TV Reviews: Black Mirror – USS Callister

black-mirror-season-4-netflix-uss-callister.jpg

Note: Some slight huge plot reveals below….

What would a show about an entertainment simulation be without Jimmi Simpson?

Or a show without our little Breaking Bad henchman, Jesse Plemons.

Or the mother of all mothers, Cristin Milioti.

In a spoof, of one of my favorite sci-fi shows of all time.

Beam me right up. I’m there with a big bucket of popcorn.

Black Mirror, already a bleak, technology-warning twilight zone, opens season 4 with the USS Callister. Jesse Plemons plays a programmer that is picked on in his personal life. We watch his daily routine and genuinely feel a little bad for him. But then, the show twists and turns, and in truly Black Mirror style, he is the villain. A laughable villain, really. Maybe a step up from the red haired kid in The Incredibles.

Shut up. This isn’t a Westworld-esque type reveal. It’s difficult to really talk about the show without going past the first ten minutes. The plot of the show is what happens when you get caught in another world. Do you live by the new set of rules? Do you rebel? Do you find other way?

Our hero, Cristin Milioti, is as sweet as can be. Even with the pictures and swim time, nothing changes. There is nothing really dark about her. There is no huge choice. She is simply making the obvious decision throughout.

The more nuanced performance comes from Jesse Plemons, playing a half nerd/half mirror-mirror Captain Kirk, where men can be men, and women are disposable. We like him, then hate him, then despise him, then feel sorry for him. No other character in the show goes through such an arc.

Professional reviews discuss male echo chambers, which, if you read from my Mindhunters review, I don’t really believe. People are all a reflection of their experiences, genetic predisposition, in a disorderly world full of chaos. Wannabe academics, aka present day tv critics, might have the pulse on culture, but sometimes go to far in trying to draw parallels to everyday society. Sometimes show are messed up because its meant to be.

This show is called Black Mirror for a reason.

Everyone has secrets. Everyone has dreams. They always have, and always will.

TV Show Rating: 9.5/10 Pizza Deliveries

TV Reviews: Mindhunter

mindhunter-netflix-series.jpg

What separates a killer from a serial killer?

This the fundamental question in the pilot of Mindhunter. People commit crimes. Horrible crimes. Despicable crimes. Sometimes over and over again. How do we catch them? It’s surprising, at least the way the show portrays the FBI, were stuck in 1950s style investigations even as Charles Manson was orchestrating a mass murder.

Based on a non-fiction book, it is hard to tell how much the show will deviate from the source material. One thing is clear … I’ll never read the book.

David Fincher directed the opening two episodes, setting up the sequence of events that launches the build-out of a psychology unit of the FBI. Fincher goes back to his usual cinematic style that directors after him mimic the best they can, sort of like with House of Cards (the 2 seasons back when it was good) There are a lot of creative subtleties in the first two episodes that are sorely missed later on, especially a few episodes in the middle.

The show works, not because they cast a great leading actor. In fact, Jonathan Groff plays it as square and boring as it gets. It’s not really his fault, per se. He is written to have zero edge. I assume in later seasons he’ll develop a personality. I guess only straight edge people can really hunker down and understand the psychosis of a psychotic.

Anna Torv is rather good, convincing playing a elitist academic with a profound curiosity for the criminal mind. Holt McCallany plays the partner that is opposite of Groff’s character. It is sort of a buddy cop trope where the seasoned cop doesn’t give a shit anymore. (One fun link: Holt McCallany played a minor role in Fight Club, a cult classic also directed by David Fincher)

The key to the series, in my view, is getting convincing actors to play a serial killer. And boy, do they get one. Cameron Britton, at six foot-infinity, is a towering human with a crazy look that is sort of the look of the red stapler guy in office space, except on steroids. The crazy words that come out of his mouth completes the picture of a lunatic.

I added the show to my list of binge-all-weekend views that Netflix once in a while gets right.

First Season Rating: 9/10 Decapitated Heads

Game of Thrones: Season 8 Tin-Foil-athon

451267851c2aee6d0de21028b282a3b9.jpg

There is one season to go.

