Category Archives: Television

Ray Donovan: Get Even Before Leavin’ – Empty (Review)

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Last week’s episode had Ray getting desperate enough to save his family that he agreed to do the Nevada job with Mickey.  This week Donavan goes to Primm with his father and after casing the casino, they pick grab Ed.  “Get Even Before Leavin'” follows Ray and Mickey’s as they retrieve  the money.  It also deals with Conor’s fascination with guns.

Bridget breaks up with her teacher and Abby gets another opinion on her breast cancer. Bunchy is left with the baby when Teresa (Alyssa Diaz) returns to Bakersfield and Ray comes up empty in Nevada.

In  Nevada Little Bill has put up a $250 thousand reward for the stolen money.  Ray plays blackjack and asks about the reward. Mickey gets donuts and the two men plan to grab Ed  (J. LaRose). Waller’s driver turns up at Little Bill’s and warns Ray to get back to LA.  Mickey learns of Muncie’s death. 

Conor is clearly  obsessed with guns. Avi tries to get the youngster’s mind off of weapons. Later Avi agrees to show Conor how to shoot a gun.  Damon (Dominique Columbus) is late for his first day at the gym. Terry tells the boy off and then apologizes. Bridget stops by and tells her uncle that she and Donellen have broken up. 

She left him  after learning that she was not the first student he had an affair with.  Terry comforts her and Damon looks on.

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Little Bill and Algoma

Mickey takes the van out and parks it while Ray asks Ed to give his broken down vehicle a tow.  Ed agrees and when he gets to the van Mickey and Ray take him prisoner.  Ed refuses to tell Mickey where the money is and Ray shoots the man in his foot.

Pinkie (Travis Hammerhas the money.

Back in LA, Hector Campos (Ismael Cruz Cordova) shows up at the Fite Club looking for Ray.  Teresa is not returning  Bunch’s calls and he goes to find her.  Bridget offers to look after Maria and Bunchy turns her down. He takes the baby with him and goes to see his wife. 

Bunchy finds Teresa at her cousin’s house.  She tells Bunchy  she left after wanting to stab him, the baby and herself with scissors.  The new mother is clearly suffering from postpartum depression. Bunchy leaves Maria with her mother and says he will be back later to pick them both up.

Ed, Ray and Mickey turn up at Pinkie’s house.  The stoned young man panics when Ray calls him on Ed’s phone.  He  brings the money out and pours gasoline on it and himself.  Ray attempts to negotiate  and Mickey shoots Pinkie.

The lighter in his hand falls to the ground and sets the gasoline on fire. The young eccentric is blown up by the gas can in his hand. Ray rescues the money.  Donovan is furious with his father. Ray gives Ed some money and tells him to take Pinkie’s jeep and get out.

Mickey and Ray argue about Sylvie.  The two Mexicans that  the Donovan’s saw earlier pass the van and a slot machine falls off their truck. Ray hits the machine.  Mickey calls Sylvie who sets him up for Little Bill.

In LA, Bunchy returns to the gym without Maria. He tells Bridget to go home as her parents miss her.  Back in Nevada, the police and Little Bill turn up at the van. Bill grabs his money and tells the two Donovan men that he is letting them go. Primm takes their pictures and drives away. The police leave also.

At the gym, Hector’s sparring with Daryll draws a crowd.

Mickey learns that Abby has cancer and offers to take the rap for the Minassian murders so Belikov will be released. Bridget comes home and Conor breaks the gun safe open.

While Bunchy cleans up the mess from Hector’s sparring match, Teresa drops off Maria and leaves.  Outside the police station where Mickey has turned himself in, Sylvie tries to call him  but it is too late.

“Get Even Before Leavin'” finally sees Ray run out of steam and options.  He returns from Nevada empty handed and Mickey has to save the day.  Bridget may be home but her brother’s focus on being a gangster like his dad and his getting Abby’s gun does not bode well for the Donovan family.

Abby refuses to have the double mastectomy and is opting for alternative treatment.  It was heart breaking to see Sylvie being forced to give Mickey up.  Just as heart breaking was Mickey’s believing that she did it for the reward, with a little urging from Ray.

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Avi trying to distract Conor

Donovan’s next move will be to release Belikov but previews of next week’s show seems to indicate that the Russian is not a forgiving man. This violent season has a sense of foreboding  lingering in the background while Ray attempts to keep his family safe.

The level of violence perpetrated by Donovan has escalated considerably as his desperation rises. It is pretty easy to assume that this season will not end well for the Donovan clan.

Ray Donovan airs Sundays on Showtime. Check this award winning series out if you have not already done so.

CAST:

Guest starring Ted Levine as Bill Primm and Paula Jai Parker as Sylvie Starr. 

Hell on Wheels: Done – Off Into the Sunset (Review) Spoilers

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The season finale of Hell on Wheels looks at what happens to the people who shaped history and connected the two sides of a country.  “Done” is the title of the show and the one word telegraph message sent after Durant hammers the gold spike home.  After the task is finished it is time for recrimination, life changing decisions and moving on.

The Railroad:

Thomas Durant (Colm Meaney) and Collis  Huntington (Tim Guinee) argue and bicker over the spike right up until Durant wrests the hammer from Collis’ hand.  The job is finished and Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) has made a name for himself laying 10 miles of track in one day.  

The town of Ogden is full of hungover men and there are still clear sides to be taken. A spirited fight breaks out in Mickey’s temporary bar after he refuses to serve Bohannon.  McGinnes (Phil Burke) also calls Psalms (Dohn Norwood) a traitor. A classic western bar fight ensues. 

