We’re All Mary Poppins, Y’all — Talking GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY on LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #119


Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017)
Written & Directed by James Gunn
Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Pictures
136 minutes, rated PG-13

 

In this special episode of Level Eleventy-Seven, we take a spoiler-ish look at the latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (with a few digressions along the way, of course…).

From Groot’s greatness (and not so greatness) to Yondu’s arc, from the wild “Hey, that’s…!” beginning to the climactic battle between the stars, Vol. 2 has all the pieces that make a Marvel film … a Marvel film. It’s got humor, pathos, family issues — more than just Peter and his father — great character moments, and Groot.

Plus, plenty of possible setups for the next chapter, as Vol. 3 will be James Gunn’s swan song (at least for now). What pieces of this story will inform the last installment in the first trilogy? Will it be… nope, you gotta listen.

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Dan Handley, Jason Hunt

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AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Hits Us Over and Over with Emotion Hammers — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #118

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Episode 422 “World’s End”
Written by Jeffrey Bell
Directed by Billy Gierhart

It’s the season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — and we have got confirmation that the show will be back next season, only on Friday nights (more on that later).

Aida/Ophelia takes crazy to the extreme with her Scorched Earth policy, and it looks very much that Jemma… wait, what just happened? Fitz is still broken a bit, and we have to wait to learn the fate of Philinda. While Coulson and May do get to have a few moments about the bottle and what led to drinking it, we don’t get everything we’d like to see between the two of them.

Plus: the return of the Ghost Rider! Chasing the Darkhold, and all the terrible that comes with it, including the organic body Aida inhabits. Because it comes from a very bad place.

What happens next? Where are our heroes being held? Will this be the introduction of S.W.O.R.D.?

 

Next season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes way for Inhumans, which will have an 8-episode running following Once Upon a Time on Friday nights.

The panel: Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Dan Handley, Timothy Harvey

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ONCE UPON A TIME Music Filled The Air


Episode 620 “A Song In Your Heart”
Written by Andrew Chambliss & David H. Goodman
Directed by Ron Underwood

This was a very special episode that can only be properly reviewed in one particular way.  clears throat

The time has come at last, to join a growing cast
Of shows with episodes that had singing in the past.
I loved this one because, as silly as it was,
It had that certain charm that this show usually does.

It was a story which, Snow White, she made a wish,     (Gennifer Goodwin as Snow White)
And made the show a musical, now that surely is a switch!
Prince Charming and Snow White knew they could win the fight,     (Josh Dallas as Prince Charming)
Because love and music alone could outweigh evil’s might!

Then a rock opera scene that starred the Evil Queen     (Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen)
Showed at her darkest that she could be really mean.
It was rockin’, yet, as fun as it would get,
I expected Meat Loaf to show up to sing a duet!

Snow and Charming went to find a certain gent
Named Captain Hook, but he himself was particularly bent.     (Colin O’Donoghue as Captain Hook)
The Crocodile it seems, left revenge as what he dreams.
Hook’s thirst for vengeance against the Dark One, taken to extremes.

I’m disappointed at the lack of a pirate chorus line. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

The spell was strong because it stretched out clear to Oz.
The Wicked Witch took advantage of the situation that it was.     (Rebecca Mader as the Wicked Witch)
She thought it would be fun to have the spell undone,
To help Regina and show Rumple that he had chosen the wrong one.

And everything in song didn’t last for long.
Evil Queen used a box that made everything go very wrong.
The situation worse, the rhyming done in verse,
Came to an end when Regina broke that curse.

Blue Fairy made that spell and surely it went well.     (Keegan Connor Tracy as Blue Fairy)
In Emma’s mind in Snow White’s womb the songs would start to jell.
But this witchery, all too conveniently,
Would soon be wiped from everybody’s memory.

And then in Storybrooke, we got to have a look
At Snow helping Emma get ready to marry Captain Hook.     (Jennifer Morrison as Emma)
And then it all went down, blackening her gown,
Fiona, the Black Fairy, was alive and still in town.     (Jaime Murray as Black Fairy)

And in a move unjust, before leaving in a gust,
She loaded up the clock tower with a bunch of fairy dust.
She offered up this gem, that at the stroke of six p.m.,
A curse would be enacted that would threaten all of them.

