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Supergirl Review Season 3, Episode 7 “Darkest Place”

Elizabeth and Gretchen are back for more Supergirl! Unfortunately, “The Darkest Place” had nothing to do with Thanksgiving dinner and Alex needing to drink lots of wine, though perhaps this is a blessing in disguise considering the grim episode title. We will have to push off the traditional awkward Danvers family Thanksgiving conversation until next week, which is also the start of the week-long crossover. It’s going to be a busy time for us.

Until then, we have another packed episode tonight with tons of great reveals and superb emotional beats. Tonight’s review also might be a bit rougher around the edges, as Gretchen is getting up early tomorrow morning to go to Disneyland (feel free to proclaim your jealousy, or boo her, whichever). Shall we begin?

Quick Recap

Introducing Real!Hank aka Cyborg Superman.

We open with Hank(?) beating up Kara. Cut to 24 hours earlier: James, Winn, Kara, and Alex are in the bar watching news about the Guardian. Winn and James defend The Guardian from Kara’s and Alex’s skepticism. Maggie shows up to ask Alex about her keeping her distance. Mon El tries to break out of Cadmus but runs into who he thinks is J’onn/Hank. M’gann visits J’onn at the DEO, makes him some Martian comfort drink, and J’onn sees a vision of his family.

At CatCo, James sees video footage that seems to show The Guardian killing a suspect and Snapper calls him on having a bias for superheroes. Winn confronts James, who is determined to catch the guy who gave him a bad name. Kara talks with J’onn about him seeing visions of his family and letting M’gann be a part of his life without losing them. James confronts the other vigilante but Maggie shows up to arrest him.

Momma Luthor contacts Supergirl to tell her they have Mon El; when she arrives, she meets Real!Hank who Cadmus has been keeping alive to work for them as Cyborg Superman (CALLED IT). Terrible liar that he is, Winn is unable to keep the truth of James being The Guardian from Alex. Alex stands up for herself to Maggie about her feelings for her, and Maggie shutting her down. Oh and she tells Maggie to leave Guardian alone. J’onn almost shoots someone from the DEO that he hallucinates is a White Martian. Lillian Luthor, the head of Cadmus, threatens to kill Mon El with his lead allergy if Kara doesn’t ‘solar flare’ and make herself human for a while.

He’s alive and he’s so important to Alex. We can’t overstate this.

Cadmus goons drag a weakened Kara and strap her to a chair for Lillian to draw her blood. Winn figures out that the vigilante is killing criminals who get off on technicalities. Alex figures out what’s up with J’onn’s visions: M’gann’s blood. J’onn confronts M’gann about her being a White Martian, and she reveals she was the guard (saw that one too) and that she tried to release the Green Martians. Kara and Mon El bond in the Cadmus prisons. Just as Mon El is about to reveal that he was really the Daxamite prince a secret, a hooded figure comes to free them: JEREMIAH DANVERS.

Jeremiah digs the bullet out of Mon El and lets Kara and Mon El escape (the feels, omg). J’onn attacks M’gann, intent on avenging his family by killing her. James defeats the vigilante and, true to Kara, tries to talk him down first. Maggie and Alex show up in time to capture the vigilante and let The Guardian get away. Kara tells Alex Jeremiah helped her escape and Alex goes to Cadmus only to find the warehouse empty. M’gann tells J’onn that her blood is turning him into a White Martian.

After all that, it’s pizza and potsticker time! Mon El all but admits he likes Kara to Winn and James. Maggie asks Alex to let her back in as a friend because she doesn’t care about many people, but she cares about Alex. Cyborg Superman goes to the Fortress of Solitude and asks Kalex about “Project Medusa” (which just so happens to be the name of next week’s episode).

Best Quote: “When I got to Earth I saw my parents everywhere. I was in my room one night and I remember looking up at the stars and feeling so alone. I started to cry. Eliza came in my room and I yelled at her to get out…Eliza refused to leave. She said my parents would want me to be loved. That nothing would replace them, that they were a part of who I am. That was the first time I let her really hug me, and that was the first time I didn’t feel alone anymore. Having M’gann in your life doesn’t mean losing your family, it means feeling whole again.”—Kara Danvers

Thoughts & Feelings

We’re happy to report that for now, last week’s pacing concerns were a one-off slip up. Unfortunately, the Guardian continues to be unimpressive. Can Winn and James get caught already? We’re over this plot. As much as we were looking forward to James as a superhero when the season started, we’re less than enthused with how that has come together. We’re tired of James’s self-righteous hypocrisy. Tonight, we got humble bragging and defensiveness to go along with it, and it’s exhausting. Just tell Kara already, bicker about being safe or whatever, then eventually Kara can call him on the toxic masculinity bullshit James has bought into.

