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Hannibal: The Great Red Dragon (review)

Richard Armitage as Tooth Fairy in Hannibal
Last week saw the finish of the overly extended preamble to bring the series up to Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon and this week in Hannibal, episode 8; The Great Red Dragon, three years have passed. Lector has been declared insane and is incarcerated. As with most episodes of Hannibal, the pre-credit sequence is slow but it builds upon the killer and his identity. Like the rest of the series, each segment is slow and discordant as well as dark and concise amid the shambolic imagery of the music and the set pieces. Similar to a somnambulist on quaaludes or molasses dripping down a table leg on a cool day.

The episode begins with an introduction to the new villain; Francis Dolarhyde (played by Brit actor Richard Armitage [The Hobbit, Captain America: The First Avenger]) who is savagely silent as he transformed into the Red Dragon, although he does growl and roar at one point, his appearance is introspective and visceral.

Hannibal and Dr. Bloom talk about wine and truffles, the two items that lead Alana to Lector’s door in Florence when Verger was acting on his personal vendetta. They take a short walk down memory lane during their conversation, “Do you still prefer beer to wine,” Hannibal asks. “I stopped drinking beer when I found out what you were putting in mine,” Alana responds. “Who,” says Hannibal and Bloom echoes, “Who.”

In between the Bloom and Chilton interludes, Dolarhyde continues to transform; to become. Mirrors and animalistic sounds accompany his change. At the end of the process Francis is outside, naked except for the liberal splashes of blood on his body.

After the Red Dragon transformation, Hannibal shares a delicacy with Dr. Chilton (played with delightful hubris by Raúl Esparza) and their conversation also turns to past events. Speaking of the desert, which traditionally requires the blood of a pig, Hannibal says he substituted cow’s blood. Frederick asks about “before” when Lector served him the dish and Hannibal replies “The blood was from a cow only in the derogatory sense.”

Each conversation is a sparring match of sorts. Bloom and Chilton both lose their respective wordplay with Lector. Alana is left with the impending threat (promise) that Hannibal will kill her, “I always keep my promises,” he says; just as he did last week when he promised to save Graham. In his discussion with Chilton about the “Tooth Fairy” the first this Hannibal says is that the serial killer does not like to be called that. In one sentence, he deflates Frederick’s ego, it was Chilton who coined the title, and Lector assumes superiority as a result.

Later in the episode, we see that Hannibal is right about the killer not liking the moniker. While adding his latest kill to his scrapbook, Dolarhyde grabs a black marker and covers up the part of the headline that refers to him as the Tooth Fairy.

Chilton and Bloom verbally spar and she informs her colleague that Dr. Lector will get the better of him. Chilton gloatingly paints an imaginary picture of Hannibal watching “diaper carts” go by in captivity. Alana responds with the news that Lector will gloat about his victory over Chiton, indicating that he will have plenty of time, as he watches the diaper carts go by. Frederick tells Alana that Hannibal is showing some competitive vanity with the appearance of the Tooth Fairy.

FBI agent Jack Crawford goes to see Will Graham who lives in the country with Mollie and Walter along with a slew of dogs. Molly reveals to Jack Crawford that they are dumped by previous owners. She says that getting rid of the cute ones are easy and the rest stay on. Before the meal, Will tells Jack that he does not want to return. It is obvious that Graham knows he will end up seeing Hannibal if he gets involved with the Tooth Fairy.

As usual Hannibal is a visual feast. The imagery is powerful and in one instance, incredibly creepy. Dolarhyde listens to music, the singer sounds like Roy Orbison, while watching a home movie of the family he has just murdered. With a screeching noise (in his head) Dolarhyde reacts and as the film stock from the reels wrap around his face, he becomes the movie projector with light shooting out from his eyes and mouth.

A truly disturbing sight.

Other images are used as a construct. A short montage of newspaper clipping done by Hannibal and Dolarhyde, each using their own tools, in Lector’s case nothing sharp, and building their own collection of the “Tooth Fairy” murders. At the end of it, Lector uses his clipping to “bait” Will and Francis adds his to the large scrapbook he has obviously had for a very long time.

Molly talks Graham into becoming a part of the investigation and Will explains that if he goes, he will be different when he comes back. Molly reassures him by saying that she won’t. After their little talk, Will goes to look at the news clipping and letter that Hannibal has sent him. He reads the note, and in it Lector urges Graham to turn Crawford down if he comes “knocking.” Will throws the items in the burning fire, Hannibal has set the bait for Graham.

Will visits the latest crime scene and his skill at putting himself in the killer’s shoes and recreating what occurred has not diminished after his time spent with Lector. At one point, he realizes that the killer took off rubber gloves, he speculates about talcum powder found at the scene in a house that has none. This leads to forensics checking and finding that part of the Tooth Fairy’s killing ritual included flesh touching flesh, and they find a partial smudged thumbprint as a result. Unfortunately they also have the false lead of those false teeth, or plates, that Dolarhyde collected at the beginning of the episode.

By the end of the program Will is back at the bureau and interpreting the killer. Graham also recognizes that despite his overwhelming reluctance, he must consult with Hannibal.

Hannibal is darkly beautiful and spellbinding. The storylines are complex and tantalizing but it appears that fans of the show will be left wanting. Certainly the languid pace of the series is not popular with everyone and now that the show has reached an intersection with Harris’ book, perhaps NBC feels the show has reached a conclusion of sorts. Hannibal airs Saturdays on NBC for a little longer at least. Fans can only hope that the network does not move the show again.

Killjoys: One Blood (recap and review)

Johnny, Dutch, D'Av in Killjoys
Last week in Killjoys, D’Av got healed, after first getting tortured by nanites, Khlyen (Rob Stewart) returned to take Dutch away and threaten Johnny. It was also revealed that Lucy does have a favorite, the guy that Khlyen threatened. In One Blood the killjoys continue to keep secrets, despite promises made to the contrary, although by the end of the episode, all has been revealed.

At the start of the episode, Dutch tries to learn why Khlyen has returned and what he wants from her. The two sit in a cafe drinking “Ashyrus tea, A little taste from home,” says Dutch’s former tutor, who then accuses her of being in a mood because of her response to an offer of honey. He tells Dutch he wants to know if she is still the Yala he trained and she replies that Yala died “that night.”

He then tells her that a deadly gas will be released into the cafe and she needs to retrieve an item from a smuggler before everyone expires. She warns the customers about the gas and holding her breath, Dutch finds the case and leaves the corpse-filled eatery.

Later, on the ship, Dutch and D’Av share a moment, chemistry only, but it is close, and John comes in to say there has been a Black Warrant issued. Johnny is excited and he tells D’Av, “You’re about to meet the family.”

All the killjoys meet in a bar and Dutch’s group meet up with Fancy Lee (Sean Baek) who went after D’Av in the fist episode of the season. Black Warrants are competitive affairs where all the killjoys compete for the same warrant and winner takes all. There is talk of a level six killjoy, urban legend, says Dutch and the warrant turns out to be for another kind of legend, Big Joe (Tony Nappo)
a top notch killjoy who mentored Dutch.

As the warrant details are being read out, Dutch leaves the room to deliver the case to Khlyen. He opens the case to remove a disc. He applies it to a reluctant Dutch and it turns out to be a neuro-link. The device also shows Dutch where Big Joe, and the ship he stole (the reason for the warrant), is located and she learns that Khlyen is linked to her.

Pawter attempts to set up some alone time with D’Av for more “treatment” and he turns her down. The doctor is not pleased. Dutch heads out sans her team to find Big Joe, the ship and its cargo. It is the latter item that Khlyen wants. Johnny and D’Av set out to get information on where the warrant is located and Fancy turns up suggesting an allegiance.

