SciFi Weekend: Arrow; The Americans; Sleepy Hollow; 11/23/63; Orphan Black; The 100; Sherlock; Bruce Springsteen

Arrow Cemetary

It looks like many shows think that they can duplicate the  success of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead by killing off characters. There are more major spoilers this week. Recent posts have already dealt with character deaths, and there were more to look at this week. Some were handled better than others.

We knew for quite a while that there would be a death on Arrow this season, but none of the discussion I’ve seen predicted that it would be such a major death, even though major characters have been killed on this show since the beginning. It does make sense to kill Laurel as they never really knew what to do with her beyond the first season when the ex-girlfriend role made sense. They have varied so much from the comics that it is not necessary to keep her, especially as it appears, despite their current troubles, that Oliver is fated to wind up with Felicity and not Laurel.

Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle, and Paul Blackthorne (Detective Lance) discussed the episode with Entertainment Weekly. Here are some of the questions:

But seriously, why Laurel?

“Obviously Arrow is always a show that’s evolving,” Guggenheim says. “It’s always a show where every character, arguably except for the Arrow, is fair game. We started off this year with the promise of a death and when we worked our way through our various different creative choices, we realized that the thing that will give us the most pop going into the end of the season and into next season unfortunately would be Laurel.”

Was she killed because some of the fanbase doesn’t like Laurel?

“When I say it gives us a lot of pop I don’t mean on the Internet or publicity, I mean creatively for the show,” Guggenheim says. “Every time we’ve killed off a character on the show, it’s really been for the effect it has on all the characters left behind. I don’t want to spoil the end of season 4 or what we have planned for season 5, which we’re already in the room working on, but the way we always describe it is the creative math. How divisive Laurel is as a character on Twitter is not a factor. Truth be told, Twitter is a very specific sub-segment. The number of people who don’t like Laurel is probably an infinitesimally small group, so it’s not, as they say, statistically relevant.”

But shouldn’t Oliver and Laurel be endgame?

“One of the things we knew people would think was, ‘Oh, well, in the season where Oliver and Felicity get engaged and Laurel dies, that’s clearly making a choice about who’s going to end up with who,” Guggenheim says. “Truth be told, we told the Laurel-Oliver romance story in season 1. We told that story. We never really thought about going back to it. The ‘shipping thing was not an element, it was not a factor to us. We recognize that that upsets a lot of fans, particularly the comic book fans.”

Yeah! Oliver and Laurel end up together in the comics! What gives?

“In the comics, Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen, depending on which version of the character you like, are in a romance together in various iterations,” Guggenheim says. “That, to some people, is considered canonical and iconic, and we respect that, but at the same time we’ve always made no bones about the fact that we are telling our own version of the Green Arrow mythos. The Green Arrow has had so many different interpretations, and Black Canary has had so many different interpretations over the years, that we never felt beholden to one particular interpretation. This is our interpretation, like it or not, and I recognize there are plenty of people up and down my Twitter feed who do not like it. I totally respect that. But it made the most creative sense for us going forward despite the fact that we love Katie, absolutely love Katie.”

So could Laurel come back to life?

“Not getting a chance to work with Katie day in and day out is tempered by the fact that we now live in a universe where there’s resurrection, parallel earths, time travel, flashbacks — we have all these different ways of keeping Katie in the Arrow-verse family,” Guggenheim says. “In fact, you will see her on an episode of Flash playing the Earth-2 version of Laurel Lance. Katie is reprising her role as Laurel of Earth-1 to be in Vixen season 2. Death does not mean goodbye on any of these shows, but we made a creative choice and we’re sticking to it. We’re recognizing that Black Canary and Laurel have an incredibly loyal fanbase, and Katie has an incredibly loyal fanbase, but the show has never been just about the comic book history, it’s never been just about one or two different particular fanbases. We make the creative choices we feel benefit the show as a whole and the story that we’re telling overall.”

But by bringing her back on other shows, doesn’t that cheapen Laurel’s death?