Aside from the hypocrisy of James lying to Kara about something he actively tried to out her for (being a superhero) in a way that could have endangered her, his fixation with his ego and ‘proving himself’ strong enough as a superhero bothers us the most. Because James is the head of CatCo, a media empire. He could be using that position to fight against Cadmus, to advocate for alien rights and amnesty, to ask tough questions about why Cadmus goons were using high powered alien tech to rob humans. Instead, he’s running around punching people. He’s even using CatCo resources to plug himself, and CatCo time to focus on being a superhero instead of being the most influential black man in National City.

We can sort of understand what the purpose of the Guardian storyline is; James is walled off from the rest of the Super Friends over at CatCo, and making him a superhero helps connect him back to the core group. Unfortunately, this thread is really thin, and not particularly well-woven. James is starting to remind us a lot of the current Batman, and coming from us this is absolutely not a compliment. Not satisfied with the very real power he has through his job, power that could be used for the public good in ways that don’t involve violence, he instead misuses company resources and exploits/borderline blackmails his closest friend into helping him with his part-time vigilante hobby. This might work had he just been honest with the entire group of Super Friends about what he’s doing and why he’s doing it, but instead he chooses to go all Batman (for lack of a better term) about it.

There had better be a hail mary pass of a character redemption coming up within the next few episodes, because we’re starting to actively root for James to get written off the show. If they aren’t going to use his character in a meaningful way, or stop trying to turn him into Batman, then maybe it’s time to just admit that his character needs to leave. We don’t want to lose him, as an actor or as a character, but the show isn’t giving us a lot to like this season other than his kickass costume.

Mon El had a decent arc this episode, despite the fact that he continues to not grieve the destruction of his entire planet and culture other than to express mild survivor’s guilt. Anyway. He’s totally the Prince of Daxam. That’s what he was going to reveal to Kara, right? What else could it be? Honestly, it explains a lot about him: his lack of physical fighting ability, his privilege, his frat boy mentality, his defensiveness when Kara called the Prince of Daxam the “biggest frat boy in the galaxy.”

The only thing that irked us was the icky patriarchal undertones to his conversation with Winn and James at the end of the episode. We think they were going for romantic and adorable, but the whole “latched” thing felt like he was trying to stake a possessive claim over Kara. We did enjoy her delightful obliviousness to the whole thing. Is the fact that he was talking with Winn and James, two other members of the no-longer-Kara’s-love-interest club, significant? They should start a support group.

Now, it’s not that Mon El can’t necessarily be pushed in a good direction, and we begrudgingly admit that he actually might have a stronger position in the plot than James at the moment. But we need a bit… more from him. Both from the actor and the character.

When Kara is first thrown in the prison cell next to his at Cadmus, his affect and vocal inflection was really… flat? He certainly didn’t feel convincingly concerned or even necessarily aware of the danger they’re in. We actually briefly suspected he had been pod-personed or was a cyborg copy, because nothing about his reactions seemed on point until Momma Luther showed up and shot him in the leg. We get that ‘flippantly dismissive’ and ‘too cool for school’ is his thing, but we are far overdue for him to start outgrowing this as a character.

Hopefully the events of this episode were a big push in the right direction, even if that direction involves being soundly rejected by Kara during what is sure to be an epically cringeworthy confession of his feelings for her. As we’ve said before, it’s not that it can’t work. But as it stands, it’s not enough. And we’re not just saying that as Supercorp trash. We will fully admit to a bias, but we are open minded.

How is this the face of a potential lab rat for anti-alien villains?

On a more positive note, let’s talk about the courage we got from the ladies tonight. Alex confronting Maggie took a lot of guts. She totally needed to get that off of her chest, we get it. With how the show has so excellently scripted Alex’s story thus far, we can see where Alex is coming from. She has, from her point of view, done everything that Maggie asked of her. It was all for her own personal benefit, of course, not just to ‘get the girl’, but you can understand Alex’s frustration. She only came to understand herself as a wlw because of Maggie. Not just because Maggie asked hard questions, but because Alex had feelings for Maggie that Maggie called her on and then helped her name.