Meanwhile, Dutch is on Leith following the map to find Big Joe’s ship. As she gets her bearings, Khlyen shows up startling her, “We’re going to have to get you a bell,” Dutch mutters. Her old tutor asks about her killjoy mentor and jokingly asks if he should be jealous. D’Av and Johnny learn from Lucy that Dutch has turned off her comms.

They accept Fancy’s offer, although D’Av and John have some pretty harsh things to say about the other killjoy. D’Av wins the award for snappiest rejoinder when he tells Fancy Lee that he is “filling the ship with douchebag.” Back on Leith, Dutch is shot in the shoulder while arguing with Khlyen.

Fancy shows that he has a sense of humor, his “bloodhound” needs something that Dutch has touched in order to track and find her. “Underwear, bra…” he says. “Pervert” D’Av growls as he turns to grab a gun that Dutch has held. In another comic moment (on Leith) Fancy turns to John and says, “Your brother gets growly.”

On Leith Big Joe has shot Dutch to warn her off and slow her down but she ignores his warning and moves to intercept him. Fancy, D’Av and John are closing in on Dutch, they find her blood from when Big Joe shot her. Dutch catches up with her former mentor and they talk before hugging. They then begin sparring and Big Joe ends up on top of Dutch telling her to get out of the area “for her own good.”

The two then talk about his stealing the ship, and other ships, and they have a Ride the High Country type conversation. What do you think happens when we turn in our badges, Joe asks, a parade? Very similar to the Randolph Scott character in the Sam Peckinpah film.

As they talk, several armed people arrive and the leader tells Big Joe that he was supposed to be alone. Dutch grabs a woman and holds a machete to her throat, when the leader threatens to shoot Big Joe, she lets the woman go. The two are then taken prisoner.

While Big Joe and Dutch are tied together, Khlyen shows up and starts berating Dutch for having friends. She tells him to shut up and Joe responds that he did not say anything. The tutor is only in Dutch’s head because of the neuro-link. Big Joe reveals that he has no idea what the item, that Khlyen wants so badly, is. It was on the ship when he stole it.

Dutch learns that the people who hired Big Joe to steal the ships, and their cargoes, are the Kotlers, racial radicals from Leith. The group begin to question the two, while Khlyen swears that if they harm his Yala he will take their hands. They take Joe into another room for more vigorous questioning.

Pawter Simms drugs a company official to get access to his data base in an effort to locate Dr. Jaeger. The trio of male killjoys are closing in on Dutch and Big Joe. Kotler Senior explains why they steal the ships and that they are not “racist.” It is all about Qreshi families taking Leith land.

Fancy talks to Johnny about D’Av going “after” Dutch. When John asks Lee why he is such a “d*ck” Fancy replies he has to be, as he is the designated company “A**hole.” The two men take out two guards and D’Av is moving in to save Dutch. The device that Big Joe stole, and that Khlyen wants, is grabbed by one of the Kotler men and it draws blood.

He fires the weapon and it kills him and all the other Kotlers. No one else is harmed. The weapon uses DNA or blood to target victims. Khlyen misses the demonstration as during her interrogation, Dutch had her neuro-link removed by Kotler. The only Leith racial member left is Kotler Senior, Lucas, who married into the family.

Dutch tells John to call Turin and tell him that they are “coming in hot.” She plans to trade the weapon for mercy. The hungover company official joins the killjoy convention and demands to know what is going on. Big Joe is treated to a drink by Pree and the killjoy legend sits with Dutch. As Turin and the official talk about Big Joe his warrant is upgraded to a level five…death.

Big Joe tries to have Dutch do it but she cannot. While she refuses, Fancy shoots Big Joe in the head. “The warrant is all,” says Lee. Holstering his weapon, he finishes by saying, “Joe would’ve wanted it that way.” He goes back to sit at his table away from the group.

Khlyen corners Dutch and wants the device. Dutch tells him she does not know where it is and he grabs her by the throat pushing her up against the wall. She stabs him in the stomach and he lets her go. He apologizes for grabbing her and tells her that he would never hurt his “Yala.” He leaves after telling her that he came to the Quad for her. As Khlyen walks off he tells Dutch that he will not leave without her.

Pawter is sitting in her office when the company official comes back, “Hello Hilary,” Simms says and Hilary is not amused. He has her arrested for information theft and drugging a company official. When Pawter threatens Qresh retaliation, Hilary responds that he has checked, “no one on Qresh ‘gives a sh*t’ about what happens to you here,” he says. He also asks about Dr. Jaeger. Pawter says nothing and gets taken away.

Dutch comes back to the ship and just as Johnny decides to be the company a**hole, she confesses that Khlyen is back, and explains to D’Av who he is, and that she needs to find out what is going on. She asks John to track him down and says that she is going after Khlyen and kill him.

More layers have been peeled away this week in Killjoys and not only do we learn more about Dutch, aka Yala, but also about Pawter Simms, aka “Illenore Pawter Simms” as Hilary sneers before arresting her. For those of us who were confused about who Khlyen is, at one point is seemed that he could be Dutch’s father, and what his function was in Dutch’s past, more has been revealed. Like the old joke, the two have a love/hate relationship, she hates him and he, apparently, loves her. Simms has been pulling one heck of a bluff and it seems her interest in D’Av is not professional at all, except for her searching for Jaeger.

Questions remain. Who is Jaeger? Who put the stim blockers in D’Av’s brain and what is that weapon? Great entertaining telly that keeps the surprises coming. Disguised as an action/science fiction series, the show is starting to get that thriller aspect with a touch of anarchy and mystery. Kudos to Sean Baek as Fancy Lee and Tony Nappo as Big Joe. Killjoys is part of SyFy Fridays.

Defiance: My Name Is Datak Tarr and I Have Come to Kill You (recap/review)

Datak Tarr in Rahm Tak's camp Defiance
Last week’s episode of Defiance saw Datak Tarr on the shaming wall being stretched to death by his fellow Votan’s placing weights on the device. The Beauty of Our Weapons also saw Berlin scarper, Irisa underwent a meltdown at the target range and afterward Nolan boosted the militia with a motivational speech. In My Name is Datak Tarr and I Have Come to Kill You, the town of Defiance has been breached and suffered its first fatalities, Nolan screws up, Bebe gets his just deserts, Omec makes a stand, Irisa gets her mojo back and Rahm Tak’s curiosity proves fatal.

At the start of this episode, Datak Tarr is on the shaming wall and remembering an moment from his childhood, a young Tarr faces a mirror holding his father’s blade and repeats the phrase “My name is Datak Tarr and I have come to kill you.” Tarr senior comes in and takes the blade back and tells his son off.

Bebe, with his human face, is in Defiance with the rest of the infiltration team and they spot Tarr on the rack/wall. After a moment of contemplation, they move to take hostages along with the Mayor and Nolan. They line up the hostages so that Rahm Tak can tell them his “demands.” He does so via an interactive hologram. He offers to let the humans go if they let down the stasis nets. Rosewater refuses and he orders the hostages killed.

Nolan gets free and kills one of Tak’s troops with a knife to the throat, they are all wearing body armor, and Bebe kills another ensuring that he will get close to the Butcher of Yosemite. “Nice shooting Tex,” Joshua says, accepting Bebe as human instantly. Despite his getting free, many of the hostages die.

Stahma is in the Omec ship but only in “spirit” as she and Kindzi are linked mentally, via the blue “rock” that T’evgin’s daughter made her swallow. While on the ship, she learns the plans of the Omec and what will happen to the inhabitants of Earth. Before that, Amanda and Nolan question how Tak’s troops got through the net. “Tex,” aka Beckman and Nolan bond and the new guy agrees to join the militia. Joshua tells Alak to show Beckman around and Datak’s son asks Bebe if he knows him from somewhere.