“We definitely recognize across all three shows that when we kill off a character, it means something different now,” Guggenheim says. “I’m not going to put a qualitative judgment on whether it’s more or less impactful. I’ll leave that to the audience, but certainly we acknowledge there’s a difference. Arrow, much more so than Flash or Legends, it traffics in death. We started off the series of the apparent death of Sara Lance and the actual death of Robert Queen and a hero who murdered people. For better or for worse, death is part of the show. What we’re finding is that death now, as it should by the way, when you start to get where we are pushing into season 5, the show has to evolve, it has to change. The concept of death on this show is evolving and changing as we’ve already seen with Sara Lance, and with seeing Laurel in a parallel universe. There’s a world where we do an episode where Oliver Queen meets the Laurel Lance of Earth-2. That’s now on the table. Time travel is now on the table. As the show has evolved, so has death.”

The interview also dealt with reactions from the other characters, and revealed that we will not find out what Laurel said to Oliver before she died until next season, showing that the death of Laurel will be impacting the show for some time. As noted in the interview, Katie Cassidy will appear as an Earth-2 version of Laurel on The Flash. Her sister will also get a chance to react to her death on Legends of Tomorrow. Additional interviews from cast and crew can be seen here.

In other Arrow news, Echo Kellum (Curtis) has been promoted to a series regular for season 5, and presumably will be an active part of Team Arrow. I also would not be surprised to see Felicity getting back with the team, whether or not it takes time for her to get back with Oliver.

THE AMERICANS -- "Dimebag" Episode 304 (Airs Wednesday, February 18, 10:00 PM e/p) Pictured: Annet Mahendru Nina Sergeevna. CR: Ali Goldstein/FX

The Americans had the death of a major character at a strange time. (More spoilers here). It would have made more sense to end Nina’s story at the end of last season rather than continuing it so briefly this year, but many of the plot thread from last season were left to continue this year. It also provided an interesting look at how such executions were handled, with Nina being shot only three seconds after being told her appeal was denied and her death sentence would be carried out shortly.

TV Line discussed the episode with Joe Fields:

TVLINE | When was she originally supposed to die?
JOEL FIELDS | We went back and forth a little bit. There was a point at which we thought she might go at the end of Season 3. Then we fussed around with different episodes in Season 4. So yeah, there was a little bit of elasticity to it.

TVLINE | Why, ultimately, the decision to kill off Nina now?
FIELDS | It was really all about how the story laid out and how it fit in with other stories. … You do get very attached to these characters. As writers, you get very attached to them, and as actors, you fuse with them in a certain way. So it feels like a real loss.

TVLINE | So poor Nina was always doomed?
FIELDS | Well, not from the very beginning. And frankly, you’ve got to define “doomed.” The truth is, this character transformed in a way that has great meaning, and she could have maybe found a way to continue on as somebody who would do anything to survive. But instead, she grew. And she grew into a character who was willing to take a risk to do the right thing for someone else. Although she paid the ultimate price for it, she grew into a much fuller person. Yes, she made her choices, and in all seriousness, we have a lot of respect for her choices.

TVLINE | The method of her death was so brutal and quick. How did you land on that?
WEISBERG | That’s how they actually executed traitors. We learned about it from a book written by our consultant, Sergei Kostin. His book came out after the end of the Cold War, and we tried to follow it beat by beat in our script. Our director followed it beat by beat [and] beautifully shot it. As soon as we read it, we thought, “This is the way to do it.” It was so dramatic and so powerful and, interestingly enough, so humane. Because the reason they came up with that system was to spare the person being shot any foreknowledge about what was going to happen so they wouldn’t suffer and be afraid.

TVLINE | Nina has been separated from much of the main cast for a while now. Will her death reverberate for the rest of the characters somehow?
WEISBERG | I think it’s safe to say that Oleg’s father is very highly placed in the Soviet government, so he could easily find out what happened. I don’t think we ever saw that story as separated as maybe some people did. Even though the role was not as interconnected in the way that things are interconnected today with the internet and communications, it was still an interconnected role at the heart.

TVLINE | Did Oleg’s dad try to reach out to help her?
WEISBERG | He did try, but he just wasn’t successful.

The Americans Nina Execution

Spoiler TV has an interview with Annet Mahendru who played Nina, and also appeared in The X-Files revival this year:

Could you talk a bit about Nina’s motivations for helping Anton [Baklanov], what her mindset is and how you dealt with the change in her this season?

