Friday, March 22, 2019

My Review of Gotham's 5x10: "I Am Bane"


Written by James Stoteraux & Chad Fiveash
Directed by Kenneth Fink

Bane (to Gordon): "If the world is full of monsters, the only way to defeat them is to become one yourself."

With two extra episodes we were delayed the inevitable but after months of trailers, cast shot and generally getting my head around the idea, Shane West is our Bane and it's something of a mixed bag if we're being perfectly honest here.

The positives first though - the voice is thankfully clear and intimidating enough and the backstory is similar to both the comics and what The Dark Knight Rises also did with the character and unlike Batman & Robin, this is also an iteration of the character that understands his intelligence and calculating persona. Also acting wise, credit where it's due, Shane West does do a decent job here.

As for the negatives, they're not many but they're still noticeable - the costume is not great and looks a bit cheap, West doesn't look physically intimidating enough as Bane and that's in spite of the fact that his mission to kill Barbara resulted in Alfred getting the back breaking treatment usually reserved for Bruce, not to mention that once again, he's not the actual baddie of the season but more the henchmen of the real villain of the piece.

Had I not gone onto Reddit weeks ago, then the reveal of Theresa Walker actually being Nyssa Al Ghul might have had more impact but eh, I did, so the reveal while decently done didn't quite deliver as well as it could. On the other hand, it was nice to see Jaime Murray go at it as she upped her revenge for both Bruce and Barbara given their role in her father's death last season.

The last scene in particular following Barbara having given birth to a little girl (gee, I wonder what she's going to be called) saw Nyssa make her own introduction at the Sirens and I do wonder with two episodes left and a lot of heavy handed scenes between Barbara and Leslie during the episode if we're going to end up losing the character as part of Nyssa's final revenge along with this episode ending on the city getting fire bombed.

Of course when the city wasn't getting a fiery vengeance at the behest of Nyssa, we did have both Selina and Alfred working well together as a team while Oswald and Edward were preoccupied with trying to leave, coming up with a temporary way of distracting Bane to save Barbara and generally adding a lot of humour to what should've been a very serious situation.

Even with Edward getting back the vital component for the submarine, I don't see either of them getting the chance to leave as things have royally gone to hell. Not to mention that in spite of being villains, both Oswald and Edward have been somewhat forced into anti-villain roles this season and there's still the issue of the opening flash forward to be realised in the next episode.

- Nice to have some continuity on both Leslie and Edward stabbing one another along with Alfred's plans to get Wayne Manor rebuilt.
- If last episode was the last appearances for Poison Ivy and Victor Zsasz, then I guess this one was the last for Hugo Strange who nearly came close to putting a chip in Gordon's head on Nyssa's orders.
- There will be a four week break before the show returns for it's last two episodes. The amount of breaks in this season has been a bit much at this rate.
- Chronology: It's Day 369 of this whole event so at least five months has passed since the events of The Trial Of Jim Gordon.

I Am Bane marks a decent outing for the titular baddie of the bunch while also revealing Nyssa's true motives all along. I do think had we seen more of Walker in action before the reveal, it would've made the thing more impacting but given that this No Man's Land storyline will be wrapped up next episode, here's hoping both Nyssa and Bane aren't randomly killed off though I suspect one of them will be.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Thursday, March 21, 2019

My Review of Doom Patrol's 1x05: "Paw Patrol"


Written by Shoshana Sachi
Directed by Larry Teng

Jane (to herself): "What the fuck is the Doom Patrol?"

Now, isn't that the eternal question. If we're going by the trailer for the next episode, then it's clearly the original team who Nobody wants Jane to find/probably kill or whatever. As for the current team, well they were busy trying to stop the world ending as this cult storyline came to a swift-ish conclusion.

Obviously feeling left out from his two episode absence, Nobody decided to team up with Caulder in order to manipulate one of Jane's personalities into becoming a cult leader influential enough to become a strong enough counter to the Decreator's reign of terror. It's an interesting idea fairly executed as we got to spend time in Jane's past and met up with the chillingly charismatic Dr Harrison who succeeded in fulfilling Caulder and Nobody's overall scheme.

The use of a Recreator and a pug to effectively undo the damage from the previous episode did seem like a rather convenient way of resolving things but it did manage to work reasonably enough. Of course there was still the stinger of Nobody proving to be a bad apple by taking the Chief away from the disenfranchised gang once things went back to normal as well as doing some damage to Cyborg at the same time.

