SciFi Weekend: Stranger Things–Explanation of Finale And A Look Ahead; Mr Robot; Star Trek Discovery; Doctor Who

Stranger Things D&D

Stranger Things was the surprise hit of the summer. It was as close to a perfectly structured television show as I’ve ever seen, both telling a complete story in eight episodes and leaving some things open for future seasons. It has an excellent cast, a story which was compelling from the start, and a lot to bring back fond memories of both the 1980’s and previous stories in the genre. The early 1980’s was a perfect period for this story, when kids could roam freely without being immediately available by cell phone, kids would have to ask their science teacher for information rather than looking it up on line, and Cold War paranoia made the background of the story seem a bit more plausible. I briefly discussed the show last week without spoilers. In order to discuss the finale and where the second season might go, major spoilers are unavoidable.

If I had any complaints after the conclusion, it might be that questions which we might not have had time to wonder about while binging were left unanswered. I’m thinking of where the story was at even before the final few minutes when additional teasers for the future were inserted. Fortunately the producers do have an outline which presumably contains information which might answer some of my questions in future seasons.

We know something about the research being done at Hawkins Lab, and how Eleven presumably opened a portal to another dimension. There could be far more going on at the lab, and was there a one through ten?

What happened in the other dimension, which appears to be like ours with the atmosphere destroyed and people no longer alive? Some scenes which looked up to the stars led me to believe it was due to aliens, while the 1980’s time frame also makes me suspect it was the consequence of a nuclear winter. Why did we see only one Demogorgon? Perhaps such monsters, and perhaps other types, are roaming the other dimension, and only this one made it to their version of Indiana. Did such monsters destroy Earth, or were they created by radiation from a nuclear war? The kids faced a Thessalhydra while playing D&D at the end of the episode. Is this what they will encounter next? Is there a connection between their games and what is found in the Down Under? What was the egg which Hopper discovered?

What happened to Eleven and the monster? If this was a completed story we might assume she died after saying goodby to Mike.  However, as we are dealing with parallel universes and the ability to travel between them, it wouldn’t be surprising if a sequel shows that they did go to another dimension. Deaths always must be questioned if there is no body–and in this show even a body did not prove death. If two dimensions were shown this season, are there other dimensions which might come into play in future seasons?

It is plausible that Will remained alive as long as he did by hiding out in alternate versions of places he knows in his universe, but how did he communicate with the lights? Even if messing with the wires in one dimension affected them in the other dimension, he showed remarkable accuracy in turning flashing specific lights by specific letters. Barb was not so fortunate, but to maintain some degree of horror I think it was necessary for her to have been killed. Most of the characters who were put in danger did survive. Will was alive in the end. His mother and Hopper were both captured but managed to be released. The kids survived the final attack of the monster in their school Someone had to actually die for the monster to be menacing in the end, and a character such as Barb who was only in a handful of scenes was the obvious “red shirt.”

The final few minutes of the series went further in providing loose ends to tie up in the future. What happened when Hopper went in that car. Why was he leaving Eggos Waffles in the box in the woods? Either he knew that Eleven was out there and was leaving her favorite food for her, or he perhaps he was leaving them to see if she returned to take them. I think the later is more plausible as if he was actually feeding her he would have presumably left more.

The biggest sign that we have not seen the last of the Upside Down was when Will coughed up the slug and briefly saw the other dimension. Was that just a mental flash back, or was there a breakdown between the dimensions in the bathroom? Is this the original Will, or yet another type of fake, this time created in the Upside Down? What about Will’s mother and Hopper? Both were in the Upside Down and had breathed in the air.

The Duffer brothers have verified in various interviews that they are hoping to produce a second season involving the same characters, with additional ones added. There will be a time jump of one year which makes matters much simpler when dealing with children actors, and allows for the story to have advanced.

Here are some excerpts of interviews with Matt and Ross Duffer:

Stranger Things

From Variety:

How much do we know about Eleven’s true origins at this point, and how much did you want to keep a mystery?

Ross: We get the hint that her mom was involved in the experimentations back in the day resulting in her being born with these powers, but what we wanted to do with the show — and this season specifically — was mostly seeing the mystery and these extraordinary things through the eyes of these ordinary characters. By the end of the show they don’t know or understand everything. That is purposeful.

We do cut away to the government occasionally for these pops of mystery or horror, but what we didn’t want was to have a scene of the scientist just sitting down to explain everything. We wanted to slowly peel back layers of this mystery for audiences through the eyes of these very ordinary people. It’s not all solved by the end of the season. We wanted to resolve the main mystery of Will being gone, that was the story of this season.

Do you see the government or science conspiracy angle as a long-term mystery for the show?

Ross: There’s a lot there we don’t know or understand. Even with the Upside Down, we have a 30-page document that is pretty intricate in terms of what it all means, and where this monster actually came from, and why aren’t there more monsters — we have all this stuff that we just didn’t have time for, or we didn’t feel like we needed to get into in season one, because of the main tension of Will. We have that whole other world that we haven’t fully explored in this season, and that was very purposeful.

Matt: We wanted a simple drive and a somewhat simple mystery with bizarre pops of supernatural horror and then add a larger mythology behind this rift that we only know and refer to as the Upside Down because that’s what the boys decide to call it. Everything they’ve learned about it is kind of hypothetical. They’re theorizing based on their knowledge from fantasy gaming and their science teacher, Mr. Clarke. That’s as much as we get to understand it. I think part of it is us thinking in terms of horror, it’s scarier when you don’t fully understand what’s happening. If you were to encounter something from another world or dimension, it would be beyond comprehension. We talked a lot about Clive Barker and his stories. They’re very weird, and the weirder it is, the more inexplicable it is, the scarier it is.

As you head into future seasons, have you thought about how much of that 30-page document you want to reveal and explore?

Ross: We leave these dangling threads at the end. If people respond to this show and we get to continue this story — we had those initial discussions of where we might go with it. If there was going to be a season two, we would reveal more of that 30 page document, but we’d still want to keep it from the point of view of our original characters.

Even though you tell a complete story within the season, you end on a couple of major cliffhangers — the first being Eleven’s disappearance. Did you want to hint at where she’s been with the scene of Hopper leaving Eggos in the woods?

Matt: Obviously something happened to her when she destroyed and killed that monster and we don’t know what she went. Hopper is left with this guilt because he sold her out. We wanted to leave it sort of mysterious exactly what he knows… Have there been sightings in the woods or is he hoping she’s out there or has he already made contact with her? We don’t answer any of that, but we like the idea of potentially putting her and Hopper together.

It also seems that the Upside Down has changed Will or maybe he’s brought some of it back with him. What can you say about the flash he has in the bathroom?

Ross: We love the idea that [the Upside Down] is an environment that is not a great place for a human being to be living in. Will’s been there for an entire week, and it’s had some kind of effect on him, both emotionally and perhaps physically. The idea is he’s escaped this nightmare place, but has he really? That’s a place we wanted to go and potentially explore in season two. What effect does living in there for a week have on him? And what has been done to him? It’s not good, obviously.

