ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Stumbles But Doesn’t Quite Fall

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Fear the Walking Dead doesn’t quite live up to the strong start its had so far this season, but it’s not as bad as Team Zombie feared it would be. It’s Zombpocalypse Now!

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Season 3, Episode 5 “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame”
Written by Suzanne Heathcote
Directed by Daniel Stamm

Fear the Walking Dead
Frank Dillane as Nick Clark – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 3, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC

Timothy: Huh.

Dustin: What?

Timothy: This episode of Fear the Walking Dead was directed by Daniel Stamm. He directed The Last Exorcism.

Dustin: Didn’t we all go see that in the theater? We liked it, as I recall.

Timothy: We did. One of the few found footage horror films I’ve ever liked, actually.

Dustin: As opposed to Paranormal Activity. Which we laughed through. We got some nasty looks from the other audience members.

Timothy: Well, it was awful.

Curtis: Made a ton of money though.

Timothy: That it did. Hey folks! It’s your usual motley crew of miscreants what recorded a podcast about the dead that fear the walking, here again to ramble on for almost the same amount of time it takes to actually watch an episode of this very show we review.

Mindy: There was that 30 minute idea that was almost a recurring thing. Almost.

Curtis: There are four of us now. And based on how much Tim cut out of the podcast, we digress like… crazy digressing people.

Mindy: About 15 minutes?

Timothy: Yeah. Mostly things that Man Was Not Meant to Know.

Mindy: So most of the sex stuff.

Dustin: It was so wrong this week, people. SO VERY WRONG. 

Curtis: Funny as hell, though.

Timothy: Oh yeah. But not fit for man or beast. We were quite inappropriate. 

Mindy: There is a sexual undercurrent in the show though.

Dustin: Oh, this episode was all about the sex. Even when it wasn’t about the sex, it was about the sex. And that’s not entirely a good thing.

Curtis: Yeah, I really didn’t think too much of this one. It wasn’t bad, but it was a letdown after the last few. But hey, you guys listen to us talk about it, and then tell us what you think, OK? OK.

 

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MST3K Recap: 1111, WIZARDS OF THE LOST KINGDOM II

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1111

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

Given the reputation of sequels in general, it’s no surprise that MST3K has had a fair few of them pass through its portal doors. There’s the Gamera series, of course. Then Cave Dwellers, the two Amazing Colossal Man movies, a few Godzilla films here and there, a dash of Hercules. Then there’s the sort-of sequels: where TV shows such as Fugitive Alien and Master Ninja are taken and episodes spliced together into ersatz movies for the Saturday-afternoon-UHF market. What is unusual is to get two in a row: this week’s episode is the second blow of a one-two punch that is positively devastating.

It’s a rainy day in outer space (wait, what?) and the SOL crew are moping around until it’s time for the invention exchange. Jonah & the bots introduce GIF Notes: book summaries done entirely in emojis for today’s attention-span-deprived students who can’t slog all the way through the Cliff’s Notes version. It’s a cute idea, but I hear their version of The Naked Lunch is longer than the actual text. The Mads introduce us to Punt Bunnies: cute little bunniewunnies who actually enjoy getting a swift kick into next Tuesday.

Well, it says sequel on the tin, but Wizards II seems to bear only the faintest relation to the original. The setting is extremely similar, the storyline follows a (now vastly more annoying) young wizard around as he battles not one but three evil sorcerers. The big walking shag rug is now an elderly, moderately shaggy wizard who keeps his dad’s skull in a cave, and the boozy ex-hero who tags along to bail them out every few minutes is now played by David Carradine.

Now, this movie…I know better than to expect good in these things. I mean come on, this is MST3K. But most of the films we get are at least semi-competent. Even the first Wizards movie was fairly adequate. But this? This is actually quite surprising in how thoroughly awful it is. First off, someone along the line decided to go with making it “funny”–I guess they thought the laughs should be on purpose this time. The jokes, unfortunately, tend to fall flat. The fight choreography consists of people lightly tapping one another with swords and then having a nice lie-down. The villains are not only bad at their job but seem to be made of pure ham. The situations are poorly thought out, and the “hero” almost never actually does anything on his own. We’re talking flatline character arc, here. This reviewer literally lost track of the number of plot threads that wound up going absolutely nowhere. I mean, we got a lot of cheesy films on the SOL, but very few of them are this level of just plain broken.

The first host segment has the crew presenting an instructional video on how to run a pub like the one Carradine’s character has at the start of the movie. Suffice to say he’s even less of a restaurateur than Hulk Hogan (Pastamania, anyone?). Remember: get their money first, then stab them. Not the other way around. That’s important.

The second segment takes on the movie’s (*cough*) humorous tone, with Jonah reminiscing about the 80’s and the wizard-comedy craze. He then proceeds to take them through a bunch of Jeff Foxworthy-esque jokes about how you just might be a crummy wizard. He even provides a giant pop-up book full of said jokes. One can only imagine thousands of copies sitting in medieval outhouses and boxed up in castle towers, gently moldering away unread.

In the third segment, Kinga gets a visit from Gramma Pearl, and discusses ratings and how to dominate on-demand television in a world without timeslots. She decides to get married in a cynical publicity grab and make herself the center of the show. “I appreciate the depravity of your motives,” says Pearl in my personal vote for quote of the year, but declines to help out, preferring to bail.

Post-movie, the SOL crew are OD’ing on bad movie, prompting Jonah to come up with “remedy” movies to counteract the various pain points of this week’s experiment. Some rather excellent suggestions, here, actually.

Well, this was a real groaner. It somehow manages to make the original look–well, not all that bad, considering. Poorly written, poorly acted, most of Carradine’s best scenes are lifted wholesale from his earlier film The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984). And worst of all, the humor. Lord help us, the humor. In Woody Allen’s Shadows and Fog (1991), a character says, “Nothing is more terrifying than attempting to make people laugh and failing.” To that I would say nothing is quite as wince-inducing as being on the receiving end of that transaction: that mix of annoyance, sympathetic embarrassment and mild nausea that comes with watching someone desperately and repeatedly failing to be funny. That is Wizards II‘s greatest crime, and all in all it’s just as well that they never did a third one.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck has found that if you don’t fumigate your bookshelves every few months, Jeff Foxworthy books just show up unbidden. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.




The 12 MONKEYS Season Finale Presents a Witness with a Twist

The last three episodes are the best. I don’t know if it’s because we go farther back in the past with lush costumes and a beautiful Prague masquerading as London, or because there are many time twists and time turns, or because Cole and Cassie’s kid is the Most Interesting Man in the World. The reasons are undoubtedly all of the above, because they pull out all the stops for the finale.

Read this only if you have watched episodes 8, 9, and 10 of the third season.


Season 3, Episode 8 “Masks”
Written by Tony Elliott
Directed by David Grossman

We open with Athan (Jack Hamilton) as a young man and Sebastian (Rupert Graves), his guardian, as a middle aged man in London in 1879. Athan is as whiny as Luke Skywalker on a moisture farm. I can’t blame him, because abuse at work has resulted in his hand impaled on a nail.

We find out a lot from this little scene. We know that Cassie (Amanda Schull) and Cole (Aaron Stanford) have not found Athan before he’s grown up, which is sad. The Monkey Army hasn’t found him either, which is good. We know that Sebastian pictures Athan returning as a benevolent Witness, leading the Army to good things. He thinks that he can only wield his considerable power wisely if he knows what it’s like to have nothing. I agree with him on that issue, but not on the returning as a benevolent ruler.

I have one little quibble with this scene. Sebastian says that Athan won’t lose his hand because he had a tetanus shot in 1987. A tetanus shot would protect him from the tetanus bacteria that could cause him to lose his hand and have all his muscles seize up and kill him, but it won’t protect him from a staph infection or gangrene if blood flow is lost. I hope Sebastian brought antibiotics as well. However, it also shows that Sebastian is taking good care of him and thinks ahead.

Athan has a vision and Sebastian encourages him to map it. This is the beginning of the Word of the Witness. The vision he has is of Sebastian’s death. He writes it as “Red Death, Two Pence for a Pauper, 1899” on the map.

Hannah (Brooke Williams) and Deacon (Todd Stashwick) travel to a train on V-day 1945, chasing a clue that Jennifer (Emily Hampshire) drew for them. Hannah looks really good with her hair down and no shadow makeup over her eyes. They do find Cassie and Cole on the train. Cole has figured out how to use the time vest as an advantage in fighting, splintering at just the right moment and reappearing from behind. I wonder if he has remainders and if they kill themselves?

Jones (Barbara Sukowa) and her gang are frustrated at their inability to catch Cassie and Cole. They suspect Jennifer is being less helpful than she could be, which she is. Jennifer draws footprints in the snow leading to a statue. The footprints stop abruptly. They have traced Cole and Cassie to every moment in time on the Witness map, using the signature trace left by one of the suits. Jones makes a fateful decision. She decides to get help from Olivia (Alisen Down) and lets her out of her cage.

Jennifer is beside herself. Strange when Jennifer is the only voice of reason. She tries to reason with Deacon, but he has been hardened by Cassie shooting him, and Cole choosing his son over them. He is over his guilt for killing the Jennifer of the future.

Olivia gives them the answer. Cassie and Cole are retracing their footsteps, so the scientists don’t know where they are by tracing the signature. Olivia is told that three of the guardians are dead.

Jennifer has a vision of Big Ben and knows where Cassie and Cole are. She puts a strawberry down between young Terry the tortoise and old Terry the tortoise and apologizes. The resulting paradox explosion brings everyone running and she convinces Lasky (Murray Furrow) to send her somewhere in the time machine. She threatens him real good.

Cole and Cassie are at their last stop. They have no more moments that were recorded on the Word of the Witness. Cassie thinks that the Red Death is a reference to Poe, and there’s a party with that theme that they decide must be the place. They lack money to pretend to be wealthy so Cole has to teach Cassie how to pick pockets. Cassie teaches Cole to dance. These bits are pure joy. It’s so much fun to watch both of them learn and teach. They kiss, and Cole says, “Nothing bad could come of this.”

Sigh. Thanks so much, show runners and writers, for those moments.

Cassie and Cole go to the ball and they are gorgeous. They make an entrance and it’s a real Cinderella moment. And Prince Charming, of course. The everyday Victorian outfits they are wearing are wonderful, but the costumes for the masquerade ball are exquisite.

Athan will be the one in the mask. (Photo by: Dusan Martincek/Syfy)

Cassie does a double take when she sees the real life Constance, from the painting. They don’t see Athan, but they do see an older Sebastian, who still has a limp from when Cole shot him. He was hoping to see Athan, too. They had a falling out twenty years ago because Sebastian tried to return them to Titan because he felt Athan was ready, and Athan wanted no part of it.