Washington:

As soon as the last spike is ceremoniously driven, Durant is served papers. He is to be brought up on charges of bribery and corruption. In the middle of the bar fight, Cullen is also served papers; he must testify in Washington at Durant’s trial.

The two men ironically take the railroad to the capital.  At the celebration party,  hosted by President Grant, Bohannon learns that the president wants him to take a commission in the US Army to protect the railroad.

Cullen accepts and then, at Durant’s trail, he refuses to testify.  When asked, Bohannon responds that:  “The transcontinental railroad could not have been built without Thomas Durant.” This is all he will say despite the threats made by committee chair John Campbell (Jake Weber).

Durant, rather than testify, gives a rousing speech about building  the railroad and finishes by saying that history is written in pencil.

Thomas Durant:

Durant buys back Mikey’s shares after telling him that they  will be worthless in a short while.  The magnate keeps his head held high and he meets with Bohanan over cigars. He tells his former foreman not to trust Grant (Victor Slezak) or Col. Custer (Christopher Backus).  

The last time Thomas Durant is seen, he explains to the committee that “dreams are not pretty.”  He finishes his speech by accusing the government of making him a villain and a scapegoat.

Eva:

Eva (Robin McLeavy) extracts herself from Mickey who does not react well to the split.  She explains that they are not good for each other and that sooner or later, one would devour the other.

Louise (Jennifer Ferrin) introduces Eva to her editor from Chicago. He wants to publish her story about the abduction and escape from the Apache.  The man clearly intends the book to be a potboiler, a “penny dreadful” affair and Eva refuses. Louise is distraught as she intended to save Eva from herself. 

Later, Eva saddles her “wild” horse and after a few tentative bucks, the horse bonds with its rider and they leave the corral.  She rides out towards the setting sun and with tears in her eyes,  spurs the horse and rides into the sunset.

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Cullen Bohannon:

A hungover Cullen wakes with the lining of Mei’s box clutched in his hand. He goes to see Mr. Lee and asks him to translate what is written on the linen. It is an address; Ningpo, China.

Bohannon heads to Washington  where President Grant hires him to be the new  railroad’s protector.  Cullen is a man tortured. (Did the Christ on the cross inside the church, really resemble The Swede? Or was this simply Bohannon’s perception?)

He misses Mei and after spending some time with Custer, a womanizing and narcissistic arse, decides to decline the commission. Turning in his uniform he leaves Washington and heads to  San Francisco.

At the port, he walks to the docks and looks off to the west and at the ships  in the harbor.  The episode ends with Bohannon sailing to Ningpo in search of Mei.

Final Thoughts:

Hell on Wheels ended with at least two characters riding off into the sunset.  In that instance the show was like a classic western. In many ways, however, the series was more than a typical “oater.”  It followed Cullen Bohannon and all those he interacted with on his personal journey of revenge and discovery.

Based on historical fact and peopled by the real folks who helped build a country, Hell on Wheels was practically perfect television.  The fictional Bohannon a principled everyman who rises to the challenges set before him was a brilliant hero.

All the characters in the show were flawed and therefore more real.  There were no “white hats” in the traditional sense, merely men and women trying to succeed and survive.  Some, like Durant, through any means necessary, and others, like Bohannon, through a sense of ethics and morals.

Come Emmy time, there should be gongs for Meaney and Mount. Both these men gave this show more than was necessary to sell the story and their characters.  Hell on Wheels will be missed.  Now that it has finished, and its heroes ridden off into the sunset,  there may not be another western, historical or otherwise,  to take its place.

So long  Hell on Wheels and  Anson Mount and thanks for a brilliant look as the old west as it  began growing into the new west.

Orange Is the New Black: It Sounded Nicer in My Head – Lolly (Review)

Lori Petty as Lolly

Orange Is the New Black looks at Lolly’s back story and it is heart breaking.  Nichols has returned to Litchfield and Joe Caputo has his education proposal approved.  The Taystee, Cindy and Alison plan to photograph Judy King backfires and Chapman is attacked at Nichols’ welcome home party.

Lolly:

The young Lolly is a reporter on a free weekly paper when she first hears the voices.  After running from a home, she starts living on the streets and coping with her condition. Her symptoms get worse; paranoia and more voices begin to make Lolly’s life more difficult.  She is finally arrested  over a misunderstanding  and thus begins, apparently, her life on the “inside.”

Lolly has problems controlling the voices and despite Sam Healy’s help her condition worsens.  Officer Piscatella catches her stealing a cardboard box from a  prison dumpster and has her disciplined.  Healy takes charge of Lolly again and this time his calming influence falls on deaf ears.

At the welcome party for Nicky, Lolly cannot enjoy the festivities because of the voices.  She finally runs out and Sam follows. He finds Lolly and her time machine. The two talk and Healy looks depressed. Lolly asks for a few more minutes in her device. Sam agrees.

Judy King:

While the trio of paparazzi wannabes try to take Judy’s picture, videos on YouTube appear where the celebrity prisoner hosted a very inappropriate puppet show.  She believes that her fellow prisoners will believe she is racist and is concerned for her own safety.

Alison, Cindy and Suzanne trap Judy on her way to the shower and she panics. Running away, Alison gets a picture of the celebrity cook being chased by Cindy.  Caputo orders that Judy be fed in her own room after her roommate speaks of her concerns for Judy’s safety.

Piper Chapman:

Piper extricates herself from her burgeoning white supremacists group after giving her Hawaiian muscle the push. She tells Hapakuka  (Jolene Purdy) that she cannot protect her.  Later she ends up alone at Nichols’ welcoming party and Maria Ruiz uses Hapakuka to  set Chapman up.  

