

“The Show Must Go On” is a fascinating episode as the season begins to wrap up. It takes the hope from the season and crushes it in one episode. We imagined how bad rule under Wilford would be and in one episode we see exactly what to expect. And in many ways, it’s fare worse than we could have guessed. But in the darkness hope still exists. How much it spreads with one episode to go is the question.

Overall Rating: 10

TV Review: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier S1E1 New World Order

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Spinning out of Avengers: Endgame, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier picks up on a world out of order. The blip has been reversed and the ramifications can continue to be felt. This is what the first episode, “New World Order” reminds us. The world is not normal.

We’re reminded by that through the experiences of Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes who are reminded again and again that their lives and futures are anything but normal. They are hounded and haunted by their pasts and their legacy. As much as they want to go about their lives, their reality is now anything but conventional.

And that’s the strength of “New World Order” and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The series grounds itself in its debut. While it opens with an over-the-top action sequence, the episodes’ heart and vigor is its focus on these two as average people.

Sam Wilson (played by Anthony Mackie) was a soldier thrown into the world of superheroics. The series fleshes out his world introducing us to his family as he returns home to deal with their failing fishing business and house that’s soon to be lost to the bank. We’re given a start reminder that Wilson does what he does out of duty, not for the paycheck or riches. He’s an average person who has stepped up to serve and defend. He represents what we can and probably should be.

Adepero Oduye plays Wilson’s sister Sarah Wilson. She shows a strength and grounded reality delivering a perfect counter to Wilson. Sarah is more grounded in reality tending to the family’s world after the loss of their parents. Sarah drags Sam out of the sky and back into reality as he visits his family to figure out what they should do. Under a mountain of debt, the Wilson’s are a reminder that even the best of us aren’t rewarded and those with good in their hearts have the deck stacked against them.

The other side of the coin is Sebastian Stan‘s Bucky Barnes, aka Winter Soldier. He’s also a former soldier who stepped up when duty called. Unlike Sam, Bucky isn’t haunted by responsibility so much as his past actions. As the Winter Soldier, he was brainwashed and committed atrocious acts that haunt him. He’s a soldier suffering from PTSD, the trauma from his actions and crimes he’s attempting to move past. He’s also a man out of time like Captain America. At over 100 years old, he’s disconnected a bit from our world, confused by how things are and the current society. At the same time, he literally has one arm in the modern world, always having a reminder of who he was and is and how much of an anachronism he is.

Sam and Bucky together embody aspects of Captain America. A man who saw only a duty to serve during World War II and later became stuck out of time. In the end he saught piece having served. Captain America’s legacy in ways haunt both Sam and Bucky. And that’s what the series is about, who will pick up the mantle in multiple ways.

But, it’s also where the debut episode fails. It’s not a complete story. “New World Order” is a setup of the series where you have to watch further, it’s a piece of the puzzle. That’s how some episodic entertainment is, while others can deliver both the meta/ongoing story while also serving individual slices to enjoy.

The episode is a solid debut and enjoyable but it doesn’t feel totally complete. It also foreshadows things a bit too much.

The series shows a lot of potential and interest in diving into what it means to be a hero as well as the price it pays to be one. That has a lot of promise and would seem to continue some of the themes of the other recent Marvel Studios’ show WandaVision.

For fans who love these characters or have bought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the debut feels like slipping into something comfortable to hug you. It builds off of the films to continue the adventures. For those unfamiliar and new to the world, you might want to wait to binge the series to get a more complete experience. As is, the debut feels a bit more of a teaser than a complete story.

Overall Rating: 7.75

TV Review: Snowpiercer S2E8 The Eternal Engineer

Snowpiecer Season 2 "The Eternal Engineer"

Snowpiercer delivers a jaw-dropping episode that brings everything a head. Snowpiercer is seeing problems as water pressure has built up causing flooding throughout the train. Wilford is the cause behind the issues forcing Snowpiercer’s leadership to make tough decisions and call Wilford for help. “The Eternal Engineer” is a hell of an episode that had me gasping out loud multiple times.

With few episodes to go, the tension has been building through the season asking where loyalties lie between the two competing leadership factions.

The Breachmen have been murdered and the tensions have risen with Snowpiercer on the edge of another revolution. Wilford is behind it all manipulating the people of the train to distrust each other and long for order that only he can deliver. That includes outright sabotaging Snowpiercer.

This is another amazing episode full of hope and outright despair as everything plays out and we see who’s the better manipulator. Loyalties are laid out with some suprising declarations.