This is when Katarina, Hannah and Deacon show up. They have Cole and Cassie captured and separated in a short amount of time because they don’t have their splinter vests on. Katarina is regal in her costume. She has her hair up, which makes her look taller, and is wearing fur, which makes her seem larger. She is an imposing figure. Deacon looks like a highwayman or a pirate. Of course, he always looks like a highwayman or pirate. Hannah looks cute.

The depth of Katarina’s fury is a testament to the depth of her love and trust in Cole. She compares his betrayal to the death of her child and calls him her child. He is not defensive and not apologetic, just resigned. She throws his killing Ramse in his face. They have guns on each other when another figure in a red plague mask makes an entrance.

It’s Jennifer, with bottle rockets on her hips! “This is the part where you run.” Cole, Cassie and Sebastian get away. They get to talk about Athan a bit. Sebastian tells them where Athan lived, at one point anyway. He has no idea why Athan put this point on the map until Deacon and Jones show up, and he realizes what the two pence for a pauper means. He grabs a weapon and Deacon and Katarina shoot him while Cole and Cassie get away.

Jennifer is imprisoned at the facility. Cassie and Cole break into their kid’s house. A man in a red skull mask comes to where Sebastian’s body is lying in the snow and puts a penny on each eye. He says that they will meet again when the forest is red.

This is the first time we see the Witness as an adult. He is older than Cassie and Cole now, and played by James Callis!

Deacon and Jones don’t come off well in this episode. They are really out of control, and although neither one would admit it, they’re acting on emotion, not reason. They are both feeling the sting of betrayal. Deacon tells Cassie that from now on, apologies will be issued in blood. Katarina SLAPS Jennifer, and Deacon throws Jennifer in a cell even though he had told her before that no one wanted to lock her up. They both shoot a nice man. This shows that they are willing to do anything to kill the Witness and save the world, even though saving the world would also be accomplished by keeping the Witness from returning to Titan or getting him on their side.

Olivia appears to be sympathetic towards Jennifer when she hands her the charcoal, but I’m sure she just wants to see what visions she has.

I’m sorry about the loss of the turtle. I’d like to think that they were instantly transported to the Galapagos Islands in a time before mankind rather than that they died in the explosion.

Another little quibble: Cassie describes the Red Death as wearing a red skull mask, and when Athan shows up, he is wearing a red skull mask. Death in the story wore a corpse mask with signs of the red death, the plague that Poe invented, on its face. Presumably this would be something that would look like a pox or a hemorrhagic fever, like Ebola. The red skull mask is a pretty good interpretation. Skull=death, red skull= red death.

We’ll always have London. (Photo by: Dusan Martincek/Syfy)

The entire splinter team reminds me of Greek Gods, or superheroes. They wield incredible powers and have impossible quests, but they are held back by very human foibles. Jones, in particular, lacks insight. Cole is correct that he didn’t do anything she wouldn’t do, but also, what did she expect? Did she expect Cole to choose the mission over his child? Did she expect Jennifer to let them kill her friends? Everyone is shocked that Cassie and Cole kept secrets. Perhaps they expected too much out of them. Deacon and Jones are both authoritarian, and they clamp down harder when things go wrong.

 

Season 3, Episode 9 “Thief”
Written by Sean Tretta
Directed by David Grossman

In this episode we get to know Athan. So do Cassie and Cole. We see his life through their reading of his extremely detailed diaries, which line the shelves of one room. He’s been popping around history randomly, feeling that freedom helps him deal with the visions that being primary bring. This explanation is interspersed with shots of poor Jennifer, who has lost her freedom and is furiously drawing visions.

I am surrounded by ghosts. Loud, tipsy ghosts. (Photo by: Dusan Martincek/Syfy)

James Callis has a dry, understated humor. The splinter vest breaks and Athan says mildly, “That’s unfortunate.” He takes a small metal part to a metalsmith, but while he is talking to him someone in a plague doctor mask comes in and steals it along with some gold. He chases the thief until he catches up with her in a hospital. She’s been stealing to buy medication for her patients. They threaten each other a bit, or maybe it’s flirting, and she gives the part back.

He makes women swoon because the next time they see each other she faints at his feet. Actually, she has a staph infection and he takes her home and gives her antibiotics from the future.

Eliza (Claire Cooper) is still a hard sell and he has to be persistent to woo her. He has time because the clock maker (Booda) keeps making an inferior part for the splinter vest. Although they don’t discuss it, Athan is obviously fabulously wealthy. There are many ways of making money if you have the ability to see the future and time travel. Everything from betting on winning races to finding lost treasure could make you wealthy.

Of particular interest is the scene where he takes her out to dinner. She is not dressed well enough for the place he takes her to. In that time period how you dress and what transportation you use would instantly identify you as having means — usually property that engendered income — or not. We still have this in our day, with clothing brands and what kind of car you drive. Even though Eliza protests, she is embarrassed. The maitre de makes a disparaging comment that Athan cuts short. Eliza accuses Athan of trying to impress her with his wealth and she wants none of it. When she gets up to leave, he offers to pay for the starters of anyone who takes their jacket off — the entree of anyone who removes their vests — and the bar tab for anyone who removes their shoes and socks. A lot of people do it. Men, of course, because they are the ones paying the tab, and because there’s less social censure for their removing their clothes.

This is a character note. It shows that Athan is a creative problem solver. It shows that he has learned from having nothing, as Sebastian planned. But it’s also, like the episode before it, a comment on income inequality. Clothes make the class, like it did for Cassie and Cole at the ball. Naked, we are all equal. Or at least half-naked we are more equal.

And yes, the guy in the background with the incredibly overdone mustache is one of the show creators, Terry Matalas!

So Athan wins the heart of the fair lady, but then she dies. Eliza is killed by the man who stole the baubles that she stole again. Athan uses the suit to go back and save her, of course, after coercing the watchmaker into telling him he’d already made the part. That’s what happens when you pay by the hour instead of on completion.

This is also interesting in terms of character, because he is efficient and ruthless in saving her. He uses modern weapons to shoot the gang and slits the throat of the ringleader who slit Eliza’s throat the first time around. It’s brutal but also very satisfying.

Eliza is appalled, as she is by time travel, and tells him not to do it again. She hands him a broken pocket watch to make the point that all we have is now. It’s the same watch that Cassie stole from the Witness museum. Athan stands over the splinter suit with a hammer. Luckily he wants her to see him doing it because she doesn’t come when called and she is dead. Again. This time it’s a blood clot.

He tries 607 times to save her and every time she dies on that day. It’s like the bit in Groundhog Day where Bill Murray can’t save the homeless guy no matter what he does. For Bill Murray that lesson is about accepting what you can’t change. Athan doesn’t take that lesson so well.

He visits each of his parents, they find out from reading the diaries. Cole when he was just a scav. Athan visited Cassie after he has given up on saving Eliza and Cassie has just lost her first patient. She rails against time, which makes her think that she has pushed him into returning to Titan and waging the war against time that we know the Witness will do/has already done.

In the meantime, Jennifer has a conversation with her selves, future Jennifer and past Jennifer. They help her focus her quest and when she has to be there, and tell her to use her head. She does. On the floor. I hate this scene. I hate seeing people hurt themselves, and she looks like she has a skull fracture and a blown pupil. Deacon breaks and intervenes and tells her she can go wherever she wants. They put her in the chair and she winks at him while she splinters.

Jones is still foolishly going to Olivia for advice.

Knowing what happened to Eliza gives Cassie and Cole the clue to where their son is. They find him standing over her coffin in a church.

607 times. That’s primary, and the same number as the room at the Emerson. (Photo by: Dusan Martincek/Syfy)

Now we have finally gotten to know the Witness, Cassie and Cole’s son. I can see a lot of them in him. I don’t think it’s an accident that he fell in love with a doctor like his mother. He is extremely persistent and he is fierce when he has to be. It’s very easy to empathize with him and his sorrows. It doesn’t hurt that he is doe-eyed. I disagree with Cole. I don’t think he has his mother’s eyes. I think they look like his dad’s.

I hate to admit it, but it took several viewings before I realized that the ghost in Jennifer’s vision from a previous episode was Eliza. It’s her plague mask, and at one point she shows up with a slit throat. It makes me think that maybe she’s a real live dead guy and not just something Jennifer conjured up to show her the way.

There is no reason given for why Athan can’t see her death, but I suppose if he did, he wouldn’t have gotten involved.

I love the music in this episode. It tickles me that Athan has music with him in a way that people in 1899 can’t. I like Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger”. I love “Lilac Wine”, although I prefer the Jeff Buckley version. The soundtrack is always good. I think I just noticed it more because there was a new character to suit the music to.

 

Season 3, Episode 10 “Witness”
Written by Terry Matalas
Directed by Grant Harvey

Athan is ready to go back to Titan and be the sad little demon at the end of the world that he was always told he would be. The decision is fueled by grief, the most painful of emotions, which is the same thing that the Army of the 12 Monkeys taps into when they recruit people. Cassie and Cole aren’t about to let him go, though, so they chase him through time.

Meanwhile, Jennifer bought the mausoleum in her visions and is entertaining some brave young people when the lights start to flicker.

Athan hits the self-destruct button on Cassandra’s suit, which is a really rotten thing to do. He tells Cole he has a choice between saving her or chasing him. Cole cuts the splinter vest off Cassie and because they are still synchronized, they follow Athan. This is interesting because it shows that Athan doesn’t know Cole or understand him. He thinks he let Cassie die and accuses him of it in a shocked tone of voice. He’s horrified, yes, but believes it and if he knew Cole, he would know that Cole would never do that.

You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man. (Photo by: Dusan Martincek/Syfy)

Cassie grabs Athan from behind and Cole disables the suit. They grab him and jump through time.

Olivia tells Jones where they can be found. I hate that she does that, but I like they way she says it. “The lions are taking their cub back to their den.” And yes, they have taken him to the house of cedar and pine. If you are counting, that makes one suit out of three that is still working.

Athan stands in front of the mirror and asks when are they? Cole says it’s December 26th, the day after he ended their lives there. So final. He makes it sound like he murdered the both of them.

We then find out that Jones has let Olivia have the red tea, and she is standing on the other side of the mirror, asking when they are. Deacon, at least thinks this is a bad idea. Olivia sees the Witness on her side of the mirror after she finds out the information they need. It scares her badly.

Cassie and Cole finally get to talk to Athan. Cole has his first dad moment. “Sit down, you little s—.” Athan does sit down, with the surliness of a teenager. But then he threatens Cole and tries to get Cole to shoot him. He threatens Cassie if Cole doesn’t do it. (He’s learning.) Cole doesn’t. Then Athan says that they are coming for him and Cassie and Cole are in danger. He sounds genuinely concerned for them.

The first people to come are Hannah and Jones. They’ve gathered the best fighters of the daughters. They sent Olivia back to her prison before they left. They shoot up the place and there’s some back and forth conversation with Cole, who says they can’t have Athan. You can tell this is painful for both parties.

