‘Legion’ is Hypnotically Intense

 
Have you ever had that feeling that you’re experiencing a dream? Only to realize you were actually just watching FX newest hit show ‘Legion’? Maybe not? Well that has been my experience for the first six weeks of its premiere season, and it is now safe to say my mind grapes have been stretched and twisted in ways I never thought could be so engaging. Each new chapter in the show feels as if I’m given a cosmically charged LSD trip littered with foreshadowing of oncoming information revelations, reminders of past events that tie into current events, and easter eggs for future plot twists. It is bold in its very nature, a show about a mutant who has potentially hundreds of personalities existing within him, and each personality comes equipped with its own characteristics and more interestingly their very own super powers. It is also bold in its storytelling and production. Scenes seemingly end and begin traveling between planes of reality and time periods. The creators expect you to be sharp enough to keep up, forcing you to earn the right to understand David Haller’s gift. You can never truly be sure what you are seeing exists. Is it reality? Or is part of David’s mind? These sorts of questions are answered while at the same time compounded upon in a way that is both satisfying and challenging. Without hesitation I can say this show is very heavy and needs to be given your maximum focus and attention while viewing. This may be a drawback for people looking for a casual experience, but I can attest to the fun and excitement of trying to play detective, picking apart every detail to form your own interpretation of what’s to come. Noah Hawley (Fargo) beautifully demonstrates that he is not scared of testing your understanding of reality within the “Legion” universe. Drawing heavy on flashbacks, dream sequences, astral planes as well as times in which characters have changed bodies or are figments of the imagination, you may easily begin to think you have lost your own mind trying to keep pace with the storytelling. Eventually the scale tips the other way, providing important information revealing momentary clarity while simultaneously creating new questions. Patience will pay off in a well crafted and well designed story such as this. Those who need instant gratification may be frustrated by the lack of answers initially given. Same for those who expect non-stop action, just because it’s a Marvel title. But who needs those people anyway, I mean I’m sure there is a new Transformers movie right around the corner for them to stare blankly at. A unique quality about “Legion” is its overall ambiguous tone (which seems to be purposefully done to mirror David’s character). This show feels like a drama with some action but has a tendency to dance with elements of psychological horror. As we explore some memories of David’s they glow with an aura of creepiness through the tone and set pieces. The character design in the baddies are simple yet effectively terrifying, striking a nerve we all have within us that reaches to the roots of our childhood. Its setting and timeline seem to draw heavy influence from late 60’s to mid 70’s culture and is executed it in a way that feels real but also dreamlike. The sound design is supremely handled. I can recall many moments where the music was effectively altered in a way that communicated the tone change of the scene and heightened the tension. This show successfully aims to draw on your senses as it guides you through the characters psyches in a hypnotic fashion. Among the multitude of recurring themes within “Legion” I have noticed a large one revolves around control, more specifically having none of it. David struggles to grip his own thoughts and actions at times constantly at war within himself. Spotlight characters have had traumatic pasts and dwell over having no way of changing it, becoming victim to its outcome. This motif of no control is masterfully reflected in the environments they find themselves in. Whether confined to a psych ward or trapped within a memory their restrictions become haunting. It is layered to the point where the characters feel completely helpless adding depth to the unsettling tone set all throughout. Even between romantic partners we see the ongoing clash of control. Resisting urges, regret over past choices, not knowing the truth about intentions… The theme of control creeps through the narrative like a parasite feeding on the conscious of the characters. Legion” is not afraid to spread its wings narratively and challenge its audience to unfold the wrinkles of their own brains along the way. It has quickly became one of my staple shows and I look forward to continuing my journey through David’s mindscape. The fact that it has already been renewed for a second season proves that i’m not the only one invested in this journey. The post ‘Legion’ is Hypnotically Intense appeared first on Age of The Nerd. Save

‘Bates Motel’: The Final Season So Far

(AOTN) Psycho and Bates Motel have finally collided in what is the final season of A&E’s Bates Motel, starring Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore as the mentally troubled young motel manager whose evil alter ego could endanger everybody that dares invade the life of “mother” and son.