The episode gives two spotlights that are long overdue.

The train itself is center stage as it sees a massive mechanical failure. We learn more about the train as both factions must come together to resolve the issues. It’s a brilliant episode in that it uses the problems to push so many other plot threads ahead and delivering spotlight moments for so many characters. It’s really one that shows off the ensemble nature of the show. While it has two men clashing between leadership, there’s so many other interesting characters and we get to see them here. With one episode to go in the season, “The Eternal Engineer” really brings so many things together for the various characters on the train.

An example of this is Sam Roche, played by Mike O’Malley. He’s a character that has grown over the two seasons and this is his shining episode in multiple ways. Not only does he give a rousing speech about his thoughts concerning Layton but his story is one of ups and downs with an ending that had me almost in tears. Roche is the star of this episode really laying out what Layton and his faction are fighting for. It’s an inspiring speech that nails it all. It also makes events more tragic.

“The Eternal Engineer” is an amazing episode that will be hard to top in the upcoming finale. It’d be the perfect season finale honestly and I can’t believe there’s more in the season to come. This is an episode of highs and lows, full of tension and the highlight of the season so far.

Overall Rating: 10

TV Review: Snowpiercer S2E7 Our Answer for Everything

Snowpiecer Season 2 "Our Answer for Everything"

Snowpiercer‘s fallen into chaos with the recent murders being pinned on tailies. Wilford also might have his first defection delivering a blow to Snowpiercer. “Our Answer for Everything” is a tense episode full of action as things spiral. As Layton and Till investigate the murders, Wilford leads Miss Audrey down a dark path.

“Our Answer for Everything” feels like an episode that examines paths and choices that are made. Layton and Till are attempting to keep things together on Snowpiercer while Wilford slowly corrupts Miss Audrey, using her to enact his will. It’s an interesting parallel episode as you watch the two leaders act.

“Our Answer for Everything” gives a clear line between the two as one leader is willing to literally sacrifice himself to stop a riot while the other wants to be further worshipped playing games with those around him. We see the sadism that Wilford brings. While not everything is right on Snowpiercer, things would be far worse under Wilford.

There’s also some impressive moments given to Ruth who has her standout performance here. Actress Alison Wright has been amazing in this series but this is the episode where she must choose. While others clearly have drawn a line, Ruth still isn’t sure what to do. In “Our Answer for Everything” her loyalty is really put to the test as she makes a stand. She also realizes the horrors she’s committed on others. Hers will be the character to watch as the season progresses as this is the episode that we’ll see her growth launch from.

“Our Answer for Everything” is an episode where to many gains are lost. The tailies are being attacked, blamed for murders and it’s clear forces want that to happen. We see the angry mob at work, stoked by Wilford and his supporters. Snowpiercer’s “peace” is tenuous at best. We see betrayal in multiple ways and at multiple levels as the sharpest lines are drawn.

The second season of Snowpiercer has been an intriguing one exploring what leadership means to the future of the train. We see the sharp contrast between two philosophies and glimpses as to what might happen depenind on who wins. One person wants to rule only for himself while the others are hoping to deliver so sort of democracy and allow the people to determine their future in multiple ways. “Our Answer for Everything” is a pivotal episode that brings tensions to a boiling point and spills over.

Overall Rating: 9.0

Review: WandaVision S1E9 The Series Finale

WandaVision S1E9 The Series Finale

*Warning: Minor spoilers for WandaVision S1E9 The Series Finale*

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has often had trouble sticking the landing. The first two acts might be great but the third and final falls into a punching extravaganza that focuses on special fx delivering spectacle. For much of its run, WandaVision has focused on the characters delivering an intriguing look at trauma and an attempt to deal with it. “The Series Finale” wraps things up delivering some emotion but is bloated by the expected spectacle.

The episode brings things together with Wanda and Agatha facing off in a battle of magic while the military does its best to take Wanda down with their own Vision.

About two-thirds of the show is that literal battle. Two witches squaring off and two Visions squaring off. There are some great visuals but overall it feels like something we’ve seen before. There’s nothing particularly memorable visually (like Ant-Man‘s shrunken fight) or different (like Doctor Strange‘s repeat and irritate). Instead, we get hand waving and magical energy flung around with lasers and punching thrown in. For a show that has done something so different for eight episodes, the landing is for the most part not spectacular for the majority of it.

