SciFi Weekend: 12 Monkeys; San Diego Comic Com Top News; Batman v. Superman; Torchwood

12 monkeys season two finale

The second season of 12 Monkeys concluded last week. The series demonstrated a problem with many series which start out with a good story which can be told in a season or two, but the economics of American television demand that they try to find a way to extend the series longer. The initial story line of going back in time to stop the plague would have made a great story if it could have been concluded over one or two years, but it could not be dragged out indefinitely. Continuum had a similar structure with characters who went back in time to change their future, but managed to keep it fresh every season while sticking to the same overall structure.  12 Monkeys instead changed the focus of the series.

While there were good moments, I just could not find the story this season to be as compelling as the first season. The finale did wrap up some of the events of the season, while leaving other matters open. After seeing such division between the main characters over two different strategies, both failed leaiving most of the characters either dead or stranded in the past going into the finale. It took another means of traveling through time to repair the damage, followed by the revelation of the identity of The Witness. It was also fun to see Madeline Stowe, who was in the movie version, have a significant role in the finale.

12 MONKEYS -- "Memory of Tomorrow" Episode 213 -- Pictured: (l-r) Madeleine Stowe as Dr. Kathryn Railly, Aaron Stanford as James Cole -- (Photo by: Steve Wilkie/Syfy)

Show runner Terry  Matalas discussed the finale with Blastr. Here is the start of the interview, which begins with a major spoiler if you anyone intends to watch this in the future:

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: We now know the identity of The Witness, and it’s the child of Cole and Cassie. What can you tell us about the big reveal? 

Matalas: I knew from the outset that this is where our characters were heading – that the reveal of The Witness shouldn’t be just a surprising narrative revelation, but a hugely emotional one. We easily could have put a familiar face behind that mask and the moment might’ve been shocking – maybe even satisfying – but it ultimately would’ve felt like plot. Mind-blowing is fantastic, but it also needed to be heart-breaking; it needed to really challenge Cassie and Cole and pose these massive, emotional questions for Season 3.

How long have you been setting up this Witness reveal, and what hints might we have missed along the way? Was this the plan all along from the start of Season 1?

Matalas: Yes.  In many ways, the biggest hint from the start is that Cassie and Cole are continually left alive. The Army of the 12 Monkeys – Pallid Man, Olivia, The Messengers –they’ve made no secret that these two characters are important in the grander cycle. Time and again, they’ve opted not to kill them – even when the opportunity was painfully clear.

Speaking a bit more thematically, if you look closely at Season One, it’s very much about fatherhood. Season Two is equally about motherhood. Season Three, it stands to reason, will focus on the children.

You obviously can’t give us the play-by-play for Season 3, but what can you tell us about how this reveal will inform the next chapter of the series for Cole and Cassie?

Matalas: If you knew that your child was destined to become the Destroyer of Worlds – that the gentle, loving child in your arms would one day murder billions – what would you really do? Or not do? The “Kill Hitler” scenario becomes much more complicated when you’re Hitler’s mom or dad. So a major part of Season Three for Cassie and Cole is that central question, the weight and responsibility of it all.

But Season 3 will also be a “Sympathy for the Devil” tale. What if you met The Witness, heard his story and actually understood why he’s done what he’s done? Maybe even agreed with it?

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More questions are answered in the full interview, and in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Plus Entertainment Weekly also  interviewed Amanda Schull:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you feel when you found out that Cassie was not only pregnant, but their child was the Witness?
AMANDA SCHULL: [Executive producer Terry Matalas] told me fairly early on. I hadn’t had all of the moments with the Witness — understanding the gravity of how upset and just how violated she feels by the Witness — so it didn’t have the gravitas when he told me initially. Then, as we progressed throughout the season, every single interaction with the Witness, realizing how much she despises and how much it makes her despise herself for what she’s done and everything about it, that’s what is upsetting. It’s much more impactful knowing later on after having been able to reenact those scenarios from the page.

Then [with] the pregnancy [reveal], I don’t have a child, I’ve never been pregnant and I really loved being able to have the moment. We don’t say it, it’s all done through looks. I really liked the challenge. I really like having that interaction with Aaron. I work really comfortably with Aaron. I really enjoy everything that we get to do together. We shot those moments the final week of season 2, and it was just us in this tiny little set and we kind of had a skeleton crew. It was really special and I think they chose an even less emotional take of mine, because we did his coverage first and I just kept crying every time he opened the card. I’ve never told anybody that I’m pregnant, so I’ve never had that opportunity to tell somebody that. And his reaction, just everything that they’ve gone through up until that point really moved me.

What do you think that internal struggle will be like for Cassie between wanting to protect her child and considering other possibilities?
My initial reaction to that when we were talking about it was very un-[politically correct]. It was basically, “Get it out of me at any cost.” But then in thinking about that, it becomes a question of nature versus nurture: Is there a possibility that she could change it? She could rewrite history if she were able to undo this. If she’s never going to see Cole again, is she going to hang on to the very last bits of his DNA that she has and try to salvage the upbringing of this child in a way that isn’t destructive to all human kind? It is really a fascinating battle and I think will largely have to do with the certain circumstances in which she is being kept in the future with the Army.

We know that Cole is headed toward the future to try and save Cassie. With the concept of nature versus nurture in mind, do you think her choices about the Witness might put her at odds with Cole?
I think it will be really interesting and I think that it could perhaps put them at odds, but the fact is they seem to end up coming around to the same page. Of anyone’s partnership on this show, they seem to have the understanding of one another for whatever reason. They were sort of meant for each other. I think they would have an understanding. They might be at odds at first, but I have no idea how Terry and his evil genius brain wants to play that out.

There was a tremendous amount of news out of San Diego Comic Con over the past weekend. The above trailer both gives a better idea of how Flashpoint will be handled on The Flash and confirms earlier reports that Wally West will be seen as Kid Flash.

In other DC news, despite her character getting killed on Arrow, Katie Cassidy has become the latest to be made a regular across the entire line of DC shows on the CW Network.

Also on CW, there was news on the upcoming season of The 100:

“The Earth strikes back in season four—it is an unbeatable foe,” creator Jason Rothenberg teased regarding next season. “It quickly becomes about not how to stop it, because stopping it is not possible, but about: How do we survive? There aren’t enough lifeboats, so who gets to choose who lives?”

With total nuclear destruction on the way, getting her people to safety is something Clarke (Eliza Taylor) will have to deal with. In the exclusive clip shown off during the panel, we hear Clarke’s ominous narration: “Our enemy isn’t something that can be fought. It can’t be reasoned with. It can’t be killed. When all is lost, can hope survive? can we survive? After everything we’ve done, do we deserve to?”

After losing major characters like Lexa, Lincoln, and Pike last season, facing the impending apocalypse will be difficult for everyone. Octavia, for instance, will be traveling down a much darker road, channeling her inner assassin. She explained, “Octavia will take a really dark turn. She’s going to do what she does best, which is killing people. She really found her home within herself in becoming a warrior, and that’s thanks to Lincoln and Indra.”

More was seen of the future of DC’s cinematic universe with the above trailers for Wonder Woman and Justice League.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice came out on Blu-ray and DVD last week, also making this a good time for the above video of Easter Eggs in the movie.

An Honest Trailer was also released for Comic Con.

In other news, it has been confirmed that Daredevil will be back for a third season. While it was a complete story, a lot of personal matters for the characters were left hanging at the end of the second season.

Star Trek Beyond came out Friday and there was news at Comic Con on the upcoming television series. While the movie still had some of the flaws seen since revived by J.J. Abrams, it did feel the most like true Star Trek. I discuss both the movie and what we know about the television show together, and will hold off until next week to give more people a chance to see the movie.

Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock is involved in yet another franchise. A trailer for Doctor Strange is above.

In other potential big news in the Doctor Who universe, John Barrowman said he is working hard to bring Torchwood back, and he has a big telephone call related to this scheduled for Monday. Hopefully we will have some real news afterwards.

SciFi Weekend: Emmy Award Surprises & Snubs; Mr Robot Returns; Community Movie; Sherlock; Fargo; Outlander; Doctor Who

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The Emmy nominations came out this week, and I think they did a much better job than most years. The full list of nominees can be found here. Common problems in previous years included failing to recognize new shows, snubbing genre, and keeping old favorites in the nominations even when shows were beyond their prime. Last year they finally made up for snubbing Tatiana Maslany for Lead Actress in a Drama Series and she was nominated again this year. The biggest correction this year was finally recognizing The Americans–not only for Outstanding Drama Series, but also recognizing its stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell.

While it took four years for the academy to give The Americans the recognition it deserves, another good surprise was that Mr. Robot received nominations, including for the series and for star Rami Malek. As with Tatiana Maslany on Orphan Black, it is hard to picture Mr. Robot working without Rami Malek. On the other hand, they did snub Christian Slater, who won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his work on the series. Perhaps the Emmy Awards don’t recognize characters who are a figment of another character’s imagination.

It was also a pleasant surprise that Master of None received nominations including for the series and for star Aziz Ansari. Ansari might have benefited from his work on 30 Rock, while another 30 Rock alumni, Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) missed out her first year but was nominated this year.

Beyond the additions of The Americans and Mr. Robot, the Outstanding Drama Series category was fairly predictable, including Homeland and Downton Abbey remaining beyond their best years. Of course the Emmy’s have also been more likely to include a show or star when they are in their final year, so I was not surprised that Downton Abbey was included. If they must include a show which Damian Lewis was at one time connected with, I would have chosen Billions over Homeland this year.  The biggest snub this year of a show which deserved to be included was Jessica Jones. Similarly, Krysten Ritter and David Tennant deserved nominations for Best Actress and Supporting Actor. The series was nominated for some minor awards but it is hard for genre shows other than Game of Thrones to receive the major nominations.

The Outstanding Comedy Series category includes several worthy shows, along with continuing to nominate Modern Family out of inertia. I would have included Catastrophe and You’re The Worst before Modern Family.

Fargo deserves another nomination for Outstanding Limited Series, but this year I would give the award to The Night Manager, which also received nominations in additional categories. A miniseries was the best way to handle a John le Carré novel. While the same can also be said of other novels, whenever I have seen a movie based upon one of his novels which I have read I would feel disappointed by how much had to be left out.

Mr Robot Eliots Room

Mr. Robot returned with two episodes last week. One question when watching is how much is true and how much is Eliot imagining. I noticed that when the episode showed his routine, whenever he was by a television Barack Obama was on live, throughout the day. That aspect was obviously imagined, even if he really saw Obama at one point. How much of the rest of the day, or where he is living, was imagined?

TV Guide looked at one theory that everything was imagined, noticing how much his room looked like a cell in containing only a bed and a small table, his mother seemed like a guard, his meals with the same person could have been taking place in a prison cafeteria, his meeting across the table with Gideon looked like a prison visit, and the use of a wall phone as opposed to a cell phone looked like a prisoner talking on a prison phone. These, and other examples, could mean that Elliot was in prison, or perhaps a mental hospital. The knock on his door at the end of season one could have been when he was apprehended. However, there were also suggestions that the FBI is pursuing Elliot, which might argue against  him already being in prison, unless he is relating events out of order.

Community

Dan Harmon says a Community movie will still happen, although from this report it sure doesn’t sound like we will see it anytime soon (if ever).

With  Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman both becoming such big stars, Steven Moffat wonders if he will be able to continue Sherlock beyond the fourth season.

Channel 4 has renewed Catastrophe for seasons three and four. Amazon will stream them in the United States. Amazon didn’t stream previous seasons until after they were on Channel 4 so I bet I will wind up downloading them as opposed to waiting.

