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 #53: 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.

 




AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Marks a Return With Whedon Banter — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #117

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Episode 421 “The Return”
Written by Maurisa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon
Directed by Kevin Tancharoen

Our intrepid Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are back in the real world, and it’s not without its hangups. What with Mack still being in the Framework and May trying to shoot Ophelia and Fitz getting in the way and the two of them whisking out BAMF-style and Coulson not wanting to admit he cracked open the bottle and oh, how many robot copies of the Russian are there now?…

But at least it appears that Fitz won’t be the villain of next season (is there a next season?), at least not yet. He again demonstrates just how good a heart he has, even in the face of utter sociopathic murderous rage from his wanna-be girlfriend who suddenly finds that she’s… not? uh-oh. What was that about a woman scorned?…

Next week: the Ghost Rider returns!

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

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Arts and Crafts on SUPERNATURAL


Season 12, Episode 20 “Twigs and Twine and Tasha Banes”
Written by Steve Yockey
Directed by Richard Speight, Jr.

This may be their Mother’s Day episode because it was certainly about hunter children and their mothers.

Tasha Banes (Alvina August), mother of Max (Kendrick Sampson) and Alicia (Kara Royster), drives up to the Mountain Slumber Boarding House in Wyoming. She has an odd encounter with a grumpy woman (Linda Barlow) and a normal encounter with a harried clerk or innkeeper (Tim Carlson). Tasha does a reveal spell which leads her to the basement where she get stabbed by someone off screen. Looks pretty fatal.

All signs say-Don’t go in the basement! (Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW)

Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) are not happy about what happened with Cas (Misha Collins), to say the least. Dean points out that it takes some major mojo to take over Cas before you’re even born. When they get the call from the twins, which was meant for Mary (Samantha Smith), Dean is not thrilled about helping them. Sam talks him into it by saying ‘Their mom’s on a hunting trip, and she hasn’t been home in a week.” This is almost identical to the words Dean used in the very first episode when he asked his brother for help in finding their father.

Ketch (David Haydn-Jones) is beating the crap out of Mary, who is shackled to a chair. Then we see that Mary is there watching, and Ketch says if the shifter thinks this will affect him, he’s wrong. So it’s not Mary! They faked us out! It’s a shapeshifter. Mary gets the call from Dean telling her they are going to go help the twins but she doesn’t answer because it’s killing Ketch’s mood.

The boys meet up with the twins in Rock River, Wyoming. Dean and Max bond over the car (and the grenade launcher) and Sam and Alicia bond over being left out. Mom Banes and Max are both natural witches. Alicia didn’t get the magic. Sam tells her about Dean and their dad bonding over hunting, but has trouble explaining their mom. (She was dead for three decades. Just tell her.)

When they get to the inn, Tasha Banes is there and just fine. Max is smug because he didn’t think anything was wrong and thought Alicia was overreacting. I immediately suspect a shapeshifter or rakshasa. They have a lovely evening. Tasha breaks a finger while opening the wine and snaps it back into place without anyone noticing.

Ketch is revved up over the torture and tries to talk Mary into going off into a dark corner. She reminds him that their fling was supposed to be a one time thing. Yes, torturing someone who looks like Mary turns him on. This is not a good thing in anyone. Mary’s not happy about the torture. She was sure that the shapeshifter wouldn’t betray its family. Ketch says that anyone who doesn’t think torture works has never been under the knife. I’m not at all surprised that he’s been tortured by the BMoL. He ends with a jab about her calling Dean back lest he think mommy doesn’t love him. Jealousy over children is also a very unattractive trait.

Dean and Sam find Tasha’s body in the basement with her heart cut out, along with the innkeeper and the weird guy (Paul Rogic) from the basement. Unfortunately Max, who was on his way out for a date with the waiter from the vegan place, comes upon them with his mother’s body. He runs back into his house and confronts his false mother. He uses a reveal spell and she tells him that it’s the lady upstairs.

Are you my mummy? (Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW)

Meanwhile, Mary has overheard a conversation that leads her to Mick’s body. She snoops around more and finds that they have surveillance on Garth, Eileen, Claire, Dean and Sam. Ketch catches her and they have a knock down drag out fight. “You’re a psychopath,” she says. Well, duh. It took her long enough. This fight is really interesting. Mary breaks or dislocates his right arm right away. He says he can protect her if she plays nice. It only makes her more angry.

I particularly love when she pulls out brass knuckles and he says that they are enochian brass knuckles and only work on angels. She says brass knuckles are brass knuckles, and hits him with them. It reminds me of Dean saying that decapitation kills most things. The fight should not have ended the way that it did. If both fighters are equally well trained, the larger, stronger fighter will win. Of course, you have to take temperament into account too. He is thoroughly beaten when he zaps her with the tazer.

I said it was a one time thing. (Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW)

Max runs upstairs and Dean follows him, while Sam and Alicia fight the innkeeper and the guy on the missing poster. They confront the old lady, who is a witch, and Dean tells her that craft time is over. She shows them that she made a doll of the twin’s mom out of tree twigs and Tasha’s own heart. She also wants someone to take her power, which is in a ring. She sold her soul to the devil a long time ago and knows she’s out of time and doesn’t want to go to Hell. She also tells him that her dolls will die with her but if he takes the ring they can keep their mom forever. Max is still trying to decide when Dean shoots the witch-but not soon enough to keep Alicia’s mom from stabbing her downstairs. The look of shock and betrayal on Alicia’s face is horrifying.

