SciFi Weekend: Legion Season Finale; 12 Monkeys Returns; Lucifer Saved; Fate of Timeless Remains Unknown; Star Trek Discovery; Spock In The Mirror Universe; Casting News On The CW Superhero Shows

I found Legion’s second season to be a disappointment compared to the first. Extending from eight to eleven episodes was probably a mistake. I wasn’t even certain if I would continue with the show beyond this year, but then the season finale did what producers hope, making me interested in seeing more. With Legion it is sometimes difficult to be certain if what we are seeing is true, leaving potential ambiguity, but it does seem that they really did establish that David both has super powers, and is crazy (along with becoming the villain).

I wasn’t entirely certain what to make about these revelations with the Minority Report style trial based upon future crimes which David has not yet committed. If this was all there was, there could be questions as to whether the others were being misled, whether David’s fate is definite, or if there were even honest misinterpretations (such as the claims on Agents of SHIELD that Daisy was responsible for destroying the earth). The problem came when Sydney said later in the episode, “You drugged me and had sex with me.” These days, this is not something they can come back from easily.

Noah Hawley discussed the finale, and David being the villain, with Entertainment Weekly:

The season finale ends with David emerging as this villain. Has that always been the plan with this character?
Yeah. For me, I always had this question in my mind, what would happen if Walter White was a supervillain? That Breaking Bad superhero show. This idea, especially in the X-Men universe, that the moral line between good and evil is often fudge-able. Magneto, who sometimes is their villain and sometimes is on their side, and the idea of what the right thing to do is can shift depending on the circumstances. So I wanted to evolve the show so that you realize over time that maybe David’s not the hero of your show, but maybe Syd is the hero of your show.

Once you see that, it becomes a different show on some level. You’ll watch it with different eyes at that point — which doesn’t mean that David can’t come back or that in the end he doesn’t find his way back. But on some level, the whole show is a mental-illness parable, the idea that [David] tried to kill himself and he went into the hospital, and they straightened him out and they gave him his meds, and they let him out and he took his meds for a while, and then he decided he didn’t need them and then he went off them, and now he’s in this psychotic break, except he replaced the word “meds” with the word “love.” He realized he had this love story and the love was making him a better person — a saner, more stable person — and then he started lying to the woman that he loved and not being consistent. When he turned his back on the love story, everything started to fall apart for him.

You mentioned that maybe Syd is the real hero of Legion. Do you see this next phase of the story focusing more on Syd?
Yeah. On the level that it’s their story, I think she should always be front and center, and I think we went a long way this year towards expanding your understanding of her. We had that fourth hour where we saw her childhood from many different angles, and how she became the person that she is and the fact that she’s not a pushover by any means, and she’s someone who’s learned to embrace the ugliest parts of herself as her strength and not her weakness. To the degree that all of the X-Men franchise is a metaphor about being an outsider, you’re a mutant, but we’ve seen it as a metaphor for many different kinds of exclusion. A lot of the time with those characters, the powers that they have are directly connected to the way they don’t fit into society and it’s a way to redefine their weakness as their strength, and I think that’s what makes it exciting and relatable to the audience…

The David we see at the very end is much closer to the Legion we know in the comics with all the split personalities. Since you’re now two full seasons into this story, has your relationship to the comic books changed at all, in terms of what you do and do not include from the page?
Yeah. The character in the comics, there was a complexity to his origin story and the powers and the way that they work that seemed a hard ask of the audience to say, well, you have these multiple personalities and each one has its own powers. We’re seeing the birth of this character that we may know from the comics, and so the idea that organically we got to a place [where] we had a moment last year where a rational British version of David popped out to help him out in a scenario, and this year we end up with three Davids all arguing different points of view. That may increase in season 3, and of course, if so, creating different versions with different voices. So I want to see if I can put him through phases, I suppose.

After hunting Shadow King all season long, he pops in at David’s trial nonchalantly and nobody seems to be freaked out by him anymore. Do you see him as being an ally now in the sense that Division 3, even though they were enemies, now are sort of allies?
I think it’s really interesting what I’m attempting here, which is this idea that a lot of the time in these comic book stories, you have a takeaway where you feel like might makes right and the only solution to a problem is war. And I think what I’m playing around with is the idea that there’s really no such thing, that in real life you can fight your enemies but ultimately you have to make peace with them. And it may be an uneasy peace, and it may not be a lasting peace. At a certain moment, if you’re Division 3 and you’re realizing your biggest problem is David, then you do need Farouk as a weapon in that battle so you have to make peace with him. Now, that may play exactly into Farouk’s hands, but it was an element that seemed like it would generate more of an interesting story line than just a fight sequence leading to a larger fight sequence leading to a larger ultimate fight sequence.

12 Monkeys returned for its final season. While they are still giving us a lot at once, they did limit it to three episodes instead of a weekend long binge of the entire season like last year. The episode used a trope often seen in time travel shows–having characters return to an earlier point in the series. Apparently showrunner Terry Matalas has know they would come to this point since the beginning. He was interviewed by Syfy Wire:

Because you and I have talked about this briefly, how much of a plan do you have for the whole show? How much of that did you start with? How do you keep track of all the different storylines and permutations?

I just like to.

When I watch a show I kind of am always hoping I’m in the hands of somebody who has a whole plan. You can have a plan and little things can change along the way, but as long as I know where I’m going [and] I’m not making it up as I go along, that’s an important thing to me.

So in Season 1, there was a plan for the first season. We knew that the show, by the back half, would actually kick off the series in the respect that the first few [episodes] start with the notions of the movie. We dove into time travel a lot more than the movie did.

But we knew ultimately Ramse was gonna find out he had a son and wouldn’t be on board with the project and that all these characters would all have different motivations. We knew the journey we wanted to take. By the end of Season 1, we wanted to make [Cassie] much more like Cole started, and make Cole much more like her. It’s almost like Season 1 is the pilot of the series.

Season 2, same thing. We knew it would be the search for Titan. We knew it would be the reveal of the Witness. I always knew what I wanted the last scene to be, in the series. So [we were] just kind of leading up to there. After Season 2, I came in with a plan for Seasons 3 and 4. I said, “Here’s where we’re going.” We had a room that was wall-to-wall giant white erase boards. We know we’ve gotta get here, we know we want to do this, that, and the other thing, so let’s plan for this. Let’s do this right.

So really Seasons 3 and 4 are one giant movie, in the respect that you can watch Season 3 and be like, “Wow, they really were telling us giant things about Season 4 along the way.” There are scenes you have forgotten. Even our season opener — Jones and Project Charon — that started in Episode 6 of Season 3.

We will see scenes of future Cole again from the other perspective, so we needed to know exactly where Cole was in his life and what he was saying. When you go back and see it from this perspective you’re like, wow, they knew it all along. So that was the goal. That’s what we wanted to do. It’s up to the audience if we were successful or not. I think we were.

Is Season 4 the kind of thing where, if you go back to Season 1 and start over, you’ll see it from a completely different perspective?

Yes. You could go back to the beginning knowing what you know and be even more satisfied by the end. That was the deal with our writing staff. We wanted to make sure this was as tight as possible.

What’s kind of great about that is, even if you go into some of these Facebook pages like Addicts of the 12 Monkeys, they will ask really intricate tough questions about the plot. We’ll have that answer for them. We can say, “Here’s what happened, here’s why.” We had to go through every aspect of the loops and tangles of time travel and make sure it all added up. We didn’t want to whiff it…

As far as how this whole timeline works, at some point Cassie has to end up dead at the CDC for Cole to get the watch. But I have a question. Is there anything besides the watch that identifies that body as Cassie?

That body is Cassie. I’ve heard theories about bodies being switched. It’s Cassie. Without question. That’s Cassie’s body. I’m sorry to say to many people who had a lot of hope.

We don’t know how old she was, either.

You essentially saw her demise. But yeah, there’s no wiggle room there. She will die at the CDC.

Netflix has saved Lucifer shortly after it was cancelled by Fox. Deadline reports:

Buoyed by strong fan support, Lucifer producer Warner Bros. TV started shopping the series to steaming services and premium cable networks immediately after its cancellation more than a month ago.

There were multiple interested buyers, including Netflix and rival Amazon. It took time for a deal to be ironed out because the US  SVOD rights to the first three seasons of Lucifer are owned by Hulu. Further complicating the situation is the fact that Lucifer is carried by different networks/platforms in different international markets. For instance, Amazon has it in the UK and Germany, which drove the company’s interest in the series. I hear Lucifer now is expected to be on Netflix in the UK as the streaming company tries to clear the show in a as many territories as it can.

One other cancelled Fox series, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, was saved by NBC. In addition, there was one other major save of a genre series with Amazon picking up The Expanse after it was cancelled at Syfy.

Having both Netflix and Amazon show such interest provides hope that other genre series could be saved. There is still no word on Timeless. Hypable reports on efforts being made to keep it alive:

Everyone from Eric Kripke to the Timeless writers’ room to the cast is communicating with the fans as best as they can and all of them have stayed upbeat and positive. Whatever’s happening behind the scenes, no one’s letting the uncertainty or long wait rattle them. Instead, they’ve turned the whole thing into a month-long celebration of Clockblockers all over the world as they encourage fans and fans encourage them.

To keep Timeless fans fired up, the Timeless writers started sharing deleted scenes once a tweet met a certain number of retweets. The responses were so positive that they ended up sharing one (sometimes two) scenes a day. They actually ran out!

There are more examples in the full post. If NBC is not persuaded by this, perhaps Netflix or Amazon will come to the rescue.

The behind the camera turmoil drama on Star Trek: Discovery. Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts became showrunners after Bryan Fuller left the series in 2016. Now Berg and Harberts are being replaced by Alex Kurtzman. The Hollywood Reporter has the story:

Out are Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, who originally took over the role at the helm of the drama from Bryan Fuller. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman, who has guided the franchise (and a few of its feature films), will take over as showrunner on season two. As part of the change, Kurtzman will now also oversee the Discovery writers room for season two.

“We’ve made some producer changes at Star Trek: Discovery. The series continues under the creative vision and leadership of executive producer and co-creator Alex Kurtzman. Discovery remains on course for season two in 2019 with new and continuing stories that build on its successful premiere season,” producers CBS Television Studios said Thursday in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

Sources say the decision to oust Berg and Harberts was based not on the creative but instead for leadership and operational issues. Production on Discovery‘s first five episodes of season two are near completion, with Kurtzman likely taking over for episode six and beyond. Berg and Harberts, who were longtime collaborators with original showrunner Fuller, will likely still be credited on the episodes they oversaw. Sources say the budget for the season two premiere ballooned, with the overages expected to come out of subsequent episodes from Discovery‘s sophomore run. Insiders also stress that Berg and Harberts became increasingly abusive to the Discovery writing staff, with Harberts said to have leaned across the writers room table while shouting an expletive at a member of the show’s staff. Multiple writers are said to have been uncomfortable working on the series and had threatened to file a complaint with human resources or quit the series altogether before informing Kurtzman of the issues surrounding Berg and Harberts. After hearing rumors of HR complaints, Harberts is said to have made imposing remarks to the staff to keep concerns with the production an internal matter.

Sources tell THR that Discovery is nearing what has been characterized as a planned production hiatus after episode five, which will allow Kurtzman time to regroup the show’s writing staff. Production is not expected to be impacted by the showrunner change.

The first season of Discovery kept interest going regarding the always popular Mirror universe stories. While I don’t follow the comics, I found it interesting to read that the comics have revealed what happened to Spock after the events of Mirror, Mirror. Comicbook.com summarizes events of the comic book miniseries:

What we know from Star Trek canon, based on the mirror universe episodes from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is that Spock rose in the ranks of the Terran Empire to become Commander-in-Chief. He instituted numerous reforms, but those reforms were said to have failed and left the Empire too weak to defend itself again the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. The Alliance attacked and, still angry over their races’ previous treatment by the Terran Empire, enslaved Vulcans and humans alike.

“Ripe for Plunder” reveals that’s only partially the truth. Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who stole the Empire’s new ship Enterprise, discovers that historical files on Spock, who eventually rose to become Terran Emperor, had been altered and sends Data to investigate.

It turns out the Spock is not dead, but in hiding after being deposed. Data discovers him being guarded on a mostly uninhabited planet by a small force of Tellarite guards, but Data proves too strong for them to handle. Spock tells his side of his story, saying that – despite what the recorded histories may imply – his reforms were actually proving quite successful and should have brought a new era of prosperity for the Terrans.

The Terran Republic was strong, but even the Empire would not have been strong enough to face the combined forces of the Klingons and the Cardassians. That the Alliance’s assault came during this time of reform made Spock and his political movement into an easy scapegoat to take the blame for the Terran’s defeat.

However, Data is less interested in Imperial history and more interested in where he can find supplies and tech to keep the ISS Enterprise in the fight against the Alliance. Data is specifically after information on the alternate universe that Spock’s Enterprise made contact with during the events of “Mirror, Mirror,” which Star Trek fans have known as the Prime Timeline. Spock resists, but Data doesn’t take no for an answer. There’s a fight, and Data leaves with blood on his uniform and having gained the information he sought on the other universe. Whether or not he left Spock alive is unknown.

The CW superhero shows have completed their seasons, other than for Supergirl which concludes on Monday. Some casting news has been announced. On Supergirl, Braniac 5 has been promoted to a series regular, which also raises the question as to whether other members of the Legion of Superheroes might be returning. Jeremy Jordan (Winn) has been reduced from regular to recurring cast.

Ralph Dibney, the Elongated Man (Hartley Sawyer) and Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) have been promoted to series regular on The Flash. As has been previously reported, Matt Ryan (Constantine) and Jes Macallan (Ava) will be regulars on Legends of Tomorrow while Keiynan Lonsdale (Wally West aka Kid Flash) will not be returning as a regular.

