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The Doctor Faces the Consequences

Szofi

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Recap

The second block of Series 10 begins with this fifth episode, and what a strong beginning it is. “Oxygen” opens with a Twelfth Doctor voiceover that reminded me of “Heaven Sent”, and also of the fact that Capaldi’s voice is such a joy to listen to. He warns us of how dangerous space really is, and surely enough the first scene is two spacewalkers Ellie and Ivan trying to get back into their ship. Before they can do that, Ellie gets attacked by space zombies (aka other crew members dead in their suits) and is turned into a zombie herself.

Normally, when supporting characters die in the pre-title sequence it doesn’t affect me at all, as cruel as that sounds, because we know them for 3 whole seconds before they get killed off for the sake of the plot. But this time around Ellie pulled the “I want to have a baby card” before going, and even though Ivan didn’t hear her and he only gets to mourn her in one scene later on, this still showed that “Oxygen” would be a better than average story.

Back in 21st century Bristol, the Doctor is giving a lecture on space, because he misses it and who cares about the curriculum. Nardole nags him about his oath to stay on Earth and guard the Vault and even messes with the TARDIS so it won’t be able to take off in case the Doctor wants to take Bill somewhere again. His plan doesn’t work as the Doctor lied to him about how the TARDIS works, and so Nardole is onboard when the TARDIS takes off to answer a distress call. He might be an unwilling one, but Nardole finally acts like a companion and so we see the new Team TARDIS in action for the first time.

They land on the spaceship from earlier and it’s the good old sci-fi setting: semi-abandoned ship and strange details. The team finds out that 36 people died out of 40, that they have AI suits that function even after the person wearing them died, and that oxygen is a product that they have to buy. Because the TARDIS created an unauthorized oxygen bubble, the ship seals it in a vacuum (you can’t have a space ship adventure with an easily accessible TARDIS, after all) and so the team is forced to wear the suits in order to breathe. The suits were what killed those 36 people, but theirs didn’t get to command so they are safe, for now.

Bill and Nardole want to get off the ship and get home, but the Doctor wants to help those four surviving crew members. It was a tiny bit out of character that Bill wanted to run away when their reason for coming was to help, but I guess she’s brave, but not that brave. She’s allowed to be scared and I accept it as the exploration of another side of her.

The space zombies eventually find them and they get rescued by the remaining crew members, who are hiding in a secluded area of the ship. One of the survivors is Dahh-Ren, a blue-skinned person who calls Bill racist for being surprised about his appearance. They have a casual conversation about racism, but before Bill can explain why she’s usually on the receiving end, her suit malfunctions. Ivan, who survived Ellie wanting to attack him helps her, but this suit (”Velma”) is a quite obvious plot device.

Tasker, one of the four, dies as the space zombies break through. It was here that I noticed that they have a sort of Cybermen style to them: how they walk, how they sound, how they die and etc. Anyway, the others escape but they have to go outside to avoid the zombies, and surprise surprise, Bill’s suit rejects the helmet so she’ll be exposed to the vacuum of space. We have a nicely edited Bill’s point of view sequence, after which we find out that the six of them are still alive, but Bill only survived because the Doctor gave her his helmet. This meant that he was exposed to the vacuum, which he survived thanks to his Time Lord genes, but not without consequences. His sacrifice caused him to go blind, but he assures Bill that this is only temporary, since he can heal himself once they get back to the TARDIS.

They are hiding in a section that’s unexplored by the AIs so they are safe, but not for long and in need of a plan. Abby, the fourth crew member gets fed up with the Doctor, but in that moment the space zombies find them and kill Dahh-Ren in the process. The remaining five try to run, but Bill’s suit malfunctions and yet again and doesn’t let her go. The Doctor is forced to leave her with the promise of a plan and that she won’t die, but as she screams for her mum and the AI disables her central nervous system he’s understandably shaken up.

Once they are safe from the zombies again, the Doctor starts working on blowing the ship up. He convinces Ivan and Abby that this will be a good death, as it will be incredibly expensive for their company. Turns out, it wasn’t a hack that caused the AI suits to kill them and their company isn’t sending a rescue ship for them… It was the company itself that programmed the destruction of the crew of 40 because their work wasn’t profitable anymore (they’re miners). Killing them saves oxygen, which is money in this version of the future, and money is everything, apparently. Upset by this revelation, Ivan and Abby finally side with the Doctor.