Then Titan shows up. (Yeah, Athan, maybe you shouldn’t have told Olivia when you were.) Fighters pour out of the time traveling fortress and Hannah and the daughters engage in gunfire, with casualties on both sides. Jones and Hannah run into the house of cedar and pine, where Cassie and Cole have put the last remaining working suit on Athan and told him to go somewhere safe.

Katarina Jones and Hannah have guns on Athan, and Cassie and Cole are pointing guns back. Cassie points her gun at Hannah, to make a point. Jones says “sorry” to Hannah and shoots Athan. His suit starts malfunctioning and he disappears. Cassie of course, does not shoot back. That’s one of the problems with mutually assured destruction. If someone pushes the button first, there’s no reason to add to the carnage by evening up the score. The deterrent is what is important.

Hannah and Jones are astonished that they are still there and time hasn’t changed. No nosebleeds. It’s a pretty good indication that they were wrong. Jones gives Hannah an injection and sends her back to the facility while the three of them are captured by the Army of the 12 Monkeys.

Deacon doesn’t make it to the house of cedar and pine. He hesitates on his way to the splinter chair, sensing something is wrong. An alarm sounds from Olivia’s cell. He figures out on the way that they have been the victim of a long con, but it’s too late. Olivia beats the crap out of him and makes her way to the time machine. It looks like the scientists escape. She sends herself back.

The dying man shows up, finally, in the mausoleum. Jennifer rolls him over and it’s Athan. The statue that Jennifer saw in her vision is over Eliza’s crypt. This is where Athan sent himself when told to go to a safe place. Jennifer sends the kids for help.

Olivia shows up dressed as the Witness and kills the Pallid Man (Tom Noonan) on the podium. She announces that the Witness will never return. She tells our people that they were doing her bidding all along. Setting up Ramse for Cole to kill was just a test to see how far Cole would go. She needed him to take out the guardians, which they did. She needed Cassie to find the Witness.

Olivia compliments Katarina, then stabs her. She likes to stab people. I suppose it’s more personal than shooting them. Cole yells out when Jones is stabbed. When it seems that all is lost for Cole, Cassie and Jones, the Witness appears on the dais. He throws back his cloak to reveal two automatic weapons and a splinter vest. Cole and Cassie’s shining faces have identical expressions: hope and pride. During the firefight the splinter vest gets shot, just when Athan had it working again.

They proceed down the hallway, Cole dragging an injured Jones. It soon becomes obvious that Athan does not expect to come back from this fight. He says goodbye to his parents and hands Cole the broken splinter vest. They reluctantly leave without him. Don’t you just hate it when they grow up and go to college or move to Argentina or sacrifice themselves for the greater good and you just have to accept it?

Cassie uses the two pocket watches to cause a paradox as they leave. The resulting explosion kills Mallick (Faran Tahir). Glad to see him go.

Deacon and Hannah show up with an injection. Deacon looks humbled, at least. They all wink out, splintering one after the other while watching the burning house of cedar and pine.

Athan is dragged off to Olivia. He tells her that she is the Witness and always was. She’s not happy about that. She worshipped him, Athan, before she decided to overthrow him. She slits his throat and the blood lands on Elizah’s mask.

We see many images of the Witness and one is Olivia, face on fire from beneath her skin. The sound of a baby crying is in the background. We backtrack a little to Athan and Jennifer. She’s not happy to see him go, but she is not complaining because he’s off to save Cassie and Cole. It’s too bad those two couldn’t stay together. They obviously understand each other, and together might have figured it all out.

Olivia reassures the survivors that they will get their red forest, and that they will attack their enemies in their home. She knows where that is, of course.

The last scene is of Cole and his father (Patrick Garrow) reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. A card falls out that has a picture of a snake eating its tail with the story of the snake that only goes one way until it meets a demon. The card is from his mother.

So this season is a masterpiece of deception. The writers of 12 Monkeys aren’t writers, they are magicians and masters of misdirection. I wasn’t looking Olivia’s way at all, even though I knew better than to trust her. It was all there. She hated the Witness. We knew that. She sent Ramse after Cassie. We knew that. She got herself put exactly where she needed to be and gained Jones’ confidence. Because we knew that she was not on the side of the Army of the 12 Monkeys, it did not occur to me that there was another side. The enemy of my enemy is NOT necessarily my friend.

She got them to do all the work for her and got Ramse killed and set Katarina and Deacon against Cassie and Cole. She made her move to escape when all the major players should have been gone. (Deacon was a bit late). Cole and Cassie had been on their own for a while, and Jennifer went back to her present, so the people most likely to trip her up were gone.

Mallick was on the inside helping Olivia. He saved Deacon so Deacon could rescue Cassandra so she could find her son for them. Olivia somehow communicated what time and place they were at for Mallick so that Titan could show up at the climactic moment.

Her reward for this is that she is now the Witness. I wonder if Athan became NOT the Witness when he decided not to become the Witness, or when Olivia decided to kill him and take his place, or if he really was never the Witness that returned to Titan and tried to kill time at all. At any rate, the Witness that let Olivia down and disillusioned her, that she decided to kill, was herself. She’s not primary. She may be strong and smart but she doesn’t see the future or the past. I wonder if when Jones tortured her in the machine, she gained new abilities. If not, she will have to get bitten by a radioactive spider or something.

I’m okay with Athan dying. He had an amazing life despite a horrible childhood and lived to be older than his parents are now. He had a great love. He went out in a blaze of glory. What more could a character ask for? Still, I would like to think that his saying, “See ya soon,” to his mom, and “Another life,” to his dad, means something. Maybe that he will be reborn to them once the timeline is improved. Maybe that he will see them again in their future. There was an awful lot of middle that was left out of his and Jennifer’s story. I would certainly try to get done everything I wanted to do before I faced certain death. With a time machine, you have all the time in the world to get it done.

Really. We’re the cool parents. (Photo by: Dusan Martincek/Syfy)

We are also left with a whole lot of unanswered questions. Who is Cole’s mother? I think it would be hysterical if it turned out it was Jennifer, and Deacon was his dad. But since Jennifer is primary, wouldn’t she have figured it out by now? She would make a wonderful grandmother for Athan. They have a lot in common. Don’t they say that talent skips a generation?

Terry Matalas intimated on Facebook that Cole was another enhanced child, like the messengers or Olivia. Of course, that could mean that he was a messenger’s child or Olivia’s child. Or the child of some poor unknown primary that was then experimented on.

What is Katarina’s plan to save the facility? Evidently the time machine can’t be moved and we know that the facility is destroyed in the future.

I’m hoping that Cole dragging Katarina out of Titan will do a lot to heal the rift between the two. Maybe she can’t trust him to tell her that his son is the Witness, but she can trust him with her life. What I would like to see in the next season is the entire crew working together against Olivia, or a Witness beyond Olivia if it turns out that she is not really the one. It would be fine with me if the struggle is external, and there isn’t any infighting and there aren’t any secrets.

We still haven’t found the end of the knot, and the Gordian knot solutions aren’t working either. This season’s problem was resolved in the same way that Hannah’s death was solved, by trickery. Athan just looked like he was the Witness. I’m wondering if Jones might be the frayed end after all. Maybe they should have told her that Hannah was not killed by the virus, but by something else. If she hadn’t invented and implemented the time machine, maybe none of this would have happened.

It’s interesting that when we see the Witness or a Witness-like figure this season, it turns out to be a woman. Elizah as a thief in her plague mask. (If you’re going to promise death, you should look the part.) Jennifer at the Masque, whose appearance made all parties wonder if she was Athan before she unmasks. Olivia seeing herself as the Witness. There have been other times in the series where the Witness seemed feminine.

I wonder why Olivia is glowing from within and why there’s a baby crying. Is it symbolic? Is she going after Cole as a baby? Or is she on a Godzilla-like rampage of the facility and there is actually a baby there?

James Callis as Athan so overshadows everything that it’s possible to overlook other great performances. Cassie with her mom. Olivia and Katarina. Aaron Stanford does a great job as Cole in a different place than he was at the beginning of the season, or after Ramse’s death and finding out his son was the bad guy. After making the decision to try to save Athan, he’s back to himself again. He’s calm, centered and committed. He is our hero again.

It was a great season, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for us in the fourth and final season. Have I forgotten anything? What was your favorite part of this season?

12 Monkeys, which is currently being filmed, returns for its fourth and final season in 2018.

 




ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Is Actually Good. Huh.

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Is this the best episode yet of Fear the Walking Dead? Rubén Blades returns and Team Zombie has thoughts. It’s Zombpocalypse Now!

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Season 3, Episode 4 “100”
Written by Alan Page
Directed by Alex Garcia Lopez

Ruben Blades as Daniel Salazar (Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC)

Timothy: So here’s what concerns me…

Dustin: That Fear the Walking Dead has actually become a well-written show that we’re enjoying, and it’s going to get our hopes up and then crush them beneath a return to the awfulness that we have endured lo these previous two seasons?

Curtis: “Lo”? Really?

Dustin: I am waxing poetic.

Mindy: This is a legitimate concern, at least based on what you two have been saying. Of course, I have just started watching this show, so I haven’t had to suffer the way you two have. Or at least the way you two say you have. Repeatedly.

Dustin: It’s been a terrible burden to bear. 

Mindy: Mmm hmmm.

Dustin: IT IS A TERRIBLE BURDEN, MINDY.

Curtis: So what’s this concern, Tim?

Timothy: Well, I’ve been looking at the viewing numbers. When the show debuted, it had about 10 million viewers, which fell to a little less than 7 million by the end of the first season.

Dustin: This does not surprise me. At all.

Timothy: The second season started with about 6.5 million viewers, and ended with about 3 million.

Curtis: Ouch. 

Dustin: At all surprised, I am not.

Mindy: And this season?

Timothy: This season kicked off with just over 5 million, which became 4.8 million by the second episode. We don’t have the +3 and +7 numbers for the 3rd and 4th episode yet, but their live numbers have fallen every episode. 

Dustin: Wait, we’ve only had three Fear the Walking Dead nights… oh. 

Curtis: They were losing viewers on the first night the show came back, between the first and second episodes. That aired back to back.

Timothy: Yeah. Fear the Walking Dead has had four well-written, well-acted, actually good episodes this season…

Mindy: And fewer and fewer viewers.

Timothy: Exactly.

Dustin: I’m not sure how I feel about being in the position of defending this show, but we are, and we do, and here is the podcast thing we do. Listen while we say nice things about a show we’ve hated while it’s good and we’re hoping it stays that way. LISTEN!

 

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MST3K Recap: 1110, WIZARDS OF THE LOST KINGDOM

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1110

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

1985 was a watershed year for genre movies. It saw the introduction of the Back to the Future trilogy, and The Goonies, Terry Gilliam’s amazing Brazil, Weird Science, Real Genius, and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Almost all were new properties, and fondly remembered to this day. With such an imposing lineup, it’s no surprise that this week’s experiment got lost in the shuffle. But then, that really would have happened anyway.