Hapakuka lures Piper out of the common room where Maria and her group are waiting.  Chapman’s former muscle explains her motivation just before Ruiz and her minion grab Piper.

Her gang members hold Piper down and begin to brand her. Piper screams in agony, through the towel stuffed in her mouth,  but she cannot be heard over the loud music in the common room. They begin to slowly burn a Nazi swastika on Chapman’s forearm.

Joe Caputo:

Joe’s educational proposal is pushed through by his new girlfriend Linda Ferguson (Beth Dover). Unfortunately, the core program he suggested has been completely replaced with construction classes.  He complains that she turned his educational incentive into a “chain gang.” 

Linda replies laughingly;

“No. No, it is a school, technically. We need to emphasize the school part, otherwise… we have to pay them their 11 cents an hour. Right?”

The Rest:

Nichols appears to be off the wagon and it really looks like Chapman has no friends at all now that she has left the  group she started.

“It Sounded Nicer in My Head” was at turns amusing and heart breaking. It also keeps the black humor flowing freely.   The episode’s closing song, “Cook Me” by Isabo  was  the perfect  followup  to Chapmen’s gagged screams of agony.

This episode told four different stories:  How Lolly was in the system through no fault of her own.  How Caputo does not realize exactly how the system works.  Judy King is working the system because of her money and celebrity. And lastly, Piper is in the system because of what she did. Chapman is also not savvy enough to work the system as King does.

All 13 episodes of Orange Is the New Black is streaming on Netflix at the moment.  Watch the reminder of the season in one go or stretch out the enjoyment one episode at a time.

CAST:

Dark Matter: We Were Family – With Six You Get Replicants (Review) Spoilers

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Dark Matter “We Were Family” takes a look at what formed Three, aka Marcus Boone and pays homage to the six “replicants” in Blade Runner and “David” in A.I. Artificial Intelligence. It also takes the Raza crew back to where they were before last week’s stressful adventure.

In terms of homages,  or at the very least a huge nod and wink,  Oliver Twist and Fagin are also featured in this episode.  Which, in turn, elicits the  delightful image of  Three as the Artful Dodger growing up,

“We Were Family” also reveals that Five has a crush on Devon the intern. (Who appears to have an addiction problem) It is also learned just what the “asset” really is; not Five at all but the card she stole.

As a reminder to those who may have forgotten, this card affects “pockets of inter-dimensional space-time.” A powerful bit of technology that may become instrumental in saving Derrick Moss, if he is really dead, and bringing him back to the Raza.

(At least that is our theory here at Mike’s Film Talk.  Are we right? Tell us what you think the card will be used for in the comment section below.)

Back to the episode’s storylines:  Titch was Three,and those were his idyllic memories that Five was living in season one.  The Android takes one step closer to becoming a real girl and Nyx proves to be surprising in many ways. Six is patched up by Devon but considering that “hand shake”  it is doubtful it was done thoroughly.

(Sidenote:  The Android has always felt like a cross between Pinocchio and “David” from A.I. in that she longs to be the real thing.  Although the result of her scan by Victor (Brendan Murray) seems to prove that there was a Geppetto who initially programmed this creation. Her self perceived flaw is non existent. She was designed to be the way she is, or considering Five’s expertise, “adjusted.” )

Three borrows money from Five, who hid some of her stash from the GA.  As per usual, he is overly cheerful and friendly right up to learning how much interest he must pay.  Later he meets Arax in a bar and his childhood Fagin turns up.

Two has Five sketch the facility where she was “made.” Nyx accompanies the Raza commander to a travel agency.  There they find out the building belongs to Dwarf Star Technologies and that it is on Terra Prime, aka Earth.

Devon, Five and The Android all go to shop for medical provisions.  There are things needed to revive and surgically repair Six.  Comically, before leaving the Raza, The Android asks to come along to observe normal people. Five asks why she cannot just observe the crew. The robot responds that they are “atypical” and not a good representation of humanity.  Five is taken aback:

“Did you just insult us?”

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Ferland as Five, Shaun Sipos as Devon

At the space station store The Android is approached by security and as he questions her “Victor” arrives and asks why his Android is being harassed.  The rent-a-cop leaves and The Android reveals she has stolen a toothbrush for her friend.  Victor takes The Android to meet his friends.

Victor is not a “real boy” either. He and his four friends are Androids as well, but with an upgrade that makes them seem and sound more human.  Initially the small group distrust and denigrate  The Android. Then Victor scans her and reveals that she was programmed to be the way she is.

He later offers her the same upgrade and then takes her shopping, a’la Pretty Woman.  While The Android may not be there yet, Victor is obviously smitten with his new friend.

Three goes on a heist with his “father” Larcan Tanner (Nigel Bennett)  and his crew. He learns that the men have kidnapped a pilot’s son and he is not happy.  Three is even less pleased when the men shoot the father. As they head toward the stolen payroll, Three learns that Larcan lied about the scar on his neck. He also works out that Tanner killed his parents. 

In a brilliantly staged shootout, Three kills Tanner’s crew.  He then finds Larcan and the boy. Sending the youngster out of the room, He braces Tanner with the truth. As the old man professes his love for “Titch” he pulls a gun to shoot his “son.” Three gets there first and leaves the cabin with the boy as Tanner sits choking and blinking slowly at the table.

Arax drops off the “asset” to Miranda (Sara Garcia) who is furious to learn it is not the right card. Nero works out that Five got the stolen card back and Miranda tells him to get the item back.