Six episodes.

If you thought season 7 took liberties with time jumps, get ready for season 8. There are too many loose ends to wrap up. There is the famed “bittersweet ending” on the line. HBO has sequels and prequels and spinoffs at stake. Any any fan blowback would likely impact their Star Wars spinoff of the show runners, D & D.

They have to avoid a LOST.

They can’t pull a Dexter.

There can’t flash forward too far like in Battlestar Gallactica.

They. Must. Stick. The. Landing.

Fans across the world are crossing their fingers. Youtubers like Alt Shift X are searching reddit forums for one last season of fan theory speculation.

So how can they do this? They have Queen Cersei and the Golden Company to deal with. There is the Night King with his ice dragon. Dany and Jon are about to have a West Virginia reveal. The Night’s Watch are a tattered shell of what they were. Jaimie has defected. Melisandre has to return.

Already, there are a ton of clickbait youtube videos with shocked looks on thumbnails with a ton of rehashing, very little answers given, a ton of “tell me what you think” pleas to help their search algorithms. As a book reader, I’d say over 90% of these youtubers have not even read a chapter of the books, yet, they are fully on the clickbait bandwagon.

I guess people don’t want to be wrong.

It’s easy to give instant reactions.

You look crazy donning the tin foil cap.

It takes some creativity to put yourself in D & D’s shoes.

I’m not afraid.

*just breath*

Episode 1 begins on the boat. The quick romance between Jon and Dany will produce a miracle baby I assume. News of this will happen shortly after Dany is told the truth about Jon. With the boat rocking between seasons 7 and 8, we can assume Jon stuck the landing.

Meanwhile, near King’s Landing, the Golden Company moves north with remnants of the Lannister army to cut off the North. Jaime quick-jumps to Winterfell where he meets Tyrion again, as well as Breanne. Somehow, someway, Tormund also quick-jumps to Winterfell because episode 1 can’t leave us without a nice love triangle. Jaime tells them Cersei isn’t supporting the cause anymore.

The King of the North is no more as the truth is spread. Lyanna Mormont stands behind her man. Factions split, despite Jon saying it doesn’t matter as the world is coming to an end. They prepare for battle, as remnants of the Nights Watch join Winterfell forces, since their watch has ended. The dead are coming.

Episode 3, oh what a sight. The show can’t be wrapped up in time if the great battle happens in episode 5. So Episode 3 it is. The army of Winterfell, Knights of the Vale, remnants of the Nights Watch, the army of unsullied, army of Dothraki, 2 dragons, and all our heroes stand united against the army of the dead. They fight in the greatest battle ever seen on screen. Ice and fire clashing. Jaimie dies on the battlefield in Breanne’s arms, per his season 3 bathhouse wish. The hound kills kill and kills. Sir Bronn of the blackwater fires a spear at the ice dragon, and hits it, but it doesn’t die. Oh shit. The episode ends with Dany going air-to-air with the ice dragon and night king, to fulfill the prophecy of Azor Ahai. Flame and ice-fire clash, and ultimately, she is wounded and barely retreats due to the sacrifice of Rhaegal and Jon Snow to the rescue. She hits the ground, and Jorah rides to her rescue, before getting speared by the Night King as he closes in on her. They share one final moment together. Jon ultimately is the one to pick up Dany. The heroes lose and retreat back to Winterfell, thinking it is the end. Varys fleas.

Episode 4 begins with the Golden Company arriving as a foe. Euron Greyjoy returns to Kings landing, and marries Cersei. Winterfell is surrounded. Dany is with child but her skin is wounded from ice fire. Grief is in the air. Aya dons the face, and sneaks into the Golden Company. She doesn’t need 20 good men. She sets the camp aflame, but not to the desired results. The Golden Company attacks Winterfell. Tormund dies. Ed dies. Edmure Tully comes with the remnants of the Tully Army, and nails a shot against the leader of the Golden Company. The tide is turned. The episode ends with the Night King rising them from the dead.

