Secrets and Lies: Season 2 Finale – Surprise (Review)

JULIETTE LEWIS

 

The second season of Secrets and Lies pulled out all the stops with its two-hour finale. Surprise after surprise was trotted out before the end credits rolled and Kate’s killer was finally unmasked.

Every rattling bone of each closet skeleton was dusted off and pulled front and center for the audience’s consideration. The Warner family managed to have a lot of secrets and enough lies to fill all the presidential elect’s campaign speeches.

The patriarchal head of the family turned out to not only be a bigamist but his “other” son blackmailed Eric in order to save his failing business. This was not, however, the biggest shock of the evening.

That moment went to Cornell who revealed that Amanda Warner, the family’s legal beagle, pushed her sister-in-law over the edge of the building to her death. There was an awful lot of dirt to be dished up in the last two episodes of Secrets and Lies though.

Detective Cornell did not uncover all the juicy facts for the viewer; everyone got into the act before the episode ended. Patrick could not wait to tell us that his brother Michael knocked their drunken brute of a mother down the stairs. This act, which turned out to be an accident, left Mommy Dearest in a vegetative state.

Amanda turned out to be pregnant with Nick’s baby and the one-time best bud of Michael’s lacked the intestinal fortitude to stand by his murderous baby momma.

The fact that Big Daddy Warner turned out to have two families stretched things a bit. John was running S.E.G. until recently and while his one wife was in a coma it must have been terribly difficult to run the business and juggle two houses at the same time.

Warner handing things over to Michael must have seemed to be the ideal solution until Mandy shoved Kate over the railings.

Danny finally finds his naughty daughter, this time in Mint Hill 2.0.  Things are still dodgy between the aggressive New York cop and his prostitute offspring. After a few rocky moments, where Rachel declares she finds jail preferable to staying with dad, things are worked out.

Patrick and Michael making up pushed the lines of credibility a touch. The idea that if one sibling murders your wife and your unborn child, the other one who lied and stole from you is preferred could work. Presumably the Warner’s are so colossally screwed up that this is not unusual.

The very tail end of the second episode makes it seem that a third season may not be in the running for this American revamp of a one season Aussie detective series. Cornell arrives home, after the Major celebrates her victorious solving of the case with her new partner and a glass of whiskey, to find her drug addict daughter riffling through her bedroom drawers.

Drawing her gun, Cornell demands that the unknown armed assailant who just entered the room put down the gun. She faces the camera, weapon pointed at the ready, and everything goes black as the sounds of gunshots end the scene.

This could be seen as a “hedging its bets” type scenario where the viewer can believe that Cornell bit the bullet, so to speak, thus giving the show an “easy out.”

MEKIA COX
Amanda Warner – guilty

Admittedly, the reveal that Amanda killed Kate was a surprise, but only inasmuch that the lawyer was never considered by anyone, including Cornell, to be a suspect. Everyone else in the series was seriously trotted out as a potential murderer, including, to an extent, Danny the NYPD detective searching for his daughter.

It was quite admirable that the writer managed to tie up every little dangling end, except, of course, that final shootout between Cornell and the unknown entity in her bedroom.

Secrets and Lies was, overall, pretty entertaining. If there could be any one complaint, it would be that Lewis’ overly competent cop was too dour. With an expression that resembled a smacked arse, Juliette felt far too grim by half.

This was eventually explained by the reveal of a drug addict daughter and an ex husband who was seriously letting the side down. It is quite possible that those who watched the first season of Secrets and Lies knew why Cornell was so grumpy.

It remains to be seen as to whether this rehash of a one season wonder from the land down under will come back for a third time at bat.  The series is complex enough as a murder mystery that ABC could well greenlight another season.

The final verdict on this crime series is a ‘A’ for effort and capital ‘M’ for mystery.  Check the show out if you have not already done so.

Cast:

‘Longmire’ Season 5 Finale: The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of (Review)

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The season five finale of Longmire feels like a show in meltdown, or at the  very least, on its way out. “The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of” manages to put Walt and Henry in jeopardy, from two different agencies. Ironically, Cady – who is being adopted by the tribe – is directly responsible for putting Henry in harm’s way.

It has already been officially announced that Longmire will end after the next season and while fans may be upset at the news there are an equal number who feel the show has lost its way. Whether that is the case, or just the way the storyline is unfolding this season is not clear.

The finale manages to cram quite a lot of things into one hour.  Henry returning the plastic indian and cowboy (a sign of his and Walt’s friendship) with a note saying “Remember the asymptote.” For those who are not math oriented, asymptote is a line (basically).

So his best friend is saying, in essence, that Walt crossed the line with his attack on him.  It also means that the two are going to go through a cool-down period.  The friends will not be very close for some time. If ever again after this.

This is something that Walt has been doing a lot of this season.  He has been distancing himself from everyone. Vic, Cady, Donna (while not as obvious he is still removing himself from that possible relationship) and now Henry.