It’s an experience that many women who come out as queer later in life understand, because frequently at an older age, the exploration of sexuality is directly related to feelings for a particular individual rather than as a category.

“Ultimately, I was proud to come out because it wasn’t just some concept, it was about my feelings for this amazing woman.”—Alex Danvers

On the other hand, it’s a lot of pressure to be putting on Maggie. It is unreasonable for Alex to put pressure on Maggie to date her just because Alex has feelings for her and was the reason Alex was able to understand herself as a wlw. Maggie is the object of Alex’s affection, but she’s not obligated to reciprocate or bear the burden of Alex’s coming out.

And then, THEN, after all that Maggie is willing to ask Alex to let her back into her life because she cares that much about her?

“I don’t meet many people that I care about, and I care about you…a lot.”—Maggie Sawyer

Kill us.

Probably the best part about this slow burn relationship is, as we touched on previously, that all of the foundation work is being shown on screen as opposed to existing solely in fanfiction. We are thrilled once again with the realism of the writing, especially the fights between Maggie and Alex. We are relieved that the fight didn’t resolve itself by them getting together, because it is way too soon and not nearly enough angst has been poured onto the eager audience.

In all seriousness, this is just further evidence that the writers took the scripting of this relationship very seriously, and they’re giving it Main Ship treatment with a fully developed relationship arc. Maggie and Alex started as friends, but they need to come back to being friends before any further relationship milestones can be reached. This also will hopefully mean that we’ll get some more development for Maggie as a character separate from Alex. We don’t necessarily need an entire flashback episode, but some further delving into Maggie’s life outside of work or her past will just be another solid layer of foundation to build this relationship off of.

In short, we like what they’ve done so far, so of course we are dying for more.

This face. UGH.

This face. UGH.

And M’gann, our precious cinnamon roll White Martian M’gann. Her conflicted relationship with J’onn continues to be our favorite side story this season (to the point where we wish we had less Mon El and James/Winn, but alas). Even in just the snippets we’ve gotten, her journey from diffidence to openness has been heartbreaking. She’s trying to break the cycle of violence and hatred in a hostile environment. She’s gone from fighting for her life to refusing to fight. She’s yearning for real connection with J’onn, and she represents a chance for hope and happiness for both of them.

Her arc tonight took courage. Confessing who she really is, revealing her White Martian form though it might have meant her death? She’s probably never shown her White Martian form to anyone since she came to Earth, and to show it to the one person whose opinion and acceptance matters most to her shows tremendous vulnerability. She’s moved beyond the stiff aloofness we first saw in her to a yearning for acceptance and love. She’s willing to be vulnerable with J’onn, even if it means he could hurt her (quite literally).

She let J’onn take his anger and grief out on her believing she deserves it for being a White Martian and only asking that he kill her in her human form. And that says everything about her; she’d rather die as a human, her ‘true’ form to her now rather than as a White Martian. We have only love for M’gann.

“This is who I want to be.”—M’gann M’orzz, choosing to die in her human form

She does not deserve prison! Someone get her out of there!

And for J’onn, he overcame huge hurdles in not killing her, even if he’s still bitter and filled with hatred. We have no idea what will happen to him next, but our cinnamon roll space dad is breaking our hearts with his journey this season. Seriously, just think for a moment the amount of control it takes to not kill a member of the race that killed your entire family, one that you trusted and believed not just a friend, but a member of your own race. He might not be able to admit it yet, but he’s connected with M’gann despite her being a White Martian. His arc of overcoming his hatred fits nicely within this season’s theme of overcoming prejudice against aliens. It kicks you in the face, but in a good way.

On a completely different note, can we talk about how many people are lying to Kara this season? Her two best male friends have been lying about being superheroes. Her new friend/mentee Mon El has been lying about something. We don’t know yet if Lena has been lying about being involved with her mother in Cadmus (as we don’t know how far that connection goes). M’gann has been lying about being a White Martian. Even Alex isn’t being entirely honest with Kara right now, as she withholds the information about James being the Guardian. We appreciate her being the bigger person and the “I’m sure he will reveal himself soon” was a none too gentle shove in the right direction, but still. Kara was honest about Jeremiah even though she thought Alex would be furious with her for not getting him out. The least Alex can do is be honest about The Guardian.

