Monday, March 02, 2015

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 1x15: It's All My Fault

And it's the final episode at last. I know I waited two days for this but it really did turn out to be worth it as the first season came to an impressive end by resolving one murder mystery and deftly setting another up for good measure too.

Written by Peter Nowalk
Directed by Bill D'Elia

The Killer Reveal: I haven't been this eager to learn who a killer was since EastEnders (or perhaps Broadchurch) and having it revealed that Frank murdered Lila at Sam's request was a little unexpected. I suspected that Frank might have done because I thought Lila might have actually slept with him on the sly and he killed her in a jealous rage but I didn't see Frank being ordered to murder a pregnant woman. Did Frank even know Lila was pregnant before killing her? And what exactly did Sam have on him that Frank would happily kill Lila? He joked about being a hitman in this part of the finale to Laurel and it looks like he actually is one. It also seemed obvious that Annalise was more than aware of that too as various flashbacks and a certain final scene seemed to heavily imply. Reveal wise, it was pretty satisfying and the second part of this finale actually managed to generate more sympathy for Lila than the first part did, which was a good thing.

No Lying Out Of Your Way Of This: Rebecca's actions finally caught up with her properly in this episode as she spent most of the episode being kept prisoner and after many bouts of snarkiness and manipulations, she finally confessed to Wes what really happened. She didn't (not surprising) actually kill Lila but she did find her former friend's corpse in the water tank and actually hid with the body for fear of not being believed of her innocence. She also took care of Rudy by giving him some type of drug to drive him crazy so while she might have been innocent of taking away a life, she's certainly guilty of destroying another person's for good measure. Half of this episode made me feel a tiny bit bad for Rebecca but mostly, Rebecca's manipulative ended up becoming her downfall in more than one way. Leading into ....

Escaped: For a moment, it looked like Rebecca had actually escaped from the basement and was about to drop the Keating 5 (minus Asher) and Annalise in it. Except that despite the gang's panic and Wes's meltdown, it was actually revealed in a final basement scene with Frank and Annalise that Rebecca was dead. So, which one of them murdered Rebecca? Either way, "Who Killed Rebecca?" is a great set up for presumably the first half of the second season but at the same time, it's also a slightly clever extension of the whole "Who Killed Sam/Lila?" plotlines as well. I also wonder that when we do learn of Rebecca's killer (probably won't be Frank or even Annalise), that another person will snuff it too.

Other Things: Aside from resolving a season long mystery, I liked that this episode pushed forward with some other plotlines too. Thanks to Rebecca, everyone else has an insight into Wes's childhood and thanks to Asher's blabbermouth, they're also privy to the fact that him and Bonnie are sleeping together. We also got some forwarding on Nate's case and his lawyer next season is definitely going to be a major guest star (extra points if it's someone from Orange Is The New Black). However the two things I really loved in this episode was Laurel revealing that she kept Michaela's ring all along to stop her from going to the cops (that girl is a dark horse) and Michaela sussing out that Aiden really is gay/bisexual/experimental and refusing her mother in law's attempts of a marriage of convenience. I noticed in that scene that Michaela's accent changed a little too but either way, nice to see the girl get more of a backbone there.

In Sickness & In Health: Well, I saw this one coming. After Connor getting the all clear in the first half of this finale, it was a bit obvious that Oliver on the other hand would be HIV Positive. I kind of wish the writers hadn't gone there, story wise but on the other hand, I really do hope that Connor and Oliver stay together next season and work things out. I really do like them too much to see them broken up and while I wish the writers had come up with some a little more original, I will keep an open mind but I have to admit this was probably the weakest bit of the finale to be honest.

The show has been renewed for a second season, which will air on ABC in the autumn. UK viewers can finally see the second half of the first season, Sundays 9pm from March 22nd on Universal.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 1x14: The Night Lila Died

I know it was a double bill season finale but I'm reviewing both of the final episodes seperately (next one on Monday), so here are my thoughts on the first half of the finale.