Irisa “weapons” up and Nolan comes dangerously close to apologizing. Irisa points this out and Joshua reverts to type after saying that he is getting soft in his old age. He also tells her that he is proud of her. Amanda tells the citizens of Defiance that they are under attack with Rahm Tak’s infiltrators still in the town.

During her broadcast, T’evgin stops for pancakes. He listens to the message while observing the Votan shop. Tak’s men are entering homes and killing innocents, Nolan splits up his group, taking Bebe with him and sending Irisa and Alak in the other direction, when they hear the gunfire and both pairs head out to stop the infiltrators.

One of Tak’s men starts to shoot a human mother and two small children when T’evgin interrupts him. He turns the Votan around and tells him that he “lacks honor.” The Omec’s teeth suddenly become huge and he rips the throat open of the assailant. The mother then asks if they will be next and T’evgin says no. “But the stories,” she says. “Old stories,” T’evgin says. Nolan tries to talk the Omec into helping more but he refuses saying again that this is not his fight.

Kindzi plans on her father killing Stahma after she revealed the Omec plans but is bitterly disappointed. T’evgin explains that originally the plan was to enslave the denizens of Earth but that has changed. Kindzi responds by spitting in his face and calling him a traitor. Stahma warns that T’evgin’s daughter is dangerous and “something needs to be done.” The Omec leader makes it very clear that Stahma is out of line. He reminds her that they are “not a team.”

Bebe “finds” a map to the tunnels back to Rahm Tak’s camp. Nolan wants to go through the tunnel and strike Tak where it hurts. Amanda wants to plug the hole up and Joshua talks her out of it. Alak is waiting outside Defiance at the other end of the tunnel keeping an eye out for more Tak troops.

Nolan gives his team last minute instructions before going into the tunnel. Bebe is in the group. When they get to the end of the tunnel, Nolan and Irisa go out after he tells the rest of the team to wait for his signal. Joshua gives Alak a “thumbs up” signal and motions for him to join them. Bebe/Beckman tells the team that he hears something. He instructs the militia members to wait there and he leaves.

Outside, Nolan sees Beckman and tells him that he said to wait. Before the words are completely out of his mouth, Bebe disarms Irisa and Nolan, shoots Alak and grabs Joshua. Irisa fights back and gets stabbed in the shoulder with her own knife. Bebe throws a grenade into the tunnel killing the militia team. Nolan fights Bebe and is losing when Irisa takes the knife and stabs Bebe to death.

The “Goddess” is back.

Datak Tarr has more memories of growing up and being punished by his father’s blade, it was shoved through his hand. In the doctor’s office Nolan is full of guilt about the death of his team in the tunnel and Irisa tries to make him see it is not his fault. Amanda comes in and reveals that Rahm Tak has set up camp outside the city.

Dr. Yewll explains that Tak has done them a favor. Using a volunteer she can blow up the stasis nets and kill Rahm and all his troops. It is, she says, a suicide mission, the volunteer will carry the detonator in his or her arm. Nolan wants to go and Amanda says that she will do it. Alak says that he knows the perfect person to be sent to General Rahm Tak’s relocated camp.

Datak Tarr has another memory of his father and that blade. As their world is ending Datak’s father decides to stay behind. He gives the blade to his son along with a talk about honor and vanity. Amanda tells Datak that if he accepts her offer of redemption that Stahma will be pardoned of her crimes and Datak will be pardoned as well…posthumously. He accepts.

He has the detonator hidden in his left forearm and when he gets into Rahm Tak’s camp, Yewll will set it off, killing the general and all his troops. Tarr is allowed outside of Defiance and enters the camp, Rahm Tak allows him to enter because, “He’s got me curious.”

Back in Defiance, Yewll sets the timer for four minutes and the countdown begins. In Rahm Tak’s camp, Datak has to do a “song and dance” to keep the general from killing him. Getting on his knees, he ask for his blade to prove his humility. Tak’s curiosity is piqued again and he allows Datak to have the blade.

Datak tells Rahm Tak that he rescued him from the shaming wall and therefore Tak owns his body. “Including,” Datak says, “my good left arm.” Taking the blade he begins to saw his own arm off, which contains the detonator, while Tak and his troops scream and yell at this act of self mutilation. Amid the cacophony, they are yelling, laughing and excitedly shouting, Rahm Tak screams out, “That is some “gangster-a** sh**!” the general is massively impressed.

Tarr removes his arm and as Tak goes to pick it up, Datak says he needs a moment. Tak agrees that he can leave the tent. As Datak heads shakily to the exit, Tak grabs the arm and plays with it, giving “high-fives” to his troops. Datak is outside the tent running madly away from the area and Rahm realizes that there is something in the arm. “Oh sh**, he says as the stasis nets explode killing everyone.

As the blast engulfs Rahm Tak’s camp, Alak and Irisa touch hands and the camera moves over the shattered camp and lingers on Datak Tarr. Laying on his back, with the blade under his right hand, Tarr grins.

This episode was nothing less than brilliant. Granted, Nolan did accept Bebe/Beckman rather quickly, but it was essential to the plot and therefore forgivable. The continued bonding between Joshua and Irisa is nice to see and it looks like Alak and Nolan’s daughter may just become an item. Yewll got some excellent lines out, with her quips of “Cowboy guy” and “…Teacher’s Pet, see me after class.”

*Sidenote* The set piece with T’evgin and those teeth. A truly terrifying moment and one that proved that the Omec really does not need any other weapons.

The scene in Rahm Tak’s camp where Datak Tarr removes his own arm was an epic win. How could anyone not love Tak’s reaction. While Rahm’s demise was not down to his own fascination with all human pop culture, his “gangster-a**” comment was just brilliant. It was his curiosity that killed him in the end.

*Sidenote II* The playing of The DoorsWhen the Music’s Over as Datak slyly fools his captor and then runs off to live another day was spot on.

This will be a hard episode to beat, let alone match. Tony Curran rocked it, as did Trenna Keating as Doc Yewll. Special kudos to Lee Tergesen as General Rahm Tak, what a great ending for a great villain, a real OMG performance even at the end. Speaking of villains, the new direction that T’evgin appears to be heading may just make Kindzi the next “big bad.” Defiance is part of SyFy Fridays. Cracking science fiction television that is not to be missed.

Dominion: The Narrow Gate (review)

Dominion Alex and Noma at New Dephi
Coming back to the darkness that is Dominion and catching back up with Michael, Gabriel, David Whele, Alex (the Chosen One) and Lady Riesen in The Narrow Gate begins with Alex proving to Julian that he is “worthy.” The task is to find the round key around the neck of an eight ball in the New Delphi asylum. Zoe Holloway is on Lady Riesen’s most wanted list and Michael is still at Mallory and trying to understand Laurel’s motivation as well as learning that the “celebration” is really a sacrifice.

Alex goes after the key with a flashlight and a shotgun, the first things he comes across are eyeless corpses, and against the constant cacophony of eight ball possessed prisoners screaming out inanities “Monkey wants sex,” shouts one Schmiegal like voice, he eventually finds General Riesen (Alan Dale) who left Vega last season. He has been with Julian in New Delphi, as a prisoner, ever since.

Michael argues with Laurel about whether Father really talks to her. Michael angrily says that he should be able to hear him as well. Lady Riesen hunts up an old colleague of her father’s, Gates the man who, according to Riesen, helped to save and build the city. She asks for his help in hunting down Zoe. The engineer tries to beg off but the lady’s not for turning and she changes her request from a favor to an order.

*On a side note* Gates is played by Brit actor Nic Bishop. Bishop was a regular on the Aussie soap Home and Away and he feels a little like Sean Bean, rough around the edges and able to “mix it up” with the best of them. He also has that same natural approach to acting. A welcome addition to the cast and thus far, he has managed to bring a bit of chemistry to the screen in terms of Lady Riesen (Roxanne McKee).

