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American Gods Season 1 Episode 7 “A Prayer of Mad Sweeney” Review

I’ve been all in from the beginning with American Gods. Shadow Moon has been charismatic and befuddled and the perfect audience surrogate for this world beneath the world. That neither he nor his patron, appear in this episode at all speaks to the depth of the characters and the sophistication of the complex story. There is a lot going on and everybody plays a part.

Sweeney may be an idiot in Mr. Wednesday’s estimation, but this week’s examination of the Leprechaun’s introduction to the New World goes a long way to making him a more sympathetic character. Ibis’ telling of his origin story builds a stronger connection between the dead wife and Sweeney. We see Emily Browning as Essie McGowan, the self-reliant Irish lass with the tales of the Aes Sidhe. Her devotion to the people of the Fairy Mound allow for Sweeney’s manifestation. Essie’s behavior and personality are not that different than Laura Moon’s. The two of them are intertwined as by now we know so are the ancient and the modern beliefs.

In this episode, Laura has become a character to be reckoned with. I especially liked the ice cream truck solution to her fly attracting decomposing corpse.

9
Score
American Gods Season 1 Episode 7 “A Prayer of Mad Sweeney”
The Bottom Line
American Gods has been consistent in atmosphere and storytelling skillfully making the gods more human and the humans more godlike. Next week is the finale and I’ll be sorry to see it end.
Yes!
A more introspective approach making Sweeney more vulnerable actually makes his character more interesting. He may be an idiot after all, but he’s become more likable.
No...
With only eight episodes, the season is too short and definitely feels rushed.

Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 9 “Empress of Mars” Review

I love it when the Doctor shows up uninvited. This time he arrives as NASA is awaiting contact from a Mars probe, only to discover the slogan “God Save the Queen” hidden beneath the polar ice. So off to Mars in 1881 and some stranded British Army soldiers from the Victorian Era and an Ice Warrior they named “Friday.”

As Doctor Who villains go, the Ice Warriors are pretty sophisticated. They have culture and history, ethics and motivations. Their appearances have some depth in that these denizens of Mars have always been more than one-word directives such as “exterminate” or “delete.” They are recognizable “people” who are neither friends nor enemies but have the potential for both. That is exactly what this episode explores and what is the most interesting about them.

When the TARDIS acts up and leaves Bill and the Doctor we are left with the dilemma of sovereignty presented in the aftermath of Imperialism. The Doctor gets it all sorted, of course, with the sage advice of “We must live together or die together.”

7.5
Score
Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 9 “Empress of Mars”
The Bottom Line
A good use of a classic villain in an intelligent and hopeful episode.
Yes!
Missy and how good is she really? The TARDIS seems to like her— must mean something, Right?
No...
Nardole. He’s more of a plot device than a character at this point, and an inconsistent one at that.

Orphan Black Season 5 Episode 1 “The Few Who Dare” Review

I don’t care how much of the Kool-Aid she pretends to drink, Rachel is too much of a sociopath to fall in with the cult of the Revival. I doubt that P.T. Westmoreland, the alleged 172-year-old founder buys it either, but that’s only one of the likely twists and reversals this final season promises. It also puts every clone in peril and isolated from each other which will be thrilling, I’m sure.

There are some fresh badasses too. Art’s new partner Detective Enger (Elyse Levesque) is the most ruthless and chilling Neo so far and maybe more than he can handle –a welcome addition that ratchets up the tension considerably. And who is Mr. Frontenac (Andrew Moodie) who intimidates Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and declares that there is only one faction? He certainly doesn’t talk like a Neo.

This episode is fast paced and loaded with intrigue. Even the boys at Rabbit Hole Comics are on the case. Scott (Josh Vokey) and Hell Wizard (Calwyn Shurgold) use their gaming expertise to try to contact MK.

So the “Final Trip” has a lot to accomplish in a very short time. I don’t expect all of the loose threads to be tied off neatly, but I do hope we get to see some favorite characters. I have a wish list of my own. Where has Cal (Michiel Huisman) been and what is he all about? What is Siobhan (Maria Doyle Kennedy) ex MI 6 or something? She has a particular set of skills that have never been explained to my satisfaction. Has Vic (Michael Mando) finally achieved serenity? Maybe I’ll never know.

8
Score
Orphan Black Season 5 Episode 1 “The Few Who Dare”
The Bottom Line
A great start to what I hope is a worthy closing season. Who will survive? I get the feeling that not everybody gets away unscathed.
Yes!
The strength of the series has always been the distinctiveness of each of the sestras and here that is emphasized by their separation and conflicting agendas.
No...
Delphine is assigned to Sardinia without explanation. Really?