I do hope that the Chief does escape fairly soon even though I do think the gang do somewhat work a little better without him for the most part. We did get some nice scenes with the Chief concerning his interactions with Jane, Larry and Willoughby and while Rita might have failed in her effort to keep Elliot safe, this episode did show her turning a corner in relation to stepping up towards being a hero, which was nice to see.

Unfortunately if there was a negative to this episode, I do think it was Willoughby. He was great in the start of this two parter but he kind of petered out a little here though, especially with Caulder, Nobody and Dr Harrison being the ones to really resolve the Decreator situation. Still though, I don't doubt we'll be seeing him again before the season concludes.

As for Jane - this was a great episode for Diane Guerrero to really shine. We're used to Hammerhead and the caustic relationship she's developed with Cliff but I did like seeing Penny Farthing grow a bit of a backbone and Guerrero did give a suitably calm and chilling performance as Harrison as well. It was also nice that we got to see the exact moment when Jane and Caulder met for the first time as well.

- Some of the flashbacks in this episode (mainly the beginning ones) gave me some Constantine flashbacks that for a moment, I thought it was going to be Willoughby and not Jane we saw in 1977 New Jersey.
- The cockroach, rat, the blue nailed horse and the pug. Yup, definitely an episode for talking animals and ones responsible for saving the world.
- Outside of Jane flashbacks, we did have Larry show more guilt over his former wife as well. Hoping we see John again soon.
- Chronology: From where Cult Patrol left off but also 1976-1978 when dealing with Jane's flashbacks.

Overall, while not as strong as the first few episodes, I do think that Paw Patrol did have a decent conclusion to the Decreator storyline. I am looking forward to meeting the original gang members in the episode but we do need to see Nobody's overall scheme move a little forward into the main storyline though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, March 11, 2019

My Review of Doom Patrol's 1x04: "Cult Patrol"


Written by Marcus Dalzine & Chris Dingess
Directed by Stefan Pleszczynski

Rita (re Decreator): "We're too late."
Willoughby: "Maybe I should've done A Hard Day's Night."

There's probably an unwritten rule somewhere where something isn't a genre show until a certain actor appears in it. In this case, the actor in question would be Mark Sheppard and low and behold, he appears in this episode playing a character who might be a recurring presence throughout this season. Hard to tell as DC Universe are annoyingly spoiler phobic with their shows but for now, let's assume he is, yeah?

Sheppard in this episode guest starred as occult detective (no, not that one), Willoughby Kipling, an old ally of Caulder's and a member of the Knights Templar and wasted no time in insulting the Patrol members (especially Cyborg) while also bringing some trouble to their door when tasked with taking care of a walking doomsday book named Elliot (Ted Sutherland). Kipling wanted to kill Elliot, but the rest of the gang didn't share his enthusiasm for that particular idea.

Elliot's story does play out rather well as we see him being prepared for his prophetic doom by his parents until turning 18 made his father change his mind and his mother even more determined into playing her role to seeing her son bring about the Decreator's goal. She's rather zealous about that and even seemed to take a little too much pleasure in also deconstructing both Cliff and Jane when her acolytes also get a hold of them as well.

Breaking away from Nobody's overall machinations, the Cult of the Unwritten Book are not the most original of doomsday laden baddies but they are a rather addition. My only surprise is that they're being introduced a bit early into the show but I did like the look of the Decreator and next week's episode should give viewers a good measure of what his world will actually look like considering that Elliot was read by the end of this one.

Cult stuff aside - I do think the dynamics are coming along nicely enough. Larry got a bit more insight into one of his past conversations with the Chief while Rita was the only one who really came the closest to keeping Elliot safe until the cult got him in the end. I'm liking that Rita is stepping up more and more as a hero, even if she and Larry are reluctant to embrace that term.

Then there's the dynamics between Cliff and in particular, Jane's persona of Hammerhead. Hammerhead might have made some points about Cliff but it's hard not to find her stance on him a tad hypocritical as well and I'm glad that we got to see Cliff call her out on that as well. At some point though, I'm sure Hammerhead's perception of Cliff will hopefully change for the better as the series progresses.