But more disturbing is Walt’s increased obsession with Jacob NIghthorse.  In Walt’s mind Nighthorse is the root of all evil and it has blinded him to the more obvious suspect Malachi. Longmire’s insistence that Jacob killed his former security chief even convinces Henry, although he asks Nighthorse if he did circle back and kill Malachi.

Walt is not just distancing himself he is being circled by the hungry wolves who want to build up the area that he owns.  The mayor, who offers to get rid of the sheriff in an earlier episode, has now taken action to have Walt removed from office.

The wrongful death suit being pursued by Tucker Baggett is a ploy intended to break Walt and force him to give up the land.The mayor is also all about “progress” so clearly their is a conspiracy afoot to have Walt taken down.

Leaving the lawsuit and all it stands for, there is the Chance Gilbert storyline.  He asks Walt to help him be transferred to death row. Longmire refuses.  The sheriff knows that losing his freedom is the worst possible punishment for Gilbert.

Vic, however, decides that a move to death row is just what she needs. She goes to see Gilbert and tells him she supports his request.  Vic wants the man dead and out of her thoughts. Chance then tells her about the murder weapon he used to kill the man in the freezer.

She goes to retrieve it and is attacked seconds after finding it.  When she returns home, Travis insists she go to the hospital. Vic agrees to go the next day and the ultrasound shows the baby is fine.

The whole Travis and Vic storyline feels forced and just a little off-kilter.  That may well be down to the Vic and Walt thing, but Travis just seems like a total mismatch.

Cady is overjoyed when Mandy’s aunt wants to adopt her into the tribe. She has a vision while in “The Sweat” showing an empty sheriff’s office and Henry hanging from a tree. Henry also takes a call from his mobile phone while swinging in the wind.

(The shot of Cady walking barefoot through a bloody floor is impressive and eye-catching. Very cinematic in nature and almost beautiful in its simplicity.)

Walt’s daughter agrees to represent Darius which results in his being released and therefore able to help Malachi in the beating and kidnapping of Henry.  At the end of the show, Standing Bear is staked to the ground on the Crow reservation.

By the end of the episode Walt learns that Tucker Baggett was Barlow Connelly’s best buddy and as such plans on destroying  Walt and getting his land. Henry is in a life or death situation and Cady is in the sweat lodge.

Vic is, apparently, thinking of being with Travis and Longmire is all alone.

After last season’s cracking finish, which was, quite frankly, always going to be difficult to top, this season opts to leave Henry in deep trouble and Walt about to lose everything he cares for.

We care, obviously, about both men but Walt seems to be on a self destructive course this year. He has shut out Cady, become obsessive about  Jacob Nighthorse, attacked his best friend and he has even managed to distance himself from Donna.

Walt is a man flailing about this season. He even goes to have a drink with Vic, only to find she has left for the day. In this season it has been suggested that Walt quit, or retire…numerous times.

This could well be the theme of season six, the final season, since the court case will still be looming over Walt’s head when the last season starts.

(One last look at the sweat lodge vision. After Jacob’s moment in the montage with his golf club, there is an owl sitting on a bare branch. The creature is clearly hooting in the daylight. In Native American culture the owl is a sign of death and in other cultures hearing an owl hoot in the daytime is also a sign of impending death.)

The prospects are grim. Henry is out on the Crow reservation and unless he gets help will die. Vic may be pregnant through the upcoming season and Cady may be so enamored of becoming an honorary Cheyenne that she may be of no help to anyone.

There may be some hope for Walt from an unlikely source however. Jacob Nighthorse may just help Longmire out in the lawsuit. This will not be for any particularly noble reason but to show the lawman that he is not he boogeyman that Walt insists he is.

Regardless of how the new season starts out, it is going to be a long wait for Longmire fans. One thing is certain though, even with the jarring aspects of season five, Longmire is still quality television. The cowboy cop will definitely be missed when he is gone.

Cast:

Guest Starring Peter Stormare as Chance Gilbert. 

BrainDead: Season Finale – Punchline (Review)

Poster for BrainDead

The final two episodes of BrainDead were aired back-to-back to bring this season one finale to a satisfactory end.  After all was said and done, the two hour finish delivered the punch line that the King’s had in mind all along.

What was the punchline? Well, according to the creators of the series; Michelle and Robert King, it is this: “Anyone one with half a brain can work in politics.”

Boom. Boom. (Or microphone drop, if that image works for the viewer.)

With this punchline the entire first season turns into a televised version of “Little Bunny FooFoo.”  Albeit a lot funnier and with a degree of cleverness that the joke never achieves.

All the characters in this Capital Hill horror comedy or “horromedy” (We know it is not a word, but it seems to fit nicely.)  were funny in all the right places. There was also  enough pathos inserted to keep the series from falling into outright farce.