American Gods Season 1 Episode 6 “A Murder of Gods” Review

The war has started and Mr. Wednesday is scrambling for allies. The god of the volcano, now of guns and ammo seems like a good choice, but can he be trusted? Wednesday explains to Shadow that he knows who he is and knows who he was as if that is sufficient.

Meanwhile, the Leprechaun, the Dead Wife, and the Cab Driver have teamed up despite conflicting agendas. Mad Sweeney wants his coin back, Laura might be able to become truly alive and Salim just wants to find the Jinn again.

Shadow confides his encounter with dead Laura to Wednesday (AKA Grimnir/Odin) at the Happy Vulcan Bullet Factory, so his resistance to belief in the supernatural has pretty much been eliminated. It’s not so much that Shadow trusts his boss, but he figures that like it or not that’s whose side he’s on. He also sees what happens to those who betray.

8
Score
American Gods Season 1 Episode 6 “A Murder of Gods”
The Bottom Line
The table has been set. Shadow Moon sees that his survival depends on his relationship with Wednesday and his ability to succeed. And then there is his stalker-ish dead wife to think about.
Yes!
Fantastic dialogue and complex intrigue. With only two episode left we know what is at stake and it looks likely to be epic.
No...
There are a lot of loose threads that might not be able to be resolved to satisfaction in the little time that is remaining.

Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 8 “The Lie of the Land” Review

Now that the Monks have control of the Earth, those who see the real truth are jailed for memory crimes. It also appears that the Doctor is their chief of propaganda. When Nardole shows up at Bill’s apartment, they go off together to get to the bottom of things. This is the best we’ve seen of both characters so far.

Bill’s heartbreak and confusion are immense, pushing her to the breaking point, and ultimately convincing her to shoot the Doctor. In the moment where he starts to regenerate I almost believed it, but of course, it was only an elaborate test to prove that Bill had shaken the influence of the Monk induced mind control.

In this season the social commentary has been loud and clear. The Doctor is a hero and has always been humanity’s champion, but now because of a crisis of their own creation, the citizens of Earth must be brave enough to solve their own problems. Bill represents all of Humanity and does just that.

Missy tells us that “good” is “vain, arrogant and sentimental.” Maybe it is, but as she finds out in her tearful recollection of all those she has killed, good comes with a price.

9
Score
Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 8 “The Lie of the Land”
The Bottom Line
The Doctor scolds that “Humanity is doomed to never learn from its mistakes.” Let’s hope he’s wrong.
Yes!
A taught dystopian episode that is timely without being overly preachy. We know the reversal is coming, but it works anyway.
No...
A little too on the nose at times, but forgivable.

Twin Peaks: The Return Part 5 Review

Russ Tamblyn in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

Part 5 is the most conventional episode of Twin Peaks: The Return so far. The supernatural elements are still there, but less emphasized. We are given more character development and introduction. We are allowed to see many of the plot elements move forward. All of this successfully grounds the often insane storyline into something easier to connect to.

Good Coop is still suffering the consequences of being stuck in the Black Lodge for twenty-five years, but he recognizes and enjoys coffee, so that’s a good sign. His affliction is starting to get stale though. If it lasts much longer (say maybe two episodes), I think that will be too much.

We get confirmation that BOB still inhabits Bad Coop, and there is some connection to Jeffries in Buenos Aires and Major Briggs, but I have no idea where that is going to end up but that’s fine with me.

The best part of the episode, bordering on fan service, is the check in with many of the beloved characters from the original series. I loved how Russ Tamblyn’s Dr. Jacoby (now Dr. Amp)’s golden shovels connect the more absurd characters and how the more relatable ones like Shelly (Mädchen Amick) and Norma (Peggy Lipton) are still as caring and sympathetic as ever.

The introduction of Becky (Amanda Seyfreid) leads me to think that she may be following in Laura’s footsteps, and is sure to end in tragedy.

8.5
Score
Twin Peaks: The Return Part 5
The Bottom Line
The concept of an eighteen-hour movie seems to be panning out. We have character development, rising action and a depth of story that should hold up in the long-term.
Yes!
Balancing the new with the old, the familiar with the odd, and all aspects of Lynchian oeuvre.
No...
Can crazy awesome be sustained?

