Tag Archives: Television

Why Lovecraft Country’s ‘I AM’ episode is the beating heart of the HBO series

Lovecraft Country, episode 7 “I Am”

(Beware! SPOILERS abound for Lovecraft Country “I Am.”)

If you’ve stuck with Lovecraft Country up to episode 7 you might’ve already realized that this show is on a mission.

Each episode, almost self-contained in scope, puts the series’ heroes in situations more commonly found in storytelling genres dominated by white male narratives. War, horror, adventure, and science fiction each get the chance to be used as statements on the perils of narrowing the possibilities of story by not acknowledging the rich differences found in diversity.

The lead up to episode 7, thus far, has seen the show put its own racially-conscious spin on the haunted house story (ep. 3 “Holy Ghost”), the Indiana Jones-like adventure story (ep. 4 “A History of Violence”), the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-like doppelganger story (ep. 5 “Strange Case”), and the classic war/romance story (ep. 6 “Meet me in Daegu”), each sharing in cosmic horror as the common thread. While Tic (played by Jonathan Mayors) is still the driving force behind the main story, this layered exploration of genre lets every character have their turn behind the wheel.

It’s with episode 7, though, where the show lays its heart and soul bare, with us looking in as if through an open wound that shows signs of healing. It’s aptly titled “I Am.” and it’s where science fiction comes in to drive the following point home: not only does black representation matter, it can create stories the likes of which we haven’t been allowed to see.

In this episode, Hippolyta (played by Aunjanue Ellis) takes to the road to find answers about her husband’s death and the secrets pertaining to an orrery she had previously found. Her search leads her to a mysterious observatory that can open a rift in reality to other dimensions and universes.

Hippolyta’s love for astronomy is played to great effect here. What was once an endearing character trait that made her more relatable and interesting turns her into a key character with access to information few others in Tic’s group can access. Hippolyta felt like a strong background character all the way up until this episode and not having her play a more central role in the unraveling of the main mystery after everything that just happened to her would be doing a disservice to the character.

Lovecraft Country, episode 7 “I Am.”

What makes “I Am.” the proverbial heart of the show lies in its approach to science fiction as a genre that feels tailor-made to portray the black experience. The specter of systemic-racism creeps into the episode as Hippolyta’s journey into the multiverse puts her into several potential realities her character could’ve perfectly fit into if given the chance to define herself within it, hence the episode’s title. The show takes the opportunity to celebrate possibilities rather than merely protesting the lack of representation, something it’s already established and done well in previous chapters.

Throughout her multiversal jumps we see Hippolyta become one of Josephine Baker’s dancers in 1920’s Paris, an Amazonian warrior from the all-female Mino or Dahomey military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey, and a space explorer cataloguing alien life in a fashion similar to how her husband researched new safe routes for his travel guides, an activity he didn’t allow her to participate in for fear she would get hurt on the road (an excuse Hippolyta challenges in the episode to great effect).

Lovecraft Country, episode 7 “I Am.”

Each version closes with Hippolyta declaring “I Am…,” which claims the character’s right to create her own self-identity within each genre, unencumbered by the expectations and prejudices of white male-dominated perspectives.

The episode goes lengths to portray each version of the character as deserving of their own series. It continues the show’s mission of showing how black representation in these genres has been absent or downplayed for far too long, denied by a culture that systemically devalued non-white perspectives (and still does). We get a sense of the type of stories we’ve lost in the process.

While that sense of loss is present and palpable–as it is in every episode thus far–the storytelling realities the show has brought to the fore also come with an unrelenting sense of hope. Hippolyta’s science fiction voyage and its several stops provide new avenues of story that demand to be explored. It amounts to a resounding “it’s about damn time” for the masses.

Fans of HBO’s Watchmen can find certain converging ideas between Hippolyta and Dr. Manhattan, especially in that show’s eighth episode, “A God Walks into Abar.” Manhattan’s decision to give Angela Abar, a.k.a. Sister Night, the choice of remaking him into a black man in that episode spoke to the importance of giving black creators the leading voice in the storytelling process so what we can see how new perspectives come to life. Something similar happens with Hippolyta, only she’s recreating herself under her own conditions with no need for anyone’s permission.