Back on the Raza, Six recovers from his operation and it appears that it is not just Five who has forgiven  him for turning the crew in.

The Android holds the upgrade in her hand as Miranda reveals that she works for Commander Neiman (David Richmond-Peck) a Ferrous Corp official that Two thwarted in season one. He tells Miranda that they need the card for the upcoming war.

Written by Dark Matter co-creator and executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, “We Were Family” continues peeling back layers and exposing the truth of each character.  Three, we learn really does regret his life of crime. So much so  that the kills the man responsible of putting him on that path. It is the kidnapping that motivates Three and this was the best indication of how the former mercenary thinks.

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The Android’s story proves that she is not defective after all and it looks like her yearning to be more human will entice her to use the upgrade. The Android stealing the toothbrush, which she intended to pay for later, was touching and revealing.

She has been influenced by the Raza crew after all. Just as she seems to have learned humanity from Five, she also picked up some other bad habits from the rest of the Raza crew. Like shoplifting for example, or killing prison guards

The “new” Raza crew also have some secrets.  Nero’s is already apparent, he is rat who sells out to the highest bidder. Devon is an addict and Nyx is a fascinating enigma. Does she have Two’s “affliction?” Do nanites course through her body or has she been enhanced some other way?  Only time and more episodes will tell.

Dark Matter airs Fridays on SyFy and Space. Tune in and follow the adventures of the Raza crew and see if Five’s secret is revealed. Mallozzi and Paul Mullie keep ringing the changes in this space opera and it makes for brilliant television.  Do not miss this one.

CAST:

Guest Stars:  Melanie Liburd  –  Nyx and Mike Dopud  –   Arax Nero and Shaun Sipos  –  Devon

Killjoys: Schooled – Little People (Review) Spoilers

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Last week in Killjoys Alvis wound up at Leith and Dutch faced her greatest fear while killer moss fed her visions of Khylen. In “Schooled” The Killjoys trace Khylen’s last message from Red 17 and it leads them to a school for advanced students.  They require a warrant and Turin sets them up to escort some students there.  Dutch is not thrilled at the prospect of dealing with “little people.”

“Kids, Dutch” says D’Avin,” They’re called kids.”

The episode begins with D’Avin and Dutch working out together with a good bit of flirty fun. Dutch wins.  Turin interrupts to reveals where the last message from Red 17  and Khylen went.  The team get their warrants.

D’Av and Dutch go to Old Town and stop by  Pree’s bar to get Johnny.  The partying is going strong at the bar.  The two Killjoys get directions to the kid that they have to transport and learn that Johnny is not there.

Pawter, they find out, got herself out of Spring Hill and is now a captive in Salt Plains.  Johnny goes to rescue Simms and the two  leave after he starts a bar brawl. Pawter admits to Johnny later that her royal Kreshi  heritage is causing problems.   She agrees to hide out on Lucy until she can come up with a plan. Simms also tells Jaqobis about the walled city plans she found.

D’Av and Dutch get their  first student, a lad whose brother has been at the Prodigy school for three years.  The kid’s dad is a bit of  a douche and things get touchy for a bit. In this scene a very  interesting point is made.

Jake’s (Jack Fultonfather says that  his brother Olan (Ricardo Hoyos)  was sent the prodigy school because he was smart. Jake, says his father, still messes his letters up. There has been, he says, some sort of mistake.  His words are prophetic as it turn out that the school is a “seeding” plant. It is also illegally training children and Khylen seems to be part of it.

D’Avin bonds with Jake and they talk about the school and the kid’s brother. The Killjoys arrive at the academy and find the  school deserted and  all the children  missing.  Someone else arrives shortly after Dutch and her crew arrive; Delle Seyah Kendry (Mayko Nguyen).

Kendry is Dutch’s least favorite person . Johnny is not too keen on the Kreshi woman either.  Accusations fly between the two women as they both attempt to find out what happened at the school. Pawter helps Johnny work out where the kids went.

Pawter: “Great, let’s science this sh*t.”

The two start investigating the empty cryogenic devices and D’Avin spots another member of staff. As he chases after her, the woman disappears.  Meanwhile, Johnny and Pawter discover the the students were melted.

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Simms and Johnny

Pawter discovered  the students were being neurally fed information and this was partly responsible for their deaths. When the massive message was sent from Red 17 it went though the neural feeds and killed the kids.

Pawter reveals that the techniques used to educate the children by Seyah Kendry is illegal. Dutch learns that Khylen’s message was sent to Kendry and the two form an uneasy alliance.

As the Killjoys and Kendry try to catch the elusive staff member they believe killed the children,  it  is revealed that Jake’s older brother Olan survived the melting process.  The gifted student shuts down the school’s oxygen supply and tries to hack Lucy.

The female faculty member was a computer construct and a holographic display created by Olan. Jake’s big brother plans to kill everyone but himself and his little brother.  Johnny talks him down and saves the day.

It turns out that Olan got some of those memories that D’Avin was experiencing. Those must have been in the Red 17 message that melted the other kids.

Highlight of the Episode:

Dutch drawing and firing from the hip to wound Seyah Kendry.  It was a cool move that allowed her to get one up on Kendry.  Delle Seyah Kendry gets the best line of the episode later though with her “I guess daddy loves me best.” Meow.

At the end of Schooled, the Killjoys take the remaining four Prodigy students to the monastery on Leith.  Alvis and Dutch talk for a minute and he reveals that the monk’s skin scrolls are still being translated. She asks the monk to retrieve memories from Olan’s brain and not tell anyone.

