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Before Walter White was merely a shade in Saul Goodman’s nightmares, Saul was a schlubby ambulance chaser named Jimmy M. McGill. In this exclusive photo from AMC’s upcoming series “Better Call Saul,” starring Bob Odenkirk, it’s clear that even though Jimmy wears a cheap suit and has an office in a strip mall, the man who will become Saul Goodman still cares about the details — right down to the monogram on his cheap leather briefcase.

“Better Call Saul” premieres at 10pm Sunday, February 8 on AMC. Are you excited to watch the “Breaking Bad” prequel?

Review: Syfy’s Miniseries “Ascension”

December 12th, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

In an industry where an 80 percent failure rate is pretty much the norm, every TV project is an experiment.

But a miniseries like Syfy’s “Ascension” is a grand experiment on several levels, from subject to the viewer’s interpretation. Especially this viewer’s interpretation — the first hour made me ask myself, many times, exactly what it was that I was watching. Was it supposed to look like the love child of “Mad Men” and “The Love Boat“? Did half the cast attend a workshop at the William Shatner School for Drama? Is this thing for real?

Yet I didn’t give up on the hour that Syfy made available to me, either. I saw it through to the finish and was glad for the payoff. The end of that first episode changed a number of my  initial impressions.

“Ascension” is a space adventure with a retro twist. As the story goes, President John F. Kennedy commissioned a classified military study called Project Orion, which examined the possibility of creating a gigantic vessel capable of launching into deep space and propelled by the force of detonated atomic bombs. It sounds interesting, if more than a little nutty, and apparently was never declassified.

In “Ascension’s” alternate reality the launch actually did take place, in secret, sending 350 souls on a deep space odyssey that began in 1963. The miniseries drops us into the journey more than half a century after launch, at the point of no return. The ship is populated by the children of the initial voyagers, and William Denninger (Brian Van Holt) is its Captain, with his wife Viondra Denninger (Tricia Helfer) serving as the equivalent of the ship’s first lady. Not an inaccurate description, considering the political nature of the ship’s social structure: Everyone is born into their roles. Pregnancies must be approved, marriages arranged.  This also means discontent boils beneath the surface; being a faithful spouse, for example, is less important than maintaining order and political supremacy. And the guys who do the dirty work understandably are not thrilled with their lot in life.

Ascension’s closed society works for 51 years until it has to deal with its first murder, spurring an investigation by First Officer Aaron Gault (Brandon P Bell), who has no idea of how to take on a homicide case. This is where “Ascension” gets interesting from both a performance and a storytelling perspective.  You see, the ’60s-era launch means the architecture, interiors and fashion on the ship are stylistically frozen in the mid-20th century. So, too, are Ascension’s inhabitants, to a certain degree; its society is multicultural, which is a science fiction ideal and a welcome aspect of this presentation, but perhaps not in keeping with the actual sentiment of the time period. This does not strain credulity any more than the idea that a gigantic ship propelled by nuclear explosion could launch secretly anywhere on Earth does.

But it bears pointing out because it’s obvious that other values and mannerisms on display in Ascension’s society evolved within a space that never witnessed the signing of the Civil Rights Act  or the Feminist movement, never experienced the end of the war in Vietnam or saw the Berlin Wall come down — and did not live through the cultural shifts that happened because of these historic developments.

And here’s the interesting idea within “Ascension,” one that might develop further over nights two and three, or might not.  What happens when a segment of the human population is encapsulated at a specific point in time and completely removed from a larger world? Is that a benefit, or to its detriment? At the very least, the visuals fascinate. As I stated above, some of the performances in the miniseries suffer from a pulpy flatness, which makes more sense when Gault turns to an old timey noir detective film to get tips on how to investigate a homicide. If they’re getting life instructions from old movies, it’s no wonder that the acting of everyone we see on Earth — yes, there’s an Earth-based contingent — comes across as more believable and lifelike than that of the wooden deep space folk.

Maybe this is one science-fiction fan trying to find excuses for flaws in a show that she really wants to love, and those flaws hold no deeper meaning. It could very well be that “Ascension” represents another of Syfy’s swings for the fences that ends up being a whiff. Or this three-night miniseries could ultimately be considered successful enough to launch into a fully-realized weekly drama. Like I said, it’s a tricky experiment.

Whether I’m on to something or just fooling myself,  it’ll be interesting to find out where this mission goes, and whether it sticks the landing.

Ascensionpremieres 9pm Monday, December 15, continuing at 9pm Tuesday, December 16 and 9pm Wednesday, December 17 on Syfy.

 

TV Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains detailed analysis and a recap of the “Sons of Anarchy” series finale, titled “Papa’s Goods.” If you have an aversion to spoilers, please stop reading now.

The series finale of FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” is titled, prophetically enough, “Papa’s Goods.” The war within Jax Teller grew out of more than the pull of his moral and emotional obligations to his blood family and his patch. It also raged under the weight of striving to fulfill his father’s legacy. In the final episodes, all of this fell away as Jax realized the terror wrought from his misdirected, vengeful rage and how it endangered his SAMCRO family, and his sons. The ultimate truth Jax spoke of himself was that he was not a good man, and that he thought it best if his sons Abel and Thomas grew up hating the thought of him.

Papa’s Goods” was full of portent and Biblical imagery — bread and wine, Jax becoming shadow of death as he waited on the white steps of a courthouse to execute one of his enemies. Yes, Jax swept up his messes and secured what he believed to be a temporary peace for his club, and for Charming, by turning his gun on the men as bad or worse than he was. He left the club in the hands of an honest man and made one of his last acts patching in T.O. as the club’s first African American member.

But this series finale was not flawless. It was capped off by a long, indulgent final montage of Jax’s planned suicide by cop that, in the end, turned into suicide by truck completed as he spread his wings in a Christ-like pose. Jax’s death felt like an apt one; the computer graphics-enhanced garnish on the parade of state troopers following in the wake of his serene last ride — crows, and more crows in flight! — was a bit much.

In case all of the previous symbols and portents went over our heads, “Papa’s Goods” nodded at the show’s place FX’s history: series creator Kurt Sutter, who directed the final episode, cast “The Shield’s”  Michael Chiklis  as the truck’s driver — “The Shield” being FX’s first critically-acclaimed drama, a show Sutter was involved with. One can also credit Chiklis’s morally-conflicted cop Vic Mackey as the progenitor for SAMCRO’s dark hero Jax Teller. As such… Father, into thy speeding truck’s grille I commend my spirit. Amen.

But like all good car chases, we never turned away from it. Not once. And in case all of the Christ-like visual parallels seem odd or inappropriate considering Jax’s last road trip came after a murder spree, remember that “Sons of Anarchy” is Hamlet at its soul, and the Dane’s final act was to save Denmark. Jax may have done so if only for a day or a season; this world is too violent for Charming to see a lasting peace. With “Papa’s Goods,”  Sutter has wrapped up the series ably enough to satisfy fans, if not perfectly, and well enough to make us interested to go back and start the journey over at episode one. That’ll just have to do until Sutter’s next project, “The Bastard Executioner,” is ready to ride.

Keep reading for the full blow-by-blow recap of this episode, which was submitted by IMDb user DetectiveBriscoe.

“The final episode of “Sons of Anarchy” doesn’t offer many surprises, but it isn’t trying to. Instead, loose ends are violently tied up as the themes of family and fate that have run throughout the past seven seasons come to a head. Jax Teller found his revenge for his wife’s murder, now he’s just looking for peace. But what peace can there be for a man says of himself: “I’m not a good man. I’m a criminal and a killer”?
The final episode suggests that peace can be found by proxy as Jax strives to ensure that his own sons won’t live the life of chaos that he has. And just how does a murderous outlaw ride off into the sunset? On his own terms, of course.”