With the greatest of ease, and with much expertise,
Regina and Zelena made a potion so time would freeze.
Then in came Mr. Gold with his heart ever cold,
Took and used it on Emmas family and friends so bold.

And then Emma rushed in to face Fiona again.
Black Fairy showed Emma her frozen family and friends.
Emma gave up her heart. Fiona thought she was smart.
But she couldn’t crush it or tear it apart.

At that point, Henry rushed in, told her of the music within.
And with a song, she got the upper hand again.
It freed them of their fate, being frozen in that state.
Black Fairy vanished with only her fury and hate.

This can’t be the happy ending. There’s still another week left! (ABC/Jack Rowand)

So the wedding was held as their happiness swelled.
They sang a big song until the joyousness was quelled.
But then when it came six, out came the greatest of tricks.
Black smoke came out of the clock and put them all in a fix.

They walked down the aisle, amid evil so vile.
But at least we got to see Grumpy with a true sincere smile.     (Lee Arenberg as Grumpy)
There were questions explained, but on question remained:
How is a psychiatrist officially ordained?     (Raphael Sbarge as Archie)

 

To be honest with you, I had several melodies running through my mind when I wrote that. So come up with a melody of your own. I’m sure it will be quite lovely.

 

Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.




AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Is Back in the Real World, and Yikes! — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #116

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Episode 420 “Farewell, Cruel World”
Written by Brent Fletcher
Directed by Vincent Misiano

Back to our regular programming as the gang gathers in the post-convention bunker to discuss the latest really tough to watch episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — and not because it was badly written, but because there was plenty of emotionally-charged scenes that really worked. It’s a really solid episode with a lot of moments that build to a few gut-wrenching final minutes. As we predicted, Fitz looks like he’s going to have some … issues. And our intrepid heroes inside the Framework will have to live with the knowledge that they’re not “real” in the traditional sense, but then what are they?

And now that most of the team is out of the Framework, what does it mean for everyone? How does Fitz cope with the monster he became inside? How does everyone process Mack’s decision? What will happen to PhilLinda?

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt

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From Planet Comicon 2017: LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN Episode 115 Live

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Episode 419 “All the Madame’s Men”
Written by James C. Oliver & Sharla Oliver
Directed by Billy Gierhart

Live from Planet Comicon 2017!

The gang takes time to discuss Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the episode where Daisy uses her powers without pain, May becomes a traitor to Hydra, and Coulson goes on television to claim his place as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

https://youtu.be/k2V2IkNRm9c

 

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Dan Handley, Sam Sentman, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt

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XPRIZE Gives Awards — The Tricorder Is Real!

It has been 50 years since the end of the first season of Star Trek. The fantastic, futuristic world presented to us by Gene Roddenberry was full of technology that would boggle the minds … of people in the 1960s. However, less of a prophet and more of a pioneer, Roddenberry inspired generations of scientists and engineers to make that world a reality much sooner than expected. Some of those technologies, like mobile phones, have become almost ubiquitous. Others, like warp drives, are still theoretical, but on the cusp of reality.

One thing that has eluded us to this point is the medical marvel that is the tricorder. Half a century has passed since being introduced to the portable diagnosis machine, and there still hasn’t been much to show for it.

Until now.

Enter the X Prize Foundation. The organization, founded in 1995, seeks to promote innovation through competition. The first competition held was for private organizations and individuals to fly into space. Since then, there have been many others, including the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE. Announced in 2011, the challenge officially began on 10 January 2012. The devices would have to be portable, non-invasive, and diagnose over a dozen predetermined medical conditions.

Now with the competition complete, of the seven final teams from around the world, two winners were crowned on 13 April 2017. They were awarded cash prizes as well as assistance in developing their products.

Final Frontier Medical Devices team

The first place winners, taking home a prize of $2.5 million dollars, was Final Frontier Medical Devices. The Pennsylvania-based team was led by two brothers, emergency medical physician Dr. Basil Harris and network engineer George Harris. Their creation is called DxtER (pronounced “Dexter”), and it can operate autonomously or share information with healthcare providers at the discretion of the user. Truly the epitome of classic, free market, garage level innovation, the group was comprised of family and friends giving of their time and expertise to bring the marvel to life. DxtER uses an A.I. platform utilizing a combination of years of clinical emergency medical experience and data from actual patients with a variety of conditions.