Actually, on second thought, can we have a pointed conversation where Alex confronts James about how she was willing to keep his secret because it wasn’t hers to tell when he point blank asked Kara to out her to Lucy, even though it might put Kara’s life in danger? Please. Someone needs to confront James on his hypocrisy this season and Alex is primed and ready for it.

Finally, we have to point out that the emotional beats this episode were sharp and visceral. Kara’s immediate concern for Lena when she discovers her mother is the head of Cadmus, because if anyone understands having zealots for family members, it’s our girl Kara. Her concern for Alex upon seeing Jeremiah and what his not coming with them would do to her. The moment where Alex’s face dissolved when Kara told her she’d seen Jeremiah and knew where he was. Then her frustration when they were gone. The bereft look on Maggie’s face after Alex word vomited all over her.

This one.

This one.

Maggie’s guts in going back to talk to Alex. Alex’s grudging willingness to try. Ugh. This slow burn angst hurts so good. We love it. Give us more.

Random Thoughts

  • Too much spinny camera work in the bar. Stop please. We’re going to vomit. And then the shaky cam. For those of us with visual input sensitivities, it’s really hard to watch.
  • Kara made fun of Batman. We’re living. (“My cousin worked with a vigilante once. Lots of gadgets, tons of demons.”)
  • “What’s the word for a male floozy?” “A Daxamite” HA!
  • We like how Cadmus is drawing on the Greek mythos, very apropos for a Supervillain team.
  • David Harewood is such a good actor. He plays Real!Hank, J’onn as Hank, and J’onn as J’onn as three distinct characters. Impressive.
  • “Who are you to my daughter?” = All the Supercorp feels.
  • Nice that Mon El remembered to call Kara “Supergirl” while in Cadmus instead of Kara.
  • The lead allergy is a nice touch from the comics. We wonder if the rest of Mon El’s arc this season will play out similarly to the comics as well. If so, he could end up in the Phantom Zone dying from lead poisoning, perhaps to save Kara somehow?
  • Alex threatening Winn with her index finger was…kind of hot (maybe more than kind of).
  • We really love the diversity in locations that filming in Vancouver has opened up this season. We didn’t realize how claustrophobic the end of S1 felt until we got so many more locations.
  • How does Maggie know where Kara lives?
  • Someone get a blanket fort for Maggie and Kara to snuggle in. They’ve been through a lot.
  • Everyone needs a hug.

In Conclusion

The reveals tonight were excellent. Real!Hank back and living as Cyborg Superman? We may have called it but it was still excellently done. Then they topped it with Jeremiah Danvers and gave us all the feels. It’s too much to hope for a Danvers family reunion for Thanksgiving, but girls can dream, right?

If the article seems a bit thin this week, it’s not just because of Gretchen’s Disneyland trip. It’s that the show is consistently good, and this episode is consistently up to the level of quality we expect from Supergirl. It makes us feel like the most useless critics in the world to just say, “okay yes, just give us more”, but that’s sort of what it’s coming down to.

We try to avoid repeating ourselves too much, and a lot of the content in this episode has us doubling down on our opinions from the past few weeks, especially for Alex and Maggie, and for the Guardian plot. We’re certain we’ll have a lot more to say about the Danvers Thanksgiving Disaster Dinner next week. Don’t take the shortened article length for a sign of indifference: we still love this show. But this episode felt a bit like the first climb up a hill of a roller coaster, and the crossover event will be the huge drop after the peak. We’re so ready for it.

And we have so many questions. Is Jeremiah human? Why is he cooperating with Cadmus? Is he working for them? Is he spying? Can J’onn be cured? Will the last Green Martian become a White Martian? What is J’onn going to do when he finds out Real!Hank is alive and hurting Kara? What is Medusa? Why was Real!Hank so willing to squander Kara’s blood by pouring it all over the floor when Cadmus could use it to develop a super serum or something? Will Mon El awkwardly try to propose to Kara in the middle of next week’s annual awkward Danvers family Thanksgiving?

Inquiring minds need to know.

Anyways, to all our American readers, Happy Thanksgiving! To all our international readers, Happy fourth week of November! See you next week!


Images courtesy of CW

Bi, she/her. Gretchen is a Managing Editor for the Fandomentals. An unabashed nerdy fangirl and aspiring sci/fi and fantasy author, she has opinions about things like media, representation, and ethics in storytelling.

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Television

Honest Conversations and Unfortunate Insensitivity on Cloak and Dagger

Bo

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Content Warning: This review discusses suicidal ideation and attempted suicide, as depicted on the show. 