I would watch season three of Fargo even if it stared all unknown actors, but the addition of Carrie Coon (Leftovers) is a huge plus.

In follow up of my review last week of the season finale of Outlander, Vulture has some spoilers as to what to expect in the third season.

Digital Spy looks at the rumors of Matt Smith returning to Doctor Who and gives reasons why they do not believe they are true.

Next week we will have a miniseries of the absurd, The Republican Convention. The schedule of people you don’t really want to see speak is listed here.

SciFi Weekend: Outlander Season Finale; Doctor Who; John Barrowman; Alex Kingston; Sleepy Hollow; Person of Interest

Outlander Season 2 2016

The second season finale of Outlander was what a finale should be, tying up the season, providing an opening for the next season, and in this case surpassing virtually everything done so far this season. Before getting into the inevitable spoilers, for the benefit of those (like myself) who are having difficulty keeping up with all the excellent television shows on but also have not seen this season, the finale almost stands on its own as a show worth watching. If you have seen the first season but not the second, it is possible to watch the start of the first episode which has Claire back in the 1940’s, and jump from there to the finale. Of course there are some other events during the season which are well worth seeing. For those who might want to binge on the essential episodes only, TV Guide has a list which includes essential episodes from both the first and second season. TV Line has summaries of the episodes leading up to the finale which will be helpful for those who don’t have the time to watch them all.

Further discussion of the episode includes major spoilers. The structure of the episode was a surprise in primarily taking place  in 1968. (starting with television scenes from the British version of The Avengers), with flashbacks to the Battle of Culloden. This worked very well, finally tying together the scenes from the 1940’s at the start of the second season with the overall narrative, showing why Claire returned to her present. It was also enjoyable to hear the 60’s music, with many of the lyrics applying to the show. Plus, after seeing Claire’s medical skills in the past, we learned that she has become a surgeon.

The episode served to introduce Claire and Jame’s daughter Brianna and Roger, and handled the matters of setting up a reason forcing Claire to tell her story to Brianna, her daughter’s logical disbelief in the story, and ultimately proving the story to her. This was accomplished partially from Brianna and Roger investigating the past, and further enabled by the introduction of Scottish nationalist Gillian Edgars.

Outlander Geillis

Gillian Edgars cared so much about Scottish independence that she planned to travel back in time to try to change history, becoming known to Claire as Geillis. When we previously saw her, she had told Claire that she had come back from 1968. Geillis knows more about time travel than Claire did when she first went back, but also had at least one misconception, believing time travel required a human sacrifice. The rules of time travel on Outlander remain vague, and from what we have seen so far I also have my doubts that it is possible in this world to change time. While perhaps there will be incidents we have not seen, so far we have seen the actions of the two time travelers we know only working to create a consistent history which their actions became a part of.

Once Claire found that Geillis planned to travel back in time, it was rather obvious that she would not be successful in either preventing her from going to her doom. Her point in the story was clearly to allow Brianna to see her disappear into the rocks and convince her that Claire had told her the truth.

There would also be continuity or time travel issues to deal with if Geillis had not gone back in time. While she had interacted with Claire, the more important matter was that Geillis and Dougal had a child who was Roger’s ancestor. Roger felt confident he would not just disappear if she did not go back to conceive his ancestor. While we don’t know the rules for certain, it appears there would not be reason to be concerned about such a paradox as events in this world cannot be changed, and Geillis did go back in time.

The episode interspersed events from the past with the events in 1968. Claire came up with one final scheme to try to change history by poisoning Prince Charles and preventing the battle which destroyed the Scottish clans. Dougal discovered the plan, setting up a fight in which he was killed. When it became obvious that there was no way to change history, Jamie revealed that he knew Claire was pregnant due to missed periods, and convinced her to return to the future where Frank would care for Claire and their child after his expected death in the Battle of Culloden. We saw the aftermath of Claire’s return in the first episode of the season, and that now finally makes sense.

Outlander Season 2 2016

Back in 1968, Roger had another major reveal, having found evidence in his father’s papers that Jamie had survived. This leads to the dramatic words from Claire to end the episode: “We have to go back.” Earlier in the episode, Claire did take a notebook from Geillis’ home with her ideas on time travel, but we do not know if they are incorrect on other details Perhaps they will help Claire with matters such as choosing which year to arrive with a second trip back.

Fortunately we know that Outlander has been renewed so far for a third and fourth season, allowing the next two books in the series to make it to television. While readers of the books know for sure, I suspect that the information in Geillis’ notebook allows Claire to return to Jamie when their ages are closer as opposed to being twenty years older than him. Of course this would mean that Jamie had lived without her for twenty years, but we can safely assume that he will welcome her return at any point.

Ron Moore and others involved with the show have granted several interviews, some of which deal with altering the structure of the books for the show, plans for the third season, and even a brief discussion of the rules of time travel.

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The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Ron Moore about the finale:

Since you altered the structure of the beginning of the season, how did that affect the way you told the story in the finale?

I had the finale planned out pretty much at the beginning of the season. When we were talking about the beginning of season two, I just felt that right away, starting in 1968 wasn’t going to work on TV. It was too big of a leap to go from Claire and Jamie on the ship sailing off to France to suddenly go to 1968, with 20 years passed and Claire is now in the 20th century, she’s a doctor, she has a grown daughter, Jamie’s dead, Frank’s dead. It’s like, whoa. Too much for the audience to take in one big swallow. So I decided to start more chronologically in the premiere with Claire returning to the 20th century, which in and of itself is a huge leap. That’s an enormous thing just by itself so let’s do that. And so when would we get to the 1968 story that book readers are expecting? That’s how we decided to get to 1968 at the end of the season, way back at the very beginning of the season. And then I felt it would be powerful to intercut that with the last moves of the 18th century story so while you’re watching Brianna realize who her real father is, and Claire is realizing that maybe Jamie didn’t die after all, we’re cross cutting that with the 18th century story when they arrive at Culloden Moor with Jamie’s goodbyes to Claire and all that.

Did you discuss with author Diana Gabaldon about the way you were structuring the season? It was a pretty massive change.

No. She sees all the story outlines and all that, so she knew as it was happening. She liked it. She thought it was smart. She totally got behind my choices.

We finally learn that Claire is pregnant again only when Jamie is convincing her to go back to Frank for the safety of their baby. Why did you want to wait until that scene to reveal that she was pregnant again when it actually comes earlier in the book?

The book was very similar in its structure, in that Jamie is the one that tells the reader that this is happening. But what we did is slid it a little bit further down so it was much closer to the very end of the season. It felt to us that if you put that in earlier, it kind of colors everything that took place after. They start talking about the baby, where she’s going to have the baby, would she stay or would she go? We didn’t want to be in the middle of that discussion while everything else was going on. So we opted to make it one of the last pieces of the puzzle, playing that Claire has this suspicion but she’s not quite sure so she doesn’t want to bring it up now because she knows that Jamie would most likely send her home and she’s determined to stick with him no matter what. Meanwhile, he’s figured it out on his own and he’s holding it as his trump card, that if things go bad, he’s going to pull it out at that moment to force her to return to the stones. It’s playing both characters a little cagey in terms of her pregnancy and each holding their cards until the last moment.

The circumstances of Dougal’s death turned out a bit different in the finale than how it played in the books. Why did you make those changes to that scene?

The one thing we did change is that we had Claire participate a little bit more. The scene reads fine on the page, but when we came to dramatize it, we quickly realized that in the books, it literally just looks like Claire is standing and watching throughout the entire fight and Dougal’s death. That didn’t feel right, dramatically for our characters. We wanted to see Claire take part in it more and be more active in that scene. And also, seeing Claire and Jamie work as a team one more time before they split up, this was the perfect opportunity for that.

It’s interesting to note that they didn’t get far in their plan to assassinate the prince, whereas in the book, they had decided against their plan before Dougal walked in on them. Why did you accelerate that scene when that change completely alters what Claire and Jamie were planning to do?

For that scene, you had to see Dougal overhear something that was damning in order to get Dougal to where he needed to go in his rage. If they had already decided against it, what was it that Dougal heard that made him come into that room with blood in his eyes? What sparked the fight in him that leads to his death? Again, because it’s a TV show, you have to let the audience see that they were being overheard and even though they hadn’t made a definitive decision to do it yet, what Dougal heard was enough to get him to go in there and want to kill them. We just had to parse it out a little finer than in the book…

In the finale we learn that Geillis believed you needed a human sacrifice to go through the stones, but with Claire, obviously she didn’t need that both times she went through the stones. How much of the rules of time travel did you discuss with Diana?

We did have a conversation with Diana and she explained her rules of time travel to us. We tried to translate that into something the audience can wrap their minds around on the show. Her rules of time travel have evolved and are spread out over many books and many characters and many scenarios. We needed to really understand both what Claire thought and what Geillis thought in this episode so we honed in on a couple of things. There are still a couple of things for Claire to figure out and discover as we move into next season though.

Outlander Finale Brianna Roger Couch

He added a little more in this interview with Deadline Hollywood:

DEADLINE: Season 1’s finale may have been more brutal, but this year’s ender certainly matched it for dramatic twists — especially the killing of Dougal. How do you think fans will react?

MOORE: If they don’t know the books, I think they will be surprised and shocked that we killed Dougal MacKenzie because he’s such a great character and such a powerful force. Especially since Colum (Gary Lewis) just died the week before, and you would think that there would be a long route to go with Dougal. I assume that the broadcast audience was assuming that we would see Dougal fighting to the death at Culloden, right? He would be one of the principal players in that story, so I think it will come as a pretty big surprise.

DEADLINE: Last season ended with the rape scene with Black Jack and with Jamie, about which there was a huge and shocked response from fans. This season finale had a different tone. Was that intentional?

MOORE: It was certainly intentional what we went for, but I don’t think we set out to set it apart from Season 1. It just had its own kind of organic feeling to it. It had a different rhythm and a different kind of overarching idea to what we were doing in the finale this year. Last year’s finale was a one-off, that was where that story ended. I don’t think the show or the book set out to try to top themselves each year or at the end of each book. That was the end of that story, and this one is the end of this story…

DEADLINE: To that end, you made a number of strategic changes from Dragonfly In Amber the book to Outlander the second season – all of which in many ways saw us end where things started, in the UK of the 20th century…

MOORE: I mean, the biggest change we made obviously was starting in the 1940s instead of starting in 1968. That was the biggest change from the book. I just felt that at the beginning of the season it was too big of a leap to take the audience from Claire and Jamie on the ship sailing off to France to then suddenly jump all the way to 1968 and reveal that not only did Claire return to the 20th century, but she has a grown daughter and she’s a surgeon, and the reverend’s dead and Frank’s dead, and it’s just like, whoa — traumatically that was just too much.

So I thought, “l right, let’s start in a little bit more chronological way. Let’s start with her return to the 1940s, establish that she’s with Frank and going to have a child, because even though that alone is still a huge leap for the audience, it’s not quite as big.” So from that point, then it was sort of letting the 18th century story pick up the balance of the season while touching base every once in a while, reminding the audience that actually this is all doomed to failure, and then catching up with 1968 at the end and intercutting that with the 18th century story in the last chapter, because I thought that that would be an interesting juxtaposition.

I like the idea that we’re going to take this 20-year leap forward in the 20th century and then catch up with adult Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and a more mature Claire, seeing that she really lived all those years and her life is moving on, while simultaneously telling the audience the last few moves of Claire and Jamie in Culloden and timing it all so that the moment that Claire goes back to the stones and leaves him behind to his doom, we also find out that actually he survived and now the Claire that lived those 20 years realizes that she needs to go back. I thought that would kind of bring everything together in a nice way.

DEADLINE: Are you planning on taking a similar approach with the Voyager book and Season 3?