Class Season 1 Episode 8 “The Lost” Season Finale Review

There is so much packed into this episode and most of it is awful. There is the indiscriminate killing of ill-defined characters, a surprise pregnancy, a ten-minute transformation into a martial arts expert and a ridiculous conspiracy hidden in a secret room that’s bigger on the inside.

In its half century Doctor Who can explain away nonsense with the claim that the Doctor lies, or that alternate timelines exist, etc., but Class does not have that luxury. Coal Hill has had at least two Doctors and five companions, yet none of them have ever noticed any suspicious activities by the Board of Governors? The “refurbishment” from school to academy doesn’t work as enough of an excuse.

Whoever the B.O.G might be, they come from nowhere and “manage time” and wait for the “arrival” and set up a cliffhanger that will likely never be resolved. Word is that the creator/showrunner has quit, so season two has become even more unlikely.

5
Score
Class Season 1 Episode 8 “The Lost” Season Finale
The Bottom Line
Potential is squandered in this episode and in the series over all. As yet it has not be announced that there will be a second season. We’re probably better off without it.
Yes!
Quill. From beginning to end Katherine Kelly has been the best thing about this show. The perfect combination of style, snark and kick-ass, I would very much like to see what she could do in a better show.
No...
Unbalanced and messy. Disappointing in execution though promising in theory.

American Gods Season 1 Episode 5 “Lemon Scented You” Review

A conversation with the reanimated corpse of his unfaithful wife does not surprise Shadow Moon very much. She is smart, matter of fact, articulate and not exactly remorseful, the same as she was in life, except for the dead part. In Shadow’s interaction with his naked autopsy scarred ex, what comes through is not fear as one would expect, but rather love, loss, and heartbreak. When he walks away from her, it is, of course, the right thing for him to do, but it is equally certain is that this is not the last he will see of Laura.

A few drinks with his patron Mr. Wednesday seems like a good idea, but nothing is that easy. The police interrupt their plans for a little while. The arrest, as he finds out, is part of the larger plot that Shadow has accepted, but still knows little about.

Gillian Anderson returns as Media embodying David Bowie in a lecture to the always annoying Technical Boy (Bruce Langley). Later she channels Marilyn Monroe in an effort to recruit Mr. Wednesday to a “merger” with the smarmy Mr. World (Crispin Glover). As brilliant as her performances are to watch neither of her targets succumb to her charms.

Each episode expands the politics and dangers of the hidden world and builds the suspense. We know only slightly more than Shadow and identify with him at every step. He is the mostly unlikely hero, but we root for him anyway.

Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 7 “The Pyramid at the End of the World” Review

This season has shaped up to be rather ‘grown-up’ in approach. In a collection of stories with serious takes on timely topics, this episode examines the value of freedom versus security. The Doctor, who is literally blind, must navigate his way through this dilemma, and for once, leans on the side of violence. He is swaggering and bold and continues to lie to Bill about his eyes.

Bill is wholly human, honestly compassionate, and is again representative of the audience as well as the voice of reason. The threat to Earth comes from the mysterious and technologically advanced Monks who threaten to take over the world by being asked to save it. Meanwhile, an unlikely series of events prompts the creation of an unrelenting biological disaster.

So far this has been the most consistent run of episodes since the reboot. Capaldi maintains the grumpiness and distance of his version of the Doctor, yet he has become a more endearing character in these flaws. Bill has done a great deal to balance him out and though I am becoming resolved to his departure I really hope she doesn’t leave at the end of the season along with him.

Class Season 1 Episode 7 “The Metaphysical Engine, or What Quill Did” Review

In the penultimate episode, Quill finally gets a chance to shine, and seriously, it is about time. I can’t get enough of her. Her badass-ery is fully formed and entirely earned. From the beginning, she has been the most interesting character, full of conflict and passion. She also gets the best lines. That we’ve been subject to teenage angst with no resolution has been a bit of a sludge to wade through, but now we seem to have some high stakes.

The Head Teacher has agreed to get the thing out of Quill’s head, but it involves transporters, alien body parts, a goddess (Spencer Wilding), and a shapeshifting surgeon (Chiké Okonkwo). It is pretty suspicious how this all came about, I must say. The Board of Governors of Coal Academy sure has access to some powerful alien tech, and the lack of attention given to them is disturbing. Not that anyone ever trusted the Head Teacher, but that fact that no know authority in the Whoniverse is keeping an eye on the B.O.G makes me certain that they are not working in the best interest of humanity.

Next week it all ends, maybe permanently as there is no indication that the BBC has picked up a second season.

General-DC Comics

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