****
Jax wakes up in bed with Wendy and puts on his “SO” “NS” rings. He pulls out his box of journals, throws away his bloody shoes and says goodbye to his sons. He goes to the storage locker Gemma told him about and finds his dad’s manuscript, old family photos and stacks of memorabilia about the club. He burns it all.

He heads to TM and finds more documents there, including a quitclaim deed.

Jax heads to the cemetery and says good-bye to Opie. He leaves his rings on his gravestone. Then he visits Tara’s grave and leaves his wedding ring.

At Red Woody, Jax greets T.O. and promises to let him know how it goes. Jax says “I love you” to Lila, but it sounds more like good bye.

At church, Chibs reports that Tyler has left messages for Connor, but hasn’t heard back.

Then they turn to T.O. and Jax relays that Packer said everyone was in favor of opening the Sons up to black members on a charter by charter basis. Chibs nominates Taderious Orwell Cross and it passes unanimously. They agree to make him a full patch.

They break the good news to T.O. and present him with the cut. Jax announces change is good.

Nero comes by Jax’s, desperate for information about Jax and Gemma but not sure how to ask. Wendy can tell he’s climbing the walls. He hasn’t heard from Gemma.

The Sons check in with Tyler, who finally heard from Connor. He asked Tyler to double the order. Tyler feels the streets are turning his way after the Sons helped with the assault last night, but he’s worried about August Marks getting out this afternoon. Jax assures him it’ll be fine. They make plans for the Sons to join him when Connor shows, but those plans are quickly ruined when Connor shows up early to scope things out.

Connor leads Jax, Chibs, Tig and Happy on a chase down the docks and into a warehouse of doll parts, then back out onto an access road where Connor finally gets away when a dump truck pulls in front of the bikes.

Later, Tig calls Declan.

Nero goes to TM and pounds on Unser’s trailer. Chuckie tells him Unser’s not back yet and some sheriff’s deputies were looking for Gemma. Nero goes into Unser’s trailer and finds his evidence board on Tara’s murder. Nero’s heart sinks.

Jax summons Chibs to the roof of Red Woody. “I need to tell you some things you’re not going to want to hear. I need you to listen. Trust that what I want is the best thing for me and my family, for our club,” Jax says.

He tells Chibs he came clean to Packer about Jury and they recommended a mayhem vote.

Declan brings Hugh by Red Woody. Tig tells Lila to pack up for the day.

On the roof, Chibs tries to process whatever Jax has told him. “This is how you learn to be a leader, brother, doing s— that hurts the most,” Jax says. Chibs is near tears. Jax asks for his word that he’ll do as he asked and Chibs gives it.

Tig brings the Irish up on the roof: Hugh, Declan and a soldier. Jax asks Hugh to call Connor and say he got away. Hugh finds this totally implausible. But Jax explains by waiting for Tig and Chibs to shoot Declan and the soldier. Tig takes pictures for Hugh to send to Connor to sell the story.

DA Tyne Patterson (CCH Pounder) visits Althea Jarry at the substation. Patterson asks if Jarry has any idea why Jax set up an appointment with her in the afternoon. She suggests an APB on Gemma and tells Jarry she’s doing a good job navigating streets owned by outlaws.

Hugh waits for Connor to pull up to an old workshop then disarms him when the Sons come in. Hugh suggests Connor listen.

They’re interested in his access to all the AKs he wants. Connor freezes when Declan and his guys walk in, as expected by the Sons. But then the Sons turn on them and kill all the late-arriving Irish. Jax presents their new plan for Connor: Marcus Alvarez will distribute all the guns in Northern California for Connor while his guys back in Ireland work with the Sons there. Oso is with them and explains that Connor will distribute through Stockton ports now. The Mayans will protect him from the IRA blowback.

Connor tries to process the enormous bullet he just dodged. He agrees to the plan.

“Jackson, you just killed an IRA King. There’s no coming back from that, lad,” Connor says.

“My old man tried to sever that tie 20 years ago. Better late than never,” Jax grins.

Back at TM, Nero meets up with Jax. He asks Nero to handle some business for him — Jax is giving Wendy the garage and the houses to sell and he asks Nero to take her and the kids, and leave town.

“What are you doing here, Jax?” Nero says.

“What I should have done while my wife was still alive,” Jax says.

He’s giving his piece of Diosa and Red Woody to the club, to use the profits to buy Scoops and set it up as home base.

Nero asks where Jax is going. “I’m leaving, Nero,” Jax says.

“Why?” Nero says.

“You know why,” Jax says.

Nero knows. “Gemma.”

“I’m sorry. I did what I know how to do. What Gemma knew had to be done. The lies caught up to all of us, man. I tried to hide from it, make it legit, run away from it. This is who I am, I can’t change,” Jax says. He asks Nero to promise to make sure his boys leave this place, “so they don’t become what I’ve become.”

Jax says he’s not sure where he’s going. He tells Nero to tell Wendy everything, and that she should tell his sons when the time comes. “I’m not a good man. I’m a criminal and a killer. I need my sons to grow up hating the thought of me,” he says.

Wendy arrives with the boys. She catches Nero with tears in his eyes. Jax takes Abel’s hand and tells him it’s OK to call Wendy mommy. He tells him Nero is daddy’s best friend and to listen to him. Nero tries to keep it together as he watches Jax say what only he and Jax know is his last good-bye to his children.

Jax says good bye to Wendy, telling her she’s a good mom.

Jax watches them go, then gets on his dad’s old bike.

Jarry drops by Red Woody to talk to Chibs. She tells him about the APB on Gemma and ends things with him. He tells her it’s a mistake, because cops who land on the wrong side of the club “tend to go away.”

Tig and Chibs take a moment to steel themselves before coming clean to the club and Jax’s mayhem vote.

Jax reports to Patterson’s office. He thanks her for trying to help Tara then suggests she record what he’s going to say.

He tells her everything: That the Chinese didn’t kill Tara, Gemma did and Juice killed Roosevelt to protect her. They both admitted it.

When Patterson asks where Gemma is, he says she’s with Unser and gives her his grandfather’s address.

She asks about Henry Lin, he makes her turn off the recording. He tells her that everyone who will be impacted by finding out the truth of Tara’s murder is “either informed or has moved on. By the end of the day, the violence in Oakland and Stockton will be over.”

He won’t say more. “What happens at the end of the day?” she asks again.
“The bad guys lose,” he says.

Back in church at Red Woody, Chibs tells the Sons they can’t let their hearts be louder than their reason. He chokes back tears as he calls for Jax’s mayhem vote. They solemnly vote unanimously in favor.

Jax walks into Charles Barosky’s bakery in broad daylight and, without a word, shoots him through the head in front of customers, then he leaves.

Up in Oregon, police find Unser and Gemma and start cataloguing the scene.

Jax walks behind the courthouse and sees the homeless woman he sees everywhere. He stops and smiles at her. He finally asks who she is. She hands him her blanket and says only: “It’s time.” (We zoom in on a close-up of the crust of bread she leaves behind.)

August Marks walks out of the courthouse later, right past Jax shrouded in the woman’s blanket on the courthouse steps. Jax stands up and throws off the blanket and shoots the men with Marks. Then he unloads into Marks and races off.

Jax goes to meet his club at the abandoned shop where they took out the Irish. Without saying anything, he cuts the President patch of his jacket and gives it to Chibs. Chibs gives his VP patch to Tig.