As the zombies approach them, the Doctor reveals one more twist: they don’t need to die as that would be expensive for the company, since the Doctor ensured that their death means the destruction of the ship. The AI zombies, seeing his logic, give the survivors the rest of their oxygen, since now their objective is to keep them alive. Bill is revived, turns out that the Doctor knew her suit didn’t have enough energy to actually kill her, so the grand total of five people survive. The Doctor gets his eyesight fixed in the TARDIS and he takes Ivan and Abby to the head office of the company they work for. They make a complaint, and as the Doctor tells Bill later in Bristol, that marked the beginning of the end of capitalism, then the human race came up with another mistake.

The episode ends with Nardole telling the Doctor off again for having left the Vault unguarded. He says that anything could have happened, that the Doctor could have been injured and then what. The twist at the very end is that something did happen, as the Doctor failed to heal himself and he’s still blind.

Review

I’ve been waiting for the first proper Team TARDIS episode and here we have it. Although Nardole wasn’t exactly a willing companion, he still joined the Doctor and Bill and I have to say I’m satisfied with how the character was handled. So far his two roles were the comic relief and the one having to nag the Doctor about his oath, and both sides were present in “Oxygen” as well, at least he got his moments. I especially liked how he seemed to show genuine concern for Bill and knew how to talk to the Doctor when he thought she was dead. There’s the hidden depth to the character that we’ve all been anxiously waiting for, Nardole can be a good companion just yet. It’s only episode 5 so he’s not behind with character development, but then again it’s been 7 episodes since he first appeared, so it was about time Matt Lucas got something substantial to work with. He’s yet to have a shining moment of any kind, but this Nardole was a decent member of Team TARDIS and I can finally see that there is potential here.

As for Bill, she continues to be amazing and asking just the right questions. In this episode we saw how scared she can get, which is fair enough, she was about to die several times and all she wanted was to space camp. Pearl Mackie nailed the panic and the heartbreak of the scene where the Doctor leaves her, although the photograph of Bill’s mum was a tad bit too much. We only saw it last episode, we still remember what she looks like and what she means to her daughter. Regardless, I’m glad the writers are using this lost connection and showing these so incredibly human moments of Bill. The character wasn’t as much in the focus this time around but she still shined. Bill Potts is the lesbian daughter we deserve on TV.

Okay, so let’s talk about the elephant in the TARDIS: the Twelfth Doctor is blind now. I’m actually glad that he couldn’t heal himself, otherwise his sacrifice for Bill would have felt cheap. It’s not really a sacrifice if he survives without a scratch, now, is it? I wholeheartedly approve of Doctor Who introducing consequences, and this is a risky but impressive move. I’m hoping Twelve is going to spend the rest of this regeneration blind, as cruel as that might sound. I’m sure regeneration could help with this problem and we know Capaldi is leaving soon anyway, so why not have the last couple of episodes with the Twelfth Doctor exploring this? The Doctor being blind opens the door to an incredible opportunity, there’s an inspiring story to be told here and I hope Steven Moffat, as the showrunner, is brave enough to go through with it. It’s different but it could work, and Capaldi could play it, so go for it. It also presents an interesting situation with the Vault and the Master, considering the fact that Nardole has already been hinting at it and that Missy is returning next week.

It might (source)

“Oxygen” works well as its own episode, even though I’m normally not a big fan of spaceship stories they can be amazing. Maybe it wasn’t on the level of the Series 2 two-parter “The Impossible Planet”/”The Satan Pit”, but “Oxygen” still had its own decent story and eerie atmosphere. Just as strong as the rest of the series so far and carrying the same message. The tone was darker, even darker than last week’s “Knock Knock”, where all the kids survived but here 38 out of the 40 miners died. This, along with the Doctor’s own blindness shows that not every adventure has a happy ending without great losses. Episode 5 also delivered a not so subtle at capitalism, just like “Thin Ice” did, but the message wasn’t so much that capitalism sucks. As the Doctor said, humanity just came up with another mistake, so it’s more about human nature and the “it’s not my fault” mentality that he also talked about. Series 10 is doing well in terms of undertones and “Oxygen” is no exception. After all, Doctor Who is about humanity, with all its brilliant moments and ugliness.