Lee (Sean Baek) rescues Khylen from the Black Root’s cryogenic tank. Their next stop is the Jaqobis home world so they can learn why the Level 6 transformation did not work on D’Av. 

Killjoys writers are  weaving a  lovely little spider web of intrigue and strange bedfellows this season. Dutch and her team are still trying to bring Khylen down and learn how deep the Level 6 threat goes. With the added information that all of Westerly is about to be caged the stakes have been cranked up.

The regulars on the show were kicking as always and it was brilliant to see Mayko Nguyen return as Kendry.  As usual, it would have been great to see a bit more Pree. Speaking of the bar,  what about Sabine (Tori Anderson) and D’Avin’s reaction to the barmaid. Could this be the start of something?

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Tori Anderson as Sabine

Killjoys airs Fridays on SyFy and Space. Do not miss this great bit of space mystery.  Show creator Michelle Lovretta has upped the stakes this season and it shows.  Tune in and enjoy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAST:

Stranger Things: The Weirdo on Maple Drive – Demogorgon (Review)

Winona Ryder as Joyce in Stranger Things

Chapter  two of Stranger Things “The Weirdo on Maple Drive” shifted firmly into E.T. territory with 11 as E.T. and Mike as Elliot. The only thing missing is that elongated bulbous finger and that cute/ugly mug and 11 has about the same knowledge of the English language as well. Although she quickly gets the concept of D&D and the demogorgon being the big bad who is after Will.

The previous chapter saw the death of Benny,  the owner of the hamburger shop, which was made to look like a suicide in this installment and the appearance of 11 right after Will went missing.  Joyce got a phone call that she believes was from her youngest and it fried her phone.

Joyce Byers is struggling to keep in control of her emotions and she manages to have  the funniest moment in the episode. Going into her place of work she gets another telephone, to replace the fried one, and  Joyce asks her boss for an advance to pay for it. She also asks for two weeks pay and he hesitates. After some hedging about paying her temporary replacement, she shames him into agreeing. Flushed with her small success Joyce then  blurts out:

“And a pack of Camels.”

Sticking with Joyce for a moment, there is something intrinsically likable about the slightly scatty single mother of two. A mom who can communicate with her youngest and enjoys both her kids equally.

11 is at MIke’s house and the drenched girl is scared and confused. The trio of boys attempt to communicate, although Lucas starts to get a bit too physical and Dustin decides the girl is deaf.

Another humorous moment occurs when Mike gives  11 dry clothes. She immediately starts to change in front of the boys and both Lucas and Dustin freak out.  Mike shows her to the bathroom and offers to close the door. She agrees to having it open a crack and she changes. Comically, after Dustin has time to think about it, he is obsessed with the idea of 11’s nudity.

While Joyce is out getting her two weeks advance and another phone, there is a real E.T. moment where Dr. Brenner and his crew show up at the Byers’ residence in white hazmat suits. All that is missing are the giant white tubes and the house being encased in white sheeting.

Brenner heads to the shed, another E.T. touch sans candy, and discovers some goo on the walls.

Meanwhile Nancy is invited to party at Steve’s place and she accepts. She also offers her sympathy to Will’s older brother Jonathan.  Mike stays home from school to look after 11 and, once again, this takes on an E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial tinge. Mike Wheeler showing off his dinosaur collection and the ending bit with the T-Rex is very evocative of the Elliot “plastic” shark scene.

Hopper continues to search for Will and he also starts investigating the suicide of his friend Benny.  Jonathan goes to see if his little brother is at his dad’s house and later stops to take pictures where Will went missing.

Joyce hooks her new phone up and sits down with the  instrument in her lap and waits for Will to call her again.  He does and this time Joyce hears his voice clearly. The new phone is fried like the first. She then hears music coming from Will’s room and she sees his lights are on as well.

She goes into her son’s room and sees something bulging out of the wall, a’la The Haunting of Hill House or A Nightmare on Elm Street. This terrifies the woman and Joyce rushes from the  house and starts her car.  The music and lights come on again and she hesitantly walks back to he house and goes in the front door.

Hopper learns of “the boy” at Benny’s diner before he died and earlier the police chief says he feels cursed. Nancy talks her best friend Barb (Shannon Purser) into going with her to Steve’s (Joe Keery) party. 

At the party Nancy is having fun while Barb is feeling pretty left out.  Jonathan stumbles across the party and takes pictures.  Steve and Nancy “chug” a beer and she urges Barb to try. Barbara cuts her finger and while she is stopping the bleeding Nancy is pushed into the pool.

Later Nancy tells her friend to go home. Instead Barbara sits on the diving board dripping blood from her finger into the pool. The lights go  out and some growling thing grabs Barb and takes her away.

Jonathan misses it.

Mike and his friends learn that Eleven has “superpowers.” One of her powers seems to be the ability to know which character Will plays in Dungeons and Dragons.   The lads ask eleven if she knows where their friend is. She tell them that Will is hiding. They then ask from who.

Turning the game board over she places Will’s character in the center of the black board. She then places the demogorgon next to “Will.”

More is revealed about Eleven in this installment. She calls Dr. Brenner “Poppa” and she was put into a small dark room, presumably as punishment.  This disturbing flashback shed a lot of light on her relationship with the doctor.  She can also speak but thus far her vocabulary is limited.

Observations:

The two big ’80s songs, and bands, in this episode were The Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” and The Bangles’ “Hazy Shade Of Winter.”  (The next chapter features an ’80s classic; Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is.”)

Joyce is going to run out of her two week advance pretty quickly if she has to keep replacing her phones. Brenner and his crew have bugged Joyce’s house and Hopper may be led to Brenner based on evidence found in the woods.