Max has lost his whole family. The boys give him a few platitudes and leave. He then does just what I expected him to do, and what they should have expected him to do. He uses the ring and makes a doll out of Alicia. He then torches the room, magically, giving his mom and Alicia a hunter’s funeral.

It could be, of course, that they knew what Max will do but allowed him to make his own decisions.

The last scene is Mary in irons, in the same chair that the shapeshifter who looked like Mary was in. Lady Toni is there. Ketch looks uninjured but the Men of Letters are not above using magic in their own self interest. Their fakeout becomes real by the end of the episode.

There’s a lot to talk about in this episode. The setting was beautiful. That house was wonderful. The sitting room that they were in was gorgeous, and supposed to be part of Tasha’s room? Not the main room, but part of her suite. The house was also a great metaphor. It had the lovely, homey interior with a few creepy antique dolls sprinkled throughout, the basement of horror where the secrets were kept, and the old witch upstairs like a spider in the attic.

I liked the twins and their mom a lot, so it was sad to see the family torn apart. One of the things I like about them is that they are good witches. If werewolves and vampires can have groups that are striving not to harm humans, there should also be good witches. Most witches in Supernatural are powerful, evil and downright unsanitary. Rowena has sometimes been helpful, but can’t really be considered good. There are three types of witches. There are borrowers, who get their power from a demon in exchange for their soul. The witch in this episode is of that type, and the twins tell Sam and Dean that their mom was looking for a borrower that was killing people all over Wyoming. Max and Tasha are naturals, who were born with power. There are also witches that learn by studying, whether on their own or taught by someone in the Grand Coven. The Winchesters and the BMoL use magic that they’ve learned, although they would never call themselves witches. Max may or may not have acquired the penalties of the witch’s bargain. He certainly is sliding down the ramp towards evil, though.

Evil or not, the Men of Letters, London Chapter, would want Max and Alicia did, because they are American hunters and because Max is a natural born witch. Alicia, of course, is no longer human.

The boys are envious of how close knit the Banes family is. They both have unrealistic views of their mother; Dean because he remembers the mom of young kids and idolizes her, and Sam because he must hold an idealized picture in his head of the mother he wished he’d had. In this episode, Mary does not compare very well to Tasha in their eyes.. But remember, Tasha’s already dead at that point. So the show is saying that a poppet made out of branches and string and given life by an evil witch is a better mom than Mary. That’s pretty harsh.

The shapeshifter bears some explanation, too. In the past, we’ve seen that shapeshifters change in very messy ways. However, we have seen incidences where the Winchesters have encountered shapeshifters that can change instantly and without drama. It could be that this one is a pureblood, or one that is close to the alpha shapeshifter in lineage. The alpha shapeshifter is dead, however, so it’s not him. Shifters can read minds of those that they shift into, so the shapeshifter may know something about Ketch. It said it did when it changed into him. It will be interesting to see if that comes up again. Of course, I don’t even know if the critter is still alive.

Do I look like I need protection? ( Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW)

I think I know what Mary’s fatal flaw is. All heroes have them. It’s not love or compassion. It’s being too brave. There were a couple of points in this episode where duplicity would have been a better choice than fighting. Ketch was practically begging her to lie to him. A little subterfuge would have been more effective. Mary walks around like nothing can hurt her. I don’t know if she was always that way. It does remind me of Dean. But it could be a result of having knowledge of death and having no reason to be afraid of it.

It was good to see who they had surveillance on, because now we know Garth and Eileen are still alive. We haven’t seen Garth in a long time, probably because the actor’s been busy on Z-Nation. It’s bad because the BMoL has decided that American hunters have got to go.

 

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




MST3K Recap: 1104, Avalanche

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1104

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

There’s just something about some movies that just screams “Made For TV”. Maybe it’s the roll-call of special guest–er, featured players. Or the way an expensive production still manages to look cheap as hell. Remarkably, this week’s experiment Avalanche was actually made for theatrical release: were it not for some gratuitious-bordering-on-desperate-nudity one would never guess.

We open as usual on The SOL, where the bots are busy workshopping their version of Mad Men. Quisp gets name checked; someone check and see if Tarantino has been ghostwriting for the series. Afterwards, we find out a bit more about Kingachrome, Forrester’s liquid video format. Jonah demonstrates the Mouth Vacuum, which works exactly how you think it does. Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem with the filters… The Mads, meanwhile, have created a computer that takes any phrase and turns it into a movie title with appropriate font and everything. Turns out “A Lighthearted Neil Simon Project” is the perfect title for a balls-to-the-wall action movie. Who knew?

Avalanche (1978) was written & directed by Corey Allen (no relation to Irwen, surprisingly), and spends two thirds of the movie introducing this week’s gues–sorry, there I go again. Introducing the characters and banging them against each other in various overly dramatic ways. David Shelby (a very tired Rock Hudson) is building a fabulous ski resort in…I don’t know, the Rockies somewhere. Among the guests are his ex-wife Caroline (Mia Farrow) and Nick (Robert Forster), the requisite doomsayer who wants them to close the beach–er, shut down the resort. Also in attendance are Shelby’s mother (Jeanette Nolan doing her Berthe-from-Pippin bit), various reporters, alleged celebrity athletes and so on and so on. When the avalanche does finally get around to happening, things do noticeably pick up, even if a majority of characters seem to suffer from Spontaneous Common Sense Failure. In the end, the place is a wreck, and Mia takes the big yellow taxi out of Rock’s life for good, off to hook up with Woody Allen and star in some decent films for a change.