“I Am”/”A God Walks into Abar”

Lovecraft Country’s “I Am.” is yet another statement on the importance of self-identity and creative agency in fiction. The show has been successful in showing how fiction can respond to the needs of many, regardless of skin color, but it’s in this chapter that we see the argument come full circle. It’s a call for justice in representation with the guarantee that it has no intention of settling for anything less than creative control. Hippolyta is now the new face of that claim in Lovecraft Country, and it looks like “I Am” is the new rallying cry.

Recap: Umbrella Academy S1E9 “Changes”

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In Umbrella Academy‘s ninth episode “Changes” we found out that Vanya was always a bit of a problem and the reason that Grace (Mom) was created was that Hargreeves needed a nanny to watch the kids that Vanya couldn’t kill because she had gotten rid of quite a few of them. In the present time, Harold is cleaning the blood off of Vanya and trying to convince her that the only way to protect herself is to take on her brothers because they will kill her for killing Allison. But, she doesn’t buy it and thinks that she can explain to them what happened and they will help her. The brothers bring Allison back to the manor for mom and Pogo to operate of her lacerated vocal cords, she’s hanging on by a thread and needs blood since Luther is part ape and Klaus’s blood is too polluted, Diego offers himself up but, he’s scared of needles and faints so, they take his blood while he’s passed out. Klaus upset that no one takes him seriously decides to relapse and discovers that sober, Ghost Ben can use his body and Ben punches the pills out of his mouth and we all love a good Level Up.

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Back at Harold/Leonard’s while Vanya is freaking out about hurting her sister, she discovers the journal and figures out what he’s been doing to her, he tries to explain but,  Vanya feels like he’s the reason she killed her sister and when she asks him who Harold Jenkins is she realizes what he really is. He explains that he killed the first chair to get her the audition and all she wants is to go home and back to her family because she loves them, he then resorts to being cruel and calling her names and she explodes, literally and kills him.

Cha-Cha finds Hazel’s hideaway and attacks the waitress. Number Five, Klaus, and Diego find Harold and realize that he is the owner of the eye but, they don’t know that Vanya isn’t in danger, she is the danger. They head back to the manor and we find out that all that happened to Allison was her vocal cords were damaged which means, Vanya didn’t want to kill her, just stop her from talking. Diego heads off to find Cha-Cha and Hazel to kill them before the world ends since he thinks that it’s not going to happen now that Harold is dead. Hazel heads to the manor to talk it out with Five but, Diego shows up and starts attacking him, Five incapacitates Diego and Hazel lets him know that he wants to help him stop the apocalypse so he can stay with the doughnut lady.  He gives up Cha-Cha to help them clear Diego’s name and when he returns to the waitress he finds the trap she set. Vanya returns to her apartment and hears the message that Allison left before heading to the cabin, where she apologizes and tells her that she loves her and after a huge cry session, decides to head home and confess. Allison wakes up and tells Luther that Vanya has powers, not to hurt her but, to help her but, Luther being Luther decides to “stop her” so, when she shows up Vanya learns that Allison is OK but, Luther in his anger decides to cage her, which is her worst fear.

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When the other brothers and Allison discover what Luther has done, they try to get him to let her go because, she’s afraid and they love her and know that it was a mistake but, when Vanya wakes up in the cage alone, she freaks out and thinks that they are all against her and doesn’t know that they all want to let her out and talk it out with her.  She believes that they are yelling at her and mad at her but, they are all mad a Luther even Allison comes down to try and make Luther let her go but, she is weak and watching Allison try and save her sister while Vanya screams that she is sorry and, seeing the pain in both of their eyes, especially when Vanya thinks that Allison has given up on her will break your whole heart.

After the emotional horror of the Vanya trapped scene, we get sent to a humorous fight scene with happy music between Hazel and Cha-Cha over the fate of his new love and right before Cha can kill his new love, time stops and the Commission shows up. Back at the manor, Allison turns her back on Luther, Diego is enjoying smiley face pancakes from his mom, Vanya is losing her mind, Five returns Dolores to her mannequin stand and, Klaus testing his new power plays corporeal patty cake with his brother Ben.  The episode ends with Vanya talking to baby Vanya in the soundproof cage and little Vanya wants to cause some damage and enact revenge and tries to turn her against her family by recalling her worst childhood trauma and helps her break out by becoming the White Violin.