Dynamical Biomarkers Group team

Second place, and a $1 million dollar payout, went to Taiwan-based Dynamical Biomarkers Group, who had sponsorship from mobile phone giant HTC. The team was led by an Associate Professor from Harvard Medical School, Chung-Kang Peng, Ph.D, and included experts from a wide variety of disciplines. Although the device is a bit larger than the winner, it is still extremely portable and is powered by a user-friendly smartphone app.

DxtER being tested.

With the advent of these new technologies, the future of medicine becomes brighter in multiple ways. Emergency rooms and doctors’ offices would no longer be bogged down by people simply needing a diagnosis for themselves or their children, freeing up resources for patients with more immediate and pressing needs. Areas where medical care is at a premium or nonexistent will be able to be better served. Those who are adventuring or traveling where no medical care is available can still receive basic medical care. It even opens the door to better monitoring technology for athletics, allowing coaches and trainers to better watch and assess performance issues in athletes.

On a more personal side, I have been dreaming up as of late a way to provide full clinical examinations where a doctor is not on site. It could be for patients in quarantine, where the doctor is at a remote location from the patient (such as Arctic and Antarctic explorers and researchers), or even for astronauts exploring deep space (such as journeying to Mars) when exams can’t even be done in real time. In those cases, observation and auscultation are fairly simple, but percussion and palpation are prohibitively difficult. Such developments as have come out of the X Prize Challenge bring such a project closer to reality.

Dynamical Biomarkers Group product test.

I would like to offer my congratulations to the winning teams, Final Frontier Medical Devices and Dynamical Biomarkers Group, for their innovation and achievement. And I offer my utmost and sincerest thanks to the X Prize Foundation for their efforts to bring out the innovation to make this possible, as well as to all of the teams who took part in the challenge and brought Gene Roddenberry’s vision to life. The world will be a better place thanks to all of you.

 




AGENTS OF HYDRA Returns With No Regrets? — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #112

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Episode 416 “What If…”
Written by DJ Doyle
Directed by Oz Scott

The Triskelion is intact! Skye is back! Ward is back! Tahiti is back! It’s old home week, as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings back a few elements of season one — and actually uses them in a way that makes the whole episode much more interesting that most of the entire first season. Even Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) is watchable in this episode! Of course, it’s no surprise that he’s a turncoat still, even in this made up virtual universe.

And poor Jemma (Elizabeth Henstridge). After being dumped in the bottom of the ocean, almost drowned, stranded on an alien planet… now she’s a zombie.

In the tradition of Marvel’s What If…? series of comic books telling stories in alternate universes, tonight’s episode sets up a world in which everything is topsy-turvy. How much do our heroes realize they’re supposed to be the heroes and not the villains? How much will Coulson (Clark Gregg) remember?

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The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Dan Handley, Sam Sentman, Tim Harvey, Jason Hunt

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“The End” for GRIMMLY SPEAKING? It’s a GRIMM Life


Episode 6:13 “The End”
Written by David Greenwalt & Jim Kouf
Directed by David Greenwalt 

[recap by Maia Ades]

Here it is, my last Grimm episode post. We may do a series wrap up at a later date, but this is the last episode and last post covering one of the episodes. Overall I think the writers did a good job of wrapping this series up. I have some niggling issues with some of their choices, but it did bring the story to a conclusion.

Talk about cramming story in. This episode is still only 43 minutes long. I thought since it was the series finale that they might make it a longer episode. Instead they put it all in one regular length show. It manages, to not only give us some catch up scenes of what came before, flash backs of bits from the original pilot, it also manages to have the final battle and resolve it all in the end. And that is probably the highest compliment I can pay this episode. It manages to wrap up a series that has been playing out its storylines for the past five and half seasons. It does a fairly good job of resolving many loose ends. It doesn’t go back and resolve story ideas from some of the first seasons, but I’ll forgive them at this point.

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Grimm has been building to a huge showdown, an ultimate battle for the world as we know it. Or actually the world Grimm has built, which, let’s be clear, is not the same world I live in.  So, they had to give us a pay off for the long build up to that. They also had to leave their audience with an ending that they would be happy with. This ending probably didn’t make everyone happy, but if they’d left all our favorite characters dead, there just might have been riots in the streets.