Cold open in Moon 13. Max is crushing hard on Kinga, and discovers a giant key. Also, a giant keyhole. Inserting part A into part B reveals a giant, armature-like robot who emerges from the ceiling. Unfortunately, it’s show time, so he sends it back whence it came. We’ll have to see where that goes.

Invention exchange: Jonah has invented “Verbal Smoke Bombs”: flash cards with guaranteed conversation-killers like “Got to go. Can’t feel my arm.” and “Oh look, a hurricane!” I need this. The Mads have sold the naming rights to every hour on the clock, which I’m kind of amazed nobody has actually done yet.

Movie sign, and we follow a boy prince who is also a magician who is teleported out of the castle when his father the king is overthrown by the queen and their “trusted” advisor. He tromps through the woods with his…pet? walking shag rug Gulfax until they come up on washed-up drunk and ex-hero Kor the Conqueror, who basically Rowsdowers (episode #910, The Final Sacrifice if you don’t get the reference) the kid around the movie until it’s time to go back, defeat the bad guys, and gain the throne. Shot on the cheap with poor monster costumes and sets that scream “off-season ren faire”, you would think something like this would sink without trace. Surprisingly, it did enough to warrant a sequel, about which more later.

The first host segment has Jonah & the ‘bots pondering just how Kor the Conqueror got his title. He’s…well, he’s not the most conquer-y of persons, to put it mildly. The general consensus is he got it on some sort of technicality (incidentally, Kor is played by Bo Svenson, a very highly thought of actor, director & latterly author with over a hundred credits. He’s one of the few bright spots in this silly mess).

The second host segment features Tom as Magic Prince Boy recreating a scene in the movie where the boy raises warriors from the dead for…well, for teh lulz, as far as anyone can tell. Jonah/Kor steps in, and explains what a terrible idea that is in the form of a 50’s doo-wop coming-of-age-song.  Also, we get a quartet of undead warrior Crows, which is the coolest sentence I’ve ever typed. Bonus: the phrase “Pump your brakes there, Verruca Salt,” which is my new go-to phrase any time someone’s being impatient.

In the third segment, we get (finally!) back to the fan mail! Hooray! I’ve missed the mail, particularly the pictures from kids. Couple of cute ones this time around. I guess that’s kind of a less-good side effect of doing an entire season in batch like they’re doing now, that you don’t have the same kind of feedback loop throughout the season like in the old days. Well, things changed: maybe they’ll set up some kind of internet site where fan mail can be submitted and worked into the next season, assuming there is one.

After the movie, they recreate the seriously underwhelming Suicide Cave scene from later on in the movie, while the Mads gloat over bringing forth the sequel. Which we will bring to you next week.

Well. This is a pretty rough film, to be sure. You can easily spot the places where it is trying desperately to harness the charms of better-made movies that came before it, and likewise spot where it fell short in doing so. It puts longtime MiSTies in mind of such “classics” as Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell, Quest of the Delta Knights, and Cave Dwellers. There is something inherently charming about low-budget fantasy: some combination of rubber monsters, cheap video FX “magic” and Medieval Miscellaneous Chic outfits transcends the awfulness and becomes genuinely entertaining, through still terribly bad. And just think, we get to do it again next week.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck would have thought the queen dressing as a Freaking Lizard would have been a bit of a giveaway. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.

 




ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Still Isn’t Entirely Awful

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Mr. Smith and the Intern From the Future join Mssrs. Adair and Harvey for more Fear the Walking Dead on Zombpocalypse Now!

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Season 3, Episode 3 “TEOTWAWKI”
Written by Ryan Scott
Directed by Deborah Chow

Kim Dickens as Madison Clark, Daniel Sharman as Troy Otto – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 3, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/AMC

Dustin: Curtis is back!

Curtis: Hi guys.

Dustin: Mindy is back!

Mindy: Hi guys.

Dustin: Tim is… still here!

Timothy: Wow. That was enthusiastic.

Dustin: I see you every week. We don’t see Curtis as much as we used to, so it’s special when he’s here. And Mindy still laughs at my jokes.

Curtis: Thanks, Dustin. It’s good to be here. Although I came here more to hang out with my friends than watch whatever this show is.

Mindy: I’ve never watched Fear the Walking Dead before, and to be honest, watching you two watch the show is as entertaining as the show is, if not more. You make the most interesting faces.

Timothy: This show does inspire reactions. Although, we aren’t hating it as much as we thought we would, based on the previous seasons.

Dustin: All twelve thousand seasons of this show. 

Timothy: Two seasons. This is season three.

Dustin: TWELVE THOUSAND SEASONS, TIM.

Mindy: You can kind of see Dustin aging in real-time as he watches it.

Dustin: And that’s with me not hating everything that happens.

Timothy: Heh. Yeah, it says something that not hating the show is the baseline we’re going with here. Anyway, sit back and listen as we talk about all the things happening on the third episode of Fear the Walking Dead’s third season…

Curtis: Sit back and listen to us laugh a lot.

Mindy: Sit back and listen to Tim bleep out all the swearing a lot.

Dustin: AND check out our other podcasts, and our new Twitch channel, and do that YouTube thing that gets us more cool YouTube things.

Timothy: Follow us on YouTube! We’re aiming to get over 1000 followers on YouTube. It would be cool if you could help us do that.

 

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12 MONKEYS Keeps Going Strong Through Episodes 5, 6, and 7

This review contains spoilers for the first seven episodes of season three, but is reviewing episodes 5, 6, and 7, which aired on the second night of the binge-a-thon on Syfy.

Season 3, Episode 5 ”Causality”
Written by Kristen Reidel
Directed by David Greene

This is a fun, bouncy episode but we can’t have the good without the bad so there are a few painful moments for us.

Cassie (Amanda Schull) and Cole (Aaron Stanford) decide to keep the Witness’s identity secret. Cassie because she wants to protect him, Cole more probably because he wants to protect her. This is such a bad mistake. We have been down this road before and secrets are a bad idea. They should let everyone know and deal with the consequences, but they are afraid. I blame Ramse (Kirk Acevedo) for this, and Olivia (Alisen Down) for putting him up to hunting Cassie. It’s possible that if they hashed it out they could come up with a plan that rescued their child AND prevented the apocalypse. Instead they have chosen to sneak around and work counter to the purposes of everyone else.

In this episode, they already have to work against the others. Everyone is worried about the facility lasting less than a year, but Jennifer (Emily Hampshire) made plans to steal the word of the Witness. It was hidden in a painting that Olivia purchased in 1989. The plan is to steal and copy it before Olivia buys it so as not to upset causality. Jennifer has planned everything, even the costumes. This must be a result of her writing plays in 1921 France. Cassie and Cole are going to get the word and destroy the part that explains the Witness’s parentage before anyone sees it.

By the way, the painting was painted of a crew member whose name is, indeed, Constance.

Hilarity ensues. Alisen Down does Jennifer recounting the information she got from Olivia, and it’s hysterical. I think this is something all the actors on 12 Monkeys should get to do. Everyone gets to be Jennifer once. They will have to do a lot of body swapping.

The clothes are fun. Deacon (Todd Stashwick) looks like he stepped out of Miami Vice. It suits him. Cole looks like Marty McFly, and I know everyone might not think this, but I like it. There’s a kind of innocence involved that suits him, although Cole wouldn’t believe it.

This is a wild eighties outfit. I’m wearing three pins at the SAME TIME. (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/Syfy)

Jennifer pretends to be her own mother. She’s only four in this timeline, before the time her mother tried to kill her. Cassie is her assistant, and she screws up immediately. She says that they are interested in the painting, Constance, so that the auction house manager puts it up for auction. Originally Olivia bought it without it going to auction. This makes it more likely they will run into Olivia. Jennifer wants to abort the mission but Cassie tells her she’s over-reacting.

Cole is a mess. Deacon needles him about Ramse and he explodes. They are about to go after each other with bottles but Cassie comes in and they take a swig and pretend nothing’s happening.

Jennifer comes up with a plan that involves auctioning off one of her father’s cars and sneaking Cassie and Cole into the auction house. We get some lovely moments between Cassie and Cole in the warehouse. He explains why he didn’t tell her when he reset their past together. I am a bit surprised that he defends his actions, since he told Jennifer he was wrong, but it’s obvious he was trying to protect her. Cole also says that if there’s something bad inside the Witness that makes him evil, it came from him. Cassie says that if he wasn’t a good man, she wouldn’t have fallen in love with him.

Deacon is so laid back in this episode. He treats the whole thing as a lark. Jennifer gets performance anxiety and buys everything that’s up for auction. Not the way to lay low. When Olivia walks in, Deacon gives the best line of the episode. “Holy s—, it’s Gozer.”Jennifer’s buying attracts the attention of her father, Leland Goines (Zeljko Ivanek), who shows up with four year old Jennifer (Rosemay Lefebvre) in tow. She’s adorable, and it gives Jennifer the chance to confront her father and me another chance to cry. Despite Cole and Cassie’s efforts, Jennifer ends up with the parchment in a room with a copy machine. She realizes what she’s looking at and covers the information about the Witness’s parentage with her hand. Oops. Olivia gets her prize without ever knowing they have the information as well.

Cassie and Cole bury the injections and paint the butterfly that brought Cassie and Deacon home. This makes it a closed circle, with no causality. Maybe they don’t have to worry as much about breaking causality. Or maybe Cassie’s longing to get back and faith that there would be something there for her is the cause. Cassie gives Cole her watch and tells him that he will always find his way back to her as long as he wears it. It’s very romantic.

Could you take my place for a moment so I can go to the bathroom?(Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy)

At the end, we see the Witness as a child being presented to a tent revival meeting by Christopher Lloyd. The Witness is played by the same child who played young Cole in several episodes, so we should be sure of the Witness’s parentage.

Deacon really likes Jennifer. I think she relaxes him, which is not the effect she has on anyone else. I wonder if his mom was like her at all. Deacon seems a lot more reasonable since he was incarcerated by the Monkeys, even if he did give Cole a hard time.

Cole is still suffering from having killed Ramse. If we thought he had the world on his shoulders before, he is feeling massive guilt now. All the best things in his life have been destroyed. His closest friend is dead by his hand, and the happiest moment of his life has produced everyone’s worst nightmare. Talk about low self-esteem.

Another interesting note-child Jennifer is as afraid of Olivia as adult Jennifer is, even though they hadn’t met before. Rosemay did a great job, besides being adorable. I’m not at all surprised in the good casting choices in the children when they’ve done so well with the adults.

I don’t have much more to say about this episode. It was crazy and busy and great. I don’t know how many Back to the Future references there were, or for that matter, how many other movie references there were. And could Jennifer’s poofy sleeves be any bigger?

