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Troublesome Implications on the Hydrazine Trail

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The 100 Review Season 4, Episode 6 “We Will Rise”

*sigh* I was hopeful after last week. The pacing and tension had ratcheted up due to the destruction of Arkadia. Jaha and Jasper had disappeared into the background. Much to my delight given that I want to scream at them to shut up whenever they start talking.

Absurd as it was, a game of idiot ball and telepathy annoyed me more than they angered me. This week, The 100 dropped the idiot ball but picked up the implication grenades. And boy do they have an arsenal.

Nope, they’re Racist and Sexist Implication Grenades.

Content Warning: This review discusses physical beating and previous major character death, as depicted on the show.

What Happened

This episode makes up for the dearth of Jaha and Jasper last week by opening up with a scene where both survey the wreckage of Arkadia. Jasper thinks Jaha needs to cheer up and embrace his nihilistic ways instead of being hopeful for humanity’s survival. Jasper quotes Dr. Seuss (yes, that Dr. Seuss) to prove his point. Ilian is in hiding (good choice, dude), but a mob of angry Skaikru rush in to beat him to death. Kane saves Ilian with his righteous rage. And a gun (oh, Kane, never change).

In Becca’s Lab, Raven runs simulations for getting the rocket to space while Murphy weighs in with snark since she keeps failing the mission. She has another headache, but refuses Murphy’s offer to get Abby. Apparently more of Arkadia survived the ginormous explosion than expected, because Clarke has a room with her drawings of Lexa on the wall that she can stare at (awww). Behind her Niylah lays in her (their?) bed. She tells Clarke she needs to rest, but also that Lexa would be proud of her. Clarke asks Niylah to stay in Arkadia to ensure she gets the nightblood cure; Niylah agrees. They kiss, followed by:

Clarke: (ʘ‿ʘ)ノ✿ “I need to save the world; hold my flower.”

Niylah: ✿\(。-_-。) “Kick ass, baby, I got yo flower.”

Clarke & Co plan to transport the remaining hydrazine to the island to fuel Raven’s rocket. Kane wants to go, but Clarke tells him he needs to stay and lead Arkadia. Octavia wakes up in the medical ward, and she’s back to being mad at Bellamy about Lincoln. In the yard, Monty expounds upon how volatile hydrazine is to reinforce the danger of their mission. (But it still doesn’t explain how the hydrazine survived Arkadia blowing up…)

Back at Becca’s lab, Raven takes her frustration with the failed simulations out on Murphy with her fists. Luna steps in and calms Raven with deep breathing and a soothing mantra. Sick of Raven’s temper, Murphy dubs Luna the new “Raven-sitter”.

On the Hydrazine Trail, Clarke reaches out to Bellamy about Octavia needing more time to forgive him. He doesn’t feel like talking. They come upon a group of Trikru refugees, and Clarke stops to help. Because she’s Clarke and that’s why I love her. Unfortunately, a wandering Trikru child spots Azgeda in the back of the truck, so Clarke, Bellamy, & Co have to make a getaway, only to be stymied by a river that Murphy failed to tell them about (uh, sure, because that makes sense). Bellamy and Roan take the rover to find a ford while Clarke stays behind to guard the cargo with Roan’s personal guard.

Back at Becca’s lab, Luna interrupts Murphy…practicing dirty Grounder pick up lines? She gets philosophical with Murphy about his self hatred, opening up about being a natblida and killing her own brother. She believes he can find peace like she did. He’s as dismissive as we expect from Murphy. In Arkadia, Niylah helps Octavia with physical therapy, then goes to find Ilian’s guards, leaving Octavia to threaten Ilian.

On the Hydrazine Trail, Roan and Bellamy can’t get in touch with Clarke. They head back to find a dead Azgeda guard and the truck missing. Thankfully, Roan has Plot Advancing Telepathy powers this episode so he knows that Trikru stole it to get to Polis.

Back in Arkadia, Niylah gets Monty’s help to protect Ilian while Jasper drinks and some Arkadian rando talks about Ilian committing ‘hate crimes’ against the Arkadians. Jaha joins Jasper in drinking. Monty urges him to intervene, since the people listen to him (WHY? HE’S A WAR CRIMINAL), and throws shade about how Wells would be disappointed in him. He then goes to get Kane. Good job, Monty.

Back to the lab again, where Raven can’t figure out how to land the rocket in the simulation. Luna and Murphy inspire her to control crash into the water.

Roan and Bellamy get ambushed by Trikru on the Hydrazine Trail, because Bellamy refuses to listen to Roan. Roan realized his previous Plot Advancing Telepathy was wrong, and has a new vision that tells him his men took the truck. Kane and Monty lock down the medical bay in Arkadia to protect Ilian. Embracing her darkness, Octavia lets the mob in and they drag Ilian away.

Roan and Bellamy happen upon the truck carrying the hydrazine in a conveniently placed large meadow. Turns out his men betrayed him to take the hydrazine for themselves and took Clarke hostage. Roan and one of his men have a battle on top of highly volatile rocket fuel barrels without blowing them up. Somehow… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Clarke just manages to stop the truck from running into the rover. Whew.