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Side Note: How TF did Ellen Page not get nominated for all the awards for this episode alone?

Review: Warrior Nun S1S5 “Matthew 7:13”

Warrior Nun

We are finally at the halfway point of Warrior Nun and I’m just as impressed as I was from the beginning. There’s so much I want to say but I’m going to try and be as spoiler-free as possible so I’ll just give you the highlights. We finally get a sneak peek into why Dr. Salvius is so hellbent (sometimes I’m super punny) on opening a portal and fighting the church. Ava comes face to face with what the OCS is up against and Lilith makes a hard choice.

Fantastic Voyage: Ava and JC head off to do a fake-out by taking a ferry to Morocco with the intention of staying on the ferry and faking out every one chasing them by returning to another port in Portugal and continuing onward from there. Their budding romance is one of the most realistic, summer-loving/meet cute, nontoxic things that I have seen on screen. I love that her inner monologue is usually a reversal of the male objectification that we normally see, it shows that women also have thoughts about people they are interested in, and (GASP) sometimes it’s purely physical and sexual. I also like that JC seems to be OK with Ava’s innocence and doesn’t try to take advantage of her and respects her physical space unless given permission and her autonomy and I loved he initiating their first kiss (and a little bit more), even if it was to get out of answering his questions because she’s been wanting that kiss since the first episode. 9and more)

Smash the (Church) Patriarchy: Sister Beatrice is not here for being told what to do, she’s here for doing the right thing. I love the way her and Sister Mary are all about questioning the male-centric hierarchy of the church and are willing to defy orders and rebel when it seems that the male (Cardinal) giving the orders is not making good calls. I love how the writers make Beatrice and Mary two sides of the same coin, while Mary takes a more “Screw you, I do what I want” approach, Sister Beatrice is all about smashing the hierarchy from the inside with quick quips and tea spilling, she gets a full picture and asks all the questions.

Science Facts/Religion Fiction: We finally get an explanation of what Divinium is and Dr. Salvius shows security footage of the OCS attacking her lab security staff to show that the Vatican has declared war on her because she found a way to make a bridge to heaven. The Cardinal is still on his patriarchal bullshizz and even after the Doc says she wants to go to heaven, he insists that she is wrong, he knows best and her bridge goes to hell. He also thinks that she is unjustified in attacking or declaring war on the Vatican, even though they attacked her first because his attack was justified. I also love Sister Beatrice and Father Vincent questioning the Cardinal’s motives and orders and leaning on their consciences and not the church hierarchy.

Best Lines:

“As the chain of command rises to God, I am sure He knows he has my full support.” followed by , ” You may always count on me to remain faithful. To God.” – Sister Beatrice to the Cardinal when he tries to get her to side with him. It was the clean, verbal “miss me with that bullsh**” that we all needed and the Cardinal wasn’t expecting , especially from a woman but, deserved.

“The church sells dreams, it’s time for someone to sell reality.” – Dr. Salvius to Father Vincent on why she is trying to open the portal no matter the cost.

Episode MVP: Sister Mary. Everything about her is bad ass and everything the patriarchy hates. She’s a free thinker, she does what she wants, she’s smart and she’s a fighter.  Watching her go to battle on multiple occasions with Sister Lilith in some of the most realistic fight scenes in a tv show was fun and her logic and quips made it easy to root for her and her logic and emotions make it easy to be team Mary all the way.

