May 22, 2015


May 22, 2015  

Taking time out of my busy day to show you my new favorite thing since last night. I thought it might be terrible. I was reluctant to watch since parodies are not always too nice and I wasn't in the mood to be put in a bad mood. But Tim Omundson responded to it positively. So I thought, what could it really hurt to at least see a bit? It's not like I have to keep watching if I hate it. When it started, I wasn't too sure what the hell I was seeing. Then I started giggling a bit. I was surprised to see Osric Chau. (As Sam!) Then there were Mark Pellegrino, Tahmoh Penikett, and Sebastian Roche. Big smile on my face by then. When Tim-O, Jensen, Jared, and Misha showed up, I started cracking up. I knew there was a reason I love Supernatural. This cast is so much fun and not only on the show. They have a lot of heart and freely gave some of their time to the ladies of The Hillywood Show to make this ridiculously entertaining video. One of the best parts for me was the recreation of Jensen's old yet still hilarious Eye of the Tiger outtake.

May 8, 2015

S.O.S. ~ Agents of SHIELD: The Art of Evolution

May 8, 2015  

S.O.S. Part 1S.O.S. Part 2
I'm sorry, May, you're not welcome here.

Excuse me, Skye? Do you suddenly not remember everything S.H.I.E.L.D. has done for you? Girl, you better be doing that to protect her. Though, doing your Jedi force push on her isn't how you should be treating a friend even if it's for their own good. I never understood the Skye hate before. This is the first time I have wanted to slap some sense into her. Looks like I'll be wanting to do that throughout "S.O.S. - Part 1." Maybe in "S.O.S. - Part 2" she will discover what her mother did. Or maybe not. Could be she's stuck in the middle of this until sometime next season. Yes, there is a next season! Heard it from Clark (via a congrats for a second season pickup for Agent Carter) and Chloe last night.

But I just want Skye to have a reunion with Coulson. Poor guy has the saddest eyes when she leaves. His job never allowed him to have a family. The one woman he loved thinks he's dead. Skye is the closest person he has to a daughter.

So, the first thing I did when I woke up? Bought S.O.S. - Part Two , which has sad-eyed Coulson, and The Dirty Half Dozen. Unfortunately, I waited so long that Aftershocks was no longer available. I needed to see all of them before deciding. Oh, well, at least I have a copy of the pic for my desktop wallpaper. I always knew I would want at least two of these: one for me, one for my brother, who's into the show just as much as I am. The first time around, I bought two for myself without even thinking to tell him these beautiful limited edition prints existed, then I gave him "The End of the Beginning" while I kept "Providence," which was my favorite episode because of Coulson's emotionally charged "Agents of Nothing" speech. I was also going to get Melinda, which was a devastator of an episode, but have to think about the space on my wall. I won't have any left. So, I went with the two that had more characters.

"The Dirty Half Dozen" was an incredible episode, as many of them are. It got the original team back together in a fun and truly awkward way, because, you know, Ward is a psychopath that betrayed them all. My favorite moment was when Ward was admitting his regret over destroying the bond they shared in being a team, a family, and then Skye said she was happy she shot him, Jemma chiming in that it should have been in the face and May agreeing. It was hilarious. Despite that animosity, they worked well together, like they always had. And at the very end of the episode, Grant showed a bit of his old self, leaving Kara in the hands of S.H.I.E.L.D. because he loves her, saying that there's not enough good left in him to fix her. "Aww, there's at least some good in you," I thought. But after "Scars," we all know how that turned out. Wow. I was taken in by Ward's charm again. So manipulative. Fool me twice, shame on me. Jemma was right, that Skye should have shot him in the face.

But I already talked about "The Dirty Half Dozen" before. I should be sharing thoughts the subjects of today's prints, the two-part finale to air next Tuesday. S.O.S. - Part 1 has a wonderful comic book cover style featuring the lovely FitzSimmons. If one of them doesn't survive this time, I will cry all summer. I was almost tempted to get this one. It's beautifully done, the way the light plays on Jemma's hair and Leo's face. But what I immediately fell in love with was S.O.S. - Part 2. It has that wonderful strip of color from blue to red with the S.H.I.E.L.D, "real S.H.I.E.L.D." and Hydra logos...and Coulson! If I'm only buying one for myself, I need Coulson. I watched the show in the first place because of him, and I adore how much heart Clark Gregg brings to the character. For more about these final two prints, check out Entertainment Weekly's interviews with executive producer Jeff Bell [1, 2]. And don't forget that these are limited to 100 each, so you may be disappointed if you wait.