Stranger Things Christmas Lights

They discussed more of these plot points with IGN:

IGN: What can you say about where Eleven is? That’s a very open question, of course, since there are different worlds you’re dealing with here.

Ross: It is. We wanted to leave it purposefully ambiguous. We always, from the very beginning, liked this sort of childlike idea that this escapee from this facility with these amazing powers would be able to just move into Mike’s basement and they’d have this wonderful life together and she’d go to school. It’s not that simple. The goal is to make it as complicated as possible, and without going into too much detail, to really tear them apart at the end of that season, to make things much more difficult. But we love Eleven.

Matt: But the great thing about having a portal to another dimension is that you’re not boxed in, narratively. There’s a lot we can do.

Ross: What did James Cameron say? No one’s ever dead in sci-fi.

IGN: Will clearly has been changed by this experience, it doesn’t seem in a great way. But he’s not the only one that went over there. Should we assume he might not be the only one affected?

Ross: That’s a good question. Though I will say that Will obviously was in there much longer. He had that thing hooked up to him. He went through a much more traumatic experience. A big part of Season 2 that we’ve been discussing is what is that effect? Did it affect anyone else? But specifically, is Will okay? The short answer being no.

Matt: But you’re absolutely right, three of the other characters were in there.

Ross: And they took off their helmets. And we know it’s a toxic environment. Nancy was in there too. Yeah, that’s an interesting question…

IGN: Is that the cool thing about doing a time jump? Asking what has Will been like in the year in between?

Ross: Yeah, that’s exactly it. And how have these characters moved on with their lives and not just in the plot and supernatural [aspect] but also just in terms of their characters and what have they done to fill that time?

Matt: We like that they’ve all had a very traumatic, nightmare experience together and after it’s over they kind of try to sweep it all under the rug. Season 2 would be very differently, structurally. It would be that everything seems great on the surface and then there are hints that things aren’t okay or that there are lingering effects from what happened last year. The initial instinct is to push that back and sweep that crap back under the rug but eventually it becomes impossible to ignore and so they have to confront the repercussions of everything they’ve experienced. I like to think about Stephen King’s It too. — that’s a big time jump. They jump like thirty years. But the idea that the evil is still there and comes back to haunt them and one of the characters finds out about it and kills themselves immediately. That image always stuck with me.

IGN: We see Hopper go for a little meeting at the end there. What can you say about everything he was involved in and how it might open up the world?

Ross: The intention in the scene when he gets in the car – and we want to get into this in the next season – is the clean up of what happened and the mess of all this and Will dying and coming back to life, whatever happened at the school, and the dead bodies… This is not a simple clean up job. It’s complicated. We have all these characters that know that these crazy things happen. We liked the idea that, sort of lead by Hopper, our characters are drawn closer to the government, in terms of having to make a bit of a deal with the devil. To us, that’s an exciting place to take our story.

Matt: But also the idea of going back to the laboratory and pull back the curtain a little bit. Maybe they brought someone new in. It’s not as evil and mysterious as it was in Season 1. We might start to get into what they’re doing a bit little more. Maybe they seem a little bit more friendly… as least at the beginning. A lot of the agents involved in that project are dead.

Ross: The monster and Eleven did a clean sweep of that whole operation, really.

Matt: So it would be new people which I think is cool. I think our initial instinct, when you talk about all of this stuff and “Oh god, this is all such a pain in the ass. We created such a mess.” But then we decided let’s just lean into the problems this created.

Ross: And even someone like Barb, where we left them, her poor parents think she’s just run away. There’s no closure there at this point, which I think is another reason why audiences are reacting like that. They’re like “You saved this boy, but…” What we were trying to do with that last scene in the hospital when Nancy leaves and Jonathan catches her right as she’s going is that there isn’t closure for Nancy. There isn’t closure for Barb’s parents. There is still, despite the relief that our boys are feeling, there still was tragedy here. We want to make sure that we don’t forget about that. We don’t want to forget about Barb.

Stranger Things

Collider asked about the benefits of working with Netflix:

Eight episodes was the perfect length for the Season 1 narrative. Was that your decision, to keep it that tight?

MATT: Yes, it was.

ROSS: When we first pitched it to Netflix, we said, “This is an eight-episode story,” and they were like, “Great!” That’s the amazing thing about Netflix. They do not dictate. They don’t tell anyone that it should be 10 episodes or 13 episodes. They just say, “What do you need to tell your story?,” and that’s an amazing freedom that most storytellers who are working in film or TV haven’t had. This is a very recent thing. On television, you’ve gotta have a certain number of breaks for commercials. You’re working on a very clear structure.

MATT: On Wayward Pines, we were writing to commercial breaks.

ROSS: And you know how many episodes it has to be because they’ve got so many slots. Or with a film, you know it can’t be too long ‘cause you can’t get enough showings in. You’re very locked in. So, I think it’s an exciting time. We can play around a bit with form and length, and all of that, and it really just boils down to what we need to tell the story.

MATT: But even though this show has been successful, there’s no pressure to make it 13 episodes. People say, “They need to make way more episodes,” but I like to think one of the reasons it works for people is because it’s paced and it feels like a movie, and that’s because it’s not too long. I think, if we pushed it to 13 episodes, we’d have to start coming up with all these bullshit adventures they’re going on, that aren’t directly tied to the main tension. Eight felt about right. But if we’re developing Season 2 and it feels like seven or nine or eleven, Netflix would support any of those lengths.

How long do you see this series running? Have you thought about future seasons?

ROSS: We don’t know, specifically. We’re very weary of making it go on past the point it should. You want to end on a high note. That’s the goal. We’ve had initial discussions, but we haven’t quite landed on it.

Stranger Things Eleven

They spoke more about the structure of the series with Huffington Post:

One reason “Stranger Things” is effective is because the monster is revealed slowly. At first, it’s only glimpses. That out-of-sight, fear-of-the-unknown quality feels very “Jaws.”

Ross: “Jaws” was a big one. It’s a classic. The shark not working while making that movie made it much better. Also, we looked a lot at Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” On YouTube, there’s a cut of all the instances where you see the alien in that first movie, and it’s a couple minutes long. And that’s a two-hour movie. I think the reason it’s so scary is that, when it does appear, it has a certain amount of impact. So we thought, OK, we’re going to see the shadow in Episode 1, because we knew we had eight episodes. We were trying to slowly reveal it, until you finally saw the full thing. We don’t really deal with it until Episode 8. It’s a dude in a suit, and I remember reading old interviews with Ridley Scott about “Alien.” The studio was upset with him for it because it’s an amazing alien suit and you’re not shooting it. But the reason is because so much of it will look like a guy in a suit, and so much of it is that what you don’t see is much scarier. We tried to go back to that old-school style of filmmaking…

I want to pose a logistical plot question: Why did Will survive the Upside Down but Barb didn’t?

