SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; The Americans; American Gods

I looked at the regular season finale of Doctor Who, The Doctor Falls, last week. The episode ended with Peter Capaldi fighting his inevitable regeneration. Peter Capaldi discussed why he is leaving the show with Radio Times:

Why make this your final series?

I love this show, but I’ve never done anything where you turn up every day for ten months. I want to always be giving it my best and I don’t think if I stayed on I’d be able to do that. I can’t think of another way to say, “This could be the end of civilisation as we know it.”

With episodic television of any genre, the audience wants the same thing all the time – but the instinct that leads the actor is not about being in a groove…

What’s the hardest part of being the Doctor?

Doctor Who is a hugely challenging show to write and to act in. It has to turn on a dime from comedy to terror to tragedy. It’s a children’s show that developed into something more complex, a bit more adult-orientated, but we have a duty to play to the seven-year-old as well as the 42-year-old. Sometimes you have to be more comic than you’d normally be comfortable with, but it’s important.

How would you describe your Doctor?

The Doctor is deeply sad – I think he always has been. When you’re wise and you’ve lived a very long time, that’s how you’d be. Although you have to be careful with very human emotions and the Doctor because he’s an alien. It’s more straightforward to play the human elements, but then it might as well be a cop show…

What can you say about your regeneration?

I can’t go into the details. I know what happens, but I don’t know how it happens. Certainly it’s not straightforward. It’s more complicated than recent ones. That’s one of the appeals of being in the show – it has death at the heart of it. He’s the only hero on TV who dies again and again.

The article also includes interviews with Michelle Gomez and Steven Moffat. From the interview with Steven Moffat:

How would you describe your Doctors?

He is someone who’s running towards everything at once because he might miss it. He doesn’t understand why anyone would do the same thing every day or sit in the same room every day. He doesn’t understand why you would live a life in safety when you could be running from fires and explosions. He doesn’t understand why we volunteer to be dull – he needs to be out there and experiencing everything at once.

Along the way, of course, he helps people and people start to think of him as this great hero, but he doesn’t understand that – he’s just running past people and seeing that they need help, so he helps. Actors either have it or they don’t. The first time I saw Matt Smith – only the second person to audition for the role – you could instantly tell that he was Doctor Who. There was nothing clever about saying, “Well, obviously it’s him.”

In another interview, Moffat discussed possibly leaving a cliffhanger for Chris Chibnall, and the problem with gender pronouns when dealing with Missy and the Master:

After talking about the — incestuous? masturbatory? — vibes between Missy and The Master, something previous Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies wanted more of when Moffat told him about his plans to bring back Simm, Moffat revealed that he thought about ending his tenure as showrunner with a cliffhanger that incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall would have to resolve.

“We concocted this whole scheme that I’d cliffhanger out of my era of Doctor Whoand hand over to Chris with Missy telling the Master and the Doctor that she’s pregnant,” Moffat revealed. “I decided not to do that. Over to you, Chibs. Sort that one out, mate.”

While Moffat admitted that the idea was just “email lunacy,” he also called for a societal change as a result of his experience talking about the character’s gender.

“We have to ban gender pronouns. I can no longer talk about the character of the Master ‘slash’ Missy without having to go ‘slash.’ It’s exhausting,” Moffat complained. “Let’s just rid of them. It’s a stupid idea in the first place. What do we need them for?”

We still have the Christmas episode to look forward to. The Doctor has sometimes seen previous companions at the time of his regeneration, and it has been reported that Jenna Coleman will be appearing in the episode. There is no information as to whether this will show what has happened since she went off to explore the universe, or if this will be a visit with Clara Oswald from earlier in her life, or perhaps just something in the Doctor’s head. Jenna Coleman currently stars on Victoria.

Of course leaving Doctor Who won’t be the end for Steven Moffat. In a recent radio interview, he left open the possibility of Sherlock returning for another season. Variety reports that Steven Moffat and Marc Gatiss are working on an adaptation of Dracula. Like Sherlock, it will consist of short seasons of feature length episodes. No word as to where and when this will be set.

Besides last week’s finale of Doctor Who, other shows have had season finales worth noting. I have recently discussed iZombie here, and The Leftovers and Fargo here. Due to traveling and other distractions, I have fallen behind on other finales and will catch up on a couple more today–The Americans and American Gods. In the near future I also hope to look back at the finales of additional shows including The Handmaid’s Tale, Gotham, Veep, and Better Call Saul. Plus there should be a lot more news on next season’s shows as we get into Comic Con.

The Americans has been one of the best dramas on television the last several years. Much of this season was to set up the final season next year, and the ending this year felt somewhat like a tease. It looked like Philip and Elizabeth might return home, but obviously that could not happen until the end of next season, if it ever does happen. Instead they were given a reason to remain at the last minute. Stan also suggested he might leave his position at the FBI, but Renee quickly argued that he should not. That is also a tease for the viewers who have been wondering (along with Elizabeth and Philip) if Renee is a Russian spy who wanted Stan to remain where he is for her own reasons. Of course Stan had no such thoughts. TV Line interviewed the producers and asked about this scene:

TVLINE | In the finale, we also saw Renee try to talk Stan into staying with the FBI. Is he starting to get suspicious of her? And will Laurie Holden be back next season?
WEISBERG | [Laughs] No comment on the latter. Nice try! But on the former, we don’t particularly think so. Stan would have no more reason to be suspicious of the woman he’s dating than he does the neighbors across the street.

Deadline also discussed the finale with Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields. Topics included where the show will be going in the final season, whether it will lead into the collapse of the Soviet Union, and whether Donald Trump will appear. Here are some excepts:

DEADLINE: So, after all that anticipation this season, a big CIA catch means Philip and Elizabeth are not heading home to the Soviet Union. So what’s next?

WEISBERG: Still not going home. They still can’t get home. It was so close though, so close. They’re not only not going home, but it sure sounds like Philip is quitting his job — at least his spy job. It sounds like he’s going to work at the travel agency full time.

DEADLINE: Well, I doubt you mean that, but it did seem like you had Keri’s character looking for a reason not to return home, which, of course, is a real turn for her from her contempt for the West that has fueled much of the series.