After the events of the season 4 finale, Norman Bates is back at home after receiving psychiatric treatment, except this time he has the frozen corpse of his mom, Norma Bates to keep him company after he attempted to kill himself and her. Former Sheriff, Alex Romero was locked up on perjury charges, eventually escaping prison to go after Norman after he killed the one woman that could have potentially see his life result in some kind of salvation. After being beaten in prison and shot while on the run, will Romero make it to the Bates Motel to finish what he started?

Dylan and Emma have settled into a quiet life in Seattle. His father, Caleb came knocking and needed a place to stay for a while but Emma had to build up the courage to ask him to leave. After all that has happened in the past three seasons, Dylan felt that the only way forward was to maintain distance. Caleb obliged and made his way to Norman’s home, startled at seeing the place deserted at first despite Norma’s car parked up outside the house.

After receiving the news that his sister was killed and rival Chick Hogan confirming so, Caleb worked out that Norman must have surely been the one responsible. Breaking in and shouting for Norman later the same evening, he was knocked unconscious while standing in the basement and staring in terror at his sister’s dead body laid in her rocking chair. Unfortunately for Norma/Norman, Chick stumbled upon the scene but the two quickly came to an agreement that allowed the former crook to stay at the motel with “Norma’s” consent.

Caleb met a sudden end when he was put to death by the sight of Chick’s oncoming car when Norman sent him scurrying after he tired him up in the basement. This show never promised any happy endings for anybody.

A case of infidelity unwittingly involved Norman when a married guy turned up requesting a room for himself and a secret mistress. As it turned out he happened to be the husband of the girl, Madeleine, that Norman met in a paint shop early in the season. Eventually he confessed to be none other than Sam Loomis! He was the character made famous in the original movie that ultimately helped reveal Norman’s terrible secret.

Madeleine and Norman hit it off almost immediately despite delaying their lust for one another. The two eventually got close enough and they eventually fell into a passionate embrace, but as always “mother” arrived on the scene to disturb the proceedings, sending Norman dashing out of fear that “Miss Bates” would cause harm to his new love interest!

Adding to Norman’s problems, Sheriff Greene made inquiries concerning the disappearance of a certain Joe Blackwell, the guy that was sent on a mission by Romero to shoot and kill off Norman in events that occurred between the season 4 finale and the final season’s first episode. Norman as “mother” ended his life and hid his car in some bushes but it probably will not be long before Greene turns up the heat a notch or two.

Fans waiting for the arrival of famous shower movie victim Marion Crane will have to anticipate her entrance for a little while longer as events unfold. We were given a glimpse of what many viewers think was her in the season’s first episode but things will surely ramp up within the next couple of weeks! Whether we will get to see the show’s own version of the shower murder sequence is not known at this point and nothing has been hinted at by producers.

Nods and references to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic have made themselves known, some of which have been imitated for this version of the narrative. What is surprising is the shockingly low amount of outcries by Psycho worshippers that this final series of episodes are, when looking at the bigger picture, a reboot of the movie! Character names and events are vastly different, as are the alterations to the story, but this is still essentially a television redo. The interrogation sequence between Norman and Greene in Monday’s episode is one jot of proof. Perhaps the dreadful 1998 remake starring Vince Vaughn has made fans simply not give a stuff.

Still, Bates Motel has become a riveting piece of television during the last couple of years after making a strong entrance back in 2013. Seasons 2 and 3 may have contained little inspiration to maintain viewership but at least the series is being allowed to finish the story it wants to tell, unlike NBC’s superior Hannibal series which was cancelled after it’s third run.

If you have been watching since the very beginning then there is no doubt that you will probably be interested enough in continuing watching the show to it’s very end. But may this article be so bold enough to suggest that if you skipped out during the show’s second and third seasons that you check back in and get yourself comfortable.

Afterall, the timing could never be better!

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Vanessa Hudgens Talks ‘Powerless’ NBC’s New Superhero Comedy Sitcom

(AOTN) It is not very often that some lightheartedness gets dropped within the DC Universe, however NBC’s new half-hour comedy sitcom “Powerless” is poised to do just that! Set in a world where humanity must cope with the collateral damage of Super Heroes and Super-Villains, Emily Locke (Vanessa Hudgens) begins her first day as Director of Research & Development for Wayne Security, a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises that specializes in products that make defenseless bystanders feel a little safer. Full of confidence and big ideas, Emily quickly learns that her expectations far exceed those of her new boss (Alan Tudyk) and officemates, so it will be up to her to lead the team toward their full potential and the realization that you don’t need superpowers to be a hero.  The series also stars Danny Pudi, Christina Kirk and Ron Funches.