SciFi Weekend: The Americans Series Finale; Jessica Jones; Star Trek Discovery News; Humans Returns For Season 3; Better Call Saul

For the last six years, The Americans was among the best continuing dramas on television. Now the series has concluded with a perfect finale which compares favorable with the top finales in television history. The finale managed to both provide a conclusive ending while also leaving viewers with plenty to wonder about.

Much of the final minutes of the show managed to provide a tenseness comparable to the final moments of The Sopranos in the diner. There were many moments when it was possible that Elizabeth and Philip might have been apprehended, just as there was a constant feeling of danger in the final scene of The Sopranos. Unlike The Sopranos, there is no ambiguity with regards to the events. Elizabeth and Philip made it safely home to Russia. Breaking Bad, another show where we followed an anti-hero, had to conclude with the death of Walter White. For reasons which were suggested in the final scene with Stan in the garage, it was possible for Elizabeth and Philip to be allowed to survive, even if they did have to pay a heavy price.

While a lot of other things beyond what I will discuss here happened in the extended episode, the key scene was the conversation between Stan and Philip in the garage. It is a sign of what this show does so well that the scene truly was a conversation with little action, even if viewers were wondering if Elizabeth would suddenly find her opportunity to kill or incapacitate Stan. From the moment the pilot set up the situation of the FBI agent living across the street from the Russian spies, the only conceivable ending was that Stan would ultimately figure out their identity and there would be a confrontation of this nature.

While the confrontation could have ended in violence, the ending was far stronger in having Philip convince Stan to let them go. The strength of the finale is in how the writers actually did make this plausible. This included Philip confessing, stressing the reality of their friendship, and declaring that it was  his life, not Stan’s which was the joke. It was necessary for Philip to deny that they were responsible for the killings, for the benefit of both Stan and Paige. Perhaps both bought this temporarily, but I suspect that being confronted again with the discrepancy between reality and what her parents say was one of the reasons for Paige’s later decision to leave them. Finally, the prospects of the START talks proceeding, and preserving Gorbachev as opposed having the hard liners return, provided arguments for Stan that allowing them to go would actually be in the best interests of his country.

Just as Stan might have been responsible for the damage to the Jennings family by increasing suspicions on Paige’s part, Philip similarly might have destroyed Stan’s chances of happiness with Renee by throwing in the possibility that she might have been one of them. Two remaining questions are whether Phillip said this to help or to harm Stan, and whether Renee really was a Russian spy. It was necessary to at least raise this question in the finale but, unless there was another subplot thrown in showing Renee, it would have been difficult to provide an answer. None of the characters in the discussion really knew. Renee’s look back at the Jenning house later in the episode could be taken as providing an answer, but this is one aspect of the finale left to the opinions of the viewer.

Paige had a long time to contemplate her decision on the drive into New Hampshire and then the train ride. While we were never given her reasons for getting off the train and remaining behind, we know enough about Paige to understand what she must have been thinking. She heard about the killings in the garage, along with a denial which she probably figured out was yet another lie on the part of her parents, perhaps further alienating her from them. She also probably thought about remaining behind for Henry, and might have questioned whether she really wanted to spend the rest of her life in the Soviet Union (not knowing, as the viewer does, that in reality the Soviet Union would fall soon).

The imminent fall of the Soviet Union might make it possible for Elizabeth and Philip to see their children again in the future, but also raises the question of whether Elizabeth would be happy with what her country became. Regardless, there is little doubt that things will be difficult for Elizabeth and Philip.

Paige’s ultimate fate is left unknown, but there is hope that she can avoid arrest. Only Stan knows that Paige was aware of what her parents did, and there is no indication he knew of Paige’s own involvement in the family business. Plus both Paige and Stan have a mutual interest in both keeping quiet about the conversation in the garage. Of course to avoid being exposed, she will need to stay away from Claudia’s apartment.

The events of the last six years also made it questionable if Stan’s career could survive having lived across the street from Russian agents without suspecting anything. As events played out, he brought his suspicions to the FBI before their identities were conclusively discovered. This made Stan appear like the smarter one, while Aderholt felt like he was the one at fault for not taking Stan’s suspicions more seriously.

We also received some clues as to the fates of other characters. We don’t know how badly Henry took the news, but he is not suspected of any involvement, and there is reason to hope he will do okay. Oleg is in prison, with no hopes for being exchanged as a spy, but perhaps the changing political situation will enable him to be released in the future. The mail robot was not in action, but was seen at rest in one scene at the FBI offices.

 

Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields, along with the cast, granted multiple interviews but did not provide further answers. They left the matters which viewers were left to wonder about while watching for the viewers to continue to question. Here are excerpts from an interview at TV Line:

TVLINE | You’ve said that you’ve had the ending for the series in mind since Season 2. So how closely did this ending match what you had back then?
JOE WEISBERG | Joel and I were just having a conversation about this earlier: I think that Joel thinks it’s identical, and I think it’s almost identical…

TVLINE | The biggest surprise of the finale for me: No one died! I was tense right up until that final car ride with Philip and Elizabeth, thinking they might get whacked. Is it almost more sad, though, to force everyone to live with the consequences of their actions?
FIELDS
 | Well… it depends on your belief about the afterlife, I suppose. [Laughs] But for us, it was always going to be about the character drama. That’s what we’ve been following all along, and it felt totally right that that’s what we’d follow through the final frames of the show.

TVLINE | The scene with Stan in the garage: It felt like six seasons had been building up to that moment. Was that a scene that you had in mind for the finale way back in Season 2?
WEISBERG
 | No, that was not planned. That was not part of the ending that we figured from the beginning. I think we always assumed that there would be a confrontation, that Stan would either figure out, or that, one way or another, they would have to face off. There’s too much to be confronted in those relationships, so that seemed to want to come to a head. But we didn’t know that it would happen like that.

TVLINE | So why did Stan decide to step aside and let the Jennings family go, when he had them cornered?
FIELDS
 | You know, that falls into the category of questions we want to let the audience come up with their own answers to, rather than impose our own on it. We can certainly give you an answer. We have answers. But we want to sort of let the story speak for itself on that one. People will come up with different answers, and their own interpretations of where Stan’s at, and what happened during that scene to bring him to that point…

TVLINE | What kind of consequences is Paige facing now, after having stepped off that train? 
WEISBERG | Well, first of all, the consequences she’s going to face for everything that’s happened, on an emotional and personal level, are obviously extreme. But the question of whether or not she’s going to face legal consequences, I think, is a little bit muddy. I don’t think we know the answer to that. It’s possible that the FBI may not have evidence about anything she’s done that’s clearly a crime. So she may not be in any kind of extreme legal jeopardy, as long as she doesn’t walk herself into a corner. We don’t think that it’s clear she’s headed to jail…

TVLINE | You left the question of whether or not Renee is a spy unanswered. Was that to leave Stan wondering about who he’s sharing his bed with?   
WEISBERG | Well, that’s certainly something that’s going to hang over his marriage a bit, one would think. To us, in a way, we thought that [revelation from Philip] was a powerful thing to give [Stan], in terms of his own struggle, but also in terms of who Philip had become, and where their relationship was at. Philip wasn’t going to walk out of that garage without telling his friend what he thought might be possible there, even if he wasn’t sure.

Interviews with the cast provided different opinions as to whether Renee was a spy. From interviews with Collider,” Keri Russell thinks there was something to that lingering shot of Renee looking at the house, but Matthew Rhys said clearly ‘No, I don’t [think she’s a spy].’ In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Holly Taylor (Paige) said,  “I think she is. I was hoping they were going to answer that question, but of course they didn’t. I think she is. I mean, there’s just too many coincidences. You really have to make your own decision, but I think most people are on board and think she’s a spy.” Noah Emmerich (Stan) was asked about the filming of scenes with Laurie Holden (Renee) by Entertainment Weekly without any answers given about Renee.

Production will be starting soon on season three of Jessica Jones. Krysten Ritter has discussed her hopes for the character at Comicpalooza in Houston, Texas:

“What I love so much about season 1 or season 2 were how deeply personal both storylines were, but different. So I got to explore different things within her and in my performance, show new colors,” Ritter answered.

“I think season 1 and 2, we really looked back at Jessica’s past. We looked at what made her as hardcore she is and how isolated [she is], and she’s learned a lot — I think especially in season 2 she’s learned a lot about herself. She has a lot to live up to, and I’m curious to see what she does next.”

The first two seasons of Jessica Jones put the alcoholic and super-powered detective through the ringer both emotionally and physically, and while season 3 isn’t likely to make Jessica’s life cheery, her actress hopes to see the Defender take more strides towards reaching her full potential.

“Maybe we’ll get to see her be a bit of a hero, maybe we get to see her move forward in a more positive way. Maybe we see her hating herself less,” Ritter added.

“I don’t think it’s gonna be like sunshine and rainbows for Jessica Jones anytime soon. But I’d love to see her — even if it’s a small step — step into her potential.”

Ritter added she hopes for Jessica to be only “a little bit less” of a “train wreck” next time around, saying “it’s still fun to play that.”

Ritter has also expressed interest in a revival of Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. I would have far more interest in that as opposed to some of the other revivals in the works.

The original plans for Saru would have had him look quite a bit different, as seen in the above picture.

The producers of Star Trek: Discovery have also been revealing other information about the show in promotional tours. Some can be seen here. This includes repeating previous promises of making the show consistent with what we have seen in other Star Trek series.

So far we have seen that Discovery took advantage of being a streaming, as opposed to a network show, with the use of an f-bomb.  Co-showrunner Aaron Harberts further discussed how Discovery would not be the same on network television:

One of the big buzzwords on network TV is likability of a character. And our character Michael Burnham commits a mutiny in the first episode. I don’t think that a lot of networks would have been game for that, but it really did allow us to tell a pretty exciting chapter for that character and a journey. And they were absolutely willing and on board to things like that.

Humans season 3 will premiere in the United States on AMC on June 5, but I couldn’t resist downloading the first three episodes which have already aired in the U.K. on Channel 4. While I will avoid spoilers, it becomes clear early in the first episode that the world has changed with Synths having become sentient. They are feared and distrusted by most humans, with the Synths we know from the first two seasons, along with others, being divided up with different ideas as to how to attempt to change this. Katherine Parkinson returns as attorney Laura Hawkins, defending the rights of Synths. Following is the official synopsis:

One year after the dawn of consciousness, a decimated and oppressed Synth population fights to survive in a world that hates and fears them. In a divided Britain, Synths and Humans struggle to broker an uneasy peace, but when fractures within the Synth community itself start to appear, all hope of stability is threatened.

Set against the maelstrom of political chaos, the ethical complexities of the dawn of a new species play out across a thrilling multi-stranded narrative. As the synth family… continue to battle for their right to survival, Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) Laura (Katherine Parkinson) and their children Mattie, Toby and Sophie struggle to come to terms with the cataclysmic events of the last series and their deeply polarised views on the implications of the singularity.

AMC has also announced that the fourth season of Better Call Saul will premiere on Monday, August 6th. The network’s announcement has confirmed the death of Chuck in the fire in last season’s finale.

In Better Call Saul‘s fourth season, Chuck’s death catalyzes Jimmy McGill’s transformation into Saul Goodman. In the wake of his loss, Jimmy takes steps into the criminal world that will put his future as a lawyer — and his relationship with Kim — in jeopardy. Chuck’s death deeply affects former colleagues Howard (Patrick Fabian) and Kim as well, putting the two of them once again on opposite sides of a battle sparked by the Brothers McGill. While Mike takes a more active role as Madrigal Electromotive’s newest (and most thorough) security consultant. It’s a volatile time to be in Gus Fring’s employ, as Hector’s collapse sends shock waves throughout the Albuquerque underworld and throws the cartel into chaos — tearing apart both Gus and Nacho’s well-laid plans. While Gus changes course, Nacho finds himself in the crosshairs of deadly forces.

FX has announced the renewal of Legion  for third season. I would discuss recent episodes of Legion, but I’m waiting for Future Syd to explain to me what they mean first.

Sundance has started showing the BBC One series, The Split. The show concluded on BBC One last week leaving matters wide open for a second season. BBC One has now announced that The Split has been renewed for a second season. While not at all genre, it does have one thing in common with Humans, which I discussed above. Both include a former cast member from Merlin, with Anthony Head appearing on The Split.

Best Political Jokes From The 2017 Emmy Awards

Donald Trump’s name came up so many times during last night Emmy Awards that a casual viewer might have thought that Trump was up for an award. As Stephen Colbert said in his opening monologue, many of the shows were influenced by Donald Trump:

But if we’re honest with ourselves as artists — and we have to be honest with ourselves — we know that the biggest TV star of the last year is Donald Trump. No, we may not like it, but he’s the biggest star. And you know, Alec Baldwin, obviously. You guys are neck and neck. And Alec, you’re up against a lot of neck. However you feel about the president, and you do feel about the president, you can’t deny that every show was influenced by Donald Trump in some way. All the late-night shows obviously, House of Cards, the new season of American Horror Story, and of course, next year’s Latin Grammys, hosted by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Muy caliente. And we all know the Emmys mean a lot to Donald Trump, because he was nominated multiple times for Celebrity Apprentice, but he never won. Why didn’t you give him an Emmy? I tell you this, if he had won an Emmy, I bet he wouldn’t have run for president. So in a way, this is all your fault. I thought you people loved morally compromised antiheroes. You liked Walter White, he’s just Walter Much-Whiter. And he never forgave you, and he never will. The president has complained repeatedly that the Emmys are rigged. He even went after the host a few years back, tweeting, “That Seth Meyers is hosting the Emmy Awards is a total joke. He is very awkward with almost no talent. Marbles in his mouth!” Wow, marbles in his mouth, that’s harsh. That’s quite an accusation, do you have a response Seth? (Marbles fall out of Meyers’ mouth).

And even during the campaign, he wouldn’t let it go. This actually happened, this exchange actually happened in the debates. (Video showing Clinton mentioning Trump’s Emmy loss in debate).