Overall: If this episode was the season finale of the show, I would be checking Twitter every day to find out when the show was coming back because GAWD DAMN! was that ending FIRE! Luckily ( I really hope it doesn’t go downhill from here) there are five more episodes and if they are even half as good as the ones leading up to them, there’s more fire on the horizon. This midway point episode tied up everything we’ve learned about the Halo, Ava, the OCS and Dr. Salvius as tight as a newborn baby whose parents have perfected their swaddling method. It answered all the lingering questions and paved the way for the next chapter of this amazing story. There are NO plot holes, which is rare in a supernatural, religion-based show and nary a question about mythology because everything makes sense and the story is pretty easy to follow. Storywise it is a perfect mash-up of Buffy and Supernatural but, it requires very little suspension of belief and logic in order to just go with the story and plot. I also like how this episode puts the nail in the coffin of any thoughts the viewer might have had about how “F*** the Patriarchy” this show was and I’m here for it. This episode was directed by a woman and it shows, especially in the brief almost sex scene, the way it doesn’t ogle Ava or seem salacious, everything from the facial framing to the action and body shots is done perfectly and if you’ve ever wanted to know what the female gaze looks like, it is here in every scene.

Rating: 9.6

Review: Locke & Key “Crown of Shadows” S1E10

Locke & Key "Crown of Shadows" S1E10

Nina and the detective are celebrating her return to sobriety and she’s completely unaware of all the hi-jinks that her kids have been up to and the evil that is headed their way. Kinsey, Bode, and Tyler are anxiously waiting for Ellie’s return unaware that Dodge got to her and is now in possession of the crown and the key needed to control it, so when she shows up at the house with a literal army of shadows it’s game on.

I WAS ALL ABOUT:

  • Bode using a multicolored lightsaber to keep the shadows at bay while they hunt for more flashlights, then using it to defiantly stab a closing in on shadow monster causing it to go up in all the flames, is everything good and pure in this whole cold, heartless world.
  • I loved Scot using his horror knowledge to be the king of captain obvious when it comes to questioning all the off choices the team makes and Eden wondering what the plan is if Lady Doge wakes up why they’re carrying her through the spooky cave.
  • Bode finding Rufus’ body at his house while everyone else is off on their mission to open the black door and dump the body.
  • Kinsey coming to her senses and realizing that opening the black door might not be the best idea, at least until she let Tyler talk her out of it it.
  • Bode again being the voice of reason and questioning if they really got rid of Dodge because something wasn’t adding up for him.
  • Watching them release Rendell’s ashes and calling the house HOME for the first time.

WHAT WORKED: Throughout the season finale we are reminded that these are just kids messing with some very grown up (and ancient) magic. They make some rookie mistakes but, they also come up with some out of the box solutions that most adults wouldn’t have come up with. Things aren’t tied up in a nice little bow and it’s messy, like life and childhood and adolescence making it reliable wherever you are in your life cycle.

I also like shoving a lot in on the front end of the episode so that you find yourself lulled into a very false of security with twenty or so minutes remaining but, at the same time there was an uneasy feeling that kept you on your toes until the last five minutes when Kinsey after receiving a call from Gabe. After the phone call, the viewer gets to have it’s idyllic happy ending shredded when a flashback gives us a bunch of aha moments and we find out that Gabe Kaiser Sose’d Kinsey to get close to the keys, made evident by the flashback reveal that shows Lady Dodge body changing from him and then using the Anywhere Key to get into the party where she seduces Tyler. Eden got shot by a glowy bullet so there’s another demon on the lose and, if that wasn’t enough, Ellie is who got thrown into the pit because Lady Dodge used the Identity Key on her to lull the kids (and us viewers) into a false sense of security so that she could continue her hunt for the keys.

KINDA SUCKED: That you spent a lot of the episode hella sure that, Ellie got thrown into the pit in the black door in a Lady Dodge suit, poor Rufus making the aha moment when you find out you’re right, that much worse.

BEST MOMENT:  

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  • Scot being honest about his feelings and telling Kinsey that what she wants (her dating both him and Gabe) isn’t going to work for him, so it’s best that they just stay friends.
  • Bode writing a letter to his friend Rufus as Nina puts up missing posters looking for Ellie.

BEST LINE:

“Is demon non-binary” – Scot

“You’re gonna have a knife fight with a demon?” – Eden

“If you’re undecided, then that’s your decision” – Scot

FINAL THOUGHTS:  This was a great final episode with amazing reveals a perfect ending for the show’s first season. I really hope that it gets renewed because I want to see more of Matheson, it might not be as dark and heartbreaking as the comics but, it’s still filled with great characters, a wonderful story, a well thought out and executed mythology and a rich world filled with people you can relate to, who happen to find themselves in magical situations. The series as a whole was cohesive and clever and this episode was the cherry on top of a great story sundae.