We had a chance to view the pilot episode as well as catch up with “Powerless” star Vanessa Hudgens. This may just be the first time that we have seen a super-hero sitcom and the pilot episode certainly had us cracking a smile several times throughout the episode. Superhero fans will appreciate the tongue-in-cheek references and subtle puns which are smartly used throughout the episode. This is definitely a trend we would like to see continue throughout the series.

It was great to see the superhero/supervillain universe from a different angle being more about the people (or innocent bystanders) that are effected by the shenanigans and destruction caused when supers run array. If the pilot episode is any indication, “Powerless” may border on being hokey, but it was still good fun and we hope that fans will give it a fighting chance.

While out at San Diego Comic Con promoting the series Vanessa Hudgens spoke about her character Emily Locke saying, “She takes pride in what she does and thinks she’s making a difference in the world with one person at a time. She is fed up with the superheroes acting so recklessly in Charm City. She takes a stand for herself and talks back to a superhero. “

Hudgen’s goes to say, “It’s really about her finding her own power as a person”.

When speaking about what excited her about the role, Hudgens tells us, “The fact that it’s DC Comics first comedy is a really cool thing to be a part of and also my favorite TV shows are “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office” which are the workplace comedies that NBC does so well! The fact that it’s going to be under their umbrella makes me so proud.”

Hudgens describes working with Alan Tudyk by saying, “I’m always in such awe when he is working because he’s so smart. That’s the thing with comedians … they are smart people and so quick! He just comes up with these things on the spot and I don’t even understand how your brain goes there in that split second and it comes out, but he’s amazing and such a nice guy. I feel so blessed to be working with such comedic geniuses.”

As she continues to explore the character Hudgens reveals that what she is surprised to learn about herself is “just how hard comedy is”, she says with a laugh. She continues, “It’s not really something I’ve done a lot of. It’s one thing when you are being funny with your friends, but another thing when there’s a massive crew staring at you and waiting for it to all go down so they can go home. I’ve been learning a lot about timing and I treat everyone like I’m a five year old like ‘explain to me why you would do that’ and I’m trying to learn as much as I can.”

When talking with the writers of the series, Hudgens said they asked her what her biggest flaw was and she revealed that she feels she may be too trusting. She says, “I want to trust people so badly and you want to see the best in people!”

Speaking about the tone of “Powerless” in comparison to shows such as “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office” Hudgens comments, “I could only hope they would be similar. It’s the same thing … just your mundane lives working in an office from 9 to 5 and what happens within that, except with our show its set within a world full of superheroes and supervillains. We get to explore that and I feel that it really hasn’t been tapped into at all. What is the reality of living in a world full of superheroes and supervillains?  Like, how about surge pricing for Uber during a battle … you know stuff like that … it’s really funny!”

Hudgens goes on to reveal that acting in “Powerless” is much more of an adult role for her, as she is used to seeing herself as a high school student or a troubled teen runaway who is a drug addict and she says, “It’s nice to play an adult who has her stuff together. It’s the simple things, like walking down a hallway carrying a mug … I was very excited about that!  It’s the little things excite me!”

Hudgens joked saying “I’m still waiting!” when asked if she had a crash course in the massive DC Universe.  She adds, “I would not mind it. I’m sure Comic Con is the right place for someone to give me a lesson.  I was not much of a comic book person growing up. I mean I did go through a phase where I dressed up like Catwoman everyday when I was around six years old.”

We told her that gets her some geek cred to which Hudgens replies, “I still have to do a lot of homework, because if I’m the head of things, I have to know what I’m approving”.  When asked what her hopes are for Emily in the first season, Hudgens tells us, “I hope she learns to stand-up for herself in a way that is a little more politically correct. I think right now she is stumbling around trying to find her power and in doing so, stepping on peoples toes. Which is a really adorable and endearing way to do it! It would be nice if she got a little savvy about it!”