But he didn’t. Because unlike the presidency, Emmys go to the winner of the popular vote. Where do I find the courage to tell that joke in this room? Of course, what really matters to Donald Trump is ratings. He’s got to have the big numbers, and I certainly hope we achieve that tonight.

Unfortunately, at this point, we have no way of knowing how big our audience is. I mean, is there anyone who could say how big the audience is? Sean, do you know? (Sean Spicer comes out on podium).

Sean Spicer: “This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period. Both in person, and around the world.”

Spicer’s appearance received negative reviews, such as from The Fix and Frank Bruni. As with the inauguration, he was also wrong on the facts as ratings were down, matching an all time low with 2016.

There were many more political jokes from Colbert and others throughout the show. In a Westworld skit (video above), a malfunctioning Colbert was taken off and questioned by Jeffry Wright (Bernard):

Wright: “Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?”

Colbert: “Every day since November 8th.”

 Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda, the cast of 9 To 5, reunited to present an award.

Jane Fonda: “Back in 1980, in that movie we refused to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”

Lily Tomlin: “And in 2017, we still refuse to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”

While accepting the award for Best Actress in a Comedy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus joked said regarding Veep, “We did have a whole story line about an impeachment but we abandoned that because we worried that someone else might get to it first.” After Veep won for Best Comedy, she thanked many other television shows for inspiration, including, “the Trump White House.”

Tatiana Maslany, introducing the nominees for Best Actress in a Drama Series, said Claire Underwood character from House of Cards would be a great president because “she doesn’t tweet.”

The Handmaid’s Tale won five Emmys. Although the series became much more relevant with the election of Donald Trump, they did not take the opportunity to mention him in their acceptance speeches.

Saturday Night Live won nine awards, with The Los Angeles Times collecting their political sketches here. In his acceptance speech Lorne Michaels said:

I remember the first time we won this award. It was after our first season in 1976 And I remember thinking as I was standing there alone that this was it. This was the high point. There would never be another season as crazy, as unpredictable, as frightening, as exhausting, or as exhilarating. Turns out I was wrong.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek; The Growing Berlantiverse; SHIELD; Doctor Who; Catwoman; Genre Shows Win Creative Arts Emmys; The Nix

George Takei discussed Star Trek with Stephen Colbert. Video above. Nerdist reports:

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the debut of the original Star Trek (well, in America at least: sorry to Canada that we didn’t do this two days earlier), so fittingly the tributes and odes were pouring in from fans around the globe. However, it was George Takei who best summed up what the franchise is really all about, and in doing so explained why it is so beloved and has endured for so long.

The O.G. Sulu was a guest of super nerd and Trekkie Stephen Colbert on The Late Show last night, and Takei shared his memories of the “very special” first time he went to work on the series, where franchise creator Gene Roddenberry described to him and the rest of the cast at their first table read what story the space adventure show was really telling.

“Gene explained to us what Star Trek was all about,” said Takei, “He said that the Starship Enterprise was a metaphor for Starship Earth, and the strength of this starship lay in its diversity coming together.” Roddenbery then explained that the possibilities of “infinity diversity in infinite combinations” (IDIC) would force the crew, representing the many people of the planet, to combine their abilities to solve problems as one.

More detail on the interview at The Mary Sue.

enterprise-computer

Majel Barrett has had both on-screen roles and has been on multiple versions of Star Trek as the voice of the ship’s computer. Her voice was recorded phonetically before she died and there is talk of using her voice on Star Trek: Discovery, along with using it Siri-like virtual assistants. I want my Amazon Echo to use her voice!

Bryan Fuller continues to slowly provide hints about other aspects of Star Trek: Discovery. He tweeted than an episode from The Original Series, Balance of Terror, is a “touchstone” for Discovery’s story arc. The episode introduced the Romulans, and TrekMovie.com speculates on what this might mean.

USA Today has an article on Rod Roddenberry.

flash-supergirl-arrow

Greg Berlanti is working on yet another superhero show, now Black Lightning for Fox.

IndieWire has interviewed Gregg Berlanti about his multiple superhero shows. He has news on several of them, including the cross-over episodes:

As “Supergirl” leaps to The CW, how has the network move – and the relocation to Vancouver – been going?

I just saw the director’s cut of the first episode, and I’m in as much love with the show as ever. It’s been challenging to figure out all the moving parts, moving the show across cities and across networks. But the reality is, I think the show is as strong as ever and it feels really seamless. People will not be able to tell that it’s not L.A. It feels like National City still. There are some new enhancements to the set that we were going to do anyway. Obviously some new characters are coming to the show that we would have brought in anyway to the second season. And so I’m really pleased. CBS in their own wisdom recognized it, there’s no part of the show that’s fighting itself anymore. It has a youthfulness and appeal because of the age of the leading lady, and it gets to embrace that a touch more.

What more can you tell us how often we’ll see Calista Flockhart’s character, Cat Grant?

She’s recurring. We’re trying to get her for at least six episodes this year, and she’s in the first two episodes. We’re just trying to see when she can come back now.

And will we see her interact with Superman?

I don’t want to give it away, but she has a special kind of dynamic with Clark Kent.

How far along is the “Supergirl”/”The Flash” musical crossover?

We just finished writing the fall crossovers. And now we’re trying to figure out how to produce them. That’s probably the most challenging thing we do all year. And now we’re doing it across three shows! But next week we’ll have to start talking about clearing music. I have a few ideas for tone and style in my head but we’re just starting to talk about what that can be. I do want to try and get an original piece of music written. As we make a deal on that we’ll probably make some announcements on the original songs.

Perhaps written by, I don’t know, Lin-Manuel Miranda?

[laughs] I would say, pretty close. I can’t say yet because we don’t have a deal yet, but I did speak to someone we’re really excited about. There are some writers I’m incredibly excited to work with.

Back to the big CW series crossover, how difficult is that to pull off across so many series?

You really are trying to run a single production across three different productions. But they’re run as three separate entities. We have to figure out when we’re borrowing one actor from where. We’re telling one cohesive story; “Supergirl” will participate, but the storyline doesn’t actively begin there. There are some characters who show up in her episode, but the story begins with “The Flash” episode and goes to “Arrow” and “Legends of Tomorrow.” We’re just getting into designing the bad guy for it, and we start now but it doesn’t air until the end of November. We will put a lot of time between now and then figuring out visual effects sequences. Just today I was holding the three scripts back-to-back – that’s 180 pages of material. It’s a three-hour story, almost a miniseries.

And when you place all three scripts together, it unlocks some sort of fortune.

[laughs] It’s very daunting when you hold them all together like that. Each one of these pages is 10 hours of shooting and a visual effects extravaganza. But hopefully it feels like a great kind of crossover comic book sell.

The Spoiler Room at Entertainment Weekly has news on several genre shows, including this about Felicity on Arrow:

Emily Bett Rickards has been training a lot lately. Does it mean Felicity will be involved in more action scenes in Arrow season 5? — Itakha
At first, Felicity will be dealing with the fallout of Havenrock’s destruction. “In the first five episodes, we face head-on the decision that Felicity made,” EP Marc Guggenheim says. “We are most definitely not ignoring it.” Following that, though, Guggenheim cryptically teases what could be Felicity jumping in on the action. “We’re positioning her to do something in the second half of the year that is really, really key, and that isn’t about her relationship with Oliver or even necessarily her father or her mother. It’s really new territory for her, and we’ve very excited about it. Some big things are going to happen with Felicity.”

I was pleasantly surprised to see Emily Bett Richards while watching Brooklyn last weekend. (Sorry, it was not a major role, and the movie, while excellent, is totally non-genre).

Agents of SHIELD has a promo for Ghost Rider. More at Screen Rant.

Hulu has picked up a sci-fi comedy entitled Future Man from Seth Rogen.

Vince Gilligan is producing a limited series for HBO on Jim Jones for HBO entitled Raven. My bet is that he will do a good job of showing Jones’ life, but after Breaking Bad I would prefer to see him invent more flawed characters of his own.

Netflix has renewed Narcos for season 3 and 4.

power-of-the-daleks-animated-570x321

It appears that the next season of Doctor Who will start in April based upon reports in Radio Times and a comment from Peter Capaldi. Before that, there will also be the Christmas episode. Plus in November there will be an animated version of a lost story:

It’s one of the Doctor’s most celebrated adventures and yet no complete film recordings of The Power of the Daleks are known to have survived. The master negatives were destroyed in an archive purge in 1974.

BBC Worldwide has announced that a brand new black and white animation based on audio recordings of the programme using the original cast, surviving photographs and film clips will be released 50 years to the minute after its only UK broadcast on BBC One.

The six half hour episodes feature the regeneration, or as it was then called ‘renewal’, of First Doctor William Hartnell into Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, as the Time Lord and his companions Polly (Anneke Wills) and Ben (Michael Craze) do battle with the Daleks on the planet Vulcan.

Anne Hathaway told Variety she would live to play Catwoman again. That might be difficult as the Christopher Nolan Batman stories, where she appeared, have concluded, but that doesn’t entirely rule out her reprising the role in a future movie.

A few genre shows have already won awards last night at the Creative Arts Emmys. Winners included Jessica Jones (Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music), Mr. Robot (Outstanding Music Composition For A Series), and Man In The High Castle (Outstanding Main Title Design and Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-Camera Series). Hopefully some of these series will  also win some of the more major Emmy awards.

J.J. Abrams is working on a television adaptation of The Nix, staring Meryl Streep.

Headline of the day coming over my news aggregators which sounds more like cheap fiction than news: Sick African dictator ‘eats his enemies’ testicles and brains to boost his sexual prowess’

SciFi Weekend: The Top 20 New Shows of 2015

Once again, as I did last year, I’m concentrating, I’m concentrating on the top new shows of the past year (but will include some comments on returning shows below). This is for a few reasons:

  • Not having the time to devote professional time to television as professional television critics do, there are many shows I have not watched purely due to lack of time. Limiting to a single year reduces the impact of this.
  • Limiting to new shows eliminates the problem in many “best of” lists of including the same shows every year.
  • Talking about new shows could be of greater value. It is more likely that readers know about the top shows which have been on for the last several years, but might not be aware of some of the shows which started more recently.
  • If readers are inspired to catch up on a show from a list such as this, it is far more practical to catch up after one season than several. I know this from personal experience. This is why I cannot say much about the series finale of Justified, which has received great reviews, as I’m years behind. It was much easier to catch up on Manhattan and The 100 after missing the first season, allowing me to say more about them below.

Besides being limited to shows I have watched, this is also biased towards genre shows. Therefore, what might be the year’s biggest hit among new shows, Empire, is excluded from consideration on both counts. Rankings are also quite arbitrary, and some shows could easily be a few spots higher or lower if I were to redo this fifteen minutes later. Still, this gives a general idea of which I consider among the best as compared to those ranked lower. It is a sign of the increased number of good shows coming out, partially due to the increased influence of steaming video along with cable, that I have expanded from a top fifteen list last year to a top 20 list this year.

Top 20 New Shows Of 2015

Last Man On EarthCa

20. Last Man on Earth (ABC)

This would have ranked far higher if it could have maintained the quality of its original premiere, but adding new characters just led to it devolving into a number of more standard sitcom tropes. Still, while many gave up on the show, I continued to have interest in the first season finale and into the second season.

NUP_166495_0049.jpg

19. Childhood’s End (Syfy)

Adapting a novel from Arthur C. Clarke seemed like a sure winner, but there were problems I didn’t expect from doing this until I viewed the miniseries. It seemed far more dated in 2015 compared to when I read the novel in the 1960’s now that we have seen so many shows with alien visitation to earth. This story worked out much better as a novel as they could not capture important aspects of the story, including the magnitude of the ending, on television as compared to in prose. The show also failed to make the new world created in the miniseries seem believable, compared to the far better adaptations in a couple of other shows listed below. We heard about all the changes on earth, but rarely saw them, and what we did seem, such as mankind giving up science, didn’t seem believable.

Togetherness

18. Togetherness (HBO)

An excellent sitcom showing how cable and streaming have replaced the “must watch TV” from NBC and the other broadcast networks.

The Expanse

17.The Expanse (Syfy)

Syfy returns to space, with a mystery and quite a bit of world building in the series based upon the novels by James S. A. Corey. I have only seen the first two episodes so far, so my opinion of the show could change once I see more. It was just recently renewed for a second season.

Fresh off the Boat

16. Fresh Off The Boat (ABC)

Both Blackish last year and Fresh Off The Boat this year offer new variations on Modern Family. Constance Wu makes the show.

Casual

15. Casual (Hulu)

Yet another twist on a family sitcom, done far better by Hulu than the networks.

12Monkeys

14. 12 Monkeys (Syfy)

A time travel show which took aspects from the movie, but improved upon them for a weekly series. The series did an excellent job of building on its mythology, providing surprises, and moving in a new direction in the season finale.

Programme Name: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - TX: n/a - Episode: Ep2 (No. 2) - Picture Shows: Mr Norrell (EDDIE MARSAN) - (C) JSMN Ltd - Photographer: Matt Squire

13. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell (BBC One/BBC America)

An excellent adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s novel, making a world in which magic exists seem real.

Supergirl-TV-Show-Actress-Melissa-Benoist

12. Supergirl (CBS)

Another show from the produces of Arrow and The Flash, with his being much closer to The Flash in style. The show had an excellent pilot, but for a while seemed like a weaker version of The Flash. It started getting more interesting toward the end of the fall season as the show had an opportunity to develop. Spoilers ahead: Major events before the hiatus included the revelation that Hank Henshaw is the Martian Manhunter. Calista Flockhart is excellent as Cat Grant, but considering her profession can she be trusted now that she figured out Supergirl’s secret identity? So far Supergirl doesn’t know about Hank, but it is inevitable that she learns who he is. A shape shifter could be useful to show both Supergirl and Kara in the same place to fool Cat.