WEISBERG: We think that she was being sincere in what she told Philip about why she couldn’t go back. Whether she was dying to go back, having second thoughts about going back, whatever it was, it felt to us like that was classical Elizabeth Jennings that when duty calls she had to answer the call. It was certain she couldn’t go home when she and Philip now have their hooks in the new head of the Soviet division at the CIA.

DEADLINE: Which brings us to the sixth and final season for next year. With history catching up to the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, will we see Season 6 pick up from the Season 5 events of 1984 or move ahead in time toward a real resolution?

FIELDS: Dominic, you know we don’t like to give away really anything, but probably one thing we’re willing to say is that there’s going to be a resolution. Sometimes people will ask about The Americans. Is it moving slowly? Is anything happening? I think we are all willing to give away that there is something that most people who speak the English language would be willing to call a real ending…

DEADLINE: For a show so authentically drenched in the 1980s, there is one real-life character I’ve always been sure we would see one day on The Americans, a certain Art Of The Deal author who really became known back in the Reagan Era. So why hasn’t Donald Trump appeared on The Americans, even in the background or as an aside?

FIELDS: You know, it’s a funny thing. Had Donald Trump not become such a prominent part of our lives today, he certainly could have appeared in the background of the show (both laugh). Joking aside, that’s exactly the sort of reference we feel we could never make in the show, because it would have a self-conscious link. We feel would take the audience out of the experience of being immersed in the show and yank them back into today, and really isn’t the whole point of watching TV today to not have to think about today?

DEADLINE: So, going into Season 6, we’ll never see Donald Trump on The Americans?

FIELDS: I think as much as we try to prevent spoilers I am confident in saying we won’t. Joe, are you OK with that spoiler?

WEISBERG: I think we can say he’s not going to be in the show. Although, if you print that, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a call from him asking to be in the show.

The Hollywood Reporter looked at the final minutes of the finale of American Gods and how they are likely to lead into the second season:

While Wednesday’s true identity is certainly an important revelation for the series, it’s not the stopping point most fans of the Gaiman novel would have expected for the season. Instead, those fans were likely expecting to see Wednesday, Shadow and some of the other deities — including Orlando Jones as Mr. Nancy and Peter Stormare as Czernobog — arriving at the The House on the Rock, the site of what’s easily the single most iconic moment from the source material.

Based on the real-life Wisconsin tourist attraction of the same name, the House on the Rock is an architectural anomaly designed by Alex Jordan Jr. and originally opened in 1959. For those unfamiliar, the YouTube channel Atlas Obscura has an excellent breakdown of the “mind-tripping brain warp” nature of this extremely unusual location, which you can watch below.

In the fifth chapter of Gaiman’s book, Wednesday takes Shadow to the House on the Rock, and he explains it as “a place of power,” due to its nature as a roadside attraction. He says: “In other countries, over the years, people recognized the places of power. Sometimes it would be a natural formation, sometimes it would just be a place that was, somehow, special. They knew that something important was happening there, that there was some focusing point, some channel, some window to the Immanent. And so they would build temples, or cathedrals, or erect stone circles, or…well, you get the idea.”

…Shadow finally speaks Odin’s true name, and once he does, the whisper becomes louder and louder until it’s an undeniable echo, bellowing within a great hall in which Wednesday conducts his meeting with the other gods. From this point forward, Shadow knows that the oddities he’s experienced during his travels with Wednesday are more real than he could have ever imagined.

It’s a massive turning point in Gaiman’s novel, and given that the climactic scene occurs little more than 100 pages into the book, many fans expected to see the House on the Rock sequence in the season one finale. Instead, what they saw was Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) driving on a bus past a sign for the House on the Rock in the final scene of the season — a promise that the sequence is very much still ahead, albeit a bit further down the line than expected.

While the House on the Rock’s veritable absence from the finale is certainly disappointing for the book-reading faithful, it wasn’t without some warning. Fuller told THR before the season’s launch that due to some episode restructuring, budget that would have gone toward the House on the Rock sequence was instead repurposed to streamline the show’s narrative. What’s more, given that the first season of American Gods didn’t quite crack the first 100 pages of the book (with a total count of 541 pages in the updated and expanded 10th anniversary edition, including forewords and afterwards), fans can rest assured that the show will adapt almost every granular detail of the novel — eventually, anyway.

Deadline interviewed Michael Green and Bryan Fuller about the finale. Here are some excerpts, beginning with a question about House on the Rock:

DEADLINE: Where does the end of this season leave us, going into Season 2 and going into the rest of Neil’s book?

GREEN: Precariously. We always knew we wanted to end the season with our weight tilted towards House on the Rock. We talked a lot, early on about wanting to get there and even starting that story, then advancing the narrative that far. But we enjoyed our time with our characters so much and were doing so many things that took so much time and resources that we realized that we had a very interesting and satisfying ending with Wednesday taking his first real aggressive stance against the new gods. With him saying, ‘You were very, very unwise to count me out and to speak in those tones to me.’ So Wednesday has the upper hand in two ways, he is taking a shot across the bow that’s going to hurt the new gods and he has a believer in Shadow Moon. Those are two things that are not without significance.

DEADLINE: With where we are in terms of Neil’s book, will that play a big part in the consequences of Season 2?

FULLER: I think the bigger interpersonal dramas that are waiting for us in Season two that excites us greatly is the notion of Laura Moon versus Mr. Wednesday. We see, by the end of the season, that Laura understands that Wednesday had her assassinated, specifically, to put Shadow in this situation. We always talked about Laura becoming that metaphor for the last Catholic who can, you know, shake her fist at the sky, and say, “Fuck you, God.” But now she actually gets to say it to a real god and she’s a god that she can get her hands on so what is she going to do next?

DEADLINE: You strode into some sprawling themes in Season 1–faith, obviously, but also immigration, gun violence, race, sexism. From the reaction online and elsewhere, it felt like the audience was very receptive to those conversations and those discussions. Did that surprise you?

GREEN: I feel like the people who wouldn’t be receptive to those conversations aren’t watching the show…

DEADLINE: Speaking of anger, one of the new characters invented for the series was Corbin Bernsen’s god Vulcan. He appeared to meet a fiery end but are we going to see more newly created characters for Season 2?