OVERALL: 9.4

Review: Locke & Key “Head Games ” S1E3

Locke & Key‘s third episode was all about the Head Key. The kids enter Tyler and Kinsey’s minds to dig up more memories of their father and deal with the trauma from their sudden loss of their dad. Bode finds the Ghost Key and uses it to talk to some of his ancestors since he can’t talk to his dad with it. Lady Dodge grabs the Fire Key from the ruins of Mark’s house and Kinsey literally buries her fears.

Locke & Key S1E3 Head Games

WHAT WORKED: In Head Games  Bode finally comes clean about the Lady, which is some info that the older siblings should have had from the beginning since they had no idea what they were actually up against. The title is a play on words and gives off a lot of hints about things that directly affect the episode’s progression. We learn more about the Head Key, how it can put things into your head and take things out just as easily as it allows you to just look around. The episode also deals with trauma and recovery from it, in some very real and honest ways, Tyler and Kinsey have been holding a lot of emotions, from guilt to anger, about their actions when their father was being murdered.

All those emotions are pushed front and center as the kids use the keys to open up memories but, to confront their inner demons (Kinsey does this literally and figuratively, although not in the healthiest of ways) and try to make sense of things. Up until this point, the keys were just fun and games, an easy fix to their real-world problems but, in this episode, the other shoe drops and the kids are forced to get somewhat on the same page with the Lady Dodge threat becoming real for all of them.

I liked that the writers took time to showcase all forms of dealing with stress and emotional trauma, they seem to have carefully written the story to make it clear that there is no right, or wrong way, to grieve or deal with trauma and there are no short cuts to dealing with it either. What was great about the way they handled their trauma depictions was that they didn’t say there was a wrong way or a right way, they just showed what was and it made their pain understandable, heartfelt and sincere which created a connection with the viewer on a human level.

BEST MOMENT: When Lady Dodge snatches a kids key from him and throws him on a subway platform through a new door it was shocking. But, it also provided us with first-hand visual knowledge of how ruthless she was and it set the tone for her future interactions with the Locke kids and anyone else who gets in her way. This seems summed up everything that you really needed to know about who Lady Dodge was and in a few simple frames took Locke & Key from a fantasy kid’s show to a dark fantasy show where anything could happen.

OVERALL: 8.4

Review: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina “Chapter Twenty-Six: All of Them Witches” S3E6

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In keeping with the Odysseus story, Circe turned the towns jocks into pigs who are being held in Theo’s barn, which made Robin come clean about who he really is and Sabrina and Ambrose figured out a way to lure the Dark Lord’s residue out of Nick and use it to help the coven, which was a hell of way to leave things but, gave us so many juicy things to look forward to in All of Them Witches. Things are still tense between Nick and Sabrina and he’s still going it solo and wanting Sabrina to do the same and the witches that the covens transmission summoned is right pissed, which is where this episode picked up.

Zelda tries to convince the fringe witches to join their cause and save the Academy and what’s left of the coven from the wrath of Pan. Hilda tries to enjoy her last days a human witch with her fiance, Sabrina is trying to deal with her heartbreak over the Nick break up while engaging in final death with Caliban for the final piece of the Unholy Regalia while Madam Satan starts to get weird gifts from Lucifer marking his return for revenge.

WHAT WORKED: The sisterhood coming together to banish a bigger threat, the Pagans, and the old gods. Prudence showing compassion to Sabrina and offering a cord-cutting spell to rid Sabrina of her pain and challenging her to figure out what SHE wants instead of harping on the past with Nick.

WHAT I LIKED: Caliban coming through in the clutch to offer to help Sabrina and them having a moment as he lays out his plan to rule hell together by taking turning Earth into the Tenth Circle of Hell off the table. Sabrina and Caliban have a lot in common and I like their banter, I don’t think they belong together because Sabrina seems to need time to find herself but, it’s nice to have it on the table.