With action switching between New Delphi; Alex and the hunt for the key and Vega; the hunt for Zoe, the small town of Mallory with its giant burning bush (so to speak) features less in the way of action and more in the arena of exposition with an emphasis on backstory. This walk down memory lane will eventually reveal a twist in the New Delphi events but that his not the most interesting part of this episode.

The flashbacks of Michael are short and reveal much of why he is so tortured and why he opted, in season one, to back up the humans in Vega. Set against the distraction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Michael, Lyrae and Gabriel have been chosen to punish the two cities and all those within it, barring, obviously, Lot and his family who don’t get a mention here, and the trio are arguing how to go about the whole thing.

Gabriel pleads for a divine punishment, using one of the Father’s jars/urns of “magical” curses with a blood drowning to finish off any survivors. Michael, however, listens to Lyrae who insists that the punishment be delivered by the blade of a sword. He jeers at Gabriel who has never killed anyone by the sword and the two higher angels go to dispense their bloody justice. Gabriel stays behind.

A survivor who escaped from the two angels stumbles into the tent where Gabriel prays. The realizes that the Gabriel is an angel and tries to kill him. The higher angel tells the man repeatedly to leave and inadvertently kills him, the first human he has ever slain with his own hands.

In the present, Michael and Laurel share a moment and Zoe’s rebels are found behind the Flamingo by Gates via the expedient method of monitoring wattage. Back at Mallory, the sacrifice ceremony begins and Michael remembers coming back to find Gabriel had slain his first human. He also remembers Lyrae getting carried away with the punishment, so much so that Michael strips the higher angel of his rank and plunges a knife into his neck, relegating Lyrae to the lower angels.

Back at Mallory Michael steps in to replace Laurel as the sacrifice. He reveals his bloody past, after taking on the town’s sins, and he insists that Laurel let him take her place as a form of redemption. She gives into his request after “Father” tells her it is acceptable.

Alex, after finding the general, who he enlists to help in his search for the key, finds the eight ball with the item around its neck. Before he can overpower the creature it swallows the round key. He kills it and Alex has to dig it out of the creature’s corpse. Several possessed prisoners attack and one has the general pinned to the ground. Alex then grabs the eight ball possessed human and releases the lower angel from the man. Riesen is stunned.

Gates and Lady Riesen attack the warehouse where Zoe’s rebels are ensconced and in the short battle, she escapes after a soldier shoots and misses her. Back at Mallory, Michael takes the town’s sins and he prepares to plunge the knife into his chest. The bush stops burning, allowing the eight balls surrounding the town to advance. He completes the sacrifice and the lower angels in the town catch fire and the bush rekindles and burns again which in turn burns the eight balls.

Another flashback to Michael and Gabriel reveals that he asked Gabriel to punish him as he did Lyrae. Lady Riesen questions the soldier who allowed Zoe to escape. The man, Sgt. Mills, claims it was due to darkness and when she continues to question him asks what she knows about guns. Borrowing a Beretta from another soldier she checks the clip and then cocks the weapon.

She asks Mills how many traitors are in her military and Mills tells her to “Go to Hell.” She shoots him in the leg and tells the others to take him away. A bemused Gates watches as she returns the pistol to its owner and leaves the room.

Alex gets out of the prison with General Riesen and Noma is pleased to see he made it out and surprised to see Riesen. Gates speaks with the general’s daughter and after a little bonding time, he reveals what Zoe and her rebels took from the warehouse when they escaped, a box used to carry food. They left behind everything else, including their weapons.

Back at Mallory, Michael, who was buried after sacrificing himself, climbs out of the grave. He stops to visit Wes and warns him that if he tells anyone or harms anyone else he will kill him. A terrified Wes agrees to the terms set by Michael.

In New Delphi, Alex brings Julian the key and he demands the alliance he came for. Julian wants Riesen to be put back in prison, “he’s a murderer,” shouts Julian, “he killed an angel in my city.” Alex tells him to pardon the general and he does. After getting his new allies rooms for the night, Julian takes the key and it is revealed to be the top to one of the “Father’s” urns.

Julian is Lyrae.

This final twist ends the show, with Julian spinning the short weapon that he had in Michael’s flashback to Sodom and Gomorrah. It is nice to see Alan Dale back as General Risen, but Anthony Head was missed this week. The appearance of what promises to be an interesting character, Gates, did make up for David Whele’s absence. Gates is to become a regular fixture, apparently, in Dominion and thus far he looks to be a good fit in the show.

Dominion airs Thursdays on SyFy and fans of intricate supernatural television should mark their calendar.

Wayward Pines: Season Finale Cycle Ends on Sour Note (SPOILERS)

Ethan and Theresa in Wayward Pines Cycle
Wayward Pines provided a season finale with Cycle that ended the show on a somewhat sour note. While the final reveal was a twist, including the David Pilcher statue in the town park, it left a bitter taste. Matt Dillon’s character Ethan Burke blows himself and a group of Abbies up to save the town’s remaining citizens and son Ben, who is draped over the blazing elevator shaft calling for his dad, is knocked out cold by falling debris. Before looking at the rest of the season finale perhaps the whole episode, with its moments of revealing clarity, should be looked at overall.

In last week’s episode, A Reckoning Pilcher proved once and for all that under all that visionary rubbish, along with his massive case of megalomania and control freak issues, that he was essentially that snotty kid who takes the basketball home if he does not get his way. In Cycle he also revealed that his noble words about “his people” were empty.

Turning off the fence and leaving the denizens of Wayward Pines to the hands of the Abbies was equal to a child’s stomping their ant farm flat because its occupants dare to escape. Pilcher may have suffered from a Deity complex and had more than his fair share of hubris but in the end, the only ones that walked away fairly unscathed from David’s destruction of the town were his 1st class of the Wayward Pines Academy.

Megan Fisher proved that her devotion and zealous brainwashing hid an innate lack of common sense. Either that or she chose to be eaten alive by Abbies who broke into the compound entrance at plot 33. Viewers can be forgiven for giving a little clap when this annoying woman got her “just deserts.”

Theresa showed that when a “mother bear” is protecting her cub and his girlfriend, no Abbie on earth is too much to handle. Sure, Ethan finished the creature off, but his wife was handling things just fine thank you very much. Kate and Theresa have a moment where she binds Theresa’s wound, from the hospital encounter with the Abbie, and for the time being things are okay between the two women.

Without going into specifics, this is after all more of a review than the usual recap/review format, it is time to look at what was pretty annoying about the episode.

The Death of Ethan:

After an entire season of acting his little cotton socks off, Matt Dillon’s character, former Secret Service Agent Burke, blows himself up and what looks to be about 100 Abbies. Dillon was an integral part of the show and his death is particularly galling and the manner of it even more so; sitting on the floor of the elevator with the detonator in his hand, smiling gently at his memories of wife and child…

It could be said that this is a satisfactory character arc for Ethan Burke, a man eaten up with guilt at the deaths caused by his release of the Easter bomber (before Wayward Pines) and his “affair” with Kate that threatened to destroy his marriage. The main problem with this character’s exit is that the whole show revolved around Ethan, taking him out of the equation is not only a bad idea but it removes Dillon who “rocked it” in this role.

The Death of Pilcher:

Granted, there cannot be many fans of the show that, while applauding Toby Jones for his performance, could not wait for Pilcher/Jenkins to be taken out. Despite the fact that his sister Pam, whom he had a very odd relationship with, was the one to shoot David, one really wanted to see Theresa shoot him and have the power mad dictator be put in stasis. Pilcher’s exit was too fast and felt rushed.