FULLER: Yes but you know, there’s lots of new characters to come into this world that were part of this story in the book as well as some that weren’t that we want to include. We’re excited about Mama-Ji and we’re excited about Sam Black Crow. There were a lot of characters that we want to start weaving into the mythology of the television series, and we’re really excited about seeing characters from the first season, again, that you may not expect to see again.

DEADLINE: Obviously, a character we fully expect to see more of is Shadow Moon. Over Season 1, we’ve seen him go from a very closed, almost one-dimensional character, who is trying to find his way to someone or something, who now at the finale, has literally and figuratively seen the world open up in front of him and maybe some sense of who he really is becoming close to home now. How is that arc moving forward in Season 2?

FULLER: Well, it has to move forward in a proactive way for his character. So much of what we had in the first season was Shadow as passenger to the narrative He was in a situation where he had everything removed from him, so he didn’t know what he wanted as a character. He just knew that he had to fill his days. Now that he understands a little bit more about the world and the world of gods, we get to witness him as an apostle of sorts – and see what kind of apostle he could be.

The Wrap has more with Bryan Fuller. The Los Angeles Times has an interview with Neil Gaiman.

SciFi Weekend: Legion Premier; The Magicians; First Look At Klingons On Star Trek Discovery; Stranger Things; Travelers Renewed & Other Renewals; Supergirl/Flash Cross Over; Missy Returning To Doctor Who

The major genre event of the week was the much anticipated premier of Legion. After watching the pilot, I would say it is worthy of the hype. If it can maintain this quality, it would rank with Jessica Jones, and possibly surpass it as the best superhero show ever. Created by Noah Hawley of Fargo, the show will also hopefully receive a cross over base of fans from those who watch quality television, even if they have not watched superhero shows in the past.

Syfy Wire interviewed Noah Hawley. Here is a portion of the interview:

In a recent conference call interview, Hawley says FX’s John Landgraf was all-in with approaching the show from left field. “The only reason to take on the genre on FX is if we felt we could make a FX show out of it,” Hawley details. “They are hardwired to look for a different way to tell a story. I think the love story [between David and Syd (Rachel Keller)] is also very grounding. When you have a character who doesn’t know what is real or not real, and the audience is on the journey with him, if you give them something positive to root for, they will make you a trade. As long as the girl is real and the love is real, we’ll go where you want to go.”

At the Television Critic’s Association Winter tour, we talked more with Hawley about how closely he hewed to the Marvel X-Men universe when crafting the series, the aesthetic of the series and how he narratively framed the eight-hour first season.

Legion has a very distinct, retro, out-of-place vibe to it. Why go with a vague visual setting for the series?

These latest X-Men movies take place in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, so there is a period-ness to the movies. By hiding the period [in the series], the question is more open-ended and it allows us to prove ourselves and stand on our own two feet. With the first year of Fargo, for the first three hours there was no connection to the movie at all so the audience felt it was working on its own. Then in the fourth hour, we introduced the money from the movie and suddenly it was connected. But by that point we had earned the right to be judged on our own merits.

Was there any burden to look to Marvel comic or even recent X-Men film mythology to construct this series around?

I suppose I have. There’s nothing on a white board with a lot of squiggly lines. For me, the show isn’t an information delivery device, right? It’s an experience delivery device. There is information in there that can often be separated from its meaning. You’re seeing things that are important because [David] is seeing them, but you don’t necessarily understand what they mean yet. It creates something that is a little surreal, which isn’t something that TV normally does, since Twin Peaks or Hannibal. There’s information that you will understand down the line, but right now what’s important is the experience of being in his mind…

Do you apply any of the ‘rules’ of the universe?

We obviously had a conversation based on the movies, where in the second-to-last movie mutants became public knowledge. Our idea is that they are not public knowledge. So it was a lot about where are we and how do we play with those rules. The other thing X-Men has is a lot of alternate universes. I’m not saying [the show is] one of those. I’m saying the rules are flexible enough that I can place the show and say, “Just watch it. Experience it and then we’ll talk.”

What’s been freeing about writing a genre show?

What I always got from the genre is a sense of wonder, and the inventiveness. If you look at the remake of Battlestar Galactica, there was the idea that the robots were religious, which was a such a fascinating idea. To say on an existential level, what is it really like to be these people [in Legion]? This idea that David, in the comics, has a multiple personality disorder, which is not something we are literally doing this year, but you are seeing facets of things that make you wonder, as in The Wizard of Oz, like a little bit of you were there, and you were there, and you were there, and they are all parts of him in some level…

How did you construct the series, as in will there be a cliffhanger to end the season like the comics or films might do, or is this self-contained storytelling?

It ends a chapter. Even though it’s a recurring series, and not a limited series, there is a beginning, middle and end to the first season, and there would be to the second season as well. I think it’s important to think of them in that way.

The Magicians also had some major events last week, with the third episode of the season feeling more like a season finale than an early season episode. (Spoilers ahead). Among the major changes, it does appear that Alice is at least a niffon, and probably dead. Fortunately in a genre show such as this, death may not be permanent, and characters might be seen even after death. Screener tried to find out what will happen with Alice from the cast:

Everyone give a warm welcome to Niffin Alice. Knowing that his girlfriend is essentially gone (niffins don’t have those pesky consciences, or even souls really) Quentin makes the impossible choice to set his keiko demon on her to make sure she isn’t set loose on Fillory.

Naturally, we asked the cast whether we should really accept that Alice is dead and gone. Jason Ralph’s answer was at least a little encouraging, since apparently Alice & Quentin might not be totally done with each other yet.

“The evolution of that relationship continues throughout the season,” Ralph teases. “So in some way, she’s around.”

It sounds like even though Alice is dead, we might be seeing a little more of her through flashbacks, visions, or even as a ghost. At least we can take heart knowing that we’ll see some version of her from here on out.

