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Legion Delivers a Confusing and Very Entertaining Premiere

Bo

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I imagine many people saw news of a new superhero show on FX and reacted lukewarmly. Upon hearing Legion was yet another entry in the already saturated X-Men franchise some might even have scoffed. If you’ve decided you’re not interested in yet another superhero show or X-Men show or have an overly-stuffed television schedule that can’t possibly fit another show, I’m here to tell you to make room. Legion’s premiere was a winner that everyone should give a shot.

It’s stylish, it’s different, and it’s a thrill ride of brain-twisting weirdness unlike any superhero show you have ever seen.

As a warning, this review contains spoilers for “Chapter 1,” as well as a content warning for attempted suicide.

Recap

The episode begins with a montage of main character David Haller growing up from baby to healthy boy to the full manifestation of his powers, which sent his life in a downwards spiral. We quickly get a sense of how badly this change affected him. David becomes violent, begins drinking, starts taking prescription pills, and eventually the montage ends with him hanging himself. It’s quick and effective.

So, not exactly your typical superhero here.

The scene transitions to David’s sister Amy lighting a candle in a cupcake. She is visiting him on his birthday in Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital, and judging by their conversation he has been there long enough to grow used to it, but obviously not long enough for his sister to know he can’t take the cupcake from her.

It is also established that David hears voices and sees hallucinations. He sees them here as well, even as his sister insists he seems better.

Next we see David’s normal routine, which mainly consists of taking his prescribed medication and hanging out with his best friend Lenny. He also experiences more hallucinations. Quick note: Aubrey Plaza is delightful as Lenny. This character was written as a middle-aged man, but when Plaza was cast she insisted they not change anything. As a result she constantly references old TV shows and makes crass, but innocent remarks about women. Combined with her mannerisms, she really comes across as unisexual. She is so much fun to watch.

Also take note of the man in the greenery. They revisit him multiple times.

David and Lenny are watching a man drooling on himself when another main character comes walking down the stairs, one Sydney Barrett. All the while Plaza makes crass remarks. David is immediately drawn to her and tries to talk to her, but when he bumps into her, she does not like it and hurries away.

Legion then gives us another montage (they happen quite a bit) while David sleeps. There are a variety of shots: him as a child and teenager, him hanging himself, a variety of appliances flying around a kitchen, and his brief meeting with Sydney. A voice asks him about a devil with yellow eyes. After a shot of some very strange bald humanoid with a gigantic fat neck (gee, it has yellow eyes!), David’s bed crashes to the ground and breaks. A bunch of hospital staff rush into the room to subdue him despite David’s pleas that it’s not necessary.

I’ll take this moment to say the montages are a little bit exposition-y. Legion tried to pack a lot into its extra-sized premiere and the montages were a necessary evil to do so. As one of those weirdos who likes to see the drawn out details of character interaction, I do look at some of these as a missed opportunity. They did the job, but I can’t help but want more.

From here we see a group therapy session with his therapist, Dr. Kissinger. There’s reference to an incident with another doctor when David stopped taking medication. Sydney joins them and immediately contradicts the doctor’s insistence that David’s issues are mental, and whatever power he feels is not real. Immediately you wonder who Sydney is and what she’s doing there. Her words here are way too specific.

We also learn that Sydney does not like to be touched. She also prefers isolation. When she says that a person’s problems are “what makes you you,” David asks if she will be his girlfriend. She agrees, so long as he never touches her.

Guess what? Time for another montage! This one focuses on David and Sydney hanging out around the hospital. Perfect example of my earlier point despite the montage generally working. It makes their time seem like it took place over a long time, but considering they never wear anything different it’s more likely this all took place in the same day. There is a shot of them walking down the hallway holding a piece of cloth to substitute holding hands that is really adorable.

At the end of the day they stare out a window at the city, and Sydney shows him how she imagines herself outside the hospital. David uses their reflections to “kiss.” What a romantic.

Normally a sequence like this would do little to nothing for me. This one worked, though. Maybe it’s because I suspected something more to Sydney’s interest, or because I was happy to see David so eagerly respect her boundaries. We do still live in a world where such respect immediate from the man towards the woman is uncommon on TV. Whatever the reason, I really loved this. I felt like they actually cared for each other despite their short time together.

Unfortunately, it all comes crashing down when the episode transitions to David being questioned in a room about “the woman who disappeared.” This takes place after he left Clockworks. Another incident has taken place and the man questioning David claims to be looking for Sydney, all the while questioning whether she actually existed.

We quick cut back to Clockworks while Dr. Kissinger talks to David about hanging himself, before just as quickly cutting back to the interrogation (even here it was obvious this was an interrogation). The interrogator initially decides not to talk about David’s past, before sharing a moment with a colleague and changing his mind.

