Fans of Community are familiar with the concept of the darkest timeline. While nobody has clinched the nomination and there is still time for unexpected events to change the trajectory after Super Tuesday, the most likely outcome of the nomination battles is that we will have a habitual liar and warmonger running for president, and the other candidate will be Donald Trump. The two worst candidates imaginable. We might now be living in the darkest timeline.
Again, nothing is final. Super Tuesday was set up to benefit moderate Democratic candidates who would appeal to the southern states, with party rules set up to hinder liberal nominees even before the games played this election year. Clinton did very well in states she probably has no chance to win in a general election, but it was also disappointing to see both Clinton and Trump win in Massachusetts.
Clinton has more than enough baggage to normally derail any politician but, like Donald Trump, her supporters don’t seem to care what she has done. There is also a remote chance that the Republican race will turn into a two way battle with the survivor being to win enough winner take all states to overcome Trump’s advantage.
One hopeful sign is the amount of donations Sanders has been receiving, receiving over forty million dollars in February alone. Generally, when a candidate loses primaries, they are forced from the race as their money dries up. Sanders has the resources and will be continuing to take on Clinton.
If it is a general election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, one question will be how the nomination process led to the two candidates with the highest negatives for a general election winning each party’s nomination. While the outcome is analogous, the process was completely different. Clinton has benefited from being the establishment candidate in a battle rigged in her favor, without regard to the consequences. Trump has defied the Republican leadership, which has so far been powerless to get in the way of voters rejecting the establishment.
In other words, the Democratic race has been totally undemocratic, while the Republicans have had a much fairer process. As David Atkins wrote about the Democratic process at Washington Monthly, “The Democratic Party should be true to its name and trust in democracy.”Republican voters have been right in rejecting the establishment, but unfortunately the wrong person has benefited from this.
An election between Clinton versus Trump will very likely break modern records for dishonesty and smears. With each candidate being so disliked on a national level, each will probably try to win by making voters hate the other even more.
We might see a breakdown in the red/blue state divide which has dominated recent elections. It is not unimaginable to see Donald Trump taking New York and the blue portions of the midwest in a battle with Clinton, who already is having problems in the traditional battleground states. On the other hand, Democrats might be lucky if Trump is the nominee as Clinton would have a much harder time beating Cruz or Rubio. The latest CNN poll , along with multiple other recent polls, agrees with this, showing both Sanders and Clinton beating Trump, with Sanders winning by a larger margin, but only Sanders being able to beat Rubio and Cruz.
The real reason that this is the darkest timeline is not the general election, but who we will have to live with as president for at least four years. A Clinton victory means a return to the neoconservative foreign policy view which has resulted in disaster. She will keep us on a path of perpetual warfare and strengthening of the surveillance state. She even received a major neocon endorsement last week. While Donald Trump is less hawkish on paper, I could still see him as being at considerable risk of blundering us into more wars. Both show little regard for First Amendments rights.
We would have a Democratic nominee who has proposed legislation making it a crime to burn flags in protest and a Republican nominee who has proposed limiting entry to the country based upon their religion. Neither is tolerable. I imagine that in the case of Trump we are dealing with what might be campaign hyperbole, versus an actual record on Clinton’s part of proposing restrictions on civil liberties and pushing for greater military intervention, but it is risky to trust that Trump will be more rational if in office. Just like it is risky to believe it when Clinton takes more progressive positions, on limited and selective issues. At least Trump has exposed the problems of big money in politics–not that I would count on him really reforming a system he has benefited from. It is no wonder that I am seeing so much talk about voting for the Green Party recently.
There has been a reduced television schedule so far this year, (giving me time to watch the second seasons of Catastrophe, Mozart In the Jungle, and Tranparent), but many shows are starting or coming back soon. Blastr has a list of nine science fiction shows premiering in January. I have already discussed Legends of Tomorrow and the revival of X-Files several times in the past. The trailer for Legends of Tomorrow,which premieres on CW on Januray 21 is above. ScreenRant discussed Sara Lance’s mental state on the new series with Caity Lotz.
As for the three shows I mentioned watching above, Catastrophe‘s second season was broadcast in the U.K. on Channel 4 late last year but is not availably yet on Amazon, while the second seasons of the other two shows recently became available. The first season of Catastrophe, which I ranked as the best new comedy of 2015, is available on Amazon.
Getting back to the science fiction shows premiering this month, I have heard some favorable buzz for The Shannara Chronicles which began on January 5 on MTV. Nerdist interviewed the executive producer, Miles Millar. Other shows on the list which have received the most interest so far have been The Magicians (with Syfy streaming the pilot early) and Colony (with initial reviews being better for the first). Initial buzz has been negative for Second Chance, and there are questions as to whether Lucifer can make it on a major network.
There will be many additional genre shows premiering later in the year, along with the return of other shows. What Culture has a list of original shows appearing on Netflix this year, including Daredevil, which returns on March 18 (trailer above).
Sherlock returned for a single episode,The Abominable Bride, on New Year’s day. Those of us expecting a self-contained story in Victorian times were surprised by what was actually done with the episode and how it actually played into last season’s cliffhanger.
ABC has ordered a pilot for the Agents of SHIELD spinoff, Marvel’s Most Wanted. The series will center on Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki) and Lance Hunter (Nick Blood).
Among the shows I’m most interested in seeing, 11.22.63 premiers on Hulu on February 15, with new episodes being released weekly as opposed to all episodes being released at the same time as on Netflix and Amazon. (Trailer above.) There will be some changes from the Stephen King novel. More here and here, plus J.J. Abrams also addressed the controversy over the female lead in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (reviewed here) being left out of the Star Wars themed Monopoly game.
In my review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens I noted how the novelization has filled in some plot holes. Mashable has more from the novelization. In addition, the script has been released which also provides further explanation of some plot points.
J.J. Abrams also says that Person of Interest will probably end after this season, which is no surprise considering how it is receiving a reduced thirteen episode run and has not made the schedule for this season yet. As long as it ends well this season, that is fine with me. The show gradually changed over time from primarily a procedural show to a true science fiction show, and it is better to have it end well as a great genre show as opposed to continuing indefinitely as a typical CBS procedural.
Like Person of Interest reinvented itself this year, Blacklist has also been considerably different from how it began. It was also off to an excellent start in this week’s episode. Unfortunately I don’t know how much longer they can continue this storyline for.
The trailer above shows how the second season of Outlander will be much different from the first when it returns in April.