E! News interviewed Olivia Taylor Dudley:

E! News: At what point did you know we were saying goodbye to Alice this season?
Dudley: I knew eventually Alice was going to die, because I mean I read the books, and it happens in the books. I didn’t know going into the series when it would happen, and neither did John [McNamara] and Sera [Gamble], our showrunners. We talked about it and knew it wasn’t going to happen in the first season, so I assumed it was going to happen in the second season, but didn’t know until we got up to Vancouver and started shooting that we had the conversation that it was going to be in the third episode. And I think it’s so important to the story, and it’s a huge part of Quentin’s journey from here on out, and the heartbreak of that, so I knew that it was important. As much as I didn’t want it to happen, I was excited to get a chance to have that moment, because it was my favorite part in the books when Alice battles the beast and dies.

It was such a cool moment at the end of last season when Quentin realized Alice was really the “chosen one” who needed to kill the Beast. Did that have a big impact on you, especially knowing it was leading to this heroic death? 
That’s very exciting to get to play that. In that scene, when Quentin says you’re the hero, you’re the one, I think it’s really hard for Alice to digest. For me, it was so exciting to get to play the hero at the end, and you know, Alice has so many issues and it takes a really long time for any of them to have any kind of growth on the show, but under the surface, I think that it’s hard for her to swallow that she’s the one, she’s the chosen one. I love that in books and movies, like Lord of the Rings. I loved that character that gets to be the chosen one whether or not they wanted to. She wasn’t seeking this in her life, and to get it thrust upon her and force her to be great is, I think, really beautiful.

She also confirms that Alice will be back, in some form:

“That version of Alice that we’ve been with for the last season and a bit is gone forever. You can’t bring her back, and there’s no cheap tricks on bringing her back,” Dudley says. “So I get to disappear for a while, and there is a version of Alice that fans will get to see in one shape or another. I got to go on a separate journey with her and with this character later on in the season. I’m excited for people to see that. But it is heartbreaking, because I fell so in love with Alice and had such a wonderful time playing her, so getting to not play that person anymore is really sad.”

The Verge took a look at the entire series in an article entitled, The Magicians builds a better fantasy show by bringing realism to magic.

With Star Trek: Discovery taking place before The Original Show, there has been speculation as to whether the Klingons will return to their original look or have the ridges as on later series. We got the first answer in the picture above.

The cast of Stranger Things is on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, with some hints as to what happens next season.

Showcase has renewed Travelers for a second season, with it to also be available in the United States on Netflix. Netflix has also renewed The OA and Love.

Set photos suggest that the Supergirl/Flash musical cross over episode will take place in the 1940’s.

The BBC has confirmed that Missy will be returning on series 10 of Doctor Who.

The fifth and final season of Orphan Black will premiere on June 10.

Sarah Shahi of Person of Interest will be appearing in another genre show, Reverie. The NBC thriller deals with virtual reality.

We might need a show as absurd as Veep to make any sense out of the Trump White House. Fortunately the show will be returning on April 16.

Richard Hatch, who stared in the original Battlestar Galactica and also had a role in the remake, died last week of pancreatic cancer.

Al Jarreau died earlier today:

Al Jarreau, a Grammy Award-winning singer whose versatile tenor voice and vibrant stage style blurred the lines between jazz, soul and pop music, died Feb. 12 at a Los Angeles hospital. He was 76.

His publicist, Joe Gordon, announced the death, saying the singer had been treated for exhaustion, after announcing his retirement from touring last week. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Mr. Jarreau was loosely classified as a jazz singer, but his eclectic style was entirely his own, polished through years of obscure apprenticeship in lonely nightclubs. He did not release his first album until 1975, when he was 35, but within two years, he had won the first of his seven Grammy Awards and had begun to attract a wide following.

Democratic Elector States He Will Not Vote For Clinton In Electoral College

robert-satiacum

An elector in Washington has reminded us of another way in which this strange election year can become even stranger. AP reports that an elector (photo above), who had supported Bernie Sanders, states he will not vote for Hillary Clinton in the electoral college:

A Democratic elector in Washington state said Friday he won’t vote for Hillary Clinton even if she wins the popular vote in his state on Election Day, adding a degree of suspense when the Electoral College affirms the election results next month.

Robert Satiacum, a member of Washington’s Puyallup Tribe, supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. He said he believes Clinton is a “criminal” who doesn’t care enough about American Indians and “she’s done nothing but flip back and forth.”

He said he has wrestled with what to do, but feels that neither Clinton nor Republican Donald Trump can lead the country.

“She will not get my vote, period,” he said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

Unless Clinton should show a further drop in the polls, I doubt that the electoral college vote will come down to a single vote, but yesterday I did show a plausible scenario in which it was a near tie. This scenario showed a tie or Trump winning by a single vote, but if this is plausible then there are also possibilities in which Clinton wins exactly 270 electoral votes and the loss of one will prevent a victory. If one elector is saying this publically, there is also the possibility of other electors doing the same, in both parties.

Third party candidates also have a  small chance of winning a state, which could prevent a major party candidate from reaching 270 electoral votes. This has been the hope of both Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, who is very unlikely to win a state, and independent Evan McMullin, who has been polling well in Utah. Some Sanders supporters are also hoping that he can win Vermont on write-in votes, but chances of that are very remote with Sanders not even campaigning.

If no candidates obtain 270 electoral votes, the election will be decided by the House of Representatives, a scenario not seen in the United States since the last season of Veep, or in reality occurring only in the 1800 and 1824 elections. Members of the House can choose between the candidates with the top three number of electors. Supporters of third party candidates, along with some Sanders supporters, hope that members of the House will reject both Trump and Clinton and vote for their candidate, choosing the third place finisher. Someone who receives even a single electoral vote from an elector such as the one in Washington could come in third and be in contention. The vote is by state, coming down to which party dominates each state’s delegation. Republicans will win unless there is a Democratic sweep this year in Congress far beyond what anyone thinks is possible.

While any scenario involving anyone other than Clinton or Trump becoming president is highly unlikely, the most likely of the remote possibilities would be if Johnson or McMullin win a state, or if some Republican electors vote for an establishment Republican such as Mike Pence or Mitt Romney for president. Then there is a remote chance that House Republicans could wind up voting for someone other than Trump. If Republicans are divided, there is also the possibility that Democrats could join in support of a Republican other than Trump.

Update: Think Progress reports that a second elector from Washington has said they might not vote for Clinton. On the one hand, it is understandable that a pro-Clinton site such as this would be very upset by the prospect. On the other hand, Democrats should have thought through the ramifications of nominating a candidate as unfit to be president as Clinton.

