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Doctor Who and the Circle of Life Aboard the Tsuranga

Szofi

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Team TARDIS is all onboard now and ready for adventures. That means waking up on a hospital ship in space and having to stop its destruction while also helping the other passengers and each other. Life, death, birth, and business as usual in “The Tsuranga Conundrum.”

Back in space, back again

Episode 5 takes place away from Earth once again. Not just that but it’s almost entirely set inside Tsuranga, a hospital ship heading towards Recess One. The Doctor and friends are essentially trapped on a spaceship in the 67th century, and although the claustrophobia aspect is not highlighted, it’s very much there. There’s just something about the one spaceship and its endless corridors setting that every Doctor has to encounter.

And speaking of the Doctor, her initial reaction was the best part of the Tsuranga setting. Injured and confused, the Thirteenth Doctor’s first thought is to try and find the TARDIS and take command of the ship if necessary. She’s desperate not to be separated from her time machine and willfully ignorant of what Tsuranga turning back would mean for the other passengers—patients, actually. Astos calls her out and the Doctor realizes relatively quickly that there are more important things than getting to back the TARDIS.

It’s a good scene because it shows another side of the Thirteenth Doctor, who’s been nothing but jokes and hugs so far, excluding her encounters with antagonists. Her fear of losing the TARDIS might come from the regeneration or just her old age, but either way, I hope we see more of this Thirteen. Overall she’s a refreshing change from the much grumpier Twelve, especially in his first season. But this is still the Doctor, the Oncoming Storm and all that, and there’s only so long the Doctor can avoid that part of herself.

Other than that, the plot of “The Tsuranga Conundrum” is pretty straight-forward: creature enters the ship and the Doctor and team have to stop it from destroying everything and everyone. The Pting itself was actually kind of cute and intriguing in its near invincibility. I also appreciated the fact that once again the monster of the week wasn’t pure evil, just a creature craving energy. Recess One also posing a threat to the crew by wanting to eliminate the potentially dangerous ship makes an even better antagonist, though this wasn’t properly explored. At least the resolution was better paced now than in any other of Chibnall’s episodes so maybe we didn’t need a rushed confrontation with Recess One after all.

Not the best CGI but at least it’s cuter than last week’s spiders.

This voyage and the next

The supporting cast of “The Tsuranga Conundrum” had the most potential and it only somewhat lived up to that. Between the six of them, we had two medics, two siblings, an android, and a pregnant man. Astos was killed off fairly quickly but at least he had the contribution of calling the Doctor out, and Mabli’s conversation with her was similarly significant. The dynamic between Eve and Durkas Cicero added more to the story but neither of them were fleshed out enough to make me really care. Ronan, the android, was even less of a character. Eve’s death contributes to the theme of the cycle of life and new growth in place of the old, but again, as a character, she wasn’t all that interesting. Believe it or not, the most note-worthy guest character was actually the pregnant man, Yoss.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: 67th century or not, Gifftan or not, this was still basically an Mpreg joke. And it was, at least initially, just like that one time Jack Harkness mentioned not wanting to be pregnant in Torchwood. But once it was clear that the team would stay on the Tsuranga and they get to know Yoss, his storyline developed like no other character’s, and he ended up being the most thematically interesting and emotional character. Somehow, his story manages to be relevant to the characters and the story, despite having intentional jokes surrounding it, like the baby’s eventual name, Avocado.

Yoss’s storyline balances the ridiculous and the genuine, making us question what we think is possible and offering the companions a unique situation to react to. What’s the real point of a sci-fi show like Doctor Who if not that? Once we get over the fact that Yoss’s situation is surreal, his scenes are emotional and explore what fatherhood could mean in such a limited amount of time. It’s only a 50-minute episode and Yoss and his baby were hardly the main or even secondary focus, and yet I feel like this is the most developed and well-done part of the episode. His journey from not wanting the baby to taking responsibility for it is as accelerated as his pregnancy, yes, but that doesn’t make it any less heartfelt.