 

Season 3, Episode 6 “Nature”
Written by Ian Sobel and Matt Morgan
Directed by Kat Candler

Detective Gale (Jay Karnes) shows up again in this episode. I love this guy. The first thing he says when Cole asks for help is “Okay.” Cole (Aaron Stanford) and Cassie (Amanda Schull) are overcome with guilt because the last time they saw him they got him killed. So we not only have the question of whether you kill Hitler as a child, but whether you tell someone of their future death, especially when it might risk your own life. Whew. No wonder these two look so miserable. And that is how Gale knows that they are together and not brother and sister, as they claimed the last time he saw them, because they are sitting side by side on the couch being miserable together.

He turns out to be a big help. They are chasing a notation on the Word of the Witness that says “a time of blood and ash”. They figure out that the Monkeys are building their army. Gale says there has to be a salesman. The salesman turns out to be Christopher Lloyd, in the creepiest role I’ve ever seen him in. The Army isn’t causing disasters, they’re chasing them. There are disappearances of the disaster victim’s loved ones at every disaster.

Meanwhile, back at the facility, Jennifer (Emily Hampshire) has made a trip in the past to collect her turtle. I don’t know why she did that since the turtle is alive now. Maybe it’s to make sure the turtle survives to become the old turtle. She’s still being haunted by time, and she becomes literally haunted when a ghostly figure appears. It looks a lot like the Witness, but it’s a female figure and the mask is different and white. At one point, we see that the figure has a slit throat. Jennifer can’t figure out what it wants.

Deacon (Todd Stashwick), on the other hand, is dismayed that he is not on the map. Any mention of him is completely missing. He goes to Olivia and demands to know his place in all of this. She says some parts are interchangeable. He says, “I am not a red shirt!” That made me laugh out loud. As upset as Deacon is to find that out that he’s a non-player character, it seems to me that this could be an opportunity. If the Monkeys don’t know about him, he could be a stealth character.

Couldn’t you draw me something nice once in a while? Like a pony? (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy)

Deacon is sweet to Jennifer. He promises that no one will lock her up, and he tries to help her through her primary problems.

Cassie gets an invitation to a wake thrown by the Missionary (Christopher Lloyd). She wrangles it by pretending to be a widow but she tells her own story, which Cole hears because she has a wire on her. Amanda Schull does an amazing job in this scene.

Hearing this prompts Cole to tell Cassie later on that being told he was going to be a father was the happiest moment in his life. Cassie says that she wanted to name the baby Athan.

You’re standing on an ancient burial ground…oh, right, it’s a cemetery. (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/Syfy)

In a private moment, Gale asks if he really had that other problem that Cassie talked about. She and Cole weren’t getting along when they first met Gale and she told the detective that Cole had a war injury in his private parts. Cole says if that were true, they wouldn’t be in the fix they were now. The delivery of that line is so nuanced that I can’t describe it all.

They finally warn Gale about what happens when they see him in 1961. He still sounds like he’s going to help them regardless of the consequences. He pushes Cole into going into the tent with Cassie.

And this is where they first see their son. He is played by the child (Jack Fulton) who played the young Cole, only with darker hair, so you know he’s the spitting image of his dad. He is on a stage with the Messenger (Scottie Thompson), the Missionary, and the child (Nicholas Fry) who will grow up to be the Pallid Man. He’s primary. He draws, the way Jennifer does, the things he sees. When he does this we see him communicating with Jennifer. He picks one person out of the crowd to join their cult. Then he puts on a gas mask, that’s long, like a plague mask, and lets loose a poisonous gas in the tent.

Pandemonium ensues. Cole and Cassie get away by holding on to a suit that one of the guardians was wearing when Cassie shot her. It takes them to the same night and they watch the missionary and his family go into a house. They now have the time and place to raid the place and kill their son. They also have a time coat, which is more like a vest.

At about this point I really want to see them quit torturing Cole. I think I may have said this last season. He is suffering so much and yet quietly going about the mission. I’m sure that he still feels it’s his duty to stop the future/past by killing his child, but he doesn’t want to any more than Cassie does.

The town, Hope Valley, is lovely. It looks like Bedford Falls at Christmas.The tent meeting and the house almost look like they’re in different climates. The graveyard scene in the snow is particularly beautiful in stark black and white,

Detective Gale is not only smart, he’s people smart. He reads Cassie and Cole very well. He’s a much better friend for Cole than Ramse was. I don’t know if he’s going to take their advice and try to save his own life. Maybe he will pull a Doc Brown and wear a bulletproof vest.

Jennifer’s visions are mystifying at the moment, unless she’s connecting to Doctor Who. Was that a weeping angel I saw?

Cassie makes a good argument for nurture in this episode. Cole doesn’t believe it, of course. I wonder why the Army leaves no witnesses behind. It seems like they would get more converts if they let their marks live and spread the tale of people appearing and disappearing and a child that could tell the future.

 

Season 3, Episode 7 “Nurture”
Written by Adam Sussman
Directed by Stephen A. Adelson

This entire episode addresses the old moral dilemma of whether or not to kill Hitler as a child, before he has become Hitler. It’s a particularly difficult decision when Hitler is your own child.

We see the child Witness drawing a picture of Cole (Aaron Stanford) pointing a gun at him. The young male tutor (Dylan Colton) takes the drawing and hides it. It’s obvious that he cares about the boy. I’m glad to see that someone cares about him as a person.

Dr. Jones (Barbara Sukowa) gives a speech about what they are going to do-kill a child before he destroys the world. It’s impressive. I’ve seen her as a mother. I’ve seen her as a scientist. But in this scene, she’s a general. She sounds like Churchill. She uses the word “sin” to describe what they are about to do. She says that their only hope is that the sin will never happen once they change the past. That makes for another interesting question. Can you escape responsibility by undoing the past? Cole and Cassie couldn’t. Their child was born even though the past that he was conceived in was undone.

Cole and Cassie (Amanda Schull) discuss killing the Witness privately. Cassie says she can’t: Cole says he can. There’s something honorable and yet terrible about both positions. Cole can kill his own child to save the world, even though it will break his heart. Cassie can’t kill her child, even though it causes the death of everyone else. Somewhere in her is hope that he can be saved. There is no hope in Cole.

Deacon (Todd Stashwick) is suspicious of the two, and passes that on to Jones.

They have built something that temporarily blacks out time travel, something like an EMP machine. They take a detour in time to pick up the prototype. I’m not sure why they need to do that. Maybe to,make sure that the Monkeys don’t get to it first. This results in Cole and Jennifer (Emily Hampshire) traveling to the fifties where Jennifer has the most extraordinarily awkward seduction scene ever. Awkward is what’s needed, though, and the scientist invites her back to his lab to see the prototype, which they take. During the adventure she tells him that you can always see someone’s soul in their eyes, which is why she is so afraid of Olivia’s (Alisen Down) eyes.

Wearing her battle ponytail and seductive poodle skirt. (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy)

While they are gone Cassie pleads with Jones to allow her to see her mother and her wish is granted. She asks her mother (Kristin Booth) for a consultation shortly before her mother’s death, when Cassie was young. She brings the photocopies of the Word of the Witness and her mom analyzes the Witness and declares him to be intelligent, creative and troubled but not evil or crazy. Cassie’s mom is warm, intelligent and intuitive. She knows she has an aneurysm that is a ticking time bomb. They have some nice bonding time together, and Cassie tells her that she should take her daughter (Cassie) to the museum whether she wants to go or not. This is because Cassie always regretted not going with her mom before she died. Cassie gets a nosebleed, indicating that she has changed things, and we see her and her mom at the museum. I assume that means that Cassie gets the new memory.

Jones uses the machine while they are all gone and sees Cole kill Ramse in the past. When Cassie comes home, Jones sics what’s left of the guard on her. Cassie runs and grabs the time vest from the lab and disappears.

The boy tells the tutor that both father and mother are coming after him. There’s a terrific battle.

You need to go save the people we just put in harm’s way, ‘kay? (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/Syfy)

Hannah (Brooke Williams) is severely injured. Cole makes his way to the Witness. Deacon shoots up a whole room of newly made converts in front of Jennifer, who is horrified. So for those who think Deacon has been too soft this season, take note. He does not care.

Cassie arrives and gets to kill the guardian (Hannah Waddingham) who took her baby. They shouldn’t have put self-destruct buttons on those suits.

The tutor tries to tell Cole that the child doesn’t want to grow up to be the Witness, but Cole just shoots him. He then turns the gun on his son. He has the worst, most painful look on his face that I’ve ever seen. It’s a look of ultimate suffering. The child looks back, and you can see that he has empathy for his father’s pain. Cole stops, and drops to his knees,and tells him his name is Athan. It’s a good name. It means immortal.

I’m thinking that maybe the guardian who loves Athan is the man that Jennifer is supposed to save. It could make a lot of difference if he lives and interferes between Athan and the monkey army.

Deacon comes in and Cole stands between him and the child and tells Deacon the child is his son. Deacon takes a moment for his mind to be blown and raises his gun again. Cassie shoots him from behind.

I realize my theory about Athan’s tutor is wrong because the tutor grabs the kid and hits the button on his time vest and they are both gone.

Cassie tells Cole that Jones knows and they can’t go back. They encounter Jennifer with the wounded Hannah and Cole gives her the injection to send her back. They then tell Jennifer to take care of Deacon, who Cassie just shot. Jennifer asks Cole how it went and he says, “I looked into his eyes.”

Cassie and Cole leave alone together, with a time vest for each of them.

Jones and Deacon are back at the facility, bitter and wounded. Jones can’t believe that it’s been about them all along. I guess she thought she was in a time travel story, with herself as the mad scientist,and is terribly surprised to find out that she is in a romance and is only a secondary character. So she and Deacon will be going after the Witness themselves and have to go through Cassie and Cole to get to him.

This is the answer about whether you kill Hitler as a youth. It is the right answer. You can’t kill someone for things they haven’t done yet. Besides, there is always the alternate theory, that is that the times make the man and not the man who makes the times. The theory is that if fate has a need for Hitler, it will produce one. Taking him out of the equation will not stop history.

The last two episodes may not have been as interesting as the first five. They do take us where we need to go.There is also an arc in these three episodes. In the beginning, Cassie and Cole are keeping secrets and the conflict is tearing them apart. By the end, the secret is out and they are united in purpose.

What I mostly feel at the end of this episode is an enormous relief that Cole did not shoot his own kid, which I am sure Cole could not have lived with, even if it worked and time was saved and the plague never happened.

Jones and Deacon are easily the two most ruthless characters now that Ramse is dead, and they are miffed and going after Cole and Cassie with only Hannah as a moderating influence. But what of Jennifer? She helped get both Deacon and Hannah back, but she knew that the Witness was Cole and Cassie’s child and didn’t tell Jones either. It won’t be long before they figure that out. I think it’s a little ironic that she found out in a mundane way, by seeing the word of the Witness, and not by some premonition.