Next week it’s “Extremis”, where the truth is revealed, Missy returns, the Doctor is still blind, the Pope shows up, and Bill is just trying to have a date.


Images courtesy of the BBC

Well hello, my name is Szofi, which is just a variation of Sophie. Currently a university student living almost 1000 miles from home and building a life there.

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Barbara
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It seemed out of character to me too, that Bill wanted to basically run. I think her fear should have been introduced a little later – by the time they go into space, it’s perfectly justified.
The lady crew member’s sudden sharp animosity towards the Doctor in that one scene when she tried to attack him came out of nowhere, too.
Otherwise, I absolutely loved this episode, and like you, I hope the Doctor will stay blind until his regeneration.

Television

Star Wars Resistance: Episode 11, “Bibo”

Angelina

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Star Wars: Resistance

So…Star Wars: Resistance is back from its winter hiatus! Should we celebrate? Not yet, I’d say, because “Bibo” is more like a filler/breather episode meant to tune the audience in after holiday break. It has nothing substantial to add to series’ lore or to its overarching plot, yet it still manages to entertain and to help us dive back into familiar Colossus atmosphere.

Spoilers ahead!

Recap: Neeku Finds a Pet

So, we’re back at The Colossus, where Synara presents Kaz with a chance to loot a salvaged Clone Wars-era fighter for repair parts. All nice and good, until they find a small, cute but awfully stinky creature stowed away inside the rusty husk. And until Neeku decides this small critter would be his pet from now on.

Actually, Bibo is really cute

A bit of slapstick ensues, as Neeku tries (without any success) to teach his pet some obedience. It turns out the newly christened Bibo can (and actually will, if no one stops him) eat literally anything. Especially if it has something to do with starships.

By the by, Synara has a call from her pirate leader, who informs her about Kaz and Poe’s Resistance affiliation. The call is of course interrupted by Kaz appearing to ask for another repair part…or, rather, to spend some time around Synara. Who masterfully pretends not to see his advances, and I can’t really blame her for that.

They go on a salvage dive together, hoping to find other fighters from the same squadron as the first.

As Bibo continues to wreak small-scale havoc in Yeager’s garage, it turns out Neeku really loves his new pet dearly—so much so he’s ready to leave Yeager’s service if he insists on his “no pets”rule. Neeku’s devotion is so strong, Tam asks to cut Bibo some slack. And even goes on to support Neeku after he loses Bibo in the station’s maze of corridors.

And while Kaz is busy fighting sea sickness and Synara’s too pointed questions about his real identity, a big tentacled monster is leading its way to The Colossus, and of course it’s looking for Neeku’s pet. And, well, we learn the aptly named children from Tehar might be Force-sensitive, as the girl, Eila, turns out to have profetic dreams.

Meaning, she dreamt something like this, poor soul!

All that results in Neeku having to choose between his pet and station’s safety, and of course he makes the right choice. however hard it is for him.

Review: On Caring for Each Other

While the episode doesn’t advance the story in any way, it managed to checklist/remind the viewer of all the plot-relevant details, while telling a cohesive self-contained story.

We have Synara playing an important role in the story, which reminds us she’s the primary Chekhov’s gunwoman of this show. Seeing her really care for the station and really enjoying her new work as a salvager, it’s obvious she will be made to choose between her allegiances very soon. On the one hand she has people who actually care–be it about each other or about common causes–and on the other hand she has her (high enough) place in pirate crew and a lifestyle she’s accustomed to…

I just hope Kaz with his inept wooing wouldn’t do anything with her decision.

Speaking about Kaz, this episode also reminds us both of his strengths and weaknesses. He’s still not good in either social interactions or actually not tripping on things, while still brilliant in flying and able to think and act quickly in a stress situation. Also it’s kinda sweet that he doesn’t really bother Synara with his feelings, trying to do something good for her instead. Well, “trying” is a key word here, but still: seeing a guy not forcing his niceguying down a lady’s throat is always a treat.