Besides all the speculation as to the fate of Felicity, there have been rumors that Stephen Amell would leave Arrow, presumably ending the series, in the next year or two. Amell responded by saying his contract runs through 2019 (which doesn’t guarantee that CW will continue the show that long).
Laura Dern has been added to the cast of Showtime’s revival of Twin Peaks. While her role has not been announced, there have been rumors that she might play Special Agent Dale Cooper’s previously unseen secretary, Diane. The cast also includes Kyle MacLachlan, Sheryl Lee, Sherilyn Fenn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Robert Knepper, Balthazar Getty and Amanda Seyfried. The first three were from the original cast.
Class, the Doctor Who spinoff from BBC Three taking place at Coal Hill School, will also be available on BBC America sometime in 2016, but no date has been set yet.
Doctor Who has made the short list for the National Television Awards in the Drama category. It is up against Downton Abbey, Broadchurch, and a show I am not familiar with named Casualty. Humans is among the nominees for New Drama. Downton Abbey has completed its run in the U.K. (doing a good job of concluding the series) and has resumed in the United States.
BBC America is also working on a new television adaptation of Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently series.
There is now hope that Parenthood will return in some form, with Jason Katims being inspired by the movie Boyhood to return to the lives of the major characters over time. (Review of the finale here). It is interesting that two of the shows which might return in such a manner both star Lauren Graham, with a revival of Gilmore Girls now being filmed. Katims made it sound unlikely that the rumored follow up of his other show, Friday Night Lights, will return.
Yahoo Screen has been discontinued, making it even less likely that Community will ever return.
Update: News came in overnight that David Bowie died of cancer. The New York Times reports:
David Bowie, the infinitely changeable, fiercely forward-looking songwriter who taught generations of musicians about the power of drama, images and personas, died on Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday.
Mr. Bowie’s death was confirmed by his publicist, Steve Martin, on Monday morning.
He died after having cancer for 18 months, according to a statement on Mr. Bowie’s social-media accounts.
“David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family,” a post on his Facebook page read.
His last album, “Blackstar,” a collaboration with a jazz quartet that was typically enigmatic and exploratory, was released on Friday — his birthday. He was to be honored with a concert at Carnegie Hall on March 31 featuring the Roots, Cyndi Lauper and the Mountain Goats.
Following is a video of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, recorded by Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station in 2014:
Doctor Who returned with The Magician’s Apprentice. Does this mean that the Doctor is the Magician and Clara the Apprentice? This was a true Moffat episode, including both the strengths and weaknesses which that implies. The strengths include dealing with big issues, and a strong connection to the history of Doctor Who. The episode returns to the question raised in the classic 1975 episode, Genesis of the Daleks: “If someone who knew the future, pointed out a child to you, and told you that that child would grow up totally evil, be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives, could you then kill that child?”
The episode started with a child endangered by a war. The Doctor appeared to try to save him, with the advice, “Your chances of survival are about one in a thousand. So heres what you do, you forget about the thousand and concentrate on the one.” Then, before trying to save him, the Doctor asked his name. “Davros. My name is Davros.” Davros, the creator of the Daleks
From the start we saw another characteristic of a Moffat episode–many interesting ideas thrown in. Davros was threatened by the hand mines. When there was an effort later to get Clara’s attention, it was done by stopping planes in the air–a simple time trick from Missy, who is not dead as appeared last season: “Not dead. Back. Big surprise. Never mind.” This led to a quick scene with Clara at UNIT, meeting with Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, and then the actual meeting between Clara and Missy.
The season began somewhat similar to how last season did, with the Doctor not around. It also felt like a repeat of an old theme with the Doctor preparing for his death, with the added twist this time of the Doctor sending Missy his confession dial, the Last Will and Testament of the Doctor. He hosted a rock party and, without regard to how it might change human history, “I’ve also introduced the word ‘dude’ several centuries early.”
Missy’s role was never entirely clear, other than for the Moffat tendency to try to find a way to bring back favorite ideas from previous episodes. It did make little sense for the Doctor to walk into such an obvious trap. If he did not see it himself, he even had his frenemy Missy to warn him, noting “I know traps. Traps are my flirting.” She was a little upset to find that she was not the Doctor’s number one enemy:
The Doctor: “Now, explain. Politely. Davros is my archenemy. Why would I want to talk to him?”
Missy: “No, wait, hang on a minute. Davros is your archenemy now?”
The Doctor: “Hush.”
Missy: “Not as much as I am.”
But the Doctor did walk into the trap, and apparently saw the death of both Clara and Missy, along with the destruction of the TARDIS. Of course there was never any question as to whether it would really end this way. If Davros is killing the Doctor’s friends (or friend and favorite enemy) because of remembering how the Doctor did not save him, this leaves two options. He could return to save him, or could make sure Davros did not survive.
I suspect that there is more Moffat misdirection, but the episode ended with the impression that the Doctor did go back time to make certain that Davros died. Or maybe he exterminates the hand mines. In the final scene, the Doctor again appeared in the hand mine field. “I’m from the future.” He then said to young Davros, “I’m gonna save my friend the only way I can: Exterminate!”
We will have to wait until next week to see how this really turns out, with Moffat mixed in providing satisfactory conclusions to the set-ups in two-part stories. Two part stories area also reportedly to become the norm this season. There will be twelve episodes and then a Christmas episode which includes the return of River Song.
The return of Doctor Who was a major event. My favorite publicity picture is the one above with the Doctor and Clara along with two Daleks replacing The Beatles on Abbey Road. Steven Moffat discussed the entire season with Radio Times, possibly providing too many spoilers. Just like last year there were rumors that Jenna Coleman would be leaving the show, ultimately with confirmation that this will be her last season. There are also two Doctor Who Extra videos for this week’s episode which can be viewed here.
CBS made the pilot for Limitless available through there All Access service, and in this day and age that means a copy was quickly available all over the web. The pilot was enjoyable in setting up the series, essentially being an origin story for someone with superpowers. From here I fear that it might drift into a typical CBS procedural, with the setup for that type of storyline contained in the pilot. Maybe we will be pleasantly surprised, like with Person of Interest. While the pilot does appear to set up a procedural, it also left open questions about the drug which gave the protagonist his powers.
Originally reports also suggested that Supergirl would be more of a CBS procedural also, however watching its pilot (which leaked out weeks ago) it appears to be more similar to The Flash, with Supergirl having super-enemies who escaped from Krypton similar to the metahumans who provide conflict for Barry Allen. Pictures of the Red Tornado were also recently released, further suggesting that the show is headed in the direction of fighting super-powered foes.