Written by Michael Foley
Directed by Laura Innes

Kangaroo Court: Oh, Rebecca - your lying, manipulative, scheming antics were eventually going to catch up with you and how appropriate that it would be in the final run of episodes for this happen. Aside from the fact that you were a terrible friend to Lila (who is actually more annoying than you are) but Wes finally wised up to your dubious charms and Laurel, Connor and Michaela were more than happy to confront you on your true involvement in Lila's demise. Also it seems that threatening the Keating 5 only results in being tied and gagged and left in the bathroom as well. Even Annalise looked shocked when she walked in on that moment.

With Friends Like These: Let's be honest - both Rebecca and Lila are terrible friends to each other. Rebecca has a horrible tendency of trying to bring people to her questionable level and Lila was just a vacuous spoiled trying to live on the wild side before realising she actually loved her loser boyfriend, Griffin. In flashbacks, we saw Lila and Rebecca's horrible friendship fall to piece and the latter getting revenge of sorts by sleeping with Griffin and making sure that Lila caught them. I want to feel bad for Lila, considering she ended up dying horribly but she's actually pretty annoying to be honest.

Getting Tested: With Connor being a "drug addict", Oliver thought it would be a great idea for the pair of them to get tested for STDs so that they then could have sex without any worries. A reasonable enough request and one that saw Connor's sexuality partially explained onscreen with some backhanded comments from Michaela and Asher on safe sex but on the plus side - Connor's gotten the all clear. As for Oliver, if I wasn't spoiled already, I could've easily guessed what would be revealed about his outcome in the second part of this finale. More on that in the second part of this review too.

Changing Judges/Lawyers: Oh Annalise - you send your boyfriend up shit creek and when he isn't getting denied bail and his ass handed to him in prison, at least you try to do the right thing by getting a better judge for him. Nate has every right to piss with Annalise but I did like that he's going to follow her advice and get a better lawyer for himself (I smell big guest star next season) and I also liked Asher's role in the judge's downfall and the rather direct way in which Frank informed both Asher and Bonnie that he was aware of them sleeping together. It's the little moments really.

Confession Is Bad For Trials: Obviously of course it is but I really liked the case of the week. Not only did it break up the flashbacks and current fears of Rebecca with the Keating 5 (minus Asher) but it was twisty enough to keep general interest going. The show could've easily had Father Andrew being an actual paedophile instead of one who ended up killing a fellow priest for the crime in question, so points there for the twist and the great scenes that Andrew also had with Annalise. While this is likely the last case of the week for this season, I thought it was a solid and engaging ones. Sure we've had better ones but this was still great stuff though.

Next episode, we finally found out who murdered Lila.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Cucumber/Banana/Tofu - Episode 6 Recap/Review

Well, last night's episodes were a mixture of some quirky loveliness with one show and utter trauma with another. For those of you've seen this week's episodes, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

Cucumber: Lance Edward Sullivan - 1966 - 2015. And all of a sudden, this episode opened up like Six Feet Under and I suddenly became very worried and with good reason. This was the episode where Lance was going to do and given that his entire life story from being born, losing his mother, coming to terms with his sexuality, reconnecting with his family and getting back to the present day, his doom couldn't be more spelled out for him.

Watching this episode was an hour of pure dread from start to finish but before you think that's me being negative, it's actually not. Yes, I knew that Lance was a dead man and sadly while being killed at the hands of a self loathing and despicable Daniel wasn't a shock to me, this was also the show at it's most engrossing, traumatic and insightful yet. I'd even go as far as to say that this could be the best thing Russell T. Davies ever written as well.

With allusions to the Doctor Who episode, Turn Left, a character dressed like Daenerys from Game Of Thrones, the previously mentioned Six Feet Under reference and the appearance of Hazel from Queer As Folk, Davies admitted he wanted to write an episode where a death felt like a death and he certainly accomplished that goal with this hour of television. Lance's death was unfortunately imminent from the moment he didn't follow Hazel's advice to go home (and the fact that something's been off with Daniel from day one) and tragic to watch as his life flashed before his eyes with Henry being one of the last people he saw before dying.

Cyril Nri has been great on the show but here in this episode, he was truly exceptional as was James Murray, despite my absolute vitriol for Daniel. Then again, so was Vincent Franklin who realised albeit too late that Henry loved Lance.  It's a shame that Lance in the way he died but as a piece of television, this was something truly not to be missed.