Matt: Right, I guess we think of it as ― and this is continuing with the “Jaws” references ― it’s the other dimension, the Upside Down, where the shark lives, and every once in a while it comes out of that ocean into our world on the surface and then it grabs a victim and pulls them down to the Upside Down. You saw Barb at the top of Episode 3 in the Upside Down. Just imagine that’s a world, and Barb tried to escape and failed to escape, but Will was sneakier, so he was able to escape. He was able to hide. He goes, initially, to that cubby in Episode 3 inside the Byers’ house, which is why Joyce is able to communicate with him. We had this whole backstory for what Will is doing, but we don’t see it all.

Ross: It’s more like the monster bringing him back to the net, which is why Hopper and Joyce are able to distract Will into being held in this net like a spider caught in its web. He’s brought there by the monster for eating later. Is he there for other reasons? We don’t know. We have ideas.

The way the season ends, there are enough questions answered for it to almost stand as a complete series. But the many unresolved mysteries set up an obvious next chapter. How much of the backstory regarding Dr. Brenner’s experiments and Eleven’s history did you have in place from the get-go?

Matt: We had ideas that we were sort of feeling out. We have a lot more backstory built in for Brenner and Eleven. Every time that we were writing scenes in the Hawkins Lab, we wanted to stop writing them, just because it seemed like we wanted to experience as much of it as possible in the present day and through the eyes of our ordinary characters. We just wanted to leave that as mysterious as possible. I hope that, with the mystery, people are responding to it and it’s not frustrating. But to us, the sci-fi elements are so much more fun if we’re understanding it via our characters. I like that basically everything we understand about what is going on is pretty much through the boys. And they’re only able to understand it through Dungeons and Dragons terminology and by talking to their science teacher, Mr. Clark. It’s all sort of hypothetical. I never wanted any scenes in the laboratory where you have Brenner and the scientists sitting around discussing what’s going on. And Eleven even doesn’t fully understand how she wound up where she wound up and what their plans for her are, so there are very few scenes with Brenner without one of our other main characters. The scenes that are with Brenner and not our main characters have almost no dialogue in them.

Ross: Moving forward, we’re going to get more into detail about the monster and where it came from and what the Upside Down really is. But with this season, we talked a lot about “Poltergeist.” At the end of the day, what really matters in “Poltergeist” is that Carol Anne is missing and they have to go through a portal in the closet to get her back. That matters more than the backstory. People want explanations for all that, so while we have answers for all this, what we really wanted to get from this first season is that this gate opens to this other dimension. What it really boils down to is, Will is in there and we have to get him back. The hope was that, because we resolved that, the first season will be satisfying to people and work as a stand-alone. Hopefully we get to go back and explore more of this stuff.

Mr Robot Alf

While Stranger Things brought us back to the 1980’s, Mr. Robot had a surprising beginning by opening as if it was a 1990’s sit-com, including appearances from Alf. If you haven’t watched it yet, do not skip the commercials, as they play into the illusion of a 1990’s television show. Of course, like other less obvious examples on the show, we are seeing what is happening in Eliot’s head as opposed to reality. There was even a plausible explanation for this, which led to a reconciliation with the imaginary Mr. Robot portion of him, after attempts by each to destroy the other earlier in the season. While we still do not know what happened to Tyrell Wellick, he does have a symbolic appearance here also.

I’m still waiting for WikiLeaks to reveal ties between Evil Corp, The Clinton Foundation, and The Trump Organization–the true axis of evil (even if one is symbolic and only two are real). Actually, on some level, I think that this is what Sam Esmail is trying to tell us.

Democracy Hacked

Bryan Fuller is slowly teasing news on Star Trek Discovery. It will take place ten years before the original show, bridging events between Enterprise and the original Star Trek. There will be seven lead characters including a gay character, and a female lead who plays a lieutenant commander, providing a different perspective than leading with the Captain as on other series.

The bathroom at The Way Station bar in Brooklyn is bigger on the inside than on the outside. The video above has a tour of the TARDIS themed bathroom.

In other Doctor Who news, the 1996 movie staring Paul McGann is being released on Blu-ray later this year.

Jenna Coleman and Karen Gillan had a joint appearance at Boston Comic Con. Hopefully someone videotaped it and will upload it soon.

Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2 in the Star Wars movies, died at age 81 during the past week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Robot Eliots Room

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

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

Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Person of Interest Finale Finch

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

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

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

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

Person of Interest Finale Finch and Reese

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penny Dreadful Billie Piper

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

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

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

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

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

Penny Dreadful Finale Vanessa

Variety spoke with John Logan:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The video below looks back at the first season:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHRISTIAN SLATER: I love that you think that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gotham Enigma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 4 (Tuesday)
The Flash
No Tomorrow

October 5 (Wednesday)
Arrow
Frequency

October 10 (Monday)
Supergirl

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

October 17 (Monday)
Jane the Virgin

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

The 100 and iZombie will be starting in the winter.

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

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

His death was confirmed by his publicist, Jennifer Allen.

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Captain America; Agents of Shield; Legends of Tomorrow & The Justice Society of America; DC Four-Way Crossover; Star Trek; Mr Robot; Limitless

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Captain America: Civil War, like the previous movie in the series, made major changes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe which also extend to Agents of SHIELD on television. Spoilers ahead for both the movie and television series. Civil War showed a continuation of what was seen in Captain America: Winter Soldier, which led to moving SHIELD underground. It ends not with Captain America being killed as in the comics, but with both giving up his shield and going underground. Other members of the Avengers are in similar situations. Collider summarizes how the MCU has changed, with major spoilers for those who have not seen the movie and recent episodes of Agents of SHIELD.

It did seem strange that Nick Fury was not involved, and his role since the changes in SHIELD remain unclear. Civil War writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were asked about this by The Los Angeles Times:

I’m curious. Where was Fury? 

Stephen McFeely: I’m curious too!

Christopher Markus: We called him, but he let the line blink. Primarily it felt like one too many possible opinions. We didn’t want him to take one side or the other, because that’s not his place in the universe. And then we didn’t want another, “Is he still with the government? Is he opposed to the government but supporting the government?” It got to be the potential for a lot more polemic discussion that the movie did not have room for.

He’s the guy who put it together. He’s been the sort of parent figure to the Avengers. Let the parent go away, and see if the kids can handle this. See if the kids can be who they’re supposed to be without that governing voice. Um… and they didn’t do that good of a job.

Are we going to see him in “Infinity Wars?”

McFeely: I would think.

Markus: It’s probably all hands on deck.

McFeely: Don’t you assume you’ll see everybody in the “Infinity Wars?”

You heard it here first: Everybody is in “Infinity Wars.” Hopefully that includes Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer and Whiplash’s bird.

Captain America: Civil War acted as the origin story for Black Panther, and introduced Spider-Man to the rest of the MCU. Iron Man will be appearing in Spider-Man’s upcoming solo movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming. There is also speculation that there is yet another connection, with “homecoming” being one of the trigger words used by Hydra in brainwashing Bucky Barnes.