Jax hugs Chibs and puts his cut back on. He puts down his gun and says he’s ready. Tig and Happy hold Jax by each shoulder as Chibs picks up Jax’s gun and faces him.

Then Chibs lifts the gun and shoots Happy in the arm, as he apparently expected. “I’ll tell Packer you laid down some fire and got away,” Chibs says.

“I would never put this burden on you….” Jax says. They know.

“I love all of you,” Jax says.

He hugs each man, saving Tig, then Chibs, for last. He goes to bike, then tells them all: “I got this.” He rides off.

At the station, Jarry orders an APB on Jax for multiple homicide.

Jax rides to the place where his dad crashed and talks about being crippled by fear and guilt and realizing, as his father must have, that a man can’t be a good father and good outlaw at the same time. He keeps talking as a Highway Patrol car pulls up behind him, promising his boys won’t know “this life of chaos.”

“I know who you are now, and what you did. I love you, dad,” Jax says.

He gets back on his bike without his helmet as the cop orders him off the bike. Jax fires wildly past the cop, not trying to hit him, then gets on his bike and rides off.

(Final closing montage to Eddie Vedder “Come join the murder/come fly with black, will give you freedom, from the human track”.)

Nero rides peacefully in the car with Wendy, Thomas and Abel. Tig seeks comfort with his love, Venus Van Damme. Jax rides serenely with the cop chasing him as more cars join the chase. Patterson joins Jarry at Barosky’s bakery. Chibs sits alone at the head of the table, the president’s patch in his hands. Deputies load Gemma’s corpse into a body bag. In the car with Nero, Abel wears the “Son” ring from Gemma.

Out on the road, a crow flies off a freeway sign as a Papa’s Goods truck driven by Milo (Michael Chiklis) passes by. A dozen cars and motorcycle cops follow Jax down the road as crows fly overhead.

Jax sees the semi round the corner and smiles. He guns his engine, then releases his throttle. He lifts his hands into the air and aims straight for the truck. He shuts his eyes. The last word of the series is Milo realizing what’s about to happen: “Jesus!”

The camera cuts away. Crows feast on the homeless woman’s crust of bread on the side of the road as blood slowly seeps into frame.

A quote appears:

“Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt thou that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love.” — Williams Shakespeare

R.I.P.: Top TV Character Deaths of 2014

December 9th, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Death, be not proud…especially on television. When it comes to TV, death, try to have a point. Be exciting. Move us. Absent that, at least move the story along. Get us talking in a good way.

Death is a well-used plot device that can sweep through any kind of scripted series. Even “The Simpsons” has killed off characters over the years, with the latest one shuffling off his mortal coil in the 26th season premiere. But some deaths are more defensible than others…and we’ve even come to expect them.

I’m writing this a few hours before the series finale of “Sons of Anarchy,” an episode that is bound to lengthen television’s already sizable TV Characters In Memoriam list. At least 42 characters that we know of have journeyed into the mysterious beyond so far.  At least.  (For a more comprehensive list of character deaths, check out this one created by IMDb user dogdawgdogdawgdog.)

Several of them died after the creation and publication of this Year End list of the 10 most significant character deaths of the 2014, as did a few runners-up for good measure.  One of my featured runners-up (SPOILER ALERT: don’t click on that link if you don’t know to whom I’m referring) has inspired a petition urging the writers to bring the character back. Which, considering the way that person bit it, is wishful thinking of the greatest degree. Another that didn’t make onto the list may or may not be mentioned in our recap of “Revenge’s” midseason finale.

Click here to read the full list of Top TV Character Deaths of 2014. Then check out this week’s “Revenge” recap.

After that, go ahead and pour one out for our fictional homies who aren’t with us anymore.

Featured Recap: “Sons of Anarchy”

November 12th, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in FX | Sons of Anarchy - (Comments Off)

TV Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains detailed analysis and a recap of the “Sons of Anarchy” episode titled “Faith and Despondency .” If you have an aversion to spoilers, please stop reading now.

Last night’s “Sons of Anarchy” makes one recall the dramatic rule commonly referred to as Chekhov’s Gun: If you put a rifle onstage in the first act, the thing absolutely must go off at some point before the final curtain drops.

You’ve got to hand it to series creator Kurt Sutter, though. The man presented viewers with the weapon in the first season and methodically prepped it to fire over the ensuing six. Actually, one might say Sutter dumped an arsenal on the stage, topped by one gigantic doomsday weapon in the form of Gemma Teller (Katey Sagal) and her mountain of secrets and lies. Smaller explosions have been going off throughout this series, but now it’s here, that terrible, explosive bang to which “Sons of Anarchy” has been building: In spite of her elaborate, deadly attempts at obfuscating the truth, Gemma’s most evil act came tumbling out of the closet when one of her greatest loves asked an innocent question. Read our recap to find out who let the birds out the cage.

The seventh season has been fraught with soul-rending agony on top of the usual over-the-top violence — and last night’s episode had heaping helpings of the latter — but ample tenderness in the quiet moments, too. Sex and death are tightly entwined on this series, but amidst the opening montage of the guys getting lucky, we saw more of Venus Van Dam (the always wonderful Walton Goggins) and were  granted a soulful look into the relationship between her and Tig (Kim Coates). In an emotionally raw conversation, their bond achieved a new level of openness and trust. That vulnerability that was rewarding to see as SAMCRO’s journey draws closer to an end.

Keep reading for the full blow-by-blow recap of this episode, which was submitted by IMDb user DetectiveBriscoe.

“As the series hurtles towards its conclusion, tonight’s episode features all the series’ hallmarks: murder(s), sex (sex, sex and more sex) and secrets. A utensil again plays a pivotal role in the exposition as Gemma’s chickens finally start to come home to roost and we make a return visit to Moses’ torture chamber, where we learn the perfect implement for removing an eyeball (hint: a utensil), although it’s later revealed there’s more than one way to skin that particular cat.

We begin with an everybody-getting-lucky montage. Jax works through his grief by taking Winsome the hooker to bed. Gemma is distant in bed with Nero. Tig works his magic on Venus the transgender escort. Jarry and Chibs make love — in a bed this time, for a change of pace. Rat relaxes as a woman who is not Brooke rides atop him. Happy works out his issues with a nameless blond on the hood of a car. Wendy and her motorized buddy have some quiet time in bed. In prison, Juice doesn’t resist as Tully exacts his price in the prison currency of man flesh.

Back with Winsome, Jax fights off tears. Winsome offers her condolences for his wife. She gets up and starts putting her clothes on, but he asks her to stay.

The next morning at Diosa, Jax admits to Nero that he’s not sure what SAMCRO looks like without Bobby. His death has really rocked Gemma. Nero hesitates then mentions his plans to get out, selling to Alvarez. “It’s time Jax, we both know that,” Nero says.

Nero does the math when Winsome comes out of a bedroom. Jax describes her as a smart girl, who’s just a little unstable. “That’s the way we like ‘em,” Nero says.

Jax is OK with Nero selling his Diosa share to Alvarez, he’s just not ready to lose his partner. Nero tells him about his hopes that Gemma and his boys will join him sometimes.

They both note Rat seeing the blonde escort out.

August Marks has been in county for three days, but they think “today” still makes sense. It involves Rat meeting with TO and Jax reminding Rat to be careful.

When Winsome returns, she checks in with Jax. She’s enjoying her new indoor job. “I like the girls. I think some of us are going to get a place together — you know, before we all get gunned down by Chinese gangsters,” she deadpans.

Jax laughs. She considers him for a second then thanks him for being so decent to her, just the latest in a series of people to tell the murderer of many that he’s a good person.