MOORE: Yeah, some things get moved around, but the third book is not nearly the same challenge as the second book is. Voyager is a little bit more of a straight-ahead narrative and the adaptation process has already proven easier in the writers room because the structure is a little bit more straightforward.

Even in the first season we resequenced things and moved certain elements around, so that’s just part of doing an adaptation, but it’s just not as big a hill to climb in the third season, so we’re all feeling pretty optimistic and pretty good about where the third season is taking us.

DEADLINE: Outlander got a two-season pickup from Starz last month, so where are you at, if anywhere, with Season 4 and adapting the America colonies-based Drums of Autumn?

MOORE: We’re only just sort of talking in very general terms about Four. I mean, we know what the broad outlines are of it, but right now the lion’s share of our attention is on Three. Still, having the two-season pickup makes all that easier because you can sort of put Four over here to the side for a moment knowing that you’re going to do it. Then, as we get deeper into Season 3 — the planning, logistics — we’ll get closer and closer to start talking in earnest about Four.

Also, the writers will start turning their attention to Season 4 while this season is still underway. So we’ll write all the scripts for Season 3, get them all in train, get them all starting to prep, and then the whole writing staff will start to work on Season 4 while we’re still shooting this one. That gives us a big leg up, get on schedule and production and budget and all that — it’s enormously helpful.

Outlander Season 2 2016

Another key event in the episode was discussed with TV Line:

TVLINE | In the book, Claire is present for, but not directly involved in, Dougal’s death. In the finale, she helps Jamie push the blade into his uncle. Why the change?
We felt that when you saw it on screen, you would be struck differently than you were on the page. If you watch the scene play out on the screen [the way it does in the novel], Claire would very much be a spectator during the entire thing. We felt like she should participate, and watch her and Jamie be more of a team again. It just didn’t feel right for our Claire to stand and watch while this life-or-death struggle was playing out just a few feet in front of her…

Outlander Season 2 2016

TV Guide talked to executive producers Matt Roberts and Toni Graphia, who wrote the episode:

What was the greatest challenge in setting up this finale and what objectives did you know you had to achieve in the final 90 minutes?

Toni Graphia: Ron [Moore, executive producer] always said it was kind of like writing a pilot, in a way, because we have to introduce Brianna and Roger. They are such new characters, but ones that the audience are potentially interested in, obviously. The character of Brianna being half-Jamie and half Claire, they’re really into that. We had to introduce them and sort of kick off a whole new storyline for going forward.

We did it in a different way because the book [Dragonfly in Amber] opens with the introduction of Brianna and Roger. We chose to steal the opening of the Book 3 for the opening of Season 2, and then end the season with the introduction of Brianna and Roger. That’s a twist that we did that we think ended up well.

Matt Roberts: Literally, the whole book of Dragonfly in Amber and Season 2 is told in flashback because we already know Claire goes back. We know that Claire survived; it’s just how she survived. Toni and I had to be very careful not to tell [Bri and Roger’s] story in the finale, as opposed to just whet everyone’s appetite — because it’s not their story. It’s still Claire and Jamie’s story, and that’s whose it will always be.

Your initial instinct with [Brianna and Roger] is to give them a beginning, middle and an end to the story. … We had to be careful to reel ourselves in and not go too far with their story because that’s another season down the road.

What is different about the versions of Brianna and Roger you bring to life in the finale from the ones fans know in the books?

Graphia: We wanted to give Brianna a little more of a drive. We thought it would be a little more interesting if Claire, instead of already making the decision [to tell Brianna about Jamie] off-screen, was drawn back by the ghosts of her past. Even though she has the freedom to tell Brianna now, she hasn’t made the decision. In the book, your mind fills in all that, but when you’re watching it you don’t want the decision to be made off-camera. So when Claire comes back, we gave that drive to Brianna. In that way, Claire is being drawn in by the ghosts and Brianna is like, “What’s up with my mom? She’s always been a little distant and strange, but now she seems really moved by this place and she’s sneaking off to go see things.”

In the book, its Claire and Roger — Claire sort of shoves Brianna off to the side and secretly asks Roger, “Will you help me find out what happens to Jamie Fraser?” We switched it to Brianna and Roger, both for the sake of their developing relationship, because they’re now doing this project together, and to sort of have Brianna be the strong one that comes at Claire and demands these answers.

Finally, Claire can’t hide anymore from her past and has to come clean with her daughter. We just thought for the screen that was the more interesting story. It makes Brianna a more interesting character because she’s driving the story and she has something to do. She’s interested. She wants to know about her past and it makes for some explosive scenes between her and Claire, which we loved doing.

Outlander Season 2 2016

Vulture  interviewed co-executive producer Maril Davis and touched on the rules of time travel in the series:

Even after 20 years apart, they now have a chance to be reunited. We don’t see it in the finale, in that moment, but it’s implied that it’s about to happen. And when it does, they’re going to be different people…
We talk a lot about that in the room right now, for season three. It’s a big transition. People expect that if they were to just see each other, things will fall back easily into old habits. That doesn’t happen. Twenty years is a long time, and they both met when they were very young. So we’re talking about, “How are they different? How does that change them?” Also, in your mind, you build up things about a person that aren’t really reality, and they were together for a relatively short time. Certainly Claire was with Jamie longer than she was with Frank, but still, you change as a person, and your expectations get built up, and once you see them again, that’s a huge thing to go through.

Originally, we had a fun idea for the end of season one — we’d cut to black, and fade up, knock knock, and it would be Claire knocking on Reverend Wakefield’s door, 20 years in the future. In anticipation of that, we started looking for Brianna and Roger early. We decided at the end of the day not to do that, and suspended the search until later. But then we came up with this idea of starting with, “Oh my god, Claire’s already back. Holy crap! How did that happen?” and then the rest of the season, not peppering it through the way the book does, not dealing with it until the end. In some ways, it should be like the books, but telling the TV version should be fresh. Even for book fans, you want to give them what they want, but in a different way sometimes. We want try to do that for season three as well.

Let’s talk about Geillis. She returns for the finale here, but we’re not quite finished with her yet.
Even though Geillis saves Claire at the witch trial, there’s a little more animosity between them in the books, or at least that’s what I felt. We tried hard to give them more of a friendship in season one, to give Geillis some more layers. I love Geillis from the book. She’s witchy and mysterious. But we wanted to make her more human because that was a little more interesting to show. So even though Geillis does a lot of bad things, she still sees Claire as a true friend. Granted, her ways are a little more wicked than Claire, and for a different purpose …

Because she’s trying to control her time travel, and she’s willing to use blood sacrifice. We get to glimpse her notebooks, and we’re getting more of the rules, such as they are…
I can’t tell you how many discussions we’ve had in the writer’s room about the rules of time travel. [Laughs.] I’ve certainly pestered [author] Diana [Gabaldon] many times about her rules, because quite honestly, when you realize Claire went through the stones the first time without many of the certain elements you need, it’s a little confusing. Like, Claire went through without anything, so how did that work? And obviously she can do it, but Jamie can’t. Do we show that, or do we not? There are certain things you read in the book that you naturally accept, and you don’t think too much about it, but when you’re trying to dramatize it on screen, you have to. It almost makes your head hurt! [Laughs.] So I’ve asked Diana things about Master Raymond being a time traveler, or the Comte St. Germain, since she’s written that he might be a time traveler in The Space Between. But we didn’t really delve into that in this season.

So long as Claire gives more thought to her return journey, and realizes that she should bring some things back with her before just stepping through the stones again. Penicillin, for instance, could be handy.
Of course! She has to bring that back. [Laughs.]

DOCTOR WHO

In other time travel genre news, there are stories that Steven Moffat has hinted that Matt Smith might return to Doctor Who. He technically wouldn’t be the first Time Lord to regenerate as himself as the linked article claims as David Tennant’s Doctor did that. It would still be a first for the show to have a Doctor return after being played by someone else. If this becomes true, there is also the question as to whether he would be made to look like his previous version of the Doctor and if he would have the same personality. He might even hate bow ties. Another possibility could be returning to the show as an entirely different character, as some actors, even if not as prominent as Smith, have done.

Another time traveler from Doctor Who will be seen a lot more on television next season, but in the Bellantiverse on CW as opposed to Doctor Who. John Barrowman has been made a sort of regular throughout their DC based shows rather than being limited to Arrow. There have been questions as to whether the shows will be more connected next season with The Flash doing a version of Flashpoint.

Arrow -- "Streets of Fire" -- Image AR222b_0237b -- Pictured: John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn/Dark Archer -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

CW shows such as Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl will no longer be available on Hulu. At least their new deal with Netflix will have them be available eight days after the season finale.

Alex Kingston will have a recurring role in the Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix. She will play an eccentric character, but presumably not River Song.

Like Outlander, Sleepy Hollow sometimes takes place in two different times, and we have seen time travel. Not only have they lost the female lead, they are moving from Sleepy Hollow to Washington, D.C. There will be a new female lead who has been described as Scullyesque.

Soon after the series finale of Person of Interest, The Washington Post has a story which makes it sound like the ideas behind the show could become reality: How artificial intelligence could help warn us of another Dallas.

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SciFi Weekend: Game of Thrones Finale; Flashpoint And The Berlantiverse; 12 Monkeys; Tom Baker Interview

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While in many past years it often seemed that we were waiting forever despite warnings that “winter is coming,” this season ended with some clear advances in the story–with only two seasons and around thirteen to fifteen episodes to go.  The most dramatic change was to see Cercei get revenge over pretty much everyone who has been opposing her in Westeros. She lost her last remaining child in the process, but got to sit upon the Iron Throne in then end. I’m not certain if this is because of clear lines of succession or if it is because, after seeing what she did to her opponents, everyone is afraid to stand up to her.

I did think that Margaery deserved a better ending, but Natalie Dormer sounds satisfied. Via E!

Natalie Dormer, who played Margaery, sounded off to Harper’s Bazaar about her death.

“It seemed an exciting, fitting way to depart,” she told the magazine. “Margaery’s been battling Cersei for the last however many years and she ends up dying on the show not because she didn’t beat Cersei, but because she trusted that someone else—the Sparrow—was handling her. She had the reins taken away from her, from being in control of the situation; the High Sparrow took the reins and it proves that he underestimated Cersei in a way that Margaery never would have. There’s a moment before Margaery and the High Sparrow die when they look at each other and Margaery realizes that Cersei has outplayed him and she’s gonna die because of that. There’s this moment that Jonathan Pryce gives as well; this look on his face when he realizes he’s been outplayed by Cersei. Margaery is a fatality of the High Sparrow underestimating Cersei.”

Game of Thrones Finale

While Cercei has consolidated power in the capital, she faces many other threats.

Jon Snow is now King of the North, and hopefully will have a better fate than Robb Stark. At least he ended this season in a far better condition than last season.

I found the structure of the episode of interest in how first John received his title based upon his own actions, and only afterwards it was revealed that he has dragon’s blood with a Targaryen grandmother. If this becomes known, it should greatly increase his claim to the throne. How soon will Bran join Jon and Sansa and tell what he has seen?

How will it affect matters that there is some potential conflict between Jon and Sansa, and Littlefinger is in the background?

Arya has become quite an assassin. Will she continue this, or join up with Jon and Sansa? Plus there is Bran. After so many tragedies, the Starks are looking stronger.

If the reunited Starks aren’t enough for Cersei to worry about, she has Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons also heading towards Westoros. Dani is being advised by Tyrion, who has spoken with her about keeping open the possibility of a strategic marriage. Will that be to Jon Snow, even if it turns out she is actually his aunt, or one of many other possibilities?