So far there have been two disappearances and one death attributed to the electrical company and its lab.

Stranger Things is streaming on Netflix and all eight episodes are available to watch right now.  Check this one out. The acting is top notch, especially the younger members of the cast and the storyline is addictive and nostalgic to the extreme.

CAST:

‘Between’ Season 2: Hope – Survival (Review)

Jenette McCurdy as Wiley

A lot has happened since Wiley gave birth to Jason. Now, as the snow swirls and formula has passed scarce and become impossible to find, her child could starve.  In Between “Hope” Gord is teaching the kids to plant seeds, Adam tries to find out more about  Art Carey and Ronnie gets caught up in Renee’s world. This episode is all about survivalists and surviving.

It is also about coping with loss and having to move on.

The last episode had the disastrous escape attempt that ended with Samantha’s death.  Her brother Harrison is still grieving, although her boyfriend Chuck has already moved on apparently.

Ronnie, who took Alex’s body back to Renee is not given a hero’s welcome.  Instead he is questioned and kept prisoner. He learns that Renee is the leader of the only faction of Pretty Lake survivalists; a group started by her father.  They have automatic weapons and a seemingly never-ending supply of food.

Harrison heads to the bowling alley and has flashbacks to his birthday when Samantha was still alive and the virus had not yet been released. He is joined by Franny who spends time bowling and having fun with him. Later, the two share a first kiss.

Franny has someone following her and taking pictures of her backpack, the one that Alex was wearing when he stabbed himself.  This will later turn out to be Renee’s people searching for his murderer.

Adam questions Liam again about working with his father and the name Art Carey comes up. The young man is understandably alarmed that Cullen knows the name as the prison officer who tried to kill him last season was a colleague of the man.  He orders Liam handcuffed and Adam heads to the prison with Chuck to find out more.

At the prison, they find the female prison officer who almost killed Adam and get her keys.  When they try to access the security system at the prison, her fingerprints are required and the two young men have to cut off her hand.  Adam finds her office and searches her laptop which has apparently been wiped clean of all files.  He finds, under her desk, a satellite phone.

Before then, Adam and Chuck have an argument and after getting physical, Chuck storms off.

Earlier in the episode, Wiley’s tumor is  shown to be shrinking after the injection and Liam Cullen (Steven Grayhm) is optimistic that his vaccine will save everyone in the town. Later,  Chuck eagerly volunteers for an injection.  

Wiley stops by the orphanage to see if Gord has any formula for Jason. The cupboards are bare but he sends the young mother to the Mennonites.  On the way her car runs out of gas. Wiley takes Jason and heads out through the snow on foot.

Once she arrives at the farm, the Mennonites feed Jason, one of John’s wives still has breast milk. Wiley is told that Jason can stay, where they will raise him and “make him one of us,” but Wiley must leave. She decides to leave Jason so he can survive since she cannot feed him herself.

Gord and Franny make up, Harrison brings her to the orphanage to see her brother.  Gord goes outside to see Franny and after they reunite, he invites her back to the farm.  He turns to get his things so they can leave. Renee and her second in command turn up and grab Franny.

Gord intercedes and knocks the gun Renee is holding away. He struggles with her and her “minion” as he yells for Franny to run.  The survivalist group leader shoots Gord twice in the abdomen. Franny screams his name and the two attackers drive off.

Between is stacking up the bodies this season with three deaths in as many episodes.  (Four if you count the kindly old lady in the first episode.)  Alex, Renee’s little homicidal brother, Samantha and now, almost certainly, Gord. Franny’s big brother has always been the Jiminy Cricket of Pretty Lake and his death will hurt the community.

There were some standout moments in “Hope:”

Ronnie being delivered to Renee a’la the Queen of Egypt.

Stacey bashing Mark in the back of the head with the shotgun butt.

Chuck and Adam chopping off the guard’s hand.

Gordon being shot. (This qualifies as not only a moment that stands out but the most disturbing event as well.)

Is has to be noted that Liam’s calling the vaccine he takes a prophylactic, which is another word for a safe, aka a condom, is amusing. Granted, in the world of medicine the term does mean a preventative measure against disease (i.e. a condom) but it is funny regardless of the “serious” intent.

Between season two is streaming on Netflix at the moment.  Watch it all in one go or space it out. Either way watch and see who lives and who dies.

CAST:

Queen of the South: Un Alma. Un Mapa. A Futuro (Review)

Queen of the South - Season 1

After Theresa’s close call with Cesar last week, Queen of the South  shows Mendoza moving further up the food chain.  In “Un Alma. Un Mapa. A Futuro” Brenda begins to distance herself from Theresa,  Epifanio makes his move against Camila and his wife explains to Mendoza that if she runs, she dies.

In this episode more is revealed about Theresa’s “keeper” James Valdez. He has a girlfriend; Kim (Blair Bomarwhose clothes and shoes are the same size as his charge. Valdez is also a planner and a killer. He takes Theresa to a party where her job is to help set up the future mark.

She must hide a device. Its job, James tells Theresa, it to disrupt the target’s birds.  The bird loving man with the ‘X’ on his back is Eric Watson (Brent Smiga). Watson is a baby sitter for property controlled by Camila’s competition; the rival Jimenez gang. They control half of Dallas and Vargas wants it  all. 

Theresa is not a willing participant in this bit of “wet work” but she really has no say in the matter.   While getting a party dress and the appropriate shoes James checks his equipment. At the party, she gains access via one of James’ contacts.