Also this episode went a long way to show us Tam Ryvora’s caring and friendly side. Which I really liked, and especially I liked that it was not treated as something special or unusual. She just is really a caring person who would look after her co-workers and help them any way she can. But when those co-workers act as jerks…well, she will call them out on it.

All the plot lines, in the end, converge on the main idea of the episode, which is: to love is to care for those we love. Which is actually quite close to being the idea of the whole series.

Neeku being ready to protect his “smallest friend” even at the whole station’s cost is equally ready to give it back to its mom even though his heart(s) is/are really breaking. Because he sees the critter really is better with his mom, not with him. All the while whole Team Fireball is ready to set aside their discomfort if their friend—Neeku—needs his pet so much. Even Yeager, the one most annoyed at Bibo’s existence, is ready to help Neeku find it.

Because he cares. Because they all care.

Thoughts, Moments, Theory Fuel

  • Neeku harboring so strong feelings for his just-found pet makes sense if we remember he has no close friends and is mostly isolated because of his quirky behaviour.
  • Tam Ryvora calling Yeager out for making such a fuss about Neeku’s pet while never really reacting with due severity on Kaz’s (much more destructive) mistakes was great.
  • The girl from Tehar, Eila, having profetic dreams must be a Chekhov’s gun. I look forward to see how it goes off!
  • Will the tentacled creature return in the series finale, like the wolves and the space whales did? We’ll see!
  • Synara now knows how to set the alarm on.
  • The Are you trying to incite panic? – Yes! Exactly! Everyone needs to panic right now! moment was really funny.

Images courtesy of Disney

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Game of Thrones Season 8 Teaser Really Wants to be Meaningful

Kylie

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2018 was a magical, Throne-less year, even if it officially won its Season 7 Emmy for Outstanding Drama in September. I’ll admit—I may have taken it for granted. Because here we are, less than a fortnight into 2019, and HBO has decided to grace us with the news that the biggest critical darling (for reasons still unexplained) is going to be back on our screens April 14th. April 14th. That’s basically 4 minutes from now.

Of course, HBO didn’t simply tell us the date; no no, we needed a Teaser Trailer of Extreme Significance to accompany it. And this one is…special. Look, I may not have been amazed at the three-second exchange between Dany and Sansa from the Golden Globes teaser, but at least that involved what was obviously an actual clip from the new season! In fairness, it’s not exactly unheard of for season release dates to be dropped in some kind of weird CGI ice and fire video featuring old dialogue. But this one was clearly planned and staged, it features three main actors, and the budget is certainly better than that of “people sit in chairs” from last year. Here, just check it out for yourself:

There’s a little here we can talk about, though I’m guaranteeing you the millions of hot takes that are currently clogging up Twitter will place far too much significance on this. “Oh my god, does that mean the Starks are all going to die?!” Probably not. There’s a reason I picked the Hall of Faces promotional picture for this piece—sometimes showrunners Benioff and Weiss just like to play up the idea that anyone can die, before shrouding Jon in plot armor so thick that he can survive plunging into freezing cold waters in full furs whilst surrounded by the army of the dead without an eye-blink.

They’ll probably be fine.

I do feel like I’m being uncharitable. In concept, this is not a bad teaser. Jon walks by the statue of Lyanna, and we hear a Lyanna quote. Good stuff, seeing as that’s his mom, which I’m assuming Bran will get around to telling him at some point (even if he never passed that on to his sisters). Jon also gets the last walk-by quote when looking at the Sean Bean statue, about how he’s still a Stark since he has the blood. Relevant, I think.

Sansa and Arya, meanwhile, are both shown walking past Cat’s statue with her voice-over, and here’s where my eyes began rolling to the ceiling. For one, it’s a little odd that Cat has a place in the Winterfell crypts at all, but you know…small potatoes. Then, the one Cat quote they picked was her awful, self-flagellating monologue she gave to the walking anachronism. There was a bit more to her character than not being instantly welcoming of the child that bore a significant political risk to her own children! A thing that bothers me too is that Sansa and Arya are shown in association with this quote. I guess they’re both girls, so manly, slow-clapping Ned couldn’t possibly have said something that stuck to them. But Cat’s quote had diddly squat to do with them (these are actually all about Jon), and it’s only going to further push the ridiculous notion that Sansa is somehow struggling with her loyalty and support of Jon. Hopefully Arya’s presence neutralizes that reading a bit, but I know this fandom pretty well.

