SciFi Weekend: Agent Carter; Mr. Robot; Supergirl and The Flash; TV Renewals; Malevolent

Agent Carter Hollywood Ending

Agent Carter recently concluded its second season, showing once again the advantage of telling a self-contained story over a short season. Whitney Frost made a great villain for the season, with the dark matter providing a strong science fiction aspect. Other highlights of the season include meeting Jarvis’s wife and the return of Dotty. Howard Stark was also used well, just appearing enough to spice up some episodes. Peggy’s love life also attracted a lot of buzz.

The season finale provided an excellent Hollywood Ending which tied up the plot lines of the season and, other than for a cliff hanger at the very end, would make a satisfactory series finale if it comes to this. Major spoilers ahead.

Entertainment Weekly discussed the finale, and some questions left open, with executive producers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you kill off Jack Thompson?!
We did not kill off Jack Thompson, we shot Jack Thompson.

In the chest!
Yup, that was the intent. We shot him. Honestly, he might not be dead, and that’s what we as writers have said, and that’s what we told Chad. That’s the truth.

Let’s talk about the person who may or may not have killed Jack. Is it someone we know? Are they connected to the Council of Nine?
It’s unrelated to the Council of Nine. It is not for the reasons that you’d expect. It’s unrelated to Council of Nine, Zero Matter, any of that.

Purely related to the file?

This file reveals Peggy’s exploits with the S.O.E. and some kind of massacre. Thompson thought it was too good to be true, ultimately, and it didn’t seem to affect Peggy when he mentioned it. What’s really going on here?
You have to pay really close attention to what exactly we showed that was in the file. You see that there was some sort of massacre, and I would say, don’t make assumptions by what you see in that file. We were really specific about what information was given for a reason.

Later in the interview:

Turning to Whitney Frost, why did you ultimately decide to have her go crazy? And is that the last we’ve seen of her?
: I hope not. I hope we get to bring her back. She was delicious.
FAZEKAS: We probably don’t exactly tell that story again, but I loved working with Wynn. We didn’t want to kill her off. The Zero Matter, all along, had this increasing affect on her, where it was driving her mad. That felt like the organic way to end that story, because we didn’t start out that way, but boy did she end up that way. That was a direct result of Zero Matter.
BUTTERS: There was a little Frances Farmer connection of Old Hollywood taking its toll. I like her being a rogue’s gallery for Agent Carter, people who can come back like Dottie (Bridget Regan).
FAZEKAS: I really like how sad I feel for Ken Marino. Oh, Manfredi still loves her!

In the closing moments of the episode, Peggy is torn between New York and Los Angeles. Are you already thinking about whether you would keep the show in L.A. or whether you’d move the setting back to New York in season 3?
The nice thing is you can put the show anywhere, because it’s spies. We loved doing L.A. If I had a choice between doing New York and L.A. again, I’d pick L.A. But London has been dropped. It’s all going to be determined by what story we want to tell. I loved L.A. I loved how it looked, I loved how it looked on Peggy. We would be very happy to do another L.A. season, but we’re not married to it.

Haley Atwell Hollywood Ending

Haley Atwell has also discussed the finale, and the question of who Peggy Carter will ultimately marry:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How do you feel about Peggy and Sousa finally making a go of it?
I’m so happy! I love Sousa! I think what makes it work is that she saw something in him that’s the same quality she found attractive in Skinny Steve (Chris Evans), which was a man with great morals dealing with very real physical hardships. In the workplace, her gender is considered a disability. Sousa has a disability from the war, and therefore has to deal with that limitation. Because he deals with it with such dignity in the way that Skinny Steve did, that’s what attracts her to people. I think it’s inevitable that they end up together. He’s not intimidated by her. He respects her and admires her, and supports how brilliant she is and how good she is at her job, and is not threatened by that. I think that’s a bloody hard thing for men in the 1940s to not be intimidated by. He’s pretty special in that regard.

Do you think Sousa could be the husband that Peggy was talking about in Captain America: Winter Soldier?
I don’t know, because she says that Captain America saved her husband. It could be that what we don’t know yet is that in the war, at one point, Steve Rogers did save Sousa, and Sousa wasn’t telling me or didn’t know it at the time. Or they embark on a fabulous love affair, but then they realize they’re really bad at domestic chores and that they can’t compromise on who washes the dishes and they decide to go their separate ways. That’s a possibility, too. I like to think that this is the start to a beautiful relationship.