In the first host segment, the ‘bots have got Rock Hudson Fever, Jonah patiently explains to them why 70’s style, what-kind-of-man-reads-Playboy types are not romantic role models. Especially when they’re wearing yellow plaids. “He [Hudson] doesn’t know what women want, and he doesn’t care,” proclaims Tom. Ah, dear, sweet, innocent Tom. Righter than you know.

In the second one, the SOL crew is playing Marco Polo while Kinga frets over her imminent visit from Neville LaRoy (Neil Patrick Harris), a “celebrity space magician” with whom she’s been having a long distance relationship for some time. His spaceship arrives, and they sing a funny-sad paean to online-only relationships. The song’s pretty good, very 80’s ballad, and even Max gets a look in for a verse. It’s interesting to note that this is the second time a Kinga-focused segment has dipped into pathos. It seems to be developing into a thing, if it’s not too early to say so. Also, turns out Felicia Day can sing. So that’s cool.

In the third segment, Jonah & the bots have a Very Serious Talk with us about the dangers of bad-on-purpose “hybrid” B-movies (Sharktopus, Piranhaconda, Sharknado and so on). They’re on it, though: they’ve decided to come up with as many bad B-movie titles as they can and lay claim to them, ensuring they never fall into the wrong hands (looking at you, The Asylum). So if you were wanting to create a monster opus named Lemonado, Pugslide, or Three-Toed Blitzsloth, you might as well forget it.

After the movie, Gypsy comes out and entertains the SOL crew with a lounge act, and also a slightly disturbing body hanging down from her neck hose. Still, she’s got a pretty good act. Personally, I think she’s ready for the Admiral Lounge at the Akron Holiday Inn. And the Mads agree.

Overall a good one. More time seems to be getting invested in giving the Moon 13 folks character depth and backstories. It’s a bit different than what we’re used to, but not in a bad way. This viewer is looking forward to seeing where they take us, actually. Another good song, even if it is a bit of a downer towards the end. One funny note: when watching the weekly batch of thank-you credits scroll by, this viewer noted not one but two Drforester’s in the list. Also a goodly number of real, actual doctors. Not a surprise, really: this has always been a show that appealed to smart folks.

Avalanche is an opus of high-budget corn from Roger Corman, who as always manages to make the most expensive production look cheap. In an earlier review yours truly read while gathering material, someone lamented the fact that it had never got the MST3K treatment. Well, all I can say is, they sure called that one.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck went skiing once; it wasn’t nearly this interesting. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.

 

 




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live from Planet Comicon 2017!

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

https://youtu.be/k2V2IkNRm9c

 

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

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MST3K Recap: 1103, Time Travelers

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1103

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

The world of Riffing has always had a close relationship with the sci-fi genre. Even before the original MST3K moved to the Sci-Fi Channel (as it was known back then), a sizable proportion of its targets fitted comfortably within that genre. There just seems to be so much in the way of raw material to work with when cinematic flights of fancy go awry. This week’s episode is a fine example from the “Deep Message” subgenre, which follows the rules of time travel fiction lock-step and with zero surprises.

The show opens with Jonah and the gang playing a game of “Never Have I Ever”, with the ‘bots cheerfully taking it into a whole weird area, like they do. One show open later, the SOL crew introduces Crow’s invention for the week: edible silicone packets, which unfortunately need to be packed with a single non-edible one to keep them fresh. You can pretty much see where this is going. The Mads return with “Afterlife Alert”, for dead people who require post-mortem assistance. Fans who watched last week’s episode may find Max’s alert necklace rather on the familiar side. A cute one, but quick. And then it’s movie sign.

This go-round is The Time Travelers (1964), in which a group of scientists (and the electrician sent to shut down their excess power) discover they “window to the future” they created is actually a door. Naturally, they all wind up wandering through and getting lost, and naturally the door closes behind them. It’s your usual post-apocalyptic hellscape with a race of elites constantly fighting off mutants and so on. This bunch are getting ready to blast off for a new world, taking their robots (who look like Trumpy from Pod People got lucky while on Earth) with them. Naturally there’s intrigue, dirty secrets, the race against time to get back to their own time and so on. The ending screams “we ran out of ideas” and doesn’t even try to justify itself. One feature of note is the use of stage magic techniques as F/X work. This appears not to have been done not out of necessity, as elaborate tricks are used to create effects that could easily have been reproduced with a simple edit. Nevertheless, it does make the movie stand out, inasmuch as it stands out at all.

In the first host segment, the SOL crew has a time portal drill. Gypsy lectures them on the basics of portal encounters, including the important (if confusing) “Enter the portal, not”. It is also firmly established that meddling with the future always results in a nuclear wasteland. It just appears to be one of those things.

In the second segment, Jonah introduces a new series of ‘bots to the SOL, only to have each in turn be violently destroyed by Crow & Tom. This goes on for a while, until the sudden (but inevitable) reveal that the new ‘bots are phonies, made to be destroyed in the first place. Just a quick bit of slapstick, but it does remind this viewer that this series is meant to introduce us to a new ‘bot by the name of Waverly, which we have yet to see. One wonders how he’ll get along with the others, and when we’ll get to find out.