Octavia leads the mob out into the yard at Arkadia to kill Ilian. An alarm sounds for black rain, and Kane talks her down by graphically describing Lincoln’s death and comparing Octavia to Pike, while we have to rewatch Lincoln’s death in the background (fuck you). Octavia leaves in tears; Jaha cuts Ilian loose and tells him to run, leading to the weirdest non-sequitur ever as Jaha says the name of the episode (“From the ashes we will rise”).

What even is context?

Back on the Hydrazine Trail, Clarke builds up Roan’s self esteem as king of Azgeda, then encourages Bellamy about his sister. Do either of them ask Clarke how she’s doing leading everyone through all of this or how she might be feeling? Nope. Of course not. Because Clarke exists to make the menz feel better about their lives and take shit from them if they’re feeling upset. Anyway, they reach the ocean only for Roan to discover that one of the barrels of highly volatile rocket fuel was hit with a Trikru arrow and leaked out all over the road (and presumably the truck) but without blowing up.

Back in Becca’s lab, Raven finally succeeds in the simulation (even though it tells her she failed with only 15% damage…okay), but only by using every drop of rocket fuel. Her high is soon dampened when Murphy arrives with the news that Clarke and Co. lost a barrel on the way. Raven has a seizure.

So…

Let’s get the easy things out of the way. Arkadia is a mess and not just because it blew up last episode. Actually, it’s the fact that we watched it blow up that’s the problem. Arkadia was a literal inferno last week. Fire pouring out of the main doors, smoke everywhere. We watched part of the ring crash into the main building, ffs. Opening the episode with Ilian in Arkadia, then Clarke in her bedroom was jarring, to say the least. There’s so little interruption (and zero explanation at first), that it’s almost as if the raging inferno that lasted two on-screen minutes last week never happened.

Scratch that. Monty does explain that water, heat, and lights are either out or limited. But basically the giant explosion Octavia said would ‘blow up Arkadia’ actually only caused minor damage. Just enough damage, in fact, for it not to be a viable shelter from the apocalypse. But not enough to actually inconvenience the living situation or set design. Go figure.

I just can’t with the plot holes this season.

It’s still less absurd than hydrazine’s property of Plot Convenient Volatility. This substance is so volatile you can’t jostle without it blowing up in your face (as Raven has reminded us almost every week since 4×02). Yet somehow, 10 barrels of the stuff survived the massive Arkadian explosion.

Monty’s monologue about the dangers of Clarke and Bellamy’s mission to get the fuel to Raven may heighten the tension of the episode, but sound absurd when viewed with the Arkadian explosion in the background. That inferno last week really must have been mostly light and smoke, because the show would like us to believe that a fuel so explosive that a minor bump in a moving truck would cause it to go boom survived an explosion big enough to take out a significant chunk of Arkadia (though it didn’t actually…). Wouldn’t such an explosion shake the ground significantly more than a pot hole?

That’s not to mention how inconsistently the hydrazine was treated during the transportation process. Again, Monty tells Clarke that hitting too large of a rock could cause the barrels to explode. Yet Roan and a guard have a knife fight on top of them with zero problems. At the end of the episode, Roan finds an arrow sticking out of one of the barrels. How did it not explode when the arrow hit it?

How the hydrazine leaked at all is a quandary all its own. The arrow shaft is still sticking out of the barrel, meaning it’s jammed in there pretty tight. The hydrazine ought not to be able to leak out at all, much less at a fast enough rate to empty the entire barrel. And that’s assuming it can leak upward because that arrow was several inches above the bottom of the barrel. It should not have been entirely empty. Much less empty enough for Roan to chuck it around without it going boom. And if this leaked all over the truck and ground, why did it not explode at some point?

Hydrazine must be magical, because it’s ability to be both volatile and stable when necessary for the plot is astounding.

This gif is so useful.

Frustratingly, were it not for how inconsistently the Magical McGuffin were treated, this wouldn’t be a bad plot. The pacing is really good. In fact, the pacing of the last three episodes has been right up there with some of the best episodes in S2-3. Yes, it relied a bit too much upon plot convenience and Roan’s ever-changing telepathy, but at least it wasn’t idiot ball. Bellamy was a bit of a num-nuts, but not in a way that was inconsistent with his character. He’s not always the sharpest knife in the drawer where Grounders are concerned (to put it mildly).

Anyway, I will say that I appreciate the woman loving woman vibes this episode. They haven’t completely deleted Lexa from the show, which was a concern of mine entering this season. It doesn’t make up for or erase the terrible choices made last year, but it is a good deal better than the writers pretending that Clexa never happened, as they kind of did with 3B. We actually get to see Clarke grieving her lover while still trying to save the day! Good job. Extra points for Clarke saving the picture she drew and pinning it on the wall.

Niylarke was a delightful surprise. Too much so, in my opinion. I’m going to say something that some people may not like, which is that I don’t think the show set up the renewal of this relationship at all. Last week, we had a single scene of awkward tension. Clarke seemed to want to speak to Niylah, but couldn’t bring herself to. This week, they’ve clearly just had sex. Where is the build up? Are we supposed to assume they’ve been fucking this whole time? So why was Clarke so hesitant last episode, like she had a nervous crush and not a girlfriend? And if they just renewed their relationship, why did we not get to see the build? Did the writers not think it was important to give us a scene of them deciding to renew their relationship?