Hillary Clinton Offers Continuity With Change (Plus More War & Flipping on TPP)

Continuity With Change

The second night of the Republican-Lite Convention featured fictitious story hour from the aspiring First Lady’s Man (to use Stephen Colbert’s title for him). It was good to see Rachel Maddow being critical of Bill Clinton’s speech, but the real problem was not talking about his courtship of Hillary, but his whitewashing of their political record and bogus claims that Hillary is a Change Maker.  Trying to hide the fact that Clinton is the candidate of the status quo in a year voters want change reminds me of Selena Meyer’s slogan of Continuity with Change on Veep. I imagine this is better than the two unofficial slogans of Clinton’s primary campaign: “It’s My Turn” and “No We Can’t.”

There was no mention of mass incarceration, welfare “reform,” and the consequence of his trade deals. A more honest assessment of the Clinton years from a liberal perspective can be found from Thomas Frank and Howard Zinn, who I have previously quoted here.

Despite having been debunked many times by the fact checkers, last night we again heard the exaggerations of Clinton’s role in the passing of CHIP. I imagine this comes from desperation in promoting a candidate who has accomplished so little during her career–unless you consider the devastation of Libya and increasing instability in the middle east to be an accomplishment.

Fact checkers have shown many other falsehoods during the speeches last  night, both on Clinton’s record and in distorting some of Donald Trump’s views. There is really no need to distort Trump’s views when his actual views are crazy enough. While it is no excuse, this was not out of the ordinary for political conventions, and there were far fewer falsehoods than in Donald Trump’s speech at the Republican Convention.

Not everybody in the convention hall went along with the falsehoods of the convention. Some Sanders supporter walked out, with the media generally ignoring this. Reportedly actors are being hired on craigslist to fill the empty seats. There was also an unexpected moment of honesty when Terry McAuliffe told reporters that Hillary Clinton will flip on TPP.

Hillary Clinton had a video appearance to mention little girls who might be inspired to become president some day. I wonder how many little girls have been injured or killed by Hillary Clinton’s bombs? The manner in which her supporters have turned revelations of corruption into the DNC into anti-Russian hysteria makes me wonder if this is the start of a new front in Hillary Clinton’s wars. After all, Clinton does have a long history of belligerence towards Russia, including attempting to interfere in their politics against Putin, and it has been a neocon goal to bring about regime change in Russia. Haven’t we learned anything from how the government lied us into wars in Vietnam and Iraq?

Stephen Colbert continued to air The Late Show live to mock the conventions. The first clip contains his monologue and the second features an interview with cartoon Hillary Clinton:

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

Orphan Black Season 3 finale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orphan-Black-season-3-finale-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manson was also interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter.

Kira (SKYLER WEXLER) and Sarah (TATIANA MASLANY)

Variety interviewed the co-creator John Fawcett:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about Susan Duncan still being alive?

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

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

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

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

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

Fawcett was also interviewed by Entertainment Weekly.

Game of Thrones Walk of Shame

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veep finale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breaking Bad

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black; Outlander; Roy Leaving Arrow; Oliva Munn, Super Hero; Gotham; Veep; Daredevil; The Americans; Sopranos Ending Explained; Jon Stewart On Why He Is Leaving The Daily Show

Orphan Black Helena Dream The Weight Of The Combination

Orphan Black returned on Saturday, beginning with a fun scene for the fans. It was another scene with Tatiana Maslany playing multiple seestas at once in Helena’s dream of perfect baby shower, reminiscent of  the clone dance party scene last season. The theme for the season is girl clones vs. boy clones, which sort of sounds like a season of Survivor. So far I have far less interest in the male clones. They didn’t get the chance to be introduced gradually as the girl clones were and, as most were raised in the military, there also probably is not as much difference these clones. One does have a mustache and one does have a scar to help tell them apart.

The conspiracy aspect continues to grow as once we learn about one group another turns out to be above them. Now we are dealing with Topside, who sent a “cleaner” named Ferdinand, who was secretly plotting with Rachel in a plan called Helsinki to kill all the female Project Leda clones.  After finding out about this I didn’t feel sorry at all for Rachel, who wasn’t recovering very well after Sarah poked a pencil through her eye and into her brain. She was also at the Mercy of Delphine, who is the new Rachel at Dyad, and can also be rather evil when necessary. Ferdinand’s arrival set up scenes where Sarah pretended to be Rachel, requiring Alison to pretend to be Sarah.

The New York Times Magazine looked at the filming of Orphan Black recently.

Outlander Devils Mark

The Devil’s Mark had major revelations on Outlander. Geillis revealed that she is a time traveler and this was the third show recently (besides The Americans and Game of Thrones) where someone apparently died by burning to death, although her death was not actually shown. I fear that this is an exception to the television rule that if you don’t see the body the character most likely didn’t really die, but maybe we will see her again. Hopefully Geillis’s confession won’t come back to harm Claire, and any other time travelers who might show up from the 20th century, after she claimed that her smallpox vaccine is the Devil’s mark.

Claire was saved by a combination of Jaime showing up and Gellis claiming to be true witch, followed by her telling Jaime. Surprisingly Jaime accepted it all, and even took her to the stones to make the decision as to which husband to be with. It appears she chose Jaime, although I imagine it is possible she tried to return home and failed. The possibility didn’t seem to come up that if she did travel in time again by touching the stones, there was no guarantee she would return to her original time. (It would have really been awesome if she turned up in the splinter facility on 12 Monkeys.)

Arrow Broken Arrow

On Arrow we learned that Roy’s sacrifice to save Oliver was part of a plan which left everyone alive and out of prison, but left with Roy needing to leave town to keep anyone else from realizing he is still alive.  While this leaves Oliver free, I still wonder how they are going to get the Arrow back openly in action. The moment the Arrow is spotted Detective Lance has new justification for following up on his knowledge that Oliver is really the Arrow.

Deadline spoke with  co-creators/executive producers Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim on Colton Haynes leaving the show as a regular (but will already be returning for an episode later this season).