Lastly, the SOL gets a visit from Dr. Varno from the movie and his friend “Larry” (Joel Hodgson himself, making his first unmasked on-camera appearance this series). They’ve given up science in favor of the 24-hour party lifestyle. Jonah, believe it or not, turns down their invitation to join them, and they belt off to Betelgeuse to hit a rave. Sadly, “Larry” doesn’t speak a word during the whole bit, but it’s nice to at least see him.

After the movie, the gang returns to the crew cabin to find they have somehow reproduced the ending to the movie. It gets weird fast. Kinga proclaims this to be the 200th episode of MST3K, which Max helpfully points out is only if you count the episodes they personally had nothing to do with. It’s a bit silly, but this reviewer must admit she has a fondness for meta humor.

So that’s three down, 11 to go. The episodes seem to be gaining popularity, and passing muster with old & new fans alike. When Felicia Day was at Planet Comicon this last weekend (hence the delay in this recap, sorry), this reviewer noted many fans bringing paraphernalia related to the show (t-shirts and so on). No word yet on numbers, but at this early date, the “feel” is positive. This reviewer is optimistic that a second season is not an unreasonable wish at all.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck is constructing a time portal so she can go back to the past and tell herself not to bother with trombone lessons. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.




Norman Can’t Cut THE CORD in BATES MOTEL Series Finale


Season 5, Episode 10  “The Cord”
Written by Kerry Ehrin and Carlton Cuse
Directed by Tucker Gates

[All images courtesy A&E/Cate Cameron]

Here at the end of all things Bates Motel, “The Cord” features a series of events that, at least within the context of everything that’s come before on this show, can be thought of as a “happy” ending.

If you consider a carjacking, a near-death beatdown, and two fatal shootings happy.

 RELATED ~ Review – Bates Motel Season 5 Episode 9  “Visiting Hours”

Alex, Norman, and Norma

We join Romero (Nestor Carbonell) and Norman (Freddie Highmore) on the road, continuing their midnight “Take Your Stepfather to Your Mother’s Corpse” field trip. Police station receptionist turned unwilling driver Regina (Aliyah O’Brian) begs Romero not to kill her. He obliges after the unhappy trio turns off the road towards Norma’s shallow grave. Romero “frees” Regina to walk back to the highway in freezing temperatures and sets off with Norman through the woods.

Mother is still controlling Norman (and in her mind, the situation). “Norman isn’t here … you can’t touch him.” Even digging through the snow with bare hands Mother can’t resist taunting Romero before asking for help. “It would go faster if you help me.”

Being the vengeance-crazed, sleep-deprived, and grief-stricken widower that he is, OF COURSE Romero tucks his gun away and pitches in. Norman briefly overpowers his stepfather before Romero beats him bloody.

Norman sets the final tragedy in motion – killing Romero next to Norma’s corpse.

Turning away from the dazed Norman, Romero completely loses any composure he had left at the sight of  Norma’s frozen corpse, vacant open eyes staring upwards. “I’m going to get you out of here … I’m sorry I couldn’t help you.” He doesn’t notice Norman staggering to his feet. Norman has Romero’s gun in an instant and shoots his nemesis.

Before his joins Norma in death, Romero says words that doom Norman. “You killed your own mother. You can’t hide from it.” Romero’s death seems to snap Norman back to himself. Mother appears. She’s bathed in a golden light as she tells Norman, “I have to leave you now. There’s nothing for me to protect you from. Goodbye, Norman.”

What follows is a fascinating jumble of images. Norman lies in the snow next to Norma and dreams. He opens his eyes on a golden morning and tells his mother, “I just had the most horrible dream.” Norman gets out of bed, running through the house to find Norma. She’s in the kitchen making breakfast. Norma gently tells her son, “you just have to learn to wake up from them.”

We see Norman lying in the snow between the corpses of Romero and Norma. He asks his mother, “Am I still dreaming?” As Norman thinks he’s driving to White Pine Bay with Norma to start a new life, we see a bloody, beaten Norman driving through the night.

Dylan can’t NOT try to save Norman from himself. Even if it kills him.

Norman gently tucks Norma’s corpse into her bed and hurries to prepare the hotel for opening. He’s back at the beginning of their lives at the Bates Motel.

A new start means a time to repair frayed family ties. Norman calls his brother. He knows Norma and Dylan (Max Theriot) fought terribly, but he’d like to invite his brother to dinner. “We’re at the new house with the motel. I miss you and our mother does, too.” Norman doesn’t understand why Dylan’s asking him about someone named Romero.

Dylan

By the time Norman calls his brother, Dylan already put in a full day’s work. His day started with a tense discussion with Sheriff Greene (Brooke Smith) regarding Norman’s inadvertent jailbreak, moved on to a quick stop to pick up an illegal handgun from his old pot farm coworker Remo (Ian Tracey) before ending the day with a shot of liquid reflection (aka alcohol).

Dylan is surprised Norman called him, relieved he’s alive – then crestfallen as he realizes Norman has retreated into a fantasy world where Norma is still alive. He agrees to come to dinner.

Mother … isn’t herself today.

Norman and Dylan

Before entering the Bates House, Dylan takes care of a few loose ends. He warns away the mother (blonde) with two young sons (one named Dylan) whom Norman checked into the motel. Then he makes a heartbreaking call to Emma (Olivia Cooke).