When speaking about her upcoming projects, Hudgens says, “I like to keep things as diverse as possible. As long as I can keep finding things that scare me, I am definitely up for the challenge”.

 

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Bates Motel: A Recap Of Season 4. And Looking Ahead!

There were some slight criticisms that Bates Motel had stagnated in it’s second and third seasons of the telling of Norman Bates’ early years, but with season 4 concluding on Monday night with possibly the most disturbing cessation yet, things are about to be ramped up in it’s reportedly final turn next year!

2016’s string began with Norman Bates being bought to a mental hospital after being found wandering around and appearing to be talking to himself by a bystander. Norma and Dylan were searching for cinema’s most famous “mother’s boy” but the overbearing and domineering parent eventually got wind of where he was taken. After being threatened by authorities that her son could be taken away from her should she fail to get him the treatment he needs, the two were eventually reunited.

Meanwhile, Emma underwent her surgery for a lung transplant. These were tense times for her father and boyfriend Dylan but all ended well after she pulled through, but not before Emma’s mother Audrey was told to leave the hospital after putting in an appearance. She was only to live a little while longer before Norman, taking on his mother’s persona, strangled her after accusing her of being a poor mother!

Norman began to lose his sanity, inch by inch, by the second and was forced by Sheriff Romero into Pineview Institute after turning against his mother, thinking that she was plotting against him. Initially reluctant to make friends at the facility, a fellow patient by the name of Julian made friends with him. The two inmates found a way to escape, ending up at a strip club. Unfortunately for Norman’s new pal, he was beaten senseless by the club’s bouncers and Norman’s alter ego almost caused chaos herself when she came close to attacking one of the strippers.

The two were bought back to Pineview Institute where Norman continued his consultations with Dr. Edwards, who bared witness to “Mother.” Eventually, Norman managed to persuade Dr. Edwards that he would make a faster recovery being in the comfort of his own home. But Norman was about to make a shocking discovery when he found out that Norma and Romero were married! Norma explained that she only married him for the insurance to get him into Pineview. Armed with this new information, he told Romero to get a divorce from Norma because he was going to get his own insurance. Of course, he didn’t know the full story. Norma and Romero fell very much in love!

While Emma and Dylan were making plans to leave for Seattle, a tense showdown occurred between Romero and Norman which resulted in Norman threatening him with an axe. Thankfully for Romero, Norman took his anger out on the shed door next to him. Romero, himself, had his share of secrets after hiding the money in Norma’s basement that he got from Bob Paris who he offed in the finale of season 3. Romero’s ex girlfriend Rebecca, wearing a police wire, unsuccessfully attempted to get Romero to admit that he killed Paris but authorities were still hot on his tail.

Sensing danger that could threaten the world in which Norma and Norman privately created for them, Norman went downstairs in the middle of the night and turned on the furnace, closing every vent in the house. Not wanting to live anymore, he ached to be with his mum for all eternity, lying beside her awaiting what would surely be certain death for both of them! Romero pulled up late and knocked on the door, calling out for Norma with no response. Finding both Norman and Norma lying beside one another in her bed, Romero frantically tried to resuscitate Norma. Norman came to, finding the now dead body of Norma Bates lying beside him while a weeping Alex struggled to take in his current reality.

Still in denial, Norman was convinced that “mother” was playing with him in order to punish him for all his recent bad behaviour. Even seeing her lifeless body at the funeral parlour failed to make him come around! It was then that he noticed that she was wearing the wedding ring that Alex planted back on her finger that she removed shortly before her death after choosing her son over being with him. Norman lifted it back off and presented it to Romero at the funeral. His response? A swift punch to his jaw. Falling back on the church benches, Romero continued to pound him and had to be yanked away by the funeral directors.

Now at the end of his tether, Romero obtained a gun intending to kill Norman but was met by law enforcement agents who arrested him for perjury. Norman began to tire of waiting for Norma to return. He drove to the cemetery where her now buried corpse remained. After digging her body out, he bought her back to the Bates Motel’s house where he thinks he can now be united with her forever. Norman received a phone call on his cell phone from Dylan! His brother expressed to him that he still wanted to keep in contact. Norman shunned his request, telling him that he will miss him but that they should not talk anymore, and with that he hung up.