Sense8 Will and Riley

11. Sense 8 (Netflix)

A very ambitious show, which took time to develop its story, but well worth the wait. Enjoy the scenery from around the world while trying to figure it out in the early episodes.

agent-carter_promo-cast-photos-616x462

10. Agent Carter (ABC)

This shows how much better a network show can be when limited to a single eight-episode story.  Maybe that is why it is the only network show which cracked the top ten. Of course a network still could not compete with streaming when entering the Marvel universe.

kimmy23f-6-web

9. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

This shows how the networks have surrendered quality sitcoms to streaming and cable. The show was originally produced by Tina Fey for NBC, but they passed on it and it was picked up by Netflix. It will be interesting to see if the show is even better when the second season is produced, knowing it will appear on Netflix rather than NBC.

Daredevil Matt and Karen

8. Daredevil (Netflix)

The first of a series of shows from the Marvel universe. Dardevil was darker, grittier, and more violent than any of the superhero shows before this. The series also took advantage of the streaming medium, often telling a continuous story, but sometimes including a more conventional single episode on a specific topic (which was still part of the greater story for the season).

Master of None

7. Master of None (Netflix)

Aziz Ansari shows how good a comedy could be on what I bet is a low budget if there is excellent writing. Besides comparisons to his character on Parks and Recreation, the show is often compared to Louie. I also see a lot of early Seinfeld in it.

Catastrophe

6. Catastrophe (Channel 4/Amazon)

The British show, also made available in the United States from Amazon Prime, was the best new sitcom of the year. It was this year’s, You’re The Worst, with Sharon Horgan playing what felt like could be an older version of Aya Cash’s chacter, and the nationalities of Jimmy and Gretchen’s nationalities reversed.

Man In The High Castle Poster

5. Man In The High Castle (Amazon)

While changes were made for the new version, Man In The High Castle was an excellent adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel, providing a realistic look at what could have happened if Germany and Japan had won World War II and occupied the United States. Changes were made in some characters, and there were plot differences to turn this into an ongoing series. Hitler remaining alive in the 1960’s provides for a difference in the politics. Instead of a book with an alternate history in which the Allies won, using film reels worked better on television. While the main storyline was tied up, the finale raised new questions, making me very happy that it was renewed. Spoilers ahead: As happened earlier in the book, the finale did show a character crossing over into an alternate universe looking like ours, partially explaining the meaning of those news reels. I still have a lot of questions about them, and if the book gave any further hints, I read it too long ago to remember. The finale did wrap up the major storyline and led to an unexpected character living in a “high castle” who was interested in the news reels. Is he really the title character, and how is he connected to the films?

Humans

4. Humans (Channel 4/AMC)

Yet another British import on this list which was also shown in the United States presented a look at how robots (Synths) could change our society, along with a thriller storyline involving a small group of  Synths which were more than they seemed. I’m not sure if the second season could be as strong as the first now that all the secrets have been revealed, but they definitely left matters open to continue the story.

MR. ROBOT -- "Pilot" Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r) Rami Malek as Elliot, Christian Slater as Mr. Robot -- (Photo by: David Giesbrecht/USA Network)

3. Mr. Robot (USA)

A cyber-thriller which is totally different from what anyone would expect from a show on USA. The show gave a lot of hints about one element which was not confirmed until later in the season, but still came up with surprises along the way. The season finale also left room for a lot more.

Better Call Saul

2. Better Call Saul (AMC)

Better Call Saul greatly exceeded expectations, standing on its own in addition to being a prequel series to one of the greatest television series of all time, Breaking Bad.

Jessica Jones

1. Jessica Jones (Netflix)

Netflix exceeded what was accomplished on Daredevil with Jessica Jones, staring Kristin Ritter in the title role. The series, even more than Daredevil, was like a single long movie, with only brief breaks in the narrative to fill in viewers on the back stories of the major characters. This works as a stand alone story, but also has references to The Avengers, a character from Daredevil, and sets up future shows, especially Luke Cage.

Spoilers ahead. The show did so many things well.  While many super hero stories suffer from trying to create yet a bigger danger to the entire world to fight, Jessica Jones was a personal story between Jessica and the villain, with David Tennant doing a fantastic job playing Kilgrave. Without their powers, this is essentially the story of an abused woman who once again confronts the man who abused her. Add on the super powers, and it becomes a story of a man who can have whatever he wants and does not understand why Jessica does not love him when he is nice to her.

Most of the supporting cast was also excellent, including Mike Colter as Luke Cage and Rachel Taylor as Trish Walker. One neighbor initially seemed to be a stereotypical drug addict, but turned into a significant figure. The brother and sister also living in the same building were the weakest characters, but the sister was useful to allow Kilgrave to escape. The length of the story did require a series of  near-captures, captures, and escapes. Plus it was necessary to change the situation so that the ending could take place, when earlier Jessica had reason to not only capture Kilgrave alive, but provide proof of his powers.

Honorable Mention

Grace and Frankie Season 1 netflix handout .... Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the Netflix Original Series "Grace and Frankie". Photo by Melissa Moseley for Netflix.Ê

Grace and Frankie (Netflix) Any show staring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston has to be good, even if some of other new sitcoms were more consistent.

Blindspot (NBC) A fascinating premise made the early shows feel like something unique from network drama, but far too often it is just a gimmick to introduce the case of the week. Whether the show becomes a great will depend on whether the underlying mystery of the show remains compelling. Also on NBC, Blacklist almost felt like a new show with Lizzie now on the run, reminiscent of how Person of Interest evolved into more of a genre show last year on CBS.

Limitless (CBS) A lighter genre show which shows potential to be entertaining, but I doubt will rise to greatness.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix) A prequel to the movie.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS) and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore (Comedy Central) were two excellent additions to light night television, a genre which I arbitrarily left out of the rankings. They help make up for the loss of David Letterman and Jon Stewart. I haven’t actually watched much of Larry Wilmore but he has been hilarious when I’ve seen clips. I’m looking forward to seeing him host the White House Correspondents’ dinner.

The Republican Debates have become an amusing reality show, featuring reality television star Donald Trump. His previous reality show had a similar format in gradually eliminating candidates vying for a job.

Besides the above changes on late night television,  this year marked the end of many excellent shows including Mad Men, Parks and Recreation, Hannibal, Parenthood, Continuum, and Justified. Downton Abbey concluded in the UK with the Christmas special, but the final season is just now beginning in the United States. (No spoilers, but the series ended well).

Last year I left out some shows only because I had not had a chance to see them yet. These included The 100 (CW) and Manhattan (WGN). These turned out to both be extremely high quality shows. and both would have made the top five if I had seen them when compiling last year’s list.

Among shows I’ve heard excellent things about, and very well might deserve to be ranked among the top shows but I have not had a chance to see so far are Narcos (Netflix), Wolf Hall (BBC Two/PBS), and The Jinx (HBO). While not as critically acclaimed, I have received a plug for another genre show, Wayward Pines (Fox).

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Face the Raven; Jessica Jones; Arrow Flash Crossover; 11/22/63; Lost In Space; New Show From Bays and Thomas

Doctor Who Face the Raven

Only four companions had previously died in the long history of Doctor Who, with none in the new series. This changed on Face the Raven with the death of Clara Oswald.  The episode took place on Trap Street, a hidden street in London like something out of Harry Potter, except in this case Maise Williams’ immortal character returned as mayor, providing sanctuary for aliens. Clara’s friend Rigsy (previously seen in Flatline, when Clara was acting as the Doctor) was sentenced to die, with a Chronolock tattooed on his neck, counting down the minutes until his death. The Doctor tried, unsuccessfully, to turn to his index cards to express his condolences, but Clara pushed him to try to save him.

Unfortunately it turned out to be Clara who saved him by transferring the Chronolock from Rigsy to herself. Maise Williams’ character, Me,  had already guaranteed Clara’s safety on Trap Street, so she thought this would buy them time. What Clara did not know is that Me never really intended for Rigsy to die. However, once the Chronlock was transferred from Rigsy to Clara, the terms of Me’s deal with the quantum shade, which controlled the execution, were changed and Me could not save her.

Clara assumed the Doctor could save her once again, but he could not, and the two said their dramatic farewells. It did seem  questionable that the Doctor couldn’t at least try to save her. After all, it was already established that there was a stasis machine nearby. If that couldn’t work, there was also a teleport bracelet, not to mention the TARDIS, which might take Clara to safety.

Clara’s death was actually guaranteed by the decision for Jenna Coleman to leave the series. Steven Moffat discussed writing Clara out in an interview with Blogtor Who:

“What we’re gonna do with Clara’s departure was ‘Plan A’. This is what I wanted to with Clara from very, very early on in Clara’s run but Jenna said that she wanted to leave at the end of Series 8. And I sort of knew she didn’t really want to leave, I think she just felt she ought to leave at the end of Series 8, despite my various attempts to tell her what she was thinking – which never goes down well I find with human beings! [Laughs]

She decided to leave so I wrote her out of the end of Death In Heaven, that was her last episode. I was halfway through Christmas [Last Christmas] without Jenna and she said, ‘Actually, I’d like to be in Christmas,’ so I discreetly threw away the script I was writing and started again. [Laughs] Never told her that – should’ve.

I wrote her out of the end of Christmas but this time I sniffed a wind and wrote two endings; one version where she actually is the old lady and we last see her going up the spiral staircase. At the read through we did the big heart-rending departure and she changed her mind.

Peter and I did perform every form of emotional manipulation known to people on the world tour, badly and ineptly I might add. I like to think in the sheer ineptitude of out apparent subterfuge we were charming.

But what we’re doing now is the right way for her to go, in my view.”

Doctor Who Face The Raven Clara

There might theoretically be a way in which Clara did not die and could return for some of the final episodes of the season, but now that Jenna Coleman had her big exit scene it would be better to leave her character dead. That does not mean that Jenna Coleman might not show up again. A form of Clara has been involved with all Doctors we have seen so far, and the way in which she was fragmented should mean that she will also be involved with future Doctors, although that does not mean that either the Doctor or the audience will see her

The Doctor has met Clara in different forms. He met Oswin Oswald, the soufflé girl, in Asylum of the Daleks, and met the Victorian barmaid and governess Clara Oswin Oswald  in The Snowmen.  He also came close to meeting Clara as a child but did not recognize her.

There are still questions left from Face the Raven. The Doctor was teleported off, and is on his own, leading into the final episodes of the season (which will be extended length). Will he return to face Me, after warning her “You’ll find that it’s a very small universe when I’m angry with you”? Who was Me working with? It was apparently someone who knew about the Confession Dial, which might mean Davros, or Missy. Incidentally, it was Missy who put Clara in touch with the Doctor in The Bells of St. John, so it might be fitting that she was also indirectly involved in her death. (Incidentally Michelle Gomez, who plays Missy, also appeared on Gotham last week).

The portion of the season prior to the Christmas episode will end with another two-parter. Heaven Sent will air on November 28th and run fifty-five minutes.  Hell Bent will air on December 5th and run sixty-five minutes.

Behind the scenes videos of Face the Raven can be seen here.

Marvel's Jessica Jones

It was a tough decision with both Jessica Jones and The Man in The High Castle both becoming available for streaming on Friday night. Ultimately a show staring Krystin Ritter, David Tennant, and Carrie-Ann Moss won out. In addition to these three, Rachel Taylor does an excellent job as  Trish Walker and Mike Colter is excellent as Luke Cage. Besides appearing in Jessica Jones prior to appearing in his own show, Luke Cage has been teased in a trailer for the second season of Daredevil.

While I have not finished the series yet, I have seen enough to say that this is excellent. It is possibly the best superhero show ever on television, and possibly the best television show or movie with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Vulture has a collection of excerpts from the many excellent reviews of the series. I will have no spoilers of the individual episodes in discussing the series.

Jessica Jones has started out even stronger than Daredevil. While set in the same Hell’s Kitchen background, it is not entirely as dark and gritty, with more of New York City seen. There are brief mentions of other events in the Marvel universe, but it is not necessary to have seen any as long as you are just aware that New York City was under attack in The Avengers movie.

Krystin Ritter is excellent as the damaged superhero. She plays a strong female lead, but the tone of the show is entirely different from the other superhero series with a female lead, Supergirl. Ritter’s dramatic acting abilities were clear in Breaking Bad, and she showed she could handle being the lead for a show in Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. She further shows her acting talent as the lead in this complex dramatic role in which her character underwent a traumatic experience in the past, leading to the season-long arc with the big-bad Killgrave, played by David Tennant.

Jessica Jones Trish Walker

Krystin Ritter discussed playing Jessica Jones at Speakeasy:

Unlike a lot of superhero shows, she doesn’t seem to rely on her superpowers that often.

That’s how I always approach the character. Just a woman and a girl first, with her feet on the ground and with real issues. Her struggle is so personal and so relatable and so grounded. I just focused on that and the superpower thing second. I just felt like it was an extension of who she is – because internally, she’s so strong.

What unique issues are being explored in “Jessica Jones”?

I felt like it was groundbreaking material in how it handles some of the darker stuff that happens to her. We never actually see, literally, [her] history with [villain] Kilgrave. But we see the effects of it. Ultimately, this is a story about coming to terms with something internally with yourself. I also enjoyed that she wasn’t sexualized. She’s never putting on high heels and the tight skirt to seduce somebody like your typical P.I. So there were all these things in there that felt a lot bigger. I felt like it was a great conversation starter. It has the potential to be an iconic character.

The Los Angeles Times spoke with Kristin Ritter and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg, who was also head writer on early seasons of Dexter:

“[For Jessica] the superpowers are just a matter of fact. She doesn’t advertise them, but she doesn’t deny them. She doesn’t hide them,” show runner Melissa Rosenberg explains. “What I love about this character is she’s so unapologetically who she is. She’s unapologetic about her sexuality, about her powers, about her drinking, about just about anything. She is who she is.”