She begs him not to do this – he has a child, responsibilities, a life beyond Norman. “I know I have a child. Do I have a wife?” Emma doesn’t answer that one, nor does she respond to his I Love You. She won’t give him that final goodbye.

Now to dinner. Norman has done a remarkable job cleaning up the place and removing all the crime scene tape. He’s also dressed Norma in a lovely skirt and sweater combo and seated her at the head of the table; her makeup, smearing and running down her face, does ruin the effect.

Dylan refuses to play along with Norman’s delusion. Norman hustles his brother into the dining room. “We can talk over dinner. Just sit here by Mother.” The sight of Norma’s corpse prompts a fairly normal reaction out of Dylan – he vomits.

As the illusion begins to unravel, Norman clings to it. If he just keeps pretending hard enough, everything will be as it was. He counters Dylan’s insistence that he live in the “real world.” “In a prison for the criminally insane?” Dylan doesn’t want that; as he explains to his brother, he wants a lot of things that will never happen. “I want you to be happy. I want you to be well … I want Mom to be alive again.” This is (I believe) the first time Dylan has called Norma “Mom,” and it’s one of the most heartbreaking moments in all of Bates Motel.

For a moment, it seems like Norman will go with his brother and rejoin the “real world.” But Norman picks up a long kitchen knife, sadly tells Dylan, “I just want to be with her, ” and commits suicide by brother (aka the “Kill the Ones You Love” trope).

“Thank You.” Norman lies bleeding to death cradled in a weeping Dylan’s arms. In his mind, he is running through the forest, joyfully reunited with his one true love – a smiling, loving Norma.

********

We see Dylan sitting on the house porch steps; he watches the police take Norman and Norma’s bodies away.

“Dream a Little Dream of Me” plays as we see the future in sunlight. A man and woman buy the Bates Motel. As Remo told Dylan earlier, the legalization of marijuana in Oregon has transformed the secret pot farms into booming artisanal weed growers. Maybe these two can make the place a success.

Emma leads a Katie through a crowd of people. They meet up with Dylan. He scoops up Katie in his arms. Are they still together, or now former partners who put their child first? I suspect the later even if I hope for the former.

In the sunlit graveyard, the audience makes the final pilgrimage to Norma’s headstone. Next to her name and testimonial is a simple inscription. NORMAN.  Together with Mother, today and always.

 

Psycho Notes

~ Norman liked the “cord between our hearts” line he cribbed from Jane Eyre and quoted to Norma in the very first episode of Bates Motel (“First You Dream, Then You Die”), he used it for Norma’s headstone (as seen in The Convergence of the Twain and the series finale.

~ Norman ends up killing his mother and her lover in both Psycho (simultaneous poisoning) and Bates Motel (carbon monoxide poisoning and gunshot spaced two years apart).

~ Norman worried about being committed to “a prison for the criminally insane.” Ed Gein was sent to the Wisconsin Central State Hospital for the Insane before being transferred to the  Mendota Mental Health Institute, where he died in 1984.

~ Dylan’s “drink & think” bar features the 2016 song “Magi Bullet” by the band My Morning Jacket; ironic in the light of the magic bullet that saves his life at episode’s end.

~ At the Bates home, classic easy listening of the 50’s & 60’s hold sway – on vinyl of course.

  • “Que Sera Sera” – sung by Doris Day. The actress also starred in Alfred Hitchock’s 1956 movie The Man Who Knew Too Much.
  • “You Belong to Me” (1952) by Pee Wee King, Chilton Price and Redd Stewart; first recorded by Joni James, most popular version recorded by Jo Stafford.
  • “Dream a Little Dream of Me” (1931) by Fabian Andre and Wilbur Schwandt, lyrics by Gus Kahn. Covered many, many times, including a version by Doris Day.

 

Sadly, Bates Motel is no longer airing on A&E Network.

 




On Supernatural, Castiel Finds a Purpose


Season 12, Episode 19 “The Future”

Written by Robert Berens and Meredith Glynn
Directed by Amanda Tapping

In fact, it’s almost like he’s going to be a father. It’s very much like Castiel (Misha Collins) is going to be a father because if he had fathered a child they’d be having the same dilemma except that the child would not be as powerful.  It makes me wonder why they didn’t just go ahead and make it Cas’s kid in the first place.

This week on Supernatural we return to the storyline of Kelly (Courtney Ford) and Lucifer’s (Mark Pellegrino) baby. She’s miserable now that she knows she won’t survive the birth. It doesn’t help that Dagon (Ali Ahn) has her manacled and is trying to force feed her vitamins. Dagon tells her all the evil things her son will do and all of the people he will kill. I truly feel sorry for Kelly at this point. She’s in a very bad place, and none of it is her fault. Dagon lets her loose to bathe and she cuts her wrists in the bathtub.

I have got to get a better hospital room. (Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW)

Castiel shows back up suddenly and with little explanation as to why he’s been out of touch. Dean (Jensen Ackles) is hurt because he’s been worried and is furious with Cas for making him worried. He really is insecure. Castiel is acting angelic-that is to say, he’s being a jerk. This is because he plans to steal the Colt and go after Dagon himself. Once again he has taken it upon himself to protect the Winchesters without their consent. The plan was hatched up in heaven, of course.