Chick Hogan unexpectedly knocked on the door. He gave Norman a casserole dish that he had made for him after hearing of the tragic news. He told Norman he would be back to check on him in a few days time. Hurrying back to Norma, Norman begged her to wake up. Now reaching despair, he ran upstairs and got the gun that Norma got for herself 3 seasons earlier.

Pointing the device at himself, he was about to press the trigger when he heard the sound of a piano playing! A vision of Juno, the dog he lost, greeted him at the bottom of the stairs. Taking a few more steps into the living room relief came over him after seeing Norma, her hair and clothes in immaculate condition, playing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”

The camera panned from outside the house, drifting further and further away, the motel and house now clothed with Christmas lights.

Season 4 left no room for doubt that it was nearly as entertaining as the show’s original series. While, in fact, a lot happened in season 2 and 3 it didn’t really feel like it was progressing the narrative forward until season 3’s finale. But the opening of this year’s succession of episodes made it clear right away that it wasn’t going to beat around the bush, and that it didn’t!

With only one more lot to go, and with claims that it would now tell it’s own version of Psycho, a risky move or not, this year begged you not to miss out on how it all ends on A&E.

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Top Five Episodes of ‘The Flash’ Season 1

Thanks to critical praise and word of mouth, CW has another hit on their hands with their sophomore series ‘The Flash‘. Banking on the success of ‘Arrow’, Greg Berlanti and company have been able to crack the DC universe wide open (quite literally, but more on that later). Unlike their rivals over at Marvel television, who constantly have to worry about how their stories tie-in to the larger cinematic universe, usually in a disappointing fashion, DC has managed to establish separate worlds for both mediums to play in. That is not to say that we will never see a DC television/movie cross-over, but as for now it’s not in the cards.

While Berlanti and Warner Bros. continue to expand their television universe, I thought this would be a good chance to stop and take a look back at the first season of ‘The Flash’ and highlight what I believe to be the “Top 5” episodes from season one.  If you are reading this article but have yet to start watching ‘The Flash’, I highly recommend hopping on Netflix and just binge watching the entire first season. But if your really on the edge and having trouble committing to another show, then I suggest watching the episodes listed below before forming an opinion. Here is countdown list of what I consider to be the top 5 episodes ‘The Flash’ from season one.

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON!

5. “THE FLASH IS BORN”, Episode 6.

The Flash -- "The Flash is Born" -- Image FLA106b_0057b -- Pictured (L-R): Candice Patton as Iris West and Greg Finley as Tony Woodward -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Flash — “The Flash is Born” — Image FLA106b_0057b — Pictured (L-R): Candice Patton as Iris West and Greg Finley as Tony Woodward — Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW — © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

This episode is fantastic. Following the Freak of the week format, we are introduced to Tony Woodward, The Flash’s childhood bully. Although still early in the series, the show pulls no punches..and I mean that quite literally. In this episode we finally see Barry break the sound barrier, with a “super-sonic” punch.This episode provides some heart felt flashbacks, focusing on Barry’s childhood and Joe teaching him how to handle a bully. Barry and Eddie bond over boxing lessons and we find out that Eddie was bullied as child as well. Iris finally stops referring to the new hero in town as the streak and finally omes up with a more suitable name, The Flash (thanks to Barry’s help..) To top the episode off we get a great button sequence where the Reverse Flash breaks into Joe’s house in an attempt to scare him and threaten his daughter Iris if he doesn’t stop investigating Nora Allens murder.

This episode is fantastic. Following the Freak of the week format, we are introduced to Tony Hayward, The Flash’s childhood bully. Although still early in the series, the show pulls no punches..and I mean that quite literally. In this episode we finally see Barry break the sound barrier, with a “super-sonic” punch. This episode provides some heart-felt flashbacks, focusing on Barry’s childhood and Joe teaching him how to handle a bully. Barry and Eddie bond over boxing lessons, ultimately finding out that Eddie was bullied as child also. Iris finally stops referring to the new hero in town as the streak, finally coming up with a more suitable name, The Flash (thanks to Barry’s help). To top the episode off we get a great button sequence where the Reverse Flash breaks into Joe’s house in an attempt to scare him and threaten his daughter Iris if he doesn’t stop investigating Nora Allens murder.

 

4. “GRODD LIVES”, Episode 21.