- We got to see a more passive personality of Jane's this week with Penny Farthing, who is probably not the most useful of people to have around when trying to stop a doomsday cult.
- Like that other occult detective, Kipling has some rather unusual items on his person including Janis Joplin's floss of all things.
- Singing blue horse with a nail in it's head. I think that might have been a bit more striking than the giant eye in the sky at the end of this one.
- Chronology: Not long from where Puppet Patrol left off.

I'll admit that Cult Patrol isn't my favourite episode so far but I did like a lot of the characters, found Elliot sympathetic enough and there was something rather Wonderland-ish about the lost city of Nurnheim along with Kipling proving to be an interesting if morally grey ally to the gang. It'll be interesting to see how the next episode resolves this doomsday cult.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, March 08, 2019

My Review of Gotham's 5x09: "The Trial Of Jim Gordon"


Written by Benjamin McKenzie
Directed by Erin Richards

Gordon (re himself): "The issue here is not how many people have died because of Jim Gordon but how many more must die in order to satisfy his need to be a hero."

Last week's "extra" episode gave us a brief medley of Ventriloquist/Scarface, Jane Doe and the closest we'll get to a Killer Croc on this show while this week's episode sees a rather delightful team up of Poison Ivy and Victor Zsasz, both of whom (mostly Ivy) want to kill James Gordon and turn the city into a botanical paradise.

Yeah, it's not a shocker that Ivy is leading the machinations here with Zsasz carrying out a hit on Gordon, just when the latter was making an unsuccessful appeal to all the gangs to back down so the city would get it's reunification. Of course being shot didn't help matters as Jim hovered between life and death and mused over a lot of his failings, mostly recent ones.

His guilt over the Haven incident, the way his need to be a hero has cost people along with his own reluctance towards fatherhood were the beats played out her as Lee worked to bring him back to the land of the living. Of course while most of these issues were explored rather predictably in Jim's subconscious, the reality of waking up did prompt him into making one big decision by the end of this episode.

I'm not shocked that Jim and Lee got married but I did think it would've been something that might have been saved for the series finale, which we're not far off from now. Still though, it's a beautiful moment (if somewhat rushed) and let's be honest, Bullock should be allowed to officiate every wedding that the city will have from now on.

Of course, Jim and Lee weren't the only couple this week. Who would've thought of Ivy and Zsasz being an "item". Of course it was mostly down to Zsasz being Ivy's right hand man but their one scene together was pretty fun as she tried to finish off the job with Gordon. Still though, much as I enjoyed the character's return, even for Ivy she seemed unnecessarily spiteful towards both Selina and Leslie, with the latter even getting to shoot her. On the other hand, if this is her last appearance on the show, it might not be her best one but at least it's something to the end.

As for Bruce and Selina - this episode felt like a right Bat/Cat fest. We had their date with canned foods interrupted by Ivy before a fight scene was the very thing needed to snap Bruce out of Ivy's spell before they shared a kiss at the wedding. Anyone who is a fan of this particular pairing certainly got enough to go on this week.

- Congrats to Benjamin McKenzie for writing this episode and for Erin Richards for directing it. Both did a fantastic job here.
- Penguin needled Barbara about her feelings towards Gordon while at the same time, she gave him an underlying reminder that her vendetta with him isn't done with yet.
- We got some clear body doubles of Scarecrow, Pyg and Kathryn from Court of Owls. Nygma was also kept to a brief cameo this week as well.
- Not long from where Nothing's Shocking left off, until the last two scenes brought things forward by a month.

The Trial Of Jim Gordon reminded me a little of a certain Batman: The Animated Series episode and while I definitely wouldn't have minded a few more cameos (even as body doubles), this was a perfectly strong episode that while not hugely plotting advancing, didn't feel like a waste of time either. That said, it's time to wrap this No Man's Land plot up and introduce Bane already.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

My Review of Doom Patrol's 1x03: "Puppet Patrol"


Written by Tamara Becher-Wilkinson & Tom Farrell
Directed by Rachel Talalay

Rita (to everyone): "Are we really the best people to hunt a super villain?"

The answer is perhaps not, but at the same time, we wouldn't have much of a show if you guys  and we can't have that, now can we? Still though, while you can make criticisms for the reluctant/unwilling superhero trope, this show is still pulling things off rather smoothly as the action takes place in Paraguay in order to find the Chief.