Last week’s episode of Cloak and Dagger ended with Tyrone and Tandy together and finally ready to discuss why exactly they have new superpowers insistent on bringing the two of them together.  Both their lives have been tossed upside down, and the only consistent thing in the tragedies of both their lives is each other. Maybe it’s time to sit down and talk about it? That’s exactly what “Call/Response” did this week. Unfortunately, to mixed results.

cloak and dagger church

Time to Talk

“Call/Response” continued Cloak and Dagger’s attempts at interesting episode structure by weaving together forward plot momentum in and out of the previously mentioned conversation between its heroes. This conversation lasted through the entire episode as Tandy and Tyrone hashed out what their powers are, what they do, how they experience them, and what their dreams from last week meant for each of them. These two had a lot to talk about.

For a good 90% of this conversation, I liked the direction of it. The honest and open-ended nature was refreshing. For the first time since they acquired their new powers, they held nothing back regarding what had changed, what they were going through, and how it affected them.

It moved both characters appreciatively forward. Even better, you could see how the conversation positively affected both in the scenes from the next day, when both acted on everything they discussed. Cloak and Dagger thus did a good job timing subjects of conversation with next-day action. Like you’d expect, these scenes were not exactly subtle about it, but so long as the point is made what does that matter?

Through their conversation, Tyrone and Tandy finally started acting against their instincts. They challenged their perceptions of the world. Tandy made an honest effort to learn about her mother’s boyfriend Greg and found out he was genuinely interested in her mother and trying to help. She made an effort to embrace the hope she always rejected before. Her experiences have shaped her towards cynicism in everything. Life is a giant scam where everyone uses everyone else to get ahead, and you see this in her own method of making money. For her to open her mind to the possibility of Greg proving her wrong was a significant step forward.

Tyrone faced his own challenged perceptions, naturally based around his brother’s murder and murderer. He considered Tandy’s argument about his place in the world and where his privilege truly stands, as well as the destructive path his actions led him down. The failed trip to the police station was one important step, but the truly important moment was his field trip with his father to Otis’s old Mardi Gras Indians stomping ground.

(By the way, add another cool twist on New Orleans culture to Cloak and Dagger’s credit.)

Through this trip, Tyrone found new perspective on his father and brother, as well as his own anger. His father stressed the importance of finding a channel for his anger. And he might have found his way via the suits the Mardi Gras Indians create, and the taking on of his brother’s unfinished suit. Tyrone needs this outlet and focus for his anger. He struggled with it throughout the first three episodes, even to the point of trying to shoot Detective Connors.

Even better, all this character development provided the biggest plot movement yet.  Tandy’s determination to get along with Greg led to direct involvement in the Roxxon lawsuit he represented her mother in. It also led to Roxxon killing Greg for presumably getting too close. There should be no escaping the consequences of Greg’s death. Tandy’s mother will suffer. Who knows whether her determination to take the corporation down will wax or wane. Tandy herself visited the burned office to retrieve documents from Greg’s safe, so she certainly won’t let this go.

Tyrone’s plot movement was not so direct, but still meant something. He learned of his brother’s training to be a “Spy Boy” for the Redhawks, a role in Mardi Gras parades involving moving ahead of the Big Chief but was described in this episode as someone responsible for scouting the unknown to seek oncoming trouble. The unfinished suit Tyrone adopted also largely resembles the signature look of Cloak in the comics.

And of course now you also have to wonder if Roxxon will involve themselves with the Redhawks.

There was definitely a lot of good content in this episode. At this point Cloak and Dagger is close to establishing a base quality that this episode certainly matched. Unfortunately, the end of the episode left a real sour taste in my mouth. One reason due to plot, and another for some poor handling of a very sensitive subject.

Insensitivity and Stalling

You saw the content warning, so let’s dive right in. The episode-long conversation between Tandy and Tyrone breaks down at the very end, when conversations about privilege turn into insults and eventually lead to Tandy admitting to suicidal thoughts. In his anger, Tyrone tells her that if she wants to die so badly, she should just do it.

The next day, in the aftermath of Greg’s murder, Tandy restrains her hands and feet and jumps into the ocean, clearly planning on killing herself. She eventually resurfaces when her powers trigger and she cuts the ropes binding her hands.