Episode 5 is the Hail Mary episode. Something is preventing the army of the dead from breaching Winterfell’s walls. Is there some magic powers from the children of the forest? Is it Bran? The plan is a one in a million shot. Bran is going to attempt to warg the ice dragon and put the night king on the ground long enough for Jon Snow to fly Rhaegal down and kill him once and for all. The plan is executed. Jon Snow fights the night king and wins. The army of the dead break apart into ashes just like in the prologue of The Lord of the Rings.

Episode 6 is a flash forward of 7 months. The North has regrouped. Jon has been declared the one true king. The Iron Bank of Braavos has backed him. All of the great houses are behind him and Dany. He marries Dany under a weirwood tree. They declare Winterfell the new capital and send message for Cersei to surrender. Tyrion says Cersei won’t give in, ever. They ask where the Hound and Arya went. We get to see Arya and the Hound on the road again, bantering and bickering. They spot Varys and kill him. The scene flashes to Euron Greyjoy as he sails back to Essos for new mercenaries to hire. They are intercepted by a emboldened Theon and his new Iron Island crew. Euron is killed at the hands of Theon who dies in sacrifice. Yara is freed. She sails back to King’s Landing to free Ellaria Sand. Cersei is assassinated at the hands of Arya before the discovery that her child has been born. The Hound fights the Mountain, and wins. Dany gives birth, and dies. She names their son Rheagar Stark. Bran rolls his eyes back one final time as he goes back in time trying to prevent it all, and winds up as the Night King. This is why the Night King didn’t attack Winterfell. There was no spell. It was a time travel paradox. The Night King can’t kill himself. This is why Bran is always protected. The story flashes forward 10 years. Jon is now wed to Sansa. Arya sails west to the unknown. Sam writes about the new age of heroes as the Grand Maester at the beginning of a new dynasty. Breanne serves as the head of the Kingsguard, along with the Hound. There is a city around Winterfell. Tyrion leads Casterly Rock. Bronn runs the Twins, for double payment for his services. The Iron Throne is destroyed, and the Red Keep is converted as a replacement for the Sept of Balor. King’s Landing is renamed Old Landing. The last scene is Jon taking Rheagar out, along with his two half siblings through his marriage with Sansa, along with Cersei’s son, to witness an execution. They have caught a red priestess, looking old and haggard, trying to sneak her way in to the North. “He who passes the sentence shall wield the sword.”

Bittersweet but hopeful. Share with your friends and tell me what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TV Reviews: Black Mirror – San Junipero

Black-Mirror-Season-3-San-Junipero-Mackenzie-Davis.jpg

I had heard about Black Mirror, a show that is part twilight zone and part technological cautionary tale, from a couple friends who recommended some episodes for me to watch now that I’ve binged Stranger Things. It’s streaming on Netflix, so I figured there was nothing for me to lose.

I watched the first episode, and to be honest, I was a little turned off by the show. It felt more like satire with little technological caution, outside of the power of viral social media. Much of it could have been summarized in a 5 minute spoof with the same impact I think. What I did observe was the production quality of the show was actually surprisingly good.

So I gave it a chance.

I watched the next episode and it was a little bit technological, but more of a social satire to me. It was darker than the first episode in a couple ways, but overall, I was beginning to dig the “final reveal” groove that gave the show a comparison to the twilight zone.

I made up some nachos and pressed play on one of the episodes recommended to me, San Junipero. I was bored at first, then intrigued. Then all of a sudden, I was like holy damn shit did they really just do that? Not to spoil a damn thing here, but it was one of the most sci-fi stories told in the most un-sci-fi way. The acting was superb. The story was deep and had me thinking long afterward about the mind, body, and soul. Going in spoiler free was part of it, so I’ll leave you one of my rare spoiler free reviews.

Unlike many trash movies, this TV shows deserves to be watched spoiler free.