(Photo by: Allyson Riggs/NBC)

My biggest peeves with this episode were the breaking of their own rules and the final, “Twenty Years Later” part. By my count Nick (David Giuntoli) offered the stick to the Devil twice. I thought that the rule was, Nick had to give the stick to him. Well, he tried to, twice. I don’t know why that wasn’t the end of it. It would have been a very unsatisfying ending. True. But the way it played out, they weren’t following their own rules. That always bothers me. If you create a world, create rules for that world and then break them, what was the point of making the rules? Why did the Devil bring Trubel (Jacqueline Toboni) back to life? It did not serve him well. Why would he give Nick an ally to use against him?

Have you seen It’s a Wonderful Life? The end reminded me of that movie. Nick experienced the deaths of everyone that was important to him, and then they were all given back to him. Okay, everyone doesn’t die in the movie, but somehow it felt similar. I expect he will go on to live the end of his days not taking them or their friendship for granted. I do like that there are some key details that are different in the two times Nick comes flying through the mirror. The second time, Eve/Juliette (Elizabeth Tulloch) retained her Hexenbiest powers. Trubel goes to Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee’s (Bree Turner) house, instead of to the Spice Shop. Adalind was not wearing Bonaparte’s ring, because Nick took it off her after she was dead, and Diana (Hannah R. Loyd) remembered what happened. Oh, and of course, the Spear of Destiny made the trip through the mirror with Nick and Eve.

(Photo by: Allyson Riggs/NBC)

The whole thing at the very end with the kids now as adults seemed unnecessary. We see now grown up Kelly writing his dad’s story in the Grimm book. Not surprising that he embellished the story. While Nick is to be credited with saving the situation, he did have his weak moments. He did turn his back on his duty as a Grimm. He tried to give the stick to the Devil. In fact, if it weren’t for first Trubel taking him on and then the spirits of both his Mother and Aunt, he would have given up. He also could not have defeated the Devil without the aid of all three women.

I never did get my Baby Jack Jack moment with baby Kelly. I so wanted that. Seeing Kelly as a handsome young man did not make up for it. I still felt cheated out of that.

Can we be honest? Diana is creepy. That child could give anyone nightmares. Which makes it a bit odd when Renard (Sasha Roiz) and Adalind (Claire Coffee) agree that she is their shining achievement. That child has created a lot of chaos and death. That’s before the whole issue of the Devil coming to claim her for his bride. People were dying because of her before she was even born. Then more people died trying to either get her or protect her as a tiny infant. I wonder what her teenage years were like?

(Photo by: Allyson Riggs/NBC)

In the flash forward, we learn that Monroe and Rosalee’s triplets arrived safe and sound. But we don’t get to see them. They’re just mentioned in passing. I didn’t need to see them. But then, I didn’t need to see adult Kelly and Diana. It really could have ended with the group hug. I’d have been fine with that. Was that part necessary to other audience members? Did you feel the need to see how the kids grew up? Did you need to know that for some reason, Kelly is the one writing his Dad’s story twenty years after it happened? We’ve seen Nick adding to the Grimm books after various encounters. Why would this story have been different? Why would he not have written down his own story shortly after his re-entry through the mirror? Yes, it’s cool that his son is carrying on the tradition. I just don’t understand why he’s writing that story and not his own.

Well Grimmsters, it’s been quite a ride. Thanks for following along with me. It’s been an honor and privilege to share with you my thoughts and critiques of each episode. Maybe I’ll see you at a comic-con some day and we can chat about a Grimm world.

 




ONCE UPON A TIME Rumpelstiltskin Was A … Hero?

Episode 613 “Ill-Boding Patterns”
Written by Andrew Chambliss & Dana Horgan
Directed by Ron Underwood

In this episode, there were villains, heroes showing villainous tendencies, and the most heroic character was … a villain.

You know things are really screwy when the most heroic character of the episode is Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle)! But they made it work and work well. And the inclusion of previously and traditionally heroic characters as villains is certainly not uncommon on Once Upon A Time. In this case, there were more than one. Now granted, they’ve given Rumple a heroic arc before, but it was sadly short lived and didn’t take the time to explore that aspect of the character. So it’s good to see them touching on it every now and then.

Beowulf (Torstein Bjørklund), who was initially a good guy before becoming vindictive toward Rumple, is a good example. He even faked the existence of Grendel to bait him into a trap. Of course this was after Rumple committed genocide wiping out so many of the ogres. But not all, as it was implied, since it was also billed as the First Ogre War. But it was enough to get Beowulf irked to the point of wanting to kill the Dark One in revenge for stealing his thunder.