I will say this: my final judgment will depend on how this is handled moving forward. Right now it feels like a really cheap use of suicide. There are some things you must always take care to portray responsibly when telling your story, and this did not feel like a particularly responsible way to handle Tandy’s thoughts of ending her life. I worry this was nothing more than an attempt to end the episode with high drama, and that the distasteful implications are unrecognized.

Now, we do need to see where it goes from here. If Tyrone recognizes the terribleness of what he said and apologizes for it, and there’s a genuine effort to understand the mistake he made, this can pass by without issue. And it’s not like the idea that Tandy might have suicidal thoughts came from nowhere. Considering her immense survivor’s guilt and lack of connection, I can certainly understand how thoughts of suicide enter her mind. Thing is, I don’t think you can just throw it out there, have a main character yell at her to just go ahead and kill herself, have said character try, and then move on from it. It all happened so quick and dirty that I can’t help but feel like it may have just been there for drama.

I hope it’s needless to say that using suicide just for drama is an awful idea.

Cloak and Dagger needs to follow up respectfully on Tandy’s attempt. Suicidal tendencies are a serious concern that must be handled delicately and with a purpose. And unfortunately, this is an easy fallback too many shows rely on without the proper care needed. I hope Cloak and Dagger doesn’t.

My second, lesser, and plot-related concern is the argument that led to Tyrone’s insensitive words. Namely that, to me, it came completely out of nowhere. The two of them spent the entire episode having  a calm, respectful discussion. Even sensitive subjects between the two caused little drama. Then all of a sudden a piece of genuine advice blows it all up and leads to an unnatural argument over privilege. Which leads to Tandy mentioning her suicidal thoughts and Tyrone’s comment.

This development renewed my worry from last week over these two being kept apart too long. It seems clear that the real, ground-shaking forward movement on Cloak and Dagger won’t take place until Tandy and Tyrone unite. “Call/Response” spent 90% of its runtime heading in this direction. Then it all fell apart.

I certainly understand how a conversation over privilege could lead to heated tensions, especially with backgrounds like Tandy and Tyrone have. Still, this felt so artificial. It almost felt like Cloak and Dagger attempting a superficial, ham-fisted discussion of privilege without any real meat. The main goal seems to be keeping the two main characters apart. It’s the absolute worst attempt the show has made regarding the privilege debate. Scenes like Tyrone walking into the police station and looking around, only to find a sea of white faces, speak volumes more than this conversation did.

While we’re certainly not back where we were at the end of the second episode, we’re a little too close for comfort. Both characters seem like they will tackle the plot alone. And you know they will tackle it ineffectively. The whole idea (at least to me) is that they won’t truly make progress until they team up. I’m also reaching a point where I will start to distrust the moments where they appear ready to team up if this goes on for too long.

In one moment, they undid a great deal of the work the 40 minutes before hand strove hard for.

I’m all for character development, but here’s hoping Cloak and Dagger avoids this mistake in the future. And here’s hoping Tandy’s suicide ends up as more than a way to create drama feeding this mistake.

Other Thoughts:

  • I was delighted when Greg turned out to be a good guy. Damn shame they killed him in the same episode he turned out as such.
  • Tandy’s mother is seriously tragic. I worry we’re heading in a self-harm direction with her as well.
  • I also loved learning more about Tyrone’s father, Otis. He seems to harbor a lot of the same barely repressed anger that his son does. I hope we get more of him and his history with the Redhawks.
  • Roxxon is still paying for the rights to the plot of ocean with the collapsed rig. This suggests to me that whatever gave Tyrone and Tandy powers still slumbers beneath the water.
  • Sometimes Tandy and Tyrone have some really good banter…and then sometimes I wonder how it can be so off.

Images Courtesy of Freeform

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Television

The Expanse Wanders Among The Wreckage

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The Expanse is on its penultimate week, and with an episode called “Fallen World,” showed us the aftermath of a disaster.

Recap

When the episode starts, Holden is unconscious, so Bobbie picks him up and they head towards their shuttle. However, she realizes the speed limit might have decreased after her commanding officer threw the grenade last episode, and tests it. Turns out she is right. They get out and stabilize Holden. However, many Martians and Earthers are both dead on their ship, as the quick deceleration was a massive shock.

Naomi survived, but her skiff is no longer able to move, so she abandons it and steps into space. Drummer and her first officer are both pinned by heavy machinery, and have to cooperate to get out of the situation. Anna wakes up and goes through her ship, watching the scores of dead people. Those who are bleeding severely are lost as well, since in zero gravity, there is apparently no way for the blood to drain. One would expect they’d have some sort of vacuum pumps for that, being a space-faring civilization, but whatever. Anna is horrified and offers her help, being a trained nurse.