Jones is making plans in the eventuality of the facility’s destruction, but we don’t know what they are. I hope it doesn’t bring about the result she’s trying to avoid.

Gotta go get the kid. (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/Syfy)

How cool that Cassie and Cole are now free-traveling without the machine. It was a great moment when they said that they were going to do this on their own and synchronized their time vests. They looked heroic and bigger than life, but really, they are just parents and for the first time acting like parents together.

 

 




ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Returns And Team Zombie Actually Enjoyed It

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Fear the Walking Dead is back on Sunday night, and #TeamZombie find themselves in the odd position of actually enjoying it. It’s Zombpocalypse Now!

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Season 3, Episode 1 “Eye of the Beholder”
Written by Dave Erickson
Directed by Adam Bernstein

Season 3, Episode 2 “The New Frontier”
Written by Mark Richard
Directed by Stefan Schwartz

The decision to change the format to all singing/all dancing was, oddly enough, surprisingly successful.

Dustin: Ross McCall is the actor who played Steven.

Timothy: Aaaaaand who is Steven?

Dustin: The soldier guy you thought was the crazy soldier guy from the Fear the Walking Dead webisodes. I told you it wasn’t him.

Timothy: So you did. You do have to admit though, he did kinda look like the crazy guy.

Dustin: The crazy guy was Colton, played by Michael Mosley. They only kind of look alike, but considering both of them are buried under dirt and scruff, I suppose if you squint real hard.

Timothy: I just figured it was the the crossover bit for the two. Like the 30 seconds between the second season and the kids from the airplane webisodes.

Dustin: That was pretty stupid. Surprisingly, these episodes weren’t. They were actually good. I was engaged. I WAS ENGAGED.

Timothy: I know, it’s… confusing. We’ve been so used to hating this show, that having two episodes back to back that we liked was pretty unexpected. There’s still the chance they could screw it up, but I’m not actually complaining that we enjoyed the premiere.

Dustin: There were a few moments of the stupid, but overall, we did.

Timothy: Weird.

Dustin: Weird and scary.

Timothy: But we do weird and scary here, so that’s OK too. And for more weird and scary, and also fun and informative, check out all our other podcasts on SciFi4MeRadio…

Dustin: AND our YouTube videos! We have lots of YouTube videos!

Timothy: We do. And you, gentle listeners, can help us get to YouTube 1000 subscribers, which helps us do more on the video side of things, which would be cool.

Dustin: SUBSCRIBE TO EVERYTHING WE DO!

 

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MST3K Recap: 1108, THE LOVES OF HERCULES

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1108

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

Ah, Hercules. If there’s a MST3K pantheon, he is surely right up there at the top, right along with Gamera and Prince of Space. He has been portrayed alternately by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Lou “The Incredible Hulk” Ferrigno, Kevin Sorbo, Alan Steel, and of course the granddaddy of them all, Steve Reeves. This week, we get what may be the only Hercules to get the job because of his wife.

Cold open this week, and the crew are binging on the 90’s sitcom Wings and ramchips (binary flavored, natch). One opening later, and the ‘bots present the Fried Turkey Dunk Tank, allowing you to drop a turkey into a pot of hot frying medium while being plenty far away from the splash zone. The Mads counter with a Mexican Jumping Bean Bag Chair, which is…not up to its usual bouncy self, unfortunately, due to Max’s germophobia. Hijinks ensue.

Now, about that Hercules. Miklós “Mickey” Hargitay is a former Mister Universe who originally came to America from Hungary to avoid the draft. He did a little stage work with Mae West, where he eventually met Jayne Mansfield, and in time became her second husband. Italy was going through its big sword-and-sandal phase then, and Jayne was asked to star in one of their movies. She agreed, on the condition that Mickey be given the role of Hercules. This was to be his only time essaying the role.

It’s very much a true-to-form tale in the classic mold of Herc running around beating up monsters and wooing women. In this case, Queen Dianira (Mansfield), who has inherited the throne from her father, is the object of his affections. It seems her father had Herc’s village slaughtered while he was away, including his wife. The old king’s assistant, Licos, immediately turns around and slaughters him as well, part of a scheme to cut his way to the throne. Hercules comes back, gets framed for murder, fights a bad animatronic hydra, gets ensnared by the Amazons (with Mansfield doing double-duty as Hippolyta and Wonder Woman nowhere to be found), goes charging back into town and leads the rebellion to put everything right. As these movies go, it’s a pretty typical example of the genre, and remarkable only for its casting. One suspects said casting was also the primary expense of the budget, judging by how the rest of it looks.

In the first host segment, the ‘bots reproduce a scene from the movie in which a character is put through a trial by ordeal. This consists of tying Jonah to a wall and throwing things at him. It’s very high concept.

In the second one, the ‘bots argue over the ethics of monster slaying. Jonah, munching his Grown Man Bowl Cuts Cereal(tm), goads them on. Between them, they manage to touch on so many tropes of your standard internet argument discussion that it’s like having your own little comment section in your TV.

The third one has the crew all dolled up as Amazons, lounging around and gossiping when suddenly, they get a visitor! Readers of earlier recaps will remember that I have speculated when new ‘bot M. Waverly (operated & presumably voiced by Grant Bacaiocco) was going to show up. Well, finally he got his big chance. Is it too much of a surprise to say the bots gave him an immediate and severe pummeling? I somehow don’t think so. Not sure if he’ll be coming back, but I guess we’ll find out with time.

Post movie, the SOL crew and Deep 14 have what could only be described as a sort of musical groan-off, everyone vocalizing at the top of their lungs in honor of the movie’s soundtrack. No sign of M. Waverly, though.

Well. This was very much a one-off in the Hercules movie saga. Various Italian & American companies have put out literally dozens of the demigod’s adventures, taking just about every possible take on the subject matter it’s possible to have. The movies are (more often than not) cheesy as all get-out, but they retain their popularity nonetheless. In this viewer’s opinion. that might be Herc’s mightiest labor of all.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck would just like to say this episode is also the one where her name appears in the closing credits. Cool. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.




MST3K Recap: 1107, THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1107

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

There seems to be a thing about Edgar Rice Burroughs stories where on paper they look like they would be the ideal movie material, yet they somehow rarely come off. It may be his flights of fancy: lost worlds of dinosaurs and giant six-limbed Martian warriors can be a bit of a challenge to bring to the big screen. Really, it seems his Tarzan series made it easily to the silver screen precisely because the premise was so simple. Otherwise, we get things like 2012’s not-that-bad-honestly-but-still-flopped John Carter of Mars and…well, this.

We start off this episode with a celebration: it’s Gypsy’s birthday! In fact, it’s all the ‘bots’s birthdays! Why not. Sadly, the good times can’t last, and it’s time for the invention exchange. The SOL crew present M. Night Shyalaman’s Living, a lifestyle magazine where every article has a twist (just so long as it isn’t the one from The Village, that’s all I’m saying). The Mads present the Elder Pump, which…uh…well, it pumps…elders? That sounds about right. This leads to–wait for it–a shocking twist they’ve been building up to all season. OK, hands up who didn’t see that coming?

To the movie. As mentioned, this is based on the Burroughs book of the same name. Our heroes are civilians sunk by a German U-boat who then turn around and capture same, but due to sabotage by the German crew and allied ships continually firing on them for some reason they wind up at the lost island of Caprona, which is chock full of dinosaurs, jungles, neanderthal tribes, all the usual stuff a well-seasoned traveler has come to expect from these kinds of places. In the end, the Germans try to double-cross them and escape in the sub, but it gets blown to smithereens, leaving two survivors to wander the land, hoping for eventual rescue.

In the first host segment, the SOL crew parody the characters on the submarine, with Gypsy roped into playing the periscope. Unfortunately, their little game attacks a giant robotic squid. Luckily, he’s a good sport about it once the mistake is cleared up.

In the second segment, the SOL gang mull over what a dinosaur would taste like, prompting Deep 14 to launch “Mesozoic Ranch”, a Dinosaur BBQ joint with its own catchy jingle and a suspiciously familiar logo. Unfortunately, the allosauruses escape, as they do, and everybody runs off in a panic. Easter egg: check out the reference to the Dino Hotel of Lakewood, Colorado, aka the Best Western Denver Southwest. This place is actually real, and were a major sponsor of the Kickstarter.

The third host segment has Crow trying to find out when he’s supposed to turn into a human. Jonah can’t quite bring himself to explain the reality of the situation, but is saved when Crow explains that he really doesn’t want to anyway and would Jonah please turn that option off? Jonah, needless to say, is willing to go ahead and do that thing.

After the movie, Jonah hurtles a bottle into space explaining his predicament in the hopes of being rescued. Naturally, it winds up going straight to Moon 14, where Max is (briefly) delighted at the prospect of a pen pal.

The movie is primarily of interest due to its featuring Doug McClure, an actor who appeared in over a hundred movies and TV shows over his career. There was also a sequel, The People that Time Forgot (1977), also based on the original Burroughs follow-up novel. There is in fact a third novel in the series, Out of Time’s Abyss, but this does not appear to have been turned into a movie yet. All three books are now in the public domain, incidentally, so if you want to read them, you can pick them up (along with quite a bit of Burroughs’ oeuvre) at Project Gutenberg here.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck is waiting for them to make a movie version of The Efficiency Expert. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.




Dazed and Confused by SUPERNATURAL’s Season Finale


Season 12, Episode 22 “Who We Are”
Written by Robert Berens
Directed by John F. Showalter

Supernatural’s been clicking along all season. The storylines of the boys’ problems with their mom, the introduction of the British Men of Letters and the question of whether they’re good or bad, and Lucifer expecting a son were all coming along quite nicely when suddenly the train derails and we’ve gone over the cliff.

For the two-episode season finale the boys and Lady Toni (Elizabeth Blackmore) have to escape the bunker before the air runs out. Toni cooperates, as I predicted. They try several methods but Dean (Jensen Ackles) realizes that he finally has a chance to use his grenade launcher. That part is pretty cool.

Their mom (Samantha Smith) is still out there killing hunters so they call Garth to warn him and drive to Jody Mill’s (Kim Rhodes) house. They find their mom, tied up. Jody and Alex (Katherine Ramdeen) got the best of her.

Sam (Jared Padalecki) comes to the conclusion that he had wanted to follow the BMoL because following was easier than leading. I think there’s a lot of truth to that for a lot of people. So when they call in the other hunters Sam makes an effort to lead and to not deflect responsibility to Dean. He does a great job of convincing the others to take the fight to the BMoL. It’s Sam’s St. Crispin’s Day speech. Dean tells him he is ready and stays behind to deprogram mom. Besides, he hurt his leg during the blast. This is great interaction between the brothers but ignores the times that Sam has taken the initiative and led before.