DEADLINE: When did you know that Colton Haynes was leaving after Season 3?
BERLANTI: When we made the deal. We made a two-season deal that had a clock on it, we always knew that. When he was coming off Teen Wolf, we described the role to him, and we agreed to do it for a couple of years. At that particular moment, he had a lot of opportunities to do things, and we’re lucky he chose us. He brought a lot of notoriety and viewership to Arrow when we were growing, and the show wouldn’t be the show it is without him. He is such a talent and such a nice guy, everybody from the crew to the writers were so enthusiastic to have him for the time we had him. We are sad to see him go but excited to see what he does next.

DEADLINE: How and when did Roy’s Season 3 storyline came about?
BERLANTI: We knew based on what had happened last season. Roy has struggled with guilt after killing a policeman. In saving Oliver, he sees a chance to absolve himself. Hopefully it was surprising for the audience as some thought for a moment that he might die.
GUGGENHEIM: We were able to deign his arc for the season with the end point in mind. We always knew he would take a heroic stance and redeem himself for his actions. It’s always a blessing when you know where exactly you are going to end up.

DEADLINE: Did you consider killing off Roy?
BERLANTI: We wanted to do something different. These characters are so young, they represent the next generation of superheroes, and we love the idea of having them just out there. And as a person we like Colton so much, we all would love to see him back. Such a talented, great guy.
GUGGENHEIM: The hope is that he’ll continue to be part of the universe we are building. We love working with his so much. We’ve talked to him about returning to one of the three shows, and if available, he has expressed interest. He is gone but definitely not forever.

DEADLINE: What will the impact of Roy’s departure be on Team Arrow?
BERLANTI: It’s always affecting the show when one character is moving on to the great beyond. That allows the show to grow and change, with the state of loss providing high stakes. The end of this season is very much a punctuation mark on the first three seasons. Third season will feel like the end of a trilogy, with elements and pieces coming together. We are heading into a big, epic, climactic battle, and I’m not not going to give away who is going to make it. Everything will be changed after this season.
GUGGENHEIM: The third season finale is among our best episodes, with each twist more shocking and surprising than the next.

Olivia Munn Suck It Wonder Woman

Geek Olivia Munn finally gets to become a super hero character. She will play Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse

Jada Pinkett Smith’s charter, Fish Mooney, was a good addition to the Batman back story on Gotham, but they don’t seem to know what to do with her since Oswald Cobblepot got control of her nightclub. I am glad that they seem to have ended her recent storyline on the island, which seems pointless as it was totally unconnected to anything else going on. It doesn’t help matters that she escaped so easily (once setting up a distraction) thanks to a helicopter being unguarded and ready to go. Jada Pinkett Smith has said she will be leaving the show after her contract runs out this season but the producers have hinted that they might find reason to keep her around. It better be a better story line if they do.

HBO has renewed Veep and Silicon Valley just after their current seasons began and Netflix has renewed Orange Is The New Black for a fourth season before the third season has become available. Selina Meyer in now President on Veep and Hugh Laurie will be guest staring later this season. The Hollywood Reporter has interviewed Veep series creator Armando Iannucci about the current season.

There were complaints previously that blind people could not appreciate Daredevil, a show with a blind hero, because Netflix did not use audio description as some networks do. Netflix has  remedied the problem to make the show more accessible to the visually impaired.

The-Americans-I-Am-Abassin-Zadran-Season-3-Episode-12-08

The penultimate episode of The Americans, I Am Abassin Zadran, may have concluded one story line but leaves many story lines open. The producers have said they plan to carry some over to next season. The situation with Paige is pretty obviously ongoing. It is hard to believe they will wrap up Nina’s storyline in Russia. There has been very little of Kimmy recently and, while this conceivably could be wrapped up in the final episode, I suspect they are intentionally moving slowly on this to wait until next season.

Of course the big cliff hanger of the episode occurred when Phillip slowly removed his wig and revealed how he really looks to Martha, who was sitting on the bed with a suitcase, on the verge of leaving town. At least two quite different interpretations for this come to mind. Maybe he is revealing himself to her prior to giving her the Annelise treatment and packing her up in her own suitcase. Maybe he is thinking of how he came clean with Paige, and is also planning to tell Martha a variation of the truth in a last attempt to get her to trust him. This could be either to continue spying for him, or to get her to safety before the FBI figures out that she was the one to plant the bug. If that is his plan, he is taking a bigger risk. Previously if she was arrested she might have given the FBI a description of Phillip in disguise. Now there is the risk she will give a description of how he really looks, and just maybe Stan will recognize him.

It was also good to see Margo Martindale return in her scene in the diner with Gabriel as they discussed background information going back to last season when Jared killed his parents, along with how Americans have too many choices for their tastes. I was surprised to see that Gabriel was so sympathetic to Phillip’s desire to protect Paige.

Tony Soprano Finale

David Chase gave a fascinating description of what he planned scene by scene in the finale of The Soprano’s. Here are the descriptions of the final scene, but check out the full article for his description of the scenes leading up to this:

This is the last shot of the family, or the three of them anyway. Framing is extremely important. I think it makes you feel so much below the level of verbiage and words. What they’re talking about is how good those onion rings are. For me, food is always central to a feeling of family and to a feeling of security and happiness. A.J. had remembered a moment at the end of the final show of the first season when they were all sitting down, eating in Vesuvio’s Italian restaurant and Tony said, ‘Just remember … value the good times,’ the moments, there really aren’t that many of them. And this is one of the very good times. And yet there’s something wrong with it because Meadow is not there. So the family isn’t really together. I think on some subliminal level that raises the tension. We know the family should be together and they’re not.

I said to Gandolfini, the bell rings and you look up. That last shot of Tony ends on ‘don’t stop,’ it’s mid-song. I’m not going to go into [if that’s Tony’s POV]. I thought the possibility would go through a lot of people’s minds or maybe everybody’s mind that he was killed. He might have gotten shot three years ago in that situation. But he didn’t. Whether this is the end here, or not, it’s going to come at some point for the rest of us. Hopefully we’re not going to get shot by some rival gang mob or anything like that. I’m not saying that [happened]. But obviously he stood more of a chance of getting shot by a rival gang mob than you or I do because he put himself in that situation. All I know is the end is coming for all of us.