What WandaVision has done great is focus on its story. That’s clear in the finale as it wraps things up. So many theories, expectations, clickbait rumors plagued the show’s run but in the end, the show kept its focus. It didn’t go for a real big bad. Its conflict was within one individual. Anything else would be an insult to those who experience trauma. It also knew there were expectations and played with them and that becomes evident in this episode when the truth of Pietro is revealed. There’s a meta wink and nod to it all, a tease by creators that I’m sure will continue for some time. It’s a reminder that the writers and creators behind the scenes are in charge, not fandom and speculation and the creators have no problems playing with that.

Though much of “The Series Finale” delivers yet another battle, the last quarter of the episode delivers heart. It’s an emotional ending that’s hard to not appreciate. That last fifteen minutes or so nails it perfectly as the episode forgoes the spectacle and gets back to its traumatic, emotional, roots. In many ways, it delivers the anti-Avengers: Endgame. It rolls back what was snapped into existence. The fabrication crumbles. And Wanda is left with facing her reality. And it’s clear she’ll be facing a negative reaction. Though she sacrificed a lot, the town is rightfully and understandably angry with her. They were impacted by the manifestation of her emotional trauma. It places Wanda’s future, and those of the other MCU heroes, in an interesting and complicated spot. The show continues the recent years’ exploration that being a hero is complicated and not all of it good.

While “The Series Finale” is a bit mixed, it closes this chapter and sets up a lot to come. It presents the reality that for those that enjoy the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’ll need to experience the television shows as well as the films to get the whole picture. The series will have a lasting impact on the MCU, just not in a way the clickbait lead you to believe it would.

Overall Rating: 7.0

TV Review: Superman and Lois S1E2 Heritage

Superman and Lois "Heritage"

Superman and Lois‘ second episode does a solid job of building off of the extended debut taking the series in a few focused directions. What’s impressive, much like the first episode, is the series’ ability to juggle and balance time for each of the characters. Each feels like they’re getting enough focus. Each plotline feels organic and makes sense. There’s nothing forced in at all. Most importantly, everything in the episode feels like it fits the episode’s title “Heritage“, a concept explored in multiple ways.

With the discovery of Jordan’s powers in the previous episode the lives of the Kent boys diverge a bit. Clark spends time attempting to teach Jordan a bit more about his heritage while also figuring out what he can do.

But, in Jordan’s absence, Jonathan is the one suffering for actions from the first episode. It’s clear that the crap is rolling over with Jordan’s issues impacting Jonathan. Jonathan suffers for his brother setting up the conflict to come between the two. It’s real world friction and something so many can relate to.

Clark has his own issues concerning the mysterious Captain Luthor doing… something. We get teases and hints as to what’s going on there. It appears this Luthor is from a different world and that Superman destroyed his. He’s now attempting to prevent that from happening to this planet as well. I’s an interesting plotline and leaves viewers wondering what about this world’s Luthor? We get our first idea of that.

But, the most grounded direction is that of Lois. Her examination of Morgan Edge, his promise of jobs, and whatever else he’s doing to Smallville, is the type of story that so many have experienced. There’s a real-world aspect to it that’s nice and brings the otherworldly aspects of the show into our world. The over-promise of large corporations and their lack of delivery is something we see in the real world. Exactly where this goes should be intriguing.

Superman and Lois does a great job of giving each of the characters screen time. “Heritage” allows the exploration of the Kryptonian aspects of the characters as well as their history in Smallville and that of their family. It easily moves around all of those effortlesly and does so in a way that everything works to enhance each other. While there’s flashy action sequences, Superman and Lois‘ best moments are the grounded ones.

Overall Rating: 8.0

TV Review: Snowpiercer S2E6 Many Miles from Snowpiercer

Snowpiecer Season 2 "Many Miles from Snowpiercer"

Snowpiercer‘s sixth episode dives into the question as to what has happened to Melanie? The previous episode left things up in the air as to her success at reaching her destination. “Many Miles from Snowpiercer” is her tale as she’s alone in her mission. Alone with her imagination and memories.

The episode could easily have just focused on Melanie, Jennifer Connelly is talented enough to hold an episode on her own. No matter how boring that might be, a person and their thoughts. But instead, the episode dives into the “relationship” and history she has with Wilford, played by Sean Bean.

Bean’s Wilford acts as a taunt to Melanie as she not only is on a mission to gain data as to the planet’s future but also her dire situation for supplies.

What’s interesting is the episode dives into the history between the two. We get to see the spar as Wilford’s train is built. We get to see the philosophical difference between the two as Wilford focuses more on luxury after the apocalypse and Melanie focuses on the future of humanity. There’s a narcissistic god-like aspect to Wilford as he chooses the priorities and acts like Snowpiercer functions on his will alone.

“Many Miles from Snowpiercer” is Melanie coming to grips with her history both before the train’s launch and what was done on the train itself. With a limited amount of food, she’s forced to be creative and decide how far she’d go to feed herself, even cannabilism. It’s an interesting issue and reflects what Melanie put the talies through in their journey before the uprising.

The episode does an excellent job of bouncing between the past and present, while also looking towards the future.

“Many Miles from Snowpiercer” is an interesting episode that fleshes out some of the history of Snowpiercer. We see the tough and chaotic moments before the train’s launch and the outright abuses that were taken part in due to Wilford’s will. We see the death and lack of care for others. There’s a distinct line drawn between Melanie and Wilford and their empathy for others. It’s interesting compared to what we know of Melanie and her time on Snowpiercer.

The episode also looks towards the future as well. Melanie’s goal is to help map out the conditions of the world and see if the planet is healing. But, there’s something else discovered. In a world that we thought was destroyed there’s signs of life. Where there’s a will there’s a way it turns out. We get to see hope in the simplest of ways. It’s implications are major and show there’s a possibility of survival and some sort of normal life while the planet heals, they just need to look hard for it.

“Many Miles from Snowpiercer” is a hell of an episode that shows even in the bleakest of times, hope can be found. It also shows that the schism between Snowpiercer’s outlook and Wilford’s began well before the two trains met. The current situation is a long time coming and has been brewing for some time. It’s an episode that’s gripping to watch on it’s own and adds so much to the larger landscape of the world.

Overall Rating: 9.0

TV Review: Snowpiercer S2E5 Keep Hope Alive

Snowpiecer Season 2 "Keep Hope Alive"

Snowpiercer‘s fifth episode asks you to “Keep Hope Alive“. It kicks off with Josie in Big Alice’s train taking advantage of their advanced medical knowledge. But, her mission is clear in that she’s gathering intelligence as to what’s going on and passing it along. What’s big is the episode opens up with us knowing there’s cracks in Wilford’s train and among his people. It’s the first real solid sign his control isn’t absolute.

From there, things get interesting as Wilford is pining for Miss Audrey. He’s stuck on her and his behavior is reflecting that and the choices he’s making. There’s the music he’s playing throughout the train. We get to see there’s some quirky aspects of Wilford like a book club. Such a club would normally feel like a way for individuals to come together for enjoyment. With Wilford, there’s an ominous aspect to it.

An ominous is a great word to describe a lot of the episode. Its major aspect is Wilford and Miss Audrey getting together. Each has an agenda to gain an advantage over each other. But, it’s the visuals that really stand out. Miss Audrey’s walk to Big Alice through the people of Snowpiercer and Wilford getting rid. It’s a reminder there is still a ruling class to the train. They live in a different world than those who suffer. Audrey walking through the tail of Snowpiercer flanked by its inhabitants who suffer is a fascinating visual and one that’s a stark reminder of the underlying themes and issues of the show.

It’s also an episode where you begin to question the leadership of Snowpiercer. There’s issues when it comes to Melanie and there’s a tough discussion and decision as to what to do about it. Their decision and what they do is one that makes the viewers wonder if these are the best people and if their power is getting to them. They may talk about democracy and a train ruled by the people but their actions makes you wonder about their commitment to that.

The episode is an interesting one as the season moves along to the end of it. There are so many plotlines dealt with, each in a subtle way that moves things forward and builds on the political intrigue. It’s an episode of moves on a chessboard until its final few minutes that feel like something out of a gangster film. There’s so much here that it’s difficult to go into them in a review without ruining things. Every aspect of the show’s season are touched upon and moved forward… a lot. This is an episode where so many loyalties are shown and Wilford’s reach is seen. It’s an episode that doesn’t quite stand on its own but is so key as the season begins to wrap up. It’s key to set things up for what’s to come.

“Keep Hope Alive” is a fascinating episode in that it has so many moments that’ll get you to say “holy shit”. It’s one that’s full of so many interesting and key moments, it begs to be watched again to see it all come together and play out. And every actor delivers in their roles. They play things so well, whether it’s hiding their plans, or showing what they’re really thinking on their faces.

“Keep Hope Alive” is a hell of an episode. It’s one that brings a lot together and you’ll want to watch it again. Bravo Snowpiercer, your second season has taken what made the first solid and improved upon it in every way.

Overall Rating: 9.0

Superman and Lois Delivers a Near Flawless Pilot

Superman and Lous

Summary: Superman and Lois’ return to idyllic Smallville is set to be upended by mysterious strangers.

Positives

The Superman and Lois Pilot gives an exceptional angle on the relationship between its protagonists. The previous live-action iterations have shown a more idyllic interpretation, but this one shows more of a partnership. It’s also clear that Clark is smitten with Lois. Elizabeth Tulloch’s portrayal of Lois is more grounded than every previous one by other actors. It’s more in line with her current portrayal in the comics. The introduction of their children gives me vibes of a show which I actually liked, Jack and Bobby. It also stands out in giving one of the children a disability, something we have not seen at all in any of the shows about superheroes. 

Tonally, this show is much different than the other CW shows, which actually is great. Many of Berlanti’s shows tend to take the same tone after a while. It feels like something that was conscientiously done differently in this debut. The casting in this show is phenomenal, as everyone in this, fits perfectly, especially Emmanuelle Chriqui, as Lana Lang, and Tulloch as Lois Lane. Tyler Hoechlin is probably the most natural casting of Superman since Christopher Reeve wore the tights. Hoechlin gives both gravitas and relatability in the same breath. The fact that the show introduces relevant issues, like predatory lending, reverse mortgages, and xenophobia, puts a spotlight on societal ills much like Black Lightning has done in their previous two seasons.

Negatives

Superman and Lois is a near flawless pilot. The only things I can really gripe about is some of the story choices. The first being that his child doesn’t know his true identity. I’m guessing this is something that they are using as a plot device and will explore further in the future. The second one being that Clark’s parents have passed away. I would have loved to see more of that dynamic in this series.

Verdict

The Pilot for Superman and Lois is an extremely compelling and remarkable episode that proves the hype is to be believed. This is a very unique show which mixes family dynamics and superheroes, improving on Black Lightning’s formula. This is one that everyone should be watching.


Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Writers: Greg Berlanti and Todd Helbing
Starring: Tyler Hoechlin, Elizabeth Tulloch, Erik Valdez, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jordan Elsass, Alex Garfin, Katrina Kwan, Inde Navarrettem, Julie Nolin, Joselyn Picard, Adan Rayner, and Dylan Walsh

TV Review: Snowpiercer S2E4 A Single Trade

Snowpiecer Season 2 "A Single Trade"

Warning: “A Single Trade” features suicide and may be upsetting and triggering to some individuals.

Snowpiercer continues to shake things up in its second season. It has added layers and take the series beyond it’s simple class struggles. “A Single Trade” does all of that and more as the two trains come together for a celebration. The train is on schedule to make contact with Melanie through balloons and Andre has invited Wilford and some of his guests to celebrate the achievement.

“A Single Trade” continues the dance between the two trains as each attempts to gain an advantage over each other. Andre sees the event as a chance to possible turn a member of Wilford’s train. Wilford sees it as a chance to be proven right and to see hope dies. But, there’s so much more when it comes to Wilford in this episode.

We find out that Wilford has had a past relationship with Miss Audrey. He doesn’t just want “his train”, he want Audrey as well. In their past, Audrey was an escort and Wilford had paid for her services and apparently grew an attachment. As the episode progresses we get better understanding of that and we learn so much more about Wilford due to that.

In the second episode, we saw Wilford talk a member of his train into slitting his wrists killing himself. In this “A Single Trade” it’s revealed that he did the same with Audrey and she survived. It’s hinted at that Wilford is into serious masochistic things and his relationship and obsession with Audrey is destructive and even more abusive than initially hinted at. It also potentially gives Andre and Snowpiercer an advantage. The question is, will Andre take advantage of that hurting Audrey and forcing her to relive her trauma and put her in further danger.

The episode does so much more than that not only shaking some dynamics up on Snowpiercer, especially when it comes to the investigation over the attack but also introducing us to new members of Big Alice. It expands the cast in an organic way and makes all of those new characters important and key. Will any be turned. Will any of them do the turning? It’s an episode about relationships in numerous ways both real and fake.

“A Single Trade” is a fantastic episode. It not only gives us a well-choreographed dance between the two trains but it also builds tension. Will the contact be made with Melanie? Will Andre’s “hope” win out or will Wilford be right? There are so many small details to the episode that adds so much to the series and characters. This season continues to exceed the first by taking what worked and adding so many more aspects in a logical and organic way. Nothing feels forced, Snowpiercer continues a smooth ride along the track.

Overall Rating: 9.0


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