This is going to hurt. And if I had any way of making it hurt more, I would. (Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW)

Lady Toni agrees to hook Dean and Mary’s minds together so that he can try to find where she is hiding in her own mind. Mary is in the house in Lawrence with four year old Dean (Anthony Bolognese) and baby Sam, in the time period right before her death. I don’t know why they keep portraying Dean as having dark hair as a kid when Jensen Ackles was probably a towhead, but the kid is cute. She ignores Dean at first, but eventually acknowledges him. He tells her that her decision to save their father, John Winchester, by making a deal with Azazel, was responsible for their being hunters and losing both parents since Dad was shattered by her death. But he also says he forgives her. This gets her to see him.

This part is fine, too. It is what we know about Mary, that when she was in heaven she was living perpetually in that time with her happy family. We know she feels guilty about what she put her sons through. And that over developed sense of responsibility-that little boy who was handed a six month old baby to run with out of a burning house-is what I love best about Dean. Even though he feels that he failed to protect Sam from the fate the demon (and even more powerful beings) had for him, he is at his most heroic and most nurturing when it comes to Sam.

But here’s where things get seriously wonky. I’m okay with the hunters winning the fight against the men of letters, even though the elite team they brought in to kill the hunters had automatic weapons and bulletproof vests. The hunters did have the element of surprise, knew the layout of the BMoL facility, and Ketch (David Haydn-Jones) wasn’t there because he was looking for Mary. They are mostly middle aged hunters, which means they’re good, because they’ve survived that long. They lost the one that looked like McCloud. It seems unlikely that they would win, but possible. What’s really weird is that the headmistress (Gillian Barber) is turned down by the home office for an extraction. They said they didn’t have the resources for one. Did they want her dead or did they really lack the resources for a presumably magical extraction, and why?

A chorus line of hunters. ( Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW)

Hess then tries to talk the hunters into letting her live because they need the BMoL to tackle Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino). This is mostly for Sam, so he can realize that they can do it on their own and have confidence in themselves. He turns her down. She then goes for a gun and it’s Jody that kills her. This whole conversation may have been to illustrate his growth but it also brings up how terribly stupid they are to kill the American hunters when Lucifer is on the loose and about to have a son. Unless there is someone in the BMoL who wants Lucifer to win.

Oh, and the voice on the radio from the home office:”Listen to her, boy.” BOY?

Dean wakes up to find Ketch in the room and Lady Toni with her throat slit. Ketch then proceeds to beat the crap out of him. Dean is still hampered by his injured leg. Ketch taunts him about how his mom never talked about him the entire time they hunted together. There’s real jealousy there. It’s not normal, having that kind of jealousy about your object of desire’s kid. Dean says he knew when Ketch left him alive in the bunker that he was sick, but didn’t know he was stupid. Ketch says he is a lot of things, but not stupid, and draws a gun to prove it. He then gets shot from behind. By Mary. Kudos to her for shooting him through the shoulder so it didn’t hit Dean.

He calls them killers. Both of them. And Mary shoots him in the head. Ding Dong, the evil would-be stepfather is dead. Good for her.

I’m sneaking up on Lady Bevell with a quiet weapon so as not to waken the hypnotic subjects, but then I’m going to take the sensors off and wake them up. (Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW)

I really have to differ with Ketch. He was stupid! He practically ensured Mary, Dean and Sam’s survival. Leaving them alive to die slowly was stupid. Taking them out of action when the BMoL had gotten an army to hunt hunters was stupid. Calling someone a killer when they have a gun on you and want to kill you is stupid. Far better to persuade them that while you are a psychopath they are merciful and don’t want to kill you, unless you want to die. Most stupid was slitting Toni’s throat and beating the crap out of Dean instead of killing him when he was under. Lady Toni could have taken them out when they were hypnotized. She didn’t, but she could have. He removed a possible danger to himself, yes, but also a danger to them. He acted like someone who really was furious with someone he didn’t want to kill. I suppose that’s supposed to be due to his sadism, but it really looked like out of control anger because Dean was trying to take Mary away. This character is a mess. His actions make no sense. They should do a post-mortem on him but that seems unlikely.

The BMoL facility blows up, as these things must. I suppose it was triggered by the home office in London. Two cars drive away, so it appears that only Sam and Jody survived.

Mary explains to Dean that she was trying to set things right. Sam comes in and there’s a group hug. Aww.

On to the second part of the finale, where things get even more confusing.

Season 12, Episode 23 “All Along the Watchtower”
Written by Andrew Dabb
Directed by Robert Singer

First, I have a bone to pick with actor Jim Beaver. At Planet Comicon, he said that Bobby was NOT in this season of Supernatural. We were running out of time for an appearance, whether ghostly or flashback. And I reported it that way! So, he shows up. Very last episode. I think that there are only a few possible explanations for this discrepancy.

  1. It was a deep, dark secret and he wasn’t supposed to tell anyone.
  2. Maybe it was filmed after Planet Comicon.
  3. He was splitting hairs because while there was a Bobby Singer it was not THE Bobby Singer. It was alternate universe Bobby Singer.
  4. He broke into the set and selfied himself in, like he threatened to. Members of the audience offered to help him film himself and insert the footage into the show. The alternate universe is very smoky and grey and he’s wandering around wearing a cowl, so he could have substituted himself for someone else.

I’m going to assume it’s the last one, because it’s the most reasonable explanation.

Cas (Misha Collins) and Kelly (Courtney Ford) are planning for Lucifer’s child. I don’t know why they think it’s going to be a baby but they do. They buy diapers and a crib. Haven’t they ever seen a movie with an alien/human or Satan/human hybrid? They grow faster than a kid on a soap opera.

The Winchesters start looking for Cas and Kelly in earnest to protect them from Lucifer. Crowley (Mark Sheppard) pops up in the bunker (now why couldn’t he have done that when they were trapped there?). He doesn’t get a warm reception because he is the reason Lucifer’s free. They have to tell him that Lucifer killed Rowena (Ruth Connell). He takes it well. Crowley tells them he got away by hiding in a rat. While he was there, he discovered that he didn’t really like his job.

I could have told him he hated his job a long time ago.

A seat at the table. (Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW)

The nephilim’s presence causes a rift in the space/time continuum which Cas explores. He meets alternate universe Bobby. When the boys find them, they find the rift and meet alternate universe Bobby. This is a universe where Mary didn’t make the deal and John died. Sam and Dean were never born and earth has become a battleground for angels and demons. I’m thinking this is something Mary needs to see, not them.

Crowley follows even though Dean stuck a knife through his hand in the bunker and fixed him to the table, so he is with them all.

Contractions won’t kill you. (Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW)

Mary stays with Kelly while they fight Lucifer. This is a little bit sexist, but Mary is the only one among them who has any experience with having a baby. Castiel gets knocked aside immediately. The boys run away from Lucifer and lead him right into the rift.

Crowley is waiting on the other side with a spell. The idea is to trap Lucifer in the alternate universe by closing the rift. This doesn’t seem fair to alternate universe Bobby and whatever other survivors there are but they are probably screwed anyway. Unfortunately the spell requires a sacrifice. Crowley approaches Lucifer with an angel blade, but then uses it on himself.

Castiel bursts through the rift and attacks Lucifer. My first thought is, didn’t they tell Cas the plan? He wakes up and decides to go attack Lucifer? Then I thought, maybe he’s trying to delay the devil so that the rift can close. But it still risks his being stuck in the alternate universe.

Kelly is suffused with a bright light, says “I love you,” and dies. The light blast knocks Mary out.

Dean and Sam make it back to their world. Cas follows. Lucifer follows him and stabs Cas in the back with an angel blade. Light streams out of Castiel’s eyes, everything. He’s dead. Mary comes downstairs, leaving the nephilim with the dead mom, we assume, and attacks Lucifer with the brass knuckles that work against angels. This turns out to be very effective because it knocks Lucifer into the rift and it closes. Success. Unfortunately he grabs Mary as he falls and she goes with him.

Dean stares in shock at the place his mom disappeared at, and then down at the dead body of his best friend. Sam comes to his senses first and runs upstairs. They find Kelly’s body. She looks very peaceful. There are footprints leading from the bed and you can see an adult face in the darkness but not the rest of it. It smiles, which would seem to be a good sign, but it is a creepy, glowing eye smile.

So what, they decided that they would kill them all and let Chuck sort them out? How do we know who’s coming back and who isn’t? Why can’t characters have their own, properly mourned deaths?

They killed the entire Men of Letters, London Chapter, that were in America. They killed Eileen, Kelly, Rowena, Crowley, Castiel, and an unknown number of hunters. They trapped Mary in the alternate universe. TVLine gives the show the highest death toll of any show for this finale season. They could literally start out the next season with just Sam and Dean and the nephilim.

How much for hair extensions? (Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW)

Rowena didn’t even get to be onscreen. All we saw is a burned up body and a lock of red hair. This is usually a sign that someone is coming back, but since Crowley died, maybe not. But it also means that the actress didn’t even get a death scene. It was an ignominious ending. Kelly, who was only in a few eps, got a better death scene than Rowena did.

Crowley got a death scene, and got to sacrifice himself. Whether he did that for the greater good or because he had nothing to live for is debatable. He had just discovered that he hated his job and his mother was dead. However, it wasn’t so great because the spell wasn’t fast enough to save either Mary or Castiel. Mark Sheppard has said on social media that he is definitely not coming back.

As a weird thought, because Crowley made the ultimate sacrifice he might go to Heaven. Wouldn’t that piss the angels off!

Castiel is my best bet for coming back. I’m not sure how, but he is important to the series. He also promised to raise that “baby” after Kelly’s death, and now Dean and Sam have to do it. I hope it potty trains fast.

I also wouldn’t put it past Ketch. He could turn out to be a Frankenstein monster or something.

The boys will have to try and find their mum. I don’t suppose that the nephilim, Jack, will be able to produce another rift right away. I would like to see Mary and AU Bobby Singer team up. That would be great.

What I would like to see next season is properly written characters. The BMoL storyline was good. However, they didn’t make logical decisions. Ketch didn’t make logical decisions. They took pains to show us that Lady Bevell had a child and that she and Ketch were together in the past, but didn’t go anywhere with it. Now she’s dead so we are unlikely to find out anything more about her. How did Hess get to be headmistress and one of the head operators? Did they have only one class of psycho killers at Kendricks? Only Mick got a complete storyline.

A big thanks to Mark Sheppard for playing Crowley in such a wonderful droll way all of these years. I will miss his wit, poignancy, brutal honesty, and moments of pure evil. I first noticed Mark Sheppard in Firefly, so whenever I saw him in Doctor Who, or Battlestar Galactica, or Leverage, I would think, “Look! There’s Badger”. It took a long time for him to become Crowley to me. The roles are very similar. Crowley was a sad little king of a sad little Hell.