I thought the ending would be somewhat jarring, sure. But not to the extent it was, and not a subject of such discussion. I really had no idea about that. I never considered the black a shot. I just thought what we see is black. The ceiling I was going for at that point, the biggest feeling I was going for, honestly, was don’t stop believing. It was very simple and much more on the nose than people think. That’s what I wanted people to believe. That life ends and death comes, but don’t stop believing. There are attachments we make in life, even though it’s all going to come to an end, that are worth so much, and we’re so lucky to have been able to experience them. Life is short. Either it ends here for Tony or some other time. But in spite of that, it’s really worth it. So don’t stop believing.

So apparently when Chase has said in some interviews that the final scene had a definite meaning, the meaning was more along the lines of “don’t stop believing” than whether Tony was killed here or at some other time.

Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart spoke with The Guardian about why he is leaving The Daily Show:

“Honestly, it was a combination of the limitations of my brain and a format that is geared towards following an increasingly redundant process, which is our political process. I was just thinking, ‘Are there other ways to skin this cat?’ And, beyond that, it would be nice to be home when my little elves get home from school, occasionally.”

He has a 10-year-old son, Nathan, and a nine-year-old daughter, Maggie; Stewart and his wife, Tracey, have been married for almost as long as he’s been doing the show, after Stewart proposed to her via a crossword puzzle.

If anything, it was the prospect of the upcoming US election that pushed him to leave the show. “I’d covered an election four times, and it didn’t appear that there was going to be anything wildly different about this one,” he says.

Ah, but who could have anticipated the excitement over Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails?

“Anyone could, because that story is absolutely everything that it’s supposed to be about,” he says, with a groan; as a revelation, it managed to be at once depressing and completely unsurprising. “I also felt that, for the show, you don’t want to leave when the cupboard’s bare. So I think it’s a better introduction when you have something providing you with assisted fuel, like a presidential campaign. But really, the value of this show is so much deeper than my contribution,” he says.

This means he will no longer have to watch Fox, but he did answer a hypothetical question as to a situation in which he might watch again:

Now that he is leaving The Daily Show, is there any circumstance in which he would watch Fox News again? He takes a few seconds to ponder the question. “Umm… All right, let’s say that it’s a nuclear winter, and I have been wandering, and there appears to be a flickering light through what appears to be a radioactive cloud and I think that light might be a food source that could help my family. I might glance at it for a moment until I realise, that’s Fox News, and then I shut it off. That’s the circumstance.”

Dan Aykroyd told The Huffington Post that “America is flat-out gun crazy.”

Obama White House & Top Freedom Of Information Official Worried About “The Clinton Way”

Time The Clinton Way

Hillary Clinton’s response to reports that she has violated the Federal Records Act at her recent press conference have been throughly debunked by media fact-checkers. The Canadian Press has also discussed this with Daniel Metcalf. He is described as, “The senior-most freedom-of-information official in the executive branch of the United States government for over a quarter-century, whose job it was to help four administrations — including the Clinton White House — interpret the Freedom of Information Act, offer advice, and testify before Congress on their behalf.”

Daniel Metcalfe doesn’t buy her explanation. In fact, he calls it laughable.

“What she did was contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the law,” says Metcalfe, the founding director of the Justice Department’s Office of Information and Privacy, which advised the rest of the administration on how to comply with the law. Metcalfe ran the office from 1981 to 2007.

“There is no doubt that the scheme she established was a blatant circumvention of the Freedom of Information Act, atop the Federal Records Act.”

Metcalfe says he doesn’t have any partisan axe to grind. He’s a registered Democrat, though steadfastly non-partisan. He says he was embarrassed to work for George W. Bush and his attorney general, and left government for American University, where he now teaches government information law and policy…

Metcalfe examined a transcript of her press conference, provided by The Canadian Press.

And he dissected it Wednesday, point by point, annotating it in 23 places where he called her statements “deceptive,” “grossly misleading” and impossible to verify.

His overall conclusion from her public appearance: “Her suggestion that government employees can unilaterally determine which of their records are personal and which are official, even in the face of a FOIA request, is laughable.”

Time calls this The Clinton Way in an upcoming cover story with a subtitle, “They write their own rules. Will it work this time?” Some excerpts, trying to limit to current news and leave out the past history discussed in the full article:

The Clintons play by their own set of rules. And in this case, the former Secretary of State explained, those rules bless her decision to erase some 30,000 emails from the family server despite knowing that the emails had become a subject of intense interest to congressional investigators. These were merely “private personal emails,” Clinton averred, “emails about planning Chelsea’s wedding or my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes.” After she finished taking questions, Clinton’s staff disclosed that no one actually read through those 30,000-odd documents before she “chose not to keep” them…

Still, Clinton’s failure to defuse the email issue, along with a growing list of questions about the family’s relentless fundraising and her husband’s choice of companions, has revived hopes among erstwhile rivals in the Democratic Party that the Hillary dreadnought might actually be sinkable. Backbiting inside the Clinton campaign–a hallmark of her failed 2008 presidential effort–has begun to leak into the political press. Republicans who were morose over their presidential chances mere months ago have a spring in their step…

In her press conference, Hillary Clinton described the private email account on the server inside their New York home as a matter of convenience only. “I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two,” she said. “Looking back, it would’ve been better if I’d simply used a second email account and carried a second phone, but at the time, this didn’t seem like an issue.”

That explanation was not exactly robust. The Q&A had hardly ended before Clinton’s critics unearthed an interview Hillary had given a few weeks earlier with Re/code co-founder Kara Swisher. “I have an iPad, a mini iPad, an iPhone and a BlackBerry,” Clinton said. So much for simplicity. Others remarked on a matter of timing: Clinton did not carry out her business on an existing personal email account. She specifically set up a new private address–hdr22@clintonemail.com–instead of using a government account. This happened on the very day the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held its first hearing on her nomination as Secretary of State.

As for why this might “seem like an issue,” the answer is not complicated. All federal employees have a legal obligation to preserve their work-related email–and the White House advises appointees to accomplish this by using official government addresses. Email sent to and from .gov accounts is generally archived. In this way, a consistent level of security is maintained. The nation’s history is preserved. Open-records laws are honored. And transparency gets a leg up on “Trust me.”