How do you think Peggy will handle Thompson’s potential death, especially since it’s happened because of that file?
She has an interesting relationship with Thompson. I think she deals with him with a bemused tolerance. I think she sees his façade and she understands why a lot of his bravado and his need to be liked and approved comes from, because he’s harboring a very guilty secret about his past that he confided in her in season 1. She’s not a dismissive person. She’s quite tolerant of people. She’s quite patient and wants to appeal to the good in him. Planting that seed in him is her hope that he will continue to be a good man. So to lose him, I think she would grieve, but it’s not the same. I don’t think she would regard him as a friend. He’s not someone that can be trusted. She suspects that he’s capable of making really bad decisions, but not malicious ones. I can imagine that he would get blinded by Vernon Masters, Whitney Frost and power, but she has sympathy toward that rather than sees that as something bad in him.

How much do you actually know about this file that discusses Peggy’s exploits with the S.O.E. and a massacre? Peggy seemed to dismiss it before, but do you know what’s really going on there?
James D’Arcy is so nosy, so he went sniffing around the writers’ room trying to figure it out. He finally found out what the secret was, and then on the last day he ran up to me and told me. I do know what that secret is. It’s really exciting, and it changes a lot. It basically gives us our core for season 3 if we were to go to a season 3. It’s really amazing, but I don’t want to get too excited about it in case we don’t get picked up again, so I can’t really say anything. Or it might get picked up in a couple years. I’m sworn to secrecy on it, but it’s really clever. Those clever writers!

Word as to whether there will be a third season is expected in May, but it appears Haley Atwell is interested despite working on another pilot. Even if she is busy with other projects, perhaps the series can be kept alive with fewer episodes to make it feasible.

Mr Robot s01e03

It appears that Mr. Robot will remain topical next season with encryption becoming a major subject. Deadline reports:

Mr. Robot showrunner Sam Esmail insisted at SXSW today that he’s no “fortune teller,” even though the show’s first season went into production just as a massive post-Snowden national debate about surveillance and the collusion between government and big business flared up. In any case, his luck continues, with the USA Network show’s second season heading into production with a storyline about privacy and encryption just as the FBI and Apple are having a very public fight about access to private iPhone user data.

“What’s weird is that we were really going into [Season 2] talking about encryption and privacy,” Esmail said during a SXSW show panel titled “Coding on Camera: Mr. Robot and Authenticity on TV.” “And then this whole thing with Apple and [CEO] Tim Cook happened.”

Esmail said he thinks the difficult-to-grasp real-life issue will play out over the next decade, with public discourse over the idea of a right to privacy. “Do we have that, do we not?,” he asked.

Is Mr. Robot meant to be a straight-up polemic? “I don’t know if it’s to make commentary, but it’s to bring it up and have a conversation,” Esmail explained later, offering as an example “the Apple/FBI thing. … We talked to our FBI consultants about this, and their view is that encryption should allow for this sort of third-party side-door thing.”

Esmail says he’s “totally opposed” to that. “I’m on Tim Cook’s side,” he said, a line that unsurprisingly got huge cheers from the SXSW room. Ultimately, he says, “if you keep breaking [the issue] down in a credible way and if you show both sides so that the audience can understand the debate, hopefully it gets people interested and invested in wanting to learn more about it. If our show contributes to that conversation, brings that conversation up again,” then he’s happy with the reception.

There will also be a lot more on Evil Corp. as two characters have been promoted to series regulars. From TVLine:

The acclaimed USA Network drama has promoted Stephanie Corneliussen (who recently guested on Legends of Tomorrow) and Michael Cristofer to series regular status for the sophomore run, as Joanna Wellick and Phillip Price. They join the previously announced Grace Gummer, who will be playing an FBI agent investigating the Evil Corp. hack.

Supergirl Flash

CBS has released the above promotional picture and a synopsis for the upcoming Supergirl/Flash crossover (and Glee reunion):

Kara gains a new ally when the lightning-fast superhero The Flash (Grant Gustin) suddenly appears from an alternate universe and helps Kara battle Siobhan, aka Silver Banshee, and Livewire in exchange for her help in finding a way to return him home.

I can recall old DC covers with Superman racing the Flash but I’m not aware of whether Supergirl ever raced him. With CBS not having the television rights to Superman, several story lines and other aspects of Superman have been used in Supergirl–similar to how Arrow borrows from Batman.