Season two of Gotham will be a more serialized story, and it sounds from this interview like they might have fixed some of the problems with the first season.
The second episode of You’re The Worst, Crevasses, showed dilemmas including Jimmy and Gretchen having to make their own Bloody Mary’s when Edgar was out with Lindsay. Most important discovery of the episode: Jimmy’s kitchen has a Bloody Mary drawer.
Alison Brie of Community and Mad Men will be staring in Julian Fellowes’ first post-Downton Abbey show for ITV,a television adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s Doctor Thorne.
It is hard to believe that Continuum is half over, with three episodes having already aired on Showcase (two shown in the United States). I will avoid any spoilers for those who have only seen the first two episodes. It should be no spoiler to note that the questions I had after the first two remain after watching the third, even if the third did advance the storyline more than the first two episodes did. As is usual for Continuum, finding out a little more information often leads to even more questions.
The first episode included a scene which was later revealed to be a simulation created by Kiera’s CMR after she was knocked unconscious. Kiera felt as though she woke up in 2080 after spending three years in a medically-induced coma after the explosion which actually sent her back in time. Kiera saw her family, and afterwards had regained the desire to return home. (I suspect this came about here due to the need to condense the series and wrap it up this year–otherwise I suspect Kiera might not have regained this interest until later in the series). This raises a huge question after seeing how the future changed after Kellogg had taken control of Piron.
If the future has changed, how does Kiera think she can return home? While not explicitly stated, does this mean she intends first to correct the time line? Is she envisioning a means of returning to one of multiple possible time lines? It is also hard to believe she will just consider her job done when the Time Marines are running around in the present. There is also the question of what is their goal, and how this will affect the future. It is apparently only need to know for Brad, and we do not know if the soldiers returned from just after Brad left, from a time later on when things have changed, changing the mission, or if this is even the same exact timeline Brad came back from.
Kellogg should also have questions about the soldiers which his future self sent back. The Kellogg of the present would much rather live in luxury as a corporate CEO than become a future warlord. Everyone should wonder what Curtis is up to, as he might know more than anyone else, but appears to be playing each side off each other.
In other events of interest, Dillon is somehow still alive, and now working for Piron. We have seen since the start of this series that alliances change, and I would not write him off as one of the bad guys yet. Poor Emily has both been kidnapped, and after escaping being told she is not the mother of Alec’s son, leading her to pack up and leave. I’m not sure that it makes sense for her to expect to be Jason’s mother considering how the timeline has changed since Jason traveled back in time, and how in the original timeline she was killed. The whole point of Emily’s character is that she might keep Alec from turning out to be how we have seen his future self.
If you are watching the episodes as presented in the United States, you might feel that too little has happened so far, considering how close we are to the end of the series. The action does pick up in the third episode, but it certainly feels like there is far too much to fit into only three more episodes.
This week’s episode of Hannibal, Digestivo, involved a lesbian relationship between Margot and Alana, a pig-baby, and an escape from Muskrat Farms. We learned that Mason’s plan was to cut Will’s face off, place it onto his face, which had been destroyed, and then eat Hannibal piece by piece with Will’s face. His butcher/surgeon, Cordero, is at least as sadistic as Mason, and planned to both cut off Will’s face without anesthetic (but paralyzed) and keep Hannibal alive while he is eaten piece by piece. Mason’s best line of the episode, discussing another cannibalistic murder was, “you go to all that trouble to eat a friend, and you overcook his penis.” In telling this story, Mason did promise not to overcook Hannibal’s penis.
Alana and Margot, who became lovers, had major roles in this episode. Alana knew that Mason’s sadism would work to her advantage: “He’ll torture them and take the time to enjoy it: That gives us time.” Alana even warned Mason as to how this would all turn out: “Play with your food, Mason, and you give it the opportunity to bite back.”Alana and Margot set Hannibal free, while Chiyoh was nearby to shoot anyone pursuing them. Finally Chiyoh’s presence in the earlier episodes this season had a reason. Instead of getting Will’s face, Mason saw himself with Codero’s face lying on his own before he was killed in his eel tank. Hannibal gave up on his earlier desire to eat Will, possibly because of how intrigued he was when Will took a bite out of Cordero’s face. Regardless of motivation, Hannibal kept a to promise he made to Alana to take Will to safety, but was shocked when Will realized he was all through with Hannibal–so shocked that Hannibal surrendered.
Now there is going to be a three-year time jump, and on to the events of Red Dragon.
Caroline Dhavernas and Katharine Isabelle discussed their characters’ romance in the episode post-mortem video above.
Bryan Fuller discussed the episode with TV Guide, answering the big question I had as to why Hannibal surrendered, and discussed future plans:
This episode felt like a finale, and particularly brought back many of the emotions I had watching the Season 2 finale.
Bryan Fuller: This was the breakup that we had been driving toward. One of the benefits of having two distinct chapters in the season is you get two distinct climaxes. This one had to serve as a stopping place for the story before it can be launched again next week three years later. So, this is the breakup, and when we pick up in the second half of the season, it’s that awkward moment when you have to see your ex again.
Will’s motivation has always been hard to read. Should we believe him when he says he wants Hannibal out of his life?
Fuller: We come back to that moment in the final episode of the season and break it down between those two characters, and they address it themselves. Will is telling Hannibal, “I don’t need you anymore, I don’t want you anymore, I release you.” And Hannibal is saying, “No you don’t. You’re telling yourself that. You don’t want to know or think about where I am? I am going to give you the knowledge of exactly where I am and let that eat away at you for as long as it takes you to come back into my orbit, and I am patient enough to wait.”
Does Hannibal surrender to Jack out of spite towards Will or is he once again heartbroken? Does he no longer feel like playing this game without Will as a willing participant?
Fuller: Will realizes that he can’t win and Hannibal can’t win. So, the only option for him at that moment is to stop playing. That, for Hannibal, is a huge rejection. It’s an even stranger rejection than the betrayal of Season 2 because Will has gone into Hannibal’s past and understands him better than ever. Will has realized that this is not an evil man, this is just a monster doing what he has always been designed to do essentially. So, he can’t give him any more energy. For Will, a magic door presented itself that he could step through and leave Hannibal and all of this behind him. But what Hannibal knows is going to come around again on the cannibal carousel is that that Will can’t live without him…
As Will predicted/suggested, Alana played an active role in Mason’s demise. What kind of impact will that have on her moving forward?