That being said, I do appreciate Niylah being supportive and honoring Clarke’s love for Lexa. She’s not needy, nor does she have any illusions about where Clarke is right now. Niylah recognizes Clarke’s grief and has no expectations of her. It’s great to see Clarke’s love for Lexa being honored even as the show makes space for Clarke to find comfort (and maybe something more, eventually) with someone else she already had an established relationship with.

I can’t help but feel a level of pandering, so I’m reserving judgment. But still, it was handled well for what we got even if it came way out of the blue based on their interactions last episode. At least it’s a supportive, known, seemingly healthy relationship for where Clarke is now. Also, Niylah is one of the few characters who doesn’t consistently yell at Clarke.

Nevertheless, the lack of buildup for Niylarke reinforces my impression from last week about how all over the place the writing is this season. What seems to make sense on the surface gives way with the slightest pressure. Characters assert things, events happen, but in hindsight, you can’t quite decipher how the show got from point A to point B other than it happened off screen. Or, in the case of character motivations and behavior, we have to assume explanations not in evidence.

Worse, the plot of most of the first five episodes is basically moot at this point. I’m scratching my head trying to figure out what 2×01-2×05 added to the plot other than spacing out the season (filler), and propping up Bellamy. The past 4 episodes could have been condensed to 10 minutes of screen time to establish the nightblood cure and nothing would have changed at all. Ilian’s plot serves only to destroy Arkadia as a viable shelter and push Octavia over the edge. Neither of which would have been necessary at the start of this season given where S3 ended. Cut Ilian’s entire plot and skip straight from S3 to this episode and you lose nothing.

Bellamy’s field trips and the rotating game of ‘let’s blame Clarke’ were likewise useless other than to continue the gendered implications inherent in how the show treats male and female leaders. The only plot worth telling thus far is the nightblood one, and it could have been done in less than half of an episode. Even Octavia’s ‘assassin arc’ amounted to little more than gratuitous fanservice. And an absurd display of plot armor. Other than some ‘cool’ murders and the nightblood cure arc, what would this season have missed if it had started with this episode? Very little, I think.

In fact, Octavia’s characterization suffers because of the Polis and Arkadia arcs this season. At the end of S3, she killed Pike out of revenge and was all set to rampage on out of Polis. It’s what I expected given the tease of her ‘dark arc’ this past summer. Only when this season opened, we instead get a cool, collected, and detached Octavia acting as Roan’s fixer. All her rage, her bitterness, her barely contained control over her violent impulses against Bellamy for participating in Lincoln’s death? Gone. She literally never even says Lincoln’s name. Instead, she kills random dudes to help Roan stay on the throne, as cool as a cucumber.

She’s dark yes, but chillingly so. She was detached, rational, and deadly efficient rather than the borderline berserker we saw in the S3 finale. She could have noped right on out of Polis in her grief and rage, but she chooses to stay and keep Roan in charge? Other than the plot, Octavia has little reason to stay in Polis in the premiere.

Hell, she even talked and worked with Bellamy in Polis without all the cold shoulder and barely concealed bitterness. Whence, then, this sudden renewal of her anger about Lincoln? Don’t get me wrong, I think it actually makes more sense than her cold, assassin arc. But why now? Where was this for 5 episodes? Her cold shoulder to Bellamy in the medical bay is what I expected in the premiere, not 5 episodes later after she’s demonstrated a much more level-headed and non-grief focused arc.

The most I can say is that losing Arkadia as a chance to survive after almost dying to save people made her snap. But I have to read between the lines to see that. And it doesn’t fully explain her sudden return to being fixated on her grief over Lincoln, at least not fully. Especially after her lover’s death was all but buried beneath her “Badass Skairipa Assassin arc”.

If the show had kept an element of grief as an undertone to her assassin arc, I would be more able to accept her behavior now as still connected to the near bloodlust from last season. But the assassin arc really doesn’t fit tonally given that Lincoln hasn’t been a focus of her psychology at all this season. Thus, the time gap actually diminishes the emotive power of her grief and darkness. Her behavior makes no sense after 5 episodes without Lincoln being mentioned. We have to assume reasons behind her behavior in Polis that aren’t fully explicated on screen.

And Kane comparing Octavia to Pike? Fuck that shit. Shut up Kane. His speech made yet another false equivalency between a female character and a male villain. Pike was a grown ass man, a war criminal, and a bigoted, colonialist assshole. Octavia is a grieving teenage girl who lost the love of her life in a gruesome way and then found out she, and every one else, probably won’t survive the apocalypse. One of these things is not like the other.

First Clarke/Jaha, now Octavia/Pike. What’s worse is that Kane is equating Octavia with the man who literally murdered the love of her life (who, again, is a war criminal). AND DID WE REALLY NEED TO REWATCH LINCOLN’S DEATH. Come on. That was a triggering death for a lot of people. Even if they decided to make the ridiculous correlation between Octavia and Pike, they could have done it without replaying Lincoln’s death in the background. Killing off a submissive black male character with a gun to the head as he kneeled, in chains, in the mud was gratuitous last season. Replaying it in the background while Kane compares a grieving teenage girl to a bigoted mass murderer? Fuck you.