While we're waiting for the final episodes, why don't we also talk about what just happened this week? I already mentioned Ward. I knew what he was capable of, but I hoped he wasn't lying about his intentions. Still, wasn't too much of a surprise that it was one hundred percent an act. He will never feel guilty about what he did. What I didn't see coming was Jiaying. I knew she had to be angry and vengeful about what Hydra and Whitehall did to her, but she had kept such a cool head about everything so far, just trying to protect her people. But she is ruthless.

S.H.I.E.L.D. going in there to talk about putting her people on the index was the worst possible idea. Imagine being monitored because you may one day possibly be a threat. I can see an argument for it being voluntary, and mandatory only for those who commit crimes using their powers. Most people would just want to live in peace, but S.H.I.E.L.D. is too afraid of what could happen. I'm reminded of Cap in Winter Soldier saying, "This isn't freedom. This is fear." He was talking about the Helicarriers being able to stop wars before they start by "holding a gun to everyone on Earth," but it's similar on a smaller scale. The index is likely to make even the good Inhumans more wary, untrusting, and likely to lash out, creating more enemies.

But I hope that Skye can figure out that, while she may feel that she belongs with other Inhumans and her parents love her, they have changed drastically from the people they once were. Maybe they could get back there, but it will be a journey. For now it seems they will hurt good people as their first defense rather than talk. Skye needs to remember that her best memories have been on the Bus. She needs to discover that her mother is the kind of person who can calmly smile at you before, during, and after killing you. I hope she remembers that, while S.H.I.E.L.D. may be going about things in the wrong way, they are good people, as she said not long ago in "Scars."

I did not expect that Raina would be the one to tell the truth since everything about her is tinged with a slippery, snake-like demeanor. It always seems like she's twisting every word to her own ends. There's no way anyone can be sure she isn't about to stab them in the back. And that was the mistake Gordon made. Because he knows and trusts Jiaying, he guaranteed a war by letting her know what Raina was planning.

RIP Gonzales. I guess I won't get to know you better in the spin-off. I really miss Edward James Olmos on my TV.

And my favorite moment of the episode comes from the always wonderfully dramatic and off-kilter Cal.

I will personally rip out Raina's little, tainted rat heart!

If you missed the preview for next week's final two episodes...

May 4, 2015

May the Fourth Be With You

May 4, 2015 proudly presents (though I had nothing to do with any of this, so proud isn't really the right word, but who cares?) TeeFury's May the 4th Collection, a bunch of tees—and one poster—about Star Wars. These will be the first through twenty-first Star Warsy things I post here. But there's no guarantee there will be more. It all really depends on how much merch finds its way into my email. Could be a lot, could be a little, but there is there's a bit of time until Episode VII comes out in December. (Please JJ, pull off another miracle.) If you want to start your collection early, you can get all the shirts and have enough to wear for two-thirds of a month.

Or wear them all at once, if you so desire.

I won't judge, but your family and friends might. So keep that in mind.

I only have time to show you two of the shirts. You think downloading, cropping, compressing, and uploading twenty-one pics, and then getting all the links to include here is easy? Well, yeah, it is, Smarty Pants, but it takes a while that I don't have. I'll try to get to it at some point, likely when the sale is over and I have to update the links to wherever the shirts end up after TeeFury. It all depends on the artist, and some may not be listed ever again. If you get to the sale too late and before I've updated, just leave a comment and I'll make it a priority.

Sale ends on May 11 and the shirts are $17 each. Clicking on the link above will take you to the collection if neither of my favorites makes you giggle uncontrollably. As You Wish by CuckooArtDesign gives what many would consider a fitting end to Jar Jar. I didn't hate him when the movie came out, but I was younger and I think I gave him a lot of slack because I was just caught up in the pretty ships, pretty light sabers, and pretty Liam Neesons [X]. Now I get it. And Beach Hutt Jabba by sketchboy01 gets rid of those pesky droids. Ooh, so basically I'm rooting for the bad guys. I seem to do that a lot... Just kidding about the droids, though. Who doesn't love R2? But how cute is that Jabba? He's just having a good old time.

