Monthly Archives: May 2012

The world is built by killers

Does this look badass enough?

Let’s not mince words here, “Blackwater” is a masterpiece.  Even if, by some truly sorrowful case of ADHD, you didn’t find yourself glued to the screen for the entire hour, you still need to acknowledge what a singular achievement this is for the medium.  The Battle of Blackwater Bay is A Clash of King’s tour de force and I’ll admit to some skepticism about any TV production, including this one, being able to pull off this level of spectacle.  This is another triumph for HBO, all the more so because it didn’t just let the carnage stand on its own.  With so much riding on delivering an epic battle sequence, it would’ve been all too easy to lose sight of the characters in the glare of dragon fire.  That wasn’t the case here, as the episode was expertly paced between dread, humour, drama, and violence with Tyrion’s arc tying it all together. Continue reading

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You can always tell when he’s happy. His scowl is slightly less.

This is the show that gave us Eternity?

For anyone who thinks I’ve been too hard on Angel’s first season, I’ll point to “Five by Five” as the sort of quality I expect from a Joss Whedon show.  No, not every episode can be great, but it shouldn’t have taken 18 for one of this kind of quality to arrive.  This is the sort of exciting, character-driven, emotionally relevant story the season needed way back in its first half.  Beyond the significant step up in the quality of writing, acting, and directing, this episode also marks the first time Wolfram & Hart have served as primary antagonists.  By every measure I can think of, “Five by Five” and “Sanctuary” mark the point where Angel found its voice.  Thank God we’re finally here. Continue reading

Stop and smell the corpses, ya know?

Think that’s good, just wait ’till OMWF

I feel pretty safe calling “Where the Wild Things Are” a failure; I’m just not sure if it qualifies as a noble one.  The episode is thoroughly watchable, but its efforts to deal with the issues of child abuse and sexual repression come off as more confused than nuanced.  We have the standard mystical metaphor as the abuse suffered by the children of the Lowell Home manifests as a blend of sexual urges and shame… and plants.  Obviously, the first two go together, particularly in cases of child abuse, but I’m unclear on whether the vines are meant be Eden imagery or a Sendak nod and, either way, they don’t really bring much the themes of the episode.  Adding to the confusion, we have Buffy and Riley’s sex drive being what sets off the whole crisis and Xander and Anya getting beyond the physical is what resolves it.  Sooo… sexual repression is bad… but so is sex? Continue reading

One game at a time

Seems knowing isn’t actually half the battle

“The Prince of Winterfell” is about as far from doing one thing at a time as Game of Thrones gets.  I’m beginning to feel like a broken record, but this series is well served by its incredible scope… except when it’s not.  There’s still a lot of fun to be had along the way, but efforts to fit virtually every single character into a single episode mean we can’t really invest in anything that’s going on.  Episodes like this one are a bit inevitable on this series and while it was by no means bad, it did feel a lot like housekeeping; we’re caught up on all the major plot points and the pieces are placed just where they need to be for the season’s end game. Continue reading

Evil Angel would never have worn those pants

That’ll keep you from flouting established canon

Did I call “She” the worst episode ever?  That judgment still stands, but “Eternity” does make a worthy run for the cup and leaves me yearning for the relative fun and coherence of “The Ring.”  There’s an awful lot to hate about this episode, but I’ll focus the outrage-inducing departure from established mythology.  Angel is good because he has a soul. He loses his soul when/if he experiences a moment of perfect happiness.  So, the euphoria of drug use qualifies as perfect happiness?  Okaaay, that’s a big stretch, but I’ll bite… except why does Angel regain his soul once the drugs wear off?  The curse is pretty specific about the whole “moment” thing, there’s nothing there about the soul returning when he gets cranky.  I’m pretty sure that’s backed up by the fact that Angelus didn’t spend season two is some sort of euphoric orgy. Continue reading

Yeah, back off Betty

You’re all too tall

I remember watching “Superstar” for the first time in a university common room.  The usual Buffy-crowd was there and at the end of the opening credits, there was a moment of stunned silence followed by someone muttering “what the fuck was that?”  You’d think that after almost four years of consistently having our expectations thwarted that we’d have been better prepared for such a curve ball, but the subversion of “Superstar” is something new.  After almost four years of genre-bending, Buffy had, inevitably, developed its own conventions.  Much of season four has been about challenging these (with mixed results), but this is the first episode to actually push us out of the Buffy universe. Continue reading

Dragons Happened

Where are we supposed to be looking?

Can Tywin and Arya get their own spinoff?  Not really… but really?  I guess that by this point I shouldn’t be surprised by how much juice this series is able squeeze out of the various character dynamics.  Most shows are lucky to get one or two pairings that really work, but Game of Thrones seems to strike gold every time it shuffles the deck.  Beyond the awesome of Tywin and Arya, “A Man Without Honor” has Cersei and Tyrion prove they can be just as fun commiserating as they can sniping, and Jon Snow finally finds someone to make him interesting. Continue reading

He thinks he can get out of this by pulling a Gandhi

Irish whip!

“The Ring” would’ve been a merely another bad episode of Angel had it arrived at another time, but just after the apparent game-changer of “The Prodigal,” it becomes almost unwatchable.  What’s frustrating me is how this seems to retreat from the right direction.  This show has a voice, it damn near found it in Angel’s struggles to save Trevor Lockley.  Having come so close to finally fitting everything into place, why is it now jerking us around with a story that is, at best, intensely silly and, at worst, lazily stupid? Continue reading

Because it’s wrong

Hope it doesn’t stick like that

Good as “This Year’s Girl” was, “Who Are You?” is even better.  Buffy and Faith have been each other’s mirrors from the get-go and the body swap is the natural culmination of that dynamic.  And this is a culmination.  I’m not sure if it was by design or circumstance, but Faith wouldn’t appear on Buffy for another three years and, once we get there, both characters have clearly moved beyond being defined in contrast to each other.  Deliberate or not, this episode serves remarkably well as the breaking point, stripping away all illusions the characters might have about each other and forcing them to get over one another. Continue reading

And now I’ve struck a king! Did my hand wither and fall off?

… only a mother could love

Didn’t I just talk about the joys of watching Tyrion slap Joffrey?  “The Old Gods and The New” proves that some gags never get old… now if only he’d head up to Winterfell.  In truth, I don’t particularly want to see Theon get slapped; drawn and quartered would be far more preferable.  No… that’s not right either.  Theon needs someone to save him from himself –err, no… Once again, we’re into the sheer genius of Game of Thrones’ character development.  What Theon’s done is unforgivable, and seeing him pay for his crimes is high on everyone’s list… but I can’t help feel like he’s already paying. Continue reading