Speaking of fuck you: Raven. Not fuck Raven, fuck the show for how it treats her. She’s having the same arc for the third time (or is it the fourth?). I’m disgusted with how the show reduces this powerful, intelligent, strong woman of color to physical suffering and taking her anger out on others. This is bullshit. Dear The 100 writers, your drama cannot be built on the backs of women and people of color like Lincoln and Raven. In a single episode they exploited an already problematic death of a person of color (Lincoln) and submitted a woman of color to yet more physical suffering. They also made her physically violent. I’m sick of it.

I’m also sick of jackhole Murphy (who I admittedly kind of love for his honest selfishness and snark) being the white boy victim of choice for violent/villanous people of color (Raven, Pike, Jaha) and characters like the Grounders who are coded as indigenous peoples. The implications are gross, especially since it’s a pattern.

It doesn’t have to be this way! This is a show that makes a decent attempt at diversity, and has since its inception. But, it fails to understand how their diverse characters’ arcs and interactions play out in the culture of the audience. A woman of color facing repeated physical suffering and turning violent has implications. As does the gruesome death of a man of color and the exploitation of that death to turn his grieving lover into the equivalent of a villain who slaughtered hundreds of people.

I’m not saying that characters from marginalized groups cannot suffer, die, or face hardships. But ffs, at least think about the racist and sexist implications for a character like Raven suffering even more physical pain and then beating up a white male character who has already been the victim of violence from another character of color. She could have screamed at him instead, or screamed and broken something. Or, I don’t know, just gotten angry without becoming violent?

That’s not the end of the problematic gendered implications for Raven either. Raven’s arc is also really infantilizing. Murphy’s snide “Raven-sitter” remark diminishes her to her violent emotional outbursts. Though probably unintentional, such an attitude toward a female character plays into gendered tropes about the irrationality of emotional women. It’s as bad in it’s own way as Eliza Taylor begging Rothenberg not to have her take her clothes off, only to have her once again half naked on our screens. Albeit brief, the scene still violates what were Taylor’s express wishes last summer. This show really doesn’t know how to treat it’s female characters with respect despite it’s loud proclamations of how ‘strong’ they are.

One final implication grenade; I hope they cool it with the hate crime language. Having a white male talking about a character played by a person of color (Chai Hanson, who plays Ilian, is mixed race Thai/Australian) also coded as indigenous, while using the term ‘hate crime’ is…icky. Please never show an angry mob of white people trying to kill a character of color for a ‘hate crime’ he supposedly committed that wasn’t a hate crime at all. Shows don’t exist in a vacuum, even if they do occur in space.

Tonight’s Pseudo-Profound Assertion: “I don’t think she hates you for that as much as you hate yourself”.—Sorry, Luna, I’m pretty sure Raven hates Murphy more than he hates himself.

Bits & Bobs

  • Lexa count: 1 (+ pictures)
  • Lincoln count: 2 (+ gratuitous use of death scene)
  • Death count: 2 Grounders, one played by a POC
  • “If you never did you should, these things are fun and fun is good.”– Thanks for making Dr. Seuss Grimdark, Jasper. How TF does Jasper even know Dr. Seuss? And why did Dr. Seuss need to be dragged into this mess?
  • Why didn’t Raven apologize to Murphy?
  • Niylarke! (called it)
  • Wanheda seems to be a term of endearment now? That’s cool.
  • The Desert of No Survivors from S2 is still missing. At least they’re consistent?
  • I’m starting to think that Raven can only have two handlers at once. Last week was Abby/Jackson (I accidentally called him Sinclair at first…my brain was tired), this week was Murphy/Luna.
  • Wait…where is Emori? And Echo?
  • Luna x Raven …I ship it. #SeaMechanic

Working Theories

Could Be Cool: Sea Mechanic. Man, Raven is clearly my fandom bicycle for this show.

Wouldn’t Surprise Me: Raven is totally going to die, you guys.

Total Crack: Raven gets a happy ending with someone she loves and never has physical pain or suffering ever again. She dies at a ripe old age of natural causes.

Have more theories? Head on over to the forum!


Images Courtesy of The 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

The Horrifying and Fascinating Tales of Mindhunter

Corentin

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There are not nearly as many articles about Mindhunter on here as there should be, so I’m going to start. Mindhunter is a Netflix original series that came out in October. The show relates the early days of criminal study focused on serial killers, before the name was even coined. The invention of profiling, if you will. As such, a good number of characters appearing on screen are serial killer and the likes, that’s where the horror comes from. And also, where the fascination starts.

I clearly don’t have the skills to analyzes this show like it deserves. This article is more of a love letter to the show. And maybe a way to encourage people to watch it.

Mindhunter takes inspiration from the work of John E. Douglas and Robert K. Ressler, the two pioneers of criminal profiling, and by the subsequent book written by Douglas. It relates their work during the 60s on profiling individuals we now call serial killers. However, the characters appearing on the screen are originals. A fact slightly disappointing at first, but not done without reason.

No spoilers to fear here, but if you’re already interested in the premise, you can probably go check it out now.

Obligatory warnings

I wanted to dedicate a full section to this one. I feel it’s important.

Full disclaimer: Mindhunter is not a “happy feels” kind of TV shows. By its nature, the story touches on very sensitive subjects. Rape, murder, incest, more rape, disfiguring corpses, etc.