Kelly has miraculously survived her suicide attempt and massive blood loss. Her mood has made a turnaround. She feels that the baby must love her to have saved her, but Dagon says it’s self-preservation.

Sam (Jared Padelecki) comes up with a plan they could use. They think that removing the nephilim’s grace would make it human and therefore powerless, whether it was evil or not. They have reason to believe that, since removing an angel’s grace renders them human and trapped in the vessel they are in.

Castiel finds Kelly but can’t bring himself to kill her. He kidnaps her, or liberates her, depending on your point of view. They run off together which gives them some time to bond. Kelly tries to convince him that no one is born evil, and that her baby is good. Castiel tries to convince Kelly that she and the baby have to die for the good of the world. If he takes her to heaven she will disintegrate, something like a transporter accident. Castiel points out that she will die in childbirth and there will be no one to raise her child and teach it to be good. That’s not the sort of thing you should say unless you want the job yourself.

He touches her belly while the baby is kicking and she knows instantly that Cas is the one who’s supposed to be the guardian and that it would be okay to go to the playground.

Now how are babies made again? (Robert Falconer/The CW)

Dagon meets them at the sandbox that is the entrance to heaven. The Winchesters find them there as well. Dagon destroys the Colt. Kelly and Cas hold hands and the baby (who really needs a name by now) takes Cas over and destroys Dagon with a touch. Sam and Dean explain their idea but Kelly doesn’t like it. She thinks the baby will be a force for good and and needs its powers. Cas is fully empowered and full of purpose. He heals Dean and then knocks them out with a touch. Castiel and Kelly run off together and Castiel tells Kelly that her baby showed him the future.

It’s my sandbox and you can’t play in it. (Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW)

This is the closest thing they ever have to an ep without the two leads. Most of the screen time was Castiel’s. It probably gave the actors some much needed family time. Misha did a great job during the ep, with being sneaky at the beginning to the interactions with Kelly to the conversion to acolyte.

Is it possible that Lucifer’s child is not evil? I would like to believe what Kelly says, that no one is born evil, but the odds are that he is evil. Blind faith is frightening. An entity controlling or possessing someone else is not a good sign. Cas is vulnerable to being influenced because he’s had a series of failures lately. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is a very powerful being. It destroyed a Prince of Hell with a touch of Castiel’s hand. The more power, the further away from humanity with its frailties, the more evil something is on Supernatural. Look at what happened to Castiel when he absorbed godlike powers.

Even if Lucifer’s child was not born bad, his life has been pretty negative so far. If he is aware enough to save his mother, he might have known her state of mind and experienced the abuse she suffered secondhand. That’s not a good start in life.

Now Castiel will be standing between the BMoL and the child, which puts him in a lot of danger. Sam and Dean want the kid neutralized, not killed.  They may be guarding the kid as well, but they are also not on the same side as Kelly and Castiel. We don’t know how far Castiel will go to protect him.

There are two interesting bits of trivia about this episode. It’s directed by Amanda Tapping, who starred in Sanctuary and Stargate SG-1 and its spinoffs. She was the angel Naomi on Supernatural, so she should know a few things about angels.She’s also no novice to directing. She’s directed episodes of Sanctuary, Continuum and many others. She did a great job in this episode.

The other factoid is that this is Misha Collin’s 100th episode. It was a wonderful tribute to him that they made it a Castiel centered one.

Do you ever get the feeling that the episode went on without you? (Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW)

In the next episode, the brothers get a call from the twins, Alicia and Max, and it looks like Mary has a confrontation with Ketch.

 

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




POWERLESS Gets Trapped in “Emergency Punch-Up”

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Season 1, Episode 9: “Emergency Punch-Up”
Written by Lillian Yu
Directed by Linda Mendoza

[All photos courtesy NBC Universal]

Score one for the viewers! We actually get the episode we were promised this week!

Ron (Ron Funches) is watching a new documentary on Dr. Psycho (which paints him in more of a favorable light.) Everyone thinks it’s bunk, but Ron thinks the documentary producers are correct and that Dr. Psycho is an innocent man.

Van (Alan Tudyk), meanwhile, is telling the staff about the upcoming corporate retreat in Coast City. Emily (Vanessa Hudgens) has been planning it and has plenty of fun in store for everyone.

If there is ever a Van Wayne action figure, I want him in this white suit.

Everyone leaves…except for Emily’s team, who has to wait for Dorothy (Dorothy Schock), to make sure the elder lady makes it to the retreat. Suddenly an alarm goes off! Dr. Psycho is attacking Charm City. The explanatory news caster tells us that everyone must shelter in place for at least the next 12 hours until the gas dissipates. The building is put in lockdown and Emily’s team is trapped at work.

Emily is worried about Dorothy, not to worry though, Dorothy is shown to be at the retreat, they stayed behind for nothing.

Since they are trapped, Emily decides to turn the office into a faux island retreat with a Tiki bar…and not much else, so the team just sits around and drinks. They play a game of Desert Island Companion, which only upsets Teddy (Danny Pudi) after Ron says he’d rather have Jackie (Christina Kirk) as a companion than him.

They bet Teddy that he can’t hit a trash can with a tiki torch. He throws, misses and hits a window, breaking it and letting in the white gas. The team quickly retreats into the lab, which can be sealed off easily.

Party Time!