I am keeping score for all of ya

Let’s talk about the real reason why I just said that the best part of the episode was a man giving birth on a spaceship, and that’s his interactions with the TARDIS crew. It’s mainly Graham and Ryan who get to be part of the story as Yoss’s doulas, and for Graham that means providing the lighter side with Call the Midwife. For Ryan it’s more serious and it’s part of him coming to terms with his own relationship with his father. The birth scene and Ryan encouraging Yoss not to give up on the baby ties into his earlier conversation with Yaz about his parents, as well as last episode’s letter. Yoss giving birth would have been the strongest part of the episode on its own but tying it to Ryan’s emotional journey made it even better.

Graham got to mention Grace and continue grieving for her as well as help Yoss. Still, his place right now was beside Ryan, and who knows, one day he might get that fist bump. Yaz got paired up with Ronan and then the Doctor, which, hey. After Naija’s comment last week, I really don’t mind seeing more of the two of them. I wish Graham and Yaz would have scenes together too, but so far the links between them are Ryan and the Doctor. Any and all scenes and heartfelt conversations between Ryan and Yaz are appreciated, though, especially this one about his parents.

As for the Doctor, she was her dynamic self after Astos. Her speeches about hope and the beauty of anti-matter further showcase just how perfect Jodie Whittaker is for the role. She made the one-liners work and got more out of the script than what was already there. It’s not that Chibnall’s scripts are bad as such, they are fine. But so far the best episode has been the one co-written by Malorie Blackman and that makes me look forward to the second half of the series, where there will be more writers coming in.

“The Tsuranga Conundrum” is fine, just like all the other Chibnall scripts. It’s an enjoyable episode with themes of the cycle of life, birth, death, and ultimately hope. The setting made me hope it would end up being something more like “Midnight,” but the way it turned out was still a good Doctor Who episode. The strongest aspect of the series is still its main cast, though in Yoss we had a unique minor character storyline. As far as typical “outer space” and “sci-fi” episodes go, “The Tsuranga Conundrum” was a definite improvement to “The Ghost Monument” and the crew’s first on-screen trip to the future.

Next week it’s back to the past on Earth in the “Demons of the Punjab.” Things get personal for Yaz, and it seems like she might find out why it can be a dangerous game to travel in time.


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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Archie Goes Full Dufresne On Riverdale

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After last week’s exciting change of pace, Archie and the gang return to the present time in “Chapter Forty: The Great Escape” and boy, is it a drag (no, not the fun kind).

Recap

As Archie’s brilliant escape plan to run in the middle of the day, in plain sight of the guards and other prisoners, is failing miserably, we’re back at the bunker, with Betty catching Jughead and the Serpents playing G&G.

Betty tells Jug everything she’s learned from her mother, while Jughead shares his own discoveries about the game. He insists that G&G somehow reflect the real life, Riverdale’s life specifically. Betty is skeptical, so she decides to deal with feasible suspects aka the Midnight Club for now, while Jughead continues playing in order to get to the Gargoyle King his own way.

After Hiram lets Veronica know about Archie’s unsuccessful escape attempt, she decides to take the matters into her own hands. Through her connections in the, um, teenage filial of the local mafia she unknowingly gets herself invited to the warden’s little fight club. She gets a little private time with Archie and they sorta figure out a possible way to break Archie out.

Meanwhile, Betty recruits Josie, Kevin, and Reggie to discreetly question their parents about the Midnight Club. To their kids’ surprise, Mayor McCoy and ex-Sheriff Keller deny even really knowing each other back in high school, let alone dating, while Reggie gets a black eye for even mentioning G&G to his dad.

Unfortunately, the investigation has to be cut short when Veronica comes to all of her friends for help in getting Archie out of juvie. Betty tries to get Jughead on board, but he’s so cut up in a game that he sees the juvie break as nothing more than a great idea for the Serpents’ next G&G mission.

Speaking of juvie, Archie is granted a fancy meal with the warden, who informs Archiekins it’s also gonna be his last one. “The final meal before the final fight”, he says. Warden Norton also all but says outright its’ Hiram’s order. Archie takes a chance asks to hear how Hiram managed to set him up, and warden complies. When asked if Hiram also “owns” him, warden declares his soul “belongs to no mere mortal”, probably alluding to God… Or someone else.

Back at the speakeasy, Veronica lays out her elaborate escape plan for Archie. Basically, they go in undercover to the fight club, create a diversion with self-created smoke bombs (… I know), Archie escapes through the sewer drain, at the end of which Betty will be waiting for him on the Jug’s motorcycle (that she drives impeccably now, apparently).