Not that the series actually shows any of that, there are very little, if any, graphic scenes. Most of the time, we’re only seeing characters sitting in a room, discussing. It can be a cell, an interrogation room, an office, a car, anything.  The horror comes from what they are discussing and how. The how being: way too calmly for how horrific it is.

This is where my fascination with the show begins and also where I can see people getting really disgusted by it. Mindhunter is the second show this year to manage stirring a feeling of uneasiness from me. The first was The Handmaid’s Tale. Without going into details, if you feel like you don’t need that right now, please skip this show. Really, it’s not a good idea. The show is unapologetic about its gruesome origins: serial murderers do horrific stuff and the story addresses all of it, if not more.

And while I’m at it. Because most of the show is dialogue, you probably already know that this is going to be a slow burn. The show doesn’t have a lot of action, or twists, or grand events. It’s mainly discussion, slow discussions, not all of them progressing the plot significantly. If that’s not what you’re looking for, it’s perfectly understandable too. Be warned.

Now that it’s said. Let’s get back to why you should watch it. I swear.

The classic subject

Serial killers have been part of pop culture for decades now. From the countless incarnations of Hannibal to entire shows dedicated to the profiling and capture of this specific kind of criminals. More recently, we’ve had series where the hero is quite literally a serial killer.

It’s easy to see why they are fascinating. Most of the time, they are shown or treated like people who are simply compelled to do violence. They can’t help it and that’s a brutal way to talk about the nature of all humanity. You’ve probably heard countless time a killer like this saying to a cop “We’re not so different, you and I. You’ve the same fire burning inside of you.” Or something similar.

Because of that, you’ll probably start Mindhunter with already a good idea of the characters you expect to see.

Mindhunter manages to grab your attention by going all out with its portrayal of the serial killer. And by that I don’t mean that they try to outdo all the other story with the gore and the rape and the murder. The serial killer portrayed are real, they existed, so it’s hard to invent. However, the show can take the time to present, sometimes in great details, what they did and how. Always through dialogues alone, of course.

As a result, and without showing anything but some people talking, the show feels more authentic. The serial killers are not romanticized, weirdly enough. What they did is told to us in horrifying simplicity. There is no long-winded description of how smart they are. How they planned everything and how meticulous they were. How hard it was to catch them. They did this horror, and now the point of the show is to understand why.

80% of the show, basically

On that note, the actual profiling and trying to understand is a good part of the show so I won’t spoil it too much. But, just like the killers, this part is treated with a realistic tone that adds a lot to how terrible the whole deal is. You can expect to hear a lot about the killers’ mother and their absent father.

What really drew me in, and what I’m expecting to work with most people, is the absence of glamour. That’s a very difficult line to follow and I might be entirely wrong on that. Mindhunter doesn’t put the killers above us mere mortals.  Yes, it pinpoints the weird fascination those people draw from us, but it also takes times to deconstruct them.

Those killers are embodiments of our horrors because they have very little care for our social construct. But they are mainly sick people, shaped partly by their family, by society, and by themselves. The show accepts that they are here to fascinate us, but it also doesn’t romanticize them.

Even the best of them all.

Ed Kemper

This character had to have his own subsection. He embodies everything good, and horrifying, about this show.

The charming beast, really

When talking about serial killers like this, if you’re going to show them, you want good actors. If not very, very good actors. The acting in the entire series is pretty much on point. But you really must admire Cameron Britton for his portrayal of Edmund Kemper. The second he enters the room for the first time and start talking, you’re in. Mindhunter only starts to truly shine there.

The camera emphasizes his size and posture, making him intimidate the characters, and you, by his sheer presence. But it’s when Ed starts talking that the show becomes fascinating. He can go from the calm, almost candid demeanor of an unsuspicious innocent, to the cold, cruel and morbid humor of a monster. He shows just how damaged he is. Then how easy it would have been for the police force to ignore him.

Maybe his performance will be too much for some. It’s sometimes a little too slow, too weird, to feel completely human. For me, it sold the show. There is this delicate balance in his acting. There is the monster completely accepting of who he is, and then there is the mask he can take whenever he wants. To make us forget what he truly is.

As the series goes along though, the fascination the viewers feel for the killers starts to get mirrored. Kemper himself slowly gains interest in one of our main character. Holden Ford.

The true point

Mindhunter would have you believe it’s a show about serial killers. It’s not. It’s a character-driven story, from start to finish. The serial killers are here to emphasize the different reactions of our main cast to this kind of horror.

Holden Ford (played by Johnathan Groff), Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) are all original characters. They are only inspired by their historic counterparts. A choice that I found weird at first. If you’re going to talk about something real, why not pay proper homage to the people responsible? But this way, Mindhunter is free to do as it pleases with these characters.

These three have different perceptions and interests in serial killers, of course. All reflections of the audience potential reactions.

The dream team

Bill Tench is a cop, working for the FBI for years. He only sees in them the criminals and cares to understand only so he can do his job better. That also mean he can go as deep with them as his young colleague is willing. There is disgust and anger for the killers. Weirdly, he’s the character less likened to the audience, since he doesn’t seem fascinated by his study. He looks into the eyes of the killers and only find fear.