As You Wish Beach Hutt Jabba

May 1, 2015

Scars ~ Agents of SHIELD: The Art of Evolution

May 1, 2015  

Scars ~ Agents of SHIELD: The Art of Evolution

Available in the Marvel Shop. Limited to 100 pieces.

These are good people.
~ Skye

I apologize for not getting to this first thing. Stayed up too late last night tinkering with the site. My first impression of "Scars" was "wow." This limited edition print is available in the Marvel Shop, and Marguerite Sauvage did an exceptional job. It immediately reminded me of "Melinda," and you can read more about it at Entertainment Weekly. It looks like we'll be seeing Jiaying's story next week, the print depicting a woman with scars all over. From what the series has revealed so far, that could only be her: someone with Wolverine-level healing ability, who never ages, who was brutally experimented on by Hydra, and who was put back together in a desperate attempt by her husband Cal. Also, the product page told me. I'm sure the title references not only Jiaying's physical scars, but her emotional scars as well, and those of Skye, who so long searched for her parents and found what she never could have expected.

Depending on how deep you want to get (and the feelings in and for this show run deep), the title can also relate to every character that we love. I would expect there to be at least a bit about how each feels at this moment, or at the very least a look that just tells you everything. It wouldn't be S.H.I.E.L.D. if there wasn't some heartfelt emotion. The show's most important asset is people, after all, and the whole season, and series, has dealt with a great deal of turmoil. From the resurrection of Coulson to Ward's betrayal, from Fitz's near-death experience to Skye's transformation, and then finally finding out what happened to May, I think the change that dropped my jaw the most is Jemma. It's a tough race between them, one that no one should want to win.

One of the best moments of "The Dity Half Dozen" was Fitz exaggerating to Simmons about how Hunter had to restrain him from killing Ward. It was a funny moment, though tinged with pain because he was only half kidding. He surely wants some time alone to do as much damage to Ward as possible. But no matter how heartbroken Fitz is, I can't see him actually following through. FitzSimmons used to be a package, one and the same, so in tune with each other, which is why at first I thought Jemma's response to use a splinter bomb on Ward was nothing but a morbid joke with the friend she was finally winning back. Realizing Jemma was serious was chilling, and then when she tried to kill Ward, with no regard for her own safety, that was unexpected. I thought she might think better of it or wimp out. Neither one happened. When the nicest person you ever knew turns into someone you don't recognize, things are definitely bad.

I really love where the show has gone with Jemma. She was so innocent and sweet, and I loved her for that. Now she's deceitful (smoothly tricking Bobbi) and dangerous, and I love her for that, too. She's been written as a person, fleshed out with complexity. She's damaged and wants - needs - revenge. She'll never be the same after what she went through, what they all went through, but that's a good thing as long as it becomes just a part of her, the part that keeps her wary, and the distrust doesn't take over. I applauded her. I feared for her. It was interesting that Ward was disappointed in her. I'm actually glad she didn't succeed. Like many, I wished him dead after his betrayal, but he's still an interesting character and it seems the writers want him around for future storylines. And Brett Dalton is a treat on Twitter. I need as many of his AoS puns as I can get.

Okay, did I leave anything out? Of course I did! Lots of things.

Coulson and May, please, please make up. May, you know that a director needs to keep secrets, sometimes to protect people, sometimes to protect th organization. Compartmentalization can be important. People who don't need to know shouldn't know. Coulson, you know May. She has been by your side. She has unassailable integrity. You can trust her implicitly.

How about a big group hug? At least one for Coulson and Skye and one for FitzSimmons.

And Hunter and Mack reconciling? Mack did what he thought was right, but he was sorry for it. Hunter said he understood and forgave him. Mack seemed moved by that, though he tried not to show it. He hoped for it, but never expected it. Just a whole lot of "awwwww."

Though I never knew anything about the original character of Daisy Johnson until I started poking around her history, it was obvious Skye's power would be quite useful when she got it under control. But I never expected her to be so badass in hand-to-hand, and foot-to-face, combat.