Fuller: Once Alana made the devil’s bargain with Mason, it felt fated that she would play a role in bringing Mason down. In her mind, she always knew that she was going to stab him in the back one way or another. She put up with his ugliness inside and out for the purposes of capturing Hannibal, but she always intended to bring in the cavalry at the last moment. … We continue Alana’s shift into a less naïve, more hardened spirit in the Red Dragon arc. We see who she’s become three years later as a result of this pact and her relationship with Margot and this cabal against Mason. There’s a lot of bargains that were struck between various characters that, even though we’re picking up three years later, we still feel them resonating in the next arc of episodes.
And, of course, Hannibal reminded Alana that he always keeps his promises….
Fuller: Yes, and that’s something we carry through into the Red Dragon arc. Alana is fully aware that if Hannibal gets away in any way, shape or form, he is absolutely intending to kill her.
Is this the last we’ll see of Chiyoh this season?
Fuller: Yes. She told Hannibal that she was going to be his keeper. She was always going to be that angel in the bushes with the rifle making sure that no one further was killed by him. That’s the penance she’s willing to pay for 20 years of keeping a prisoner out of the interest of not taking a life. In essence, she’s saying to Hannibal, “I’m not going to cage you, but I’m going to serve as your jailer.” But as she’s watching the takedown of Hannibal, she realizes her job is done and she’s free, for the first time in her life, to go off and pursue her own life.
You mentioned that the next episode jumps ahead in time three years. How big of a reset should we expect?
Fuller: It feels huge. We’ve leapt forward in all these people’s lives. Everyone is stained in their own way from the experiences of the first two and a half seasons, and yet everyone has a sobriety and they go into this new chapter with eyes open. But even so, they’re in for some horrible, horrible surprises.
Will it feel different tonally than the first half of the season?
Fuller: It’s a slightly more grounded narrative than what we experienced in the first part of the season. So much of the first arc was all about the grieving process and also the trauma of what these people had experienced. I didn’t want to skip over what these characters were feeling, and that’s why so much of the first part of the season was contemplative and brooding and surreal. Everyone was in shock.
Red Dragonhas already been adapted into two different movies. How do you think your version will be different?
Fuller: The version of Red Dragon that we are telling is very faithful to the literature with the exception of the relationship we’ve been building over the last two and a half seasons. Will and Hannibal’s relationship in the previous adaptations was nowhere near as wet and dark and sticky as what we’ve come to learn of the dynamic between the men in this version of the telling. So, to have Will and Hannibal truly possess a history together that informs their approach to the Red Dragon didn’t necessarily feel like an opportunity to change the story, but to provide many more layers of the tiramisu for the audience to enjoy.
This season forth episode of Hannibal, Aperitivo, dealt more with aftermath of the second season finale. The biggest surprise was that Dr. Chilton is alive, and out for revenge against Hannibal. It even turned out that many of the lines initially shown to occur between Will and Abigail earlier in the season actually happened when Chilton visited Will in the hospital. Chilton also compared notes with Mason Verger on making up their face–if you show yours I’ll show you mine. Jack and Alana are also both alive. Will confessed to Jack that he had called Hannibal hoping he would flee. Alana met with Verger, warned by Margot, “If my brother offers you chocolate, politely refuse.” Hannibal was not seen in the episode, but the the set up has now been completed to have each of these characters come after him.
This week NBC announced plans to cancel Hannibal after this season and there is a scramble to find a replacement network. There has been talk about both Netflix and Amazon but it does not sound likely that Netflix is much of a possibility due to the deal with Amazon to stream previous seasons. Hopefully Amazon will be interested in picking up the show. If not, The Food Network sounds like a good match.
Even if Hannibal is renewed, Bryan Fuller will have a reduced role due to becoming show runner of American Gods.
Humans premiers in the United States on AMC tonight but the first three episodes have already been shown on Channel 4 in the U.K. After downloading episodes I highly recommend it. Unlike far too much science fiction on television, this show is not satisfied with a clever idea. It handles both characters and plot well, and as a result is likely to be enjoyed even by people who do not normally watch science fiction. This review avoids major spoilers but those who want to be entirely surprised in watching the show might not want to read this before watching the first episode as some minor events are mentioned.
Humans looks at the implications of something which could really happen in the not so distant future. The premise is that synthetic humans, known as Synths, start doing our mundane work, both in industry and the homes. This leads to issues such as a wife, played by Katherine Parkinson, whose many television roles included Jen from the IT Crowd. I see a certain irony in her having played Jen, the computer-ignorant woman placed in charge of the IT Department, to now play a woman who is skeptical about the Synths. Her daughter questions the point in studying if Synths could do anything. A man with Alzheimer’s uses his Synth to help him remember the past. The twist is that his Synth is a first generation one, slated for replacement, which has memory problems of its own.
Naturally the sexual implications are also explored, including Synths used as prostitutes. In one scene Parkinson’s husband looked at the directions which came with their beautiful Synth for those 21+ , and in another scene his son received a warning about inappropriate touching.
Besides looking at the sociological ramifications of the Synths, the show is also a thriller. Some of the Synths are secretly self-aware and communicating with each other. Also, while most of the Synths act in a characteristic way, don’t be so certain that everyone who appears human really is.
Incidentally, besides Humans, another recent show from Channel 4 has become available in the United States. Catastrophe recently became available on Amazon. Think of it as if Welcome to Sweden took place in the U.K. and was written by the people who wrote You’re The Worst. While not genre, it did include one genre reference. In one scene a character is wearing a shirt saying, “Where is Jessica Hyde,” referring to a genre show on Channel 4, Utopia. I have also watched Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell from the BBC beyond what has been available in the United States and recommend this miniseries based upon the book.
In other summer television news, Extant returns this week, reportedly with major changes from the first season. Under the Dome returned last week, but I have not had time to watch the two-hour season premiere. I also have not had time to watch Mr. Robot yet. Apparently Humans is about robots, but Mr. Robot only has humans and no robots. I have held off on watching True Detective following poor reviews. The first season was only worth watching, despite a weak plot, due to the excellent work by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.
Over on Syfy, Defiance is much better in its third season. I still couldn’t call it a must-watch show for science fiction fans, but if anyone has seen the first two seasons was undecided about watching the third I would say to go ahead. It is much better having eliminated some of the characters and bringing in a new big-bad for the season. I have not watched their other Friday night show, Dark Matter, after hearing from several people that it is awful.