Mid 2000’s teen rom-com shenanigans realness

Right before Archie starts his final match, he gets stabbed by Joaquin. The latter immediately apologizes and insists the warden said this is the only way he can “ascend”.

It’s game time! Literally and metaphorically. While the gang executes their rescue mission, Jughead and the Serpents are on a G&G quest of their own, that coincidentally mirrors everything the other team is doing. While trying to open the sewer drain grade, Kevin sees Joaquin running for his life through the woods. Kevin decides to follow him and leaves his task to Betty.

Back at the fight club,  Archie is up for his match. And his opponent is no other than Mad Dog. Archie tells him about the escape plan, but it seems like Mad Dog has accepted his fate.

Veronica runs into her father at the fight club, but before he can do anything to stop them she, Reggie, and Josie are setting the pan in motion. Their very slow distraction works and Archie jumps into the drain, while Mad Dog heroically holds off the guards.

At the end of the sewer, Betty meets injured Archie. They race on a bike through the woods to safety, but unfortunately, get caught by the warden and the juvie guards. But PLOT TWIST! It isn’t Archie up on a bike, it’s Kevin. They were a decoy for the guards, while Ronnie and the rest of the crew got Archie to safety at the bunker, where Jughead and the Serpents also just finished their G&G quest.

Tony patches up Archie’s stab wound, and the gang notices the warden has branded Archie with a symbol, similar to those on Ben and Dilton’s backs.

Back at the Lodges, Hermione is going off on Hiram for participating in the underground teen fight club as if she, as a mayor, doesn’t have enough problem to deal with. Veronica arrives just in time for some ass whooping as well.

But *now* we said it.

At Pop’s, Kevin tells Josie and Reggie that he didn’t find Joaquin after all, all while the news of Archie’s escape is heard on the radio. The triple also decides to play G&G by themselves, to find out what their parents, and Betty, don’t tell them about the game.

While watching over Archie at the bunker, Betty and Jug discuss how warden Norton fits into this whole G&G narrative. In the meantime, the warden himself is at his office, getting notified the mayor is here to see him. But unfortunately, they’ll have to reschedule, because the warden just drank the good ol’ cyanide-infused Fresh-Aid.

The episode concludes with Jughead getting back home from the bunker when he finally encounters the Gargoyle King himself.

Thoughts

I honestly don’t have a lot on this one. The episode revolves solely around juvie plot and we all know how I feel about it. The escape sequence is extremely silly, but sticking with Riverdale for so long, nothing fazes me anymore.

My favourite scene was probably Hermione cussing out her dumbass family.  Marisol Nichols did some amazing acting, and it was just so pleasant seeing Hermione to blow up like this. In Season 2 her character felt very Stepford wife (but make it mafia), so it’s great to see her getting some of that agency and character back.

The theory that someone of the Lodges is the Gamemaster behind this G&G madness grows stronger this episode. Killing the Red Paladin aka Archie was obviously a part of Warden Norton’s quest, and we know from the warden himself Hiram ordered to get rid of Archie. Or was the warden lying? Also interesting how Hermione was at the juvie when Norton ended his life. Could be nothing, could be something.

Next week, Archie is fugitive on the run, while Jughead discovers a new piece of the G&G puzzle…


Images courtesy of CW

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Analysis

I like my women… competent

Patrycja

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Criminal minds is a show that I enjoy watching despite sometimes watching it trough my fingers. It never fails to get my adrenaline going. One of it’s many great traits is the selection and capability of present female characters, be it unsubs or agents. The lead women are versatile and different while still having a few common traits. Furthermore they’re always competent and do the job the best they can.

The leader

Emily Prentiss is one of member of the team that was with them from almost the beginning. She went trough all the career steps, finally becoming the team leader.

Her being in charge was one of my favorite story lines. She earned that privilege with exceptional service and field work with various agencies. Her character replaced Aaron Hotchner as unit chief in season 12 after he resigned. It’s wonderful to finally see a woman leading a team; it happens so rarely. She has a great deal of experience with many different cultures as her parents were diplomats. That’s also how she speaks a few different languages, and it’s a skillset that has helped solve quite a few cases.