And my favorite laugh of the night award goes to:

There's a lot of challenges ahead. We don't want to implode before we even get there. And Ward, more people.
~ Phil Coulson

I'm glad the writers didn't kill Ward off last year, for scenes like that and for scenes like this:

Whitehall broke her and I have tried to fix her, but I'm just not the right man for it. Just not enough good left inside me. She deserves better.
~ Grant Ward

Though he's duplicitous, untrustworthy, and does not deserve forgiveness, he showed he was capable of caring for someone else. Through all the excuses and the creepy way Ward trieds to convince everyone (and himself) that it was all "nothing personal," behind that smile that used to be lovely but now inspires fear, there is a spark of humanity left. It may not be enough for him to come back from the dark side, but enough to know that he wasn't enough for Agent 33. Leaving her in the hands of S.H.I.E.L.D. because he couldn't help her was an enlightening moment. His talk on the phone with Coulson may have been the first honest moment he's ever had.

Of course, while Ward actually got away, Skye and Lincoln are now being held against their will. Gonzales is such a dick. I hope he gets on board with the good Inhumans as allies, because I always want to see more Edward James Olmos and I'd like to stop fantasizing about punch his face up real good. But even if his character is exasperating, he's a terrific actor with a commanding presence. Maybe he'll be in the spinoff as long as he makes it through the season, which only has two more episodes. Wow, this year went by quick.

Before I go, in case you've just come out of hibernation, Age of Ultron is in theaters today. Unfortunately, just like with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor: The Dark World, I will likely not get a chance to see Age of Ultron before the next episode of S.H.I.E.L.D., so some big plot point in the movie will likely be spoiled, as events it the show tie closely with the movies. I would never buy tickets far in advance because our plans often change. Life doesn't ever cooperate that way. And I always go with family, so schedules have to align. And since I always go off on a tangent, I want a shirt that says "Age of Voltron" on it. I always think of Voltron when I say Ultron and my brother recently sent me a pic of Voltron with the Avengers. I also need one with Ultron, of course, because he's just damn cool. Even just seeing commercials, never reading the comic books, I know that without any doubt. I mean, he's James Freakin' Spader! I can never praise him enough in The Blacklist and Boston Legal.

I was determined to get this in before Friday turned to Saturday, so I leave you now with the preview for next week. I'm nervous already.

April 30, 2015

The Blacklist ~ Leonard Caul

April 30, 2015  

The Blacklist, Leonard Caul

I haven't posted anything about The Blacklist for quite a while now. For that you can blame both my procrastinating during the long breaks and another favorite show of mine, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Marvel has limited edition artwork for each of the final twelve episodes of SHIELD that I've been writing about, twice as many as last year. There are still three to go, so I doubt I'll get a chance to write about The Blacklist again before the finale. This season has been fantastic, but it takes me so long to finish certain posts, never knowing whether to concentrate on a few aspects or to just keep writing until words lose all meaning. I rely mostly on memory, because I hardly get the chance to rewatch and I never pause to take notes; if I did that, my family would wonder why I was ruining their viewing experience. Kept my TV blogging secret for five years and counting. I don't do a recap style anyway, so I never had the inclination to take notes. My style is more a reaction to the characters and their situation. So, you can usually find me just speaking off the cuff about the things that I loved the most about an episode - the feeling of it, how relationships change, how much Red gets hurt and still cannot reveal to Liz more than whispers of the truth. Then I rearrange that into something readable.

What you'll almost never find here are complaints about my favorite shows. They're my favorites for a reason. Something would have to be very wrong for me to project my own desires on them and be disappointed when they go another way. I never feel that they owe me anything. The writers generally know what they're doing and, while I imagine alternate scenarios for every scene, how it all ties together and what could happen, I don't presume that any ideas I have would be better. Where they are headed is for them to figure out in their own time and for us to discover the pieces bit by bit. I demand nothing other than beautiful drama, characters to care for, and an intriguing story. The Blacklist surely has a story to tell, and I am along for the ride as long as it stays true to its core: a dangerous man who betrayed his country and became a criminal mastermind, a broken man who lost his family and is trying to protect someone he loves and feels responsible for, and all the emotional baggage that come with that.

I'm running out of time here before the next episode, "Quon Zhang," which airs tonight at 9 PM Eastern on NBC. I actually sacrificed work for this, as usual. So, since I spent so long on that preamble, I think I'll just pick a few favorite moments to gush over. A few possible spoilers follow for those who aren't caught up to "Leonard Caul."