The “original Avenger” has died. Patrick Macnee of the 1960’s British spy series, The Avengers, has died at 93. Initially the show is well known for the role played by Diana Rigg.
Marvel Studios and Warner Brothers might not be the only ones with a superhero universe including crossovers from other characters. Marvel Studios has The Avengers (obviously different from The Avengers pictured above. Warner has separate universes of DC superheroes both on television, and in with Justice League of America. 20th Century Fox, which owns the rights to X-Men and Fantastic Four, is rumored to be doing a crossover of these two franchises.
Emma Watson and Tom Hanks will be staring in the movie adaptation of The Circle, an excellent novel about current trends in social media going too far.
Joel McHale has been interviewed by Esquire, including about Community and his upcoming appearance on The X-Files. He has been predicting a Community movie but not a seventh season. #sixseasonsandamovie
While last week’s episode of Hannibal jumped ahead and left open the fates of those left for dead in the season two finale, Primavera centered on Will and flashed back to the aftermath of the bloodbath. There was no indication on screen as to the fate of Jack Crawford and Alana Bloom but I was surprised to see Abigail walk into Will’s hospital room early in the episode. I was surprised a second time when it was revealed that Abigail was only in Will’s head, most likely representing the part of Will which still wanted to be with Hannibal.
The other key character of the episode was a police officer named Rinaldo Pazzi who had history with Hannibal. Years ago he investigated the murder of a couple who were arranged like a painting. Will explained how Hannibal operated, including how he doesn’t leave evidence– as he eats it. The climax of the episode was a search through catacombs. When Will warned Pazzi that he shouldn’t be be down there alone, with the warning that Hannibal will kill him (which will probably happen at some point), Pazzi pointed out that he had Will with him.
Will’s response summed up the episode: “You don’t know whose side I’m on.” The problem is that that Will himself doesn’t know, and if he was smart he would followed the advice he gave Pazzi and remain home with his dogs (and Alana if she survived). There was another clue as to Will’s state of mind when he said at the end of the episode, directed towards Hannibal, “I forgive you.”
This still leaves open how each will respond when they actually meet again.
The penultimate episode of the season of Orphan Black, Insolvent Phantom Of Tomorrow, gave more answers, regardless of whether plausible. Allison’s days as a drug dealer appear to be coming to an end, but the storyline provided for an unexpected pairing of Donnie and Helena. Helena was disguised as Allison, but under the circumstances it was more useful for Donnie to have the psychopathic killer clone along. The big mistake at Pouch’s warehouse was for the drug dealers to first take Helena’s tank with her embryos, and then threaten Donny and who they believed to be Allison’s children. Helena told them, “You should not threaten babies.” She then made them pay for the threat, and then rejoin Donny with the money he had lost, and more. “I got refund, we should go now.”
Delphine again showed how terrifying she can be, threatening Shay’s life believing that she had given the information about the book to the Castor group. It really didn’t come as a surprise when it turned out that Gracie and not Shay had sold them out to please her guy-clone. Seeing Delphine hold that razor blade after Cosima phoned her about Gracie, I half expected Delphine to tell Cosima that it was too late and then proceed to kill, or at least torture Shay. The previews revealed that Shay remains alive, although I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that there is still more to her than appears.
The biggest revelation took place in London when Kendall Malone turned out to be Sirobhan’s mother, who had absorbed a male twin in the womb s0 that she has two cell lines. She was the original cell line for Castor, but they couldn’t kill her as planned because she also was the original cell line for Leda, having both male and female cells. Not only are Castor and Leda brother and sister as we learned earlier this season, this would also mean that Sarah along with the rest of the clones and Siobhan actually are biologically related.
If this didn’t set up enough for the season finale, Ferdinand and Topside are also back.
Like Veronica Mars, the previous hit from Rob Thomas, iZombie was enjoyable more for its season-long arc and the characters than for the case of the week. By the season finale much has changed, including more people knowing that Liv is a Zombie. David Anders, as usual, made a fantastic villain, this time as Blaine. He had a great racket going, turning people into zombies, and then selling them brains. As opposed to the typical zombie show, the zombies on iZombie kept their human memories as long as they had a steady supply of brains to eat. Now that Blaine is no longer a zombie, will he keep his racket going? If not, where do the zombies he created get their brains, and do we wind up with a zombie apocalypse?
Rob Thomas discussed the finale and second season with E!:
E! News: Blaine and Major have both been cured—are there going to be any complications with becoming human again? Rob Thomas: Yeah, there will be. Ravi would not have wanted to put that cure on the market yet, and for good reason. There will be side effects. There will be fallout from that. It won’t be as easy as boom, you’re human again, go enjoy the rest of your life. Blaine will have to try to maintain his zombie world while being human so we’re going to have some fun in season two with him trying to pass as a zombie. Imagine him trying to put on white face to convince his clients that he’s still a badass who they should be afraid of.
Liv’s brother is in critical condition by the end of the finale—how is this going to shake up their family dynamic especially since Liv can’t give her blood to save him?
It will have real repercussions next year. We know that the season two opening scene is going to be a really rough scene with her family. They do not understand the decision she made and it’s kind of impossible for her to tell them.
TVLINE | There’s not one, but at least three major cliffhangers in the finale. Was that always the plan, even before the show was renewed?
Yes. In fact, it’s been the plan for a long time. When we offered [Robert Buckley] the role of Major, he called me and said, “Listen, I just want to make sure that I’m not just going to be the boy that Liv pines for, that I’m going to have something to do,” and I pitched him the exact ending of the show. I said, “It’s going to end like Taxi Driver. You going into the zombie headquarters and mowing people down. You will have gone through this horrible journey. You will have this moment where you get to take out all these enemies.” So we were always building to that.
And probably around midseason, we had some ideas on how we wanted to reset for Season 2. We announce our big Season 2 storyline right there in the finale. Vaughan, the head of Max Rager, says, “We’re going to take out all the zombies.” So that will be a big part of Season 2, and it will make Liv and Blaine strange bedfellows. One of the things that was rough in Season 1 was we loved those two actors on screen together, but part of the season arc was Liv searching for Blaine. We couldn’t play them on screen. Next season, you’ll see a lot more of them on screen, at the same time, with a common enemy.
TVLINE | Is it safe to say that Blaine as a human, even without his zombie strength and rage, is still not a nice person and a dangerous threat to Liv and Major?