Annet Mahendru: I think last season we see it goes on for a while, she’s figuring him out, she’s always about the other – she’s kind of a reactor to things – and she doesn’t quite know what to do with Anton and she sees a human being for the first time and it brings that out of her. And she’s exhausted, she’s been in this hamster wheel over and over buying her life out, walking this thin line and you know, every decision, every step, it’s life or death for her and she’s exhausted and she’s falling and she can’t do this anymore. And he moves something in her. For the first time it’s something very direct: he has a son, and she’s given all that up when she entered this profession and she finds joy in his world and his letters and love and for the first time I think we see her happy and she literally gives up everything for that moment of happiness and that’s her freedom from that tragic life that she has chosen and has been dealing with [since we met] her. So I think for joy and for just she lives for the first time and that’s what she needs to do to live and sometimes you need to change in order to survive and that’s what she does.

Nina seemed quite resigned when reading the statement from Baklanov. Do you think she’s at peace with her fate now?

Annet Mahendru: I think she’s content, she is, she’s very much settled and she’s ok now because she did something for the first time that allowed her to be who she is and something that she saw, you know she has done everything to secure the future of the Soviet Union, this cause, this great cause that is so far-fetched and to hear something so direct – there’s a boy that needs to know that his dad loves him and she did that and that’s the greatest thing she’s ever done.

What was your reaction like when you got the script for this episode? Did [creators] Joel [Fields] and Joe [Weisberg] give you some heads up or did you find out as you were reading?

Annet Mahendru: (Laughs) Goodness no, I got the first script and then I got a phone call and you kind of wait for that phone call from the get-go – everytime they call you, that might be the phone call. It finally came and I played it really cool because you’d think you’d be prepared for it but you absolutely are not. I was angry at them, I loved them, I felt every single thing you could possibly feel and I remember my mom was like “it’s not you dying, it’s Nina, it’s Nina” because it just felt like a part of me that I was so lucky to be able to tap into and that I had to also say goodbye to. And the weird thing is I felt like in the 2nd episode I’m getting to know Nina, she’s meeting her husband, she finally has her own mission, her transformation that she desperately needed and I felt like I had just gotten a taste of her and that’s it and then like an episode later she’s dead. So that little bit of joy, that little bit of her that I finally got, it was so fleeting and it was over before I could really embrace it and it was really sad. We’ve all been, since the beginning, treasuring her and fighting for her – it’s really been a fight – and it just made me realise that it’s just such a tragic life and that it’s real, you know, this happens out there and it made me really angry.

Could you compare working on a show like this to working on a show like The X-Files?

Annet Mahendru: You know, it was really ironic, it was like a double death for my characters this year. It was a lot of death but Sveta died for the reopening of the X-Files and Nina died for starting something very important for an individual. It was a really difficult season and also the greatest season at the same time. The X-Files was a real treat and it was another special story that I got to tell.

Sleepy Hollow

From a mass audience perspective the death on the season (and perhaps series) finale of Sleepy Hollow was the biggest, but as I was also giving up on the show it mattered the least to me. (More spoilers ahead). The she had already lost its way after the first season, when it centered around the relationship between Ichabod and Abbie. There is no news yet as to whether the series will be renewed. While this was also not a very satisfactory way to end the series, it would probably be best to end it now, unless someone can go back in time and end it after the first season.

TV Line discussed the episode with showrunner Clifton Campbell:

TVLINE | I’m going to jump in with the big question first: Is Abbie really dead? Is this the last we’ll see of her?
The character of Abbie Mills makes the supreme sacrifice to save the world, and her character dies in the season finale, yes. To answer the second part of that question, she will not return to the show as Abbie Mills. There’s certainly the possibility, given our really good relationship with Nicole and how much she’s help build us these past three seasons, that reflections of her will be around and that the idea of her will be around is certainly something we’ve all talked about, but not as the character of Abbie Mills.

TVLINE | So is Nicole Beharie no longer with the show?
Nicole Beharie as Abbie Mills is no longer with the show. The character is dead. But we’ve had a terrific run with her. She’s been an absolute delight. She helped build out the mythology of the show, and we’ve had a tremendous run with her. The character is gone and, like I said, in Sleepy Hollow it’s always surprising to see how the reflections of one character or another can influence the show moving forward.

TVLINE | Ichabod’s grief over what happens is palpable, but I was struck by how Tom Mison played it contained. Did you think about Ichabod having a big emotional moment after he realizes she’s gone? Did you shoot any takes like that?
Listen, Tom has really created this character from the bottom up. His instincts are without parallel. His fearless creation of this character in all of these moments, particularly as they pertain to his relationship with Abbie Mills, is not something any of us would second guess. You picked up on that contained emotion — I think this is such a big moment, and a huge loss in his life and his world that he needs to process. At a point where we have that opportunity in the finale, he hasn’t quite reached that point yet.