David talks about the decision to hang himself. He had recently been expelled from college, the voices bothered him terribly, and he decided to end his life despite the voices trying to stop him. Yet apparently no noose was found when the police found him, just David with burns on his neck. He’s asked, after another brief flashback of him telling Kissinger about his mental powers, whether he still believes he has those powers. David says he doesn’t believe that anymore, but asks if that’s why he’s being questioned, if his interrogators think whatever incident occurred is because of some power David has. Also revealed is that this vague “incident” has left some woman dead.

Back in his time at the hospital, Sydney comes to David’s room while he sleeps to tell him she has been approved for release. There’s also more respect of Sydney’s opposition to touching here which I really love. Obviously this news bothers David and he briefly tries to kiss her. I know, this goes against the respect I just said he showed but he does not react badly to being denied. It’s more of a “oops I forgot” moment.

The interrogator asks about her aversion to touching. David talks about not questioning it, since many people in the hospital have something that bothers them. He loses his cool and asks for a break. The interrogator leaves the room and travels through what turns out to gym. Various armed special forces types inhabit the place. He reaches a surveillance area where he talks with an older man, confirming that they know David has powers, and he may be the most powerful mutant they’ve ever encountered.

They believe David is innately aware of his powers but does not understand or control them. The older man wants to kill him but the interrogator asks to be allowed to keep going.

Back with David, he asks for the man sitting across from him to leave. Notice the carving of the dog. I suppose it is somehow related to the dog shown at the end of the previous scene. He slips into a memory of a scene we saw earlier where the kitchen appliances flew around the room. Notice again the yellow-eyed demon.

He returns to normal as the interrogator comes into the room with a bunch of men rolling monitoring equipment into the room. He notices they are all scared of him when he doesn’t immediately comply with them. The interrogator insists they are worried for him, because he is ill, but obviously we know he’s lying. David, however, lets them put the equipment on him.

Finally, we get a look at the incident which landed him in this room, which happened at Clockworks. Sydney readies to leave with Dr. Kissinger. She asks Lenny were David is, and Lenny stalls her by asking Sydney to bring her a candy bar she saw on TV. David comes rushing into the room and kisses her. As they kiss, the camera zooms onto and through David’s mind, showing images of his life.

When the episode returns, we see that the kiss sent both of them sprawling away from each other. David starts panicking while the other patients and staff try to restrain him. The lights go out. David starts walking among the other patients in the dark room, and the yellow-eyed demon shows up again. At this point I think it’s clear that thing means bad news. I was willing to give its evil appearance a pass at first, but something messed up is clearly about to go down specifically signaled by its presence.

The hospital shakes while Kissinger tends to Sydney. It becomes clear it is not actually Sydney. The episode cuts back to the interrogation room where David tells the man questioning him the kiss must have switched their minds. He thinks that was the reason she never let anyone touch her. He again panics, and Chekov’s pen on the table begins to shake.

Yes, I just spoiled you. Reading this means you either know what happens or were reading spoilers anyway.

The interrogator calms David down and asks him to continue the story. We see Dr. Kissinger walk back to the spot where the kiss happened. Sydney/David follows him. They follow the sounds of screaming and pounding fists to the hallway where the patient rooms are. Only the doors are gone and solid wall stands in their place. Eventually they find Lenny dead, half of her body sticking out of the wall.

No! Come on, Aubrey Plaza was so great! She can’t be done already!

Based on the story, David and the interrogator believe that after Sydney transferred into his body, she lost control of his powers and caused the incident which brought David to the room.

Sydney/David is rushed from the hospital despite his pleas that he was not Sydney. A black car pulls up and two people exit it. David insists that his interrogator was a third person in the car. The interrogator insists he’s wrong and that he wants to know who the people in the car were. David finally loses his cool and uses his power to send the pen flying into the interrogator’s cheek. He destroys the room with basically a flick of the wrist before gas is pumped into the room to knock him out.

While he’s out we get some recollections of David and his sister as children interspersed with Sydney sitting at a café somewhere. However, when a waitress walks away it is David sitting there, throwing into question whether the mind switch happened at all. Honestly, this is where the brain-twisty stuff might have been a bit much. It’s never made clear at all what the hell happened here. Was the switch fake? Was this David after their minds eventually switched to normal?

I honestly have no idea. David probably doesn’t either.

The memory continues with David showing up at his sister’s house on Halloween (notice the kids at the door wearing prison pinstripes). Amy and her husband are understandably cautious to see him. After serving him some waffles (David apparently loves waffles), she sets David up in a room.