Now THAT’S a knife! (ABC/Eike Schroter)

Then there’s Baelfire (Brandon Spink), Rumple’s own son, who at first tried to prevent his father from doing evil, then himself ordered him (using the dagger of course) to kill Beowulf. Then he started wanting Rumple to go out and get revenge on more people. So Rumple gave him a memory potion where he would forget about using the dagger altogether.

Granted, it was early in Rumple’s time as the Dark One. But it still seems weird to have him as the hero more than as the villain. His whole giving in to darkness was supposedly to help people, which later turned him into pure evil. It seems every Dark One became so originally by trying to be altruistic. It’s good to see that even the most over-the-top villains are given believable origins.

Still, even in Storybrooke, he was trying to do the right things. He tried to give the memory potion to Gideon (Giles Matthey) so he would stop trying to be the Savior and seek revenge on the Black Fairy (Keegan Connor Tracy). Failing that (and being forced to reveal that it was the Blue Fairy that forged the sword), he saved the Blue Fairy from Gideon; although it was after he forced her to reforge the sword. I just hope they can keep a bit of the hero arc going so we can explore that side of the character that we were robbed of previously.

She’s ba-a-ack! (ABC/Eike Schroter)

It’s also good to see the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) back, and that Regina (also Lana Parrilla) accepts that this Robin (Sean Maguire) is a different one than she loved before. Now that frees the two Reginas to go head-to-head.

And Emma (Jennifer Morrison) finding the ring and getting engaged to Killian (Colin O’Donoghue) who killed her grandfather? I actually look forward to when she finds out.

I’m loving the Rumpelstiltskin hero arc. And I’m looking forward to the twin Reginas clashing again. I just hope that all the clashes aren’t going to overwhelm each other and weaken each other’s story lines.

 

Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.




ONCE UPON A TIME Captain Hook Was the Voice of Reason


Episode 612 “Murder Most Foul”
Written by Jane Espenson & Jerome Schwartz
Directed by Morgan Beggs

I really enjoyed this episode’s transformations, role reversal, and characteristic twist ending.

Okay, this whole Snow/David (Gennifer Goodwin/Josh Dallas) Ladyhawke subplot needs to come to an end. It was great for a while. It’s overstayed its usefulness. Somehow, the curse needs to be lifted. Leaving video messages for each other before trading consciousness, although romantic in the way that they do anything to make it work, has become tiresome. It’s past time to move on.

With that out of the way, the rest of the episode was pretty good. We got an excellent dramatic performance from Josh Dallas and a nice twist ending. With the Gideon plot somewhat sidestepped for this week, it made the two other story lines more presentable.

This is the second consecutive episode featuring August/Pinocchio (Eion Bailey). The circumstances are completely different in both. It almost feels like he was either being shoehorned in, or they’re setting him up for a major role in the last part of the season. I really hope it’s the latter. They’ve forced characters into stories rather oddly too many times over the course of the series. With the current story line getting ready to wrap up at the end of the season, I hope there are actually plans for Archie (Raphael Sbarge) and August, who have been appearing a bit more.

When William Tell doesn’t have an apple to shoot at, he’ll shoot at sleeves. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

I’m intrigued at where they are going with the Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) subplot. At first it seemed a cheap way to reintroduce a dead character. But the idea that it’s clearly not the Robin they know makes for an interesting potential wild card. Taking a magic box from Regina’s (Lana Parilla) vault only deepens the mystery surrounding the new version. The previous incarnation of Robin of Locksley was a bit of a whiner. This one seems dangerous. And much more interesting. Especially when he’s trying to kill Keith (Wil Traval), aka the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Redemption arcs seem to work well on Once Upon A Time. The flashback to David’s father is no exception. Having been told that his father, Robert (David Cubitt), died a worthless drunk, seeing the opposite was quite refreshing. Being forced to sell one of his twin sons to Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) to become a son of and heir to the king in order to pay for medicine to save the other, Robert seemed like a coward. But when he risked his life to save his former son, turned prince, from Paradise Island and pleading with King George (Alan Dale) to allow him to take his son back showed heroism. And he gained sobriety in the process. Ordering Robert’s execution only made the king/Albert appear all that much worse.