Yeah. We’re not going to make him cuddly next year. If you talked to me a few years ago, I would have thought, “Well, how in the world, after him spending Season 1 murdering homeless teenagers, could we ever believe him as anything but evil?” Then you watch Game of Thrones. Somehow, Jaime Lannister has become a sympathetic character even though he threw a young boy out a window in Episode 1. So it can be done, and maybe someday, we will attempt that. But for the immediate future, Blaine is bad.
TVLINE | Can he keep his business going as a human?
That’s going to be part of the fun of Season 2. He will need to trick his clientele. Next season, he may be passing as zombie in order to maintain the fear, which I think we’ll have fun with.
TVLINE | So instead of tanning, he’ll be putting on powder.
It’s funny you say that because we already have a scene up on our writers’ board in which we will see him getting powdered up in order to appear as a full-blooded zombie.
TVLINE | Major now knows the whole truth. What does that allow you to do that you couldn’t before with Major and his relationship with Liv?
Now that they both know, and Major knows what he’d be getting into, we’re toying with, could they try a romantic relationship in which no bodily fluids were exchanged? It’s sort of a great existential question of, could you have a romantic partner with whom the sexual limits were very, very strict? How would that go? We may explore that.
The Flash is casting a Felicity-like love interest for Barry Allen for season two. Of course we know from those future newspapers who he winds up with, assuming they are from the same timeline.
There were at least two huge scenes on The Game of Thrones last Sunday, with one of the most disturbing deaths of the series and flight on dragons. With the season finale airing tonight I will wait for that before saying more about the show.
Defiance returned on Friday with two more alien threats. Fans of the show probably enjoyed the two hour season premiere. I remain lukewarm, but see more promise this season than in the second season. Knowing the characters after two seasons did make me more interested in the events than I had been at points in the past.
The HBO version of The Leftovers completed the material from the novel in its first season. The above trailer has been released for the second season which moves to a new location, with major changes in the cast. The story moves to Jarden, Texas where, unlike the rest of the world where two percent of the people vanished in a rapture-like event, nobody disappeared in Jarden. I wonder if they play Dillon, Texas in football.
The BBC adaption of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, about half way through in the UK, premiered in the US on BBC America. Reading reviews of the mini-series I found that they all agree that some aspects of the novel did not make it into the television show. The reviewers disagreed as to whether this means that important aspects of the novel were left out, or if this means that what they saw as flaws in the novel were fixed.
The Man From UNCLE will be released in theaters on August 14, 2015. The trailer is above and the synopsis, based upon the 1960’s television show, follows:
Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. centers on CIA agent Solo and KGB agent Kuryakin. Forced to put aside longstanding hostilities, the two team up on a joint mission to stop a mysterious international criminal organization, which is bent on destabilizing the fragile balance of power through the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology. The duo’s only lead is the daughter of a vanished German scientist, who is the key to infiltrating the criminal organization, and they must race against time to find him and prevent a worldwide catastrophe.
Streaming video has greatly changed how many of us watch television. Netflix has dominated this market, but there are additional options including Hulu, Amazon, Yahoo! (primarily notable for carrying the sixth season of Community) and now stand alone subscriptions for HBO and Showtime. Netflix has been expanding worldwide, but they will have new competition when they move ahead with plans to expand to China. Alibaba plans to launch a Netflix-like streaming service in China. About ninety percent of its content will be paid for, either by subscription or payment for individual shows. with the remaining ten percent available for free.
Orphan Black continues at high speed in the second half of the season with Ruthless in Purpose, and Insidious in Method being one of the best episodes of the season. There was the return of another clone as Tatiana Maslany once again played Krystal, the manicurist who fears twins and clowns who was seen in the first episode with Rudy and Seth. This also provided a different situation in which a character got to act as someone else, in this case Felix acting as a straight guy hitting on Krystal. Krystal turned out to not entirely be the bubbly air head as she was portrayed as, although unaware of being a clone, or having slept with clones, realized something is up and was investigating.
Unfortunately this did not work out very well for poor Krystal as Rachel was up to far more than anyone realized, and managed to play everyone against everyone else to get what she wanted, including Krystal’s body to hide her escape. It will be good to see Rachel back as a powerful antagonist, but I was hoping she might keep the eye patch.
We found out more about the outcome from last week’s grenade dropped by Paul in Mexico. Data was damaged, but Dr. Coady and Rudy survived. Coady revealed that unless they find the cure, the Castor clones will all be dead within one to two years. She understands the underlying structure of the show–when one part of the conspiracy is exposed, there is always another behind it. She asked, “Castor and Leda – I’ve been feeling this for a while. It’s not just two factions is it? Who’s in charge, David?”
Alison’s Weeds story line continues to be mostly independent of the other story lines but they continue to find ways to fit it into the rest of the show. Previously Cosima had to impersonate Alison. This week the connection is that it is their turn to host Helena, who was also reunited with Gracie.
Next week, London now that we found out a bit of the code in The Island of Dr. Moreau:
We all fell down,
And Castor woke from slumber.
To find the first,
The beast, the curse,
The original has a number.
And the number is H46239, which I’m sure we will learn more about later.
Hannibal began the third season with an Antipasto which was served to partially reset the show. Instead of Baltimore, the episode takes place in Florence, after a stop over in Paris. It is a much slower episode after the bloody season finale from season two. While it was implied that Will Graham and perhaps others survived, most of the major characters from the first two seasons were not seen. The exception was flashbacks to the final days of Dr. Abel Gideon, which was primarily to provide insight into Hannibal’s mind.
Hannibal is traveling with Dr. Bedelia Du Mauirer (Gillian Anderson), who was acting as his wife as she was getting dragged (or in one bathtub scene, submerged) into Hannibal’s world. Hannibal asked if she was an observer or participant, and it looks like she is heading to be far more of a participant than she ever intended. That does not stop her from observing and analyzing Hannibal, describing him in a way which was accurate from the start: “You no longer have ethical concerns, Hannibal. Only aesthetical ones.”
Of course Hannibal did invite someone over for dinner, and it was obvious as to what that ultimately means.
Community concluded its sixth season with one of its more meta episodes, pondering what a seventh season might be, and ending with the hashtag #AndaMovie. The episode could very easily work as a season finale or as a lead in to whatever Dan Harmon decides to do next. It sounds like he is taking a break, but that Yahoo! would be quite happy to put on another season if he writes it. Getting the cast together for another season might be difficult due to other obligations, suggesting that six seasons and a movie might be the most likely outcome after all, but a seventh season remains a possibility.