Jason Not Dying:

There cannot be many who did not want to see this major douchebag character get eaten by an Abbie. Unfortunately the “I’m special” kid lives through being shot by Ethan and the Abbie attack and manages to get to the Ark in the Ark.

Ben as the New Burke in Town:

Nothing against Charlie Tahan, the Frankenweenie actor did a bang up job as Ethan Burke’s “Wilbur Milquetoast” son who, under the tutelage of Megan Fisher, becomes a more confident character. His romance with Amy, while a little disturbing, was cute and the fact that Ben has survived a bomb blast and being conked in the bean with falling debris, means that he is pretty resilient if nothing else.


The kid is not Matt Dillon…just saying.

Pam as Hero:

From the very first time Pilcher’s sister appeared, she was destined to be an off the wall character who would blindly follow her brother’s lead. Melissa Leo did such a good job as psycho nurse Pam in the beginning that it is very hard to believe her turn around. It should be mentioned, however, that her shooting of David fits. It must have been obvious to her that he did not think much of his drug addict sis.


There are other things that were annoying about the finale but these are smaller in nature and not quite as irritating at the above mentioned items. Although the Abbie’s ability to cut off electricity and shut down the elevator did stretch things just a bit. As did the head security guy who forces Pam into stasis/suspension only to do a complete about face and take her out moments later. (Of course he had to, otherwise she could not have so ironically shot down her maniac brother…or as one wit once said, “it’s in the script.”)

The final twist of Ben waking up to find his one time potential “baby mother” calling him sir and being very distant was interesting and for a brief moment all kinds of possibilities were opened. Once he demanded, and got, his clothes and left the hospital though, things got interesting. Only for a short while however.

The fact that Jason and the rest of his special group made it to the ark, and that three years has passed since the massive Abbie attack, made the Nazi-ish spin to the finale almost fait accompli. The conversation in the hospital, “They’re listening,” harked back to the beginning of the series and the additional shock value of seeing a man hanging in the town square by the carousel and a nuclear family having their picnic practically at the corpse’s feet, worked very well. The end result of that final set piece is that the viewer nods and thinks, “yup, Jason lived…”

Some entertainment sites are touting that a second season seems to be on the cards. That may well be. The viewing figures for Wayward Pines were impressive and the right demographic was appealed to. Deadline spoke to M Night Shyamalan who hinted, “very diplomatically” that there may just be a second season.

Sadly, unless they can bring back Ethan Burke from the dead, sorry Ben, the show will have limited appeal. Dillon made the whole thing work, along with his continuing interaction with Jones’ David Pilcher, he brought a certain gravitas to the role. Granted Jason may make a great season two villain but it is doubtful whether Charlie Tahan, great actor that the kid is, can pull off a “Dillon.”

So, the recap of the finale is: Kate lives, Pilcher turns off the fence and Ethan arms the citizens to fight the Abbies. Theresa saves Ben and Amy, Pam gets put to sleep and then woken up and Meg Fisher learns that staying behind can lead to being eaten. Ethan blows up a slew of Abbies and dies, Pam shoots David, Ben survives a bash to the head and Amy is now a nurse. Wayward Pines survives and is now worse than before, Jason may just be in charge and all the “adults” are in suspension. There could very well be a second season with Ben Burke as the lead protagonist.

Dominion: Second Season Viva Vega

Dominion SyFy publicity poster
Anthony Head, with an American accent, has managed to survive what seemed to have been certain death in season one of Dominion as he is back for the second season in Vega. The series was developed as a sort of carry over from the 2010 feature film Legion, starring Dennis Quaid, Lucas Black, and Tyrese Gibson. While the film may have been somewhat forgettable, except for the scene in the roadside cafe with the little old lady “demon,” it has translated pretty well, albeit loosely, to television.

Filmed in South Africa, hence Head being able to used his English stage name and not his “Buffy” one of Anthony Stewart Head (a SAG American actor with the same name had precedence over Tony in the USA), the series is set in “Vega” the remnants of Las Vegas and features an ongoing war between survivors of humanity and archangels. Gabriel and Michael are opposing factions and the whole show features some oddities that stick out. Black eyed “Dog’s of Heaven” or “eight-balls” with their lack of pupil are pretty creepy looking.

These eight balls are lower angels who are aligned with Gabriel and sound a little like Golem when they speak. Regardless of who fights with who, Head’s character Senator David Whele is the Secretary of Commerce, which means he runs the city. In season one his goal and fixation was to take over as the head of Vega, taking control from General Edward Riesen.

Neighbors alumnus Alan Dale played Riesen who leaves Vega by the season one finale. *On a sidenote* Dale played family head Jim Robinson in the Australian soap Neighbors and like other stars from that show moved on to have a prolific career in other television shows and film. The Kiwi actor is well known for bringing his own brand of natural gravitas to any role he plays.

Things in Vega were pretty shaken up by the end of season one and season two now sees the General’s daughter in charge, Lady Claire (played by Roxanne McKee) and she will be tough act to follow. Michael, the angel who took sides against Gabriel (Carl Beukes), is played by Tom Wisdom who has moved up from English soap icon Coronation Street and the British airline dramedy Mile High to play an angel with first billing in Dominion.

The show is English heavy, although Beukes is actually a “local” being from Johannesburg, and while not all American accents are created equal, Dominion with its “God is not dead, He’s just left” plot mechanic, moves at a good pace and reveals are entertaining, shocking and bordering on Shakespearean.

Season Two may have lost Alan Dale’s character, but the remaining performers who have returned have lost nothing between seasons. The series is a splendid mix of supernatural and science fiction, horror and hokum, and (as mentioned above) features just a touch of William Shakespeare. It is interesting that despite that touch of science fiction, the show is not part of SyFy Fridays and airs Thursdays, like a sort of hors d’oeuvre before the Friday line up.

Mr Robot: Eps 1.4_3xpl0its.wmv (r3c4p_r3vi3w)

Elliot in Steel Mountain in Mr Robot
Last week’s episode of Mr Robot had a “magical mystery tour” feel to it, Elliot going cold turkey and stopping the drugs, and in episode 1.4_3xpl0its.wmv he is infiltrating Evil Corp. This week it is all about flaws; human and system. Being aware that they exist, that everything and everyone has them, finding them and exploiting them. Fsociety “mount up” and ride to complete their mission while Darlene hits up the Dark Army and Angela lets Ollie know just how screwed he is as she walks out the door.

Before the team can get into Steel Mountain, there is the matter of Vera, aka Fernando, aka Shayla’s drug dealer/rapist, that Elliot turned in with enough paperwork and proof of the douchebag’s criminal activities to ensure he spends the rest of his born days in prison. As he learns of all the evidence against him, he glances at photographs brought in by his lawyer and sees a bottle of either morphine or Suboxone, a line of powder and a straw.

Vera has a lightbulb moment, pretty amazing since the man really is not the sharpest tool in the shed (neither is his baby brother a shining star in the heavens, it was his bruv’s idea to use social media to transmit their transactions, which included premeditated murder, “Do you know how much money we saved?”), regardless of his limited intelligence in some areas, he is smart enough to follow that trail of powder to Elliot and Shayla.

Meanwhile, Mr Robot gets an entry badge that the fsociety team can clone and they get into the Steel Mountain data security storage facility. Passing through the gate, Elliot points out that the company logo is “Impenetrable” something that is cause for concern but also not true. Nothing, Elliot points out, is impenetrable, because of those ever present flaws.

Once in, Elliot points out that he has no real problem hacking people, their flaws, he says, are there for all to see, like a neon sign. He goes through the flaws of each fsociety team member in the van. When he gets to Mr Robot, Elliot points out that his flaw is that Mr Robot is crazy. A man, Elliot asserts, that would jump off a bridge if a friend did, with no hesitation, just to prove something. Considering his pushing Elliot off the pier in an earlier episode, the diagnosis seems pretty spot on.