Dr. Mitford, however, is fascinated by them. But more in a professional way. It was always her job to study the human mind. Those who aren’t functioning “normally” can only make her curious. It’s helped by the fact that, for obvious reasons, she can’t go near them. There is a distance kept between her and the criminals, making it difficult to see how disturbing it can become to talk with someone like Kemper. We can expect this divide between the three to grow as the study goes.

And finally, there is the “true” main character. The one introducing us to the show and who props most of the plot forward. Holden Ford is probably the closest to the viewers. His fascination for the killers and their mind goes beyond his work. Not that it is morbid either, it’s simply a curiosity that’s difficult not to understand. One that stems from his experience with disturbed people and from a real need to do better. To help.

I wouldn’t call Ford a very likeable protagonist, he can actually be a douche from time to time. Yet I hope you’ll find yourself fascinated by him and his evolution. Just as Holden finds himself captivated by the killers he meets. He’s the character most affected by those meetings, even as he tries to be the one in charge.

Quite simply, he stares into the abyss the most out of anyone. And, as always, the abyss stares back. His fascination for the macabre mirrors our own, maybe a little too much.

Holden leans forward, Bill backward. Look mom, I’m analysing.

Holden is also interesting because we don’t know a lot about him at first. The more we learn, the more curious we become. He doesn’t seem to fit perfectly into the “normal” mold we have for a hero either. I’ve already seen a few articles attempting to diagnoses him. There are different theories. I’ve seen him called a sociopath mirroring those he tries to profile. Some explain his social behavior by a form of autism.

I wouldn’t know what I’m talking about, so I don’t have an opinion on that. It doesn’t really matter. In the end, Holden is a complete character, not necessarily a nice one, that becomes slowly as fascinating as the killers he’s trying to interview. Watch closely for his evolution during season 1.

For him, and all the other characters, I’m looking forward to season 2 and their dive into the abyss.

Some more nitpicks and conclusion

Mindhunter got reviews all around so I doubt this article will convince you if nothing else did. But still, I needed to say all of that. I’ve avoided talking about David Fincher and his directing because that’s far from my specialty, but some shots will make you feel like you’re in a cinema. There is a vision in this show that you won’t find everywhere.

That’s also a source of issue with it. Sometimes Mindhunter seems so focused on its purpose that it can become obscure to someone without established knowledge on some subject. Mainly, most episodes open on short scenes depicting a famous American serial killer. Someone that apparently people immediately identified from the time frame and the place. As a European, it was hard for me to understand. Someone had to explain it to me.

In the same idea, the characters tend to drop some names as if they were common knowledge. I’m guessing people who haven’t read or seen a lot about serial killers can get a bit lost at points.

I don’t think it takes you away from the show, but it’s something to be aware of before starting.

Apart from that, Mindhunter has a very strong narrative, entirely character-driven. It captures the pop culture fascination for serial killers while forcing us to really take in the horrifying nature of their crimes. If you’re looking for something like this, please give it a try.

 

Also, as a Frenchman I’m mandatory obligated to say it. Holden Ford looks like our President. It’s very jarring. That is all. I’m sorry.


Images courtesy of Netflix

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Fun Home: Broad City Takes Us ‘House-sitting’

Sarah

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I would like to raise a toast. A champagne-with-raspberries toast to Ilana Wexler, who this week made a breakthrough in her personal development, worked through some of her own shit, and helped her friends work through theirs. This week, Ilana was the matriarch, because Ilana was house sitting for Heidi Strand, and brought her brood for a magical weekend in the Fun Home.

Heidi Strand, if you’ll recall, is the obscenely wealthy mother of Oliver Strand, the young boy Ilana occasionally babysits for and who adopted her “Yas Queen” catchphrase in one of the most iconic episodes of Broad City ever (S2E8 for those who need a refresher).

Thus was born the infamous GIF that rocked the world.

Oliver is stressed AF because of his standardized testing for babies, so Heidi is taking him in an Uber helicopter to detox in the Hamptons. As you do. It’s pretty incredible that Heidi trusts Ilana with her enormous home but here we are: she hands over the keys, and the fun begins.

First it’s just the OG pair, Abbi and Ilana. Ilana gives Abbi the tour, starting with the laundry room, which features four huge washer-dryers. They dump in all their laundry, gleefully set the knobs, and proceed to dress up in Heidi’s clothes and ascend the multi-story spiral staircase to the piéce de résistance: the Master Bath. It comes complete with every ethnicity of marble (Asian, Italian, Peurto Rican, etc.) and A BEDET.

While Ilana sits herself on the bedet and toggles through every setting via the screen on the wall beside her, orgasming a few times in the process, she manages to hold a conversation with Abbi, who is Tinder-ing. She sees her high school English teacher. Ilana convinces her that teachers are the ultimate fantasy and to definitely swipe yas, do not swipe nas. Abbi does it, and they match, so she invites him to the Fun Home and changes from one of Heidi’s gowns into some of her resort wear.

Master Bath Face™

Meanwhile, Jaime shows up with his laundry, and relays that he has gone through with the circumcision he’d been contemplating to deal with his chronic yeast infections. He therefore cannot under any circumstances get hard, lest his stitches pull out. So he heads to the laundry room and tries really hard not to be turned on by anything, which proves difficult.