Finally, the Starks meet up together in the crypts—which is nice and reminds me of that time Sansa, Bran, and Arya had happy bonding and trial-planning times together completely off-screen—only to see statues of themselves! Lost twist ending confirmed! This is purgatory!

Or, I don’t know, something about danger and stakes and “no one is safe on this show” (except everyone who clearly is).

Then the trailer just gets unabashedly Weathertop-esque as what’s likely to be the Army of the Dead approach. Maybe Uncle Benjen can be a last-minute Strider for the third time in a row. But you know, it’s more or less the same thing as Cheryl‘s minty-fresh breath from that trailer for Season 7. There’s a bigger threat, and every teaser is going to end with it.

All in all, I’m not particularly over or under-whelmed. This was a very expected trailer, and probably a long day for Sophie Turner, Kit Harrington, and Maisie Williams. I love that Bran was excluded for ~reasons~ that I’m sure are as difficult to explain as his three-eyed crow nature. But frankly, can we take that alone as proof that Season 8 is not, in any way, going to have the “same ending” as A Song of Ice and Fire? This show is going to do what it wants, as it sees creatively fit to do so. Which is why any “meaning” to be found in it falls flat. It’s conceptually fine and technically lovely. But as has been the case, if a plot point needs to happen, even for something like a Stark death, it just will. If they need to randomly prosper instead, then they will.

And now we have only three months to prepare ourselves for the millions of articles on why that makes for the most compelling TV possible.


Media courtesy of HBO

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It’s the Beginning of the End for Gotham

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Gotham’s final season is here. The city connections to the outside world have been sundered. The land carved up by gangs. The first moments of episode one open more than a year after the city has been turned into ‘No Man’s Land’. The Riddler and Penguin putting on their best threads join Jim, Harvey and the rest of the GCPD in an all-out gun battle.

This is a just glimpse into the future, as we’re taken back to day 81. The government is offering no help to Jim.  When the bridges to the city blew, not everyone had been evacuated. The GCPD took in any civilians who didn’t escape. With people to protect and not enough food or ammo to do that they’re running out of options quickly.

Meanwhile, everyone else has been adjusting to life in the new Gotham. Penguin has made City Hall his seat of power and with a factory in his area is the only person producing more bullets. The Siren’s Club has become a safe haven for women, with men only allowed in if they bring information of worth to Barbara. Scarecrow, Firefly, Mr. Freeze, Zsasz and some other gangs have all claimed their own territories. The Riddler is alive and has been suffering from blackouts in his memory.  He’s sure it’s the softer Ed who’s been taking control again. Still unaccounted for are Hugo Strange, Lee Thompkins and the enigma that is Jeremiah Valeska.

Selina wasn’t evacuated because of the bombs. Instead, she’s been at a clinic in the zone protected by the GCPD, paralyzed after her gunshot.  Bruce and Alfred have been at her side. Even with surgery, Selina has no chance to walk again. For someone like her, defined by her independence and mobility, its soul-crushing. So much so she’s willing to kill herself. One nurse whispers to Bruce that doctors aren’t going to help Selina, but ‘the Witch’ can.

Scarecrow and his gang raid the GCPD and clinic for food and medicine, drastically cutting down their rations. With supplies in desperate need, Bruce makes his own arrangements for a drop. But the helicopter is a huge signal flare for everyone in the city. Within moments of entering the city limits, it’s shot down by an RPG. Penguin and his gang try to claim the supplies, but Tabitha still devastated over Oswald killing Butch shows up, looking for revenge. Oswald, however, turns her own blade back on her, stabbing her in the heart.

Jim and the GCPD are also trying to take the supplies. Bruce, having made his own way there, steals bullets from Penguin’s men giving the GCPD the extra firepower they need to turn the fight in their favour. They claim the supplies, buying themselves a few more weeks’ worth of time.