The journey getting there was hilariously done with both Cyborg and Robotman clearly wanting to assume leadership and bickering at the other for doing so while Rita dealt with her daily ablutions to everyone else's impatiences and Crazy Jane managed to invoke her Flit personality in order to teleport herself, Cliff and Larry to where the main action would be this week.

The main action of course, being Paraguay where we found out that the nutjob responsible for Mr Nobody - Von Fuchs (Julian Richings) is still alive, controlling a shit load of human puppets (which is where the title of this episode is relevant) and will bore you to death with a three hour orientation that at least gave us an insight into the Chief and Morden's history together.

With Cliff being surrounded by human puppets that he's forced to kill and Larry struggling to free himself of his Negative self (and of course, failing to do), it was pretty much up to Jane this week to take out Fuchs. It was nice to see her a bit more in control compared to her first two episodes and the use of Silvertongue to kill Fuchs was done pretty well too.

As for Cyborg and Rita, they were somewhat taken out of the action for a portion of the episode but their downtime was a good way to explore Rita's reluctance to take action as well as Victor's own issues with his father. Speaking of Silas, while he's still somewhat harsh enough as a character, he did at least come through for Victor during one scene here.

As for the Chief, well they've got him but he's a puppet, so I guess the next episode will be focusing on undoing that one I guess. Then there was the introduction of the seemingly harmless Steve (Alec Mapa) who by the end of this episode has become Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man - a character who has been both a villain and hero in different iterations. I'm not sure what version the show is planning for the character, but I'm a little intrigued to see more of Steve nonetheless.

- The flashbacks with Larry's relationships with both Cheryl and John were some of the best moments in this episode. Is there any way we could get John outside of flashbacks? Probably not.
- Victor's flashbacks included scenes with his mother before the accident. He also has a privacy mode that Silas is able to hack.
- Standout music: Home Part 2 by Robert La Salle.
- Chronology: From where Donkey Patrol more or less left off.

Puppet Patrol continues a strong trend with this show. The antics at Von Fuchs lair were great to watch, it was nice to see Jane take control this week and the Larry/Victor flashbacks were a highlight of the episode. Episodes like this (as well as the previous one) do show that the team can actually function pretty well without the Chief.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, March 02, 2019

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 5x15: "Please Say No One Else Is Dead"


Written by Joe Fazzio
Directed by Stephen Cragg

Laurel: "Annalise, you’ve done so much to protect me, so I just wanna say thank you."

And with that ending, I guess the full focus on the Castillos really will be even more prominent than it was in the fourth season. On the other hand, while Xavier is a nasty piece of work, he is rather nice to look at, so he's got that going for him as well as being someone both Miller and Annalise in flashbacks and the present day chose to underestimate.

I did like that Miller was proved to be a good man who tried to save Nate's father even if Frank forced the guard to tell Bonnie that her boyfriend was in fact involved in Nate Sr being killed after all. There's no way that's not going to come back to bite Frank in the backside next season, even if he was trying to help both Bonnie and Nate live with the fact that they killed an innocent man.

Speaking of Nate - he's now in prison too for assault. Why do I get the feeling the show is trying to tell us that he might have similar mental health problems to his father and why do I get the feeling that he's a potential casualty next season? Then again, maybe he should as I'm not sure what else the show can really do with the character these days.

Getting back to Xavier though - I think he was telling the truth to Laurel about not being involved in Sandrine's disappearance, which hopefully is not something that will be dragged out next season but at the same time, he's definitely working with the Governor and their Plan B also coincided with Emmett being under fire and subsequently poisoned in this episode, even after Tegan had thrown him a brief life line of sorts. Although I don't really want Emmett to die, his death would also not be a big loss to the show either.

As for Laurel's disappearance though with Christopher - it seems to me that she's doing something misguided in order to protect everyone else rather than being another victim of her family yet again. Then again with the twists and turns of this show, perhaps Xavier feeling slighted from his encounter with Annalise and clear daddy issues maybe did do something to her after all. Hopefully next season won't drag that one out.

As for Gabriel - I was kind of hoping this episode would write him out but due to Telesco's insistence on dragging his mother into things and the show's desire to explore a Gabriel/Michaela pairing, it looks like Rome Flynn will be sticking around for another year. Character wise, I don't really think Gabriel has added a lot to the show but maybe next season can improve on him a little, writing wise.