A son and imaginary father bonding moment. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

But the highlight of the episode was David’s complete meltdown. Upon finding out about his father’s bravery and King George ordering his death because of it, he went to confront Albert at the mental hospital for a duel to the death. The fight was interesting to watch. The thing that got me though was that it was a knife fight, but wasn’t choreographed as a knife fight. It was more like a sword fight with baby swords. Killian (Colin O’Donoghue) broke up the fight and talked David down. The pirate had truly changed his ways. For David to have gone overboard and Killian to be the voice of reason was an interesting and refreshing change of pace. The hallucinations that David experienced of his father were a bit odd though.

Of course, there was that ending. King George’s men didn’t kill Robert. Pirates, led by Captain Hook, intercepted them. Killian killed Robert and then made it look like a drunken accident. So what happens when the word gets out what really happened? Killian just got David’s blessing to ask Emma to marry him. This could be … well, awkward.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Pinocchio plays into the final episodes. Please tell me he wasn’t just pointlessly shoehorned in. And please bring an end to that infernal sleeping spell! It worked for a while, but it’s run its course and now it needs to stop.

 

Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.




ONCE UPON A TIME Emma Changed Her Fate … Or Did She?

Episode 611 “Tougher Than The Rest”
Written by Adam Horowitz & Edward Kitsis
Directed by Billy Gierhart

This week’s episode is inspired by a twisted version of a classic tale. But at least in this case, they admit it’s a twisted version. And it was done to great effect. The tale was The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson.

As a young girl living under a bridge having run away from a group home, Emma was met by an older boy as she was ripping pages out of a storybook and using them for kindling. He stopped her just before she burned the aforementioned tale, explaining that the “ugly duckling” believed in itself so much that it changed its fate and became a swan. Young Emma tried correcting him that it was always a swan. But the lad, who we would later find out was a young Pinocchio, said it wasn’t how it was told to him. Thus, not only did it inspire young Emma to adopt the last name “Swan”, it also set up the overarching theme for the episode.

In Wish World, Emma and Regina blew any chance of using the portal to get back when they were held up by Robin Hood. I love the fact that it only stretched this particular subplot for one episode. Historically, such things would last so long, it would rival the milking of subplots on Dragonball Z. But this season, they’ve been much better about moving things along.

A former puppet making puppets. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

Emma got the idea to seek out Pinocchio in Wish World to build a wardrobe (like Geppetto did for baby Emma) that would send them back to Storybrooke, since he dismantled the original years ago. Regina ditched them to go looking for Robin Hood.

Except that Robin Hood was actually Robin of Locksley and he stole from the rich and … kept it. Hopefully this reintroduction will be a less whiny version than the last one. After all, his version of Marian died before they could marry.

The two got captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham before being “freed” by Rumpelstiltskin. Then as revenge on the Wish World Evil Queen for locking Belle away and starving her to death, he decided to take it out on Regina. He threw her and Robin in a prison … from which Robin could escape.

Emma and Pinocchio found an enchanted tree which he could carve a wardrobe from. He had a magic chisel handed down from Geppetto since non-magical items couldn’t affect magic wood. But in an encounter with an old, drunk Captain Hook with a big gut, the chisel was broken. Eventually, Emma convinced Pinocchio that if he truly believed, he could be the woodcarver his father was and wouldn’t need an enchanted chisel. It worked.

When the cabinet was completed, Emma and Regina took Robin along through the wardrobe and into Storybrooke. They reappeared coming out of exploding trees, presumably acquired from Michael Bay. And Emma went to face her fate.

Why does Gideon dress like he’s heading to the Jedi Temple to kill younglings? (ABC/Jack Rowand)

While that was happening, Gideon had appeared in Storybrooke as the guy in the hooded robe from Emma’s vision. He had been raised, and harshly treated by the Black Fairy in another realm, for 28 years. What is the deal with 28? Emma was 28 when she found out she was the Savior and broke the spell everyone was under. Now Gideon was 28 and wanted to kill Emma.

And why? He wanted to stop the Black Fairy and needed to become the Savior to do so. After all, asking for the Savior’s help wasn’t sufficient enough. He has to kill the Savior in order to take her power, since in the end, there can be only o– … Sorry, wrong franchise.