Holden’s brain scans show frenetic activity, but he’s not waking up. A MCRN soldiers feels like Bobbie is more loyal to him than to them, and suggests she kills him, because dying might be the best fate for him right now.

Drummer and her first have now gotten to the point of sharing life stories and singing together, since they are out of viable solutions for their situation.

When Clarissa wakes up, she think she successfully killed Tilly. But as Anna is helping fix her broken arm, Tilly contacts Anna on her hand terminal. Anna goes to find her, and Tilly tells her what happened before she dies. Clarissa, meanwhile, escapes the ship just as Anna catches up with her. She is left screaming that, “she cannot escape, only beg for mercy.”

Naomi arrives at the Roci and finds Alex, mostly all right, and Amos, who was hit in the head with a heavy tool and so is less alright. Drummer’s first starts coughing blood from his punctured lungs. For some mysterious reason, Drummer decides that means she should sacrifice herself, even though from what we have heard, doing so gives him a really low chances of survival. Still, she moves the machine back onto herself, freeing him, and he calls for help.

Clarissa reaches the Roci and manages to get inside. Naomi hears the impact and goes to check what is wrong. Clarissa tries to kill her—of course she does—but Anna, who apparently followed Clarissa, saves Naomi.

Drummer’s first, after hearing about the large number of wounded they have, gives the order to spin the drum of the ship, creating artificial gravity. They are unsure it will work, but they manage successfully. The first, who is not the captain, then opens a channel to other ships around them and invites everyone to transport their wounded to their ship.

MCRN seems to have more stupid ideas about how bad it is they are being saved by the “skinners,” apparently a name for the Belters. Bobbie effectively tells him he is an idiot and goes to see Holden, who woke up, and now tells her he had a vision of the end of everything.

Review

Overall, this was another good episode with solid pacing and clear progress forward. But there were still plenty enough things left that bother me.

First and foremost among them would be the storyline happening aboard the Martian shuttle. For one, the MCRN marine was acting completely ridiculous. The Expanse has always had trouble with depicting the less open-minded military types with any nuance, but this might be a new low. In particular, I am talking about handing Bobbie the gun to shoot Holden.

It made no sense at all in context: their orders were to bring Holden in. I don’t expect MCRN tortures their prisoners, so the argument with “might be the best for him” hardly made sense. Most of all, it felt like a test for Bobbie, but if so, it was a test of a kind I’d expect to see in Star Trek Discovery‘s Mirror Universe, not among the Martians. The Expanse show adaptation has always depicted the Martians worse than the books do, and this continues in the same vein. Bobbie is gaining the very uncomfortable overtones of being the “one good apple.”

On the other hand, Bobbie’s own role here was scarcely better, particularly her strange obsession with Holden. She is acting like they became best friends in the first half of this season, which is definitely not something I noticed. No matter how ridiculous the marine’s desire to have Holden shot was, he was perfectly right that it looked like Holden was controlling the protomolecule. We know it was because Miller was controlling it for him, but Bobbie doesn’t.

At the same time, it doesn’t follow she would immediately jump to the conclusion that Holden is a villain. He could be controlled by the protomolecule. In fact, he was, to a degree. Or, he could have simply gone insane. Once again, he had in a way. There are many possible explanations that don’t lead to wanting to have Holden executed, but which at the same time don’t lead to Bobbie insisting to her marine crew that, “Holden wouldn’t do anything wrong.”

It is doubly irritating because this is Holden of all people, everyone’s personal favorite white boy. Of course she would be all up in arms about him. Meanwhile, women of color were in danger or outright killed left and right this episode.

Speaking of which, Drummer. On one hand, when we first saw the situation she was in, I was worried it would develop into a mutual attempt at killing the other and saving themselves. I am truly, deeply grateful it didn’t. And even the idea of her sacrifice could have been a brilliant one, really, in the right circumstances. The way it played out here, however? Just after it is implied her first has a low chances of survival, without any particular indication that she is in serious trouble herself? It just feels very much like, “all right, the brown chick was the captain for a bit too long, time to give it to a white guy.”

The scene between them was acted excellently though, I have to grant them that much. Naomi was very good this episode as well, and were her Rocinante boys.