TVLINE | Having Abbie sacrifice herself twice in the same season — fans might think, “Well, you brought her back last time…” What’s the fundamental difference between her going into the tree and her willingly entering Pandora’s box?
Well, she knew she wasn’t coming out of the box in the finale. She knew, because of what they learned in the catacombs, that the box was missing its hope, which is at the center of darkness and gave it context, gave it form. She knew she was giving herself to the box… that that meant she would not be coming back.

At the midseason break this year, it was more immediate. The Shard of Anubis was going to blow; her sister and Crane and everybody in close proximity could suffer catastrophic loss. Abbie knows she’s giving her life up at the end of Season 3 to save the world. The difference is, from the audience’s perspective, is [at the midseason break] she had fallen into a realm that we didn’t know about. She didn’t die.

112263 Finale

Hulu completed 11.23.63 last week with the series clearly being about whether one person, John Kennedy, would die. While I noted some negative reviews when the show first started, with some suggesting that viewers skip ahead to the final episode, I did find it enjoyable throughout the entire season. The finale did flow well from what was shown before.  (More spoilers ahead).

The series began by including a cosmic reset switch when introducing its rules for time travel. Whenever anyone went back in time, everything they did in a previous visit was reset and they could start all over again. Knowing about this reset switch from the start, the most obvious outcome was that Jake would be successful in preventing the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but things would be worse because of him doing so and he would have to go back in time to reset this.

The show was not very clear as to why things were so awful when Jake returned to the present, leading me to quickly skim the ending of the book. In the book the issue comes down to matters of destruction because of making changes in time itself, as opposed to a result of Kennedy’s actions after remaining alive.

It was clear several episodes before the end that the real story was about what would happen between Jake and Sadie, a woman Jake fell in love with after going back in time. When he spoke about bringing her back to the present with him, my first thought was that we have seen people go back in time, but never forward in time from their timeline. Whether or not it was possible for Sadie to go forward in time, Jake had to sacrifice the relationship in order for her to live to have a  happy life. Over the course of the finale, John Kennedy and Sadie were both killed and not killed on different trips back in time.

Orphan Black returns on April 14 on BBC America. The first four minutes are above. Here is the synopsis, which does not even mention the events of the flashback with Beth Childs.

After two months of respite, Sarah’s hard-won refuge in Iceland is shattered by a Neolution attack. Once again forced to flee, she realizes no matter how far her family runs it will never be far enough.

Ricky Whittle is isn’t happy with how his character was handled on The 100 last week. This follows the controversy over the death of Lexa earlier in the season.

For those interested in still more television deaths, Geeks of Doom reviews the season finale of The Walking Dead.

Filming has begun on Season 4 of Sherlock, with Steven Moffat being vague in his comments on where the season goes.

Last week I noted how economic considerations, including pressure from Disney and other studios, led to a veto of a “religious liberties” law in Georgia. North Carolina has passed a similar discriminatory law, and now they have seen the first economic consequences of this:

Bruce Springsteen canceled Sunday’s concert at the Greensboro Coliseum because of House Bill 2, saying in a statement that he and his band would show solidarity for North Carolinians working to oppose the law.

“Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them,” the singer wrote on his website. “It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”

…HB 2, passed quickly by the General Assembly in a one-day special session last month, prevents cities and counties from passing anti-discrimination ordinances to protect lesbian, gay and transgender residents. Legislators passed the bill in response to an ordinance adopted in Charlotte that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, a provision overturned by the new law.

Dozens of businesses, including American Airlines, Dow Chemical, BioGen and Labcorp, have spoken out against the law. PayPal canceled a planned $3.6 million expansion in Charlotte that would have created 400 jobs, and dozens of people have canceled attendance at the semiannual furniture market in High Point that starts next weekend.

Cancellation of the Springsteen concert is the first major economic blow to Greensboro as a result of the law.

John Kasich said that he would not have signed the law:

“I believe that religious institutions ought to be protected and be able to be in a position of where they can live out their deeply held religious purposes,” Kasich, who’s running for the Republican presidential nomination, told host John Dickerson in an interview for Sunday’s “Face the Nation.” “But when you get beyond that it gets to be a tricky issue. And tricky is not the right word, but it can become a contentious issue.”

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