Her sexuality, and drinking, along with other aspects of Jessica Jones, are certainly not hidden. While there is no nudity, this is not a superhero series for children.

I have also been bookmarking material on The Man In The High Castle but will wait until I have hopefully had time to start the series.

An extended promo has been released for this season’s crossover episodes of The Flash and Arrow, starting December  1 (video above).

The season finale of The Flash is part of the crossover event with Arrow and introduces Wally West. There has been speculation this season that when Iris’s mother turned up and there was mention of another child, this would be Wally West. The following synopsis has been released.

“Running to Stand Still” — MARK HAMILL, WENTWORTH MILLER AND LIAM MCINTYRE RETURN; KEIYNAN LONSDALE JOINS THE CAST AS WALLY WEST — When Mark Mardon AKA The Weather Wizard (guest star Liam McIntyre) returns to break Leonard Snart AKA Captain Cold (guest star Wentworth Miller) and James Jesse AKA The Trickster (guest star Mark Hamill) out of Iron Heights, Barry (Grant Gustin) must stop these rogues from taking over Central City during Christmas. Meanwhile, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Iris (Candice Patton) meet Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale). Kevin Tancharoen directed the episode written by Andrew Kreisberg (#209). Original airdate 12/8/2015.

We have already seen the first glimpses of Hawkgirl on The Flash, as the various characters for Legends of Tomorrow have been put place on Arrow and The Flash. Legends of Tomorrow will debut on Thursday, January 21. In addition to bringing back old characters on Arrow in preparation for this, Roy will be returning to Arrow in episode 412.

The above teaser has been released from 11/22/63 from J.J. Abrams, based upon the book by Stephen King. It is to be released on Hulu on Presidents Day, 2016.

Danger Will Robinson: Netflix is planning a reboot of Lost in Space.

CBS has signed a deal with Carter Bays and Craig Thomas to produce another comedy set in New York. Deadline reports that the show, named New York Mythological, “centers on a Midwestern girl who moves to Manhattan and experiences firsthand the magic of New York.” It sound like quite a few other shows done over the years but it is the execution which matters. There have also been a lot of shows about friends in New York City, but few did them as well as Bays and Thomas did with How I Met Your Mother.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; SHIELD; The Flash; John Snow; Jessica Jones; Getting Hooked on Netflix; Black Mirror; Continuum

Doctor Who s09e02

The Witch’s Familiar, the concluding episode of last week’s episode of Doctor Who, The Magician’s Apprentice, works despite the weakness in its plot due to its dual match-ups. One was the Doctor and a supposedly dying Davro,s and the other pair was Clara and Missy.

Pairing the Doctor and Davros was an idea which Steven Moffat has had since watching Genesis of the Daleks according to an interview at blastar:

“When I was very young, I watched Genesis of the Daleks and began a long plan.”

“I was doing what I do in my spare time which is watch old episodes of Doctor Who – because I really know how to kick back and relax,” he explained. “Davros had already returned within the series…and it occurred to me, and I think this is just true, there isn’t a bad scene between the Doctor and Davros.”

“Whatever you think of the stories – and I think they’re all good – all the time, every time you have the Doctor confronting Davros, in the classic series and in the new series… every time they meet, it’s really quite electric. There’s something about those two characters meeting, so I wanted to have a go at it.”

“What surprised me, looking back at the old stories, was how little screen time they have together. In Genesis of the Daleks they have a couple of scenes, that’s all – brilliant scenes, beautifully written and played, beautifully done. But they’re very short – they’re not long at all. I’d imagined it in my memory as being most of the story, but it wasn’t at all.

“So my notion was to actually stick them in a room together and see what happens after a long while. So that’s, you know, a childhood ambition that hasn’t changed into my 50s.”

Doctor Who s09e02a

The pair spent a considerable part of the episode talking to each other and launching plots against each other. Reminiscent of the question posed by the Doctor last season, Davros even asked the Doctor, “Did I do right Doctor? Tell me, was I right? I need to know before the end. Am I a good man?”

The pairing of Clara and Missy was more amusing. This included Missy’s implied threat to eat Clara if there wasn’t anything else to hunt and Missy’s response when Clara suggested throwing a stone down into the sewers to see how deep they were. “Ah yeah, good idea.” And she pushed Clara in. Plus what is the deal with Missy’s reference to a daughter?

The resolution of the story was weak. Even if we accept that the Doctor can just turn on regeneration energy at will, what was his end-game? He was assisted in escaping by Missy, but at the time the Doctor thought that Missy was dead. His plan might have worked to have the decaying Dalek sewer slime attack the other Daleks, but how was the Doctor planning to escape?

It is also questionable why the Doctor revealed to Davros that Gallifrey still existed. Other questions also came up in the discussion with Davros, such as the idea that the Doctor might have been running from something when he left Gallifrey, and a possible Dalek/Timelord hybrid. Presumably some, if not all, of this will come up in future episodes.

Missy posed an additional threat to Clara when Clara was inside a Dalek. This was actually the third time she was, one way or another, inside a Dalek. We  saw Clara’s mind trapped inside a Dalek in Asylum of the Daleks in Jenna Coleman’s first appearance. Last season there was the journey by a team inside a Dalek in Into the Dalek.

This was an amusing sequence in which Clara tried to communicate but there were many words which the Dalek  translated differently from what she desired, being limited by what it knew. Then she said “mercy” which was not a concept the Dalek should have known. This led to the other somewhat weak aspect of the conclusion as the Doctor went back in time to show mercy to young Davros, therefore introducing the concept of mercy into the Dalek DNA.

The episode also eliminated the sonic screwdriver for now, with the Doctor moving on to wearable technology. There is still the question of the confession dial, which I bet will play a part later this season in typical Moffat style.

The two-part format did allow for many ideas to be inserted into the story, along with a cliff hanger. As plot holes have always been a part of Doctor Who, being present well before Moffat despite the frequent criticism of him for this, it does make sense to have less stories and include more in each one.

ABC has released the first four minutes of Agents of SHIELD, which is returning on Tuesday. Video above with Daisy and other SHIELD agents helping an Inhuman.

TV Guide has some information on Cisco’s new powers on The Flash.

TV Guide also has some set pictures which might provide spoilers on the fate of John Snow on Game of Thrones.

Fox will have a two part trailer for The X-Files on Monday night on Gotham and Minority Report. Minority Report did premiere last week but I’ve held off on watching until I hear more about how the show is. Starting to follow genre shows on Fox doesn’t always turn out very good. The season premier of Gotham left me with hope for improvements in the second season over the first.

Netflix has released the above teaser for Jessica Jones, providing a glimpse of her super powers.

Netflix has released some interesting information on how many episodes viewers had to watch of certain shows before becoming hooked on them. They found the episode at which seventy percent of those viewing would then go on to finish the season. Viewers were hooked with the second episode of Breaking Bad. Some other shows took longer.

Streaming has become a way to provide a future for television shows, in addition to provide access to old episodes of shows. Netflix has ordered twelve new episodes of Black Mirror.

Steven Spielberg has always been a master of fiction. Reportedly Hillary Clinton turned to Spielberg for acting coaches to help her appear more likable. This comes from the book Unlikable by Edward Klein. I’m not sure how much of this book is fact versus fiction.

Tonight we have the rare super blood moon total eclipse. National Geographic describes how to view it.

Continuum Power Hour

The third episode of Continuum, Power Hour, finally started to reveal much more of what is going on (and the reveals are even greater in the fourth episode–but no spoilers for episode four as this has not aired in the United States yet). Kiera and Garza teamed up to find out what the Time Marines are up to. In the process Curtis met a heroic death. After previously warning Alec that his superpower was in computers, not fighting, Curtis himself got drawn into the action.

Julian tried to destroy the Theseus manifesto. Leading a rebellion against the Corporate Congress in which there would be thousands of casualties, followed by failure, just did not seem like a good future for him. He could not escape his fate as, in sort of a time loop, Chen made sure a copy of the manifesto from the future came out, also leading Julian to a toddler Kagami. This leads back to the question of whether the future we know about will still come about, which directly impacts Kiera’s attempts to return home.

After two episodes which were largely setup, the story did progress in the third episode–already half way into the final season. The fourth episode does move the story forward considerably, making it possible to speculate as to the end game of the series. Here are a some teasers which will not spoil the episode, but those who want to go into the episode with zero information might want to look away. Alec responds to Emily being gone, but does not destroy the entire timeline this time. There is an unexpected conversation between characters. A puzzle from the first season is resolved. Keep wondering whether Kellogg should trust his future self.

SciFi Weekend: Season Finales of Orphan Black, Game of Thrones, and Veep; Hannibal And Creating Monsters; Breaking Bad Cast News

Orphan Black Season 3 finale

Orphan Black concluded its third season with more answers, bigger questions, a cliff hanger, and several clones together. Last season ended with the clone dance party, and this season began with Helena’s dream baby shower. In the third season finale, History Yet To Be Written, several clones were together, seemingly out of danger for the moment, at Alison’s victory dinner. Afterwards Sarah was reunited with Kira.

The convoluted storyline has often had characters seem to change sides. For much of the finale it appeared there might be a peace between Dyad, Topside, and the Leda clones which included an agreement to share genetic material from Kendall Malone. Then the show suddenly reverted back to the conspiracies of the first season with the return of the Neolutionists, who are far scarier than when Dr. Leekie was around, with Susan Duncan apparently in charge.

This news ended any idea of sharing genetic material, and upset Ferdinand, who really hates “those genetically obsessed zealots.” He said they’re like ticks, quickly decided that his henchman accompanying him was one, and gave him a bath in sulfuric acid. Ferdinand, incidentally was finally informed that the “dirty clone” he was involved with earlier in the season really was Sarah pretending to be Rachel.

Rachel, meanwhile, spent most of the episode wondering where she was, until Charlotte (the younger clone with a leg brace) showed up, who for unexplained reasons is now with Susan Duncan with no evidence that  Marian is around. Rachel’s new eye appears robotic, while surprisingly Krystal not only came out of the coma, but still had two eyes. Most likely we will still see her next season but it remains to be seen how she will escape from Dyad, especially if Delphine is really dead.

Delphine was told she would be dead by morning, and spent the rest of the episode apparently saying her goodbyes, suggesting that she might really be leaving the show. In the episode’s cliff hanger, she was shot by an off-screen assailant. The episode was written as if it was a final one for Delphine, but on a show such as this we can never be certain a character is really dead.

For the moment it appear that obstacles between Shay and Cosima have been removed and Shay might very well be innocent. She does have a point that Cosima has not been all that honest with her either. Of course on Orphan Black, a person who seems innocent at one moment might be shown to have a connection to one of the conspiracies at any point in the future.

Helena got to both see her old boyfriend and fight Rudy under prison rules, “only one of us leaves alive.” Needless to say, Helena won.

The finale left many questions, including who shot Delphine, what the Neolutionists are up to, and what the robotic worm in Dr. Nealon’s mouth was.

Orphan-Black-season-3-finale-3

An interview with Graeme Manson at AV Club leaves the door open for Delphine to return at some point:

The A.V. Club: A lot happens in this finale. There are so many questions, but the first one has to be: Is Delphine really dead? It looks like yes, but there’s no body, and yours is a twisty show…

Graeme Manson: Um… yes. Yes, but. Orphan Black is a cliffhanger. For all intents and purposes, Evelyne [Brochu’s character] is dead. But there’s always a crack of hope in an actor’s busy schedule. They can reappear somehow. But we had to make a bold story choice, and it was a story choice that was very collaborative with Evelyne. It’s a role that we wrote for her. It’s hard to make those big story choices with co-workers that have become your friends, but you got to do it. You got to do it for the good of the show. It’s about the whole story; it’s not about anything else. I mean, we really went for the strongest choice. And Evelyne was up for dying! [Laughs.] Actors really respond to the strong choices. We had made this decision early on that this was the arc of this season, and that we would go for it with the character as an individual. Go out with a bang.

AVC: Speaking of significant deaths: There was Paul’s sacrifice earlier this season, and by the end of this season, every male clone but Mark is dead. You spent a large chunk of this season shading in the male clones’ background with Castor… so how finished do we think Castor is at this point? Does this mean Ari Millen won’t be back in as significant way next season?

GM: Well, it’s every male clone but Mark that we know of. It’s a big-picture story, and so obviously we left the door open for Mark to come back. I think we can all look forward to Ari Millen next year…

AVC: This season alone several factions were fighting for and against the clones: Dyad, Proletheans, Topside, Castor, and apparently, the Neolutionists behind all of it, as we found out in the finale. Do you ever feel penned in by the ever-complicating mythology?

GM: Well, I think this year was a lot about Sarah fighting her way toward an understanding through a conspiracy with a lot of factions. At the end of the season, she’s cut through that, and she’s got one main foe or focus now moving forward. We met Neolution in the beginning with the sort of “pop science” of Leekie. It’s been the fifth column this whole time. I think Sarah can move forward next year with a new understanding, and a new focus on a many-layered but single foe.

Manson was also interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter.

Kira (SKYLER WEXLER) and Sarah (TATIANA MASLANY)

Variety interviewed the co-creator John Fawcett:

First you killed Paul, then you shot Delphine — do you just hate happiness?

[Laughs.] I like happiness as much as the next person, but happiness sometimes isn’t as dramatic as tragic love stories.

Can you definitively confirm that Delphine is dead, or is there still hope?

I would love to say yes or no, but this is “Orphan Black” and I don’t want to say one way or the other … We wanted to leave it in a hanging cliffhanger, so is she dead? Is she alive? I want the audience asking those questions.

Aside from Delphine’s shooting, the season finale ended on an uncommonly hopeful note. Why did you want to go that route instead of ending with a cliffhanger this year?