Once inside she is directed to the master bedroom on the first floor. (Note: This would be called the second floor in the USA. Apparently, in Mexico, as in England, the second floor is called the first and the “bottom” floor is referred to as the ground floor.)  After she places the bird disrupter under a heating vent in the floor, a handcuffed man is brought to Watson’s bedroom.

(In an awkward moment, Theresa must hide in a room with reflective surfaces everywhere. She would have been seen by the men escorting the handcuffed chap had they been paying attention. Not the most believable scene in the episode…)

Theresa is spotted by the man, who has been roughed up, and she attempts to free him. He urges her to leave.  Once she is out of the master bedroom, James sends her a text telling Mendoza to leave the party. Out in the car, she and Valdez watch Watson murder the handcuffed man.

Mendoza does not sit idly by while Watson suffocates his victim. She struggles with James and at one point the vehicle’s lights flash on and off; this can be seen in the bedroom window. It is noticed, peripherally, by Watson as he kills his victim. This will surely come back to haunt Valdez and Camila later on.

Queen of the South - Season 1
Zach Rose as “Carter,” Watson’s soon to be victim.

Back in Sinaloa, Epifanio Vargas is making his retaliatory move against his wife Camila by  cancelling all her drug shipments. He tells a concerned Cesar that he knows how to handle the woman he has been married to for 25 years.

Camila calls her husband who claims to have problems with the shipping process because of the federales. She asks about their daughter Isabella. He tells her to come home and Isabella will talk to her.  Camila then calls a Colombian supplier and asks him to speed up the next shipment. Later Epifanio calls the same man and tells him not to supply his wife.

Earlier, Brenda freaks out when she learns that Theresa is working for Camila.  Later, when her money starts running low, Brenda helps a small time drug dealer sell his product. When Theresa calls, she ignores her phone and carries on counting her freshly earned money.

After the party, Camila explains to Theresa exactly where she stands. Since Mendoza  has something against Epifanio, she is useful to  Camila. If Theresa  tries to leave, Camila will have her killed.

Once again, Brenda proves that while she may have some street smarts, as in successfully  selling cocaine in a club, she lacks the survival instinct of her friend.   Although to be fair, Theresa made a number of mistakes in this episode. The first of which was telling Brenda too early about Camila.

Epifanio  also made a mistake by forcing Camila’s hand in her take over bid. His wife built his drug business and is clearly the better businessperson.  Another mistake was using their daughter as a pawn in their struggle for control.

Next week’s episode of Queen of the South looks more action packed than this one. It looks as though there is an ambush and James is shot.  Theresa Mendoza is still very much on the lower rungs of the ladder and her journey to power  is still in its infancy.

Queen of the South airs Thursdays on USA. Keep an eye on this series,   Alice Braga rocks as Theresa Mendoza and the rest of the cast are performing brilliantly.  This is top notch telly even if it is a remake.

CAST:

Mr Robot: eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd FSociety & Death (REv13w) Spoilers

Mr Robot: Season two

The third episode, which is really the second as the season opener was a double shot of Mr Robot,  starts with a flashback. Romero (Ron Cephas Jones) is showing the arcade to Mobley (Azhar Khan) as the two stroll down the Coney Island boardwalk, Romero tells Mobley about the bloody history of the place. It is, claims Romero, cursed and has caused more than a few deaths.  At the end of the scene, set against the iconic Dusty Springfield tune “You don’t Have To Say You Love Me,” the camera shows how the hacker organization got their name – “FSociety.”

Mobley asks, “What happened to the U and the N?” “Oh that,” replies Romero. “That is a story for another time.”

The opening serves as a protracted explanation about how FSociety came to be so named and it shows the dark history behind the arcade where the group worked in the first season. Romero’s tale also serves as a portent of bad things to come, a foreboding sense of danger for the group.

Springfield’s love ballad, used to transition the scene from the arcade to Elliot,  also seems to drop a hint about Alderson. The lyric “You don’t have to say you love me, just be close to hand,” could be referring to Mr.  Robot or  it could be a reference to Wellick.

More on that later.

This season, so far, has been  full of death and references to it.  Romero being found shot dead at his mother’s house is the start. Ray (Craig Robinson) speaking about his dead wife, and to her, and Gideon’s murder last week are all included in this episode. 

(Incidentally, it has not been mentioned  but Ray clearly knows Darlene.  In the season two opener,  when she takes over the automated house that Fsociety hacked, a  one legged man is seen walking up the stairs.  The man  is wearing shorts and all that can be seen is that  prosthetic leg. In this episode, where Ray talks about speaking to his dead wife, he mentions having one leg. Ergo that has to be him going up the stairs. It also explains how he knows who Elliot is in the season two premiere.)

This episode also reveals that Ray is not a well man. Aside from having one leg, the man requires dialysis every morning.  He is also having site problems with someone stealing his bitcoin and shutting his site down. It also pretty clear that he is not a “straight and narrow” sort of businessman.

Leon is not only real but he is Elliot’s drug dealer and the man really is fascinated by Seinfeld.

Elliot takes an overdose of Adderall and this starts  another of those patented “weird” segments of the show.  Alderson is kidnapped and force-fed cement until he vomits.  It turns out that he is making himself sick in his room. Mr. Robot watches and tells Elliot he cannot get rid of him.

In a stomach  churning move, Elliot begins picking tablets out of the vomit and shoving them back into his mouth. This is the beginning of six days with no sleep and by the end Alderson is in free fall.  He has managed to exorcise Mr. Robot during that time but he is clearly one step from being mad full stop.

Later he and Ray hook up and Mr. Robot turns up again.