Grodd cover

The episode opens with a group of highly efficient bank robbers, but still no match for the Flash. Upon capture, we come to find the out General Eiling is in charge of the heists. Once they get him back to Star Labs, we learn that Eiling is under telepathic control by a meta gorilla named Grodd. The group has no choice but to go hunting for Grodd in the sewers. While in pursuit, Grodd captures Joe. Grodd’s telepathy is to powerful for Barry or anyone member of the group to overcome. So Cisco and Caitlin develop of headset that will eliminate grodds telepathic powers. The flash tries to take Grodd down with a super sonic punch but he just shoved him off. Grodd is just way to powerful for Barry to physically overcome. So he uses the headset and lures Grodd into a trap, ending with him being crushed by the subway.

Whats makes this episode so memorable is not just the fact that we get to see a ten foot gorilla with telepathic powers, but that the telepathy added a level of intensity and effectively made Grodd more terrifying then if he could actually talk. This episode also marks the first time Iris joins forces with the The Flash and his team. This is also the episode when Iris West not only finds out that Barry is The Flash. The two discuss their feelings, but agree that they have to table those coversations until they find Eddie.

The episode ends with Grodd climbing up a building in Central city. More Grodd to come for sure!

3. “THE SOUND AND THE FURY”, Episode 11.

Hartley Hathaway

 

Like most episodes of The Flash, the show most always opens up with a crime in progress and The Flash running to save the day. The opening of this episode is one of my favorite opening scenes in the series so far. A group of bank robbers on bikes are spreading throughout the city pulling, The Flash in many different directions. In a moment of panic, we see Barry freeze up with the look a of failure before Dr.Wells steps up and devises a plan of attack. This scene showcases Dr. Wells affinity for the game of Chess, as this will come up again in the episode.

By this point in the season, it has become clear that Dr. Harrison Wells has been sitting on quite a few secrets. In the episode “The Sound and The Fury”, we find out what really happened the night the particle accelerator exploded. This is also the first time that Hartley Rathaway makes an appearance, as the villain “Pod Piper”. Despite the fact that Hartley is quite possibly the most snide, annoying characters we have yet to meet throughout the series, Hartleys origin story makes him one of the more interesting characters. Part of me really wants to see the good in Hartley and at times would even like to see him join the team. Harley’s beef isn’t with Barry or Central City, it is solely with Wells.

As I mentioned, Dr. Wells has been keeping far too many secrets, and he is finally going to see the repercussions of that. What we come to find out that is that Hartley was not only aware of the potential risks involved with turning on the particle accelerator, but that he also informed Dr. Wells of the potential dangers involved. Wells went through with launching the accelator anyway, causing the tragedy.

Through the flashback scenes we learn that Hartley clearly had a special bond with Dr. Wells, as both a colleague and mentor. But when Hartley learned that Wells was following through as planned, Hartley did everything possible to try and stop progress on the accelator. When Wells found out he had no problem betraying Hartley stealing his work and having him banned from STAR Labs, despite their close relationship,

2. “FAST ENOUGH”, Episode 23.

The Flash Finale

 

The Flash season one finale is easily one of the best episodes of the show to date, and honestly was a toss up for my number spot on this list here. The whole series up has been building up to events that take place in this episode– and boy does it pay off.

At this point we know that Dr. Wells, a.k.a Eoboard Thawne, is The Reverse Flash. We also know that he is responsible for Nora Allen’s murder and the wrongful arrest of Henry Allen.

With the particle accelerator now back online, Barry has the ability to go back in time and stop Eobard Thawne on the night of his mother’s murder 15 years ago. All his life, Barry has struggled to find the the truth about what really happened that night. Now Barry is finally given the chance to not only go back and find out what really happened, but prevent the events from ever taking place. The one hang up…The future that Barry has grown to love, will never take the same shape, and Barry would never end up becoming The Flash.

So what do you do? Go back in time, and your mother from being murdered and prevent your dad from rotting away in jail? Or do you move on with your life and accept that maybe this all happened to you for a reason. Maybe you are part of something greater.

The genius of this episode is we sort of get to have our cake and eat it too. Barry does end up breaking the time barrier, successfully creates a stabilized wormhole and travels back to the night of his mothers death just in time to prevent it all from  ever happening. But instead of changing the course of history, we end up with a much more deep and moving moment.