And hey, Aubrey Plaza is back! Though Lenny is still dead. David hallucinates her, and she blames him for killing her. She doesn’t let him use the excuse that Sydney did it. However, she is not upset about her death. Then she warns him that “they” are coming to find and kill him. David breaks a lamp while panicking, and his sister comes down to check on him. And takes every sharp object in the basement before she leaves. I can’t say I blame her.

After David goes to sleep, we get the weirdest part of the episode, which says a lot considering how much weird stuff happens. While Sydney calls his name, he dreams of Sydney, Lenny, himself, and the other patients dancing in the hospital. Why is this here? What does it mean? I have no idea. I’ll leave the theorizing to those who know interpretive art symbolism better than I do.

When David comes to, he has been seated in a chair inside the pool in the gym. Powered cables sit inside the water to electrocute him if he makes a wrong move. David, however, laughs, thinking it’s all another illusion. The interrogator drops all pretense of helping him. He says he knows about David’s power, he knows about Sydney, he knows that people came for her the day of the incident, and wants to find her.

David says he went looking for Sydney, and we see the memory of him doing so. He calls the hospital only to be told they have no record of her. He hangs up when he spots the two people from the car earlier and hurries away. Eventually he gives them the slip, but Sydney’s head appears on the back of a man’s head. Then Sydney herself shows up. She tells him this isn’t real, it’s his memory, and she’s been projected into his memory.

Okay, Legion, seriously. This is perfectly timed confusion, and because of the X-Men universe, completely makes sense. Bravo.

The memory rewinds as they walk along, the two chasers back on David’s tail. Sydney tells him he is in a government facility and those people are not cops. She tells him to slide out of his chair and when he sees the lights, stay underwater until he sees her. Then the interrogator’s guys nab him.

David comes to back in his chair in the pool. He realizes the third person in the car he mistook as the interrogator was a woman. The swimming area heats up visibly, making everyone uncomfortable. The interrogator asks again where the girl is. Lights start appearing, and when the interrogator tries to electrocute David the button doesn’t work. David slips into the water and all hell breaks loose.

When he surfaces, Sydney is waiting with the two people from the black car. She introduces the man as Ptonomy and the woman as Kerry, before telling him “Melanie” is waiting for them. The episode ends with a badass breakout scene. They all blast through the special forces with ease, mostly due to a guy we don’t learn the name of who tosses the ground and boulders and shit around to smash people.

I’m just going to call him “The Boulder” until we learn his name. And maybe keep calling him that afterwards.

David eventually stops Sydney to get a reassurance that everything happening is real. Thank you, David! Because seriously, at this point everyone watching probably wonders the same thing. If Legion has taught us anything at this point, we should question everything happening. Sydney assures him this is real, that she came back for him and it’s real and she loves him. Then she reminds him to say it back and he does happily. Seriously, how do I love this relationship so much already? There’s not that much special to it.

legion i love you

Yeah, he was happy to say it.

Melanie Bird (played by the amazing Jean Smart) waits for them, and we cut to black when David takes her hand.

Phew, that was a long, fun, confusing ride.

Review

Legion’s premiere was something else. And to be clear, something really, really good.

I suppose some people will be turned away by the confusing nature of this episode. It jumps timelines from scene to scene, and keeping track becomes tough sometimes. David’s hallucinations make the validity of what you see hard to determine. Not everyone likes shows where you can’t be sure what’s real from moment to moment.

Neither does it help when Legion never clarifies certain things. Maybe I’m just slow to understand the whole mind switch, for example, but they never really explained what happened. Legion will require an investment from viewers; you’ll need to stick out the entire ride and journey into full awareness right along David.

Which is the point of the confusion, of course. We learn the story right alongside him. Our confusion mirrors his own. As the season progresses and David obtains a better grasp of his powers, his grasp on reality should tighten as well. So will ours along with him.

I think Legion actually did a good job establishing David and the world he lived in despite the jumpy nature of the scenes. Within the first ten minutes you had a good idea of what happened to David, how it affected him, what his life was like in the hospital, and how he interacted with those in his life. You also had a decent idea what he was capable of.

Turns out he can save the world through dance.

I suppose not everyone will like it. Some simply don’t take to this style of show. At the very least you need a main character who makes it worth the shifting timelines and plot points. Mr. Robot, for example, would not be half so good if Elliot was an awful character. Many shows fail at narratives like this specifically because of weak main characters, whether because of poor writing or playing second-fiddle to plot.

Which makes me highly appreciate how good a main character David proved to be. After all, character is king. He was charming, he was vulnerable, and he was relatable. He shared the audience’s confusion in ways that make the general confusion of the episode much easier to swallow. Most important of all, David was interesting.

Really, this episode succeeded in making every character they wanted to stick out do so. Lenny was highly entertaining. David sold every scene no matter how confusing. Sydney was a great mix of her own mental illness and a greater knowledge kept secret from David and viewers. The interrogator was terrifying.