The CW has renewed its lineup shows, including several genre shows. Renewed shows include:

Arrow (season five), Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (season two), Legends of Tomorrow (season two), The Flash (season three), iZombie (season three), Jane the Virgin (season three), The Originals (season four), Reign (season four), Supernatural (season 12), The Vampire Diaries (season eight) and The 100 (season four).

USA Network has announced that the eighth season of Royal Pains, which starts on May 18, will be the final season.

Netflix will release the second season of Daredevil on March 18 and Luke Cage will be released on September 30.


Malevolent is requesting assistance to get out this animated horror movie, which has quite an impressive cast:

  • Morena Baccarin (Deadpool, Gotham, Firefly)
  • Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, Robocop, Agent Carter)
  • Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects, Texas Chainsaw Massacre II)
  • Rising star Dani Lennon (Bite Me)
  • William Shatner (Star Trek, Boston Legal)

MALEVOLENT is about a young woman named Miriam DeKalb (Dani Lennon, FearNet/Machinima’s BITE ME) who works for a non-profit which promotes global peace initiatives. When her billiionaire sociopath father Cyrus (Ray Wise) learns he is dying, Cyrus calls Miriam and her three siblings together to “discuss his will.” However, what he actually has planned is to pronounce judgment on them all. They are, in his view, traitors, and he has grisly death traps planned for each of them.

The wrinkle: a race of intergalactic gamblers, who wager on human conflicts as bloody sport, have chosen Miriam as their protagonist for this match. Thus the entire situation is being manipulated by the Gamemaster (Morena Baccarin,) who has the power to reverse time and reconfigure events as they play out. And so the playing field is constantly changing under Miriam’s feet — sometimes to her benefit, but usually, not. Through it all, The Overseer (William Shatner) calls the game.

No More Clintons: Thomas Frank & Howard Zinn Expose Bill Clinton’s Conservative Record

Bill Clinton

I have often pointed out many of the conservative views of Hillary Clinton, including on foreign policy, civil liberties, and social issues. In a new book, Listen Liberal, Thomas Frank points out how conservative Bill Clinton’s administration was. Salon has some excerpts:

What did Clinton actually do in his eight years on Pennsylvania Avenue? While writing this book, I would periodically ask my liberal friends if they could recall the progressive laws he got passed, the high-minded policies he fought for—you know, the good things Bill Clinton got done while he was president. Why was it, I wondered, that we were supposed to think so highly of him—apart from his obvious personal charm, I mean?

It proved difficult for my libs. People mentioned the obvious things: Clinton once raised the minimum wage and expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit. He balanced the budget. He secured a modest tax increase on the rich. And he did propose a national health program, although it didn’t get very far and was in fact so poorly designed it could be a model of how not to do big policy initiatives.

Other than that, not much. No one could think of any great but hopeless Clintonian stands on principle; after all, this is the guy who once took a poll to decide where to go on vacation. His presidency was all about campaign donations, not personal bravery—he basically rented out the Lincoln Bedroom, for chrissake, and at the end of his time in office he even appeared to sell a presidential pardon…

After the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000, the corporate scandals of the Enron period, and the collapse of the real estate racket, our view of the prosperous Nineties has changed quite a bit. Now we remember that it was Bill Clinton’s administration that deregulated derivatives, that deregulated telecom, and that put our country’s only strong banking laws in the grave. He’s the one who rammed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) through Congress and who taught the world that the way you respond to a recession is by paying off the federal deficit. Mass incarceration and the repeal of welfare, two of Clinton’s other major achievements, are the pillars of the disciplinary state that has made life so miserable for Americans in the lower reaches of society. He would have put a huge dent in Social Security, too, had the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal not stopped him. If we take inequality as our measure, the Clinton administration looks not heroic but odious.

…Someday we will understand that the punitive hysteria of the mid-1990s was not an accident; it was essential to Clintonism. Taken as a whole with NAFTA, with welfare reform, with his plan for privatizing Social Security and, of course, with Clinton’s celebrated lifting of the rules governing banks and telecoms, it all fits perfectly within the new, class-based framework of liberalism. Clinton simply treated different groups of Americans in radically different ways—crushing some in the iron fist of the state, exposing others to ruinous corporate power, while showering the favored stratum with bailouts, deregulation, and a frolicking celebration of Think Different business innovation.