Deadline has a long interview with  Kevin Feige. One of the many items discussed included the possibility of  Black Widow getting a solo movie in the future:

DEADLINE: You’ve got a bunch of characters in this movie from Falcon and War Machine and Black Widow and Hawkeye, who have so far guest starred in movies with another characters title above the fold. Is there one destined to get a solo movie down the line?
FEIGE: We’ve announced the next nine movies, 10 counting Civil War, through the end of 2019. Where we go beyond that are ongoing discussions that we’ll focus on in the next few years because we have a lot to do before then. Of the characters that you’ve just mentioned I would say certainly the one creatively and emotionally that we are most committing to doing is Black Widow.

DEADLINE: Why?
FEIGE: We think she’s an amazing character. We think Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of her is amazing. She’s a lead Avenger and has amazing stories in her own right to tell that we think would be fun to turn into a stand-alone franchise.

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Agents of SHIELD also worked in the Sokovia Accords, the movie version of the Superhero Registration Act, and ended the season with some deaths. Even Daisy now appears to be on the run, and who is this new Director of SHIELD? There was a second death for a Brett Walton villain, first Grant Ward, and now Hive. It looks like he might finally be finished with the series.  Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen spoke with Comic Book Resources about the finale.

CBR News: How difficult was it to say goodbye to Brett Dalton and Lincoln Mitchell?

Maurissa Tancharoen: It was so, so hard. There were many tears. It was very emotional. Even in the process of developing their arcs and breaking the season, it was a decision we struggled to finalize. We knew that we had to, though. We had to close a chapter with Ward. To sustain an antagonist for this long or to go beyond three seasons — we just didn’t want it to lose any steam. At our wrap party, there were several emotional speeches being made for both of those guys.

Jed Whedon: One of the things about television is that it’s fluid. You always have to generate a lot of different stories. Sometimes you eliminate a character and it’s easy, because you either don’t like the person or you don’t like the character. This was a situation where we didn’t have that. Both of these actors are just great guys, they’re great to work with and are pros. It was a very emotional end of the season for everybody.

Tancharoen: A week before we wrapped, we were here at home. I was thinking of Brett and Luke. They are such great people, and so talented and so handsome. “Oh, my God. What have we done?”

After watching Ward evolve from a member of S.H.I.E.L.D., to Hydra agent, to Hive, why did it feel that this was the time to let him go?

Whedon: One of the reasons we closed that chapter was to start a very different, very new chapter next year. We’re very excited about it, but that’s as specific we can get.

Now that viewers have seen the finale, what were the most important aspects, to you, about the send-off you gave Ward/Hive?

Whedon: Hive revealed his motivation: “I want a connection.” That’s a fitting end to his story. Also, to Ward’s story, he wanted that with Skye. Now, here he is, sitting with Lincoln, the one person who had that with Skye/Daisy. There’s some poetry to the simplicity and the quietness in that moment that we loved. It was a fitting end for someone with [goals of] world domination, and to our buddy Grant Ward, who we managed to maintain as an antagonist for three seasons, which is a lot for one character.

While some themes from the movies are reflected in Agents of SHIELD, the two are also disconnected, especially with Coulson being alive in the television show but still considered dead in the movies. It is also strange that nobody from The Avengers got caught up in the battle against Hive. Chloe Bennet talked about this last week. When asked if she would like to show up in the movie universe she replied, “The Marvel Cinematic Universe loves to pretend that everything is connected, but then they don’t acknowledge our show at all. So, I would love to do that, but they don’t seem to keen on that idea.”

legends_of_tomorrow_s01e16_still

The Berlanti shows on CBS and the CW Network are almost completed for the season, with Arrow and The Flash presumably to complete their story lines related to Zoom and Damian Dahrk next week. Legends of Tomorrow remains the weakest of the four, but did improve in its final episodes. The good news was that it got more timey wimey. The bad news is that it handled their rules of time travel much more poorly than other genre shows such as Continuum and 12 Monkeys. As time travel does not really exist (which I assume as I have never received a list of winning lottery winners from my future self), a show can get away with their own rules, but they should be internally consistent and make sense. Screen Rant has more on the plot holes. More spoilers ahead.

It should help the show in the future to have Vandal Savage defeated. Having them spend the season getting close to him but not killing him led to many unsatisfactory episodes. Some old members of the cast will be gone. Ciara Renée is leaving as a series regular, but the manner in which Hawkgirl and Hawkman flew off certainly leaves open for the possibility of their return, even without using time travel. Wentworth Miller’s character Leonard Snart (Captain Cold) sacrificed his life on Legends of Tomorrow. In the Berlanti universe, death is not a permanent change (except for the Earth 1 Laurel Lance), and Miller will be a recurring character in various shows in the universe. Presumably time travel or effects from the destruction of the Oculus will  provide the explanation.

While some characters are gone, the ending suggested the introduction of the Justice Society of America. Collider has background information on this. Marc Guggenhein also discussed this with The Hollywood Reporter:

The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow used Thursday’s season one finale to reveal that Rex Tyler aka Hourman (Patrick J. Adams), along with the JSA, would be a major part of the Arrow/Flash spinoff’s sophomore run. He arrived on a Waverider as the Legends team intended to take off as Time Masters, warning them that they would all die if they did.

“With his final words in the finale, he planted a pretty deep flag about where we’re headed in season two, which is not just introducing Hourman but introducing his teammates in the Justice Society of America,” executive producer Marc Guggenheim tells The Hollywood Reporter. “For comic book fans, everyone knows the Justice Society is really the precursor to the Justice League, so it’s a pretty big move in our DC universe here on TV.”

Although the DC Comics franchise keeps its film and television projects separate (unlike rival Marvel, which connects its film and TV projects in one shared universe), it’s interesting to note that it’s the newest — rather than the highest-rated DC show (Flash) — that is going to be the one introducing the iconic superhero team…

The introduction of Hourman and the JSA won’t be the only reason Legends of Tomorrow will look different in season two. Along with some casting shakeups, the elimination of the Time Council and the set timeline takes away a huge part of the story and the rules that were established all season long.”One of the other big things we’ve done in the season finale is we planted another flag in the form of Rip’s [Arthur Darvil] statement. Because the Time Masters are essentially gone and the Legends have destroyed the Oculus, that all means that someone else has to do the job of the Time Masters,” Guggenheim says. “Our Legends take that on as their new responsibility. It’s sort of like, you break it, you buy it.”

“That’s really exciting to us, that our team of Legends, our misfits, are going to be responsible for the preservation of the timeline and protection of history,” he adds. “As we’ve seen, our team, our guys are not always the most responsible people around so maybe time has got some new troubles. But it will provide a lot of fodder, a lot of fun story for season two.”