- I think it's obvious they're going to explore a baby/adoption storyline with Connor and Oliver next season. Story wise, I'd rather not but it felt like it was being set up here.
- Michaela's biological father, Dwight is someone that Annalise used to know. I assume we'll be seeing both Dwight and Gabriel's mother next season.
- Asher to say the episode title this week when he didn't play a role in Telesco getting fired from the FBI. He does need some better material next season.
- Chronology: From where the previous episode left off.

Please Say No One Else Is Dead is probably the weakest finale we've had and while there were some decent twists here and there, it didn't quite have the punch that previous finales have had. I do personally think that the sixth season probably should be the show's last one, and it's quite possible that it will be.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, March 01, 2019

My Review of Gotham's 5x08: "Nothing's Shocking"


Written by Seth Boston
Directed by Kenneth Fink

Scarface (to Oswald): "Applesauce, you're a liar and a thief. All you do is take. Take."
Ventriloquist: "Take and you never give anything. You worked me to the bone. Forced me to be your puppet. Well, no more."

Originally we were only to get 10 episodes for the show's final season but thanks to FOX clearly wanting to end the series with 100 episodes, we were given an extra two episodes and because of that, a previously abandoned storyline was thankfully brought to the surface with a returning actor nonetheless.

It's been no secret that actor Andrew Sellon was keen on playing Arnold Wesker aka, Ventriloquist/Scarface and with Penn's personality so befitting of Wesker himself, it actually made perfect sense for Gotham to go and do their own variation of the underrated but enjoyable Rogue Gallery member and this was certainly a great live action depiction of the character(s), except with one obvious caveat.

The caveat of course being that we had to see Penn getting shot yet again as the show went to town on both Oswald and Edward solidifying their friendship while also being forced to entertain Penn's desire to get Oswald's gold and out of town on the yet to be built submarine. On one hand - yay for Edward finally embracing Oswald for who he is but at the same time, I could've done without seeing Penn die a second time this season.

Other than that though, Sellon did a great job selling both Ventriloquist and Scarface and given that the latter himself was discovered in a magic shop, could there be some hope that maybe we'll see him in about a decade or so time? One can only hope.

Of course this episode didn't just boast two Rogue Gallery members, but rather four of them. Going with the more recent to comics but generally obscure Jane Doe (Sarah Pidgeon) first - well, she made quite an impression, certainly a better one than Magpie did a fortnight ago. Her story seemed to fuse elements of Clayface (who was mentioned) and Calendar Girl from The New Batman Adventures while also reintroducing Dix from the first season and dealing with a shameful part of Bullock's past.

I did like that Bullock got a decent amount of focus in this episode and while I hated that Gordon was a bit too self righteous at the end of the episode by not giving Harvey some absolution, at least we do know they'll be on good terms seeing as we still have another flashforward to look forward to. Plus if Gordon is willing to be nicer to Barbara these days, then that should extend to Harvey as well.

As for the last Rogue member this week - Killer Croc, anyone? Or someone with a very similar skin condition and razor sharp teeth living in the sewers. He was the contributing to Bruce and Alfred's scenes this week as the latter was also looking for absolution and Bruce giving it to him as well. Their plot did feel a bit more filler compared to the other big stories in this episode but still fairly engaging nonetheless.

- Where is Edward the dog? Oswald's latest minion Dale didn't even last an episode when Scarface shot him.
- Killer Croc here is also down to Jeremiah poisoning the waters and Jane Doe's shape shifting abilities are another consequence of Hugo Strange's experiments at Indian Hill.
- No Leslie, Selina or Lucius in this episode but at least the show is remembering that Walker is an ongoing threat.
- Chronology: It does seem like a fair chunk of time has passed since Ace Chemicals. Barbara was even showing in this episode.

Nothing's Shocking doesn't do much to advance the ongoing plot but given that it was a late entry, I can forgive that. Especially given it's great uses of Ventriloquist/Scarface, Jane Doe and Killer Croc as well as the various scenes with most of our main players this week. I also see the show is determined to put Barbara on the path back to being good, which I'm fine with even if she is more entertaining as a baddie. Next week though, more Poison Ivy and Zsasz.

Rating: 7 out of 10