The next person to show up is Lincoln, with his own laundry in tow, and right behind him is Mike Birbiglia! I legit got excited about this until I realized that it was for sure going to get creepy between him and Abbi, but we’ll get there. Ilana introduces Lincoln to Birbigs, and manages, with only a little bit of revulsion, to introduce him as her boyfriend. Good job trying out labels, Ilana! Then she takes Lincoln to the laundry room, the first stop in every Fun Home experience.

Laundry Kweens

Abbi tries to flirt with Birbigs, but can’t help but be a little weirded out. Especially when she tells him that she always thought of him “like that” and he responds that he always thought of her “like that” too. So she runs to find Ilana, who’s having the time of her life in a farting party with Lincoln, to enlist her advice. Ilana tells her that all teachers jerk off to their students, and that as a society we should be thankful for those ones, because the other ones end up in the news.

Abbi still isn’t convinced, so Ilana puts it to her this way: when was the last time she jerked off to JTT? The teenage version of JTT? Abbi realizes it was just the night before last (which, okay), and is comforted by Ilana’s assertion that all older people jerk off to teenagers and all teenagers jerk off to older people. The circle of life.

Ilana goes back to Lincoln and they lie on the master bed. They have a conversation about brunch and shared Google calendars and Lincoln starts to read the newspaper. Just then, Ilana catches a glimpse of a book on the nightstand called “Is your relationship stale?” She immediately freaks out about commitment and frantically tells Lincoln that they haven’t had sex in forever. He points out that they had sex an hour ago and he has a refractory period. They then sit across from each other at a fancy table in a Fun Home nook somewhere and decide that they’ll give it a year and then check in. No forevers. It’s cute and there are jokes about spaghetti and Doritos (see: previous fart party). I enjoyed this scene very much.

Fear Of Commitment Face™

Meanwhile, Jaime is wandering the Fun Home and seeing sex and penises literally everywhere, even in the antique map of Europe Italy looks like a penis. So he hides under the mountain of stuffed animals in Oliver’s dark room, crying and begging his penis to stay weak while he stays strong.

Unfortunately, this is the exact room Abbi and Birbigs decide to stumble into while making out, and start to role-play the teacher-student thing while lying on Oliver’s bed, unaware of a horrified Jaime just feet from them. Abbi goes along with the role-play until Birbigs pushes her face back with his hands in order to make her look 17 again. This is the last straw for both Abbi and Jaime, who tell him how gross he is and that he should leave. Jaime is actually glad, since seeing that exchange killed his impending erection.

Just as Birbigs is getting dressed and about to leave, a fire alarm goes off, and all of the Fun Home inhabitants gather on the street. One of the firefighters that comes explains that they used a dryer that was only supposed to dry silk and that’s what caused the dryer-fire. Nothing is really damaged and the motley crew are relieved, bidding farewell to Birbigs, who heads off down the street to that song from The Breakfast Club—you know the one.

Bye Birbigs

Overall, this episode was pure fun, except for the creep-factor of Mike Birbiglia, English Teacher, which…that’s not my humor. But to the credit of the Broad City team, and Abbi Jacobsen who directed this episode (her second of the season, and they’re both winners), even when this kind of storyline happens, this show keeps the ball firmly in the woman’s court. It broaches sexual tabboos while maintaining the power and autonomy of the central (female-identified, in this case) characters.

I give this episode 9.5/10 privately owned Baroque sculptures.

Until next week, kweens!


Images Courtesy of Comedy Central

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Legends Double Whammy: The Rise of Mallus and The Wonderful Helen

Matthew

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Major events happened in Legends of Tomorrow in the past two episodes, but they still handled their lighter tone quite well. This time, a double review of episodes five and six, so let’s dig in!

“Return of the Mack”

The Legends track down an anachronism in Victorian London where an actual vampire seems to be on the loose. The start out by visiting a morgue and speaking with the local coroner. As the team finds out the doctor is wearing a 2017 watch, they make the man spill the beans: he had found it in a body that had “fallen from the sky,” which he examined and then buried.

Thinking this body would be connected to the vampire situation, they go to the cemetery and end up finding Rip Hunter there, on his own journey after the vamp. It turns out he thinks this particular anachronism is related to Mallus, a powerful being whose name has been whispered throughout all of time and space. To go on this mission, Rip had to go rogue against his own foundation, the Time Bureau.

Using Nate as bait and after he gets captured easily, the mystery is solved: some cult members, which include Stein’s eccentric ancestor, are seeking to revive a secretive corpse using the blood of the great people of London and the occult powers of the Blood Moon.

The Legends put up a rescue mission, but as usual, things do go south: Nate is retrieved, but after Zari’s creepy participation in a séance hosted by one Madame Eleanor, a fight does start in the main hall. To make matters worse, the team finds out that the body that is going to be resurrected belongs to one Damien Darhk, after his death at the hands of the Green Arrow.

This leads to new conflict between Sara and Rip. Sara believes they should make a move to ‘kill Darhk for good/keep him from being resurrected,’ but Rip wants to let things go their way, at least for a little bit, in order to reach Mallus during the ceremony. Rip ends up agreeing with Sara, but goes rogue once again, locking the Legends inside the Waverider as he goes on with his plan.

As the séance involved Madame Eleanor speaking for Zari’s sister, the new team member had exited the ship beforehand so that she could ask the medium to speak with her brother again and apologize for leaving him to die after ARGUS’s attack. However, she ends up tricked by Eleanor and hands her totem, which soon she learns was a bad idea.