The one character who continues to be a disappointment is Anna. Her very last intervention was badass to be sure, but it’s not the kind of strength I expect from Anna. She’s not there to beat people over their heads. And until that moment, she was as insufferable as before. The most ridiculous moment was shouting after Clarissa. I understand she was meant to be upset, but it just looked stupid. Tilly repeating Anna was “very good at this,” meaning her pastoral duties, only made me roll my eyes once more. Show, don’t tell, please. At this point, such assertions about Anna are about as convincing as all the characters telling Tyrion he was clever on Game of Thrones.

The season finale next week is a double episode. At this point, I feel like it can go in many different directions, and I am all impatience to see which one it goes for.


All images courtesy of SyFy

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Reverie Sows the Seeds of Doubt

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Last week’s episode of Reverie ended on a cliffhanger. Mara realized that she wasn’t actually at her late sister’s house, talking to her late niece (she was actually pretty sure on that last one). This leads to an obvious question: where was Mara, really. Unfortunately for her, she was in the middle of a road, with a car on its way. Before the car runs her over, Mara is saved by a mysterious man who knows her name. Turns out Mara’s savior is Oliver Hill, who claims to be suffering from de-realization as well. Hill has been following Mara, out of supposed worry. Before Oliver was a concerned stalker, he was a founding partner of Onira-Tech. He has something to explain to her, but he needs food first.

From NBC/screenshot

Oliver Hill V. Onira-Tech

Reverie spends about half of the episode providing two arguments for what’s really going on. Oliver argues that Reverie 2.0 is inherently flawed. He claims that he and Mara, being the two people who have spent the most time in Reverie 2.0, will be representative of the general population. In his version, Charlie is Onira-Tech’s unthinking bodyguard who hates Oliver. The medication that Mara has been given is supposedly useless (which is not a great message, especially when paired with Mara’s previous trashing of her meds). Oliver tells Mara not to tell Onira-Tech about their conversation, but that lasts for about 3 minutes. Mara is scared and she needs answers, and she tries to test Oliver’s claims against Onira-Tech’s personnel.

On the other hand, Onira-Tech claims that Oliver Hill was unstable. Charlie claims that Oliver is dangerous. Paul shows Mara Oliver’s brain activity, explaining that he had issues before Reverie 2.0. Alexis tells Mara that her partnership with Oliver was founded in a romantic relationship. That relationship went badly, and Alexis doesn’t want to be defined by that failure, hence his erasure from the company. 

By the end of the episode, Mara agrees with the latter form of events. She seems to be finally persuaded by Alexis’ detailing of her and Oliver’s romantic partnership. However, it’s not clear that the narrative agrees with Mara. Mara doesn’t know where to turn, and Reverie loves drawing tension from that. It thrives off of Mara’s (and the viewer’s) disorientation.

It’s certainly clear that Oliver has other plans, since he offers to buy a Reverie system at the end of the episode.

Episodic Woes

This episode also included a client of the week. Part of the reason the Onira-Tech team started out the episode on edge was a theft within the building. Someone stole a copy of Reverie, and modified it into a form of “Dark Reverie.” The “Dark” version doesn’t have restrictions. Our client of the week, Glenn, is using it to plan a heist. Since last week’s episode involved a bank robber, it’s likely Glenn needed the jailbroken version for the detailed specifications.

Glenn is a man with a stereotypical form of OCD. He avoids daylight, and hates the color blue. In a twist that should not surprise the viewer, Glenn doesn’t want to commit the heist for himself. He’s been watching the single mother and son across the street. The son has a rare disease, and Glenn wants to save his life with a trial drug. Despite mostly living inside, Glenn’s motivation is that he feels like part of the pair’s family. This entire plot feels like a math problem. Sick kid + adult with stereotypical OCD + moral heist = episodic plot.

Glenn offers to sell out “Dark Reverie” sellers and give his system back on one condition: help him do the heist. Mara complies, but Charlie and Monica have other ideas. Instead of letting Glenn steal the medication, they make a deal with the medicine company CEO. The heist goes through, but is spinned as a test of the company’s security system. Glenn gets the meds for the kid, and doesn’t get a felony on his record. Smiles all around.

Conclusion

Reverie‘s season arc plot wildly outstrips its episodic plots. This week’s episodic plot was probably the worst so far. However, the arc’s plot twists easily, without feeling gimmicky.


Images courtesy of NBC

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