Game of Thrones: How will the Wall Fall?

game-of-thrones-the-wall-hbo.jpgThe mystical 300 mile long wall that Bran the Builder built has protected Westeros since the age of Heroes. The 700 foot high wall is blessed with magic to protect the North from the others. Now, the questions readers have been asking for 20 years and show watchers have been asking for 5 seasons is “How will it come down?” (I figured after my Hodor Theory #2 on “Hold the Door” although a slightly different scenario, I might as well speculate some more)

Over the years, I have read numerous fan theories and listened to many show discussions. For now, I will focus on show theories because this is where the momentum of the story is so far, so here are some facts:

A)The Wall is laced with magic that White Walkers can’t pass.

B)The White Walkers seem to avoid open water.

C)The Wall is manned by only a skeleton crew of the Night’s Watch.

D)Bran is still stuck in the tree learning his abilities

E)In the synopsis of the original story submitted to Martin’s agent, in A Dance With Dragons (the proposed second book), Dany was supposed to fly to Westeros with her Dothraki horde following her as she invaded Westeros. The Third book, Winds of Winter, was supposed to address the battle against the White Walkers.

Okay, so there you go. We know very little because we are not sure how much of the history is just legend and myth. My theories on how the wall falls are:

1)The White Walkers will have the zombie spawn (wights) dig holes beneath the wall. They will envelop the remnants of the Nights Watch and respawn them as wights.

2)The White Walkers will use the foretold ice spiders to weave a web to create a bridge over  the wall.

3)Winter will make the world so cold that the oceans freeze. In this scenario, two things can happen: First, Dany can lead her water-fearing Dothraki across the narrow sea so they don’t have to board ships. Second, the White Walkers could simply walk around the wall on the icebed. The new War of the Dawn would ensue, but without the First Men or Children of the Forest. The downside to this theory is that it would lead to the White Walkers attacking Winterfell first while Dany attacks King’s Landing. What would bring Dany north?

4)”Bran Theories:” There is a theory out there that the original wall was really built by giants who were being warged. There are variations that Bran was able to control weirwood trees, and the wall is just an elaboratly tangled weirwood forest covered in snow and blocks of ice. This is the god the Starks have worshipped. Plus the Children of the forest might have some extra special power of the forest. This means with Bran in the tree, he now has the power to bring it down. I argue that it makes perfect sense that if Bran the Builder helped lead the construction of the wall, Bran the Destroyer can help lead the destruction of the wall. It would be perfect symmetry. How does Bran have this power? I argue this is westerosi genetics. I think The Stark line is really a mix of White Walker, which is why they can warg living things, while White Walkers can warg dead things. This is why there will always be a Stark in Winterfell. This is like saying there will always be White Walkers in the Land of Always Winter. Imagine this, the polar opposite warging abilities is a little like yin and yang. They can’t warg each other, but can throw bodies and armies against each other. The only question I would have is can a powerful Stark warg a wight? This would explain why many passages in the crypts beneath Winterfell are blocked with rubble. It is keeping family secrets hidden.

4)Fact A is only a myth, and the White Walkers simply overpower the wall. Castle Black becomes Castle White. The new War of the Dawn would ensue. The three heads of the dragons would assault the fortification and corner them. The dragons could then melt the wall.

5)There are a couple horns that could be the Horn of Winter. One was with Mance Rayder before Stannis and his men overtook his army. The second was found as the Fist of the First Men, and given to Sam. Maybe this is why the horn is on the cover of the proposed The Winds of Winter.

thrones3f-3-web.jpg

CLICK HERE FOR OTHER FAN THEORIES

READ MY EPIC MOVIE REVIEWS (SHARE & SUPPORT INDIE REVIEWERS LIKE ME VS PAID INDUSTRY PUMPERS)

 

Game of Thrones: What does Hodor Mean?

09-hodor.w536.h357.2x.jpg

Who is the friendly half-giant that carries Bran on his back? Why does he say Hodor with every response he gives? With last week’s episode highlighting the fact that when he was young, Willis aka Walder (from the book) use to speak fine and was the trusted stableboy of Winterfell. That got me to think, what the hell does Hodor mean? My first instinct was the correlate it with “Hold the Door” or some variation, and then my mind wandered. I searched online a few days later, and discovered a ton of theories:

1)He is actually saying “R’llohor” but nobody understands him because of his brain damage.