Goodbye, Crowley and Rowena. I hope you’ve gone onto a better place. (Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW)

The way Crowley died is appropriate for him. He got to choose his own end. He was such a ratty little survivor it’s impossible to imagine someone else killing him off. He liked to win. It may have been a Pyrrhic victory, or at least one he personally didn’t survive, but it was a victory.

Supernatural returns in the fall for a thirteenth season on the CW.

 




MST3K Recap: 1106, STARCRASH

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1106

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

Our older readers who were around in ’77 will remember the way Star Wars washed over the culture of the day. You think it’s popular now, folks? Back then, it was everywhere. Toys, clothes, disco music (it was the seventies, after all), everything was Star Wars. And if it wasn’t, it was as close an imitation as they could get (this reviewer has in her collection a promo recording from a radio jingle company for a package called “The Music Force”, complete with R2-like bloops & whistles). And sure as sunrise follows sunset, there came the imitations. Slavish, cargo-cult space operas that panted after the original while simultaneously learning nothing from it. Starcrash is just one such movie.

This week’s cold open has the SOL crew making like college kids and playing spin-the-bottle. A rare appearance of Crow in drag here, as it’s usually Tom that does the honors in that direction. After the show open, the Mads introduce the “band-eat-o”, a food & condiment-covered bandolier based on the salsa-filled sombrero, which is apparently a thing somewhere. Not Mexico, I’m guessing. The SOL crew with BB-Servo, namely Tom’s head on top of you-know-who’s body. Alas, Lucasfilm’s legal team work very quickly, and Tom’s dreams of licensed merchandise are dashed in a matter of seconds.

The movie is, as noted, one of the flock of me-too movies that came after Star Wars, an Italian quickie turned out by someone who hadn’t seen Star Wars but had a copy of the book (true). It involves galactic smuggler Stella Star (yes, really) and her friend Akton who get hired by the Emperor of the Galaxy (Christopher Plummer!) to find out what’s happening with a secret weapon developed by the evil Count Zarth Arn. Also, David Hasselhoff shows up as the emperor’s son.

RELATED ~ BOMB SHELTER Drill #3: Jay and Kevin Get Caught in a STARCRASH

This is cargo-cult film making at its finest: kit-bashed spaceships, corny robots, all the accouterments with nothing to back them up. It’s actually amazing how much this movie resembles an updated version of a standard ’50’s space saga in the Flash Gordon/Rocky Jones mold. The “lived-in” universe of Lucas & McQuarrie is nowhere to be seen. The robots look like they were assembled with erector sets. There is no grounding realism, no universe building to speak of. It faded as quickly as it came, forgotten with a host of others.

A word about the guy who plays Akton, aka the-guy-who-isn’t-William-Kat: you might not be familiar with Marjoe Gortner, but he’s got a fascinating history quite apart from this film. Raised on the faith healing & revival circuit, he became famous as “The world’s youngest preacher” as his family trucked him around all over the place, using him as the principal draw for their “ministry”. He continued in this world until adulthood, when he left in the most spectacular way possible: filming a “stealth” documentary showing him at work and behind the scenes, exposing the faith healing circus for what it was (and, alas, still is). The movie is called Marjoe, and definitely worth a look. He had a bit of a movie career afterwards, but has settled into the background since.

Anyhow. First host segment. Crow has whipped up yet another screenplay to capitalize on ersatz sci-fi quickies, World War Space. It combines equal parts Candyland, space bureaucracy, merchandising, and gibberish. As these things go, it’s no Earth vs Soup, but could probably get legs in modern Hollywood, more’s the pity.

The second host segment has Jonah dressed up as Akton and generally acting like a typical self-absorbed celebrity until it turns out he has no control over his vaunted so-called powers. He immediately falls to pieces and runs off, sobbing, leaving the disappointed ‘bots in his wake.

In the third segment, genius investor Freak Masterstroke (Jerry Seinfeld) comes by Moon 13 to hear the Mads’ pitch for a fly-in drive-in, a lunar theme park, and various other items that get shot down hard. He tells them to turn Jonah & the ‘bots into Apps but flies off before they can secure funding. Hey, maybe they should try Kickstarter. I hear that sometimes works.

After the movie, Jonah gads about as the Count while Crow & Tom relentlessly attack with torpedoes and cheesy catchphrases, leaving the Mads to wonder if they have finally been driven mad. Quoth Kinga: “I don’t even know anymore.”

In  her Planet ComicCon appearance, Felicia Day stated that she considered either Avalanche or The Beast of Hollow Mountain as the worst show of the season, but for my money this one lays over both of them easily. The cheap sets, the Hayden Christensen-level acting, the excruciating writing all combine to form an absolute mess that only serves to remind you of other, better movies you could be watching. No lie folks, this is a toughie to get through. We’re talking Castle of Fu-Manchu tough. But the gang pull us through, bless them. The host segments are a bit uneven this time around, but the riffs keep us going through what could have been an unbearable slog.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck never realized how important perms & leather bikinis were to saving the universe. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.




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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ROGUES GALLERY #54: Barry is Still Dumb, Supergirl Needs Focus

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This week: it seems that Barry Allen is still not through making dumb decisions. And even though we now know the identity of Savitar, there really doesn’t seem to be any kind of a plan from the writers room. And Supergirl has yet to get out of being about all the lovebird characters and get back to being about … well… Supergirl.

Arrow continues to slide into irrelevancy. Powerless is cancelled, but we have Black Lightning waiting in the wings.

Plus: we’ve decided to weaponize Mr. Townley’s recaps and unleash him on Gotham

Watch a special LIVE edition of episode 53 here on SciFi4Me TV

The panel: Ann Laabs, Jennifer Wise, Jeff Hackworth, Will Tramp, Jason Hunt

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All Hell has Broken Loose on SUPERNATURAL


Season 12, Episode 21 ”There’s Something About Mary”
Written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming
Directed by P.J.Pesce

Aww…Ketch (David Haydn-Jones) got a pet.

Okay, that’s probably the least important thing to happen in this episode. But it’s a very appropriate pet for him. Maybe Crowley (Mark Sheppard) sent it so it would kill him and eat him.

Well, we knew Eileen (Shoshannah Stern) was doomed. She had a bad case of Samlikesme and an “accidentally killed a BMoL” curse at the same time. Still, it was hard to see her go. I love that character and sending a hell-hound after her is particularly cruel. How did she even know to run? She can’t see it. She can’t hear it. Did she see it breaking things around her or footprints on the ground? Did she smell its foul breath or did it actually nip her before she knew it was there? I thought that Mick was going to be the sacrificial lamb of the season but then there was Eileen. I have a feeling they aren’t finished yet.

The British Men of Letters brainwashed Mary (Samantha Smith), and she killed a hunter for them. Since she had vague memories of it she was devastated and made a very reputable attempt to kill herself after grabbing Ketch’s gun. She then begged him to kill her and he didn’t. He told her it would all be over soon. What does he mean by that?

( Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW)

Ketch either engaged in sniping with his ex or flirting. I can’t tell which. She calls him a bastard American when he’s not looking. Maybe she’s being literal. Schoolmarm Hess (Gillian Barber) pits them against each other, telling both of them that the other one can have the American territory when the hunters are killed.

Dean calls Ketch to find out about their mom. The conversation they have would be hilarious if the subject weren’t so serious. Dean who?

The boys are looking for their mom when they get the call about Eileen. They check out the morgue and everything, so they can tell it’s a hellhound, but they also have to see Eileen’s body. Sam is pretty broken up. They call Crowley because it takes a demon to handle a hellhound and he lies and says he knows nothing about it. We know that he gave Ketch the hellhound and is buttering up Dr. Hess.

Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) is still working on getting free. He has a demon working on it, trying to break the bonds that give Crowley control over him. Unfortunately for Crowley, the demon succeeds too well. It turns out that they have reversed the polarities and Crowley is now Lucifer’s sock puppet. Lucifer tests out the theory and that scene IS hilarious. Then he kills Crowley with an angel blade. Not to worry, there’s a rat nearby and no fireworks. The rat trundles after the body so I’m sure Mark Sheppard will return as Crowley.

After receiving a letter from Eileen, saying that she thought she was being spied on and her computer and phone were compromised, Sam and Dean find the honking big microphone that Ketch placed under the table right next to the holster. They should have found it long ago. They use it to lay a trap, pretending that they have a meeting with another hunter.

Lady Bevel (Elizabeth Blackmore) shows up for the meeting, and they kidnap her. Dean’s going to be speaking a little higher now, but they get her. She is insufferable and tells them Mick is dead, and claims Jody is dead too. I don’t believe her about Jody. We haven’t seen it. She tells them Mary slept with Ketch and joined their side.

I don’t know how I let you talk me into driving for Uber, Sam. (Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW)

They get to the bunker to find that Ketch is already there, with armed men. Ketch definitely has the drop on them. Sam and Dean do what I think should be done in that sort of situation, they try to shoot their way out. (It’s not like they are going to be able to reason with them). And they succeed. Sam starts it off, and keeps hold of Lady Bevel the entire time. They clear the room and Dean disarms Ketch. To the relief of Dean and Sam, Mary shows up. They are happy to see her until she gets the drop on them. They aren’t about to shoot her, so she disarms them.

Ketch leaves them there with the doors locked and he’s going to reverse the exhaust fans and turn off the water. Oh, and he leaves Lady Bevel there with them. (I knew they should have changed those locks)

Mary and Ketch drive away. She still looks brainwashed, but I’m not sure.

Lucifer is out, and lord of all he surveys. Got himself some new duds, too.

Sam and Dean are in bad shape and the nephilim and Lucifer aren’t even involved yet. What gets me about what Ketch did is that it is an abominably STUPID way to kill someone. Unless you’re H.H. Holmes and find a sadistic pleasure in watching someone die of suffocation or dehydration it’s far easier to just shoot them. He won’t get to see them die slowly. There’s no reason to make it look like an accident since it would never get investigated. Instead, he gives them two or three days to find a way out.

If Ketch were someone who cared about people, and I’m not saying he is, he has just secured all the people that he might care about-Mary by his side, his ex and Mary’s sons in the bunker which is also a fortress that protects them. If he were planning a coup, he could be back in a couple of days to release them. Just a thought.

Of course, the other reason this is stupid is because the BMoL are going around killing hunters instead of using them to fight the nephilim. They might be missing the Winchesters when they find out Lucifer is on the loose.

Shame on Crowley for lying to Sam and Dean. He deserves to get kicked around a bit.

I’m sure Lady Bevel will cooperate to get out of the bunker. She’s got a kid at home.

I would have a poll on who you think will die, but it might break my heart. The previews show Mary knocking on Jody’s door. (Told you Lady Bevel lied).

Next week, May 18th, there will be two episodes for the season finale, starting at 8pm/7c. Set your recording devices accordingly.

 

Supernatural airs on the CW at 8pm/7c on Thursdays.