Banana: After the intensity of the parent show, it's nice that Banana went for something lighter with Amy's story. If the parent show has primarily centred on the male characters, then the spin-off (excluding the first episode) has been all about the ladies - Scotty, Violet, Sian, Helen, Sophie and now the adorably quirky and slightly paranoid Amy.

Played by Charlie Covell (who actually wrote this episode and Helen's episode from two weeks ago), I absolutely loved watching Amy onscreen as she went on a nervous but lovely date with policewoman Kay (TNia Miller), who also found out was the woman to arrest Daniel for Lance's murder.

I have to admit, I related a tiny bit to some of Amy's paranoia, though the thing about checking that switches and stuff are off before leaving is just common sense. Despite one or two moments where it looked like she might have blown it with Kay, I did like that the episode ended on a positive note but aside from the fact that we didn't see Amy in the parent show, I also noticed that both Freddie and Dean were absent from both episodes this week.

Tofu: A very emotional episode and actually the best one we've had as well. A lot of the episode seemed to be focused on the cultural impact of Queer As Folk. I caught bits of the show in my teens (I would've been about 14 when it aired, maybe slightly younger) and watched the full thing when it was repeated years later and I loved the comments from the usual suspects about the show and the comparisons that Cucumber has gotten to it as well (though props to Julie Hesmondhalgh for Tale Of Two Cities comparison as well). I also found Gary's (the vlogger guy's) comments particularly touching in this one. All in all, a very emotional draining week for the shows with Amy's adventure adding some needed levity to proceedings.

Next week, it's Lance's funeral and then we get to meet Aiden and Frank.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

American Horror Story - First Season 5 Spoilers/Scream Queens Adds More Victims

It's been an interesting few days for Ryan Murphy's projects. With Glee airing it's double wedding episode, both of Murphy's other shows have had some interesting spoilers revealed.

Yesterday afternoon, Lady Gaga not only announced that she will be a series regular in the upcoming fifth season of American Horror Story, but also that the subtitle for the upcoming season will be Hotel. I'm not Gaga's biggest fan but I have to admit that she's actually pretty perfect for this show and given that Ryan Murphy has talked about the forthcoming season being something of a reboot, this could be a good thing for the show. Right now, Gaga is the only confirmed cast member for Season 5 but the cast and crew of Freak Show will be at Paleyfest next month, so hopefully some more details will emerge. The idea of a hotel setting is also pretty too, right?

Meanwhile for Scream Queens, several other cast members have been announced. As regulars, viewers can expect Diego Boneta (Rock Of Ages) as a handsome but bookish guy, Glen Powell (The Expendables 3) as a popular jock who gets all the girls. Also added to the cast are Lucien Laviscount (Coronation Street), Skyler Samuels (American Horror Story: Freak Show), Niecy Nash (Getting On) and Billie Lourd (Star Wars: Episode 7, daughter of Carrie Fisher). Meanwhile IMDB have names for certain characters but seeing as it's that site in particular, I'm going to wait for a better confirmation source. Either way, it's nice that we're getting some lovely male totty on this show as well as some brilliant female characters.

You know it's going to be very interesting watching both American Horror Story: Hotel and Scream Queens almost side by side towards the end of this year.

AHS: Hotel Announcement:
Scream Queens Castings:

American Horror Story: Hotel and Scream Queens will air on FX and FOX from October 2015. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Two Weddings

A roundup of some of the shows I've seen over the last few weeks.

Arrow: I'm on Sky1 pace and the second half of the third season has started well enough. It's nice that we've Oliver actually survive his confrontation with Ras but the sooner his team become privy to that fact, maybe the better. Other than that, the flashbacks have been fairly okay (just realised that Tatsu is actually Katana) and I'm actually enjoying Laurel's slow but gradual evolution as the Canary as well. However the less of Vinnie Jones on my screen the better - as Brick, he's just dreadful. Ray's journey to becoming a hero is also developing nicely enough too.

Broadchurch: Series 2 has largely been a bit too hit and miss for it's own good and while the trial was painfully dragged out and had a terrible result, I did like the community banding together to ex-communicate Joe nonetheless though. On the plus side, at least the Sandbrook stuff got resolved and Hardy and Miller continue to shine as a double act. I'm not sure if commissioning a third series is entirely wise, given how this series struggled but I can also see why ITV might want to keep this show going for a bit longer too.

Girls: In the real world, Adam dumping Hannah for someone who is less annoying (even if she makes pretentiously boring YouTube videos) would be seen as a good thing. In this world, we're supposed to actually sympathise with Hannah, even if yet again, Jessa proved to be an awful friend by her own admission in Adam's new lover. Other than that, there was some witty-ish one liners from Shoshanna and Marnie going on about her dull as ditchwater relationship with the reject from Mumford & Sons. I think Ray might have done something but it's hard to remember, considering he's about as riveting as paint drying.

Glee: The last two episodes have been interesting. First of all, we had the transitioning for beiste and it was dealt with well enough (even though it's a storyline that deserved more care and preparation with it) and then we had the weddings of Santana/Brittany and Kurt/Blaine, which I actually really enjoyed seeing, even if the latter's could've been a series finale treat. I do think they're forcing the Rachel/Sam pairing though and the absence of Quinn in the wedding episode stuck out like a sore thumb.

Looking: I'm really liking this season a lot. I like that we're seeing some tiny bits of growth with some of the main characters and I like that even though Patrick and Richie are no longer a couple, there's an effort being made to still have them interact in ways that don't feel trite. While the last episode I watched didn't feature Dom, I do like the budding relationship between Agustin and Eddie more than the current one with Patrick/Kevin. Overall, while the show isn't gripping, it has somewhat improved a little this year.

Scandal: Dear show - I've somewhat tired of Olivia, Jake and Fitz. Honestly, Liv could do better than either of them at the moment and eventually one of them (Jake mostly like) is gonna have to stand aside and hopefully sooner than later. Aside from that, the rest of the recent episodes have been good - anything involving Cyrus/Michael, Mellie snapping out of her depression and of course Huck's desperate attempts of interacting with his son too. All of this though feels like it's trundling along until we get to a particular plot thread I've already been spoiled for.

The Flash: Arrow is excellent but The Flash is just that tiny bit better. The last two episodes saw a cold/hot team up of villains resulting in a Prison Break reunion and then we got the introduction of gay villain/eventual good guy, the Pied Piper and while Hartley is a massive jerk, he's also pretty fun to watch as well. I also like that Iris is now a proper journalist (betting she learns Barry's identity by the end of the season) and that there are tiny advancements on Harrison's past as well as Robbie lurking in the shadows as well.

- Calista Flockhart has been cast as Cat Grant, the Anna Wintour style boss for Kara in the upcoming Supergirl series.
- Joel Gretsch has left MTV's Scream series.
- UK viewers will be able to see the sixth season of Community on SonyTV from next month onwards.
- Jonathan Groff will reprise his role of Jesse for the series finale of Glee and an episode prior to it.
- Lucien Laviscount will be regular in the upcoming anthology series, Scream Queens. Also added to the cast are Niecy Nash, Skyler Samuels and Billie Lourd.
- UK drama Dates will air on the CW.
- Cuckoo will get a US remake with YouTube actor Flula Borg in the title role. It'll air on NBC.
- Christina Aguilera will be appearing in multiple episodes of Nashville.
- Jennifer Hudson and Rita Ora will be in the season finale of Empire.
- Lena Dunham will be appearing in an upcoming episode of Scandal.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Review of Gotham's 1x17: "Red Hood"

Written by Danny Cannon
Directed by Nathan Hope

Bullock (to Gordon): “When crooks become more popular than cops, that’s anarchy.”

Last week we got the Joker or did we? This week, it was the chance for the Red Hood gang to rock up and make an impression on the criminals of Gotham while garnering admiration from the regular folk as well with their slightly Robin Hood esque manner. While there was choice moments clearly lifted from a certain Nolan movie, this was a solid enough episode for the gang’s introduction.

I like that we went from at least three of the five gang members all becoming the Red Hood at different points in the episode – each with different enough motives and the actual taking out the gang completely just proved that they were mostly an inept bunch, even if the last shot meant they inspired one person to rise up and be counted for.

While we have had better origin stories in the last three episodes, I do think everything consistently known about the Red Hood legacy was set up nicely enough though. We got some great zingers from Bullock and Gordon was at his best too with dealing with the gang as well but it was mainly the other plots that held more bite to them.

Fish for example willingly gouged out one of her own eyes just so that the Dulmacher and his minions couldn’t take it from her. I found that pretty gruesome and daring of Fish to do but wouldn’t she have been better attacking that smug intermediary than harming herself though? Perhaps, but then again perhaps not. Either way, losing an eye aside, this plot has done wonders overall for Fish as a character though.

Speaking of wonders – Barbara is a lot more interesting hanging around Selina and Ivy than she is interacting with most adults. Unfortunately, she could’ve waited a few more years before giving the girls advice on using their feminine wiles and the constant drinking around them seems to have put Selina off her as well. Perhaps Barbara should slow down on the boozing in front of kids then.

Keeping with the kids – I wasn’t too shocked that Alfred’s old friend turned out to be working for Wayne Enterprises. Bruce certainly got under their skin last week and I’m not too shocked they decided to strike back. I was a little shocked though that Alfred got stabbed but at the same time, I don’t see Bruce losing another parent just yet though.

As for the plotline with Oswald, Butch and acquiring booze from Maroni – eh, it was an okay enough little subplot but again, this felt like another episode where much as I love the character, I don’t really think Oswald was actually needed. I however love the fact that he’s constantly uncertain about Butch’s motives and Butch himself seems to be revelling in the fact that Oswald can’t figure out his actions either.

Also in “Red Hood”

Another terrible comedian in the nightclub this week. Maybe they should just give Bullock a job there.

Alfred (re Wayne manor): “I like it here. It’s good for me.”
Reginald: “I can see that.”

Great this episode gave us a tiny bit more insight into Alfred’s past.

Oswald: “You must take great pleasure in watching me fail.”
Butch: “On the contrary.”

Ivy: “You sure must go out a lot.”
Barbara: “I used to.”

Not so shocking that Ivy gravitated towards green colours with the dresses and that Barbara suggested black for Selina.

Barbara: “You’re a true beauty, something you can use to your advantage. Your appearance can be a weapon as powerful as any knife or gun.”
Selina: “Yeah? What good it’s done you?”

I was getting some serious American Horror Story vibes when Fish was witnessing the various people being used for body parts in this episode.

Fish: “You will take nothing from me.”

No Nygma, Essen, Leslie, Montoya or Allen in this episode. Or Falcone and Maroni, despite both being mentioned.

Oswald: “Perhaps it’s not our friends but our enemies who define us. To Fish.”
Butch: “She got what she deserved.”

Chronology: Not long from where “The Blind Fortune Teller” left off.

Not quite as amazing as the previous episode, but “Red Hood” was a solid enough episode with a great shock and a satisfying origin story for the gang in question. Next week’s episode looks set to bring back another familiar face from earlier in the season as well.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, February 23, 2015

First Look: Empire

This show might be halfway through airing it's first season (and already commissioned a second one) but now that it's come to my attention, I am really hoping a UK broadcaster gets the rights to air this one pretty soon.

Empire - a 12 episode series, starring Terrence Howard (Crash, The Brave One) as Lucious Lyon - a former drug dealer turned CEO of a hip-hop label named Empire Entertainment whose life is about to fall apart when he's diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and his outspoken ex-wife, Cookie, played by Taraji P. Henson (Person Of Interest) re-enters his life after a spell in prison for drug dealing, intent on getting her share of Lucious's ill gotten gains while attempting to bring her family back together.

A family containing three sons, all of whom are vying to be Lucious's successor when the latter dies. The sons are Andre (Trai Byers) - the oldest one, married to his childhood sweetheart, Jamal (Jussie Smollett), a talented gay singer/songwriter in a relationship with Michael (Rafael de la Fuente) and seen as the black sheep of the family and finally, Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), the fame obsessed younger brother desperate to claim the family throne.

Watching the trailer, this is certainly an interesting series and one that has been something of a ratings juggernaut for FOX. Created by Danny Strong and Lee Daniels with music from Timbaland and guest appearances from the likes of Naomi Campbell and Courtney Love, Empire has been something of a critical darling as well as one of the biggest drama hits of the year and with the mixture of music, soap opera fun and a plethora of diverse characters, it's definitely one to watch out for.

Season 1 Trailer:

Empire airs Wednesdays 9pm on FOX for US viewers. A UK broadcaster has yet to be confirmed.