2)”Hold the door.” He was ordered to protect Lyanna by holding the door, but failed, and was kicked or slammed in the head afteward. The door was maybe in the crypts, perhaps the same place where the Bard entered through.

3)There were theories for a few years that Hodor was really Aegon, who had his head smashed against the wall and was left for dead. Then he was brought home by Ned stark, because I guess that is what he does … bring kids back to Winterell. (Negated by Season 6, episode 2 when we see “Willis” as a young man watching Ned Stark fight Benjen.

4)(Via Reddit) “I remember seeing a tinfoil theory a while back saying Hodor is actually Gerold Hightower from the battle at the Tower of Joy, and “Hodor” is him trying to say his own name but he can’t because his brain was fried from Howland Reed warging into him to save Ned’s life.”

5)Kristian Nairn would like to see Hodor be a dragon controlling command.

6)(Via Reddit) Some speculate that Hodor was injured while warging in a horse, then when he warged back, he had brain damage. Another variation is that he died as a horse and Hodor is the subconscious mind that is left, or only part of him came back.

7)Some say that Robert Baratheon smashed his head when he thought Lyanna and him were getting too close, or another variation, he was blamed for not holding the door and hit in the head as retribution for failure.

8)Perhaps he was at the Tower of Joy, helping protect Lyanna as her closest friend and ally, and suffered his injuries there.

9)He is the “great other” that will battle as a God like figure.

10)My crackpot theory: There is tunnel beneath winterfell that goes all the way past the wall. He went down to the crypts fifteen or twenty years ago, and found the crypts of the old dead Starks. He then opened the crypts, which holds the immortal Stark, the creator of everything (the original and most powerful warger, the one who can warg and command the dead) and it escapes. This is why “Winter is Coming” is their house saying, because they know winter is coming because they release the immortal stark everytime a long winter is coming, in order to unite the peoples of westeros. This is why the white walkers and Night’s King don’t kill Starks … they only try to convert them.

11)My crackpot theory: When Lyanna died, she warged into Hodor.

12)My double crackpot theory: As a half giant, Starks have found giants could be warged into by more than one person. So Hodor actually is a host for Lyanna, Ned, Brandon, and Benjen.

What do you think? Could there be more to it?

NOW SEE MY THEORIES ON HOW THE WALL WILL FALL

OR SEE MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK, A GAME OF THRONES, AND MY COMMENTARY IF IT COULD BE TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED AS AN UNKNOWN WRITER TODAY 

OR CHECK OUT MY EPIC MOVIE REVIEWS 

OR CHECK OUT SOME STAR WARS EPISODE 8 FAN THEORIES

TV Reviews: Daredevil (Pilot)

Daredevil.jpg

When I heard Netflix was launching Daredevil as a TV series, I was seriously a bit Marvel’d out. Already getting slammed by Affleckdevil and Garnelectra, I wasn’t much interested in watching more of our favorite blind super hero.

But I was wrong.

I knew it from the opening two minute sequence showing the entire origin story right there. Boom. Get me right into the story. This is something many superhero reboot or origin stories need to learn from. We don’t need to spend the first act of every super hero movie finding out how they got their powers.  Just throw me in the damn story and trust the audience is smart enough to follow.

The protagonist is very likeable and believable (in comparison to say … The Rock wanting to play Jack Burton in a Big Trouble in Little China reboot), so the audience roots for him early on. The opening episode ends with the antagonists meeting to discuss the situation without Kingpin and leaves us wanting more, which was the point of the pilot.

Future episodes with Fisk, Stick, Father Lanton, Turk, Wesley, Jack Murdock, Melvin Potter, Claire Temple, Karen Page, Nobu, and Madame Gao would have to wait. I was hooked, and resisted the urge to stay up to 4 am to binge watch the whole thing.

I only wish other Marvel franchises took the same approach. Focus on character development and plot. Comic book series were printed over a long time and all of key details and suspense is lost when it is crammed in 2 hours in a PG setting.

Now, when will Netflix make Neil Gaiman’s Sandman?

Pilot Rating: 9/10