With Supergirl getting picked up by the CW Network, they didn’t waste any time in announcing  plans for a four way crossover with Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow. This is facilitated by all four now being on the same network and all being filed in Vancouver starting next season. These matters are far more important then the logistics of getting Supergirl involved with characters who are on a different earth.

Above is a trailer for the movie Star Trek Beyond. It also looks like Paramount has been convinced that it is not a good idea to sue fans over copyright infringements in fan-made movies. JJ Abrams made this announcement:

A few months back there was a fan movie, Axanar that was being fan made, and there was this lawsuit between the studio and these fans. And Justin was sort of outraged by this as a longtime fan. And, we started talking about it and realized this was not an appropriate way to deal with the fans. The fans should be celebrating this thing, we all [as] fans are part of this world. So he went to the studio and pushed them to stop this lawsuit and now within the last few weeks it will be announced that this is going away and the fans will be able to [continue] their productions.

Hopefully they realize that it has been the fans who have kept interest in Star Trek alive, enabling them to make money from continued movies and soon a new television series.

CBS also released the above teaser for the upcoming Star Trek television series, which does not really provide any information. There has been some speculation that the statement of “new crews” in pleural might suggest more than one crew, possibly taking place in different eras.

The above trailer was released for season two of Mr. Robot which begins on July 13. We see that Christian Slater’s character is still around, and don’t know how much of anything else is real or in someone’s head.

With it doubtful that CBS will renew Limitless (but no cancellation announcement either), there is now talk of trying to sell it to another network. I don’t know if the finances would work, but it seems like it might be a good fit at USA Network. Supergirl has already moved from CBS to the CW Network, and I’m still hoping attempts to keep Person of Interest alive at anther network are successful.

Moving from science fiction to science, Mars is appearing as it biggest in over a decade:

Mars comes into opposition — the point when Mars and the Sun are on directly opposite sides of the Earth — once every two years.

But on Sunday night, as the Red Planet edged towards its closest point to Earth in 11 years, it appeared much bigger and brighter in the night sky than usual.

Amateur astronomer Dr Ian Musgrave, from the University of Adelaide, said it would trump Venus as the brightest object in the sky, aside from the Sun and the Moon.

SciFi Weekend: New Companion Announced For Doctor Who; Supergirl Finale; Krypton; The Girl On The Train; Person of Interest; Mr Robot; The Blacklist; The Night Manager; Catastrophe; Mick Jagger

The next companion has been introduced in the video above to replace Jenna Coleman on Doctor Who. Pearl Mackie will play a character named Bill, who clearly has not encountered the Daleks in the past. The Guardian has a little more information on her:

Capaldi said it was “a genuine delight” to welcome Mackie to Doctor Who. “A fine, fine actress with a wonderful zest and charm, she’s a refreshing addition to the Tardis and will bring a universe of exciting new possibilities to the Doctor’s adventures.”
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Steven Moffat, outgoing lead writer and executive producer, said: “A new face in the Tardis, a new voyage about to begin: welcome aboard, the amazing Pearl Mackie! This is where the story really starts.”

Mackie trained as an actor at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, graduating in 2010. Since drama school, she has worked across theatre, film, radio and television. Her acting credits include Svengali, a British film released in 2013, and she is currently appearing in the stage production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Gielgud Theatre in London.

Among other actors who had been thought to be in the running for the role were Coronation Street’s Michelle Keegan, Rakhee Thakrar, who impressed many with her performance as Shabnam Masood in EastEnders, and Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark in Game of Thrones and guest-starred in the last season of the sci-fi show.

Supergirl finale

Supergirl ended the season well. While the two part season finale had its plot holes, they did end many of the plot thread of the season, while leaving one major one for next season (the search for Jeremiah Danvers) and ended the episode with a cliff hanger. Prior to the last second cliff hanger, there was a feel-good moment for the cast. Plus there is the question (as of now undecided by the writers) as to exactly Kara’s new job will be.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed Andrew Kreisberg about the finale. Here are a couple of excerpts:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start off with the reveal that someone else has landed on Earth. What can you tease of who this is? Are they friend or foe?
ANDREW KREISBERG:
Obviously it’s our big cliffhanger of the season, so I’m not fully inclined to let everyone know who shot J.R. It’s an important character, and they’ll play an important role in season 2.

Is this a character we may have seen in the comics before?
Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but it’ll be cool. The fans are going to be excited. It’s going to definitely shake things up for season 2.

Especially with something like Project Cadmus in the ether, the first person I think of is Superboy.
[Crickets.]

Moving on, Kara was willing to risk her life for the world. How does that change her in season 2?
This whole season has been about her embracing being Supergirl. In a way, this was her graduation episode. She hadn’t fully figured out how to integrate being Supergirl into her life. This whole season has been a learning experience for her. At the end of this episode, she’s fully Supergirl. Next season, you’re going to see a Supergirl who is more mature, and a bit more of a cohesive character. She’s taken the identity of Kara and the identity of Supergirl and merged them in a better way. You’re just going to see a more confident, stronger Supergirl than we’ve ever seen before.

Is it safe to say the world is now on her side?
Oh yeah. You don’t save the world without dispelling all doubters…

Even though Fort Rozz is gone, are the prisoners who were once inside it still an ever-present threat?
I think so.

What can you say of the fates of Non and Brainiac?
If you’re a fan of the comic books, you know that Kara’s heat vision took away Non’s — lobotomized Non. How and when we see him again, he’ll probably be very different. I think Indigo is probably the hardest person in the world to kill given that she’s a living computer, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she pops up again.

What would you say was your point of pride for the first season?
I’m so proud of the show. As much expectation there was for the show, there was also a lot of like, “Yeah, prove it!” [Laughs.] I think the show really works. Melissa is a star. Like any first season show, there were missteps and not every episode was as strong as the others, but I can point to a whole bunch of episodes, like “Red Faced,” like “Human for a Day,” like the crossover, like “Falling” as being some of my favorite episodes that I’ve gotten to do over the course of all the series that Greg [Berlanti] and I work on together. I’m just super proud of the show. We’ve proven that there’s an audience for a female superhero. Hopefully there will be many more years to come.

Syfy has ordered a pilot for a Superman prequel Krypton, set on the planet two generations before its destruction. The idea reminds me of Gotham, and even more of Caprica. Hopefully it is more successful than the later.

The trailer is out for The Girl On The Train. The mystery novel, often compared to Gone Girl, should make a good movie, and does have a strong cast.

The cast and crew of Person of Interest haven’t given up on saving the show, which CBS is ending after the upcoming season which will air this spring. From TV Guide:

A potential reboot doesn’t mean, however, that the June 21 series finale will lack closure. “We had to hurry up and end it. They had 13 episodes to turn a very large, slow-moving boat,” Emerson says. “But I think the idea that we had to do it in 13 was actually a plus rather than a minus. I think it allowed the writers’ room to set aside their need to create palatable side stories or a murder-of-the-week or whatever, and really just get focused on wrapping up the loose ends of this thing.”