Some got bailouts, others got “zero tolerance.” There was really no contradiction between these things. Lenience and forgiveness and joyous creativity for Wall Street bankers while another group gets a biblical-style beatdown—these things actually fit together quite nicely. Indeed, the ascendance of the first group requires that the second be lowered gradually into hell. When you take Clintonism all together, it makes sense, and the sense it makes has to do with social class. What the poor get is discipline; what the professionals get is endless indulgence.

Of course this is not new information. Howard Zinn described many of the same problems in A People’s History Of The United States, Chapter 23: The Clinton Presidency and the Crisis of Democracy:

Clinton had become the Democratic Party candidate in 1992 with a formula not for social change but for electoral victory: Move the party closer to the center. This meant doing just enough for blacks, women, and working people to keep their support, while trying to win over white conservative voters with a program of toughness on crime and a strong military…

He showed the same timidity in the two appointments he made to the Supreme Court, making sure that Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer would be moderate enough to be acceptable to Republicans as well as to Democrats. He was not willing to fight for a strong liberal to follow in the footsteps of Thurgood Marshall or William Brennan, who had recently left the Court. Breyer and Ginsburg both defended the constitutionality of capital punishment, and upheld drastic restrictions on the use of habeas corpus. Both voted with the most conservative judges on the Court to uphold the “constitutional right” of Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers to exclude gay marchers.

In choosing judges for the lower federal courts, Clinton showed himself no more likely to appoint liberals than the Republican Gerald Ford had in the seventies. According to a three-year study published in the Fordham Law Review in early 1996, Clinton’s appointments made “liberal” decisions in less than half their cases. The New York Times noted that, while Reagan and Bush had been willing to fight for judges who would reflect their philosophies, “Mr. Clinton, in contrast, has been quick to drop judicial candidates if there is even a hint of controversy.”

Clinton was eager to show he was “tough” on matters of “law and order.” Running for president in 1992 while still governor of Arkansas, he flew back to Arkansas to oversee the execution of a mentally retarded man on death row. And early in his administration, he and Attorney General Janet Reno approved an FBI attack on a group of religious zealots who were armed and ensconced in a building complex in Waco, Texas. The attack resulted in a fire that swept through the compound, killing at least 86 men, women, and children…

The “Crime Bill” of 1996, which both Republicans and Democrats in Congress voted for overwhelmingly, and which Clinton endorsed with enthusiasm, dealt with the problem of crime by emphasizing punishment, not prevention. It extended the death penalty to a whole range of criminal offenses, and provided $8 billion for the building of new prisons.

All this was to persuade voters that politicians were “tough on crime.” But, as criminologist Todd Clear wrote in the New York Times (“Tougher Is Dumber”) about the new crime bill, harsher sentencing since 1973 had added 1 million people to the prison population, giving the United States the highest rate of incarceration in the world, and yet violent crime continued to increase. “Why,” Clear asked, “do harsh penalties seem to have so little to do with crime?” A crucial reason is that “police and prisons have virtually no effect on the sources of criminal behavior.” He pointed to those sources: “About 70 percent of prisoners in New York State come from eight neighborhoods in New York City. These neighborhoods suffer profound poverty, exclusion, marginalization and despair. All these things nourish crime.”

Those holding political power—whether Clinton or his Republican predecessors—had something in common. They sought to keep their power by diverting the anger of citizens to groups without the resources to defend themselves. As H. L. Mencken, the acerbic social critic of the 1920s, put it: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

Criminals were among these hobgoblins. Also immigrants, people on “welfare,” and certain governments—Iraq, North Korea, Cuba. By turning attention to them, by inventing or exaggerating their dangers, the failures of the American system could be concealed…

Both major political parties joined to pass legislation, which Clinton then signed, to remove welfare benefits (food stamps, payments to elderly and disabled people) from not only illegal but legal immigrants. By early 1997, letters were going out to close to 1 million legal immigrants, who were poor, old, or disabled, warning them that their food stamps and cash payments would be cut off in a few months unless they became citizens…

The use of force was still central to U.S. foreign policy. Clinton had been in office barely six months when he sent the Air Force to drop bombs on Baghdad, presumably in retaliation for an assassination plot against George Bush on the occasion of the former president’s visit to Kuwait. The evidence for such a plot was very weak, coming as it did from the notoriously corrupt Kuwaiti police. Nevertheless, U.S. planes, claiming to target “Intelligence Headquarters” in the Iraqi capital, bombed a suburban neighborhood, killing at least six people, including a prominent artist and her husband.