Teen Wolf brought the third episode of season 6B, “After Images.” The plot thickens and escalates, and Gerard shows what a terrible bastard he is, in case we forgot.
Brett, the werewolf shot by Gerard at the end of previous episode, is running through the forest trying to get away. His sister, Lori, goes to see Scott because Brett is missing and she found his lacrosse stick covered in blood. Mason is playing videogames at Liam’s and when the finish, basically invites himself to stay over. Liam wonders why, and Mason admits that he keeps seeing the headless dead body they found everywhere. Including Liam’s bedroom.
Brett running and masking his tracks is intershot with Gerard teaching the young hunter (weird schedule lady) the ins and outs of the trade.
Melissa tries to do an autopsy on the headless corpse, but keeps getting terrified and the lights keep flicking on and off, and finally she runs out of the morgue. Mason gets Corey and they go see Lydia, who tries to induce a vision of where Brett is. The two just keep disturbing her, but she manages to write “68” in different languages in trance. She decides to go to the high school to try and get another vision, this time alone.
Liam, meanwhile, joined Scott, Malia and Lori – finally the pack is being divided in logical ways – in tracking Brett. They find the arrow he was shot with, so they know a hunter is after him. But since he’s not dead yet, they decide it’s an inexperienced hunter. Well, they are half-right.
They track him into the underground tunnels. There, he hides near the ceiling on a support beam as Gerard and the young hunter have a conversation bellow him about dividing and conquering.
Soon enough, we see Lori triggering a trap and Scott jumping in front of her. The thing was huge and he’s seriously injured. So, predictably, they split, Malia remaining with Scott and Liam going with Lori. Melissa called Chris, who expresses some surprise at that. He goes into the morgue and gets terrified as well. They go in together, and with mutual support, Melissa manages to get a tissue sample.
Mason and Corey sit in the library when Nolan, a creepy-looking kid, is addressed by the kid-mutated-by-a-fear-demon. You know, the one whose head was eaten and whose body they technically found. The kid-slash-fear-demon urges Nolan to find out what Corey is. Nolan goes to talk to him and stabs him in the hand with a pen, then shows everyone present that his hand healed.
Liam and Lori find badly injured and poisoned Brett, and just then, smoke and “dog whistles” go off. Liam tells Lori and Brett to go while he faces in the direction of the smoke. Well, he’s never been exactly smart, so I guess this is in character. Soon enough, naturally, he realizes there is no one in the smoke and follows Lori.
Scott and Malia have a moment of tenderness which makes it explicit this is a ship they’re actually intending to sail. Malia also insists they should have called Stiles. Then they realise one hunter who knows the tunnels well and could set the trap that got Scott is Gerard, and hobble after the rest of the pack to save them.
Lydia meets Nolan at school and notices that his lacrosse jersey says “68”. She realises it’s him. He says “you’re one of them” and runs away.
Melissa analyses the sample under the microscope and finds out there is no DNA, no cell structure, nothing. Which is impossible. She and Chris are about to say goodbye. It’s awkward and then Chris brings up that he should have called, after the kiss last half-season. They both agree that they wanted to call, then Chris starts with some “I should go” nonsense. Fortunately, Melissa stops him.
Lydia informs Mason and Corey that Nolan wanted to expose Corey, and that she was wrong about her vision. People won’t be turning against each other, people will be turning against the supernaturals.
Lori and Brett climb out of the tunnels and Brett is immediately ran over by a car. Liam then jumps out, shifted, right into the light of many car lights, and countless civilians watch his werewolf rage at seeing the dead Brett. Gerard explains to his young apprentice that yeah, he set that up. He’s building an army, you see, and nothing is quite as useful for that as fear.
A half-season about how hateful jerks can use fear to turn people violent is very relevant right at this time, but it also makes it harder to watch. There were moments when I felt this should have trigger warnings, though I’m not sure what exactly they would warn against. “Gerard being even even more of an asshole than usual”? Actually, that might be legit.