At Venus’ place, Tig is a mess, starting his day with a bottle in his hand and mixed messages for Venus.

At Gemma’s house, Abel comes to the breakfast table with a deep scratch on his face, which he says the baby did.

At the cabin, Loutreesha has talked to the DA and hired and lawyer and is ready to go home. But Quinn and Montez don’t think it’s safe yet.

Gemma drops Abel off at school. His teacher Mrs. Harrison (Courtney Love) notices the scratch and tells him if an adult hurt him, that person would get in trouble.

Jax meets with Tully, but they don’t know why Juice is in solitary. Tully says it might take him a day or two to arrange for Juice to get near Lin, but it’ll happen. Juice is meeting with Tully’s new No. 2, a guy named Otis who’s replacing Leland. Jax is unfazed when Tully essentially lets him know what he’s doing to Juice. “He could use a little lovin’,” Jax says.

Moses summons Tyler. He questions Tyler’s loyalties to Marks given his business ties to SAMCRO and tells him he needs to find out where the Sons are keeping the pastor’s family. Tyler considers his tenuous position and suggests TO with the Grim Bastards might know. Moses insists they track him down together.

At school, Abel locks himself in the bathroom and takes the metal fork out of his lunch box, seemingly intent on hurting himself, in a subtle callback to the carving fork Gemma used to finish Tara.

Out in the country, Jax, Tig, Chibs and Happy meet Otis and his crew at house. Otis has about a dozen guys and says more are on the way.

Leland hasn’t shown up yet but a few of his guys are not happy about the shift in management to Otis. One of them addresses Tig and calls him a “tranny humper.” He uses colorful language to elaborate and Chibs tries to keep Tig cool. Otis doesn’t have a problem with it, so Tig goes to the man and asks for an apology. When one is not forthcoming, Tig shoots the man in the balls. Everyone’s guns come out. Otis orders his guys to stand down. Jax sees another of Leland’s old crew eying him and shoots him in the head. Otis makes it clear that it’s over. The ball-less man writhing on the ground says Leland is on his way to kill Eglee.

Jax races off, but not before he orders someone to finish the man. Chibs calls Rat. He’s at a bar with TO and a few of the Bastards. When they step outside, Moses and his guys grab them and Tyler tries to act surprised that TO is with a member of SAMCRO.

Meanwhile, Leland walks into the hospital where Eglee is recuperating and waits for his moment.

The Sons tear down the road, racing there.

At the hospital, Leland sneaks past security and into a room. No one is in the bed, but he hears the shower running. Unser steps out with a gun on him. He gives Leland a chance to drop his gun, but Leland fights him instead. When Leland aims, Unser has no choice but to fire.

Later, Unser tells Jarry that he got a “heads up” from his favorite source, Anonymous. Jarry is annoyed. “I think your Anonymous friends are waiting for you in the lobby,” she tells him.

Unser talks to Jax. He’s not happy about having to shoot Leland. He never killed anyone on the job. There are broader implications to be drawn from that fact as they relate to the current violent climate, but Jax chooses not to see them. Unser checks that no one else is coming for Eglee. Jax says he owes him and Leland was the end of it.

Wendy calls Chibs, who tells Jax that Child Services was called to Abel’s school.

Back in the room where Bobby spent his last few days, Rat and TO are tied to chairs. Bobby’s blood still stains the floor. When they don’t immediately talk, Moses’s guys wail on them as Tyler watches helplessly.

In prison, a guard brings Juice a package from Tully: a prison sex kit (including Emily Bronte’s love poem, to set the mood). Juice realizes he has a big problem.

Jax arrives at Abel’s school to very little information. Gemma is also there. Mrs. Harrison joins them with Abel. He has deep bloody gouges on his arm. At his teacher’s prompting, Abel says grandma did it.

Moses returns to TO and Rat with a grapefruit spoon, explaining it’s the perfect tool for taking out an eye. TO isn’t inclined to lose his eye and tells Moses about the cabin.

Back at Gemma’s, Wendy insists that she dressed Abel this morning and there were no gouges. Jax looks to his mom and Nero for answers. He doesn’t seem to believe that Gemma hurt Abel. Nero suggests it’s about Tara and wonders if Abel thinks Gemma is trying to replace her. Jax agrees they need to get Abel some help, realizing the implications if he hurt himself. In the meantime, Gemma can’t be alone with him and Jax is taking both boys to his house.

As Moses and his guys reach the cabin, Tyler joins one of Moses’ guys bringing TO and Rat water. When the goon puts down his gun, Tyler picks it up and shoots him, then frees Rat and TO.

Meanwhile, TO’s directions take Moses and his guys straight to Otis’ country house, or cabin if you will. They’re suspicious when they don’t see any bikes outside, but a dozen guys with semi-automatic weapons get out to check. The house looks quiet. They check it and find it empty. Then they hear a phone ringing inside the camper out back. The dozen dudes converge on it with their guns drawn.

When they open the door, the camper blows and Aryan brothers pour out of the nearby woods. Jax, Tig, Happy and Chibs bust out of the storm cellar and join the massacre. Jax is careful to only shoot Moses in the knee. When everyone else is down, Jax grabs Moses and digs out his eye with his bare hands – no grapefruit spoon needed. Chibs performs the next act of torture in retribution for Bobby, sawing off Moses’ fingers.

With his eyeball hanging from a bloody cord halfway down his face, Moses manages to get up on his knees before Jax shoots him through the head, ending it.

Later that night, Jax thanks Otis for his help. Otis is happy to help dispose of the black bodies for the cause and appreciates that someone took out Leland.

Tyler drives up with Rat and TO. Rat wasn’t part of the plan, but was happy to go along. Jax is proud of him. Happy shows Rat one of Moses’s fingers. He’s keeping it as a trophy. They all celebrate their win.

Up at the actual cabin, Montez and Quinn break the news to Loutreesha and Grant that August’s hit squad has been dealt with. They get to go home, at least until August is released on bail.

In the hospital, Unser sits with Eglee.

In the prison, Juice snorts the drugs provided by Tully to prepare for their alone time. Tully reads him Bronte.

After the slaughter, Chibs returns to Jarry, who is full of angst and regrets after the foiled attack on Eglee. She looks to Chibs for convincing that she’s not crazy to be with him. He tells her he likes her, the sex is great and when she’s not all caught up in her head, she’s a lot of fun, but he won’t make up her mind for her. She stops him from leaving and shoves him. He shoves her back. She hits him, he hits her back. They tear each other’s clothes off.

Late at night, Tig comes home to Venus, who is sitting alone in the dark. She thinks that Tig is with her to prove that he’s a man who dances with the freaks. Through tears, she says she’s afraid she’s fallen in love with him.

Tig doesn’t know what to say. Venus explains she’s happy with herself as a man who knows she’s a woman. She wants to put some distance between them.

Tig tells her she’s right about him and gets the full unvarnished version of him and knows all his secrets, like no one has. To love him in spite of all that is something he’s never had. He wants to be as comfortable as Venus is and go places with her and not care what people think. They end up in each other’s arms.
Nero comes home to Gemma’s house to see Brooke patching up Rat. Gemma’s smoking furiously in her room. She asks Nero when he’s heading to his ranch and then offers to go with him. He’s thrilled. She’s near tears. “I don’t know why you’re still here, why you still love me,” she says. “I don’t know who I am anymore.”

At Jax’s place, Abel gets out of bed late and crawls into his dad’s lap across from Wendy. Jax takes the moment to try to talk to Abel seriously and gently tells him Wendy is his birth mother and they used to be married. He explains Wendy is there now to help take care of him now that he needs a mommy. “No matter what happens, you’re always going to have a daddy and a mommy that are going to do their best for you,” he says. Abel kisses them both good night.