Barry knows that saving his mother will change everything he has ever known, and although he is willing to make that sacrifice, Barry realizes the real sacrifice is having to let go and say goodbye. Despite all the heart ache Barry experienced throughout his life, he realizes he doesn’t want to trade all the god memories he has for a life of uncertainty. The timeline where Barry comes from needs a hero. They need The Flash.

1.”TRICKSTERS”, Episode 17

The Flash -- "Tricksters" -- Image FLA117A_0117b -- Pictured: Mark Hamill as James Jesse -- Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Flash — “Tricksters” — Image FLA117A_0117b — Pictured: Mark Hamill as James Jesse — Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Mark Hamill plays the role of James Jesse, aka The Trickster. Enough said…

Not only does this episode have one the best villians throughout the entire season, but it also has one of the coolest (although brief) fight sequences in the beginning of the episode. The episode begins by revisting the night of Nora Allens murder. Just like previous epsiodes, we see the red and yellow whirlwind of speed. But this time, we actually get a glance at whats happening. This time, we see the scene from a new vantage point as it plays out in slow motion, and we actually see The Flash and Reverse-Flash fighting and landing punches! The effects used to create the illusion of two speedsters zipping around a room fighting, with a blend of slow motion, looks surprisingly good for network tv. In my opinion, this episode showcases some of the best visuals of the season. And thats just to start the episode!

The real reason this episode makes it to the top of my list is because of Mark Hamill’s performance as the Trickster. Although most of us know him from his role as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars trilogy, or the voice of the joker in Batman the animated series, it is role of “The Trickster” that Mr.Hamill was born to play. Hamill absolutely steals the show every time the camera falls on him, and deservedly so. The amount of effort he puts into this role is almost shocking, knowing that this was filmed right around the same time Star Wars was in production. Mark Hamill could of easily just phoned in the performance, collected his paycheck, and walked away knowing the offer to return is always on the table. Hell he could of walked in and took a dump on set and still be invited to return. Thankfully though that is not the case when it comes to Mark Hamill. Not only is he known to be an overall nice person, he is also a total nerd! Out of all the villains introduced throughout this season of The Flash, none were quite as terrifying as the Trickster. Despite a goofy name, the character still manages to overcome that and really bring life and intensity to the role. Honestly Hamill plays a pyschopath almost too good, leaving you to question weather or not he my actual be this crazy in real life…

Although I could continue to rave about The Flash and the many memorable moments from season one, I promised myself I would cut it down to my personal top 5. Just to be clear that is not to say there isn’t episodes in this season that could of easily made my list (example: “Rogue Time”). I chose the episodes above because they are strong stand alone installments, each highlighting deffierent elements of the show I find appealing.

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True Detective Season 2 Recap and Review

2014 was a year where HBO’s newest series True Detective took over the landscape of television as we knew it. Spending the money to get A-list actors like Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, and Michelle Monaghan was quite the eye opener. Throw in Cary Fukunaga who has made incredible films including Sin Nombre and Jane Eyre to direct the series as well and you have even more to be excited about. The real story to follow was whether or not Nic Pizzolatto could follow through after the amazing and dark writing he was doing for The Killing. Being given a whole season to digest from that dark of a mind could only be great, and it ultimately was the best show of that year.

The first season had a more pessimistic approach. The two main characters of “Rust” Cohle and Marty Hart were polar opposites of each other. Rust being the deep in thought mystical character that always connected the dots with imagination and deeper thoughts about the signs in front of him. Marty was much more about the grave details, keeping notes of the patterns around the crime scenes and punishment given to the victim. Despite having a distinct sense of disconnection, their relationship grew as they tracked down their suspect to the very end. The comrade mentality was interesting throughout all eight episodes, and even made up for an illogical ending sequence of events.

The second season promised to flip the script. Cary Fukunaga declined returning and the torch was passed to Justin Lin of The Fast and the Furious fame. The new A-list actors would be announced as Taylor Kitsch, Vince Vaughn, Colin Farrell, and Rachel McAdams. This time around the four characters would be tighter connected and serve integral parts to each other. There would also be many more perspectives including the law enforcement, undercover work, and a gangster looking to get his empire back. On paper this change of direction should have been equally as great as it’s predecessor, but there are a lot of hitches that make this ride a bit too bumpy.