Legion hit the mark with everyone. I can’t wait to see what happens with the entire cast moving forward.

And while everyone may not like the confusing stuff, I think the episode did a good job keeping you engaged while you try to figure it out. A big part of that is owed to the style. I’m a sucker for style. My failures to understand symbolism in dance aside, I love a show that flat out looks beautiful. Those familiar with Noah Hawley’s work on Fargo won’t be surprised by Legion’s visual excellence. That show has some of the best looking scenes of any recent television.

He keeps up the quality here. Legion’s premiere may actually have been better than Fargo here; the colors pop, the clothing feeds into the ambiguity of the timeline, and the cinematography is excellent. It avoids the default drabness superhero shows use to come across realistically. The general design is unique and perfect for Legion’s content. Honestly, even if you’re not sure what the hell is happening (probably by design), you will have fun looking at it all.

The one area the production might fail is the first full-scale fight scene to end the episode. I may have loved The Boulder, but the rest of the fighting came across kind of clunky. People just kind of stand there while the heroes run up and disarm them. I’m also one to hate the Stormtrooper effect. You know, where the highly trained killers can’t hit a target right in front of them with a precise automatic rifle for some reason. No theories about purposely letting the rebels go exist here, unfortunately.

The Boulder!

There are also those who worry the breakout here means Legion might now default to your typical superhero show. The team is assembled, the big bad government is after them, now David will develop his powers and take them down. I’m not worried about that. Noah Hawley is an excellent showrunner who I trust completely. Legion’s premiere gave me no reason to trust him less.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Melanie Bird is less than ideal from a moral standpoint herself, along with those who side from her. Sydney is too perfect, and her proclamation of love too easy considering she worked from the beginning to get David out of the hospital. I love their relationship in the premiere, but I’m not blind. Sydney almost definitely manipulated him.

One thing I can’t comment on is the handling of mental health and psychiatric institutions. It’s quite possible that the portrayal of both was handled improperly or insensitively and I’m unaware. I feel like they treated the issue of mental health with respect; perhaps Lenny is a little too comic relief without any focus on the reason she is admitted to Clockworks. Again, I trust Hawley here, and the nature of Legion guarantees we will see more of Lenny, both in memories and as a representation of David’s conscience.

To repeat my bottom line from earlier; give Legion a shot. Maybe the plot is too jumpy for you. Maybe you don’t think they can take the confusion of the premiere and make something coherent from it. I suppose such fears may prove to be right. I doubt it, though. This is one of the best showrunners currently working and a property full of potential for him to work with.

Legion is weird. Legion is confusing. Most of all, Legion is worth watching.


Images courtesy of FX

Bo

Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and continues drifting wearily through the slog of summer TV.

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PSA From South Park: Be More Careful When Tweeting While President

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Content warning for the topic of suicide.

Since the airing of Season 20, Trey Parker and Matt Stone hinted at staying away from a certain aspect of political satire. After last season’s serial narrative faced, well, a minor inconvenience if I can be as reductive as possible as far as story-building goes, I think we all felt a bit burnt out. In many ways we can’t find the showrunners at fault. I still had my fair share of laughs last season, but nonetheless Season 20 did suffer from a great amount of narrative fatigue, incongruity, and many other issues that the showrunners are actually pretty open about. After last week’s episode ended (ironically not with a serial “open concept,” but a concrete ending sealed with a hysterical and irreverent lesson about how “as long as the superficial things in our life are in tact, our problems will simply go away”) I was pleasantly surprised and fully on board for this new season.

I know Parker & Stone have made general comments stating they would be focusing less on politics, but really, how can they when seemingly all our current cultural relevance consists of nothing but politics? You can’t just ignore all this insanity happening all over the world no matter how hard you try, and darn it if that’s not the perfect theme for this episode, “Put it Down.” 

This week’s issues: North Korea, Phone Addiction and “Suicide at SkeWwl”

We open with Tweek performing a tune to the school about all his fears concerning President Garrison casually instigating a nuclear war with North Korea. Cartman and the boys tell Craig to “get a hold of him because he’s freaking everybody out at skewwwl.” Men aren’t supposed to express themselves emotionally, Craig! Gay or straight, you just have to “sack up,” as they say and stop bothering everyone with those “fears” and “anxieties”. This nicely foreshadows and directly parallels Cartman’s B plot as he himself attempts to freak everybody out at skewl.

You see, Eric Cartman is deep in an emotionally manipulative, abusive relationship. I mean he’s doing the abuse and manipulation of course, and this week he’s having Heidi take him back after a breakup by calling her and threatening to kill himself. Now, do I think kids committing suicide over the pains of youthful heartbreak is funny? Nope. But I sure as hell burst out laughing while the gang played Cartman’s wallowy and fabricated voicemail aloud and called him out for using suicide threats as an emotionally manipulative spectacle.  