It was really important for us in one of our most complex seasons to end with a lot of answers and feel like we’ve had some triumph and victory, and be in a place at the end of season three where we could go “now we can take a breather, we can reset.” We didn’t want to end the season in some giant cliffhanger that meant we were gonna have to start exactly where we left off. We wanted to feel resolution and have more of an emotional ending to season three, so that it gave us a chance to reset for the beginning of season four. We just wanted a very different feel.

On a related note, it’s been awesome to see Alison’s suburban subplot add some levity this season — how important was it for you to have that balance when the ongoing mythology has been so dark and complex?

One of the things that was fun about season three was the fact that Alison and Donnie became “Team Hendrix” and had their own storyline. It was a different way to approach Alison this season for us, and it was nice, just from a writing standpoint, having a clone character that we love have a very different story to tell that wasn’t necessarily linked to the main plot where everything has to be interwoven super intricately. It was nice to be able to use that as a breather and a little bit of lightness. Moving forward, most of the time, we’re using elements to set up things that we want to do, that we know are in our plan for season four and five, so that’s all I’ll say [about Alison’s storyline].

Was it always the plan to have the Neolutionists as the ultimate antagonist, or something you decided over the course of making the show?

When we put Neolution in season one, it was to pave the way for this later season. It was definitely part of the big picture. That was definitely premeditated.

What about Susan Duncan still being alive?

That was something that we always intended. That was part of the mystery of the past: the explosion in the lab, Dr. Leekie and the Duncans and young Rachel…

here’s been criticism from some viewers over the past couple of seasons that the show’s mythology is getting too convoluted, which I suppose depends on how much you appreciate serialized storytelling. Is that kind of critique something you pay attention to?

It always is — we don’t wanna confuse people but the deeper you go into a mystery, the more balls you’ve got to juggle. It’s a complicated story. I felt like it wasn’t that complicated, but I think the point of this conclusion, coming to the end of this season, was always to be able to go “okay, we got all these answers, so what’s next?” and leave the audience peeking into a brand new rabbit hole, and the nice thing about looking into a new rabbit hole is that you get a chance to begin again a little. There’s elements that I miss from season one too — Sarah not knowing, at all, what she’s facing or what any of this is about, and I think that’s a place we always intended to go at the beginning of season four.

How cognizant are you of the need to maintain the mystery but not withhold answers for too long? It seems like a lot of serialized shows have struggled with that ratio after “Lost,” where viewers become frustrated that mysteries are just piling on top of mysteries with no resolution in sight.

It was a real issue with “Lost” because it made people very grumpy, and it made me wonder whether the creators knew where the show was going or not. When Graeme and I first started on the show, it was like “let’s map out where we want to get to. What’s the endgame? What are the tentpoles for however many seasons we want to tell this story for?” And make sure that every step along the way, we’re giving enough answers. We may get more questions as we go, but we’re giving enough answers to the audience to keep them satisfied that they’re not just watching something that doesn’t have any conclusion.

Fawcett was also interviewed by Entertainment Weekly.

Game of Thrones Walk of Shame

Game of Thrones also ended its season with questions over the fate of major characters. Unlike previous seasons, the show has now caught up with the published books, so while the books might provide additional clues, there are no definite answers.

The biggest question is whether Jon Snow is dead, or whether he will come back from the dead. Many of the interviews suggest he is really dead, but they are not accepted as final. If something major happens to a character and then an excuse to return them to life is brought about later, it will often feel like a cheat. This can plausibly be done with Jon Snow based upon the world we have seen. There has been speculation from fans about multiple ways in which Snow could have survived, or be brought back by life, with many of them already foreshadowed in previous episodes. Going more meta, I wonder if he will return primarily because he has provided the major point of view of events at the wall. Some of the stories taking place there have been among the weaker story lines, but they would be even weaker without Jon Snow. It is hard to believe that events at the wall will not continue to be of major significance with winter coming.

Stannis Baratheon was not shown to actually be killed making it very plausible that he survived. Going meta with him, it sure looks like his storyline has been concluded. On the other hand, he does have one of the stronger claims to the Iron Throne, and he might still have a role in whatever end game is planned. Maybe he will wind up returning to the wall, although I don’t see replacing Jon Snow with Stannis as an improvement to the story.

Arya got to kill a  henchman for the Lanisters, but wound up going blind. Either she will have to regain her sight, or become like Daredevil. Otherwise it is questionable how significant her character can be.

Daenerys, after flying away on a dragon, wound up surrounded by a Dothraki horde. Depending on how they respond to her, and whether her dragon quickly recovers, she could either be in grave danger or have a new army at her disposal.

Cersci went from a hated villain to now having an opportunity to be cheered by fans when she inevitably takes revenge. She puts a whole new meaning on “walk of shame.” Those who filmed the scene apparently overlooked the problem of different lighting and on Lena Headey’s’s face and the  length of the neck and on her body double’s (Rebecca van Cleave) nude body, or else they assumed that nobody would be paying much attention to her neck and above. Margaery continues to be held by the religious fanatics. Natalie Dormer would probably have no qualms about filming her walk of shame, even if it also involved full frontal nudity, without a body double.

Veep finale

HBO’s also had two comedies end their current seasons last weekend. Silicon Valley’s second season was better than the first. The ending of Veep suggested where they are going next season, probably eliminating the minor issue that the show is named Veep but this season Julie Louis Dreyfus’ character played the president. The election ended with an electoral college tie and the characters desperately tried to figure out what that meant. One even questioned if they could look it up in a book. One scenario would be having the House also be tied, with the Senate picking Tom James as president. Presumably he would then chose Selina as his vice president, bringing the character back in line with the show’s title.

This would bring things partially back to how the show was first season, with some potential differences. First season the president was rarely seen, especially by his vice president, and Selena had no power or influence. Depending upon how much Hugh Laurie will be in next season, there could be an unseen president or a president with a major role. It would be plausible to have a President Tom James either ignore Selena or make use of her.

Jonah wound up the season looking more respectable, even if as the Testicle Man. It worked out well to temporarily have Dan and Amy play lobbyists and television talking heads (along with a Nate Silver type character), but I wonder if they will be brought back in to the administration next season. At least it certainly looked like Amy would return to the inner circle by the end of the finale.

HANNIBAL -- "Secondo" Episode 303 -- Pictured: -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

This week’s episode of Hannibal, Secundo, dealt with the making of monsters. This might winding up summing up Will Grahams’s entire story. This does not apply to Hannibal as we were told, “Nothing happened to me. I happened.” Will traveled to Hannibal’s family home in Lithuania where he encountered Chiyoh who is holding in a dungeon the man who apparently killed Hannibal’s sister Mischa and fed her to him. Conversations between Hannibal and Bedelia suggest that Hannibal was really to blame. Chiyoh was left to guard him when she would not allow Hannibal to kill him, but ultimately wound up killing him after Will set him free.

Chiyoh was not the only person manipulated into being a killer this episode. After Hannibal stuck an ice pick in a dinner guest’s head, Bedelia pulled out the ice pick to put him out of his misery. Hannibal made a point of stating, “Let the record show, you technically killed him.”  The two are definitely playing a dangerous game with each other, but their ultimate motivations are not clear. Bedelia noted how Hannibal is bringing everyone back together. This episode showed Jack also alive and  hunting Hannibal, and soon they will be joined by Chilton, Alana, and the Vergers. Bedelia warned Hannibal that he would be captured, and the two discussed how Hannibal must react when he encounters Will in order to forgive him: “I have to eat him.”

Besides playing Dr. Bedelia, Gillian Anderson is also reprising her role as Scully on the X-Files revival. Speakeasy interviewd Anderson about these roles:

It’s hard to tell whether Bedelia is Hannibal’s prisoner or if she’s actually playing him in a way. Where do you think his head is at once they settle into Florence and Hannibal has begun to kill again?

The trouble that I have in doing interviews about Bedelia is that part of what is interesting about her is what we don’t know and is about the lingering question marks. If I were to answer [about] my thought my process in it or what I feel is motivating her, where I think she’s standing or what Bryan has told me, it completely takes the joy out of it for the viewers. So, I often struggle in interviews to have anything of value to say … because I’m trying to protect the viewer in having a real-time and organic experience rather than being told what’s going on.

Everybody wants to know, but it’s almost better in not knowing, I think. I’ll say that she’s intrigued and she’s scared and she’s in way over her head. But I think where the question mark lies is still within that. Where lies her complicity? Where lies her power? Does she actually have the upper hand without him realizing it? Those are the multi-leveled question marks.

At the end of episode one, which everyone has seen already, Hannibal tells Bedelia she isn’t just observing, she’s participating. Do you think that’s true? How culpable is she especially in that instance?

I think it changes halfway through. Not that she would be able to do anything about the current moment and what is transpiring in front of her, but she recognizes, legally, in that moment, if she continues to live there that the longer she stays, the more she will seem to be complicit in what’s going on. I think that is partly why she then starts to do what she starts to do, which I can’t talk about. The question that he poses in that moment is a question she works out for herself in that moment. Her reaction to it is what then moves her storyline through the rest of the episodes. That’s potentially quite a big turning point...

Duchovny recently said the script for the new “X-Files” made him cry. How did it make you feel?

I think since I’ve come up to Vancouver [to shoot “The X-Files”], I’ve become more excited, emotional and embraced the journey we’re about to go on. I’m actually really excited. I don’t think it initially hit me in the first read, but it was more to do with my needing to compartmentalize and not really address the fact that it was all about to happen until I actually got up here because there were too many other things I have to think about.

Breaking Bad

We will be seeing more of the cast of Breaking Bad. Vince Gilligan has said that Bryan Cranston will appearing on Better Call Saul, but not until after the second season. There are also reports that Cranston will be directing some episodes.

Aaron Paul will be returning to a regular episodic television in The Way which will appear on Hulu. It is a family drama about a a family involved in a controversial religious movement, produced by Jason Katims and written by Jessica Goldberg. Their past work on Friday Night Lights and Parentood provide promise for this show.

SciFi Weekend: Outlander Finale; Game of Thrones Diverging From The Books; Legends of Tomorrow; Tron; Community; Orphan Black; Twin Peaks; Jon Hamm; Netflix; Serial

Outlander Season 1 Finale

Outlander ended the first season like ending a book, moving on to new things but without a television cliff hanger.  Note that even though it was divided, everything which aired so far is considered the first season, based upon the first book in the series. The episode concluded the arc with Jaime’s capture and rape by Jack. Jack even demanded that Jaime “Say my name!” I half expected Jaime to respond with “Heisenberg.” The topic of changing time did come up in the finale, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out as Outlander is a totally different type of time travel story compared to shows such as 12 Monkeys.

Ron Moore spoke with Deadline about the season finale of Outlander and the plans for next season. The comparison to the recent rape scene on Game of Thrones was also noted:

DEADLINE: The May 17 episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones featured a rape of the Sansa Stark character that erupted into controversy for a show already drenched in sex and violence. Airing so close to that, how do you think what happened there will impact reaction to the Outlander finale?

MOORE: Obviously we wrote the finale, shoot it, and put in the can a long time ago and the rape of Jamie by Jack Randall was always a part of this story. Suddenly I’m talking about our show and we’re stepping into a cultural moment where that Game of Thrones scene has suddenly grabbed everybody’s attention.

To be honest, I still haven’t even seen it. I’m behind in my Game of Thrones and I have yet to catch up on it so I keep sort of defying comparisons as a result. But I will say, it’s just one of those things you can’t control. You never know exactly what pop cultural moment a show is going to step into. Sometimes it happens and there’s nothing else around it, sometimes you’re sort of moving into the stream where something has caused a wake and that’s kind of where we are at this moment.

DEADLINE: While you haven’t seen the Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken episode of Game Of Thrones with the rape, having seen the sandstorm of a controversy it blew up into, did you think of toning down the finale?

MOORE: I’ve never even thought that for a second. This is our show. We stand by it. I stand by it. We made our decision. We’re ready to show it to the audience and we’ll see what happens, but no I never even thought about that…

DEADLINE: The season ended on what is basically the end of the first book in Diana Gabaldon’s series – is that going to be the strategy for each season going forward?

MOORE: The general plan is probably to try to do a book a season. Some of the books are bigger than others so we’ve definitely had conversations about, “well, you know, at some point we made need to split a book into two seasons,” but right now we’re not there yet so the plan is to do Dragonfly In Amber for Season 2.

DEADLINE: Are we going to see more changes from that book for Season 2 of the show?

MOORE: There will be twists and turns that aren’t in the book. The second book is more complex than the first book is. It’s a little tougher challenge to adapt it. It takes place in France and it deals with the Jacobite Rebellion. It’s much more political, it weaves in and out of actual historical events. There’s more complexity, just in terms of how Diana structured the story in Paris, in particular, as Jamie and Claire try to change history.

DEADLINE: What’s going to be different?

MOORE: It’s an urban setting and you’re dealing with aristocracy and the court of Louis XV so it’s a whole different thing. It’s not going to look anything like Season 1, so you’re really kind of prepping and shooting a whole new TV show into the second year. It has a lot of, you know, “oh my God, what can we do,” those kind of moments to it…

DEADLINE: You’ve worked on and led a number of shows, now that the first season is over on this one, how has Outlander been different for you from a creative standpoint?

MOORE: Well, it’s a very different experience, you know? Galactica was something where I took the old show and then decided to revamp it and reinvent it. But it was kind of something that I was making up in the writers room as we went along and I literally didn’t know where it was going season to season. It was a process of invention and discovery all the way along the road right up until the end. This project is different, it’s an adaptation so there is a roadmap – this is where we’re going. The challenges are very different. It’s the first time I’ve done an adaptation like this.

Just from a strictly producing standpoint, it’s been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. The story aspect and the writing aspect has just been a very different game from what I’ve done before. It’s trying to maintain the spirit of the book, it’s trying to keep these characters, trying to maintain this story and making changes along the way because you have to make changes along the way. It’s trying to get back to that, and hopefully you’re able to serve two masters, the fans of the books and those who’ve discovered the story through the show.