More light is cast on Agent DiPerro. She lives alone, cannot sleep and is too driven to live “normally.” She even has trouble focussing while masturbating.  This lack of focus does not apply to her professional life.  It is her attention to detail that enables her to find the FSociety headquarters later in the episode.

(The bit where DiPerro rolls blunts for Romero’s mum is brilliantly ironic.)

Angela is slowly getting used to working for Mr. Price and E Corp.  She still recites her success mantra when needed but she is learning what the job is all about.  Angela is still naive to an extent, not realizing  that Price is constantly testing her.

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Anglea in Prices office, hand’s clasped like a patient schoolgirl.

Her final test comes at the fancy meal set up by Price. He gives her evidence that will destroy the two men who dined with Angela and Richard. Both are long time employees and the test is for Angela to eradicate them both.  Price tells her to leave out the emotion and it will go easier for her.

This episode seems to indicate, once again, that Wellick is not real or is a part of Elliot.  The clues are there: The static during the phone call, Tyrell’s spacey replies and, of course, the big one, Mr. Robot facilitates the call.  The latter clue is the most meaningful.  Robot is Elliot and vice versa.

Sam Esmail has always held on to his “Fight Club” theme;  where , in Elliot’s world, nothing is really what it seems.  Add to this formula Elliot’s constant self mediating and his schizophrenia it certainly seems to indicate that Wellick is not a separate entity.

Season Two has killed off Gideon  (Michel Gill) and Romero.  It appears that Ray, not the Dark Army, may have murdered Romero, possibly,  on Darlene’s orders. If that is the case, Mobley and Trenton (Sunita Manimay be next.

If Darlene is responsible, does this mean she has had  her own fatal error?

Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays on USA. Tune into this addictive and fascinating show and fall in love with television again.

CAST:

Chelsea: LGBTQ Tell Me What It Means to You & Melissa McCarthy (Review)

Chelsea Handler on Netflix

What a difference a decade or two makes.  Chelsea Handler dedicated an entire episode to  explaining the new acronym LGBTQ, nee’ LGBT. Amusingly, Chelsea starts the show with a list of acronyms. She did, however, forget one, DUA (Don’t Use Acronyms) but let us discuss the newest letter added to the community organization that looks out for those who do not identify with being “straight.”  It stands for “Queer” which until recently was considered a rather inflammatory word.

Being called “queer” was the less PC version of gay and apt to really annoy the person given this label. It was, in the day, considered derogatory slang for being the opposite of heterosexual and was often accompanied by the even more inflammatory word – faggot. Now, however, the LGBT community have embraced this term  and added it to their banner. The mind boggles…

Chelsea had guests on her LGBTQ show apparently set up by which letter they represented. Glee’s Jane Lynch,  talked about being lesbian and  E.J. Johnson; television host and son of Magic Johnson fulfill the gay category. She also interviewed Carmen Carrera (the “T” in the acronym, aka trans) who married Adrien Torres.

Apparently the host of “Chelsea”  identifies with either the “B” or the “Q” of the gay community’s supportive group.  As there were guests on the show who represented each letter and no one was given the bisexual slot it makes sense that Handler opted to fill this one herself…

(On a sidenote, comedienne and actress Fortune Feimster counts as the second lesbian on the show – she identified herself as such at the episode’s opening sequence – giving the “L” word an unfair advantage…)

The other guest on this episode was trans doctor Marci Bowers who performs a huge amount of genital surgery to help those who need to change their genitalia to match their correct gender.  This was, perhaps the most informative part of the show.

Bowers revealed that all fetuses are female and that children know, or identify with, their gender by the age of two or three. Of course no show focusing on LGBT, and now Q, would be complete without a reference to Caitlyn Jenner and Bowers fulfilled this function perfectly with her connection to Jenner.

Chelsea’s next episode featured Melissa McCarthy, as a nod to the Ghostbusters reboot and McCarthy’s clothing line, and Zachary Quinto. The show also poked at the open wound that is FOX News by dissecting the sexual harassment  lawsuit facing Roger Ailes, the now former CEO of the network’s news section,  launched  by Gretchen Carlson.

One interesting observation revealed that female news anchors, or presenters, on FOX are all blonde, apparently.   The whole story is still evolving so presumably Chelsea will return to Roger Ailes and his red balls…or not.

McCarthy spoke about the new Ghostbusters and the ridiculous reactions to the all female reboot. She revealed that the incredibly good looking and talented Chis Hemsworth is also  sidesplittingly funny.  Chelsea was wearing one of McCarthy’s clothing creations.

Keeping on the sexual harassment theme, Chelsea and her two assistants speak to her lawyer about what constitutes harassment. It was amusingly informative.   Also keeping with the theme of guests with films opening, or just opening,  saw Quinto showing up to tout his latest project, Star Trek Beyond.

The interview also follows the previous episode’s LGBT (Q) theme as the “Zulu being gay” is brought up.  There is also a “Star Trek Four”  in the works according to Quinto and they talk about his taking ayahuasca. (Chelsea experimented with this in another episode.)  Quinto is, apparently, a huge fan of the hallucinogen and has gone back repeatedly  to take the drug.

The final guest on the second episode was NFL Patriots player Nate Exner who will be playing Rugby on the American team at the Rio Olympics this year.

Chelsea finished the show by  making fun of Melanie Trump’s plagiarized speech and her status as professional gold digger.

These two episodes were entertaining and funny, pretty much what we expect from Ms. Handler.  On a sidenote, it will be interesting to see if Roger Ailes and Gretchen Carlson do get a revisit a’la Sumner Redstone.

Chelsea is on Netflix and new episodes stream weekly.