SPOILERS FOR TRUE DETECTIVE SEASON 2…

True detective character poster

The major differences yield a limited connection to what made the first season so special. The audience learns quickly that the main team will gel together within a quick timeline to speed up the process. While they are certainly not best friends, they do save each other’s lives on countless occasions and follow one another into every terrible situation. The main problem with that concept is that none of the actors really have any screen chemistry. Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell feel incredibly forced in their mutual aggression and kinship toward each other. Taylor Kitsch feels like the odd man out, not really adding anything to the partnership aside from a specific set of skills and lazy stakes of having a kid on the way late in the season. The eventual relationship between McAdams and Farrell is passable but seems a bit too much like puppy love to warrant the ending being so dramatic.

The overall story is messy as well. There is a murder that delays a railroad in California from being built, costing Francis Semyon (Vaughn) to lose out on five million dollars. He tries to use wit and brute force to get the man who stole his cash but the only time anything entertaining comes out of it is when viewers see just how violent he can become to enemies. Ani Bezzerides (McAdams) is the clean cop who is trying to do the right thing, questioning all others on the investigation for being dirty. You see her character grow to bend the rules a bit more late in the show’s run but nothing truly groundbreaking occurs here. Raymond Velcoro (Farrell) is the most cliche example of the downfalls of the show. His need to be a father to his son but never getting a chance due to boozing and losing his wife with his myriad of issues is a tired story for any medium. Paul Woodrough (Kitsch) is the one man with a compelling story, never being able to come out as his own person. The sexual orientation section of the second half is excellent and handled with perfect pacing. A sense of pride in his character hiding the past is could be considered somewhat admirable, but by and large is the characters’ ultimate flaw.

Taylor kitsch Tre Detective

Despite all the negatives I just pointed out, not all things are bad in Season 2 of True Detective, and there is defiantly some moments worth highlighting. The major set pieces are solid for the most part. The visceral moment in which Velcoro gets gunned down at the end of the second episode definitely left me jaw-dropped. The foot chase that ends the third episode is classic television with high stakes and interesting ramifications for future episodes. But the show is at its prime during a massive shootout with an incredibly high death count and a sex party that will leave most viewers feeling in need of a shower. The midway point ends on the best scene that will happen on TV this year. The group decides to raid a meth lab for clues and use police backup, only to have massive amounts of police and civilians die in a shootout that no cop could every recover from. The sex party set piece ends the sixth episode with a sense of purpose that would carry the final sprint. The team steals documents from the powerful men they need to take down, while McAdams finds a key witness and escapes a trap all drugged out and causing a lot of blood shed in the process.

true detective shootout

A lot of credit needs to go to the main acting crew as well. Vince Vaughn may have struggled to connect on screen with his rambling quips throughout but he does sell them as hard as he can. I’m not sure I expected to see his character do such violent acts convincingly, but watching him pull out gold teeth and kill his biggest ally was solid television. Colin Farrell despite being given the most obvious hand to possibly play, manages to pull a solid performance out of his small straight. You do feel pain when he cries for his son and feel the pit of your stomach ache as he crumbles to the ground in death. Taylor Kitsch being given the manly story he has, manages to sell it well. Watching his struggle to hide his true self in order to avoid public ridicule is as depressing as it needs to be. Rachel McAdams is the real diamond in the rough though. Not only does she come off as a major threat to anyone who messes with her livelihood, she also brings the emotional chops that a film star should to the small screen.

True Detective‘s second season was definitely a sophomore slump but it deserves a decent amount of praise as well. Few shows are wiling to change as drastically as True Detective, even if the results are going to be up in the air. The acting and set pieces are still on a higher level than most TV shows this season. The messy story and slow examination to set important details are the ultimate downfall of this second effort though. Every episode felt far too small for keeping the story moving and no amount beautiful camera work can cover up a flaw that large. Despite all these issues, I still want to buckle up for another season next year and continue to expect great things. Everyone is allowed to experiment and take chances with a product, and Nic Pizzolatto has a lot more left in the tank for his next venture into True Detective.

Season Rating: 5/10

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