If the prophesies comes true, Cersei also will be killed by a little brother. That seems to fit Tyrion, but we also don’t know how Jaime will react to Cersei’s actions, including unleashing the wildfire to kill her enemies.

More on the finale in the Inside the Episode video above.

Screenrant has a useful relationship infographic from HBO showing how the characters are all interrelated, followed by a guide to all the factions.

 

Grant Gusten has confirmed that the next season of The Flash will be based upon Flashpoint, in which the Flash finds his future dramatically altered after he went back in time to save his mother. Barry has impacted Arrow in major ways, once helped Supergirl, and events on The Flash set up some of the characters on Legends of Tomorrow. If The Flash does Flashpoint, will this be a limited story line which is then reset, or will it affect the other shows, either temporarily or permanently? Stephen Amell seems to have confirmed that Flashpoint will impact Arrow. He also had some additional comments on next season:

Addressing Season 5 as a whole, Amell said this weekend that “the villain that we are introducing is a direct result of things that Oliver has done in Star City [and] calls back to a lot of things that happened in the first season of the show.” In doing so, “It really grounds the show and really focuses on its core value, which is the battle to save Star City” — an appreciably quaint notion, Amell acknowledged, given the multiple Earths and time travel taking place on Arrow‘s sister series. “The first two episodes [of Season 5] refocuses us on what the core mission of the show should be, and that to me is very exciting,” he effused. “Plus? Russia,” as in the setting of the next cycle of flashbacks.

Supergirl has made a point of using actors who have been involved in related shows in the past in the new series, such as haven Helen Slater and Dean Kane play her parents. Now they are bringing back Wonder Woman, this time with Lynda Carter playing the president.

12 Monkeys Renewal

12 Monkeys still has the backstory regarding the plague, but this season has concentrated more on saving time itself. In general I haven’t liked this season as much as the first season but the most recent episode, Resurrection, was excellent, hopefully providing the set up for similar quality in the final two episodes. They are skipping a week due to the holiday, and then will return on July 11 and 18. They will also return next year, with Syfy having renewed the show for a ten episode season.

Blastr has an interview with showrunner Terry Matalas:

The show’s mythology has grown tremendously since Season 1, from a fairly straightforward mission to stop a plague to a battle for the fate of time, itself. Can you talk about the challenges of building that mythology, while also staying true to what attracted viewers to the show in the first place?

Matalas: I had always known this had to be more than a plague show. Running around from lab to lab killing scientists would get old real quick. So, when fleshing out an antagonist for our time travelers, the answer was clear: They had to be travelers as well in some way.  But why would they want to create a plague? Why destroy the world? Why destroy the nature of time?  So, the mythology was built organically around those questions. And we hope to go deeper into all that in later seasons.

What can you tell us about the season finale, itself? Death? Destruction? Cliffhangers? Tell us as much as you can without spoiling it!

Matalas: I’m really proud of the last three episodes. So much pay-off for the characters, relationships, mythology. I think audiences will be surprised where we take everyone. The ending is huge! And maybe – just maybe – it might be a little controversial for some of our hardcore fans. It’s a cliffhanger for sure, with a time travel twist. But once you sit with it and think about it, for a moment…you go, “Oh, yeah. Of course. That makes sense.” Then that surprised grin will turn to horror and you’ll say, “But that means…Oh, no. No, no, no.” The finale takes us deeper into our the lives of our main characters for future seasons and sets up a major, major conflict that just can’t end well.

Doctor Who Magazine Tom Baker

The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine features what Tom Baker calls his last interview. The Gallifrey Times has this excerpt:

“Life is too short to be dull. Be interesting. Because not very much else matters does it? In large areas of our lives, hardly anything matters at all. I mean, nothing can beat being with loving friends, and a few wines, and a few beers, and a few lies, and a few yarns. And to still be adored after 40-odd years… yeah that’s the life. Maybe I’m the longest-serving actor, in the whole history of actors, who’s actually still, 40-odd years later, adored for the same part and enjoying it in the same way. When I get sent messages from middle-aged men… or from the wives of middle-aged men, who say, ‘Tell Mr Baker he cannot imagine how important he was to my beloved husband when he was a boy’… it moves me deeply to think about it. I was just going to work. I didn’t know, to begin with, how far-reaching this role would be. I was aware of the excitement, and the generosity, and the affection of the fans, but how could I ever have dreamed of all this?”

SciFi Weekend: Series Finales For Person of Interest and Penny Dreadful; Mr. Robot

Person of Interest Finale Finch

Person of Interest and Penny Dreadful both had their series finale in the past week. There will be major spoilers for each.

We knew from the start of the season that Person of Interest was concluding, and at times the abbreviated season felt frustrating as too much time, probably at the insistence of CBS, was spent with procedural episodes when there was so much story to tell this season. The end game started late in the season with Root being killed in the 100th episode. This led to Harold thinking more about what must be done, and the consequences of his previous decisions to limit the machine. Root got her way in having the Machine be set more free, and it adopted not only her voice but her attitude. The penultimate episode showed what would have happened to the characters if Harold had never built the Machine. Some were better off and some worse off. Either way, this convinced Harold of what he must do, as he released the Ice-9 virus.

The finale dealt with the aftermath, skipping around in time. We got a glimpse of the chaos around the world, but much of the episode centered on Harold speaking with the machine on a roof where Harold thought he was engaging in a final suicide mission to destroy Samaritan. It was fitting that much of the remainder of the episode had Finch and Reese together as the series began, ending consistent with their characters that Reese (with the help of the Machine) would sacrifice himself instead.

While there was speculation that the finale would be a blood bath, Reese was the only member of Team Machine to die. In a way Root came back from death as the personification of the Machine.   Lionel hopefully still has his pension to look forwards to. The Machine, which had failed to beat Samaritan in all those previous simulations, somehow managed to win this time, although it is not clear how. Shaw has the dog, and received a call from the Machine, now sounding like Root. She could conceivably carry on the old missions, with it also revealed recently that the Machine has other recruits. (It did seem strange that, knowing they exist, they were not called in to help in the final battle). Finch, like the Machine, received a happier ending than would have been predicted. He not only recovered from his wounds, but was reunited with Grace. Does he know that the Machine survived, and will it also call him again in the Future?

Person of Interest Finale Finch and Reese

Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman discussed the show with Deadline (part one here and part two here).

DEADLINE: Person Of Interest made artificial intelligence a central part of the story years before it became a hot topic. While most headlines today incite fear, the Machine on POI is not a threat but helps people. Jonah, why did you decide to do that and what it your position on AI, a subject that you have tackled in several projects?

NOLAN: I think it’s a nuanced one, it’s a complicated one. Part of the reason for the inception of the show or the spark for me was that I had seen many, many examples in film and TV of dystopian visions of AI. But, while the movie Her is a great example that came out a couple of years after we started making the show, it is one of the very few examples you can point towards of a positive depiction of artificial intelligence. It’s a subject that I’m kind of fascinated with, took a similar approach with the robots in Interstellar and now our current project, HBO’s Westworld, sort of exploring the same idea. I think we’ve long viewed AI as the bogeyman. That’s indicative of the way that we’ve viewed anything else that we see as a possible threat to us. Look, there’s good reason to be apprehensive.

I think the open AI initiative that Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking and others pushed for is a great idea. There needs to be transparency in what we’re doing. A lot of the stuff that’s happening right now is happening behind closed doors. It’s not science fiction to imagine that an ASI, an artificial super intelligence, will or could have an enormous impact on society. I think it’s an enormously positive impact. That’s part of what we wanted to portray but we also wanted to portray it in a very balanced way. We wanted to consider both the upside and downside of that and really get into the nitty-gritty of this. One of the things I’m proudest of for the show is this long-form conversation about how AI should play out. How unbound should it be.

For us, in this show the AI takes on the form that I think is the likeliest that it’ll take on, which is a network intelligence. Not a robot necessarily wandering around but a network intelligence that watches us and interacts with us and asks us to do things. In a sense, in this show we become the robots. Reese becomes the agent acting at the behest of this all-seeing intelligence. I think if you get to the end of this show, will you imagine that AI is an unqualified good thing? No. But I think from the beginning we wanted to portray both sides of it and the idea that a networked artificial intelligence could be a great force for good. And then you have Samaritan, I think that’s a little more familiar in terms of AI presentations where they want to take over the world. It’s abundantly clear that Samaritan would be a great force for change and good in the world but at a significant moral cost. We wanted to play in the gray area…

DEADLINE: Was this the original ending you had in mind for the series? When was that idea formed that a character will be killed off?

NOLAN: Greg, this is pretty much what we talked about from the beginning, right?

PLAGEMAN: Yeah. It seemed to spring organically from the sacrificial nature of what Reese was doing. It felt right in terms of that relationship from the very beginning. The moment Finch hired him at the end of the pilot, he said, ‘I should warn you, we’ll probably both get killed.” You almost knew at some point in time that sort of sacrifice was going to be required in order for them to ultimately defeat Samaritan and for one to allow the other to go on.

NOLAN: You get a sense that these guys are on a tragic journey — we announced it right from the pilot that they are not both going to make it. So it’s really a question of the arc for these characters and also the idea of friendship and sacrifice.

Reese, when we find him, is an extremist. In a sequence that we weren’t able to shoot because we couldn’t get permission, originally the pilot starts with Reese about to throw himself off the Manhattan Bridge. The city wouldn’t let us shoot it. They would let us shoot it on the bridge to Roosevelt Island, but that’s only about 20 feet off the water so we didn’t think we would get quite the same level of spectacle. So we weren’t able to shoot the beginning of the pilot the way it’s supposed to play out

When we find Reese, he’s in a very dark place, an assassin at the end of his rope. Finch gives him a reason to live, a new purpose. There’s great affection. This is really where the season started with the relationship between these two characters. When we get to the end, there are so many amazing characters that we found along the way and they all play a role in that finale. But it’s really that relationship — Finch, Reese, and the Machine but specifically Finch and Reese and their evolving friendship over the seasons. It’s probably the heart of the show, the essence of the show from the beginning. The sort of odd couple.

So we wanted to see Reese, as he says in the finale, he gets a chance to repay that great favor that Finch gave him a new lease on life. It’s a redemptive arc for Reese, the sacrifice at the end is him giving some of that back to Finch in the hopes that one of them could make it out alive…

DEADLINE : What about Shaw, is she the new Reese? There was a hint in the finale that she may take the mantle. 

NOLAN: I think that’s the suggestion at the end of the finale. As Finch says in the pilot, the numbers never stop coming. We assume that someone has to pick up that mantle. There’s no better candidate than Shaw. She’s capable and has a somewhat redemptive arc through this. I think that purpose and that relationship with Root as the Machine, to us we always imagined that someone would pick up the mantel and carry it forward. Shaw was always conceived of as that character.

DEADLINE: Let’s talk about the Machine. Was it important for you that it lived on?

PLAGEMAN: I do think it’s important. I think it’s important to understand that there is an artificial intelligence in the world that considers humanity. We talked about artificial intelligence quite a bit on the show and what could happen, will there be just one or will there be multiple artificial intelligences that proliferate. For now, at least in the ending of this show, as far as we’re aware there is only one. That is the one that Harold Finch originally encoded…

DEADLINE: The Episode 11 that Greg mentioned, was it envisioned as a potential spinoff?

NOLAN: Definitely not an attempt on our part to do a spinoff. If we were ever going to do a spinoff it would have been with the Control end of things and the relevant side of things which would have been great fun to take a look at three seasons ago. We didn’t want to do a spinoff. We’ve watched friends go through this where it’s like, the series is doing great, spin it off and then you wind up impoverishing both shows. So definitely not an attempt on our part to spin the show off. It was an attempt to answer a big question that’s always been there in terms of what happens to all the numbers that come up outside of New York City and to see that there is this master plan with the Machine in terms of the numbers along the way, everything adding up to something new and different.