Adds executive producer Jonathan Nolan: “I would have loved to have kept making this thing for a long, long time, but you don’t want the show to become creatively moribund. We saw the writing on the wall before this season started, but we had the incredible luxury of having 13 episodes to really finish our story. And so, as much as I would have loved to have kept working on the show … I’m very proud of what we’ve made here for the final season, and I’m very glad that we had a chance to finish telling our story, an opportunity that’s denied to so many great network TV shows. So I’m very satisfied with the way we’ve told our story, and I certainly hope our fans are.”

After evolving from a CBS procedural to a true genre show, I certainly can see reason to keep it going if any other networks are interested.

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

Mr. Robot will be returning on July 13. Presumably we will be seeing the aftermath of the first season finale, unless Elliot just imagined it all.

Some additional brief thoughts on the past week which will be kept brief due to limited time this week:

Better Call Saul had a great second season, but certainly left a lot hanging in its season finale.

Cape May was an unusual episode of The Blacklist. I’m still not certain if Lizzie is really dead, but it is looking less likely that Reddington faked her death. If she is alive, Reddington does not appear to be aware of it.

The Night Manager’s premier was excellent. As soon as time permits I will probably be downloading the remainder of the season rather than waiting for it to finish its run here.

Speaking of shows from the UK, Amazon recently released the second season of Catastrophe, which is well worth watching. The show is much like You’re The Worst in tone with a somewhat older couple. Like You’re The Worst, Catastrophe got a little more serious in its second season, but it did so without any drop in quality or humor.

In other entertainment news, Mick Jagger is not portrayed very well in a new book:

Rich Cohen delivers the unflattering portrayal of Jagger in “The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones.”

“There’s something monstrous about Mick Jagger,” Cohen writes after exhuming details from the band’s dark past.

“The Stones had been shedding people from the start. Use ’em up, toss ’em aside,” Cohen continues. “It’s a machine that runs on bodies.”

Prince was honored in this week’s Saturday Night Live, hosted by Jimmy Fallon.

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

Agent Carter Hollywood Ending

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purely related to the file?
FAZEKAS:
Correct.

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

Later in the interview:

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

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

Haley Atwell Hollywood Ending

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Robot s01e03

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supergirl Flash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Malvolent

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Mr. Robot; Jessica Jones; Kimmy Schmidt; Person of Interest; Homeland; 24; Heroes; The DC Superhero Shows; Orphan Black; Blacklist

Mr Robot Finale Bar

After Mr. Robot won two Golden Globes for Best TV Drama and Best Supporting Actor (Christian Slater), cast and crew discussed the show at the Television Critics Association press tour. Here are some excerpts via Vulture:

The first-season finale ended with everyone’s favorite hacker confronting his painful delusions. The new season will begin with that struggle. “The whole show has been about Elliot’s emotional journey, and I really wanted to focus on that and less about the plot,” Esmail said. “And so, for me, the headline of season two is: How does Elliot reconcile the fact that he’s aware that he’s been seeing this fantasy?” Even as the first season entertained viewers with several twists and turns, Esmail said he’s not interested in “gotcha moments … Rami brilliantly plays Elliot in a way that he drops you into his psyche. So you’re learning it with him. As long as that is organic and that feels real, then I think the twists will come from there. But it’s not my agenda to keep shocking you. It really isn’t.”

Elliot’s past — and when his delusions began, and whom they involve — will become clearer in the second season. “There will be a lot more backstory that we’re going to show,” Esmail shared. “The timeline is going to get a little clearer. Not 100 percent clearer, because what’s the fun in that? But a little clearer.” Malek said Esmail has shared “enough” with him to help him start preparing for his performance. With this character, I have to prepare for anything at any given moment. I go through every direction as to what possibly happened to someone like this because in his head we never know what has happened. And I think having to trace back the truth and discover the truth ultimately makes him more complex to play — just trying to decipher what he’s actually seen and where he’s actually been. When I think about that, it kind of haunts me as a human being, having to do that. And that’s the place he finds himself in approaching this next season.”

Elliot is an unreliable narrator, and yes, there are other things he’s shown viewers besides the identity of Mr. Robot that we shouldn’t trust. After Esmail revealed that during the panel, Malek asked him, “Do I know? Do we know?” The answer: “No.”

Jessica Jones Luke Cage

Krysten Ritter discussed the sex scenes in Jessica Jones during the press tour. Considering both the highly favorable reception for the show and discussion of season two in several years, I assumed that it was already decided. Apparently a second season was not official at the time, but Netflix has now made it official. Plus elsewhere there is talk about season two of Daredevil, and about  Iron Fist,

Netflix has also announced that Orange is the New Black will return on June 17, 2016 and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt returns for its second season on April 15th, 2016. Kimmy Schmidt has also been renewed for a third season.

Person of Interest season 5 will air this spring, and CBS President Glenn Geller left open the possibility that it could be renewed. Perhaps airing in the spring, when there aren’t as many new episodes of network shows, will result in high ratings to justify renewing it. On the other hand, the show has an extensive back-story and a lot of episodes to catch up on which makes it difficult for new viewers to get involved. It would be interesting if someone could put together the parts of episodes dealing just with the mythology of the show and cut all the number of the week stories.

Homeland will be coming back for a fifth season, taking place in New York. I finally gave in and completed watching the last season over the holidays. It was better than some recent seasons, but still far below the first season. There were also some vague references to Quinn’s fate:

The closest thing to a teaser came in the form of a cryptic update on Quinn, who was not having a good time at the end of last season. “Quinn is very damaged, no question about that,” the network’s president of programming, Gary Levine, said, according to Deadline. “If he should live, he won’t be in the shape and form he was.”

If this (and multiple other shows) don’t give you enough stories on fighting terrorism, Fox plans to reboot 24 with a new case.

Heroes Reborn will not be coming back for a second season, and there is no reason it should.

73rd ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured: (l-r) Melissa Benoist, Grant Gustin, Presenters at the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

We sort of had a Supergirl/Flash crossover at the Golden Globes when Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin presented an award together. (I wish they had the two race up the stage to see whether Supergirl or the Flash is faster.) There have been rumors and denials of a crossover on their television series for some time. CBS president Glenn Geller has now left an opening for such an event. I hope Arrow is included as I think that Kara and Felicity would get along very well together. More on the possibility of a crossover here.

The Flash and Arrow will be returning on CW, along with the premiere of DC’S Legends of Tomorrow. The producers have been denying internet rumors that Felicity will become Oracle. (I don’t think anyone really believes she was killed.)  Some news here, including that the remainder of the season on The Flash will deal with Zoom and the show’s multiverse.

The Americans, one of the best dramatic shows on television the last few years, returns on March 16. Some teasers on the upcoming season and future of the show here.

The above teaser has been released for season 4 of Orphan Black.