Wendy is overwhelmed and hugs Jax and thanks him.

Jax goes to tuck Abel in. Abel has a question. “Is Wendy my first mommy because I came out of her tummy? Is that why Grandma killed my other mommy, so my first mommy could be here with me?” — DetectiveBriscoe

 

 

Featured Recap: “Gotham”

November 11th, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in Fox | Gotham - (Comments Off)

TV Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains detailed analysis and a recap of the “Gotham” episode titled “The Mask.” If you have an aversion to spoilers, please stop reading now.

You remember the first rule of Fight Club, right? You don’t talk about Fight Club.

The second rule of Fight Club, “Gotham“-style, is… you’ll have to read the recap to find that out. First, though, a few observations about the show as it stands now.

“Gotham” is primarily about James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and his struggle to keep his moral compass from being overtaken by the magnetic pull of his city’s corruption. This requires Herculean effort, particularly considering that Gordon is partnered with Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), a “go along to get along” dirty cop.  Gordon and Bullock’s cases of the week move the plot along well enough, although some give us more filler than beef.  But “Gotham’s” main strength at this point in the first season is in its character development: Jada Pinkett Smith‘s Fish Mooney grows more appealing with each episode, but a more significant tip of the hat should go to Robin Lord Taylor, who has done what I previously believed to be impossible in making The Penguin into a believably frightening villain.

The drama’s key subplot, the molecular-level origin tale of the boy who will be Batman, is doing a decent job of slowly setting the groundwork for young Bruce, played by David Mazouz, to begin his heroic evolution. In “The Mask” we saw Bruce realize that his demon is anger, as James Gordon gave his version of the demon a workout — literally — to help put a case to bed.  Ultimately we know that Bruce channels his rage into a force for justice, just as we know Gotham will eventually crumble to the point that the city will need Bruce Wayne more than its hamstrung police force.

Before that call comes, Master Bruce must learn how to fight.

To get all of the details about this episode as submitted by IMDb user brayvalentine, keep reading.

“For reasons that will become clear later, a man is roaming an abandoned and trashed office space. He encounters another man and the pair fight, ultimately to the death, using various office supplies as weapons. The victor raises his hands towards a camera in the ceiling where someone is watching on a screen.

The next morning the dead man is found far from the scene. They notice ink and paint on the man’s clothes, which peg the guy as probably working in finance. They decide to canvas the area and Nygma asks if he should run prints. He asks if he wants to run them all, including the thumb he finds in the dead man’s mouth.

The Penguin encounters a wealthy woman on the street and steals her brooch, saying a friend he has would love it.

The Penguin presents the brooch to Fish when they have a sitdown. He hopes they can be friends. Maroni wants to clarify terms and he sent Penguin which burns Fish up. She says he has his businesses- drugs, the unions– will continue to pay tariffs on the ports, Arkham is still split 50/50 and if he needs favors from the mayor or the cops he has to ask Falcone. Penguin says there is to be no blood spilled, not a drop. Fish says, maybe a drop. She tells her right hand man Timothy that Penguin used to have his job. Penguin says things change. She opens his gift, extracts the letter opener from the brooch and promptly stabs Penguin in the hand with it. She tells him he betrayed her and when she orders people dead, she wants them to stay dead. She tells him to watch his back, since things do in fact change, and that he should pray for Falcone’s good health. Penguin says he does.

At the precinct Jim speaks to the victim’s mother, who said he worked in a coffee shop but was trying to break into finance.

While Gordon talks to her, Harvey and the captain talk about how angry Gordon is since all the cops ran out on him, and how they treat him like crap now because seeing him makes them know what cowards they are. The Captain says Gordon is lucky to have Harvey.

Penguin re-gifts the brooch to his bat-guano crazy mother, who notices his hurt hand. He says his enemies are jealous. She tells a story of a mean girl in school who she ratted out to the secret police. She notes that everyone has secrets. This gives the Penguin an idea.

Gordon and Bullock go to see a black market doctor who specializes in helping criminals. He admits a guy who had his thumb chomped off did come to see him that morning, and he dropped a business card of a financial firm that fell out of the guy’s pocket. Gordon brings in the doctor over Harvey’s objections.

When they bring him in, other cops voice their objections since this doctor is a good confidential informant for them. Harvey tries to persuade Jim to let him go, noting he was there for him with Falcone and he has to go along to get along, and that Harvey is on his side. Jim still says no, and the doctor stays locked up. Jim reiterates his dedication to cleaning up the city and the department at all costs.

Jim comes home to a drunk Barbara wielding his gun. She is clearly on edge since the run in with Victor Zaz and Falcone. He admonishes her for handling a gun while drunk and tries to reassure her that things will be okay.

A man in a mask at the abandoned office space approaches three men in cages. One asks when they will get out. The man says that is up to them.

The next morning Barbara apologizes to Jim about last night as he is taking his extra gun. She says it was just nerves and to leave the gun. He puts it back in the box and locks it up, and gives her the key. He says he wishes it wasn’t like this. “Do you really?” she asks, and then immediately takes it back and tells him to go and catch some bad guys.

Nygma is conducting his own unauthorized autopsy on the dead guy. He seems to have hit on something when the coroner enters and angrily shoos him out. It’s clearly not the first time he’s done this.

Liza meets Fish at confession and says she hasn’t learned anything interesting from Falcone. She cooks, cleans, and sings for him and they go on walks. Fish instructs her to drug Falcone and get a copy of the last two pages of a ledger in his office drawer. She wonders if the drug will kill him. Fish says no, but is worried Liza has caught feelings for Falcone. She says she hasn’t. Fish says she doesn’t want to kill him yet, just siphon his power. Liza wonders what happens if one of Falcone’s men catches her. Fish notes she will probably be dead then.

Gordon and Harvey go to the office on the card and see that many of the workers are bruised and injured. They meet the boss, Richard Sionis, whose office is littered with swords, masks, and other artifacts of war. Jim can tell he’s responsible for what’s going on. Richard tells him to prove it. They ask about the memorabilia. Sionis says business is war. Gordon says no, war is war. Sionis can tell that Gordon was in a war and really killed people, and says he must miss the battlefield. They don’t have anything on him so they have to leave. As they do, Jim notices a trail of blood going into the bathroom and bumps into the one-thumbed guy. They tussle, the man is only knocked out when Bullock opens the door into the guy’s head.

The Penguin kidnaps Fish’s right hand man Timothy and squeezes him for Fish’s secrets. He finally spills that he overheard that Fish has someone close to Falcone. He doesn’t know who. Penguin has one of his guys kill him, telling him the body can’t be found.

The guy flips on Sionis and says when people apply for a job at the firm the top three are brought to the abandoned office and told to fight and the last man standing gets the job. (He is clearly breaking the first rule of fight club.) Nygma says four more people were killed with office supplies in the last few years. Then the man’s lawyer shows up before they can get him to sign a statement so they need to figure out where the fights are being staged.

The Captain is freaked out and wonders what has happened to Gotham. He says the turning point into chaos was the Wayne murder, since they represented something decent and hopeful. The Captain apologizes for not staying with Jim when Zaz showed up.

Harvey gets a list of properties owned by Sionis and they split the list to start looking. Harvey says Sionis has Jim’s number, that there is a demon in him, that he likes to fight. Barbara calls to check in and Jim basically hangs up on her.