Anyway. I’m getting a little tired of watching all non-protagonist characters die, while the permanent fixtures remain consistently unharmed. I have already complained about this, and this episode made it even more obvious. It was clear from the start that Brett was going to die, yet we were strung along for forty minutes, watching Gerard’s evil masterplan come into fruition. Evil masterplan that was very much a Batman gambit. I mean, how did Gerard know Brett would run into the tunnels? Or was the trap rigged a long time ago just in case someone went there? And the “dog whistles” were planted with the same intention? How long does the battery in those things last? I could go on.
When it’s supernatural villains who are presented as omnipotent by the story, it’s lazy but tolerable. When it’s an old, sick guy, it’s just immeasurably irritating.
(And speaking of his illness, he seems surprisingly chipper. Did he get a miraculous cure, did he get the bite, or is this his attempt to have a last legacy before he dies? An army to fight the supernaturals? If the last is true, my question remains: how is he so healthy that he can run around and prepare traps? Is that part of this new omnipotent perk he seems to have gotten on his last level up?)
Who is doing surprisingly badly, on the other hand, is Liam. Was he not supposed to be getting ready for leadership? That arc seems to have been there at some point, but most of his progress was now erased. A few times, it seems. As it is, it makes one wonder how in the world could Scott believe Liam could handle the pack. But I don’t want to repeat myself too much, though this particular thing will never stop bothering me. Let us just say that is is a persistent issue.
And speaking of contrived plans that work unbelievably well – literally – there was the whole pen-stabbing business. Maybe the fear demon was controlling the reaction somehow, but if he wasn’t…I don’t think that’s how it would go. The people in the library saw a guy violently stab another guy with a pen. Then they saw that the stabbed guy wasn’t actually hurt. I don’t think the takeaway from that would be “wow, Corey sure is something supernatural”. I think the takeaway would be “wow, Nolan sure is dangerously violent, it’s a good thing he wasn’t strong enough to actually harm Corey with that pen.” It would be Nolan they feared after this, not Corey. Not unless they already had some very solid suspicions, at least.
But on the positive side, Froy Gutierrez, who played Nolan, really acted his face off. There is no one too shabby on this show, but he knocked it out of the park with his creepy act in the library. Some credit should also go to Tyler Posey for directing this. The close-ups of Nolan’s face were particularly effective, given how well he acted.
Clearly, the fear that permeates Beacon Hills also brings out the love in people – something that would actually make sense – since we had not one but two romantic moments. Both were more first hints of a development than fully fledged scenes, and I expect to see more of those couples in the future. I think Scott and Malia have a potential for an interesting dynamic at least, with her independence and him being tightly bound to his friends and responsibilities.
Chris and Melissa are being developed in an interesting way, giving depth to their pretty random kiss from last half-season. I hope we will see some adult relationship exploration there. They both have their own issues in the past. Their spouses were idiots, and Victoria’s end was traumatic enough for Chris to have some further reservations. I look forward to seeing some of that reflected in this relationship I’m becoming more and more interested in.
Especially as it’s virtually guaranteed Chris will have some personal hell to go through when he finds out about Gerard’s involvement. I sincerely hope they won’t go with the rather obvious trope of Chris sacrificing himself to stop Gerard. He is one of my favourite characters, one of those with most depth, and I would hate to see him die. Which I do realise might sound contradictory to my previous comment about none of the main cast ever dying/suffering lasting damage. But, well. Chris would not be my first choice for that. The fact that he is on the edges of the main cast is just one of the reasons.
And speaking of lasting damage, I truly enjoyed seeing that Mason wasn’t able to just wave the dead body they found away. I very much hope this wasn’t the last we heard of his trauma, though. Because if it was just there to provide a cool episode name, I’m going to be very cross indeed.
We’re fast approaching the middle of this half-season, so I am half-excited, half-worried about what the next week will bring.
All images courtesy of MTV.
Honest Conversations and Unfortunate Insensitivity on Cloak and Dagger
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.
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.
- 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
The Expanse Wanders Among The Wreckage
The Expanse is on its penultimate week, and with an episode called “Fallen World,” showed us the aftermath of a disaster.
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.
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
Reverie Sows the Seeds of Doubt
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.
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.
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.
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.