Fresh from the victory, Jim gets some more good news, in the form of a mysterious radio message from the mainland. They don’t say much beyond they are allies and help will be coming soon. The moment is uncut when he finds graffiti, a message from Jeremiah, on his desk.

Jim is still arguing with the government on the mainland as the second episode begins. He doesn’t have time to listen to their bureaucracy because he has to save kids from enslavement. After learning about a gang using kids for free labour, he goes to Barbara for transport. She’s raw after losing Tabitha, but she still gives Jim the vehicles he needs.

Their rescue goes well, until one of the vehicles gets a flat tire in the crossfire, forcing Jim, Harvey and three kids to escape on foot. They find refuge in an abandoned hotel. Their rest doesn’t last long when Jim and Harvey encounter a child and a strange masked woman, (aka Mother and Orphan who were teased in the season four finale). The streets aren’t safer since there’s a bounty on Jim’s head. Just when it seems like Jim and Harvey are outgunned, Barbara rides in on a four-wheeler like a vicious angle of death. Her good deeds aren’t out of the goodness of her heart. She’ll need allies if she’s going to take Penguin down. She wants Jim to be one of those allies.

The Riddler hasn’t figured out to stop his other half from taking over. His nightly escapades this time included kidnapping a biker. The Riddler beats the information his alter ego wanted from the biker the night before. The information, the location of the gang’s headquarters, leads Ed to find the gang leader slaughtered with the blame pointing to Penguin. He’s not sure what his alter ego end goal is yet, but it seems like he’s trying to start a gang war.

Meanwhile, Bruce, following the lead on ‘the witch’ finds her being guarded by men who are waiting on backup to kill this witch. The Witch is actually Ivy, who’s been residing in a park since the city was cut off from the world. Bruce convinces the men to let him talk to ‘the Witch’ with a lie about a missing brother.

He lets Ivy out and she kills the men, threatening to do the same to Bruce. He reveals he needs help for Selina. She’s reluctant to help at first. The last time she’d seen Selina, she’s destroyed the Lazarus water Ivy was using to enhance her plants. But Bruce convinces her to help. She gives him a seed that should heal Selina, but, she warns that taking it could change Selina.

He returns to the clinic. The seed sends Selina into a shock, but hours later she’s walking again. But, as Bruce hugs her, her eyes shift colour and shape to become more catlike.

Review

Two episodes in, the final season is gearing up for an explosive ending. Gotham turned into this empty war zone takes the city to new lows. Gotham, both setting and show have always been defined by the criminals. ‘No Man’s Land’ creates the perfect opportunity for those criminals to wreak havoc to the full. But also creates the ideal conditions to give birth to the hero the city needs. Be that Bruce, or Jim, both men have grown into their roles as the city’s protectors. For Jim, that means being the face the people trust and respect. For Bruce, it’s being the one who works in the shadows without need or want for praise.

As for the criminals, the tease of the Riddler and Penguin months down the line is tantalizing. What draws them all together again? Jeremiah’s tease, though not as substantial still leaves one wanting more. Losing Tabitha was a devastating blow to establish to the stakes for the season. Gotham does have a tendency to bring characters back to life so I hope that tradition carries on at least one more time. Her death has pushed Barbara into action. Who’s to say where her character will stand when the smoke finally clears. She’s the one character I’m most curious to see since she’s the one major player in Gotham who doesn’t have a major legacy in the comics. I’m glad Selina’s recovery wasn’t drawn out. It was heart-breaking to see her so depressed and broken. But now she can join the final fight, as a fully realized Catwoman.

Mother and Orphan, on the other hand, didn’t have much of a presence. They were there and then the plot moved on. It seemed like it was going to be a compelling start to the characters, with a flash of Mother in the background of a shot that would make most horror movies jealous. It turned out to be underwhelming as Jim and Harvey escape before the pair could truly feel threatening.

But, there are still many things lurking the depths of Gotham, waiting for their moment to strike. These final episodes promise to be filling with new faces and old favourites as the series moves to its final curtain call.


Images courtesy of Fox

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