It would appear Cartmen’s arc this season is going to comment on an entirely different brand of “poisonous boyfriend you hope your friend can escape from.” Cartmen’s Season 20 arc saw him as the overbearing and patronizing boyfriend—idolizing Heidi, fawning over her with compliments and oozing everyone’s favorite brand of bro-feminism until he felt threatened upon realizing that Heidi was a being of her own. When it came to light that Heidi really did possess the potential for all those qualities he had built her up to have, he immediately switched over to the “weiners out” philosophy and convinced himself that yes, women were planning to enslave men on Mars and milk us for our semen. Man, the election results really did mess Season 20’s whole narrative up, huh? But I digress…

Look, obviously South Park isn’t suggesting that anyone who is suffering from suicidal thoughts is just some selfish brat desperate for attention and should be dismissed like Cartmen; quite the contrary. Suicide is just the newest vehicle for Cartmen to channel his sociopathic victimhood complex. Poor Heidi…I don’t see her getting out of this relationship anytime soon.  

So Cartmen plans to raise awareness for suicide—not for students that may be experiencing suicidal thoughts and may need outreach—more along the lines of wanting attention so that everyone can pity him and see what a terrible girlfriend Heidi is. To what end he wants to take these threats of suicide, we don’t know for sure, but unfortunately (for him) he has to compete with “distracted driving awareness week” hogging all the attention.    

Tweek & Craig Are Still Gay

I can understand when people are insulted with the implications of  the whole “Tweek and Craig are gay now because peer pressure,” but what I find fascinating is that if you take this stand-alone episode in a vacuum, you can compare it to so many of the recent depictions of gay men in recent pop-culture and, with a few exceptions, not miss a beat. Sure it’s pretty shallow and insulting to have your only LGBTQ+ couple have come into existence out of a joke, but I think that’s more or less Matt & Trey’s point. South Park has always been about the characters solving problems in the most warped, superficial way possible so they don’t have to deal with real issues.

On a meta/Doylist level, Matt & Trey are two happily straight men who quite honestly wouldn’t know the first thing about the intimate dynamics of a young gay couple, but they see television culture “doing the gay thing” so to speak, and so they “keep up with the times” in the most South Park way they can. Having Tweek and Craig awkwardly refer to one another as “baby” and “honey” is just so bad that it’s good. South Park is very aware that people don’t “choose to be gay for convenience sake,” so what do they do in Season 19? The town tells Tweek and Craig that they are gay in order to parade them around as progressive tokens. They aren’t proud of Tweek and Craig at all, they’re proud of themselves for being so tolerant.  

“If this relationship stays canonical I’d be sooOo happy.”

This episode though, despite taking the opportunity to make lowbrow jokes whenever it can, deals with Tweek and Craig’s relationship in a wonderfully honest way. They are defiantly still the same characters that they always were and that’s absolutely the point. They just happen to be gay.

So Craig is doing all he can to help calm Tweek down, who is convinced that the Koreans are coming to kill him after President Garrison puts him on blast for sending them cupcakes.

“I know that kid Tweek, he’s f***ing with you North Korea, get a clue.”

This is a difficult thing for Craig to deal with as he is such an overly calm and awkward individual. He thinks Tweek wants him to solve his problem for him, so he does what most of us might do to slap a band-aide on it: go buy some trendy piece of banal, consumable plastic in the form of a fidget spinner and hope that fixes our sweetheart’s problem. And when that doesn’t work: blame them for being emotional!

“Tweak doesn’t want help, he just wants to overreact.”

Speaking of overreacting, Cartman has now channeled his desperate need for attention into a full-on production.

“My girlfriend is messed up, all I want to do is help her…I’m suffocating, drowning in sorrow, I’m gonna kill myself, probably around 2:30 tomorrow…”

The song he sings is the best kind of cringe-worthy and classic Cartman. His diluted fantasy is of course that he’ll rally the whole school into professing how much they “don’t want him to die,” while at the same time blaming Heidi for driving him to kill himself because of something internally wrong with her.

Put it Down…

Distracted Driving Awareness Week starts to really face some challenges when thing’s start to escalate further between Tweek and North Korea. The self-important citizens of South Park can’t bring themselves to look away from the political carnage being projected onto their phones via Twitter. Even when behind the wheel they can’t seem to detach themselves, and thus start running children over en masse.