Person of Interest Finale Finch2

They were also interviewed by IGN. The first question quoted is related to one of my questions above about the finale, and they also discussed what could have happened if the show was not ending:

Matt Fowler: In the finale, the Machine defeated Samaritan, after losing to it trillions of times in a simulated battle. Did she just have it within her all along to pull out the win in the end?

Nolan: I think a part of it was all that relentless training, in a sense. Finch and Root trying to scheme out how this would work but also running these simulations with the Machine in order to figure out how it could win in its most paired down form. So you’ve got this decommissioned Soviet satellite and these things were up in there in their most compact fighting form. Sort of like how armies used to march out and select one champion to represent them, and the fight would be decided with that champion and the rest of the army would abide by that outcome. But at this point, the armies have been decimated and destroyed and only the champions remain. The sparest algorithmic versions of these ASIs uploaded into the satellite like two strands of DNA having a kung fu battle. So kind of fun, but also kind of hard to visualize.

Plageman: Also, keeping in mind that Finch unleashed this virus that could hobble Samaritan enough to put the two ASIs on more equal footing.

Nolan: Both of them have been reduced to their respective essence, and in that form, the Machine was going to kick Samaritan’s ass.

Goldman: Samaritan ended up working as the ultimate foe for the Machine. Did you always see it as the end game and would have held off on this final battle for a couple more seasons if the show were continuing? Because you kind of ended up with the HR era and then the Samaritan era.

Nolan: I had imagined that in any version this would be the final season for Samaritan. And we had a blueprint we used for what could come next. If this was the ultimate big bad – like, what could we do afterward? And we had some pretty cool ideas. But certainly for a final adversary, Samaritan is a pretty great one…

Goldman: The great and bad thing about creating something people care about is you’re going to have to put up with guys like us asking, for years and years, “Will there be a follow-up to Person of Interest?” What’s your gut feeling? We live in an era with more revivals than ever. Do you think in some form, these characters could ever pop up again?

Nolan: Last year, it was 24, X-Files and Heroes. You’d be forgiven for waking up and checking your TV Guide thinking you’d traveled back in time 10 years. So you never say never. They’ve got our number! They can call us. We love these f**king characters. We love this world.

penny dreadful finale2

While we knew going into the season that it would be the last for Person of Interest, it was not announced until after the finale of Penny Dreadful aired that the show was not coming back. This was probably a good thing for those viewing Sunday night as I bet they were expecting to see Vanessa triumph in the end. For those like myself who watched it later, after seeing headlines of the shocking ending as well as the cancellation, Vanessa’s death was more predictable (although surprising that she had so little to do at the end). In a way it was also foreshadowed in the penultimate episode as both ended with rather disappointing surrenders by female characters who might have been expected to be stronger. Perhaps it was an homage to the common Victorian troupe of damsels in distress.

The final season also felt strangely constructed. Season two ended with the characters separated. I expected to see them reunited sooner, as opposed to waiting until late in the season, and then ending it all. It seemed like they were introducing Dr. Jekyll for a larger role in the future but couldn’t go very far with that. Other new characters were handled better, such as Dracula, Catriona Hartdegen, and Justine, even if I didn’t like how her character died. Actually the only character’s story line which I was really satisfied with this season was the Creature.

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The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Showtime president David Nevins and series creator John Logan:

When did you first know this would be the final season?

Logan: It was midway through season two, about two years ago when I was envisioning season three. I knew at the end of season two that Vanessa Ives steps away from God and burns the crucifix and she’s left completely alone without the one thing that sustained her and the one source of strength she truly has — which is her faith. Since the show for me has always been about a woman grappling with God and faith, I thought the idea of her scratching her way back to God and finally achieving some some of apotheosis was the appropriate ending. As the season began to dance about in my head, I realized where it was going to have to go and have to end. I thought that was the right end and the graceful end for the character. I discussed it with Eva and then talked to David about where I felt the season was going.

Nevins: I spent a short amount of time trying to say, “Are you sure you want to do it? There’s all these other wonderful characters.” It became clear John was right and it needed Vanessa or it wasn’t smart to continue the show beyond Vanessa. I fairly quickly said yes. And then the question was how do we handle that information and position it? The traditional thing to do was announce this is the last season. It felt like that would give away the surprise and part of the pleasure of watching TV now is experiencing it for yourself and the emotions in an unspoiled, unmediated sort of way. The episode begins with not the usual main title and that signals something different is going on here and it ends with “The end.”

Many viewers felt Vanessa’s arc suggested she was doomed at the end of the first season. Do you think this is an example of one great performance shifting the focus of an ensemble show more than anticipated?

Logan: From a writer’s perspective, this was always a show about Vanessa Ives for me. That character was the spine of the show.

Nevins: This was not a change. It was clear from John’s perspective, the show was about Vanessa Ives’ story. I encouraged an ensemble a bit, but its spine and trunk was always Vanessa.

Penny Dreadful Billie Piper

They spoke at Entertainment Weekly about the fates of the major characters:

John, you called this the story of a woman’s journey to faith. Why could returning to her faith only happen for Vanessa as she died?
LOGAN:
Because Vanessa, like all characters that are interesting to me, is broken. She’s a cursed, dark creature, and she was never going to exist easily in Victorian society as a proper Victorian wife or matron or anything. There was always an exceptionality about her, most emphatically in the fact that she’d dwelt in the dark side, with both Dracula and the devil seeking her soul. The only peace she could possibly have was with God, and the way to commit to that was to give herself entirely to it. And it became a sacrifice that she had to enact for the good of mankind. It was a generous act that she did in dying and going to God, as well.

Opposite her experience, we’ve got the Creature [Rory Kinnear] who’s also choosing death over life on behalf of his son. Vanessa is religious. The Creature is not. Were their similar responses to death an intentional counterpoint?
LOGAN:
Of course. Those two characters do a pas de deux the entire series for me. I’m Irish, so it’s like different sides of my personality. Half the time I want to go to Mass; half the time I want to walk away.

The story around Lily [Billie Piper] has been one of my favorites this year.
LOGAN:
Yeah, me too.

That monologue about her daughter in episode 8 was just stunning. Can you take me through why it was so important that you saved that really human story for the end of the season?
LOGAN:
Happily. I chose to write about women in Victorian society — that’s the stealth thing this show is actually about. It’s a very feminist show, and the idea that the audience gets to see, in our three years, Lily as a degraded figure who’s abused by men, as Brona, literally being reborn into a blank slate and then achieving incredible power but always having a great human connection. That was a case where I was also inspired by the actor, because Billie Piper so delights me, and I found that in the second season I was able to write her an eight-minute monologue that she absolutely delivered, completely, in a way that I found thrilling. I just wanted to do it again, because she’s an actor who understands theatricality and understands larger than life language in a very unique way, and that’s part of what this show is about.

Penny Dreadful Finale Vanessa

Variety spoke with John Logan:

There are a lot of balls you’ve got in the air, a lot of storylines. Obviously you’ve had multiple story lines in other seasons, but this seemed like the most “Penny Dreadful” has ever had.

This is multiple stories on steroids. I think that’s fun. The series has gotten broader and broader every season and I think that’s correct. If it was still the same five people in a room in Victorian London, you’d want to kill yourself. I certainly didn’t want to write the same show year after year, with the central characters talking in the great room about evil. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to have bigger themes, bigger stories.

Part of what helped me do that this season was having a lot of new characters. We’ve got Patti LuPone, who plays Dr. Seward, Dr. Jekyll, Keatenay, and Dr. Sweet, who’s involved in Vanessa’s storyline — all those new characters start thickening the broth, if you will. And by season three, I think we want a thick broth.

The different characters add different shadings, different notes on the scale, if you will. As do the different actors. When you see Wes Studi and Tim Dalton are fantastic together and there’s a chemistry there, seeing where the chemistry connects between the actors and the characters, is really rewarding.

And the important thing to me, as I planned the first three seasons of the show, was weaving back into the Dracula story. We did that to some degree in season one, with Mina Harker, Sir Malcolm’s daughter, and then we get back into it big time in season three. It’s fun, and challenging.

That was an unexpected reveal at the end of the first episode, but it does draw on one of the show’s themes, that these things are constants. These dangers, these demons, the issue the characters face on their moral journeys — they don’t just go away. You don’t solve them, because they’re eternal.

That’s exactly right. You look at Vanessa, who is obviously for me the beating heart of the series — the woman is tormented from without and within. From within, it’s part of a journey of faith, and losing her faith and that leaving her in a wasteland of an existence, until she tries to drag herself out of it. But also, from without, she was tormented by Satan last season, Dracula in the first season, and those things don’t go away. Your inner demons and outer demons are still there until you find finally face them in some way. I always wanted this season to be about Vanessa and Ethan facing their most difficult challenges. Ethan goes back home into the crucible of his past, his father, what made him a werewolf, why is the way he is. With Vanessa, it’s [an exploration of] the darkness around her.

The finale of Person of Interest, with scenes of chaos after the release of the Ice-9 virus,  reminded me of the ending last season of Mr. Robot with the release of their hack. A new trailer for the second season is above, showing that the FBI is after Elliot. The season has been extended from ten to twelve episodes, and there will be an after show entitled Hacking Robot.

The video below looks back at the first season:

SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black Season Finale; Mr. Robot; Batman v. Donald Trump; Doctor Who Emmy Nominations; CW Network Announces Fall Premiere Dates; Star Trek Actor Killed In Auto Accident

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Orphan Black concluded its fourth season and has been renewed for one final season. The finale did feel like the midst of a two season arc, with cliff hangers for multiple characters, along with the end for Evie. The simplification of the season (at least by the standards of previous seasons) did work, with this season a big improvement over the third season. While they continued with the overall mythology of the show, including showing much more about Beth, there were far fewer organizations to keep straight.

Previously we went through what could have been a never-ending sequence of having a season deal with one shadowy organization, only to find that there was another one behind it. Ending next season probably means that the Neolutionists will be the final one we have to deal with, and P.T. Westmoreland just might actually be the person behind it. For now we know he built Rachel’s eye and is “the man behind the curtain. The man who wrote the book over a century ago.” Of course, as Mrs. S explained to Sarah, “There’s always a bloody board.” There was little talk of Proletheans, Topside or Dyad this season, and we were down to just one Castor clone.

There was an increase in Leda clones. with a lot of Beth being seen in flashbacks, the introduction of MK, and an expanded role for Krystal Goderitch. In the finale, Tatiana Maslany even played Sarah impersonating Krystal, impersonating a reporter for  TMZ. Krystal both understands little and has figured out key points during her independent investigations. She is oblivious to being a clone, even denying that Sarah looks the same as her: “Even if you could drag a comb through that hair, she’s like a seven on a good day and I’ve been told I’m a 10.”

Krystal’s theory of the conspiracy is surprisingly close to the truth, if not for her confused view that it involves the cosmetics industry: “Hold on tight, cause this is very confusing. This is about human experiments and two factions fighting to control them. So we have Estee Lauder, okay, and then we have this Swedish company called Neolution.” She had the important information that Delphine is alive and that Van Lier was involved:

So, Dr. Van Lier is absolutely Neolution because he, like, showed up out nowhere with all this medical gear right after that French doctor was shot, okay, and then they, like, took her off in a van. So Van Lier, like knew my name, which was super freaky and I will never forget his face because he was so pissed at me for being there. And because he definitely had teenage acne. I could tell. No question.