While on cases, she’ s rarely upset or lets her emotions get in the way, which is one of the reasons why she makes a great unit chief. She is level headed and calm and always factors many different scenarios into her decisions. With that being said she is also quick on her feet and can make split second decisions when she needs to.

While being calm and collected she still empathizes with the victims and their families and doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice herself to protect others. She’s not only a skilled field agent but also an undercover operator, which was shown in her stint catching Ian Doyle. That particular unsub also forces her to fake her own death without informing her team, with JJ and Hotchner being the only exceptions. She eventually reunites with the team in season 7 after the whole Doyle debacle was over.

She isn’t with the BAU the entire time. As previously stated she also work with other agencies like the Interpol. Even if she isn’t always with the team, she is referenced and talked about or pops up for a visit. Her work as unit chief hasn’t always been smooth sailing either. She was reassigned after she pursued a case and went toe to toe with Linda Barnes, who disbanded the team.

The mother

Jennifer “JJ” Jareau is the only women on the team with a family. She has two sons with her husband Will, who was a police detective in New Orleans. The fact that JJ is a mother strongly affects the way she acts and responds.

Although she started working when she wasn’t a mom, she always sympathized with the victims and their families the most visibly. Since she started as a police and media liaison, JJ was often responsible for contacting the families of the victims or their loved ones. She always did a great job while consoling them.

Her early role as media liaison made her the “media face” of the bureau, as she often spoke at press conferences. She was also responsible for choosing the cases the team would be working on, so her job came with a lot of responsibility. Her excellent work in that position was the reason for her reassignment and classified assignment. After her comeback in season 7, she made the change to profiler and her responsibilities were taken over by Hotch and Penelope. She is a skilled profiler, as even before she was one she was often crucial to solving cases and did that job even without the title. Her transition was also easier because she observed the team as their liaison.

She was one of the two people to know that Emily didn’t die. As they are close friends. JJ was also the one who met Prentiss in Paris after her “death”.” That close friendship is a recurring theme with the two characters, as Prentiss comes back when Jennifer is missing.

JJ has been trough tough times including the suicide of her older sister, her classified assignment, not to mention the toll the cases take. While she can wear her heart on her sleeve, she is also a skilled operator who will do anything for her family and for the people she loves. As my choice of calling her “the mother” implies, Jennifer is the one who takes care of all the team members. She shares a special bond with Reid, who is the godfather of her son Henry.

Finally, Jennifer is also a great leader, which was showcased when she replaced Emily Prentiss in the role of team leader. Although she has the ability to lead she doesn’t aspire to be the BAU’s chief. She’s content being an SSA.

Baby Girl

The first thing that springs to mind when thinking of Penelope Garcia is her relationship with Derek Morgan, well, and her unique personality.

Penelope is a former hacker gone good who’s now a technical analyst. Out of all the Criminal Minds characters, she’s the most colorful one—literally. Garcia often offers comic relief and a sense of light and joy to the intense show, and is the one the audience can probably relate to the most if you exclude her computer knowledge.

She is very emotional and openly shows all of her reactions. It doesn’t surprise anyone that she can’t look at horrific crime scene photos; her office is filled with colorful and cute stuff because of the horror that fills her screens (that’s what Hotch says to Strauss while describing the analyst). She also often speaks a bit too intimately when talking to team members, especially Derek. She gives him nicknames like chocolate thunder, etc, and he, in turn, calls her ‘baby girl’. These would normally be considered sexual harassment (which was even addressed in a funny scene in episode 9×12).


But it never actually crosses that line because they have a mutual understanding that it’s a consensual conversational choice. In fact, Penelope’s special relationship with Morgan is what initially drew me to the show. There is just something in how different they are personality-wise while still being very close to each other and understanding the other perfectly that compelled me. And while my shipper heart never understood why the two never dated, I have to admit that sticking to a platonic relationship between these two was a great move.

She makes him laugh and calls him out on his BS. He grounds her and helps her focus and get the job done. Their close relationship is probably the reason why it took Garcia a long time to warm up to Luke Alvarez, who replaced Morgan after he retired. It was implied that Garcia and Morgan are still in contact despite him not being on the show; she is even the godmother to his son.