Poor Gary Borkovec…

When Eric finds out that people are giving more attention to the victims of the distracted drivers rather than paying attention to his empty suicide threats, he interupts their announcement for candlelight vigil to announce a last-ditch pot-luck dinner in his honor. Before he can make a total fool of himself however, Heidi comes to the rescue with her own last ditch effort to talk some sense into Cartman…

“It’s not about problem solving Eric—it’s about people coming together and feeling what they need to feel. People need help sorting out their emotions sometimes, and the best thing isn’t always quick answers but just being there…”

This falls on deaf ears as far as Cartman is concerned, but it was just the thing Craig needed to hear.

I Learned Something Today…

Okay it wasn’t Kyle making a speech, it was Craig who learned something today: that sometimes people in our lives just need to vent, to be heard, to work out their anxieties so they don’t feel so alone. They need to figure out a battle plan and maybe sort out some irrational/not-so-irrational fears. To bounce off some ideas with someone that understands how they are wired. Now that Tweek has someone to really hear him, he can put things in perspective, and can channel his anxious energy into doing some good for the world.

He creates a song to help spread awareness FOR ANY PRESIDENTS OUT THERE THAT MIGHT BE PUTTING OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES AT RISK WITH IRRESPONSIBLE TWEETS TO PLEASE STOP.

Image of Matt & Trey so happy they don’t have to write about the election anymore.

Going forward it looks to me as though the old (well, let’s say the Season 18+19) formula of the isolated, but congruent narratives in this absurdist ‘podunk’ town will prevail from here on out. Glad to see that Tweek and Craig are being completely and hilariously normalized, and I hope Hiedi can eventually free herself from the clutches of Cartman’s hysterical narcissism…

From my view, South Park has once again found its footing with this tight-knit, topical episode with plenty of laughs, unexpected character growth, and sentiment to boot. I will be eagerly awaiting to see what’s next!


Images courtesy of Cartoon Network

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Teen Wolf Just Gives Up As It Nears The Finale

Barbara

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Teen Wolf brought two episodes at once this week, “Genotype” and “Broken Glass.” They brought us very nearly to the end of the season and so to the whole show. For that purpose, they left quite a lot to be desired.

Recap

Scott found a phone on one of the dead bodies in the woods and he‘s convinced that the voicemail on it will lead him to one half of the Anuk-ite. Theo and Mason both very reasonably point out that even if that’s true, they already know about Aaron, so they could just concentrate on him. Scott really should know by now that he should listen to Mason, but instead he splits the party and sends Theo and Mason to look for Aaron while he and Liam look for a mysterious voice on the phone. Right.

Lydia and Malia are in the morgue, standing over the dead hellhound. Lydia decides he‘s not actually dead. She tries to get a vision by lying down next to him or touching him, but neither works.

Mason and Theo wander in the infamous tunnels while having pointless conversation. Meanwhile, Scott and Liam stare at a phone. Finally Liam decides to call, but Scott stops him, pointing out that they should think about what they were going to say. Hmm, perhaps this call was more of a job for Mason, while Scott and Liam, as the two strongest, would be better off wandering the tunnels? Never mind.

Liam calls and Beacon Hills High answers. Liam realizes the woman in the voicemail is one of his teachers. He and Scott go to school and Liam sits in his biology class like nothing happened. He tries to get to his teacher with a sound only supernaturals can hear. When it doesn’t work, he tries to get her with wolfsbane. She notices and tells him to stay after class, supposing he is trying to get back at her for not protecting him from getting beaten up. He tells her he knows she’s a werewolf. She looks at him like he’s crazy. Scott comes in, playing the voicemail.

Lydia has a vision of the Hellhound in Eichen and comes back saying she knows how to save him. She wants to pull out the bullet with MRI (not the most non-invasive method, Lydia), but then realizes there is silver there, which would not get pulled out, but would melt into his brain, killing him. She tries to think of another solution.

Liam and Scott tell the biology teacher her family is dead, and her daughter’s body was taken on by the Anuk-Ite. They ask her to call her daughter, and she gives the phone to Liam instead. He asks what name he should look under, and she says Quinn. AKA, the teenage werewolf who got shot by a deputy.

Theo and Mason are having a nice talk about Theo’s chances of being in Scott’s pack when Theo shifts and they are attacked.

Scott and Liam basically tell the biology teacher they are about to kill her daughter and then are surprised when she knocks them over the head. The teacher, in turn, is surprised when the daughter she’s been warned about being turned into a monster has, in fact, been turned into a monster.

Lydia and Malia decide to risk the hellhound’s life because Malia reasons that his past actions show this is what he would have wanted. They manage to bring him back to life briefly, but he does have silver poisoning. Also, it seems it is not what he would have wanted after all.

Mason is injured after Aaron attacked. Theo tries to take his pain, but he doesn’t care enough for it to work, so he fights Aaron instead. Mason tries to stop him, telling him that is what Aaron wants. Apparently his wounds appear on the Akun-Ite’s other half, too, making it an easy identifier. Or maybe it was about feeling the pain? It’s never truly explained.