Outlander Finale Rape

More on next season at TVLINE:

TVLINE | Claire and Jamie are off to France for Season 2. Talk to me about how the show will look next season.
They’re going to Paris, and they’re going to be dealing with the French aristocracy. So you’re already in a completely different planet than where we were with Season 1. Scotland is about heavy stone, rough wood, dark tabletops, smoke and candlelit rooms, and now you’re in world of gilt, fine China, glassware and costumes that are made of silks and bright colors.

It’s going to be a whole different tone, a whole different…playing the story as much more political. We’re dealing with the Jacobite Rebellion. It’s much more about deception, and lies within lies, and the gossips and the surroundings of Paris. And dinner parties, and going to the court of Louis the XV — and if you know those books, there’s St. Germain, and there’s Master Raymond, and there’s more of an occult feeling to a lot of that stuff. [Plus], she’s pregnant, and he’s got the aftermath of Jack Randall.

In probably every which way you can think of, it’s going to be different than Season 1 was, which I think is one of the strengths of the series overall: its continuing evolution.

TVLINE | What can you tell me about how Jamie and Claire will navigate that world?
In a lot of ways, [Parisian society] is more familiar to him in certain ways than you would anticipate, because he is a laird in his own life, and he has lived in France, and he speaks the French language. It is a somewhat familiar culture to him. He does know his cousin, Jared, who runs a wine business, and he’s been to this place. Claire also speaks French, and she’s adapting in a different way, but she still struggles with the roles woman in these times, even in French society.

TVLINE | Do Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan speak French?
Caitriona definitely does, because she spent quite a bit of time in Paris, and Sam is learning French. I just heard him at the table read the other day, and I was pretty surprised. He did quite well.

TVLINE | Can you speak to whether Season 2 won’t be quite as true to the structure of the novel Dragonfly in Amber as Season 1 was to its source material?
It’s just a complicated process of adaptation… The Paris section [of Dragonfly in Amber], the plot is not as clean and simple as the plot was in Book 1. Book 1, for a big chunk of it, is Claire going back in time and trying to get home, and then she’s trying to find Jamie, and those are very clean narratives.

The Paris section of Book 2 is just more complex. It’s about many more ideas, other characters coming and going. They’re involved in something that’s more complex Diana [Gabaldon] shifted points of view, herself, in Book 2. So that alone just makes it a more complicated task to make the adaptation. So, yeah, we’re still struggling with the same things, with trying to be as true to the book as we possibly can while making it a television series. We always just try to do our best.

Game of Thrones Sparrows

Last week’s episode of Games of Thrones had a couple of major events, including Cersei finding that a religious movement now has more power than she does. George R.R. Martin discussed his inspiration for The Sparrows in The Game of Thrones with Entertainment Weekly:

“The Sparrows are my version of the medieval Catholic Church, with its own fantasy twist,” Martin told EW. “If you look at the history of the church in the Middle Ages, you had periods where you had very worldly and corrupt popes and bishops. People who were not spiritual, but were politicians. They were playing their own version of the game of thrones, and they were in bed with the kings and the lords. But you also had periods of religious revival or reform—the greatest of them being the Protestant Reformation, which led to the splitting of the church—where there were two or three rival popes each denouncing the other as legitimate. That’s what you’re seeing here in Westeros. The two previous High Septons we’ve seen, the first was very corrupt in his own way, and he was torn apart by the mob during the food riots [in season 2]. The one Tyrion appoints in his stead is less corrupt but is ineffectual and doesn’t make any waves. Cersei distrusts him because Tyrion appointed him. So now she has to deal with a militant and aggressive Protestant Reformation, if you will, that’s determined to resurrect a faith that was destroyed centuries ago by the Targaryens.”

And there are other, more direct influences as well between Catholic Church and the Faith of the Seven as well, Martin pointed out. “Instead of the Trinity of the Catholic Church, you have the Seven, where there is one god with seven aspects. In Catholicism, you have three aspects—the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. I remember as a kid, I was always confused by that. ‘So there are three gods?’ No, one god, but with three aspects. I was still confused: ‘So he’s his own father and own son?’”

Game of Thrones has diverged from the books this season. The show runners discussed one of the changes seen in last week’s episode  which I think makes a lot of sense to move the story along–moving up the meeting between Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen:

Showrunner David Benioff said pairing these two characters—played by Emmy winner Peter Dinklage and Emmy nominee Emilia Clarke—was one of the twists the producers most eagerly anticipated this season. “We’re really excited to see these two characters we love so much finally set eyes on each other,” Benioff said. “Creatively it made sense to us, because we wanted it to happen. They’re two of the best characters of the show. To have them come so close together this season then have them not meet felt incredibly frustrating. Also, we’re on a relatively fast pace. We don’t want to do a 10-year adaptation of the books, we don’t want to do a nine-year adaptation. We’re not going to spend four seasons in Meereen. It’s time for these two to get together. It’s hard to come up with a more eloquent explanation, but this just felt right. [Varys] puts Tyrion’s mission out there [in the season premiere] and the mission ends in Meereen.”

Tyrion and Daenerys have not yet met in George R.R. Martin’s novels upon which the series is based. But as is increasingly the case on the show, the producers opted to progress the story beyond the characters’ stopping point in Martin’s most recent book, A Dance with Dragons, in order to maintain an intense TV-friendly pace. Benioff and his fellow showrunner Dan Weiss have previously pointed out they prefer to cap the series around seven seasons.

“There will always be some fans who will think it’s blasphemy,” Benioff noted. “But we can’t not do something because we’re afraid of the reaction. I like to think we’ve always done what’s in the best interest of the show and we hope most people agree.”

The first real conversation between Daenerys and Tyrion, which occurs on tonight’s episode, should be interesting.

Game of Thrones The Gift

Both Ron Moore and George R.R. Martin have dealt with questions of the television works they are involved with differing from the books. Martin recently addressed fans who have been upset with events on the television show which differ from the books, such as the rape of Sansa, on his blog:

How many children did Scarlett O’Hara have? Three, in the novel. One, in the movie. None, in real life: she was a fictional character, she never existed. The show is the show, the books are the books; two different tellings of the same story.

There have been differences between the novels and the television show since the first episode of season one. And for just as long, I have been talking about the butterfly effect. Small changes lead to larger changes lead to huge changes. HBO is more than forty hours into the impossible and demanding task of adapting my lengthy (extremely) and complex (exceedingly) novels, with their layers of plots and subplots, their twists and contradictions and unreliable narrators, viewpoint shifts and ambiguities, and a cast of characters in the hundreds.

There has seldom been any TV series as faithful to its source material, by and large (if you doubt that, talk to the Harry Dresden fans, or readers of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, or the fans of the original WALKING DEAD comic books)… but the longer the show goes on, the bigger the butterflies become. And now we have reached the point where the beat of butterfly wings is stirring up storms, like the one presently engulfing my email.

Prose and television have different strengths, different weaknesses, different requirements.

David and Dan and Bryan and HBO are trying to make the best television series that they can.

And over here I am trying to write the best novels that I can.

And yes, more and more, they differ. Two roads diverging in the dark of the woods, I suppose… but all of us are still intending that at the end we will arrive at the same place.S

The video above has interviews with the cast of Legends of Tomorrow, and the first few seconds shows them in uniform. This includes Caity Lotz returning as The White Canary, and a scene showing The Atom shrinking.

Disney has announced they have discontinued plans for Tron 3. While some fans are complaining, I don’t mind. I see the Tron series as something out of the past which which we have moved beyond and no longer need–like another Clinton or Bush running for president. Besides, with Disney owning the movie rights to Marvel and Star Wars they have much better genre properties to develop into movies, such as we have much better politicians to consider for the presidency.

The Community sixth season finale will be on Yahoo this upcoming week. Yvette Nicole Brown will return to reprise her role as Shirley. Then is is six seasons and a movie?

Orphan Black Mexico

Orphan Black did not advance the overall story very much this week. We don’t even know if anyone survived Paul’s grenade, but it was confirmed that the military installation was in Mexico. The highlight was another case of one clone impersonating another, in this case Cosima as Alison. Next it is the time for the suburban drug deals to play host family for Helena.

Showtime has doubled the length of the planned Twin Peaks reboot from nine to eighteen episodes.

Jon Hamm should walk away with the Emmy this year for his work on Mad Men.  Hamm has also showed other acting talent doing comedy work such  as on 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Next he has a more dramatic movie role, string in a political thriller, High Wire Act. From The Hollywood Reporter:

Jon Hamm has signed on to star in the Tony Gilroy-penned political action-thriller High Wire Act. Brad Anderson is directing the film for Radar Pictures.

Set in 1980s Beirut, Hamm plays a former U.S. diplomat who is called back into service to save a former colleague from the group possibly responsible for his own family’s death.

Netflix has renewed another show well worth watching, Grace and Frankie, for a second season. Netflix, incidentally, accounted for 37 percent of internet bandwidth during peak hours in North America in March. According to  Variety, “YouTube accounted for 15.6% of downstream Internet traffic, web browsing was 6%, Facebook was 2.7%, Amazon Instant Video was 2.0% and Hulu was 1.9%.”

In addition to increased viewing of television from streaming sources. podcasts are becoming more popular, with Serial one of the biggest. It has been announced that Serial will have at least three seasons, with the second season coming this fall.

Halt and Catch Fire starts its second season on AMC tonight. Reviewers are saying it has fixed many of its first season problems and the second season sounds worth watching.

SciFi Weekend: Mad Men Ends In Perfect Harmony; The Flash Season Finale; Orphan Black; David Letterman’s Final Show; Gilmore Girls Reunion; Community’s Homage To The Captain America Elevator Scene; John Nash

Mad Men Don Meditating

 Mad Men really did end somewhat like I discussed last week–Don Draper on the California coast, analogous to the season finale of Arrow with Oliver and Felicity driving up the coast.  Don even traveled with a woman from Arrow–Caity Lotz, the Black Canary. In this case she played Stephanie, Anna Draper’s niece. The choice was probably because of Stephanie knowing Don as Dick Whitman. Spending the episode being called Dick culminated the trend of the last few episodes with Don symbolically as the falling man in the opening titles. By this time Don had given up virtually everything involved with this identity. During the finale he was rejected by his family, who thought that others should raise his sons after Betty dies, and hit rock bottom after talking with Peggy.

In the end Mad Men might be called an eight-year anti-smoking public service announcement and coke ad. Don was moved when he heard Leonard speak. While not as bad off, Leonard’s talk of being the person nobody wanted to take out of the refrigerator resonated with Don. In the final scene Don was meditating on a cliff and came up with the idea for the classic coke ad, which even included two girls who looked  like the receptionist at the retreat. Up until this point I had one complaint about how the series appeared to be ending. The first half of the final season was all about Don losing his position in advertising  and then moving back to the top. It seemed strange to then have Don walk out on it all, even if not comfortable with how the larger company does business, along with being wrong about the future of light beer.

Don’s return to advertising was foreshadowed, as was Betty’s development of cigarette cancer. The promos showed a previous scene of Roger shrugging off Don’s disappearance by saying simply that, “He does that.” Stan reassured Peggy by pointing out that “He always does this, and he always comes back.” Peggy told Don that he could return and that McCann Erickson would take him back. She even asked, “Don’t you want to work on Coke?”  Don was asked to fix a coke machine in another recent episode. The coke ad also was the culmination of Don’s difficulties over the years understanding hippy subculture. He may or may not really get it at the end, but he understood enough of the philosophy to develop the message of the ad. It clicked with him while meditating. While the message of a coke ad might on one level be somewhat superficial, this was a series which revolved around the advertising industry after all.

While Matthew Weiner has given support to the interpretation that the ending does mean Don returned to do the coke ad, while watching the show it does appear valid to come to other conclusions, such as that Don reached a spiritual awakening which was analogous to the message of the ad, giving him the strength to do other things, as opposed to actually writing the ad. If the show is seen as ending with an open ended question as to whether Don did create the ad, then in some ways the ending could be even more ambiguous than the ending of The Sopranos. With The Sopranos, Tony Soprano was either killed in the diner or lived to continue as he had previously lived. If Don did not create the coke ad, then things were left wide open. He could have returned to advertising, possibly return to raise his children, take a new job elsewhere, or just remain on the road for an indefinite period of time.

Mad Men ended with a happy ending for almost everybody. Pete Campbell wound up far better than expected after he realized he did not have to be a philanderer like his father, and convinced his wife to return to him. (Perhaps they have a daughter who grows up to attend Greendale Community College who looks just like her mother). Joan, who was never the type to live off someone’s money to use cocaine in the Florida Keys, returned to work. Her company may or may not succeed, but if Mad Men were to continue we know that Joan would be working somewhere regardless of how long it were to run. While providing an ending, the show also left things open for the characters to move on in other ways in the future. Joan’s business may or may not succeed, and things may or may not work out for Roger and Marie in long term.

Two characters who might have the most interesting futures should we see them on a sequel such as Better Call Sally are Sally and Peggy. Sally’s future is most in question due to her age. Short term she will help care for her younger brothers while her mother is dying, but we know she will accomplish more long term. A couple of scenarios were already outlined by others for Peggy. She might succeed in becoming Creative Director by 1980, or she might take the route suggested by the head hunter in a previous episode and move on to a great job in a few years after having McCann Erickson on her resume.

In a way even Betty wound up with a good ending for her character. After being disliked by many viewers over the years, she became far more sympathetic after we learned on Mother’s Day that she is dying of  lung cancer. She is also dying on her own terms, rejecting treatment which in 1970 was probably of little value.

The final moments of Mad Men, which includes where the key characters were at the time, can be seen in the video above, which concludes with the classic coke commercial after Don smiled and a bell went off in his head.