There was a sword battle between Emma and Gideon. And she got the best of him! And the sword was shattered! She changed her fate!

But wait … she was wearing different clothes in the vision, meaning that it wasn’t the vision. And Gideon promised he would still kill her before he disappeared. And Mr. Gold warned Belle that war was coming to Storybrooke. And it ended with a vandalizing Gideon, inside the clock tower, smashing out the face of the clock. Jeez, how many times are they going to have to fix that thing? And there are still too many episodes yet. So the fate could still be coming.

So a big thank you to the writing staff for not lingering on the Wish World story line any further than this episode. And please don’t make this Robin as whiny as the previous one. While I’m not the most thrilled with the whole “I knew all along” trope that Pinocchio expressed, I’m still thrilled to see where the rest of the season leads. Fate or no fate?

 

Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.




The AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Get Their Man… or Do They? — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #108

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Episode 414 “The Man Behind the Shield”
Written by Matt Owens
Directed by Wendy Stanzler

It’s a game of cat-and-mouse on this week’s explosive episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but who’s the cat and who’s the mouse?

Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team are aggressively searching for May (Ming-Na Wen) and Mace (Jason O’Mara), and in their hunt they come across pieces of Coulson’s past, where he and May visited Russia to retrieve a 084 for S.H.I.E.L.D. This is before May started seeing Andrew, and it serves to set up the antipathy felt by Ivanov (Zach McGowan), but more to set up another piece of the #Philinda Experience we’re about to get.

While it’s a perfectly straightforward episode, it has its moments of expectation-twisting, especially with an ending that could or could not actually be what it looks like…

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Dan Handley, Jason Hunt

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AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Falls Down and Goes Boom — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #107

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Episode 413 “Boom”
Written by Nora Zuckerman & Lilla Zuckerman
Directed by Billy Gierhart

It’s an explosive episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but mainly only because we have Terrence Shockley (John Pyper-Ferguson) finding out things about himself he knew not until now. And it’s not something he likes about himself, and the Superior (Zach McGowan) isn’t too happy about it, either, especially after there’s an… incident, shall we say? … at the office of Senator Nadeer (Parminder Nagra). It ends up being Daisy (Chloe Bennet) vs. Shockley as she tries to counter his skills and … abilities, shall we say?

Meanwhile, Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Mack (Henry Simmons) continue their search for May (Ming-Na Wen), and that leads them to Agnes (Mallory Jansen), a flesh-and-blood Aussie who happens to have worked with Radcliffe (John Hannah) and is completely freaked by the idea that he went ahead with his experiments in robotics — only we’re back to Radcliffe claiming to work with the long-standing goal of making it possible for Agnes to live forever. Because she’s got an inoperable brain tumor. But Radcliffe’s mention of the Mainframe also tips Coulson to the fact that May’s alive.

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Kammie Settle, Dan Handley, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt

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Getting Time Loopy: The Groundhog Day Effect

[Featured image by freeimageslive.co.uk – fmant0]

There’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “Cause and Effect” (episode 518). In it, while exploring an uncharted area of space, the Enterprise and its crew came upon a “temporal flux distortion” out of which came the USS Bozeman. It struck one of the Enterprise‘s warp engines causing a repeating time loop in which Bill Murray woke up in Punxsutawney, reliving the same February 2nd over and over.

Or something like that.

In celebration of the day that we worship a fortune-telling rodent that consistently predicts the weather incorrectly, we’ll take a look at the scientific phenomenon featured in the film most associated with the day, the appropriately named Groundhog Day. But in doing so, we also need to look at another aspect to the same temporal loop phenomenon depicted in that film. Whereas Groundhog Day is about a person living a fairly linear life in a universe caught in a time loop, we should also look at a local time loop while the universe continues a linear existence. That occurs in the aforementioned “Cause and Effect”.

Enter The Wormhole

First of all, we need to look at what would create the physical property of a time loop. The best (and possibly only) candidate would be the wormhole.

Wormholes are common staples in science-fiction. One could even call it a bit of a trope. But are the depictions even accurate? The simple answer is that nobody knows. In fact, wormholes themselves are, at this point, only theoretical and possibly just a mathematical curiosity. However, scientists generally believe that the figures must be accurate and they must be real.