Scott sends Liam to fight one half of the Anuk-Ite alone as he stays with Quinn’s mother. I just…no, I won’t even comment on that. He tries to convince the teacher to shift and trigger her healing. She does, at length, showing she is an alpha. One question: how?

The dying hellhound wastes a lot of time telling us what we already know, that combined two halves of the Anuk-Ite are dangerous. He does not tell the girls what they asked, namely how he trapped the demon when he did, a hundred years ago. He does tell them that it can kill with a look when both halves are connected, though, so we know they will in fact connect.

That is demonstrated in the very next scene, where they do. Liam’s attempt to stop it is entirely ineffective. Malia is just in time to save him from the death glare. The hunters who came to school don’t have a Malia, though, and are turned into stone. Then the pack muses about how it needs to learn to fight blind from Deucalion, Malia has Sex with Scott and Gerard makes a deal with the Anuk-Ite to kill Scott, because of course he does. That’s when the first aired episode ends.

The next one starts with Chris interrogating a guy in Brasil. There was a mass murder of werewolves and Derek apparently started to investigate by beating people up and asking them questions. He found that Gerard wants him, and doesn’t care about the others. There’s a message saying “Beacon Hills” on the wall of the crime scene. We also see Derek drive a nice sports car, which is frankly something I missed on this show.

After the opening credits, we see Tamora giving an educational lecture to her young hunters about werewolves, demonstrating on Ethan, still tortured by electricity as she sticks an arrow into him. She then offers her teenage army weapons. Ethan is carried away, desperate for Jackson, which bleeds over into Lydia’s vision.

Nolan contacts Liam and promises to give him information. He takes him to the hospital, where he shows him that ordinary people are involved with Tamora’s movement and also that three people have been brought to the hospital last night and hooked up on wolfsbane.

The Sheriff declares he will stand by his friends. He meets with Parrish, who tells him Tamora is pulling police reports to find out who is supernatural. He then goes to answer a call to all units, even though Tamora and company know he is supernatural, because reasons.

Lydia can¨t reach Scott on the phone, so she goes to his house, where she meets Peter looking for Malia. They realize communication is being cut off by Gerard, who has apparently truly gained omnipotence now.

Chris manages to find Derek. Derek has poison Gerard needs to kill Scott, who has apparently leveled up with Gerard and can only be killed by a unique artifact now, but just as he is about to destroy it, Kate appears and takes it from him.

Malia and Scott have an entirely pointless conversation with Deucalion about him teaching them how to fight blind. We get a training montage.

Lydia admits to Peter that she saw him turned to stone in a vision, and many others alongside him. She describes the place and Peter realizes he knows where it is.

Kate takes the poison and tells them its purpose is to kill Scott. Derek heads towards Beacon Hill to warn Scott, leaving Chris behind for reasons.

Lydia and Peter arrive at Deucalion’s training location to warn them that Tamora is coming with heavy firepower, because this is apparently news. Just then, Tamora herself conveniently arrives and one of her lackeys shoots Deucalion before the proper heavy fire starts. The episode closes with Tamora firing a shot.

Review

I am seriously so tired of this season by now; I could not be more grateful there is only one episode left. The writing in these two episodes was exceptionally bad even by this season’s standards. So much overwrought dialogue and pointless posturing that is out of character or just simply unnecessary. Nothing is established properly any more, nothing makes sense, no repercussions of any kind are felt, no internal logic is followed. I would enumerate all of the cases where this is true, but it would take up too much space.

That said, here are some especially glaring examples:

One half of Anuk-Ite took down Liam with one punch, and yet we are supposed to believe that its two halves together are no match for Scott in a direct fight? Scott, whom we saw getting beaten by Liam before, not to mention lots of other relatively low-level villains. I’m getting some mixed signals here. Is Scott super powerful, or is he mostly a regular werewolf?

The problem, of course, is that a demonic monster of the sort Anuk-Ite was built up to be doesn’t make deals. It doesn’t make sense, narrative wise, why it should even talk to Gerard at all. But the show -runners wanted a cool monster, and they wanted Gérard back for the final season, and didn’t think much about how those two things would together.

They don’t.

Kate—another villain they wanted to bring back—randomly appearing to torture Derek (who was apparently only brought back for that purpose) is also ineffective. If she had to come back, could we at least finally give some proper gravitas to her rape of Derek all those years ago? No? Joking about it again? All right then.

Well, no, not all right, but it’s not like I expect any better at this point.