Matthew Weiner discussed the finale at the New York Public Library a few days after it aired. Here are some excerpts from a report on the event from The Hollywood Reporter:

Yes, Don Draper created the Coke ad. The last scenes of the series features Don hugging a stranger at a retreat and meditating with hippies before the episode cuts to the 1971 Coca-Cola “Hilltop” commercial. Viewers can infer that Don returns to McCann-Erickson and creates that ad. “I have never been clear, and I have always been able to live with ambiguities,” said Weiner. “In the abstract, I did think, why not end this show with the greatest commercial ever made? In terms of what it means to people and everything, I am not ambiguity for ambiguity’s sake. But it was nice to have your cake and eat it too, in terms of what is advertising, who is Don and what is that thing?”

That commercial shouldn’t be read cynically. “I did hear rumblings of people talking about the ad being corny. It’s a little bit disturbing to me, that cynicism. I’m not saying advertising’s not corny, but I’m saying that the people who find that ad corny, they’re probably experiencing a lot of life that way, and they’re missing out on something. Five years before that, black people and white people couldn’t even be in an ad together! And the idea that someone in an enlightened state might have created something that’s very pure — yeah, there’s soda in there with a good feeling, but that ad to me is the best ad ever made, and it comes from a very good place. … That ad in particular is so much of its time, so beautiful and, I don’t think, as — I don’t know what the word is — villainous as the snark of today.”

Leonard was “probably the most important role in the series.” The post-war period in which the beginning of the show is set, “the word ‘depressed’ was not part of the vocabulary except for doctors, and men certainly didn’t express their feelings other than in bar fights,” Weiner explained. In casting Evan Arnold, “I needed someone who’s not famous and can cry, and really do it. … We believe it right away that he’s invisible.” He played the role of the everyman, “even if they’re not veterans, the alienation that was created by success, political racial tension, the technology — which is, I think, what’s happening right now — the isolation, these guys, they’re gonna crack. … I don’t think there’s enough empathy right now in the world.”

That hug between Don and Leonard had two meanings. “I hope the audience would feel either that he was embracing a part of himself, or maybe them, and that they were heard. I don’t want to put it into words more than that. … I liked the idea where he’d come to this place, and it’d be about other people and a moment of recognition. I don’t think I can put it into words, but I knew.”

Don’s road trip was inspired by The Fugitive. “I thought, ‘I want to see Don on his own. I want to do an episode of The Fugitive where Don comes into town and can be anyone,'” Weiner said, pointing to the ’60s series. “That netherworld of being on the run — I don’t know about you, but I think everyone has dreams of committing a crime and being on the run. Am I the only one? I think it’s very common. You’re lying!” he told the audience with a smile.

In the history of television, Mad Men is the real thing.

The_Flash_S01_finale_TVGM-1431462169

The season finale of The Flash left many things open due to the effects of time travel. Barry went back in time with the intent to save his mother but was quickly waived off by his future self, and he decided not to change the events which led to him becoming the Flash. I was disappointed by this aspect of the episode as presumably Barry gave a lot of thought to this decision. Considering the risks which he had accepted, I would think it would have taken more to convince him to change his mind. Regardless, he decided against changing history at this time, but after he returned history was changed by another event. Eddy shot himself, making his descendant, appear to cease to exist. (It is a shame that Eddy hadn’t previously thought to get a vasectomy instead.)

As far as we could see, after Eddy shot himself and Thawne faded away everything seemed the same, other than for the time travel having caused the development of  a singularity which threatens to destroy the planet. The annual threats to Starling City which culminate every season of Arrow now seem so trivial. Theoretically once Thawne disappeared everything should have been different and the group wouldn’t have been together at Star Labs, but this timey whimy stuff can be unpredictable. We did see a brief image of an alternate Earth Flash helmet from the DC comics and Kaitlin as Killer Frost. Both or neither might ever be seen in the timeline of the television show. There was also an homage to Douglas Adams with Cisco saying, “So long, and thanks for all the fish.” Plus his memories of the alternate timeline were explained as being a power he gained when the particle accelerator exploded, possibly foreshadowing him turning into the Vibe as in the comics.

One consequence of this could be that the real Harrison Wells is still alive, never having been killed and having his body snatched by Thawne. Plus should the Reverse Flash return (and does anyone really doubt this will happen) instead of Wells under the mask it might be the face we say before he disappeared.

The Flash Jay Helmet

Andrew Kreisberg discussed the season finale with The Hollywood Reporter:

When did you know Eddie would make this sacrifice?

When we decided to name him Thawne, we hoped the audience would suspect Eddie was the Reverse-Flash because of his last name. We always knew Eddie would be his ancestor, but we weren’t quite sure how we would end the season. The way things were moving forward, it felt like it was the best thing to do for his character. Like with Colin Donnell [whose character Tommy died in Arrow‘s season one finale], it was literally the worst thing we could do to ourselves as writers, producers and friends, because we all love Rick so much both personally and professionally, and we think he’s crushed it as Eddie all season. We’ve all become very close. It’s one of those terrible things. The story sort of tells you what it wants to be and as much as it broke our hearts, we knew this was the way the season needed to end…

Will Eddie be back?

The great thing with our show — you saw it with Colin Donnell and with Caity Lotz [whose deceased Sara is returning for spinoff Legends of Tomorrow] — is just because you are dead doesn’t mean you’re not coming back. Especially in the world of The Flash, which involves time travel and real hardcore science fiction, there’s always a way for Eddie to return, and we hope Rick will.

How does Eddie’s sacrifice work? Eobard disappears — but everything he did up until the finale still happened?

Our time travel hopefully holds together as much as it can. It doesn’t completely obliterate all of their memories of Eddie and everything, but it has the desired effect of “harm to Eddie means harm to Tom Cavanagh’s character.”

How did you lay the groundwork for Eddie to make this choice?

Eddie has been struggling these last few weeks, hearing about the future and about how there is no place for him in the future. He wasn’t going to believe in Wells’ interpretation of the future. He was going to make his own decision and he basically decided to recommit to Iris, which only makes his sacrifice that much more heartbreaking. He didn’t do it because he didn’t have anything to live for. He did it because he had everything to live for.

What does this mean for Tom Cavanagh’s future on the show?

Tom Cavanagh will be back. That is not in question. Tom Cavanagh will continue to be a regular…

You’ve said season two will introduce more Speedsters. Is that going to be a major theme akin to the Rogues in this season?

Yeah. We are going to introduce a few more speedsters next year and a bunch more villains. How they and those villains come about is part of the surprise of season two. We’re really excited. [Executive producer] Greg [Berlanti] and myself and [executive producer] Geoff Johns and the writers, the cast, the crew, the directors — we are so proud of this season of television. It really is a high mark for all of us, and we feel a great deal of pressure and anxiety to live up to it because it’s been so well received. As proud as excited as we are about everything we’ve done this year, we really are just as proud and excited for all the things we are planning coming up. Hopefully people will continue to take this ride with us.

Alison (TATIANA MASLANY) and Donnie (KRISTIAN BRUUN)

This week’s episode of Orphan Black, Certain Agony Of The Battlefield, gave viewers the pay off for the set up of the previous couple of episodes which had many slow moments. This included two deaths, Paul and Pupok the Scorpion. Paul’s death was foreshadowed in television logic by the manner in which the episode returned to his role in the first season, along with the dream sequence which brought Sarah face to face with Beth. After having ambiguous motives for much of the series, Paul was shown as the good guy. If that wasn’t enough to foreshadow his death, the clincher was his admission to Sarah that, “It was never Beth I loved.”

In other key developments, Helena returned to help Sarah, after eating the scorpion. Rachel has the key to decoding Duncan’s code in the margins of The Island of Dr. Moreau (poroviding references to H.G. Wells in two of the shows I am reviewing this week). Allison and Donnie have gone Breaking Bad-lite, with their daughter walking in on their bedroom celebration in a scene reminiscent of Paige walking in on Elizabeth and Phillip in the 69 position on The Americans (picture here). There will be a longer version of the sequence on the DVD.

John Fawcett discussed the episode with The Hollywood Reporter:

  1. The loss of Paul is one of the more significant character deaths the show has done. What made the timing right now, and is there anything you’d like to tell fans about making that decision?That’s what drama’s about — having characters that can sacrifice themselves, and open new doors, and throw themselves on bombs, and reveal themselves emotionally, and elicit big reactions from people. That’s what makes great storytelling, and what Graeme and I have strived to do. Also, [to] keep people off-guard, and never certain. I don’t like people getting too comfortable. We like that people tune in to our show, and they don’t know what they’re going to get. They don’t know where we’re going to take them. That’s part of the fun of the show, and something we can continue to do. Because I really do think people get all tense and excited about watching the show, and what’s going to happen. This is an element of the way we tell stories on Orphan Black. … Was it necessary we kill a character? I don’t know. But what it does is it’s such a big emotional explosion for Sarah, and it sends her on a different course. This teamed with the fact that she’s had this strange vision of Beth, this is pushing her towards the end of the season. It means big things to help push her towards the drama of the finale.Up until now, viewers were left to draw their own conclusions about Paul’s feelings for Beth and Sarah. What discussions were there about him saying, pre-death, so concretely that he didn’t love Beth, but he did love Sarah?We talked about so many different aspects of that. I was always a little worried about introducing a dream sequence into the show. But it kind of worked so well with Paul, and Paul’s departure from the show, and [resolving] the thread we left kind of hanging a little bit. Does Paul actually have feelings for Sarah? Does Sarah actually have feelings for Paul? It was nice to hear him voice it. It was just one of those big epic lines, where you get some clarity before he dies.Paul sacrificed himself with the intention of taking down as much of Castor as possible. How successful was he in destroying the samples, etc.?

    The point of it was to corral all of the Castor [operatives], all of the DNA, all of their research into one room and blow the f—ing shit out of it. So that was his point. Beyond that, you have to see the remainder of the season.

Sarah (TATIANA MASLANY) and Paul (DYLAN BRUCE)

More in that interview, as well as in an interview at TV Line:

TVLINE | Is Paul definitely dead?
I don’t know, man… [Laughs] He blew himself up. I think that’s cool. I like the fact that Paul is a character that we have not really been able to trust. We never knew where we stood with him. Was he a good guy? Was he a bad guy? Why is he doing the things he’s doing? And we’ve come through the last bunch of episodes to realize why he’s making the decisions he’s making. And, at the end of the day, he makes the right choice and heroically throws himself on the bomb. Literally. It was the way we wanted to see that character depart.

TVLINE | This is the first series regular character to be killed off. What was it like deciding to say goodbye to Paul and Dylan?
[This] was our plan from the beginning [of] plotting out Season 3. We knew. Dylan knew. It was a bit sad on set, though, I have to say. It was a little sad to see him go. [There were] a lot of feels on set, if you know what I mean.

TVLINE | Should we be questioning whether Dr. Cody and Rudy were actually taken out by that grenade? ‘Cause we didn’t see any bodies…
[Laughs] Yeah, you should question everything, of course.

TVLINE | Now more than ever, Sarah has so much information about herself and her sisters. What does that mean for her going forward? I felt like Beth, in a way, was telling her to step back. But does knowing all this just make her want to look for answers even more?
Absolutely. It’s more important than ever that Sarah gets to the bottom of this — and not just for herself and for the safety of her immediate family. The driving force with Sarah is that she’s really had to step up and become the leader. She’s gone from being a teenage-runaway-reluctant mother, to having to be not just a responsible mother, but a leader. The one who is keeping the sisters together, and the driving force behind trying to find a cure for Cosima.

TVLINE | There was another death in this episode. Have we seen the last of Pupok the Scorpion?
I can’t say that. Listen, Pupok’s not really real. Pupok’s a spirit animal. Can you really kill a spirit animal? I don’t know.

This has been a big year for saying good-by. Not only was it the end for the world of Mad Men, it was the end for Pawnee, the Bravermans, and last week was the final show of Late Night With David Letterman. I’m not giving up hope of seeing Dave on television again–I remain hopeful that he will still get The Tonight Show.  He probably will not be hosting the Oscars, but now he does have more free time to hang out with Oprah, and maybe Uma. So far since the finale I have been watching some of the great interviews and Top Ten lists he did in his last month on You Tube. Terry Gross had an excellent interview with his producer Rob Burnett on Fresh Air. You can read highlights or listen to the interview here. I heard it on a downloaded podcast which had an extra not present on the show–an interview with David Letterman from 1981. Among the highlights was Letterman talking about the great comedians of the time as well as new comedians who showed promise, including Jay Leno. David Letterman’s last sign off is in the video above, followed by highlights of the show which were aired as the Foo Fighters performed Everlong after David Letterman said good night for the last time on a television program.

While we will not see Pawnee, the Barvermans, the various manifestations of Sterling Cooper, or David Letterman, Scott Patterson has hinted that we might be able to return to another place which is missed–Stars Hollow. A Girlmore Girl reunion remains possible.

Community featured an homage to the elevator scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Both scenes above.

A Beautiful Mind

There was one unexpected additional farewell this week. John Nash, whose life inspired the movie, A Beautiful Mind, along with his wife were killed in a traffic accident. The New York Times reports:

John F. Nash Jr., a mathematician who shared a Nobel Prize in 1994 for work that greatly extended the reach and power of modern economic theory and whose decades-long descent into severe mental illness and eventual recovery were the subject of a book and a 2001 film, both titled “A Beautiful Mind,” was killed, along with his wife, in a car crash on Saturday in New Jersey. He was 86.

Dr. Nash and his wife, Alicia, 82, were in a taxi on the New Jersey Turnpike in Monroe Township around 4:30 p.m. when the driver lost control while trying to pass another car and hit a guard rail and another vehicle, said Sgt. Gregory Williams of the New Jersey State Police.

Jennifer Connelly as Alicia Nash and Russell Crowe as John Nash are in the picture above from the movie.