As previously stated, Garcia is a skilled computer expert and former hacker. Her work is often crucial to finding the unsub. While that is her primary job, after JJ’s promotion she also became the liaison for the team. A job she shared with Hotch till he retired. The best way to describe her is that Penelope’s character is the counterbalance we need to all the heaviness and seriousness of the show.

Criminal minds proves that we can have a show that perfectly balances it’s male and female characters. It offers us a selection of women who all are intelligent, skilled, competent, educated, professional, and strong while staying human and showing emotions.


Images courtesy of CBS

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Tailor Soldier Spy: Black Lightning 2×05

Sarah

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Black Lightning, Anissa, and Jennifer with the phrase Get Lit
Hello and welcome back to Black Lightning season 2 after one of those weird one-week hiatuses that networks sometimes do!

Last episode, Lynn was struggling to navigate her pure heart clashing against Dr. Jace’s conscience-less one at the ASA; Anissa was vigilante-ing and Thunder and Black Lightning diffused several bombs at a neighborhood clinic; and Jen was imploding under the pressure of house arrest to the point where she finally responded to Kahlil’s messages and met him at Garfield.

This week, our fam is still pretty much in the same boat as they were in the previous episode, but with the sudden devastating addition of Gambi’s supposed death by assassins (presumably sent by Tobias).

going out in a blaze of glory

The general rule for things like this is that if there’s no body (which in this case there isn’t), the character isn’t dead (see also: Delphine Cormier). But for now, we’re all operating under the assumption that Gambi’s dead, which makes for some heartbreaking crying from the entire Pierce family, including Jefferson who at first won’t believe Gambi’s gone. It’s so sad, y’all.

when ur faves cry, u cry

In her grief, Anissa indulges her central character flaw, aka using Grace/sex with Grace as an emotional crutch. When she shows up at Grace’s apartment, she has all kinds of claims about how she now knows what’s important and Grace is the only person besides her family that she cares about, but in the morning when Grace asks Anissa to look her in the eyes and promise she won’t hurt her again, Anissa can’t do it. Really Anissa? Please stop with this nonsense. I love our bulletproof lesbian but given the way she treats her girlfriends, I would not date her.

Grace, for her part, looks like she’s about to turn into some kind of supernatural being with creepy-crawly skin, which is also something that’s happening to some other Freeland residents such as a skittish boyfriend of one of Anissa’s pregnant patients who turns up dead at the clinic (did I mention Anissa now works there because she can do everything?), and a cop who pulls her over as she drives out to check on said pregnant patient. CREEPY.

but this is sexy tho

Jen, meanwhile, has some particularly great moments this episode, the first being her witty one-sided banter with her online learning program. We also get to see the conversation she and Kahlil had at Garfield, which consisted of both of them quietly lamenting their circumstances. When Kahlil asks her then, and again later in the episode, of she thinks they can fix whatever they have together, Jen is a true Strong Female Character and basically is like, no dude, we get each other on an important level but we cannot be a thing anymore. (Anyway that’s what her facial expression said, I’m pretty sure).

Lynn aka perpetual Black Lightning MVP finds herself tricked into believing Dr. Jace has used Lynn’s amazing brain-power-math to crack a code that will save all the pod kids, but it turns out it will only save half of them and the rest of them die. This is not great for Lynn’s giant heart and after slapping Dr. Jace’s smug face and having her dragged off by security, she is left alone to deal with the mess and be extra sad because yeah, Gambi’s gone too. And because she’s Lynn, she’s also doing all the emotional labor on behalf of Jefferson who is in denial about Gambi until the end of the episode. Someone give this woman a trophy and a massage.

sad face emoji

Tobias (I guess we have to talk about him too) is busy being horrible as usual, relentlessly intimidating Kahlil and also blackmailing a councilman into helping advance his agenda to take over Freeland and ultimately kill Black Lightning. So, great. That guy sucks.

the only option for a last image: Gambi & Jefferson

That’s it for this week, friends! Do you think Gambi is really dead? Do you think Anissa needs to get her lesbian act together? Do you think Jen will be ok?!?!?! Come back next week and maybe we’ll find out!


Images courtesy of The CW

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