Speaking of things that did not work, Tamora, despite her best efforts, absolutely failed to get people into the proper state of mind for genocide. It’s strange, because she is a great actress. Part of it was the absolutely abysmal acting of the extras in the scene, but even disregarding that, her speech was simply not rousing. The show made the comparison to Kristallnacht (and let me reiterate how tasteful it is to put a woman of color at the head of a movement you explicitly associate with the Nazis), so perhaps they should have taken a look at Hitler’s speeches. The way it was shot, Tamora would not have them worked up to anything beyond mild enthusiasm.

Out of the many logical fallacies of this episode, let me mention only Scott and Malia training with Deucalion. At the very least Liam, one of the pack’s front-line fighters, should have been there. But no. He had other things to do, specifically a very contrived trip to the hospital.

Then the ante is supposed to be upped by Deucalion’s death, but it just makes me tired. Deucalion is the most powerful Alpha that ever lived, so of course he will just be taken down by a random lackey and his automatic rifle. Neither Gerard nor Scott, two apparently omnipotent creatures now, couldn’t kill him, but a random lackey does it just fine. A pity Gerard didn’t know this sooner.

I could go on and on. I’m trying to think of a scene I actually enjoyed and felt it made sense. Lydia’s conversation with Peter, perhaps? Their meeting was also weirdly contrived, just like most of this episode, but I enjoyed having two smart people on the talking to each other onscreen.

The rest was a disaster, though, and I really, really hope the last episode improves the balance at least a little.


All images courtesy of MTV.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine Should Let Rosa Date Gina

Megan

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Gina and Rosa

Google most non-canon LGBT ships, and you get results for various fanfiction sites, maybe an article or two about why they should be canon, why the show is clearly missing the opportunity of a lifetime. Google Rosa/Gina—dubbed Dianetti—and you get tweets from the two actresses involved.

Though media has made huge strides in the past decade or so with LGBT relationships, there is still a lot to be done. Queerbaiting remains common, as does the bury your gays trope. Relationships—especially wlw ones—are still seen as less valid, less possible, than their straight counterparts; this is in part due to many writers, actors, and showrunners continuing to tease of F/F relationships. By creating a dynamic where two women are clearly not just friends (and, of course, never making that dynamic explicitly romantic either), they get the best of both worlds: LGBT viewers who crave representation with none of the potential backlash for so-called political correctness.

The Beauty of B99

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, however, has never fallen into that trap. Holt and Kevin may be the subject of many jokes, but they are never the butt of any. Similarly, topics like racial profiling and police corruption are taken seriously. It is a comedy show, but it is also a show that recognizes the power of its platform. Where another show would tease these topics and turn them into a punchline, Brooklyn Nine-Nine turns them into a discussion.

Holt and Kevin marry each other as quickly as possible.

(Source: tumblr)

So, of every show on television, I know that Brooklyn Nine-Nine would treat Rosa and Gina well. That is an important part of the discussion that is oft forgotten: representation does not end when it begins. Instead, it is an ongoing process, most successful when the writers and showrunners make continued efforts to deepen and better their characters and relationships. When we ask for representation, we are asking for a commitment: at the very minimum, do not kill them. Because that is still often too much to ask, we never get to the next step: do not cheapen them, do not forget them. Do not let them be a checked box on a list of things a show needs to have.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has proven they can do it. So why don’t they?

The Case For Dianetti

Over the past four seasons, we have seen Gina and Rosa flit in and out of various relationships. All the while, however, they have been there for each other.

Rosa is closed-off, awkward whenever the slightest hint of emotions are involved; Gina, on the other hand, is as open a book as she could possibly be. In the same way that Jake and Amy build on each other and make each other grow, Rosa and Gina could do the same.

In the past, the show has paired Rosa with men who are too different or too similar. Marcus was very openly emotional, and while the importance of having such a character cannot be understated, he was not right for Rosa. Adrien, then, had the opposite problem: he and Rosa never truly get to know each other during their relationship because both were content being unattached in that way.

Enter Gina. She is the perfect option, the perfect mix of emotional and independent; she is the one who can make Rosa consistently smile, the one who isn’t semi-scared of her at all times.

There are not many women on television that are like Rosa, and to give her a chance to find true, lasting love would be very valuable to many viewers. Having her and Gina both go through several unsuccessful relationships is good—it’s realistic and done well. But just as Jake and Amy found each other, just as Kevin and Holt found each other, I would like to see Rosa and Gina do the same.

In a world where F/F ships are punchlines to jokes that weren’t funny the first time, it is a rare and very special thing to see such an opportunity supported by both actresses involved. We have the support, and we have the chance; all that remains is for Brooklyn Nine-Nine to take the leap.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine consistently surprises me with the topics they are willing to tackle and the grace with which they do so. So, as it returns this month for its fifth season, I hope that they will tackle Rosa/Gina next.


Images courtesy of Fox

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