Liza makes the tea for Falcone and puts in the drug. She goes to Fish’s and hands over the copied ledger pages while an older black woman sings onstage. Liza says she wants out. Fish says that’s not possible. Liza wonders what Fish’s beef is since she is rich and powerful. She wonders why she is bothering. Fish spins a yarn in which as a poor child she would often hear her prostitute mother entertain men on the other side of a curtain in their small apartment. One night, one of Falcone’s men killed her. Fish stayed silent the whole night, two feet from her dead mother. She vowed to never let herself be powerless again or let any man be over her. Liza is duly moved by this story. Later, the older black woman comes to sit by Fish at the bar and says she overheard her “telling stories.” Clearly, Fish was lying and this woman is her mother. Fish shrugs and says a lie with a heart of truth is a powerful thing.

Jim finds the office and is promptly tasered by Sionis. He wakes up to hear Sionis telling the three others that instead of killing each other, their task is to kill Gordon. Gordon tries to persuade them to stand down since he’s a cop. Sionis throws in a million dollar signing bonus. Gordon knows his goose is cooked. Except, of course, it’s not — because he’s Jim Gordon. He takes on all three men and more or less handily dispatches them, while a crowd of people in another location watch the brawl on camera.

When Harvey hasn’t heard back from Jim, he starts to get worried. He asks the other cops to help him look into the addresses that were on Jim’s half of the list since he might be in trouble. He gets no takers. Bullock makes an impassioned speech to the precinct house, saying he knows that Gordon can be an asshat but he is still a cop and not one of them stood up when he needed it the first time and he won’t let that happen again. The captain steps up as do several others.

Not that it matters, because Jim has taken care of the three men by himself — and Sionis to boot when he attacks him. Jim gets the upper hand and is poised above Sionis with his sword but simply drops it. The Captain shows up, gun drawn, and just as Sionis is about to attack from behind, Jim turns and decks him. She is impressed. He thanks her for showing up.

Meanwhile, while all of this has been going on, Alfred has forced Bruce to go back to school where he is promptly pitied by the cute girls and bullied by the awful boys. When one of the boys goes too far and makes a disrespectful comment about Bruce’s mother, Bruce slaps him. The bully, Tommy Elliott, and his friends, retaliate. When Bruce emerges roughed up, Alfred isn’t having it. He gives Bruce his father’s watch and drives Bruce to the bully’s house, where Bruce unleashes a can of whup ass on him, using the watch to serve as brass knuckles. The rich brat Tommy complains to Alfred that Bruce tried to kill him. Alfred agrees, adding that Tommy should take note that Alfred did not try to stop Bruce. Later, Bruce tells Alfred that he is just so angry all the time, and asks Alfred if he can teach him how to fight. Alfred says he sure can.

At the precinct house Jim thanks Harvey for having his back and says he’s wrong, it’s not that he loves fighting but he’s not afraid to. And if they don’t, who will? He says he won’t stop until he has the mayor, Falcone, and all the dirty cops. As Jim is finally leaving for the day, the case closed, he calls Barbara and tells her he’s coming home and he loves her. We see her ignore the call and wheel a suitcase out the door, and a note addressed to Jim on the table.

After getting busted for shoplifting, Selina summons Gordon.”

Featured Recap: “Sleepy Hollow”

November 11th, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in Fox | Sleepy Hollow - (Comments Off)

TV Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains detailed analysis and a recap of the second season “Sleepy Hollow” episode titled “Heartless.” If you have an aversion to spoilers, please stop reading now.

Imperfect though it may be, Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow” remains one of my favorite TV series. I loved it when it premiered last year, and I still mostly enjoy it now. Mostly.

Like so many genre tales to which devoted viewers give their hearts, the second season adventures of Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) have had their share of sophomore stumbles. Even so, its central tale of a well-known historical character ripped out his era and resurrected in ours to battle the Apocalypse, partnered with a driven, principled detective, hasn’t gone off the rails to the point that I’ve fired it from my DVR.

“Sleepy’s” slip-ups are for the most part connected to characters and relationships that remain appealing. The duo Internet fans have dubbed Ichabbie still has my heart, and the conversations in which Abbie aids Ichabod in grappling with the mannerisms and innovations of the modern era are still hilarious. (I burst out laughing during last night’s episode when, as Abbie explained what getting lucky meant, Ichabod, at the moment of comprehension, says, “Ah! Macking! He was macking on a lady!”)

John Noble is a welcome addition to the cast as Henry, the formerly long-lost son of Ichabod and his wife Katrina (Katia Winter) and the  Horseman of the Apocalypse known as War.  That said, it would be great if Katrina and Ichabod stopped wrestling with the question of whether Henry has any good left in him; their emotional turmoil over that issue clearly has its place in the resolution of this story arc, but the push-pull of it all is becoming tiresome. So is the manufactured strain between Abbie and Katrina — which, thankfully, reached a place of detente in this week’s episode, “Heartless.”

Other more recent developments don’t quite make sense to me, including Katrina’s final strategic decision at the end of the episode. Honestly…why?

To see what I’m talking about, read the featured recap of the episode, submitted by IMDb user DetectiveBriscoe.

“Reunited with Ichabod, Katrina tries to give him room to trust her again. They’re interrupted by Abbie trying to track down Henry after a week of not hearing from him.

In his lair, Henry takes a human heart out of a clay pot and recites a chant to bring it to life. It starts beating an a gorgeous naked woman appears in front of him. Henry tells her it’s time to get to work.

In a club throbbing with music, a shy nerdy young man tries to get up the nerve to talk to a girl. Henry’s girl assesses him and quickly morphs into a librarian type then approaches him. Cut to them making out in a car and the guy stops to ask her name. Then she reveals herself as a firey red demon and sucks the soul right out of him.

Later, Abbie and Ichabod arrive on the scene. Crane is familiar with private dancing societies and coyly boasts that he and Katrina even did a Viennese Waltz a time or two. They see the body in the car, which looks deflated and desiccated, definitely the work of Henry. Abbie again questions Crane’s faith in Henry.

Back at his estate, Henry mirror-conferences with a very angry Abraham, who wants Katrina back. Henry relays that Moloch has forbidden Abraham from going after her. They have a new plan. The succubus arrives and expels the man’s soul into a glass jar for Henry.

In the archives, Abbie and Crane try to identify the creatures. Katrina sees the crime scene photos and notes that the puncture wounds are over a life force area and certain creatures target certain areas. Suddenly she has a flashback to a screaming baby in a crib. Crane worries over her. She asks for quince tea. When Abbie explains that doesn’t really exist, Katrina mentions that Abraham brought her some.

Abbie tries to make plans with Crane, but he’s distracted escorting Katrina out to get her home.

In a diner, a man tries to talk to his girlfriend’s friend, mentioning that she’s always hanging around him and imply she has a crush on him. Becky gets flustered and runs out. In the parking lot, the creature appears, dressed like Becky’s crush. She approaches and sweet talks her, then steals her soul.

Abbie calls Crane after getting the call. He thinks he’s narrowed down the creatures but Abbie wants to consult and expert.

At the bar, Abbie meets up with Hawley. He tries to talk her into a date but she shows him the crime scene photos. He doesn’t know anything that would desiccate the victim’s corpses like the creature did. After Abbie turns him down again he sees a hot chick at the end of the bar and excuses himself to salvage his evening.

Back at the cabin, Abbie is relaying Hawley’s distraction to Crane when she realizes the first victim was found in the back of a car, where he would be if he thought he was going to get lucky. Katrina joins them and they piece together that they’re dealing with a succubus. Katrina explains that they’re drawn to secret desires and can mimic the things people want.

At the bar, the succubus sits down with Hawley and buys him a drink.

In the cabin, Katrina recites a spell to try to track the succubus. She drips wax on a map and it encircles the harbor. Abbie recognizes the location.