Other highlights of the later episodes in the season was Helena returning in time to rescue Alison and Donnie, shooting their captor in the neck with an arrow. Rachel has once again become purely evil, plotting to take over everything, but did take a break with Ferdinand. Ira, the sole Castor clone of the season, got a good line:

Ira: Who is this?
Ferdinand: Hello.
Rachel: He’s just a toy.
Ira: He has his socks on.
Rachel: What do you want, Ira?

Plus the season ended with Cosima appearing to finally having the cure.

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TV line discussed the finale with executive producer Graeme Manson. Here is a portion:

TVLINE | This felt like one of the show’s darkest and most twisted episodes to date. Was that the intention going into the finale?
It was probably our darkest season, certainly since the first. Obviously, we had Krystal. We’re never all dark. But what Sarah was going through this year was a dark journey. We thought it really had to pay off, and we knew it wasn’t going to be a pleasant climax to the season – but is it ever?

TVLINE | What note do you hope the finale leaves viewers on heading into Season 5, then?
We love a nice note of, “WTF?” with a smattering of, “How the hell are we going to get out of that?” We’ve thrown open this door of P.T. Westmoreland, and we’ve spent some time on this island. We’re very excited to explore that world. Sarah and all the clones, including Rachel, they’ve really done a lot to climb that pyramid. Now, what are we going to find at the top?

TVLINE | Quite a few characters were left in jeopardy at the end of the finale: Cosima, Sarah, Susan Duncan, even Mrs. S and Kira. Who should we be most worried about?
We have to be worried about everyone equally. But Sarah’s got two main issues: She came to the island to rescue Cosima, and now Kira is a hostage back with Mrs. S. So Sarah’s got two huge concerns, not to mention she’s pretty beat up and bleeding.

TVLINE | That confrontation between Sarah and Rachel was so intense, almost like a horror-movie thriller with the monster getting loose.
[Co-creator/director] John [Fawcett] and myself – particularly John – really love the horror and the visceral horror. It’s part of what we do. We love mashups on the show. We love mixing tones. That horror element that you’re talking about is really one that we can pull off well with everything that Tatiana [Maslany] does. Sarah vs. Rachel, too, is bringing us back to our earlier seasons, where Rachel came out of the woodwork and was Sarah’s real nemesis. Moving forward, we have narrowed it back down to clone vs. clone. I’m very interested in exploring that nemesis relationship.

TVLINE | Rachel has never been the warmest or sanest person. But it really felt like she cracked in this episode. What sent her over the edge?
On a deep psychological level, her hatred of Sarah is because Sarah has had so many of the things that Rachel has not had. Sarah has freedom, whereas Rachel has been ordained to be who she is more than any of the other clones. Sarah has perhaps a slightly dysfunctional but certainly a nurturing family, a chosen family. And Sarah has the love of her sisters. This is the root of Rachel’s jealousy and bitterness and true hatred. It’s a self-hatred at its core.

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Mr. Robot, the surprise hit from last summer, returns on July 13. If I wasn’t behind on so many other shows, this is one series which I would really like to re-watch before going into the second season. Definitely watch it if you haven’t. It is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime and with the USA Network app.

Collider interviewed the stars. Here is the start of the interview, with major spoilers present (which will probably not sound very coherent) for those who have not seen the first season:

Collider: Christian, now that everybody is in on what’s going on . . .

CHRISTIAN SLATER: I love that you think that.

. . . at least as far as who your character is, does that chance your approach to things?

SLATER: I always looked at it as though I was as real as Elliot imagined me to be, and that was pretty real. I am there as his partner, as his protector, and as his enemy. I’m there sometimes for the right reasons and sometimes for the wrong reasons. It’s a continual struggle between the two of us. It turns into a real psychological journey for Elliot.

Rami, things must be a bit different in Season 2, now that Elliot is more aware of what’s actually going on in his life. Does it feel different for you, as an actor?

RAMI MALEK: It changes him, entirely. It gave me heart palpitations because when you do something that people respond to, and then you start altering the blueprint for what worked, it’s pretty fear-inducing. But sometimes, you have to do that, in order to push the boundaries. For this character and story to be as provocative as it was in the first season, we can’t rest on our laurels. You really have to just take some more risks and chances that I don’t think are for the sake of just taking risks and being different. They’re grounded in the story that Sam [Esmail] has created, with the trajectory and arc of all of these characters. I happened to know where he was headed this season, so I took some big changes and I think the audience will be rewarded by them. Maybe they’ll end up on the editing floor, but that remains to be seen.

As an actor who’s been in this business a long time, and had ups and downs, what’s it like to get such great scripts, every week?

SLATER: It’s great, getting the scripts and working with somebody like Sam Esmail, who is such a great leader. He’s just so prepared and there’s so much attention to detail. And then, you add Rami Malek to the mix, and Carly Chaikin and Portia Doubleday. And in Season 2, we have Joey Badass and Craig Robinson, who are amazing. To get to play a character like this, there’s so much freedom and fun with it that it’s very exciting.

You’ve known what the twists and turns were with this, from the very beginning. Were you ever bummed that you were in on it?

SLATER: No, I liked being in on it. I felt in on it, from the get-go. When I read the pilot, there was something so mysterious about the guy that it made me very suspicious. And then, when I went and met with Sam and asked him about it, he asked me if I really wanted to know. I said, “Yes,” so he told me. And then, he told me more details and revealed the relationship that I have with Elliot. I think that helped to add a deeper layer, across the board, throughout the whole season. So, it was great to know.

Gotham Enigma

The 2016 presidential election already looks like it should be an unusual one, with the Republicans likely to nominate a racist and xenophobic reality host star with shocking lack of understanding of the issues, and the Democrats breaking pattern in probably nominating a candidate who is both ultra-hawkish and quite conservative on First Amendment issues. It might get even weirder, with Cory Michael Smith who plays Edward Nigma, on Gotham, saying next season will parallel the election:

Gotham, like many superhero stories, is a parallel of today’s society, of what happens every day. And in the third season, in the fall, when the United States will stand preparing to face one of the most important presidential elections in their history, even Gotham will address in parallel the issue.

I certainly could see Donald Trump as a super-villain. Sample trailer above. If only we had Batman, or at least Jim Gordon, to save us from the real candidates.

Doctor Who now qualifies to be nominated for Emmy Award now that BBC America has joined the BBC as a co-producer. Variety reports:

BBC America’s “Doctor Who” has been submitted for Emmy consideration for the first time ever. Now that the American cabler has come aboard as a co-producer, the venerable Brit series is finally eligible for consideration. Although it was not submitted as a drama series, star Peter Capaldi is on the lead actor ballot, showrunner Steven Moffat and director Rachel Talalay are on the writing and directing ballots for the episode “Heaven Sent” and the series is a possible nominee for costumes, production design, prosthetic makeup, and visual effects.

The show has not been nominated in the best dramatic series category, where it would be up against quite strong competition in a category where genre shows do not do well.

The CW network has released the premier dates for their shows, which continues to be dominated by genre next fall:

October 4 (Tuesday)
The Flash
No Tomorrow

October 5 (Wednesday)
Arrow
Frequency

October 10 (Monday)
Supergirl

October 13 (Thursday)
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
Supernatural

October 17 (Monday)
Jane the Virgin

October 21 (Friday)
The Vampire Diaries
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

The 100 and iZombie will be starting in the winter.

Yelchin

Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, was killed in a freak auto accident today. The New York Times reports:

Anton Yelchin, a charismatic actor best known for playing Chekov in the new “Star Trek” films, died early on Sunday in a car accident in Los Angeles. He was 27.

His death was confirmed by his publicist, Jennifer Allen.

Mr. Yelchin was struck by his own car as it rolled backward down his driveway in Studio City, the police said. The car pinned Mr. Yelchin against a brick mailbox pillar and a security fence.

He had left the car momentarily, but the police did not say why he was behind it when it started rolling.

He was on his way to meet friends for a rehearsal, the police said. When he didn’t show up, the group came to his home and found him dead.

Mr. Yelchin began his career as a child with roles in independent films and on television before breaking out in films like the crime thriller “Alpha Dog” and the teenage comedy “Charlie Bartlett.” His biggest role had been as Pavel Chekov, navigator of the Starship Enterprise, in the rebooted “Star Trek” films, the third of which, “Star Trek Beyond,” is to be released in July.

More at TMZ , which also linked to this video of the Best of Chekov:

SciFi Weekend: The Americans Season 4 Finale; New Director At SHIELD; The Flash; Supergirl; Gotham; You’re The Worst; Peter Capaldi Teases Reunion With Clara Oswald;

The Americans Season 4 Finale

The Americans concluded its fourth season  (spoilers ahead) with the death of another charter, and presumably the end of the biological weapons story line. Technically William had not died by the end of the episode, but if he should survive into the next season it will only be briefly. This was a season which included the deaths of some characters, and the possible loss of others to the show. Notable deaths include Nina and Gantt, dying in quite different manners. Plus the finale introduced another character which was mentioned previously–Philip’s long lost son from before he began working with Elizabeth.

With The Americans renewed for two more seasons, we can safely predict that Elizabeth and Philip will not be discovered in the near future, but this has been a major theme since Paige revealed their secret to Pastor Tim. Over the course of the season, Paige has developed into a reluctant but effective junior spy. The risk from Pastor Tim and his wife now seems much lower, but it will always hang in the background.

While William didn’t seek to betray Elizabeth and Philip, he did provide Stan with a small amount of information: “couple of kids…American dream. You’d never suspect them. She’s pretty. He’s lucky.” This fits far too many people for Stan to suddenly think of his neighbors across the street, but if he is ever given stronger reason to suspect them, he is bound to remember this.

Gabriel did strongly advise Elizabeth and Philip to leave the country, but left the ultimate decision up to them. If they are at risk, I think the greater risk would be that Philip might reach the point where he cannot go on. EST might help him, or it might lead him to question  what he is doing even more. Of course he couldn’t fully explain his difficulties in leaving his job when he had to go with the travel agent cover. Plus the world will change for him with the Soviet Union heading closer to its collapse and the introduction of his son.

Instead of Elizabeth and Philip deciding to leave, Oleg made that decision to help his mother. Arkady appears to be leaving involuntarily. Martha has been in the Soviet Union for months. We may or may not see these characters again.

The Americans William Palm

Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields were interviewed at Speakeasy:

The finale seemed to set a lot up for the fifth season, but at the same time, a lot of stories were left in a cliffhanger-y spot. So did you know when you wrote and shot the finale that the show had been renewed?

Joel Fields: Yes. FX is very generous and communicative about that stuff. They really helped us as we were turning a corner from the end of this season toward the last couple of seasons by putting the creative choice of how to end the show in our hands. And I think in a lot of ways we were able to be thinking through that as we were finishing up Season 4.

Was any of what happened to William in the finale based on a true story, the way he infected himself with the lethal Lassa virus to get out of the mission (and to get out of spending the rest of his life in jail)? There’s got to be tons of stories about spies like William getting disgruntled after all those years.

JF: We did a lot of research into disgruntled spies, into biological weapons. We never saw a story of someone intentionally infecting himself, but, there are stories of people who actually worked on these biological-weapons programs getting accidentally infected, and the horrible, horrible way that they died. So I think that that would be the closest thing to it being based on something real.

How long had you been planning to introduce the Philip’s son plotline?  

Joe Weisberg: It’s funny, because we were reminiscing about season 1, when, in fact, [you didn’t know] whether or not Philip actually had a son. It was ambiguous. Was Irina making that up? Or was it true? And we didn’t have an answer to that, ourselves. We liked that ambiguity. We thought that was really interesting. So, introducing that plotline meant making a final decision that that was a real person and a real character, which is probably more satisfying.