Prudence standing up for diversity and championing the black witch. It kind of felt like an ode to how white feminism works and excludes women of color and invalidates what they bring to the table and keeps the divide going that keeps us all down, witch or no witch, it’s the same story,  different battle and it always needs to be addressed because until witches, or women, get on the same page we/they will continue to fail.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: Sabrina making a play for Harvey, not for a moral reason, do you but, for the fact that it’s a girl code violation of the highest order.

BEST MOMENT: Hilda and her beloved doing Sweeney Todd musical numbers were adorable and then she turned into a spider. There were a few things that happen in the interim before we go back to them but when we do and the initial shock has worn off Mr. Cee is just as all in for love as he ever was, human-sized spider body and all and it is pure, beautiful and everything!

EPISODE’S MVP: Gryla, I have loved her since the Christmas episode, she’s the epitome of every exhausted mother and I love for her no-fucks-to-give attitude. She loves her ghost children even though they’re mischievous and she’s a badass. Whenever she shows up, all other witches are irrelevant.

Overall: 8.1

Recap: Cloak and Dagger S2E2 – White Lines

White Lines is the title of the second hour of the two episode, two-hour premiere of Cloak and Dagger and it was just as brilliant as the first hour. The beginning slides into the end of the season premiere seamlessly, we pick up at the murder scene in the club where Tandy and Ty called Detective O’Reilly in to help them. O’Reilly kicks them out so she can clean the crime scene before the rest of the cops show up and everyone gets caught. Tandy and Tyrone have a fundamental clash of opinions, and in its simplicity, it highlights the differences in thinking between classes and races. The episode is split between all three major characters, with each getting to show things from their point of view which was a brilliant choice because it built up the tension , gave us a little relief and then ramp up the feeling again.

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.Tyrone heads off on a mission to discover what the voodoo symbol was that one of the drug kingpins drew on the floor, he gets his answer, to a degree but, it also leads to a confrontation with Evita who is not too happy that he never made contact especially after he shows her his power. While trying to learn to control his power he comes accidentally poofs himself to a chained up to a gurney in an ambulance, Makayla who begs for his help. He tries to take her with him and save her but, it doesn’t work and he ends up back in the church alone, defeated and sad.

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Next up is Tandy’s story. We see her in her group therapy session, Makayla starts to defend Jeremy and Tandy gets upset and yells at her causing her to run away. After her mom calls her on it, as a survivor of abuse, Tandy sets out to track Makayla down and save her, or at least apologize. After her search comes up empty, she goes back to talk to the group leader who leads her to Andre Deschaine, a community leader,  who helps her on her search. Unfortunately, the rescue mission gets cut short, Tandy has a power surge when she sees a vision of her dead dad and runs off.

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The third story we see is Detective O’Reilly as the devil at her brains door, Mayhem, escapes and decides to enact her own version of justice. Mayhem is much more assertive and violent and, it’s kind of glorious. She goes rogue and shows up to see the widow of one of the men who was murdered at the gang summit, after going Jack the Ripper on a $100k Kandinsky, and threatening to do the same to everything else in the house, she manages to find out the info she needs. She heads to the docks where she bumps into Tandy and that’s where things start to get hella interesting.

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While watching the memorial for over a dozen missing brown and black girls from a poor neighborhood and getting a lesson in racial politics from Andre , he gets a call and Tandy rushes off to the hospital to see an almost comatose Makayla. Wanting to get to the bottom of what happened, she slips into her mind and figures out what happened to her, she gets a lead and uses social media pics to find out more, which is how she ended up bumping into Mayhem leading to an epic bad guy beat down with a riotgirl style soundtrack in the background. After Mayhem sends Tandy to stand guard she finds out that there’s another shipment of girls coming in and once she has gotten all she needs from the ambulance driver, she kills him in a way that would make Deadpool smile.

Evita shows up at the church to apologize to Ty, where he tells her about what happened in the ambulance and how she has to find her. It is nice to see him open up and it was equally nice to see her help him through it because, it works and they end up at the hospital putting him right back on the path of him and Tandy being a dynamic duo, kicking bad guy ass and saving all the missing girls. Tyrone heads to O’Reilly’s to fill her in on what he discovered and finds her tied up and,  after he rescues her he poofs to Tandy to warn her and that’s where we discover that Mayhem isn’t the other half of a split personality, it’s a different person.