Unfortunately, all the gas masks and hazard suits are outside the lab, having been appropriated for the party. Also, they are a man short, since Van had two writers helping him with jokes and speeches and the joke guy got left out in the gas, so he’s probably dead.

Emily uses the resources they do have in the lab to make a makeshift hazmat suit so she can venture out to get the masks.

Ron is ready to go.

And it turns out the joke writer wasn’t dead, the gas just made him super angry. He attacks Emily and breaches her makeshift helmet. She takes a breath of the gas and is consequently … not well. She’s mad and sick of having to babysit her team. She throws away the masks.

They receive a timely report on TV that the gas will eventually kill those exposed to it unless they are treated within a few hours. Jackie rallies the troop and tells them they need to get Emily back into the lab.

They put together another makeshift hazmat suit and Ron goes out to retrieve Emily. Emily attacks him and he fails and is pulled back to he lab. Van gives a rousing speech — from his speech writer — and they try a new tactic. They start singing Karaoke. Emily loves Karaoke and she comes back into the room singing and then collapses.

Later, the team do a post-mortem on the whole situation and take Emily out for a night of Karaoke.

A happy Emily is a good Emily.

Analysis:

I really liked this episode, which might be one of the best episodes of the series so far. It wasn’t over complicated; it stuck to one story instead of trying to shoe horn a “b” plot into the story. Hey, Powerless writers! More of this, please. Follow Lillian Yu’s lead and write them like this one.

So if Emily is the team’s baby sitter, is Jackie Emily’s watcher?

How is the gang not super mad at Dorothy for sneaking out of the building and making them get stuck in the building? They were kinda mad at the wrong person.

The team should some ingenuity in making those makeshift hazmat suits. That’s right, we get an episode that really shows that they can be MacGyver type geniuses when they need to be (or when the script tells them they can be).

The DC Universe references in this episode were sparse, just Dr. Psycho and Wonder Woman. I think this really helped out the episode.

Next week, we get to do what ever we want…or do we? It’s “No Consequence Day”!

Powerless airs Thursday at 8:30/7:30 Central on NBC. It can also be found on Hulu, Amazon, and NBC.com. For more information, visit the official website.

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VISITING HOURS at BATES MOTEL – Emma Says Goodbye, Romero Says Hello


Season 5, Episode 9  “Visiting Hours”
Written by Scott Kosar
Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi

[All images courtesy A&E/Cate Cameron]

Despite a little bit of filler in the RomeroWatch story, “Visiting Hours” brought this season’s three parallel storylines (Dylan & Emma, Romeo, and Norma/n) together with plenty of heartbreak all around. Emma says goodbye to a mother she barely knew while Romero adds to his lengthy list of felonies on his way to a reunion with his stepson Norman.

 RELATED ~ Review – Bates Motel Season 5 Episode 8  “The Body”

“Visiting Hours” opens with a snippy Mother (Vera Farmiga) grudgingly putting up with the indignities of being booked for multiple counts of murder in the 1st Degree. Electronic fingerprinting, mug shot — so undignified!  Over at the Bates place, Sheriff Greene (Brooke Smith) oversees a mass of crime scene techs sweeping over the grounds.

Even if Mother refuses to talk, there’s plenty of physical evidence being collected.  A deputy’s discovery of the suitcase belonging to Emma’s mother is one-upped by a tech discovering Chick’s (Ryan Hurst) body slumped over his typewriter in the basement. Poor Chick; he died as he lived — an unpublished writer.

Dylan (Max Theirot) is stunned to see Emma (Olivia Cooke) pulling into the parking lot of the King’s Motel. He embraces her tightly as Emma explains, “I want to be here to help you with this.” Her concern turns to shock as Dylan breaks the news of her mother’s death; he knows Norman is responsible.

After all they’ve been through, realizing the truth about Norman may break their relationship. Even as Emma reassures Dylan that “it’s not your fault,” her emotions rapidly shift to vengeance. She doesn’t want to hear Dylan say anything supporting Norman. At this point, Emma swears she’ll kill him herself (though she will have to get in line behind Alex Romero, of course).

In the contest of “who has the worse family member?” I’d give Dylan the edge.

Unfortunately for Norman, Mother’s strategy for resolving the “pickle” they’re in amounts to declaring “I didn’t do it – so Not Guilty!” She’s not as thrilled by Julia Ramos’ (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) news that even with a best-case scenario, a Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity verdict will land Norman in a mental institution for life. To Mother, physical death or life in a mental institution mean the same thing: hell. Mother puts her Norman act into overdrive, telling her attorney, “everyone has multiple personalities, Julia.”

This interview with her client compels Julia to visit Dylan and Emma. She begs Dylan to attend the preliminary hearing. Given the amount of evidence gathered by the state and what’s she heard and seen from her client, Julia needs Dylan to be at the preliminary hearing. Dylan is Norman’s connection to humanity; she needs all the help she can get putting Norman’s illness front and center.

Mother may have to destroy Norman in order to save him.

Emma goes to White Pine Bay’s only funeral home. She arranges for a less expensive cremation for the mother she had no relationship with in life and will now never have a chance to know. Emma’s stoic act breaks down when she makes her pilgrimage to Norma’s headstone. Emma cries openly by Norma’s headstone. “I’m so sorry, Norma. I miss you.”

At least she chooses a memorable spot to disperse her mother’s ashes. In sight of majestic snow-capped mountains, Emma shakes the ashes free while “Crimson and Clover” reverberates around her.