JF: Yeah, and that’s that case where much of the time you really plan these things out years in advance, seasons in advance. But this part of the story unfolded organically, as the story was told, like in that first episode with Irina when she mentioned the son? That was something that blossomed out of the script, and these other pieces fell into place over the course of the seasons.

The Americans Finale

More at Vulture:

The most surprising development in the entire season for me was the relationship between the family and Pastor Tim. I’m surprised that he made it out of the season alive. But I’m even more surprised that he seems to actually be their friend now!
JF: I don’t think we ever considered killing him off. As much as everybody was speculating that he was about to go, we were really exploring the question of how these characters would deal with being in this box, and how would that [situation] unfold?

Also, Tim is a character with whom we had a lot of sympathy. He really does, on some level, want to do the right thing — that’s been his whole problem all along. And the Pastor Tim thing also was an opportunity to explore a lot in terms of these character dynamics.

JW: It was pretty apparent to us early on that [the Soviets] couldn’t kill Tim because of the effect it would have on Paige. It would destroy her parents’ relationship with her. And that was it. The question then became, with that constraint of not being able to kill him off, what else could we do? The fact that he ends up being actual friends with them did take us a little bit by surprise, but [once we figured that out], that changed our sense of who this guy was, and how we would always see him from the moment we got to know him. And so we followed that through the season, and throughout the story, he just could not open his heart up to them.

JF: But it also led to one of my favorite lines in the season, which was in episode ten, when Paige was convinced that her parents had something to do with his disappearance, and Elizabeth says, “God, why would we do something as stupid as leave Allison, and, God, she thinks we would do that? If she only knew everything we did to not kill him!”

Are we ever going to see Martha again?
JW: We’re not going to answer that!

JF: What kind of a spoiler-y question is that, Matt?

I’m sorry I disappointed you with that question, guys! I have no idea why I asked that.
JW: Come on! Why don’t you just go ahead and ask us what the last scene of the show is going to be?  [Laughs.]

Okay: So you have two more seasons to go after this one. Is two a number that FX gave you, a number that you asked for? And are you happy with it?
JF: We’re thrilled with it. They came to us some time ago and said, “As you start thinking about the end of season four, we’re all thinking about how the show’s going to wrap up. What do you need? How do you want to tell the story?” That was something they really put on our end, which was generous and allowed us creatively to figure out what we thought would be best.

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At TV Line:

TVLINE | We’ve seen Elizabeth have some hesitation this season about the things she has to do, specifically with regards to Young-Hee. Is she starting to understand Philip’s point of view about the job?
JOEL FIELDS | Philip has gone through a major personal transformation over the course of the show, [which] on a deep level is about marriage. When you’re in a marriage with somebody, you can’t help but be affected if your partner changes. She’s started to go through her own changes, although much smaller and at a much different pace than Philip. We’ll see how all of that plays out for them as a couple, her as a mother and her as an individual.

TVLINE | We’ve said goodbye to a lot of characters recently —Nina, Martha, Gaad, Arkady and possibly Oleg now. All the departures almost made it feel like you were reaching the end of the series. But then there was a two-season renewal.
WEISBERG | We did not have any particular intention or idea [like], “Oh, let’s gets rid of a lot of characters. Oh, it’s supposed to end. Oh, let’s start over.” There was no thinking like that at all. Every bit of this is just following stories where they were going. The two major storylines of Nina and Martha were coming to their end, and they happened to be coming to their end at the same time, which is fundamentally coincidental. There is no reason one of them might not have come to an end in a different season, [but] they happened to come to an end in the same season. It is probably less coincidental, in terms of storytelling, that the Gaad storyline ended soon after the Martha storyline, but there’s certainly a world where we could have kept Gaad or not killed Gaad. But ultimately, after what happened with Martha, he just wasn’t going to survive any longer in that job. The choice to have him die and how that was going to impact other people and other elements in the story seemed like a better choice to us.

TVLINE | Martha wasn’t killed off, and you’ve had scenes in Russia with Nina and various other characters. Will we see her in that setting at some point?
FIELDS | She’s not dead. So on The Americans, that’s something to hold on to.

TVLINE | What about Oleg? What can you say about his status?
FIELDS | Also not dead.

TVLINE | But he’s leaving America? He hasn’t changed his mind?
FIELDS | We’ll see. He was pretty clear on that

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Clark Gregg has discussed his thoughts on the next Director of SHIELD, but does not seem to know very much about this and how it will play into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From Entertainment Weekly:

“Since it’s clear that Coulson is Team Cap, Jed [Whedon] and Maurissa [Tancharoen] have fiendishly put Coulson on the spot, because Hive [Brett Dalton] turned out to be the living embodiment of all the reasons why you would be afraid of Inhumans,” Gregg says. “He was the greatest argument that the people who support the Sokovia Accords could ever have for locking them all up. Coulson had to ride the line where he was trying to respect these new iterations of humanity as friends and allies, and at the same time stop Hive at all costs.” Fortunately, S.H.I.E.L.D. was able to stop Hive, but it certainly came at a steep price with Lincoln’s death, Daisy’s disappearance and Coulson’s demotion.

So, who is the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D.? The executive producers played coy ahead of the finale, which means Gregg is in the dark, too. “I was not given a clear answer,” he says. “I don’t know that it’s been determined. I thought I was going to find out when I saw Civil War, but it’s not at all clear. It all depends when the glorious Nick Fury [Samuel L. Jackson] returns from the cold and the shadows. I suspect, in the wake of the Sokovia Accords and the end of Civil War, the people involved in choosing who the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be are other than in-house S.H.I.E.L.D. people. If I know my government bureaucracies, I have a feeling it will be someone somewhat less qualified than Coulson to run S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Screen Rant has information on a new character being added on The Flash. Supergirl has had a casting call for five new characters including Lex Luthor’s sister, plus they are finally going to show Superman. Vicki Vale is being added on Gotham. As for the comics, Bleeding Cool looks at the relationship between Batwoman and Rachel Madow (who once discussed the character on Seth Meyers’ show).

FXX has announced that You’re The Worst will return on Wednesday, August 31.

The CMT has picked up Nashville following its cancellation by ABC. It sounds like a good fit. Cable and streaming services have provided multiple ways for canceled shows to return. I still haven’t given up hope that The Food Network will revive Hannibal.

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Screen Rant reports that Peter Capaldi has teased the possibility of the Doctor and Clara meeting again:

Speaking at a Doctor Who panel at Awesome Con in Washington, D.C., Capaldi hinted that there might be more to the Clara situation than what we saw at the end of season 9. While Clara won’t be returning as the Doctor’s companion, she may not be completely forgotten either. Capaldi stopped himself before he revealed too much, however:

“I think that the thing about the Doctor is that he’s quite mysterious – hence the name, Doctor Who – um, and I’m not sure how successfully Clara was able to wipe his mind. And in fact, I just did a… I was about to tell you something I can’t tell you yet.”

While Amy Sherman-Paladino is finishing up work on the Netflix revival of Gilmore Girls, Amazon has picked up a new pilot from her:

Sherman-Palladino’s dramedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which she wrote and executive produces, is about a 1950s housewife who decides to be one of the first female standup comics. Sherman-Palladino is currently in post-production on the four Gilmore Girls movies for Netflix, which serve as a sequel to her signature dramedy series.

Related genre post from earlier in the week: A Lanister Always Pays His Debts–But Not Donald Trump. Plus chart of which Game of Thrones character is most like 2016 candidates.

A Lanister Always Pays His Debts–But Not Donald Trump

Game of Thrones 2016 Candidates

When we think of greedy and power hungry families, some of the first to come to mind are the Bushes, the Clintons, and the Lanisters. Donald Trump might not have a family history of seeking political power, but he has now joined these other power-hungry families. At least a Lanister always pays his debts. Donald Trump does not.

USA Today reports:

Donald Trump casts himself as a protector of workers and jobs, but a USA TODAY NETWORK investigation found hundreds of people – carpenters, dishwashers, painters, even his own lawyers – who say he didn’t pay them for their work…

At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.

Trump’s companies have also been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005 for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. That includes 21 citations against the defunct Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and three against the also out-of-business Trump Mortgage LLC in New York. Both cases were resolved by the companies agreeing to pay back wages…

The actions in total paint a portrait of Trump’s sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years. In some cases, the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources. Some just give up the fight, or settle for less; some have ended up in bankruptcy or out of business altogether.

The Wall Street Journal has similar stories.

Plus there is the big con job at Trump University.

Trump Game of Thrones

Hillary Clinton might consider calling him Deadbeat Donald in addition to Dangerous Donald. On the other hand, Ron Fournier has provided justification for Trump’s use of Lyin’ Hillary with some examples in an article entitled Hillary Clinton’s Truth Problem for The Atlantic

There are some Sanders supporters who might be hoping to see Trump win. I hardly see Trump as an acceptable alternative, but when both choices are so awful, I’m not going to dwell on how people plan to vote in November. The important thing is that we stick together to try to keep the country from sliding further into oligarchy, and oppose the extension of the warfare/surveillance state which we will probably see with either presumptive major party candidate. While in some ways Trump is probably worse than Clinton, at least there is the potential benefit if Trump is president that many Democrats will oppose his policies while justifying comparably odorous polices from Clinton. Quick medical fact: People who die in wars started by a Democrat are just as dead as people who die in wars started by a Republican.

SciFi Weekend: Person of Interest; Orphan Black; American Gods; Game of Thrones; Outlander; Arrow; David Tennant; Captain America; DC Rebirth; iZombie

"Sotto Voce" -- The mysterious criminal mastermind known as "The Voice" returns, trapping Reese and Fusco in their own precinct with several armed gang members and the latest POI. Also, Root makes a shocking discovery, on PERSON OF INTEREST, Monday, May 30 (9:59 -- 11:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured L-R: Michael Emerson as Harold Finch and Amy Acker as Root Photo: John Paul Filo/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

With only three episodes to go, Jonathan Nolan was free to do almost anything for the 100th episode, and he did. Major spoilers ahead. Those who were behind this season might not even have been aware that Elias was still alive but in hiding. His actual death this episode was overshadowed by the far more significant death of Root. At least she lives on in some manner with the Machine choosing to make her voice her own.

TV Line discussed the episode with Jonathan (Jonah) Nolan and Greg Plageman. Here is a portion:

TVLINE | For starters, why Root? Why was she the big loss entering this final salvo of episodes?
GREG PLAGEMAN | Root has always implored Harold Finch to make his machine more assertive in this war, and now, faced with what they’re up against, Root ultimately is the one who makes the sacrifice to save the father of The Machine, and that’s Harold. I think it’s true to Root’s character — her first love was The Machine. She always believed people were “bad code,” and more than anything she wants Harold’s machine to win this war. Her going down in this matter seemed apropos.

TVLINE | She did go down in a blaze of glory, after making one of the sickest kills in TV history.
JONAH NOLAN | Yeah, I was holding onto that one for a movie, but I decided Amy Acker was worth it…

TVLINE | In the million months since you filmed this episode, a controversy arose about TV shows killing off LGBT characters. But I think that in your defense, Root was a richly realized character, over four seasons. And as you have said, she died meaningfully.
NOLAN |  Thank you for that. We haven’t seen these other shows [that killed LGBT characters], so I can’t speak to that, but it’s really just about characters getting their due and not feeling disposable, and not feeling like the audience’s investment in a character is being used against them, or that they’re being set up for it. This was always the end of Root’s story, this was always where we were going. It became clear at the beginning of the season that this was the end of the ride for us… and Root’s journey has always been getting ever closer to The Machine, so the end of her story was always basically becoming The Machine. That’s another thing I thinks separates this from the pack, and this is how Root feels about it — it’s an evolutionary step. We’re not trying to sucker-punch the audience.
PLAGEMAN | We’re aware of the objections now to that [“Bury Your Gays”] trope, and I think we circumvent that in many ways. This is a real relationship between [Root and Shaw]. Not only was it consummated but there are real feelings there in subsequent episodes. Not to mention, as Jonah said, we’re heading down the final stretch here. This is not the only loss that Team Machine is going to encounter.