In the van, the team pick out the first weak link for Elliot to exploit. Once in, Elliot is Sam Sepiol (a billionaire data magnate as set up by Mobley) and he must shut down Bill Harper, a Level 1 cleared Evil Corp employee with staggering low self esteem, in order to get access to his supervisor Wendy Gallagher, who has Level 2 clearance, which Elliot needs so he can plant the Raspberry Pi.

Wendy’s partner is pregnant and due any minute, the team will send her a message about the baby, thus getting rid of her and leaving Elliot/Sam alone to put in the device. Unfortunately, the human flaws that Elliot has been talking about apply here and belatedly the team learn that Gallagher’s partner has already had the baby. After Elliot completely destroys Harper, the man is sniffling, Trudy Davis comes out, she has Level 2 clearance but also no personality and, according to the Internet, no life.

She does have a cell phone listed for her husband. Thinking quickly Mobley sends Trudy a spoof text from her husband saying he is at the doctor’s and it is as “they feared.” Davis crumples completely and leaves Elliot alone. The team direct him to a locked staircase, that he can pick open, and in his confusion he heads to the wrong one.

After learning that he needs to be on the other side of the hallway, Elliot leaves the stairwell and bumps into Tyrell Wellick, who recognized him. Shayla is learning how to earn a living without selling “pharmaceuticals” as a waitress, complete with a uniform that includes a cowboy hat.

Wellick being at Steel Mountain has freaked Elliot out and Tyrell asks why Allsafe sent him to the storage facility. He invites Elliot to lunch and as they stand in the entrance to the employee dining room, Mr Robot reminds him that Wellick’s flaw is his hubris. Elliot immediately gets Tyrell to take him to the executive dining area…on Level 2.

Tyrell shows how little he thinks of ordinary people, “cockroaches” and Elliot’s blood pressure hits new heights when two armed guards head to their table. He excuses himself, “I have to go to the bathroom,” and once inside, he throws up in a sink…twice. He blames the withdrawal but believes it may be the stress of Wellick turning up.

While in the washroom he notices an open door leading to a utility area. Entering the room, he installs the Pi partially, stopping as Tyrell comes in. Wellick reveals that he knows Elliot’s father died while working for E Corp and that he, Elliot, framed Colby. It allows Tyrell the privilege of feeling superior to Elliot, “Revenge, how average,” he says before taking his leave and telling Elliot that he will take a helicopter back to his place of work. After Wellick leaves Elliot finishes installing the Pi.

Back at the arcade, Darlene learns that the Dark Army has bailed and banned fsociety from the forum. Angela goes home, where her dad tells her that Ollie called asking him to plead on his behalf. She tells her dad that Ollie cheated and he responds by saying he is not surprised, because her former boyfriend was a “total douchebag.”

Wellick and his wife are heading to the dinner party with prospective CTO Scott Knowles and his wife and they discuss strategy. Darlene meets with her contact with the Dark Army in person and he tells her that “it’s over.” He explains that China pulled out before the team ever got to Steel Mountain and to “let it go.”

The meal, despite best efforts, is an awkward affair and the couple learn that Scott’s wife Sharon is a tough cookie and that Knowles is very suspicious about how Tyrell learned about his new job offer. Shayla and Elliot talk about their day and make plans to meet up later. Back at the meal, Tyrell’s wife makes a connection with Scott and when he tries to link up with Sharon, it goes badly.

He asks how she can stay married to Scott and not “blow her brains out.” She excuses herself to the toilet saying that she will treat the remark as a joke in poor taste. In the bathroom, she is sitting on the toilet urinating when Tyrell comes in. She calls out, “I’m in here” as he opens the door and then cooly asks, “Can I help you.” He says nothing and moves in front of Sharon, hands in pockets, and stares down at her.

She leans back on the seat and legs slightly spread. Tyrell continues to look down at her and says, “Thank you for a lovely evening.” He then smiles and leaves the bathroom, Sharon sighs as he closes the door, although it is not clear what she is feeling at that moment.

Fsociety come back to the arcade and Darlene tells the guys that everything is ready to go. She then admits that China bailed out on the whole thing and Mr Robot reacts badly. Elliot gets a call from Shayla, which he ignores. Darlene wants to go ahead with their part of the plan and Mr Robot explains that it will be mistake. It might hurt them, he says, but they do not want that, they want to kill them.

Mr Robot asks Elliot to stop her and as he stands next to Darlene, who is poised to hit execute, Elliot says nothing. She finally gives up. Elliot says that it is not over and they will find a way to make it happen. He invites a distraught Darlene back to his place to crash.

On the way home, he relates a childhood tale about coming back from the beach and getting sand in the floor. The moral of the story is that making big changes take time and that not everyone can do it. Angela goes through her father’s things and finds he owes big money to E Corp. Later she goes for a run and come to a fork in the road and Elliot returns home to find that Shayla has been targeted by Vera from the prison.

While the real star of this show is Rami Malek’s Elliot along with Christian Slater’s Mr Robot, Tyrell Wellick is becoming a very compelling character. Martin Wallström is infusing this ambitious and scheming executive with a Hannibal Lector-ish quality, albeit a more crude version of the murderous sophisticate. Wellick, one imagines, is a devotee of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, as is, apparently, Scott Knowles. “What would you have done” questions Knowles about the dinner party and Tyrell replies, “I would not have let me in.”

The theme of flaws with its focus on people being the most common one, as pointed out earlier by Elliot when the team were canvassing Steel Mountain “I see six flaws,” he says referring to the security guards in the pictures, runs throughout. The underlying theme of successful people exploiting these flaws to their advantage runs parallel to brilliant effect.

The tension in this episode was kept taut with the music, again, and the mood was dark, as was the lighting for the dinner scene. The thread of Vera, Shayla and Elliot looks to be interesting although it is questionable whether the criminally inclined mistreat would really be smart enough to make that connection.

Mr Robot could be called candy for the thinking man/woman. Each episode intricately weaves each set piece, character interaction, subplot and plot-thread together. Multiple meanings prevail and the scenes all add another facet to the show’s data base. More of Elliot’s backstory is revealed in each episode and his destruction of Harper early on was eye opening.

Mr Robot airs Wednesdays on USA Network. Television that makes one think should not be missed.

Pretty Little Liars: O Brother, Where Art Thou (recap and review)

Aria and Mike in Pretty Little Liars
Last week found the Pretty Little Liars group learning about tracking chips, that Lesli is not Charles and that he is not dead. In O’ Brother, Where Art Thou, after getting a very threatening birthday card from his dead son, Mr. DiLaurentis is in full blown freak out and Jason is acting pretty flaky as well.

The previous week saw Em and Sara share a kiss and a bit of alone time together and Daddy “D” dug up Charles’ grave setting up events this week. Alison’s dad grabs her and forces her to leave the area, Jason is meant to go as well but he refuses. Spencer and Aria watch a video about micro chip removal from a dog, Mona calls to say that Lesli will meet with the girls and Ali cannot be reached on the phone.

Hanna’s mother gives her a surprise, a tuition check from the Carissimi Group, a charity that Jason recommended. Claire shows up at the coffee shop looking for Emily and Sara. Em tells her that she will get Sara to call her. Toby comes back from his police training and comes to see Spencer just as she is leaving to meet with Lesli. They talk a little about not keeping secrets and agree to meet later.

Hanna and Aria are with Mona when Spencer arrives for the meeting. Mona texts Lesli who replies saying that the stress will be too much for her. Mona confirms that Lesli is telling the truth, while Aria begins turning a dolls head around, and Hanna demands that Stone show up. When questioned about her time in Radley, Mona says that she was so high on drugs that half the time she thought she was auditioning for American Idol.