Dan Harmon has responded to the question saying, “I told Yahoo, ‘I can’t think about writing a movie until I miss Community,” Harmon said. “They wanted to turn around a do a movie immediately, and Yahoo can get it done. They’re like the NSA.” Joel McHale will have a guest role on the X-Files revival, and when on Conan seemed more interested in a movie. Making matters more difficult for a seventh season, Gillian Jacobs and Ken Jeong have roles in other series. Both Annie and Abed were leaving at the end, but it was left open whether they might later return. Personally I’d watch a show centered around Jeff and Annie, along Abed, the Dean, and any other characters who are still available.
That was a rather emotional finale, and true to Community form, very meta. What were you hoping to accomplish with the season ender?
It was a meta explosion. I never know what it is I want to say, I just know of areas I want to explore. Community was the show that commented on itself the whole time, and for the last episode of Season 6 the goal isn’t to lure new viewers, so might as well really lean into this thing and talk about what’s on everybody’s mind, since the conversation about Community has always been more intense than the conversation about the characters. So we had the characters talk about the future of the show as if it were a show. Other than that, it had a pretty traditional structure: It was an excuse to explore possibilities, only to realize there’s absolutely no way we can control anything. Also if we want these characters to continue to grow, they’re missing a huge part of their life right now. Annie is an exceptional person. I want Annie to taste the world.
Jeff Winger had the most idealistic dream of everyone staying at Greendale as faculty colleagues. That actually would be a device you could use for another season–but that would mean that none of these characters get to really grow or ever leave.
I do agree with Winger that that show makes more sense than the one I originally pitched, because then they all have a reason to be together. They would have a reason to have meetings, and then it would be Boston Public set at Greendale.
Annie and Abed leave the group at the end of the episode to pursue their dreams. Why them?
I think Britta’s future can still be found at Greendale and I don’t think there’s anything sad about that. She lived in New York. She was the wild horse that galloped around and then came slinking back to community college. So she has sown her oats and still needs to grow up, just like Jeff does. In the original idea, there were three characters – Abed, Annie and Troy – who represented the younger stories you might encounter at a community college. Those are stories about transitions. Other stories can be about falls from grace. They were wayward youth. On the off chance that it’s the last image of the show that we ever see, I felt more comfortable with the image of Abed and Annie going off to an airport, where they might go anywhere or do anything. It made me feel better about the eternity of the show.
Let’s talk about the Annie and Winger relationship and that kiss. There’s still a big age gap between the two, but on an emotional scale they’re on the same level.
Yeah, with each passing year it gets a little less creepy. I did just marry a 29 year old at 42. And in real life, Allison Brie is 43. No. I just wanted her to read that and freak out. I have no idea how old Allison is. Age aside, it’s more an issue of how much life experience you have had. Do we really believe in our heart of hearts that the current version of Jeff Winger and the current version of Annie Edison would be happily ever after if they ever got together? Or is it more likely their souls are intermingled and there is such a thing as true love that is genuinely star crossed? This person hasn’t lived their life yet. I’m comfortable with the realization that he’s genuinely in love with her, but that’s a separate thing from whether that’s actually good for her.
This episode has the feel of a series finale, but you had to leave the door open in the event of a seventh season or a movie. Are you leaning toward the movie option?
We’ve exploded into these successful shrapnel. Dr. Ken is now Dr. Ken. Allison has probably got her eye on movies. Gillian is working on a Netflix show. If there was some magical way of guaranteeing that everyone could come back all at once, let’s do it. But it would be a lot easier to put together a movie project and get them all on board than to say, “Let’s give it one more season!”
You made a point of not changing Community‘s language or content this season, even though you were no longer confined by broadcast standards. But you ended up with two “fucks” in the finale!
I did! It was kind of unintentional. That one that Jim [Rash, as Dean Pelton] does is adlibbed. As soon as he said it, the entire cast started laughing, but I edited around it. As for Britta’s I should have bleeped it… it’s weird to have two “fucks” on that one.
The show, especially the Chang and Dean Pelton characters, was more grounded this season.
I think it was more emotionally grounded, but structurally, ironically everything was a lot looser. I think I’ve become a victim of my own story structure. The lack of a clock at Yahoo, a really strict one, allowed for something I think the show needed in order for it to continue to feel healthy. A certain randomness. The stories don’t resolve the way you always think they might. There are these strange slingshots around the sun. The wedding episode ends randomly with Chang being the hero. I was a little more British this year.
If I buy a Honda CR-V [which played a major role in Season 6, particularly in the episode “Advanced Safety Features”] and drop your name, do you get a cut?
I’m still waiting for my jacket. I told them I wanted the Honda jacket that Jim wears in the episode.
The last episode ends with a faux Community board game advertisement, which ends up diving into your own stream of consciousness. You even did the voice over. Is that a snapshot of how you were feeling as the season ended?
Well, I certainly did that voice over just two days ago. Everybody had to talk me into doing it. I kept saying, “It’s not funny if it’s me.” Then I tried it. That is my throat catching in a genuine way. But I don’t know, I want to wait and see. I’ve never had a relationship this long. I’ve never done anything for six years, except drink.
The cast of Gilmore Girls, along with the show’s creator Amy Sherman-Palladino got together at the ATX TV Festival. Unfortunately there is still no plans for the long-rumored movie reunion, but hope was kept alive. At least the cast still gets along and nobody really objects to working on it. Amy Sherman-Palladino also said she will not reveal the final four words with which she had planned to end the series until she is on her death bed. This remains a mystery as she left the show for the final season, so her planned finale was never aired. The cast did discuss where they think their character would be today.
John Noble has been cast as Sherlock’s estranged father on season four of Elementary.
The Nebula Awards winners were announced. The award for best novel went to Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer. The full list of winners is here.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Avengers: Age of Ultron opened with the second highest box office receipts of all time, trailing only The Avengers 2012 opening. I would rank the first Avengers movie, along with the better Iron Man and Captain America movies, above Age of Ultron, but it was still a very enjoyable movie, falling in the middle of the recent Marvel releases. My discussion here is primarily as to how it fits into the rest of the Marvel universe and I avoided major spoilers of plot points, but those who want to totally avoid any information about the movie before seeing might want to jump down to the next section. Some of the linked articles have even more significant spoilers.