Quotes:

On Drugs in marginalized communities-

Those people choose misery and I’m sick of watching it

– Tandy

People don’t choose to suffer Tandy and, they don’t choose to hurt.

– Tyrone

On missing minority girls-

Where are the cops, the reporters, they should be all over this.

– Tandy

They would be if YOU went missing.

– Andre Deschaine

Episode High: Watching Tandy and Mayhem, in an O’Reilly suit, go ape shit on the bad guys to stop them from trafficking women was everything. I love it when girls are more damn hell in a dress than damsels in distress.

I found White Lines to be amazing. Cloak and Dagger is setting itself up to be the This is Us of the Marvel Universe because I felt all the feelings and still got all the action. Jennifer Phang is a brilliant director and the way she frames shots and gets such honest and emotional performances out her actors is to be applauded. Between her directing, the killer script and the truly breathtaking performances I spent the second half of this two-part season starter feeling some pretty real feelings about some imaginary characters. Honestly, at this point in the game, if you aren’t all about Cloak and Dagger, I really don’t know what you are doing with your life. And, I’ve got to give a special shout out to the music supervisor because this soundtrack is FIRE.

I give this completion of the series premiere arc a 9.8

Recap: Supergirl S4E17- All About Eve

All About Eve picks up right where we left off last week and continues at a rapid-fire pace, packing more into the first ten minutes than most shows squeeze into a whole episode. Alex finds an unconscious Lena and we find out the contents of the note that was left with her. Supergirl and J’onn J’onzz are on the hunt for Lex and the double agent Eve when J’onn tries to do a mental sweep and falls from the sky while hearing his fathers voice. Jimmy heads back to work and we find out about some of the side effects of Lena’s serum. Supergirl links up with the old gang while Nia tries to dream up Lex’s plan back in the Fortress and J’onn tries to reconnect with his dad in spirit to gain clarity on who he is becoming.

Lena heads off to visit her mom to find out where Lex is so that she can regain some of her strength by defeating the beast that her brother is.  Her mother plays on her fears about losing her friends which touches upon yet another toxic familial relationship that Lena has and adds some shades of humanity to the Alpha Queen that Lena is. Lena teams up with Alex and Supergirl to track down Lex by using Eve, leading the unlikely trio to Eve’s Aunt Mary but instead find her cousin Bitzie who Eve cured with Lena’s serum.

Cousin Bitzie gives up the location of Eve’s secret lab, which gives us a glimpse at the Supergirl Too. Upon finding the lab and discovering the source of the serums power,  Supergirl and Lena finally have a real moment and share their vulnerabilities bringing them one step closer to being friends.  They also discover what else Eve and Lex have been up to, including some Kryptonite hearted, laser blasting test subjects who force the three to solidify their relationship with an escape plan. The trio brings the Kryptonite heart back to the DOE and fills the rest of the team in on the part of Lex’s plan where Jimmy gets shot.

The team then suits up and heads to DC to confront Eve after seeing her image inducer glitch on national TV while the repeal of the Alien Amnesty Act is being announced and of course no one sees this as a trap. Lena slips her mom the plans to the prison to show her that Lex was planning to kill him and she uses that as leverage to try and get her to give up Lex.  Supergirl gets grounded by a hologram Eve and some new Kryptonite infused tech while Supergirl Too attacks the White House in OG Supergirl’s  outfit making her a villain. The president gives a speech that solidifies the hate in the heart of many Americans and enacts martial law for Alien refugees.  Luckily for the lady of steel Lena , Alex and her new boss don’t believe it was Supergirl and the episode ends on a battle cry note.

The side stories on this episode centers on family and coming to terms with yourself, serving as a nice thread that runs through every part of the episode down to Jimmy’s recovery and his relationship with his sister. We also see Lockwood playing it big for his son and wife while struggling to make headway in DC. It’s kind of nice to see him trying to play the politics game and, hitting a brick wall of politically motivated humanity even though we know that things are going to go his way because Lex is backing him and it’s needed for the story to move along. We also get to see J’onn dealing with his new self by summoning his father for assistance in figuring out who he is and who he has become since killing Manchester. J’onn is forced to feel all the emotions and share all of his rawness which gives a touching element to tonight’s episode. His daddy projection helps him sift through the clutter and set himself on his proper path and lets him claim his identity as the Martian Manhunter and I couldn’t have been more pleased.