Em tells Sara about Claire and offers to come along to keep things from “getting weird.” The two girls share a moment where they discuss the kiss and Emily shows that she is a little uncomfortable. Sara, however, is not. Lorenzo stops by the DiLaurentis home to see Ali and Jason tells him she is gone. He is very evasive about the whole thing and he tells the cop that he can tell his friends, the cops staked outside the house, to leave. After Lorenzo leaves, Jason goes to a red balloon and finds a party invitation for him alone.

Aria gathers up her dolls to throw them away and Mike comes to visit. When he asks about the dolls, she explains that they are beginning to creep her out. At the Claire visit, Sara and her old friend get very involved in catching up and Em clearly feels like a third wheel. At the coffee shop, Hanna and Spencer talk about Toby and the tracking chips. Hanna complains about the “hardware” in their necks and says “God, we are like Cyclops.” Spencer corrects her saying “Cyborgs” and Hanna replies, “I’m pretty sure it’s pronounced Cyclops.”

The two girls search the Internet for the Carissimi Group and Hanna discovers that the organization was part of Radley. Emily cuts the visit with Claire short and Sara is invited to stay with her old friend, she says she will think about it. Spencer tells Hanna that Carissimi means beloved in Latin and gets a call on her cell phone, she moves to improve reception and gets some more drug-laced goodies put in her purse from the waitress at the coffee house.

The call is from Ali and Spencer learns that Charles is meant to show up “today.” Ali asks Spencer to talk to Jason. Alison pleads with her father to call the police and to help Jason and a stressed out Mr.DiLaurentis tells her to give him “just one day” to sort himself out. Sara tells Emily that she will be staying with Claire. Her reasoning is that they can then date without Em’s mother being around all the time.

Spencer, Aria and Hanna go to see Jason and he is not home. The cop outside the house says apparently he does not want to be disturbed and Spencer spies the red balloon now inside the house. Mike goes to see Mona, he brings her the box of Aria’s discarded dolls. The two clear the air and after a tear or two, Mona asks Mike to stay.

The girls plan to follow Jason when he goes to meet Charles. Emily thinks that Hanna’s plan to use Caleb’s tracker to ambush A is a bad idea saying he has everything but superpowers. They decide to take out the tracking devices and Hanna brings out a tray with a scalpel and medical gauze. As the girls get the chips taken out, Spencer asks Toby to look the other way for just one night. Upstairs Aria is vocally getting her chip out and Toby asks Spencer about the gauze on her neck.

The girls all come down and after some preamble Toby takes the GPS and says he will track Jason alone. Hanna is bleeding, “Where?” she asks and Emily replies, “Where Dr. Amateur Hour cut your neck open.” Aria, Hanna and Em go upstairs leaving Spencer and Toby to finish things off, this includes a kiss and when she goes put to find the surgical tape, he find the drug-laced candy in Spencer’s purse and takes the bag.

Alison slips her father some sleeping pills and Toby keeps snacking on the gummy bears from Spencer’s purse. He notices the GPS has stopped at Wallaby Avenue and he talks his partner Lorenzo into going to the address with him. The girls decide to head out as well while Jason heads into the building where he is to meet Charles.

Mona answers Ali’s call for a ride and all the various groups head to the arcade where Charles is meeting Jason. Toby and Lorenzo arrive just at the two are about to meet, Charles is wearing a hoodie and when the two cops show up he becomes combative. Lorenzo is hurt and just as Toby draws his gun the gummy bears disorient him and throw him off.

In the meantime, Alison calls the police. The girls arrive and Spencer rushes to Toby who is clearly out of it. The police that Ali called also show up but Charles is long gone. Afterward Hanna’s mother tells her off for chasing Charles and reveals that the tuition money has been put in the bank. Aria gets a visit from Mike and she tells him that she is scared all the time.

Spencer goes to see Toby and he makes her leave. He is not pleased and still under the influence of the gummy bears. Emily is missing Sara and she smashes the tracking chip. Jason pours scotch in a glass and Ali tells him to stop. He reveals he was going to ask Charles to turn himself in. As the two talk a young boy’s voice calls for Jason and Alison to come play with him.

In the next room a projector is set up showing a home movie of a young Ali and Jason playing with Charles at a birthday party. A note left in the room says, “I wAnted to trust you.” The last scene is a wrapped present with a red card attached, with Happy Birthday -your friend and Ally on it. A pair of gloved hands unwrap the package and it is a picture from the movie, Ali, Jason and Charles all at the party.

Kudos to Ashley Benson in this episode, her Cyclops line was brilliantly comic and overall this actress does an excellent job portraying a strong character who is not the sharpest tool in the shed. The budding romance between Em and Sara has taken some time to get started but is not totally unexpected and Lesli is maintaining a very low profile.

Pretty Little Liars moves closer to an unveiling and a sense of foreboding prevails. A lot questions arise from this latest episode. Will Alison come to regret drugging her father? Has Spencer’s issue with insomnia caused irreparable damage to her relationship with Toby? What will Mona do with Aria’s dolls and why would Mike give them to her? The suspense is building nicely, tune in to ABC on Tuesdays to see how all this turns out.

Stitchers: Fire in the Hole (recap and review)

Stitchers logo
Stitchers last week was an almost perfect blend of mystery, comedy, and clever writing. In Fire in the Hole the comic touches are still there but this episode focusses on life and death not from without but from within. Perhaps the greatest achievement of this segment is its dealing with the irony of a team that interacts with death and all it entails on a daily basis suddenly being thrust into the arena of personal mortality.

This episode looks at how each team member faces the very real possibility of their own demise, “I’m choosing to panic in my own way,” says Tim while munching on what looks like grapes, and it shows how they have all bonded. Even the engineer has been accepted by Cameron and vice versa. By the time the end credits roll, Linus and Camille are apparently a real couple, instead of what she was aiming for, Kirsten knows more of the truth, although it is doubtful that Maggie has not embellished things, this is a woman who will always “hedge her bets,” and Cameron moves that one step closer to a relationship with Clark. Liam, the “Mr. Mary Poppins” wild card is being left to wriggle on the marriage proposal hook for the time being.

The episode is all about irony, as signposted by the opening. Kirsten is in the elevator heading to the lab. She enters the facility to find flashing lights and alarms blaring while her colleagues rush here and there in a panic. Cameron spies Kirsten and rushes up to her. “Thank goodness you’re here,” he says while grabbing her arm. “We need your help,” Cameron says and drags Clark out of the main lab.

He leads Kirsten into another section yelling that they are running out of time. The two enter the room to a surprise birthday party for her. Camille, Linus, Maggie and the rest all shout surprise and Tim rises from the back of the room, cake in hand, to move forward with the “office” birthday offering. On the cake, are two brains, one is red the other blue, that have a line of led lights leading from one to the other. The room of colleagues sing happy birthday and as the song finishes, Kirsten asks, “Are those brains?”

After apologizing for her lack of reaction, “sorry guys, surprise anything doesn’t really work on me,” the party is over. The brains are taken by Linus and Camille, “At least we have cake,” and eaten. That these two were meant for each other is obvious. The alarm that sounds the death knell for the party is a new stitch arrival.

A leading lab researcher, Dr. Barmal committed suicide in her apartment and the team need to learn why. The woman worked with infectious diseases and mutated viruses so the information in her head could be of vital importance. After initial concerns that her corpse could be contaminated Maggie assures the team that there are no signs of contamination.

Barmal killed herself with sleeping pills, her body was found slumped over in under a scalding shower and the temperature in her flat was extremely high, all this information adds to the mystery of why she killed herself. The team learn that the deceased had a photographic memory and never wrote anything down. The stitch is the only way they can learn anything about what she was working on.