All this once made sense to Clinton. As a candidate for President in 2008, she included “secret White House email accounts” as part of her critique of the Bush Administration’s “stunning record of secrecy and corruption.” Now, however, Clinton is leaning heavily on “Trust me.” For more than a year after she left office in 2013, she did not transfer work-related email from her private account to the State Department. She commissioned a review of the 62,320 messages in her account only after the department–spurred by the congressional investigation–asked her to do so. And this review did not involve opening and reading each email; instead, Clinton’s lawyers created a list of names and keywords related to her work and searched for those. Slightly more than half the total cache–31,830 emails–did not contain any of the search terms, according to Clinton’s staff, so they were deemed to be “private, personal records.”

This strikes experts as a haphazard way of analyzing documents. Jason R. Baron, a former lawyer at the National Archives and Records Administration who is now an attorney in the Washington office of Drinker Biddle & Reath, says, “I would question why lawyers for Secretary Clinton would use keyword searching, a method known to be fraught with limitations, to determine which of the emails with a non-.gov address pertained to government business. Any and all State Department activities–not just communications involving the keywords Benghazi or Libya–would potentially make an email a federal record. Given the high stakes involved, I would have imagined staff could have simply conducted a manual review of every document. Using keywords as a shortcut unfortunately leaves the process open to being second-guessed.”

Politico reports that the White House frets return of ‘Clinton Way’

They thought she’d changed. They thought maybe she’d picked up a little bit from them about how people respond to awkward secret arrangements and contrived ways of not telling the full story.

This has been a surprising two weeks for aides in President Barack Obama’s orbit as they’ve watched Hillary Clinton’s email mess unfold…

With so much on the line, with so much time to prepare, she’s back to classic Clinton? She’s flubbing a campaign kickoff eight years in the making because she somehow thought that no one would ever care that she set up a secret email server? That anyone would then accept her word that it was OK that she deleted 30,000 emails even though the State Department had been asking for some of them? And then go silent again?

After all, 2008’s “Change you can believe in” campaign slogan wasn’t just a reference to George W. Bush. It was also about her, and the uneasy feeling many people had that with Clinton, something else was always going on.

Obama aides had had that feeling themselves, even after she joined the administration and their staffs tried following Obama’s and Clinton’s leads in building mutual trust, almost to the point of suspension of disbelief.

“You never feel like you’re quite getting the full story, because everyone’s got some side deal or some complicating factor,” said one former Obama aide, reflecting on dealing with Clinton and her circle. “I don’t think there was a conscious effort to watch out for scams. It was more just, you know who you’re dealing with.”

Obama put the priority on keeping clear records when he issued guidelines about using official email accounts, one White House aide noted after Clinton’s news conference, while obviously the former secretary of state determined her priority was something else…

A lot of this has to do with what Obama aides refer to as a culture clash. The Clintons look for loopholes, they say, while Obama takes a special pride, particularly on transparency issues, in sticking to the letter of the law: a combination of cockiness that he’s right, so why not let everyone see how he got there, as well as a background awareness that any scandal would be a scandal for the first African-American president.

“The president has been willing to say and implement provocative policies to shake up Washington,” said one current White House aide. “Willingness to send those signals is a good way to make clear to people that this is the way we’re going to do business: differently.”

…What’s confusing to them is how she didn’t acknowledge that herself, or care. They don’t like to admit it around the West Wing, but as a former first lady and Obama’s main opponent in 2008, Clinton did get more latitude than other Cabinet secretaries in all sorts of decisions, from staffing on down. They’re just hoping that this email server — “the president 100 percent would not have done it this way,” the former aide said, “this is such a clearly nontransparent way of going about it” — is the extent of the latitude she took that they didn’t know about.

Then again, the White House didn’t know she deleted 30,000 emails until they watched her announce it at her news conference on Tuesday. And aides acknowledge that they don’t know how much more they don’t know.

It is a legitimate fear that “the extent of the latitude she took” when Secretary of State exceeds what we know about. My bigger fear is the latitude she would take as president.

Frank Rich compared this to an episode of Veep in which the vice-president announced plans to release her correspondence, and points out that Clinton’s explanation “didn’t pass the smell test.”

That it took Clinton as long as it did to respond to the rising chorus of these questions, and that she did so as defensively and unconvincingly as she did, is yet more evidence that she’s not ready for the brutality of a presidential campaign. This hastily called, abruptly truncated press conference was reminiscent of the mistakes she made last year in her ill-fated book tour. She didn’t schedule yesterday’s appearance until after the most senior of Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein, essentially demanded that she speak up.

Some of what Clinton said didn’t pass the smell test. It reminded me of an episode in the first season of Veep where the vice-president announces she will release all her internal office correspondence to quell a controversy and then instructs her staff to make sure it’s “Modified Full Disclosure Lite.” That’s what we got here. Why, for instance, would Clinton say that she “didn’t see any reason to keep” her personal emails? Those are precisely the emails that every American keeps.

If she doesn’t become more forthright and less defensive when she’s under fire, this is going to be a very long campaign for her. Though we keep being told that she and those around her are determined not to repeat the mistakes of 2008, so far there’s no evidence of that. And the much tougher questions — starting with those about the donors to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation — are yet to come.

While a growing number of Democrats are starting to worry about her ability to run a presidential campaign, she maintains the front runner due to lack of serious opposition. For example, Dana Milbank writes that Hillary Clinton has little to fear from Martin O’Malley. I don’t think that the speculation on Al Gore entering the race, which I discussed yesterday, is very likely.

I agree with Jonathan Bernstein, who debunks the claim that the Democrats have no bench. The problem is that so far Hillary Clinton has taken all of the air out of the Democratic nomination battle. If we had an open and competitive primary, more people might run, and some would ultimately look like viable presidential candidates. We would be in a situation comparable to 1992 when several candidates ran until one (in that case Bill Clinton) emerged. A candidate who is victorious in such a primary battle will be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. Democrats do not need to settle for a candidate as flawed by Hillary Clinton due to thinking she is the only choice. Nominating someone lacking so lacking in judgment and ethical character as Hillary Clinton will greatly increase the risk of a Republican being elected president in 2016.