Blacklist appears to have wrapped up the Lizzie on the run storyline which dominated the first half of the season. The Director turned out to be less powerful that initially suggested as the Cabal literally had him dropped. Reddington has said it was time to “take down the Cabal” but it appears to remain alive and well (even if weaker). Things are much like before except it appears Lizzie will now be working with Reddington as an FBI asset as opposed to an agent. Plus it is not clear if Reddington is now a part of the cabal. If so, does that mean they are still an evil group trying to get us into World War III with Russia? Will Reddington still be helping the FBI capture people involved with the Cabal?Plus is Laurel Hitchen in charge, or just the highest ranking person we see, and how dangerous will she be now that everyone is on to her?

SciFi Weekend: The Top 20 New Shows of 2015

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

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

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

Top 20 New Shows Of 2015

Last Man On EarthCa

20. Last Man on Earth (ABC)

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

NUP_166495_0049.jpg

19. Childhood’s End (Syfy)

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

Togetherness

18. Togetherness (HBO)

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

The Expanse

17.The Expanse (Syfy)

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

Fresh off the Boat

16. Fresh Off The Boat (ABC)

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

Casual

15. Casual (Hulu)

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

12Monkeys

14. 12 Monkeys (Syfy)

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

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

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

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

Supergirl-TV-Show-Actress-Melissa-Benoist

12. Supergirl (CBS)

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

Sense8 Will and Riley

11. Sense 8 (Netflix)

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

agent-carter_promo-cast-photos-616x462

10. Agent Carter (ABC)

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

kimmy23f-6-web

9. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

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

Daredevil Matt and Karen

8. Daredevil (Netflix)

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

Master of None

7. Master of None (Netflix)

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

Catastrophe

6. Catastrophe (Channel 4/Amazon)

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

Man In The High Castle Poster

5. Man In The High Castle (Amazon)

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

Humans

4. Humans (Channel 4/AMC)

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

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

3. Mr. Robot (USA)

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

Better Call Saul

2. Better Call Saul (AMC)

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

Jessica Jones

1. Jessica Jones (Netflix)

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

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

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

Honorable Mention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Mr Robot Season 1 Finale; Fall Trailers For Arrow, SHIELD, iZombie, & Doctor Who; Continuum Season 4 Premiere

Mr Robot

The first season finale of Mr. Robot took place after two weeks of big revelations including Darlene being Elliot’s sister and, not only was Mr. Robot imaginary as many suspected from the start of the season, he was based on Elliot’s real father. The hack planned by fsociety took back seat those two weeks, almost feeling like a McGuffin for the season, and it wasn’t clear if this was ever going to be completed. In the finale we never saw the completion of the plan. Instead Elliot awoke to find a changed world with his plan having been successfully completed. For a while I wondered if it was all going to be a dream, but if so it is a dream Elliot never woke up from.

It is often unclear as to what is real in this show, as captured by the return of Mr. Robot and Elliot’s reaction:

You’re not real.
What? And you are? Is any of it real?

The episode was notable for the return of Mr. Robot after confirming that he was not real, and  for the absence of Tyrell Wellick. The scenes with Mr. Robot take on a different meaning now that we know that it is all in Elliot’s imagination. Thus we saw the scene in which Mr. Robot provoked someone into beating him up, with Elliot winding up taking the beating.

Mr Robot Finale Suicide

The episode also has Angela not only working at Evil Corp, but appearing to have much more influence there than expected. Will she be on the opposing side to Elliott next season, or a major ally from within the enemy? Scenes involving Evil Crop also included the suicide scene which led the the finale being delayed a week. Plus the finale included a reference to Ashley Madison, which made it seem more like something really happening in the present.

Mr. Robot was renewed for a second season at the start of the first so we know we will be able to see the ramifications of the hack working, and the economic breakdown this appears to be leading to. Like Hannibal last week, the episode also ended with a surprising scene added on.

Mr Robot Times Square

Sam Esmail discussed the final scene and much more about the finale in an interview at The Hollywood Reporter:

That was a very surprising last scene, with the return of White Rose. What were you trying to illustrate with that very last scene?

The fact that it became a post-credit scene was more out of a negotiation on how to end the season. Do we end on Elliot? Do we end on this scene that sets up what the next season arc is going to be? The story has always been about Elliot, and it should continue to be about Elliot, so I felt weird ending the season on this other scene that had nothing to do with any of our main characters. I was trying to figure out structurally where to put it in the last episode, and because it does such a good job of queuing up our next season arc, I basically came up with the idea of putting it after the credits, which is something not typically done on television shows. I just thought, “OK, that’s a great way to use the classic strategy of creating a coda, which is exactly what it is, and allowing me to end the season properly on Elliot.”

Like you said, that’s not done a lot on TV. How receptive was USA to that idea?

When I wrote the script, I finished Elliot’s scene, and I wrote, “Fade to black, credits.” Then I wrote, “After end credits,” and then I put in the White Rose scene. Then when we got on the phone, their reaction to me was, “You can’t end a season on White Rose. You’ve got to end it on Elliot.” I said, “No, I agree, guys, but it’s after the credits. Don’t you think that would work?” They had no idea. They skipped those two lines, and then there was this moment where it clicked with everyone: “That’s f—ing perfect.” They were so into the idea that they figured out a way to do it.

How does that last scene set up next season and where you’re going with the show?

I’ve always said that the first season was the first act of my feature, so this is what I meant. I wanted the story of Mr. Robot to be Elliot actually accomplishing his goal, setting the world into chaos. What would happen to society if something like this occurred where, basically, if the consumer-debt industry were to be erased? What are the economics of that? What would the world look like? Would there be a revolution? Would governments take over? Would businesses take over? To me, that canvas was something I was interested in exploring, so, for me, that’s what that last scene sets up. We’re about to watch Rome burn. That’s the world Elliot’s going to enter next season…

I think once people figured out Mr. Robot’s real identity, they worried about how much Christian Slater would still be seen on the show. From what you just said, it sounds like he’ll be as much of a presence in season two as he was in season one.

It’s almost more so. It’s freeing because now Elliot is aware that Mr. Robot is this alter ego that he has to deal with. So it actually takes more of like a Jekyll and Hyde trajectory because now the audience is in on it, as well as Elliot, and now we’re going to basically go into that realm. But the story is really about the relationship that he has with his dead father, and how he could never reconcile the pain that caused him? How is he reconciling now as an adult male? Especially in the way that it’s manifesting itself.

It was very interesting to see how the outside world perceives Elliot when he’s having that confrontation with Mr. Robot in the restaurant and specifically Elliot holding himself up against a wall. Why was it important to show that?

Because I want to start stripping the subjectivity of Elliot’s world a little bit, giving us glimpses into what an objective version of this story might look like, even if it’s just slivers of that reality. Because I do think, in terms of telling a show that’s so deeply subjective into this unreliable narration, it can become untethered to a certain extent. As long we have those glimpses, I think that helps us keep track a little bit better and keeps the audience in check. But don’t forget, this is still in the eyes of Elliot, so we’ve started discovering these objective realities along with him. When Mr. Robot says that line, “This looks a little weird,” Elliot’s sort of realizing he’s doing this to himself. And then he proceeds on. So we’re still figuring this out with him, but I think that’s going to be part of this whole journey for Elliot, is trying to get into a more grounded reality…

It also was revealed recently that Darlene is Elliot’s sister, but we haven’t learned a lot about their relationship and why they weren’t close. How much will we learn in season two?