Overall the episode was decent. There was actual footage of Supergirl in the episode, which marks a departure from most of the episodes of this season. It looks like the writers are returning to what works, giving Supergirl the same depth and heroic arc that they have been giving her male counterparts for seasons. We also go to see a lot of real moments between characters and their families, there was a whole lot of character development and relationship strengthening going on, which is going to be needed for the battles that we know are about to come. It’s nice to see that the team is getting themselves ready to fight back as a unit and regain some of the camaraderie that we had gotten used to. I hope that the writers build on all of the easy to follow breadcrumbs they laid out in tonight’s episode and, while I found some of the “twists” hella predictable and a bit lazy, it was still interesting to watch. I think the show can only go up from here, or at least I hope it does.

I give this episode a solid 7.5

TV Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S5E1 Orientation Part One & Part Two

Coulson and the team find themselves stranded on a mysterious ship in outer space.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. kicks off its fifth season with a game changing opening in a two episode debut. As the fourth season wrapped up we saw that the Agents were no longer on Earth and were aboard a ship of some sort. Where are they? How did this happen? Some of those answers are found in the two episodes in what might be the strongest debut of any season.

Lets start with the story.

The team is disconnected, separated, and have no idea where they are. They need to figure out what’s happened and the episode is mostly them doing exactly that. It all flows nicely and through it all we’re introduced to the situation, the goal, and who the villains are. But the bigger question is, are they really the villains? This season feels like a tough one when it comes to that with a slightly more ambiguous situation.

But, what’s truly impressive is the twist that’s revealed as to exactly what the situation is. It’s not what I expected at all and there’s so much mystery left to figure out, not to mention how it all ties together with the rest of the live action Marvel universe.

The characters too are great. There’s some amazing lines by Mac and it’s clear that the writers are having fun with the genre and situation they’re all in. There’s some jokes about the situation, about some tropes, it’s just fun.

The story is solid and the production value has increased as well. The special fx look like the budget is higher and there’s a focus on the visuals. The aliens too look solid fitting well into the existing Marvel movie universe. It’s interesting and the only downside is that there’s a lot of darkness so it’s hard at times to tell exactly what’s going on. It’s good and forces you to pay more attention but it’s a downside too.

The two episodes together make for the strongest debut of any season so far. The characterizations are great, action is is solid, and special fx are improved. Hopefully this isn’t a fluke and what we can expect for the season going forward.

Overall Score: 9.45

TV Review: Arrow S6E4 Reversal

arrowJust as Oliver starts getting things in order, Black Siren launches another attack on Star City.

Arrow has a rather bizarre plot of taking down the internet which is clearly a feint but generally it’s an episode that feels like it needs to get us somewhere, but isn’t sure how to do it.

The episode revolves around Felicity and her attempt to have a renewed relationship with Oliver while superheroing gets in the way. That’s the best aspect of the episode. We get to see Oliver deal with what he’s pulled so many times on so many others. There’s something solid about seeing a woman doing this to a man. Yay progress?

But, the bad is that what’s distracting her is her past dealings with Helix and her hacker friends. I wasn’t a big fan of that storyline and it seems like for at least the short term that’s going to be the focus of a big bad. We get a plot about taking down the internet and of course it’s a small piece of the big picture but there’s just such a suspension of disbelief of “this is how the internet works” that took me out of the episode. The “action” aspect of the episode lacked. It lacked a lot. So, it’s best to try to focus on the positive, Felicity and Oliver’s relationship, but that has issues too.

Oliver has a son… remember? This episode feels like it forgets that as the kid feels like he’s nowhere to be seen as Oliver bounces around being Mayor and also having time to meet with his former team. When’s he taking care of the kid? For a person who wants to focus on raising his son this episode feels like he’s not really doing that.

A low point in an otherwise improved season, the episode just had too many frustrating aspects that take you out of what is clearly an episode getting things focused on where the season is going.

 

 

Overall rating: 6.75

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