TVLINE | On the topic of consummation, although what we saw a few weeks ago was just a simulation, did I read somewhere that you said Root and Shaw actually first got “together” in Season 3, Episode 6…?
NOLAN |  We definitely implied as much at various moments. Look, we’re on CBS, there’s only so much we can show, a lot of that is left to the imagination…

TVLINE | Elias similarly went out as a hero. How important was it for you to “resurrect” him and get back Enrico Colantoni, if only for a short bit?
NOLAN |  Enrico Colantoni is a f–king magnificent actor, and has been such a fun collaborator for us over the years. We’ve always managed to make it work, when he’s available, and he’s had some great moments here. It was always the plan to fake his death and bring him ever closer to our team. If there’s one thing about the season I regret it’s not having a little more time to play with relationships like these, and spend a season with him on our team. But again, we’ve had to get to the end a little sooner than we wanted. We wanted to spend a little more time with Elias all the way inside the team, though we’d have to be careful with that — Elias isn’t much of a joiner! [Laughs] But that relationship between him and Finch has been so much fun to develop over the years, from the sort of chess conversations to really bringing him all the way in. The idea in this episode was that it’s almost like an avalanche of grief and loss bearing down on Finch, and the cumulative impact of it for Finch is watching as this set of decisions that he’s made, this sort of plan that he has held into all of these years, comes literally to grief with the death of two of his allies and friends.

TVLINE | The Machine actually speaking at the end, springing Harold from jail…. I almost feel like that’s Rocky getting up from the mat before pummeling Apollo Creed. Is our team about to rally?
PLAGEMAN | I got chills, man. One of the things that Elias really served to do…. When a character with that power says to Harold Finch, “You’re the one that people should be afraid of,” he gives that a certain weight and heft that we understand something’s coming for Harold Finch, because Elias told us so.
NOLAN | And at Comic-Con three years ago, when asked, “When will The Machine get a voice?,” we did say, “Someday, but you won’t like how it happens.” I think we fulfilled that mandate.

I was suspicious of Felix’s sister Adele when she showed up on the show, suspecting she worked for Neolution or some other group. After this week’s episode, she just might be what she seems. She filled a needed role of an attorney Donny and Alision could call on. She also had one of the best lines of the episode when she met Alison and noticed how she looks so much like Sarah, “with less anger and more hygiene.”  Next week Helena returns. I’d love to see Adele’s take on her.

Gillian Anderson has had some major genre rolls, including The X-Files, The Fall, and Hannibal. She will be working with Bryan Fuller once again on Amerian Gods. Variety reports:

Anderson will play Media, the mouthpiece for the New Gods, functioning as their public face and sales representative, by taking the form of various iconic celebrities. She lives off the attention and worship that people give to screens — to their laptops, their TVs, to their iPhones in their hands while they watch their TVs. Ever the perky spokesperson, and always in control, she spins stories in whatever direction best suits her.

The attack of the White Walkers on the cave was one of the most memorable scenes on Game of Thrones recently. The above video discusses the making of that scene.

Outlander has been renewed for two additional seasons. This will also make it possible to have less of a delay between seasons. Homeland has been renewed for three additional seasons by Showtime, who will also be doing a series based upon Jonathan Frazen’s novel Purity. Amazon has renewed Transparent for a fourth season.

TV Line has news on next season’s big bad on Arrow:

Arrow‘s latest evil mastermind is heading to Star City by way of Baltimore. TVLine has learned exclusively that the CW drama’s upcoming fifth season will introduce a new villain loosely inspired by Idris Elba’s Wire drug kingpin Stringer Bell.

The character, tentatively named “Anton Church,” is a ruthless crime lord who sets out to fill the sizable void left by 960Damien Darhk and H.I.V.E. The initial casting notice describes him as an “apex predator” who “cuts his way through the shadows” by taking down “the biggest threat first.” (Um, he’s looking at you, Ollie Q.). While the role is being likened to Elba’s classic Wire baddie, the breakdown also references ex-Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa as a physical prototype.

Arrow had a great big bad last season, but sure didn’t conclude the story very well. Hopefully the quality of Arrow will get back to what we saw the first two seasons.

Here’s something for fans of both Doctor Who and Marvel. David Tennant of Jessica Jones does Ask Marvel in the video above.

In other Doctor Who news, Steven Moffat recently revelaled that the role of The Doctor was once offered to a black actor, but it didn’t work out.

Captain America Hydra

There have been a lot of changes in both the Marvel and DC comics over the years. After the last two Captain America movies showed SHIELD to be infiltrated by Hydra, and now has Captain America and other Avengers on the run, there is an even more radical change in the comics. Steve Rogers is apparently an undercover Hydra agent. Of course, in the comics, this could be a trick, or just something to go on for a while until they reboot again.

Here is a review of the DC Universe Rebirth from Nerdist and additional spoilers from Bleeding Cool.

Rose McIver discussed the season 2 finale of iZombie and what might be coming in season 3.

SciFi Weekend: Season Finales For Arrow, The Flash, and Gotham; The Americans, Limitless, Doctor Who

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Both The Flash and Arrow concluded their seasons with the hero defeating the big-bad of the season. The ending of Arrow was rather disappointing, with Damien Darhk being defeated far too easily after previously looking unbeatable. Team Arrow was broken up, but it would be an easy matter to reunite some or all of them.

It was gimmicky to have The Flash end the season with a race, but it does fit into the series. There was a little trickery involved in defeating Zoom, but it was far better than how the Arrow defeated Darhk. (Major spoilers ahead). We learned the identity of the main in the iron mask–Jay Garrick of Earth 3, played by John Wesley Shipp who played the Barry Allen Flash in the 1990’s series. I assume we will see  him again, possibly playing into the plans to tie the Justice Society of America into Legends of Tomorrow. It will also be interesting for Barry to have a copy of his dead father–assuming his father remains dead.

The ending of the episode had major ramifications (and more spoilers ahead) for the future of the series as Barry went back in time to save his mother, and saw another remnant of himself disappear. Possibly this means that he never becomes the Flash. On the one hand, this would change the scene between Barry and Iris before he went back in time. On the other hand, if Barry never lived with the Wests, there would no longer be the feeling of incest (even if not biological) in their relationship.

There are reports that Tom Cavanagh will be returning to the third season of The Flash. His first season character was killed at the end of the season and his Earth 2 character returned home at the end of this season. One logical explanation for Cavanagh being present seems to be that if Barry’s mother remained alive things were changed so that the original Harrison Wells was not killed by Eobard Thawne.

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There is further speculation that the third season will start with a version of the Flashpoint storyline from the comics. Screenrant has further discussion of the finale. There is more at Den of Geek, including this summary of the Flashpoint story:

All signs point to Flashpoint, a Geoff Johns-penned comic book arc from 2011 that saw Barry waking up in a present day that he didn’t recognise. His mother was still alive, Captain Cold was the big shot hero of Central City and The Flash did not exist (neither does Superman or The Justice League, and Thomas Wayne is Batman instead of Bruce).

Barry does not have his powers. America is at war with Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Cyborg is the world’s biggest superhero, and is failing to unite a strong enough defence. Essentially, the whole world has gone to hell.

This timeline was spawned – you guessed it! – by Barry going back in time to save his mum. It’s the ultimate worst-case scenario, when Barry thought he’d been doing a good thing. For season 3 of The Flash, it seems logical to expect a similar chain of events.

Obviously there would need to be a scaled-down version for television, but it is easy to see Barry returning home to an entirely different world. They could possibly also use this to bring about the collapse of other Earths into Earth 1, bringing Supergirl into the same earth to facilitate the planned cross over after the show moves to the CW Network next season.

Gotham Finale

The second season finale of Gotham left the city an even stranger place than it has been. Comic Book Resources interviewed executive producer John Stevens. While the interview took place before the finale, it still provides information leading into season three:

CBR News: Throughout the season, Hugo Strange has been playing Dr. Frankenstein. What exactly is his endgame?

John Stephens: We’re going to understand his endgame in the finale. We’re going to understand that he received a directive from his employers, who gave him a very specific directive, specifically about reanimation. That is something which his employers, who we know are the Court of Owls, is going to be paid off in Season 3 when we understand why they wanted him to do this thing. We will understand in this season what exactly he was supposed to achieve, although part of that we will pay off next year, too. It plays into our overarcing Court of Owls’ mythology.

Strange refers to his employers as “masters.” Who are the Court of Owls, and how much are we going to learn about them in the finale?

The Court of Owls is like an Illuminati. They are a shadowy group of powerful people who have controlled Gotham for centuries. They might, or might not, be behind the Wayne murders. They have financed and directed Indian Hill and Hugo Strange’s research. We will not learn all that much about them in the finale, save for the fact they are the people behind Hugo Strange and are most likely the culprits behind Martha and Thomas Wayne’s murders. Bruce will learn of their existence, but not necessarily their name. That will obviously push him forward.

As part of Strange’s experiments, he brought Fish Mooney back to life. What makes the resurrected Fish deadlier than before?

Hugo Strange had to modify Fish’s DNA in order to being her back to life, and it had the side effect of giving her certain abilities. Those abilities are going to manifest in the finale. She goes from the real of reality to grounded sci-fi, becoming a quasi-supernatural character in the finale.

THE AMERICANS -- "Dinner for Seven" Episode 411 (Airs, Wednesday, May 25, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: (l-r) Marceline Hugot as Theresa, Frank Langella as Gabriel, Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings, Rob Yang as Don. CR: Eric Liebowitz/FX

The Americans has been one of the best written shows on television in recent years. The writers have taken a long view, with situations often not playing out for many episodes, or sometimes seasons later. Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields, the co-showrunners, have indicated in various interview that they have about two more years of story left. Now that is official. FX has renewed The Americans for two additional seasons beyond the current season. While I hate to see it end, it is quite satisfying to know that the show will be ending based upon the ideas of the writers, and the story will be allowed to continue until it is completed.

Limitless has been officially canceled by CBS. While not at the level of The Americans (few shows are), it is entertaining and there is certainly more story to tell. There is still the possibility of it being picked up elsewhere.

Lady-in-the-Barn-Doctor-Who-Hell-Bent

Steven Moffat responded to a question about the lady in the barn in the season 9 finale of Doctor Who, Hell Bent:

Responding to a fan question in issue 496 of Doctor Who Magazine as to whether the old barn lady was the Doctor’s mother, Moffat answered:

“We’ve no idea who she is, nor should we. But a quick glance at the evidence, would remind you that the Doctor is a ‘high born Gallifreyan’ so that would seem unlikely. So what was he doing in that barn, and who were those people? The Doctor won’t tell me. It’s almost like that nameless wanderer in time and space likes a bit of mystery…”

The showrunner added:

“Oh, it’s funny, writing stuff about the Doctor’s past. You always have to leave options – you can’t be definitive. Or at least that’s how I feel about it. I like the audience to have a choice. If, in ‘Listen,’ you’re happy that the little boy in the bed is the Doctor, then great. But if you’re not, that’s fine too. I keep saying, Head Canon is important, because that’s where the show really happens: in the hearts and minds of all the people watching.”

When I saw her on Hell Bent, and previously on The End of Time, I saw this more as a Gallifreyan version of a boarding school, as opposed to showing his home and mother.

In other Doctor Who news, John Barrowman has shot down rumors that he will be returning to play Captain Jack Harkness in the Christmas special.