The first minutes of the episode with Liz and Dembe trying to get Red into the car without getting shot themselves, Red gasping for air, excruciating pain etched on his face, may have been the most intense scene of the series. And, yes, I do remember everything Red and Liz went through in the "Anslo Garrick" and "Luther Braxton" two-parters. There have been exciting moments, satisfying moments, funny moments, emotional moments, tense moments, unexpected moments, but this was something else. I was genuinely concerned that he might not make it, that he would never have another chance to reveal the truth to Liz. He is the show and it wouldn't work without him, so I shouldn't have been nervous, but I can't see him getting out alive in the end. From day one I've dreaded that, but in this episode I was concerned that it had come far sooner than expected.

I would include my tweet about the episode, but I'm mobile and can't access the desktop site. Anyway, if you're curious about my immediate reaction, follow this link. I'll replace it later with an embedded tweet if I get the chance.

This whole episode was a testament to Spader's talent. He has an innate understanding of how to play characters as people. The complexity of the role demands that in some scenes Spader play up the cold-blooded, menacingly jovial personality to protect his reputation in his dealings, and in others drop Red's guard to show the vulnerable and broken man beneath. He never fails to impress, but this episode showed even another layer. He was so convincing that I momentarily forgot that Red is irreplaceable and not likely to meet his maker...yet. In the end, surely. A number of times I realized I was holding my breath. Spader was captivating throughout, even when he was just listening to Tom, too tired and hurt to do otherwise. Until this episode's Petented Red Monologue near the end, he had few lines, mostly mumbled, blood choking the words. It was a superb performance that again managed to surprise me.

What didn't surpise me is that Dembe wouldn't leave Red's side, sending Liz in his stead to Red's apartment to get the machine to decrypt the Fulcrum. It's a small, lonely place filled with books, records, an unfinished jigsaw puzzle. And a kitty! At least he has company. Dembe knew Liz would see things there to reignite her hunger for the truth, including photos Red thought she would never see. This was a betrayal of Red's trust, now that I'm thinking about it. Though Dembe says he understands why Red hasn't told her, he obviously believes she should know.

Then there was Kate (Mr. Kaplan) saying she would stay, Red telling her to go, then giving him her gun and kissing him gently on the forehead. It was so sweet. I need to know her story. It's so touching to see people care about him.

Those moments made me even more nervous about the imminent attack, a situation even more dire than in the intense "Anslo Garrick" because there was no impenetrable box to hide in. The Director's kill team breach the door and toss a grenade. The sound of the action dims, the music taking over for a bigger emotional impact as Red's men are picked off one by one. Red alone in his bed, with just a gun and a hole in his chest. Still, taking out three guys before trying to get a weapon off one of them. Liz saving the day by bringing the Fulcrum to the Director, forcing him to call off Red's assassination seconds before the trigger is pulled, leaving Red stunned.

But not stunned enough to finally spill his guts to Liz. He almost took the secret to his grave and he still can't bring himself to say enough, even after he admitted to Dembe that he should have. Red almost got there with that beautiful speech. It looked like he was struggling not to. He wants Liz to know, but at the same time he's afraid to let her in. He seems to think the truth may destroy what's left of their strained relationship. But not telling her is even worse. He thought she should come to it in time, but the longer he strings her along the more likely he will lose her for good. Liz is a little ball of anger who's been though enough to nearly break her, and he hasn't handled her very well. That's just frustrated her more, and she has given up on Red ever being straight with her, teaming up with Tom to uncover the truth.

Until then, here's the entirety of the speech to savor again. It's one of Red's best.

"Liz, when I hired Tom Keen, it was at a time of profound transition in your life. You'd already left behind the relative safety and innocence of youth. Sam's care as a father had served you well, but you'd outgrown him. And I knew eventually my life would jeopardize yours. So, in an admittedly presumptuous and ultimately futile effort to keep you safe, I hired Tom, simply to be there, as a friend of a friend, to look after you from an arm's length. When I learned that your relationship had become intimate, I fired him. I should've removed him, but you were already in love with him. And Tom, he shifted his allegiance to Berlin in part to protect himself from me, but also because it allowed for an inextricable intimacy and commitment to you. And so you were married, and I couldn't stay away any longer. A confluence of peril had entered your life, and I wanted to be within reach, to have influence. I turned myself in to the FBI to point you toward a truth that, inevitably, you would have to discover for yourself."

I do not like the sneak peek for "Quon Zhang" involving Dembe and Samar. Please don't be the way it looks. Ugh, this show is going to kill me. If you missed it, you can watch below.