The main event begins as Eleanor uses her own powers and the totem’s to speak for Mallus. Rip crashes the party, but his efforts to stop this nonsense are in vain: Damien Darhk lives. Despite getting Time Bureau’s employees there to help the fight, the Darhk and Eleanor combo prove to be too powerful, and Rip comes very close to dying. The Legends arrive just in time after escaping the Waverider to save Hunter from death.

After Rip’s betrayal, Sara makes the hard-ish decision of calling in the Time Bureau to take Rip away, as the dude simply has no loyalty, going over the captain’s wishes for his own agenda. Honestly? Go, Sara. This call yields good results and, apparently, the Legends get permission to do their thing. PLUS, and I say this with a lot of excitement, we can look forward to seeing Sara and Agent Sharpe stop being catty to each other.

Meanwhile, Jax gets Ray to help him out in breaking up Firestorm. The first step was breaking the psychic connection, at least temporarily, as a trial. This process goes well, but despite Jax’s good intentions, Stein gets upset with it. However, as the episode goes by, vague things happen which propel Stein change of heart as he realizes he really wants to spend the extra time with his grandson. Therefore, he agrees to the break up without any further resistance.

“Helen Hunt”

A long take starts us in 1937 Hollywoodland where a blonde woman walks into a movie set causing all sorts of trouble because all the men are focused on her. As coincidences go, this is a big one: she enters the set of a movie portraying Troy and gets instantly cast as herself given her identity is no one less than the Helen of Troy.

At the Waverider, Ray is trying to separate Firestorm through some sort of weird science that ends up blowing up in their faces, quite literally. The result is a Freaky Friday situation in which Jax and Martin swap bodies, leading to all sorts of age jokes and funny shenanigans. As Sara puts it in a meta way, “It must be Tuesday.”

The Legends take notice of the anachronism in Hollywood as history got changed and, to get their mojo back, they decide to go forth for what would be an easy mission while they can’t solve their Damien Darhk problem quite yet. Upon arrival, they notice how this new method actor is making the rounds, prompting men to fight for her and Nate recognizes her as Helen of Troy.

Meanwhile, Martin is having the time of his life meeting his boyhood crush Hedy Lamarr, a brilliant scientist-actor of whom he is especially fond. Sara, Zari, and Amaya try to get Helen to go with them quietly, but she is reluctant due to the way she is treated in Troy, having been locked up and an excuse for war-waging among men for years. To make matters worse, as she runs away, they soon find out she is being managed by Damien Darhk. The man himself tries to achieve a parlay with Sara, telling them to go away and let him tend to his evil businesses or else he will kill all the Legends, one by one.

Sara takes her time to discuss the indecent proposal with her crew, but ultimately, they decide to fight Darhk. Sara enlists only the women to retrieve Helen this time as even the guys on the team fell victim to her “curse” of making men fight for her. They go to her current location and successfully convince her to go willingly given the Hollywood studio heads’ fights were escalating to gunpowder levels.

As they return to the ship, the electronic problems they’ve been having all day — from the comms being down to Gideon shutting down — are all a ripple effect from Helen’s one pompous day at Hollywood. It turns out that Helen’s appeal discouraged Hedy Lamarr from pursuing her dreams which not only included movies but patented technology that would eventually pave the way for the advanced technology on the ship.

Thus, the mission can’t end yet as the team still need to get Hedy back on track. As the onboard Lamarr Stan, Martin volunteers as tribute. However, Damien and Eleanor find them together and, having his proposition ignored, the fight begins.

As the legends go after Martin, Helen is left to the care of Zari and Amaya who even hands Helen a knife so she would not be defenseless. Kuasa, the “water witch” from team Darhk/team Mallus enters the Waverider and knocks Zari out (sidenote: the team is referring to Zari as Z now, and I just wanna say that it’s very, very cute). Kuasa proceeds to have a word with Amaya, and she reveals herself as Mari McCabe’s older sister and, therefore, Amaya’s granddaughter which sort of explains why she is a totem-bearer. However, before Kuasa can reveal some important plot information, Helen stabs her with her knife, and she perishes.

Back outside, Damien and Sara decide to have an oldfashioned League fight, without magic. As Sara suddenly becomes an expert assassin again (her skills come and go as the plot demands, as you are all aware) and gets ready to kill Darhk, Eleanor interferes with magic and reveals herself as Darhk’s daughter. As Eleanor readies to kill Sara, Hedy tells Martin and Jax to fuse which is something they were afraid of doing after their swap.

Fortunately, it all works out with Firestorm who is now stable and gets the best out of the Darhks, who retreat away. The crew gets back on the ship as they are now ready to leave Hollywood as the Hedy Lamarr situation has been resolved. Still, they still have Helen aboard, who is feeling miserable about having to go back to her shitty life. Her arguments get the best of Zari who, through a loophole, takes her to the same period as she went missing, but a much better place than Troy — a nice, Greek, aesthetically pleasing, and well-saturated place where only women are allowed. The episode closes with what we already knew: that place’s name is Themiscyra, which was WONDERFUL, like, hell fucking yeah, Legends of Tomorrow, you just blew my wig to the stratosphere.


Images Courtesy of The CW

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