That goes into the whole idea of the emotional journey that Elliot [takes]. We haven’t even cracked the surface of his past. What were the court-appointed therapy sessions all about? What was his family history was all about? Why Darlene helped Elliot create fsociety? There’s a whole backstory. Going even further back to childhood and what his relationship with his father was and how did that devolve? We got a little taste of it at the beginning of episode nine. Not to mention their mother. All of that is still in the wheelhouse of what we’re going to explore in the next few seasons because that’s all going to inform Elliot’s journey and how he battles his demons, aka Mr. Robot.

Angela made a lot of big moves in the finale. Why do you think she chose the path that she did? What can you say is the next step of her evolution?

Because this show is really about identity and about change and about these young people who are trying to find themselves, who are trying to find who they are and how they fit in the world, Angela’s character arc is really fascinating because she’s the path of the American dream. She is the sort of person that has the mentality of, if you work hard enough, you’ll get the big job offers, you’ll get the big job promotions, and you’ll work your way up the ladder. If you want to affect change, you do it within the system because the system allows for that, allows the younger generation to come in and influence society, and the point is to have a bottom-up strategy of having change come from the younger generation. Angela has that levelheaded, American idealism of trying to affect change from within. That, to me, is a very interesting parallel to have running through the series in contrast with Elliot, who’s very much trying to affect change from outside the system. We never try and spell out what’s right and wrong and who the clear good guys are versus the bad guys, and I just think that both the approaches of Elliot and Angela, you can look at from both good and bad sides, and that, to me, is interesting. When those two parallels collide, I think that’s just going to make for great drama and great story.

Can you say how long after the events of the season finale the season-two premiere will pick up?

We will have a continuous storyline, meaning we won’t necessarily time-jump in story and not ever give you the gap. I don’t know where exactly season two will pick up.

Mr Robot Finale Darlene

More on the hack and other topics at Entertainment Weekly:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: For the finale, you skipped the hack and threw the audience into the deep end. What was the thinking behind that choice?
SAM ESMAIL: We’re shifting down gears into this new world where we’re aware, along with Elliot, that Mr. Robot is his alter ego and that he sort of is this demon that lives inside of him and that Elliot can’t account for all of his actions because of him. That opens up this whole interesting can of worms that we’re basically setting up for next season, one of them being this element of time loss. Let’s not forget that in episode 9, Darlene mentions that he was the one that created fsociety with her. We’re not even aware of that, neither is Elliot. There’s that to explore. Now we’re missing three days. In those three days, what happened? Where is Tyrell? What was the deal between him and Tyrell that allowed the hack to still continue? All of that sets up really interesting questions for the second season. One of the things that I love about the finale is that it’s essentially queueing up where we’re going to go and on top of that, shifting the direction of our story. Now it’s not about this mystery within himself that Elliot’s trying to resolve. Now it’s grown more external. He’s aware of what’s going on inside of him, and it’s leaking out. How’s he going to deal with that?

Is the mystery of those three days the immediate conflict once season two picks up, or is that something you’ll explore over time?
I think everything is going to be looked at over time. The whole backstory of fsociety, as well as those three days, is something that I think we’re going to delve into in the next season. I don’t know exactly when yet, but we’re definitely going to show it…

The finale also pivots Angela and the perspective we’re getting from her, which is from within Evil Corp. Is that something we’ll more of in season two?
Absolutely. The thing about Angela that I think is interesting is that she parallels Elliot in an interesting way because she’s actually embracing the more traditional route of the American dream. You work hard. You’ll get the job offers. You’ll get the promotions. If you really want to affect change, you do it by having a good work ethic and sticking to your principles. Maybe then you can influence and make changes from within the system, whereas Elliot is on the other side of it and trying to change from outside the system. I can see the good and bad of both. You can make arguments for both sides equally. It’s almost 50-50. That morally ambiguous gray area is where I love the show to be, especially where we see those paths collide. That makes for a really interesting story…

The Ashley Madison reference had me laughing. Was that a clever bit of ADR [automated dialogue replacement]?
It was. The weird thing is that in the pilot, Ashley Madison was one of his vices. When this whole thing happened, it was something that I was going to use in the season finale, when I wrote that scene, but then I was like, “Well, I already mentioned Ashley Madison. How many references can we have?” So I kind of edited it out. When we were reshooting it, this whole hack happened, so I thought this was perfect. In post, I thought, “I have to put this back in.”

mr-robot-season-finale-review

An additional interview at Vulture, including that final scene:

Is that why season one ends with that B.D. Wong single-take scene? To keep the audience truly guessing?
I always knew I wanted to end the first season like that. I didn’t want the audience to come away thinking FSociety had won because they took down the bad guys. Evil Corp is done, so the stakes are gone. But I always knew there was another layer. We’re not even half-peeling this whole thing off yet, and we are going to show you a little bit of it. I always had that scene in my head as the last scene of the season, because I wanted to tell the audience the stakes are going to go even higher.

But I felt weird ending the scene not on Elliot. It didn’t feel right to end on these two other characters we barely knew, and that’s when I came up with the idea of putting it in as a coda. It always kind of was a coda, and we put it in the post-credits. It wasn’t trying to break new ground, but it felt natural for that kind of scene.

You’ve spoken about Joanna Wellick having a larger role for season two, but are there any other hints you can give about what to expect next season?
The good thing about the show is that we surprise you. One thing people have been asking is if Christian [Slater] will be around for the second season, and I will say 100 percent. Maybe to add a bit more spice: We will explore a little bit of Elliot’s family life.

In terms of his mother?
His mother, and even Darlene. Also, this show is about this person discovering that he has this disorder. That was what the original feature was going to [be] about, that’s what this show is just about to scratch the surface of. What we are really setting up for the second season is what happens when you become self-aware of your own disorders

We are approaching the fall season with many trailers now coming out. Arrow Season 4 Trailer above. The season starts October 7.

Agents of SHIELD trailer, which returns September 29.

iZombie returns October 6.

Doctor Who returns September 19. The trailer is above and the other big news is that River Song will be returning for the Christmas Special.

Continuum Lost Hours

The first episode of season four of Continuum, Lost Hours, has aired on Showcase, and has been available for streaming for a while. It can even be seen on You Tube. As it has not aired in the United States I will avoid any spoilers. The episode does begin immediately after the season three finale and largely serves to reset things after the confusion of a new time line being established last season. It will be interesting to see how they both tie up the issues raised at the end of season three and conclude the entire season.

While Continuum has five remaining episodes to tie things up, Under the Dome ends for good after this week. A wise move on the part of CBS.