Dylan, prompted by the photos of his mother and brother, attends Norman’s preliminary hearing. He avoids the front row seat reserved for him by Julia Ramos and sits in the back row. Both he and Madeline Loomis (Isabelle McNally) leave the courtroom after hearing the matter of fact descriptions of the gruesome deaths of Joe Blackwell, Audrey Ellis, and Sam Loomis.

Madeline angrily asks Dylan, “How did he trick you your whole life? You knew. How can you live with yourself?” She was only fooled for a couple of weeks, although the whole “giving you my dead mother’s clothes” bit should’ve been a gigantic red GET AWAY FROM NORMAN flag.

That overconfident smirk? Norman is still sleeping.

By the light of the most annoying neon sign ever, Emma and Dylan tell each other about their respective days spend attending hearings and dispersing ashes. Guys, I know that that incessantly flashing neon light represents the hell you’re going through right now, but please — those pieces of fabric hanging over the window are called curtains and they were invented to help you get some sleep.

The next morning Emma bids a sad goodbye to her husband, but does not proceed straight out of Crazytown. She stops at the White Pine Bay jail to visit Norman. As the visit proceeds Emma sees how completely the Norman she knew (or thought she knew) has vanished into Mother. Mother’s Norman act works about as well on Emma as it did on Julia — which is to say, not well at all. “It’s me, Norman. Your Norman, your friend.” Emma sadly asks “Can I talk to Norman?” Mother smirks: “He’s sleeping.” Tears welling in her eyes, Emma asks Mother to “tell him I miss him.”

Look at Norman. So harmless. Wouldn’t hurt a fly.

RomeroWatch

After a meandering conversation with a fellow gas station customer regarding differences between the 1968 and 1968 Dodge Fury models, a stop at Maggie’s (Jillian Fargey) house to use her computer and refuse her tempting offer to flee to a life on the lam in Montana, former Sheriff Romero is ready for his final act of suicidal vengeance.

Alex makes an after-hours visit to the White Pine Bay jail. He adds to his long list of felonies by taking the receptionist hostage, rounding up every deputy in the building, shooting one in the shoulder. Romero tops off the crime spree by taking Norman and the thoroughly terrified receptionist off on a field trip. Norman stammeringly demands to know, “What do you want from us, Alex?”

“You’re going to take me to her body.”

And we’re off to the Bates Motel finale!

 

Psycho Notes

~ Even in sleepy White Pine Bay, digital fingerprinting is putting the ink pad out to pasture.

~ Ever wonder why TV (and real life) crime scene techs wear those DuPont Tyvek suits at crime scenes? Here’s your answer!

~ I looked into why a tech told Sheriff Greene “the pulp’s still fresh” while collecting samples from Norma’s bed. I’m very grateful Bates Motel didn’t go into detail on how that pulp got there.

~ Norman’s journey through the Oregon criminal justice system is tracking pretty accurately with Ed Gein’s journey to a mental institution.

***Somebody snuck in a very deep reference to the infamous true crime case that inspired Robert Bloch to write Psycho. The judge at Norman’s hearing, the Hon. Sybil Meredith Gollmar; the judge at Ed Gein’s hearing? Judge Robert Howard Gollmar.

~ This week’s swingin’ 60’s Hit Parade includes

  • “Call Me Irresponsible” – Bobby Darin version
  • “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” – Beach Boys
  • “Crimson and Clover” – Tommy James and the Shondells

 

The final episode of Bates Motel, “The Cord,” airs Monday April 24 on A&E at 8/9 Central.




AGENTS OF HYDRA Gives Us Fits About Fitz — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #114

AgentsOfSHIELD_logoSM
Episode 418 “No Regrets”
Written by Paul Zbyszewski
Directed by Eric Laneuville

Finally, the introduction of Dad… and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) is starting to lose a little of that self-assured swagger he’s been sporting in the Framework. Is Madame Hydra (Mallory Jansen) telling him everything? Or is she manipulating her lover at the same time she’s digging her claws into the rest of everyone’s world?

It’s clear that the elder Fitz (David O’Hara) has had a profound impact on his son’s upbringing and resulting character and personality, and it’s also clear why the “real” Fitz doesn’t want to have anything to do with the man. The lovable Leo Fitz is a product of his mother’s influence, and it remains to be seen what happens when the team gets out of the Framework and Fitz has to confront his memories of this twisted version of himself.

Likewise with Mack (Henry Simmons), who’s going to eventually have to give up the idea of being with his daughter Hope (Jordan Rivera). And though Jemma (Elizabeth Henstridge) is affected by that one relatively happy tableau, she’s still keenly aware that this is all just a digital make-believe world. Jemma faces a crisis of conscience, of a sort, complicated by the fact that Mace (Jason O’Mara) and Ward (Brett Dalton) don’t buy her story.

May (Ming-Na Wen) also faces a crisis of conscience when faced with the notion that Hydra will brainwash and kill people to keep them compliant. In the face of her failure at Baharain, her failure at Cambridge, and the way Daisy (Chloe Bennet) has been trying to get through to her, maybe — just maybe — there are things finally not adding up. Unless 1 + 1 = terrigenesis and a lot of whoopins…

Props to O’Mara for his very solid performance this week. His life in the Framework as the Patriot is worthy of song.

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

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