Cut to Hawley returning to his boat with the succubus.

Later, Abbie and Crane race up to the dock and hear Hawley struggling with her. She’s in full demon mode , with red skin and horns (and a black teddy). Crane tries to knock her out with a nearby pole while Hawley grabs a crystal from his pocket and presses it into her skin. It burns her, but she starts sucking his soul anyway.

Abbie joins them and fires. Her bullets don’t hurt the creature, but they do scare her away.

While Abbie goes to call Katrina, Crane tells a wobbly Hawley that that the creature is drawn to those with secret desires. Then Crane sees the way Hawley is looking at Abbie. Hawley tries to play it off. Abbie reports that Katrina’s magic can’t track the succubus where ever she went.

In the car on the way back, Crane talks to Abbie about adjusting to new life with Katrina. He then awkwardly segues into saying he wouldn’t have a problem with Abbie pursuing a social relationship with Hawley. She claims not to have time for such a complication.

Back at the cabin, Crane wakes Karina up from a nightmare. She was seeing a crying baby in a cradle and Henry standing over it. She tells him it’s like a part of her is elsewhere and can’t let go.

Abbie joins them, reporting that succubi usually feed monthly. They wonder why she’s gorging. Katrina has a vision of the succubus over the cradle with Henry and his soul jar. When she describes Frederick’s Manor covered in vines, they tell her she’s seeing the present. Katrina tries to focus her vision and sees the contents of the soul jar being poured onto a writhing green slimy demon baby. She recognizes it as the one that was inside her — Moloch.

Henry summoned the succubus to complete the process that began inside Katrina. Abbie and Katrina start fighting over whether Henry can be saved and Crane has to intervene.

Back at the archives, they hit the books. Abbie finds a description of the succubus by the name Incordata. Crane finds a reference saying the Incordata’s heart is stored separately and she can be killed if her heart is destroyed. In the first century a roman priest defeated the first Incordata and gave the remains of the heart to the Emperor Claudius who immortalized the priest as St. Valentine, hence the custom of giving hearts on Valentine’s Day.

Katrina says the heart would have to be on consecrated ground or cemetery. Abbie pulls up Henry’s search history and finds he recently bought a plot at a cemetery. Crane suggests Abbie go with Katrina to protect her and Katrina notices Abbie rolling her eyes. She points out Crane doesn’t know what the succubus looks like, but Hawley does.

Cut to Hawley and Crane going into the club, where they plan to wait until Katrina and Abbie destroy the heart. Hawley gives Crane a mystical knife. Crane asks Hawley what his intentions are with Abbie. Hawley brushes him off, but then checks to see if Abbie asked about him. Meanwhile, the succubus enters the club and looks for her next target.

At the cemetery, Abbie and Katrina search for the heart. Katrina tries to talk to Abbie, who admits she thinks Katrina has been condescending. Katrina explains that so much of what she thought she knew is slipping away, so she holds onto what she believes in her heart is true. Abbie thinks that there are things that even a mother’s love can’t overcome, as in the case of her own mother.

They notice a hex over a crypt.

Hawley tries to remember what te succubus looks like, but says she’s more of a feeling. Then he spots her. She disappears and Crane and Hawley split up to follow her.

Crane follows her downstairs and into a storage room. Once he’s inside, she locks the door behind him.

In the crypt, Katrina finds the heart jar. When they take the lid off, Abbie sees maggot and Katrina sees rats, due to a perception spell to prey on individual fears. Abbie screws up her courage and sticks her hand into the jar. She pulls out the heart.

In the storage room, the succubus is dressed as Katrina and speaking in her accent. She tells Crane she can sense his desire and also his doubt.

Katrina begins her spell to destroy the heart. Abbie calls Hawley, who tells her he lost Crane.

In the storage room, the succubus approaches Crane and starts to make a move on him. He stabs her. Katrina isn’t finished with her spell and is thrown backward. Abbie notices the heart is still beating. The succubus is unharmed. She’s sucking out Crane’s soul when Hawley comes in and attacks.

Abbie picks up Katrina spell book and starts reading. The heart starts to smolder and finally bursts into flames, charring black.

The succubus attacks Hawley and he’s trying to fight her off when Crane reaches for the knife and drives it into her back. When she turns and charges him, Crane shoots her with Hawley’s revolver.

Abbie helps Katrina out of the crypt after getting knocked to her feet by the protection spell. Abbie tells her that Crane is right, that they are stronger with Katrina’s help.

Katrina knows Henry will try again. Abbie thinks that means she’s agreeing that Henry must be stopped, but Katrina says it means she has to destroy Moloch. She can sense his growing power, but he’s still vulnerable. She thinks she can convince Abraham to take her back, saying that Crane has moved on. She knows Crane will never let her do it, which is why she wants Abbie to tell him.

Back at the cabin, Abbie finds Hawley bandaging himself from the wounds from the succubus. She gives him what’s left of the charred heart for him to sell.

“Thanks. It’s not every day a girl just gives me her heart,” he says.

“I might have to punch you in the throat now,” she says.

Crane joins them and Abbie breaks the news about Katrina to him. He thinks it’s a bold move, but could pay off. He says Abbie was right about letting relationships evolve. He describes Katrina as the love of his life who is also a skilled operative.

Katrina returns Abraham, who goes to Henry to make the case for letting her stay. Standing over the crib in Frederick’s Manor, Henry agrees quickly and checks that she’s wearing her necklace. Henry lets her in to see Moloch in the crib. With the necklace on, Katrina doesn’t see the slimy green demon lord baby, but a cuddly cute baby boy.” –  DetectiveBriscoe

IMDbTV Pick: HBO’s Olive Kitteridge

October 30th, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in HBO - (Comments Off)

While a person probably would not want to spend much time with a real-life version of Olive Kitteridge, a woman who sums up the state of her supposedly golden years by declaring that she’s just waiting for her dog to die so she can shoot herself, visiting her over the course of four hours in HBO’s superb miniseries “Olive Kitteridge” is a moving, unforgettable experience. This is particularly true if you’re in the habit of keeping track of award contenders; it’s nearly a guarantee that the dour and plainspoken Olive will have a heavy presence in upcoming awards shows.

Olive Kitteridge (Frances McDormand) is a stubborn woman, intolerant of impoliteness and bad behavior in children. She observes the goings-on in her New England town with the air of self-imposed exile; at times, she appears to be downright spiteful. But her husband Henry (Richard Jenkins) balances out his wife’s moodiness by overflowing with patience and a generosity that, in turn, magnifies the truth of Olive. She is, in fact, a deeply sensitive and caring soul masking her shriveled aspirations and broken heart with a permanent scowl.

Elizabeth Strout’s stunning Pulitzer Prize winning novel spun thirteen different narratives into one story, an ambitious feat by itself. But she also wove these tales through an initially unlikable character’s life, raising our estimation of Olive in the process. That’s a level of storytelling mastery that tough to replicate on the screen. Fortunately HBO and McDormand, who optioned the novel for the screen, made a terrific choice in director Lisa Cholodenko .

Cholodenko specializes in bringing uniquely complex character studies to life, as if opening tight shutter slats to allow the audience a peek into the minds and hearts of difficult souls. Her rendering of Strout’s creation is spare and unblinking, and as perfect as McDormand’s nuanced, tender portrayal of Olive. An eleventh-hour storyline featuring Bill Murray gives him the chance to flex his singular ability infuse deep pathos with light comedy, but watching McDormand and Jenkins together will break your heart, and mend it, over and over again.

Olive Kitteridge  airs over two nights, 9pm Sunday, November 2 and 9pm Monday, November 3, on HBO.