There is an attempt at continuity between the Marvel television universe and cinematic universe, but it is largely one way. The movie definitely takes place after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier with SHIELD broken up. The members of the Avengers are working out their own hierarchy, no longer taking orders from SHIELD. Agents of SHIELD did have a lead-in for the movie in last week’s episode, including the search for Loki’s scepter, but as far as the movie series goes, Coulson is dead. While Nick Fury and Maria Hill appeared in the movie, there was no sign of Coulson, even at a party where it seemed everyone who ever appeared in a Marvel movie was invited. For those who primarily watch the movies, they avoided having to explain how he is alive, and viewers of the show could just assume he was too busy hiding from HYDRA and the other SHIELD to attend. Joss Whedon discussed the conflict between the television and movie people, including a reference to the ending of St. Elsewhere:
“Yeah he’s dead. The entire television series is just a fever dream. It’s a Jacob’s Ladder moment he’s having at the point of death, but we don’t give that away until after season seven. And there’s a snow globe. Now I’ve given it away. Bollocks!
“It’s a weird little yes and no. As far as I’m concerned in the films, yes he’s dead. In terms of the narrative of these guys [The Avengers] his loss was very important. When I created the television show, it was sort of on the understanding that this can work and we can do it with integrity, but these Avengers movies are for people to see the Avengers movies and nothing else. And it would neither make sense nor be useful to say ‘Oh and by the way remember me? I died!’”
The Agents of SHIELD show runners discussed the tie in to the movie with Variety. Note that it is not necessary for understanding of the television show to have seen the movie to make sense of its references in last week’s episode. We will see how the events tie into future shows, but my bet is that the movie and television show are sufficiently self-contained so that it won’t necessary to have seen the movie.
One limitation of Avengers movies is that there are too many characters to spend much time on each individually. They did throw in a new romance, and we learned much more about Hawkeye and about The Black Widow. The most significant opportunity for characters to be seen as individuals occurred when Scarlet Witch caused them to have dream sequences. These sequences told more about the motivations and thoughts of the characters, and are discussed further at Slate.
It shouldn’t come as a spoiler to note that the Avengers win in the end. The ending shows some of the original Avengers leaving the group, although we know they will be seen again in Captain America: Civil War. The ending did suggest that newer superheroes would be replacing some of them, but I would not be surprised if more of the original Avengers also play a role in the future. It looks like the Avengers will primarily consist of Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, War Machine, and two introduced in this movie: Scarlet Witch and Vision. More on this here , here, and here. There was not a scene at the end of the credits, but there was a brief scene during the credits which also ties the movie to Guardians of the Galaxy. Discussion of that scene can be found here. Of course there was the obligatory Stan Lee cameo.
Orphan Black got back to Mark and the Prolethean storyline, and had a big revelation about the Castor clones (I am your sister). In watching it is hard to tell to what degree the writers had a long range plan and to what degree they are making things up as they go along. This is most apparent in how they retcon Paul’s role to fit into whatever is happening each season. This season they have him working with Team Castor, and therefore retroactively came up with the explanation the he had previously infiltrated Dyad. There is an even more retcon with Mark. Ari Millen was originally intended to only play Prolethean Mark, but at the end of the season it was decided to have him play the line of male clones. I had wondered how they would reconcile Mark’s character with the other clones. Now the explanation is that he was only with the Proletheans to retrieve material from Henrik. The change in each character seems even less plausible when considering the scene last season where Mark and Paul met in a bar and gave no indication that they were both on Team Castor. While they should have recognized each other, I imagine this scene could be explained away as each engaging in meaningless banter to avoid giving themselves away to anyone who might have been around them.
The Hollywood Reporter discussed the episode with Graeme Manson and John Fawcett, who pretend this was their plan all along:
Though the male line of clones was only introduced in the second season finale, it took just three episodes of season three for a key piece of the puzzle to fall into place: The clones from Project Castor (the males, played by Ari Millen) and Project Leda (the females, played by Tatiana Maslany) are biological siblings.
“There’s no doubt that’s been a plan of ours for a long time,” Orphan Black co-creator Graeme Manson tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It does shape the season going forward. We wanted a big revelation about these male clones, and the revelations are going to keep on coming.”
Cosima (Maslany) shared the truth with Sarah (Maslany), and then Sarah informed Mark (Millen) of their connection. And while Sarah has fiercely embraced protecting her new sisterhood, the discovery will lead to her own mixed feelings on the matter.
“It certainly adds a massive layer of complexity for Sarah, especially,” says series co-creator John Fawcett. “She’s just coming to grips with the fact that it really wasn’t that long ago where she was basically running away from her own daughter. Shunning her responsibilities of her immediate, biological family. Sarah’s done a lot of growing up in the past; going from street urchin, running around, avoiding the fact that she’s a mother to changing her life, wanting [her daughter] back, wanting to be a mother, going, ‘Oh my God, I have clones running around.’ There’s been a lot of acceptance and discovery for Sarah through this journey. There’s this other brain-numbing facet that Sarah has to take on board. It’s a big part of the mystery going forward.”
“Bearing in mind, none of these ‘brothers’ are acting very much like siblings,” added Manson. “So, we are also raising questions in terms of family of, ‘What makes family?’ Does biology make family? Do you choose your family? Sarah, like John said, has grown up a lot. She’s choosing her clone family. Are they going to choose the males or not?”
The above trailer for the television adaptation of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell has been released.
Looking to the week ahead, both Gotham and Person of Interest have each set up a high stakes battle for their season finales, and the end games for The Flash and Arrow appear near. I will wait until these stories have played out more to discuss them further. I have not been thrilled by the last couple of episodes of Outlander, but those who have read the book do say that big things are happening in the remaining episodes of the season.
Syfy has canceled Helix after its second season.
With twenty-eight minute episodes. Dan Harmon can get into more into an episode of Community now that it is on Yahoo! instead of NBC. This week’s episode, Intro to Recycled Cinema, mocked commercials, Chris Pratt, and movie-making. It amusingly ripped off Star Wars, including the Cantina and garbage chute scenes. Chang was briefly a star, Jeff was the Mayor of Outer Space, Abed did his thing, and Annie was a pleasure droid-turned-bounty-hunter Scorpio 9, who sometimes reached into her shirt and pulled out a laser bomb.
In an act of mercy killing, ABC is canceling Revenge. This is a perfect example of the problem with the US model for television series. It was a fine escapist show the first season, but continued long after there was any reason to drag out the story. While the BBC or cable might have ended the series at a natural point, even if only after a season or two, the American networks don’t work that way. The final straw was, after the rational for the show was seeking revenge for the false imprisonment and death of David Clarke, he suddenly turned up alive.
Scarlett Johansson was guest host on Saturday Night Live this week, and in this video showed how Marvel would make a girl superhero movie: