Friday, December 19, 2014

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 1x09: Kill Me, Kill Me, Kill Me

Holy shit! Now that was one mid-season finale I wasn't expecting and we've had some pretty great ones over the last few weeks. Now we know for definite who killed Sam everyone.

Written by Michael Foley & Erika Green Swafford
Directed by Stephen Williams

And The Killer Was: Michaela, cos she totally like pushed him over the bannister and so forth. Except it was more of an accident and that didn't finish him off. Nope, Sam had enough energy to try and strangle Rebecca before being clubbed over the head by the trophy courtesy of Wes. Wes being the one to strike the deadly blow isn't actually that surprising. It's the fact that the episode ended with Annalise being aware of her husband's murder and her coercion of the Keating Five (minus Asher) disposing of Sam's body for good measure. Now that's how you leave an audience wanting more. That and the fact that Annalise really does know how to cover herself.

Bad Husband: Of course prior to Sam being bumped off, the episode almost made a last minute attempt to make him come across as a right bastard. We had Annalise spitefully tell him that she was shagging Nate (which she actually did in this episode), only for Sam to make crass remarks about her race/sexual prowess while nearly attempting to strangle her. Then there was the fact that Rebecca copied his phone records on a flashdrive and nearly got killed for it. In spite of Sam's pretty nasty behaviour, I still don't believe he actually killed Lila. Because whoever did has to be alive right now for it to have an actual impact in the proper finale, don't they?

Body Disposal: I got it wrong. They didn't burn Sam's body. They (mainly Connor) hacked it to bits, burned the evidence and then got rid of his body in bin bags. I really liked how all the flash forwards from the previous episodes now fit together seamlessly throughout this episode but I'm not sure if their method of disposal will turn out to be truly successful though, especially considering the fact that Michaela lost her ring, Connor's car was spotted at the Keatings residents and other things that will inevitably resurface. Plus wanting to get Asher involved - there's a reason why Rebecca hasn't been endearing to audiences and that was it. I actually get now why Michaela was happy to blame her for everything.

Aftermath: So, what do you do after killing your professor's husband and getting rid of his corpse? Various things it seems. For Wes and Rebecca, it was destroying a flash drive (making the whole pointless in the first place), Michaela signing a prenuptial agreement, Laurel it was lying to Frank and getting him to hand the trophy back (which they at least had the sense to clean) and for Connor, it involved going to Oliver, having a proper meltdown and then pretending that he was a drug addict. I'm up for seeing more of Oliver in the second half of the season and while I actually think Connor was smart not to tell him what really happened, I'm not so keen on a pretend addiction plotline either with him and Oliver for the second half of the season either.

The Innocent Parties: And possibly the only two people not included in any way connecting to Sam's death were Asher and Bonnie. I liked their scenes in this episode and while I understand that Bonnie might not want to broadcast that she slept with Asher, he was a step up on that oily guy she met at a bar though. Also, I think Asher was spot on when he said was the most mature of the Keating Five too. The sex scene between Asher and Bonnie was also delightfully awkward as well and a definite contrast towards the more racier we had earlier in the episode with Annalise and Nate. However, I do get the feeling that somehow both of them will get sucked into the whole Sam saga. For a mid-season though, that was brilliant stuff from start to finish with many twisty moments. I definitely can't wait to see what the remaining six episodes will offer. Can this lot get away with murder and who actually killed Lila now?

The show returns on ABC from January 29th for US viewers. Universal will air the remaining episodes in the Spring for UK viewers.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Recap/Review: American Horror Story: Freak Show - Orphans

Well, that was incredible. An episode with a strong emotional core, a call back to the show's best season, the backstory for one of the most endearing characters and the beginning of a much welcomed downfall for one of the worst characters.

Written by James Wong
Directed by Bradley Buecker

Pepper: One of my favourite characters in all four seasons of this show so far has been Pepper and I was delighted when it was revealed that she was going to be added to this season. So far, she hadn't a great deal to do but following Salty's death, this episode changed things in a big way. Not only did we get to see both Desiree and Elsa take care of her (as well as the latter finally displaying some genuine compassion for a change) but we also learned more on her backstory. Elsa taking her out of the orphanage to look after Pepper, the relationships she's had with both Ma Petite and Salty and of course, having to life with her boozy sister and horrible brother in law. I swear to God, if you didn't shed a tear for the character, then you're made of stone. This was Naomi Grossman's episode and she absolutely shone from start to finish.

A Shot Of Redemption: Another favourite character of mine was also Sister Mary Eunice and keeping with the links to Asylum, this episode fast forwarded to 1962 where Pepper's awful sister and brother in law had her committed to Briarcliff for murdering their baby. Except it was them and not Pepper but having the blatant link to the show's most popular season led to an incredible final ten minutes of the episode. Despite her disgust over a murdered baby, I did like that Mary Eunice actually believed that there was redemption for Pepper and she was probably the first person in nearly a decade to show her kindness outside of Elsa. Also seeing Lily Rabe on this show has made me realise how sorely missed she is this season as well.

Owning Friday Night: Keeping with the glimpses into the future, it seems that Elsa might actually achieve her dreams after all, if that July 6 1958 of Life magazine is anything to go by. While I'm glad that she tried to do the right thing by Pepper throughout the flashbacks and the current day, I'm still not entirely sure if she deserves the fame that she's been clamouring for all season. On the plus side, at least it's starting to look like she's wising up to Stanley, which can only be a good thing, right?

Changing Sides: Another unexpected aspect of this episode was Maggie and Desiree teaming up to take down Stanley. I actually wasn't expecting Maggie to literally tell and show Desiree everything that herself and Stanley had been up to but at the same time, it was another brilliant part of the episode and given that Roberts and Bassett barely interacted with each other in Coven, it's nice that they've been teamed up here. I'm hoping now that Desiree is aware of that grisly museum that she (along with the rest of the troupe) give Stanley a taste of his own medicine in the final three episodes. I also liked that this episode gave a minute to show us how Stanley and Maggie came to form their malignant partnership too. Also, not sure about Desiree's new beau either but I like that she made it clear to Dell that she's moved on from him.

Hands Free: Despite this episode surprisingly (and thankfully too I might add) being a Dandy free zone, Jimmy was still dealing the fallout of being set up by him. Something which Stanley was more than happy to take advantage, given the latest acquisition at the museum (somehow, I still think Jimmy's alive though). Keeping Jimmy relegated to one scene was a welcomed relief, given that he's been a pain in the arse over the last few episodes but I do like that Bette and Dot managed to spur Maggie into switching sides though.

The show returns in January for both US and UK viewers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Struck By Cupid's Arrow

It's been a while since I've done one of these but here's a look at some of the shows I've been catching up on that I haven't reviewed/recapped.

Arrow: While I have to yet see the final two episodes of 2014 yet, I will admit that this season has been turning out to be hugely enjoyable, even if Oliver himself has been a bit annoying at times. I've liked the introduction of Ted Grant, the returns of Nyssa, Thea and Malcolm, the brief glimpse of Ras Al Ghul and even the bubbling romance with Felicity and Ray has been enjoyable enough. Speaking of Felicity, she's getting better with each passing episode as is Roy and even Laurel's quest to avenge Sara's murder has been interesting too. This has certainly shaped up nicely as a show.

Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD: A genuine difference a season has made. A year ago, this show was fine but sort of treading water and now, it's shaped up and is producing some great moments. Okay, not every character is brilliant (Whitehall is a stereotypical baddie with dull acolytes and Lance falls into the 'cute but bland' category) but the improvement is hard not to notice. Fitz and Simmons themselves are so much richer as characters, both Coulson and May are still total badasses and Skye has become more important than expected. Adding her father into the mix and a shared destiny of sorts with Rayna has done her the world of good and Ward is so much more interesting these days now that he's genuinely unpredictable. The first half of the season and it's ongoing thing with the Obelisk has certainly helped to do wonders for the series. With that in mind, I can't wait to see what the second half will bring. Until then, eight weeks of Agent Carter to look forward to.

Once Upon A Time: I think five episodes have aired since I lasted discussed the show and within those episodes, a lot happened. Namely the resolution to the Frozen arc and the rather surprising self-sacrifice from Ingrid (who has turned out to be most sympathetic and self aware villain the show has had) as well as the downfall of Gold and the rise of the Queens of Darkness - Cruella, Maleficent and Ursula themselves. While this season has suffered from not knowing what to do with certain characters (the Charmings, Belle, Will etc) and the Regina/Robin story has been less satisfying, I still think it's been the strongest in terms of the main villain arcs and the continued growth of Emma as a character too. March really will be a long wait but hopefully the Queens of Darkness and Author plots will be worth it.

Scandal: Wow, that finale, just wow. I never really cared about Fitz and Mellie's kids but even I wasn't expecting one of them to be bumped off during election time. That was seriously unexpected and the fact that it was Olivia's father doing it to get back at Fitz and reclaim his position was totally twisted. I've really loved this season and that finale was a perfect capping off to it as well. Plus, the best news is that SkyLiving will be airing the fourth season from January 8th so I won't have to wait long to see where exactly Olivia and Jake have sloped off to as well.

The Flash: As much as I am enjoying Arrow, I think just maybe, I love The Flash that tiny bit more. Again, I haven't seen the crossover episode of mid season finale just yet but the last few episodes have been bloody fantastic. Whether it's been Captain Cold, Plastique, a former bully turned strongman or a guy who feeds off other metahumans, the range of guest characters have been fun to watch as has trying to figure out what exactly Wells (easily the best character on the show) is up to. Plus, Felicity can stop by Central City anytime she wants and Barry continues to be a rather endearing and fun lead. In terms of other characters, I still say that Cisco and Eddie are my least faves but I don't mind them while Iris is pretty decent though I prefer Caitlin and Joe.

- Nicholas Gonzalez will play Cisco's brother, Dante in an upcoming episode of The Flash. Peyton List will also play the villainous sister of Leonard Snart in the same episode. Expect Mark Hamill as the Trickster as well.
- JoAnna Garcia Swisher will return as Ariel in Once Upon A Time.
- The spin-off for The Walking Dead will be set in LA.
- Marc Singer will be appearing in Arrow in the recurring role of General Matthew Shrieve,
- Both Selfie and Gracepoint have been cancelled.
- UK fans will be able to see both Seasons 9 and 10 of Supernatural from January on E4.
- The TV series Scream will recreate the Drew Barrymore scene from the first movie with Bella Thorne taking on Barrymore's role.
- Blair Underworld will be appearing as May's ex-husband in the second half of Agents Of SHIELD.
- Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons have been cast in the second season of Fargo.
- Broadchurch will return on ITV and TV3 for UK and Irish viewers at 9pm and 10pm respectively from January 5th.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cucumber/Banana/Tofu - First Trailers

I've mentioned it a few times this year but now we've finally got a trailer for Russell T. Davies's upcoming series Cucumber, Banana and it's online companion, Tofu.

Actually, we've had two trailers - the first one actually featuring cucumbers, bananas and tofu amongst other things in an inspired and rather cheeky bit of promotion for the three series. You can tell that these will be shows that will air on Channel 4, E4 and 4OD as I couldn't see them being promoted the same way if they were productions for the BBC or ITV. It's an audacious piece of marketing but one that has definitely made me look forward to each of the shows.

Meanwhile the second trailer, released yesterday has featured clips from all three shows. Cucumber will focus on an older gay couple played by Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nye while spin-off show, Banana focuses on a younger group of gay and lesbian characters. Cast members for that show include Freddie Fox, Luke Newberry and Ceallach Spellman to name a few while online companion Tofu will look into real life stories about sexuality. The thing is that while RTD did confirm to Gay Times a few months ago that Cucumber will be a one series only show, I could easily see Banana being kept on if it attracts a Skins like audience though.

Certainly looking forward to seeing all three of these series.

Cucumber/Banana/Tofu Trailer:

Cucumber, Banana and Tofu will air on Channel 4, E4 and 4OD from January 2015.

Monday, December 15, 2014

My Review of Atlantis's 2x05: "The Day Of The Dead"

Written by Howard Overman
Directed by Declan O'Dwyer

Ariadne (to Jason): "But nothing scares me more than admitting that I love you."

I've been somewhat critical of this current series and while I still think this show is rooted in various problems, I will give praise where it's due and this was a fairly praise worthy episode. Not without problems but the good outweighed the bad and it felt like things were finally going somewhere as well.

First of all - Jason and Ariadne. Let's face it, their love has hardly pulled viewers in the same way that Arthur and Gwen did on Merlin but after much faffing about the place and following the more compelling but subtle story with Orpheus and his wife, it was nice to see Ariadne finally admit her feelings to Jason to his face. Then that ending happened.

Anyone remotely surprised that Medea decided to stab Ariadne at the end? In spite of the fact that she spent a lot of time building Jason's trust, saving his life and undoing Pasiphae's spell with the walking dead? I wasn't but it did make for a good cliffhanger though. However I still can't figure out if her attempt at regicide was motivated by her loyalty to her aunt or her seeming attraction to Jason. I'm really hoping for it to be the former.

I was hoping that we would finally get more on Medea and this episode didn't disappoint. Although she did stab Ariadne, I actually spent a great deal of the episode feeling bad for the character. I even found her scenes with Jason pretty interesting to watch as well. Medea might be the only real bright spark about this series so far.

As for the rest of the episode - some nice choice moments with Pythagoras and Hercules but the battle scenes with the dead weren't that interesting and actually pretty hard to see at times. The love story with Orpheus and his wife and Ariadne stepping up to the plate were nice character moments though. I have to give the show that credit.

- Pasiphae literally caused the spell, passed out and then buggered off. She was pretty quick to abandon Medea.
- This episode was too dark at times. I could barely see certain scenes clear enough.
- The more they mention/allude to Medusa, the more I wish they'd get on with bringing her back already.
- Dion briefly came back to life, only to die again. Another minus for Ariadne.

Well, that was better than expected. First episode this series I mostly enjoyed and hopefully, just maybe this might hint at slightly better things to come now.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, December 12, 2014

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 1x08: He Has A Wife

Well, this was certainly a great lead into what looks like it will be a brilliant mid season finale as more secrets spill out.

Written by Doug Stockstill
Directed by Debbie Allen

The Other Woman: For someone whose death has been such a huge focus in the first eight episodes, I'm actually surprised it took this long (ish) to get some flashbacks on Lila and this week, they were definitely her moments. Most of which saw Lila gushing about the start of her relationship with Sam to Rebecca, wanting to dump Griffin (who still has had no character development at all), getting dumped by Sam while trying to tell Annalise about her pregnancy, only for Bonnie to intervene. I did feel a tad sorry for Lila, but mostly she came across as a rather vacuous person who knew full well that she was getting herself into a problematic situation with Sam. Rebecca came across as far more likeable by comparison.

He Is Not A Good Man: Um, yeah, thanks for that obvious soundbite there, Bonnie. Poor girl, she really did go through the crapper this week. Fudging up elements of the case had Annalise refer to her as mousy in a way that I actually wanted Bonnie to slap her for it while the last moments where she confessed to covering for Sam and getting kissed by him, only got her fired. I've been lukewarm to Bonnie at times but I actually felt bad for her this week and it was nice that out of everyone, Asher showed her the most kindness. Also, good foreshadowing for you know what with them too.

Study Group: Ah, Connor. You might have a way with the men but it seems that nobody wants to study with you. Except when you bagged copies of the previous years exams and then they can't get enough of you, including Michaela to a point. Of course, no studying actually happened in this episode because Michaela was too busy stealing the trophy off Asher, Laurel got pissed that Frank had a girlfriend and Wes was also similarly pissed off that Rebecca and Nate are working together to bring down Sam. On the plus side, all this cool stuff went towards setting up the next episode, so yay on that score.

Monster In Law: While I hated (and weirdly found it also amusing) that Michaela stole the trophy off Asher, even if she did crack the case of the week, I actually felt bad for her when she met up with Aiden's mother. The same mother  who drove the point of getting Michaela to sign the prenup (which Michaela refused to) and also made allusion to Michaela coming from a poor background. Aiden's mother came across as a right dragon and while I don't think Michaela is a gold digger, I can see why she's refusing to sign the thing as well.

Love The Nanny: Well, for the case of the week it was revealed that both Gretchen's husband and son were having it off with the nanny and it was only due to Michaela's previously unheard of medical background that we found out they both had the same STD as well to boot. Funnily enough, Gretchen didn't seem all that pleased that her husband was revealed as a cheat and a killer in one fell swoop. It still managed to motivate Annalise though to take some direct action against Sam. Doesn't make up for her nastiness towards Connor and Bonnie in this episode though.

Mid-season finale time next and we finally find out who bumped off Sam.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Recap/Review: American Horror Story: Freak Show - Tupperware Party Massacre

Or is it The Fat Lady Sings? Originally it was meant to be that title. And being dead doesn't mean that you still can't be seen on this show as this episode demonstrated.

Written by Brad Falchuk
Directed by Loni Peristere

Less God, More Whackjob: We've seen that Dandy is clearly a boy with some serious delusions and in this episode, both Maggie and an easily bought detective prove that he's going to become even more delusional and dangerous for the remainder of this season. Regina's attempts of getting justice for her mother got her a bullet into the head and Jimmy (who was pretty unbearable in this episode, save for his last two scenes) ended up getting arrested for Dandy's murder spree as well, because that's how you end an episode of this show.

Puppet Time: Keeping with dandy for a moment because he really did manage to become even more disturbing than before. When he wasn't rabbiting on about being a privilege male who can buy his way out of serious crime or bathing in blood, he was creating his own Bette and Dot puppet with both Gloria and the head of an unfortunate Avon lady. Not to mention the fact that he went and massacred a tupperware party, which he later made that Jimmy got the blame for as well. Much as I'm enjoying Wittrock's portrayal of the character, someone needs to pose a proper threat to Dandy and soon before he bumps off the remaining cast.

The Right Thing: With Sarah Paulson's absence from the previous episode, this one felt like it was trying to more than make up for it. While Paulson has been given better material in the previous two seasons, I love how this episode went from Dot desperately wanting to be seperated from Bette to realising that they were better together. Now if the two ladies can kill off both Elsa (who thankfully had little to do here) and Stanley in a gruesome manner, that would be super. Also the scene where both of them laid themselves bare to Jimmy, only for him to reject because he's in love with Maggie (I assume) was a little heartbreaking too.

Failed Attempt: I don't want to sound heartless and maybe compared to Stanley, perhaps Dell is the lesser of two evils (that's some maybe) but this episode's attempts of trying to garner sympathy for him didn't work with me. I don't care that he was haunted by visions of Ma Petite and Ethel (as was Jimmy with the latter in a more affecting scene) and I don't care that he tried to kill himself, even though it was Desiree who saved him. Dell's been too horrible as a character to truly sympathise with and that's a shame.

Group Stuff: Let's see - Elsa was mostly scheming with Stanley and trying to curry favour with Bette and Dot by promising the latter her freedom, Maggie and Desiree seemed to be rather chummy with each other (which was nice and the latter also seems to have attracted an admirer) while Jimmy was mostly being gross with his behaviour towards Barbara throughout the episode as well. Then again, this was also yet another episode where we didn't actually see a performance either.

Next week, Jimmy's stuck in prison and Desiree realises that Maggie and Stanley might be responsible for recent freak deaths.