One of my all-time favorite films is Tod Browning’s Freaks.  I watched it for the first time when I was around 15 or 16 years old, and it has remained part of my annual Halloween movie viewing menu ever since. My love affair for the 1932 classic was born out of equal parts pubescent artsy pretentiousness and a burgeoning fascination with outsiders. But I also loved the soul of its simple story, in which a vain trapeze artist schemes to marry a rich little person only to get at his fortune. In a kingdom full of characters whose appearance made them oddities, the real monster was the beauty queen. What nerdy kid wouldn’t cherish such a validating tale?

That theme seems to be woven into FX’s “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” based on what the cast is revealing about the series in an exclusive behind-the-scenes featurette shared with IMDb. We can also glean that from Jessica Lange’s presence; the actress is starring in “American Horror Story” one last time as the woman running the show. And once again, Lange sports the best wardrobe. (Has she ever played the nice lady in this anthology series? Nope.)  This being “American Horror Story,” the politics of the side show, set in 1950s-era Jupiter, Fla.,  is likely but a sliver of the plot. As castmember Denis O’Hare explains in the video, “The 1950s were such a period of behind-the-stage and in-front-of-the-stage, what people thought was normal behavior, and what was actually happening. And so, to have that be the period really is great with possibilities.”

So many reasons to get excited about “Freak Show”! There’s the wonderful Michael Chiklis has joined the cast as the strong man — and apparently, all he wants to do is love Angela Bassett‘s three-breasted woman — socially unacceptable, and not because she has extra assets.

The return of O’Hare, as well as Frances Conroy, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Gabourey Sidibe, Jamie Brewer, and Emma Roberts means the band is pretty much back together, and that’s a very good thing. In terms of continuity and story structure, the “Coven” season was a mess — but this is a cast that works so well together that one couldn’t help but return each week just to enjoy the sparky dialogue. My highest level of expectation leans on the shoulders Sarah Paulson, playing the dual roles of Bette Tattler and Dot Tattler, two distinct women with separate heads but sharing one body. If she can pull off this performance, she had better get an Emmy nomination. Honestly, what does that woman have to do to take home some hardware?

American Horror Story: Freak Show” premieres 10pm Wednesday, October 8. Click here to view the latest featurette.

 

Taking Aim on “Arrow’s” Third Season

September 29th, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in IMDbPicks | The CW - (Comments Off)

All successful genre series are build on a strong foundation of deep character development and credible mythology. When a show does those things well and manages to survive its first two years, then everyone involved in making it can relax — theoretically — into a more adventurous third season.

The wise ones only relax a little, though. While a third season renewal usually indicates a certain level of confidence on the network’s part, it also means that the creative stakes are higher than ever. One imagines a sort of freedom in that; writers can swing for the fences by expanding into ever more complex storylines and stickier moral challenges. Consider that the third season of “Buffy” gave us Faith, the dark side of the Slayer personified. The third season of “Battlestar Galactica” explored humanity’s occupation on New Caprica. Season three of “The Walking Dead” introduced us to the prison, Woodbury and The Governor.

All signs point to The CW’s “Arrow” following a similar trajectory, thanks to the thoughtful stewardship of the Green Arrow’s origin story by executive producers Greg Berlanti,  Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg. They, and the rest of “Arrow’s” writers, have molded Oliver Queen into a believably human figure, albeit one with outstanding aim, near-superhuman fighting abilities and the kind of athleticism extreme sport champions would sell their souls to have. That’s all wonderful, and Heaven knows many a viewer drools during scenes that require star Stephen Amell (and his similarly sculpted co-stars David Ramsey, Manu Bennett and Colton Haynes) to go shirtless. But if “Arrow” relied on the eye candy of this world, allowing its characters to be rendered in the 2-D heightened emotional style of a comic book, we would be talking about what it might have been as opposed to musing upon what it is becoming.

Oliver is a tortured man — no shortage of those in the world of superheroes. He bleeds, he sweats, he is fallible. But he also learns from his mistakes in a way that the average soul watching at home can relate to.  That bears pointing out in a fall television season that will have three comic book-related titles on the schedule before Christmas (“Gotham” has already premiered, with “The Flash” and “Constantine” making their debuts during October) and another, “Marvel’s Agent Carter,” due in midseason. So many great options for superhero fans, and so many opportunities for the TV renderings of these characters to go wrong. Already I’m noticing evidence of directors nudging their actors to color their performances like the fantastical characters inked onto pages, tinging their dialogue with campy lilts that belong in quote bubbles.

Wrong.  Stop.

Take a page from “Arrow’s” playbook instead. Amell’s Oliver plays the arrogant rich boy as his mask, but there was an arrogance to his vigilante mission as well… until that quality lost him almost everything, Starling City included. Amell played out that struggle superbly in season two, which wouldn’t matter a bit if his co-stars Ramsey, Katie Cassidy, Emily Bett Rickards and Paul Blackthorne did match his even-keeled performance with their own. They make a world where villains in masks and thugs hopped up on a mystical drug from an island can terrorize the streets seem absolutely plausible. Why? Because although they’re in fictional Starling City, everyone acts as if they’re in any other real world urban environment… as if Starling City were just a short train ride away from, say, Boston.

Again, this is the foundation and the ground floor. In the story Guggenheim and Berlanti have been constructing, Oliver is still navigating the fallout from his failure to stop Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) in season one, and the near destruction of his city in season two at the hands of his former ally Slade Wilson (Bennett). Without spoiling the story for viewers who still haven’t watched “Arrow”, circumstances have forced Oliver to grow up and accept his family’s mantle as the head of Queen Consolidated, while his alter ego The Hood has established himself as the force of good holding Starling City together.

Oliver also may be looking to ditch his playboy image, if what Amell told reporters in July is true. “Oliver has one woman this year. That woman is Felicity,” he said, giving hope to ‘shippers everywhere who are rooting for the rich boy to finally give his heart to the very able but meek, bespectacled tech nerd on his team. Don’t get your hopes up too much — our understanding is most of what happens involves tying up loose ends from the season two finale. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll end up being together. “We talk about some pretty important stuff in the premiere, and if Oliver were to have a fling, it would undermine some of that,” Amell explained to reporters. “So I think that the cavalcade of women is going to slow down, or stop.”

But it’s not the heroes, or the ‘shipping, that makes “Arrow” and shows like it such fun to watch — it’s the villains. Already we know that Malcolm Merlyn is back and has taken Ollie’s sullen sister Thea (Willa Holland) off to places unknown to exert his influence over her. At Comic-Con, Amell teased that certain characters we’ve encountered in passing during seasons one and two (along the lines of Amanda Waller, known to DC Comics fans as the head of Project Cadmus) will return. We’ll find out more about the circumstances under which they crossed paths with Oliver.

The main lure for season three, however, is its Big Bad: The Arrow will be tangling with one of DC’s most fearsome characters, Ra’s al Ghul, memorably played in Batman Begins by the Liam Neesons.  Neeson is busy with other projects,  not to mention that he’s probably too expensive to fit The CW’s budget, so in “Arrow,” the role will be filled by Matt Nable. Amell hinted that a few unlikely alliances must be formed to defeat him. The writers obviously kept Merlyn alive for a reason, right?

This is the time of year when viewers get their hopes up for a lot of shows, both new and returning, only to have them dashed by November sweeps. Fortunately “Arrow” is one of the few surer shots on the schedule. Oliver Queen never fails his city, or his fans. We can’t wait to see what the show’s producers have built for us this time.

Arrow” premieres at 8pm Wednesday, October 8 on The CW.