Wormhole art by David Baker/SciFi4Me

Wormholes are, in theory, shortcut passageways between two points in time and/or space. Based on the curved space-time of relativity, they are tunnels at the shortest distance between points on a curve. Imagine having to get to the other side of a mountain. The only two ways to get to the other side are to go over or around it. Oh, wait. Someone kindly cut a hole through the center complete with paved road. How nice. That’s essentially what a wormhole is like in curved space-time.

However, they’re very small. I mean really small. I don’t think you quite grasp the level of attoscopic diminutiveness that describes wormholes. They’re tiny, is what I’m trying to say. They exist on a quantum scale. And they don’t typically last very long. The theory is that if enough energy is exerted on a wormhole, it can be enlarged and held for a longer period of time, such as long enough for a ship or person to travel through.

It probably doesn’t look like this. (STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE/Paramount Television)

 

And what would one look like? Although most movies and television shows depict wormholes as sparkly vortexes, the truth is that no one has the slightest clue. Perhaps they don’t even all look the same. Some might look like black holes. Some might look like something from a video game portal gun.

They probably don’t look like this, either. (STARGATE/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

They could also be invisible!

That’s The Spirit!

Then there is the issue of memory. How can we explain the fact that the meteorologist named Phil Connors (played by Murray) could relive the day over and over remembering what happened before without ever aging? How can the Enterprise crew experience déjà vu? If there was a full time reset, wouldn’t their memories also reset? And if not, shouldn’t they be aging each time? This is the point where we have to step slightly aside from hard science and start guessing.

Although I and most others, including scientists in all fields, believe in the existence of a non-corporeal self, called a spirit or soul, others don’t, including scientists in all fields. The reason for that is that there is not enough hard scientific proof that it exists.

But we need for people to go back in time with a reset body, including synapses in the brain needed for memory, and still remember what is going on. For that, we have to simply assume the non-corporeal self exists, and that is what gets sucked into a wormhole and dropped into the past. (Though admittedly, it doesn’t really explain an android like Lt. Commander Data. So we’ll just take some artistic liberty on this.)

Breaking The Loop

Now it’s time to figure out how to break the time loop.

For the Enterprise, the solution is easy. Data sends a message back to his earlier self that said the course of action being ordered won’t work. So he opts to carry out the other option and saves everyone. There is no explosion, and the energy needed to open up that wormhole is never exerted. (Apparently doing BOTH courses of action for greater effect was somehow unreasonable to them. But let’s not split hairs.)

And we’re pretty sure they don’t look like this. (GROUNDHOG DAY/Columbia Pictures)

The strange case of Phil Connors is a different story altogether. There seems to already be an invisible wormhole there connecting one point in time with another in the past. It was apparently placed there by the Universe in some form. (Some might say it was chance. Some might say that it was God. But the credits indicate that it was Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis.)

The only real solution in this case is to cause the events in the time line to deviate enough to avoid the wormhole. But no matter what changed in the events throughout the story, it just kept resetting. Then after about forty years (according to one interview with the late Mr. Ramis), he finally managed to change events in such a way as to dodge the wormhole and keep his spiritual essence from being ripped out of him and shot back into the past.

Yes, it took Mr. Connors forty years to get over himself.

 

So there you have it, the Groundhog Day Effect. You can now rest knowing that the phenomenon has an explanation.

By the way, this is the 2,437th time you’ve read this article.

Sweet dreams.

 




The AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Have Two-Faced Issues All Around – LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #104

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Episode 410 “The Patriot”
Written by James C. Oliver & Sharla Oliver
Directed by Kevin Tancharoen

Early in the season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gave us a new origin for Jeffrey Mace (Jason O’Mara), one that wasn’t consistent with his comic book roots. Now an Inhuman, The Patriot was a slightly new take on the character. Except now we find out that’s not the case! And what’s in the case! And why is Burrows (Patrick Cavanaugh) suddenly the most important man in the room?

Turns out, General Talbott (Adrian Pasdar) has concocted a little secret, and it’s now up to Coulson (Clark Gregg) and the gang to figure out how to save the cheerleader director and prevent the outing of a secret that could destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. all over again!

Melodramatic enough, Poppins?

Meanwhile, more anxiety for Radcliffe (John Hannah) and Aida (Mallory Jansen) as the LMD of Agent May (Ming-Na Wen) now has a mission but no direct control from either of them. What if she figures out what she is?

 

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Dan Handley, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt

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