As they prepare for the stitch, Camille asks Kirsten about the marriage proposal. The two talk about it and Clark asks her roomie to keep the news about Liam asking her to marry him quiet. If, she says, Camille has not managed to tell the whole lab already. Looking at the comms mic by her mouth, Kirsten realizes that the entire lab has just learned of the proposal. Linus and Cameron share a look.

Maggie welcomes Fisher back from his “special” assignment for Les Turner and she reveals it “kinda sucks” being in the dark, something that the detective has complained about in the past. Fisher enjoys her discomfort. As he leaves Fisher tells Maggie to let him know if there is cake. Cameron runs through the checklist prior to the stitch and quips that comms works fine, alluding to Kirsten’s inadvertent sharing of her Liam information.

Once in the stitch, Kirsten leans that the doctor injected herself with a mutated version of the Spanish Flu and then gave herself another shot intended to counteract the effects of the virus. While Clark is still in the stitch, Maggie decides to clear the lab of all non-essential personnel.

Alarms begin to go off in the lab, just as they did when Kirsten arrived for work. This time, however, the threat is real. Barmal’s body has become symptomatic and infected the entire team. Maggie puts the facility under lockdown. Camille says, “I hate being right all the time.” She was the only person to state what a bad idea it was to bring the doctor into the lab. She is rapidly becoming the voice of reason in this verse.

After the lab has been isolated, something that Les Turner demands happen to Kirsten, each of the team members begins getting ill. Later when learning about the problem of Barmal infecting the entire team. Turner tells Maggie that Kirsten “must be protected,” and tells the stitch leader that whatever happens to anyone else is inconsequential. Her response to his order is “Yeah, good luck with that,” the same thing Kirsten says when Maggie relays the isolation demand to her.

Later, when Maggie reveals the truth to Kirsten about her mother and Ed, it appears that Clark is very special and that the stitcher program has been going on much longer than she realized. It really is beginning to look like the woman was “designed” to be a stitcher.

The team put their collective intellects together to work out a solution. It is decided that they can use the quantum computer to come up with a cure. Kirsten goes back into Barmal’s brain after having to argue her point. Clark gets off a good one with her response to arguments being made against her going back into the dead woman’s memory; “Besides, It’s my birthday and I can stitch if I want to,” she says with a cheeky grin.

Going back into the stitch, she observes the doctor writing a formula on a whiteboard. The stitch begins to collapse and she barely makes it out in time. This is beginning to become a trend with Clark; leaving it till the last minute to bounce. A signpost of bad things to come?

After Kirsten is out, she writes the formula and when she asks if anyone recognizes it, Cameron does “Bones” from Star Trek, “Dammit Jim, I’m a…” His riff is not appreciated by Maggie who tells him to focus. As he gets to business and asks Linus for input, they realize that “i heart guy” is the first of the crew to fall ill.

As the team members all begin to get sick they try to find a solution to their problems, one of which is how to get into the lab (Ayo tries and after Maggie tries an override they learn they are locked out). Camille saves the day by climbing into the medical lab through a cabling tunnel. Cue an encounter with a rat and some excellent comedic moments for Scagliotti as Camille. Also cue that look from Linus, the one that says his love and respect for this woman just reached new heights.

The two have a very touching moment and seconds later, Maggie tells them to call any loved ones. The computer has revealed that the doctor’s cure should have worked but did not. While everyone else reaches out to loved ones, except for Camille which endears her to Linus, and the audience, even more, Cameron reaches out to Kirsten, revealing more about his backstory and she in turn focusses upon finding a solution.

By the end of the show, Clark shows how much she has bonded with Cameron, Fisher and Tim the engineer save the day and the stitcher team have become more closely bonded and proven that they can work together through an emergency. Les Turner reveals that the most important part of the Stitcher program is Kirsten. We also learn much more about each main character with some peripheral ones stepping up to the fore.

Kudos to Cameron Britton, Emma Ishta, and Kyle Harris for knocking out it of the park. Ritesh Rajan and Allison Scagliotti are just brilliant in this episode and Salli Richardson-Whitfield rose to allow her character to show a touch of vulnerability. The writing was spot on, as usual, and Fisher’s line about cake was perfect.Stitchers is top of the ABC Family lineup and is not to be missed. It airs Tuesdays, mark your calendar.

Masters of Sex: Season Three of the Sexual Revolution (Review)

Isabelle Fuhrman and Lizzy Caplan in Masters of Sex
Not having been on the boat for the first two seasons of Showtime’s Masters of Sex, coming into season three of the sexual revolution it is more about who is in the show thus far and less about the recreation of Masters and Johnson with their edification about coitus and orgasm. The three main characters are William Masters (portrayed by Welsh actor Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzie Caplan) and Masters’ wife Libby (Caitlin FitzGerald).

Upon tuning into episode two, titled Three’s a Crowd, it is not any of this trio that captures the eye though. It is Isabelle Fuhrman who demands attention, the sight of the Orphan star playing Virginia’s daughter pleases and excites. The 18 year-old actress blew everyone else off the screen as Esther in the 2009 horror film, where she portrayed a grown woman trapped in a child’s body who murders each family that adopts her, and it will be no surprise if she does the same in this series.

Leaving the cast alone for the moment, it is interesting to note that the time period being portrayed feels like a spin-off or, at the very least, influenced by Mad Men. The gloriously successful AMC series set in a similar time frame, late 50s to mid 60s, seems to have prompted a number of shows during what could be seen as a turning point in many areas, not just that of culture, business and sex.

Showtime’s series is set around the research of Masters and Johnson and their subsequent book. Masters of Sex follows the interaction of the characters and their family members along with the public and its reaction to the revelations about sexuality and their clarification of female responses to sex.

Rather interestingly, Virginia Johnson, is pregnant; an single incident with her ex has lead to the rabbit dying. After initially deciding to get rid of the fetus, she changes her mind “on the table.” When William castigates her for the decision, she explains that her ex got her existing children and that she was not going to lose this one. Masters’ wife Libby is not pleased at Johnson’s pregnancy as she feels it puts her husband in the category of potential sire.

Tess, Virginia’s daughter (played by Fuhrman) is also not impressed with her mother’s decision to keep the baby. William’s discomfort is based upon the book facing charges of being responsible for increasing female promiscuity, ergo the issue with Johnson’s single mother to be status.

In real life, the team of Masters and Johnson married, around 1971, so it is fascinating to see the interaction between Libby Masters and Virginia. One could assume, from this episode alone, that it was Mrs. Masters who facilitated the move from matrimony that enabled Virginia and Bill to become a couple until 1992.

In this second episode, Virginia has been forced to take a leave of absence and a Dr. Wesh has been drafted in to take her place till the baby is born and it is time to publicize the book. The Shah of Iran and his wife are undergoing fertility treatments and Tess is trying to get tickets to a Bob Dylan concert.

Plot points aside, it is odd to see Michael Sheen, (Underworld, The Dammed United) playing the role of Johnson. Sheen is a consummate actor who fills the shoes of Masters quite well although this is a variation of his usual role. Lizzy Caplan looks completely different from her role inThe Interview unfortunately though that is the first thing that springs to mind whenever she is on screen.

Caitlin FitzGerald as Libby has no “legacy” to shadow her performance and she fills the role capably and the scene where William is working on the television while she angrily smokes and says nothing is priceless.

Sadly, Masters of Sex is one of those programs that requires the viewer to sit down and binge back from season one. The story of the people “responsible for the sexual revolution” as the tagline says, is one that needs to be watched from episode one to “get it.” By this time in the series, all the actors have gelled and characters are now more fully realized. The addition of Isabelle Fuhrman opens up a number of possibilities in the show but only time, and the writers, will allow her character to become a “regular” cast member.

Masters of Sex airs Sundays on Showtime. Entertaining but all the more so if one binges to catch up on events.