The ticking clock, or calendar, with its emphasis on 38 days was not about anything else but the cherry blossoms. A lot went on over the last two hours of BrainDead in its season one conclusion.

Luke found out that the CIA were lying and reacted accordingly.  Laurel almost gave up the fight but changed her mind at the last minute. Gareth proposed to the senator’s sister and later confessed that he loved her. (A little bit backwards but it was cute nonetheless.)

Healy stages a “sit-down,” aping the real-life democratic sit-down over gun control earlier this year. He then outsmarts Red’s budget with a little help.

Gareth, after seeing Red’s queen last week helps Laurel out. This teaming up works but it is not without a few hiccups.

Red is still pretty messed up after his queen is injured and his tearful and confused spiel at the budget vote was hysterically funny.  Due to his apparent weakness Ella goes in for the kill, only to have it  backfire.

It turns out that all Senator Wheatus needed was Ella’s brains to fix his health issues.  A rejuvenated Red goes on the attack to get his budget passed.

Later, Red tries to kill Luke but fails.

Gustav and Rochelle go undercover to kill the cherry blossoms in the first greenhouse and almost get caught.

Luke’s sit-down goes on Periscope and cannot be shut down.  The CIA “Director Director” and Red blackmail Healy into stopping everything and voting.

Gustav turns out to have been an officer with the NSA all along, much to Rochelle’s irritation, and even the FBI have to step away from that.  Laurel drives the bugs out of her father’s brain with shame.

Later, she attempts to do the same with Red and almost succeeds. Senator Wheatus tries to shoot Healy but Gareth arrives in the nick of time to save her. The three struggle to control the gun and Red is shot in the buttocks.

The queen bails and tries to escape the room. The newest intern comes in and inadvertently kills the alien bug. The remaining alien horde screech in pain and dismay. They all swarm to  their dead queen and huge  group of politicians are now bug free.

Singing narrator Jonathan Coulton croons that apparently having half a brain is not an issue for senators. He also informs us that Gareth and Laurel have moved in together and that Luke now works on Wall Street.

The last episode, number 12 “The End of All We Hold Dear: What Happens When Democracies Fail: A Brief Synopsis” has Coulter and Johnny Ray Gill’s character break the fourth wall. It is amusing and a nice touch. Although Gustav only breaks the wall by acknowledging the guitar playing Coulter.

Just before the end credits roll for the last time in season one (or forever if the show is not brought back) a new queen is seen on the cherry blossoms that line the road. The new alien bug leader is a different hue, suggesting that the invasion force have evolved.

Overall the season finale was a good wrap up of everything that transpired. It managed to get in at least one political in-joke, or observation;  that most people would not know their senator if they met him or her.

There was a fair amount of comedy but the scene about the ninth birthday party camera was a tear jerker.

BrainDead may well be a “one-off” (for a number of reasons) but it was a brilliant little summer filler, even if the network had no faith in the show.

Pina, Winstead, Tveit, Shalhoub and James all just killed it. This cast shared a brilliant chemistry  and took the viewer on an amusing journey through a “space invasion” series disguised as comedy horror.

With a punchline that seems alarmingly close to the truth, the series may not be allowed to return…

CAST:

Wynonna Earp: I Walk the Line – Family Tree (Review)

 Wynonna Earp - Season 1

The season finale  of Wynonna Earp raised a few questions while showing  so much about the Willa and Robert backstory.” I Walk the Line” also had at least one shocking reveal and when it ended the fates of Purgatory and Wynonna seemed pretty final.  It also seems that JC  (“Right initials, wrong fella.”) paid Willa a visit or two in the family tree house.

It turns out that Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) was right not to trust big sister Willa (Natalie Krill). Stealing back Peacemaker kept Bobo (Michael Eklund) from leaving the Ghost River Triangle area. This forced Willa to show more of her true colors although Wynonna still missed the more obvious clues (such as  big sister calling the citizens of Purgatory “meat-sticks.”).

” I Walk the Line”  was a very busy episode in terms of action and reveals. For a start, Juan Carlos is not quite the “Yoda” figure he initially appeared to be.  It is clear that he was the other visitor who “made promises in the dark” to Willa. It could not have been Constance Clootie as she only turned up when the Earp heir turned 27 and that was to wipe her memory clean.

Shocking Moments in the Episode:

Learning that Robert Svane (Bobo) and Willa were lovers.  All kinds of wrong this one, despite Bobo’s protestations that he never “touched” the 13 year old child he “saved.”

Willa shooting Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell). Later, the Earp heir also unblinkingly went to shoot Wynonna with Peacemaker. 

Sheriff Nedley (Greg Lawson) turning out to be a decent guy after all.

Dolls shooting Willa.

Bobo telling Waverly that she is not an Earp.

Dolls (Shamier Anderson) turning out to be some sort of monster, as hinted by Lucado.(What a b*tch she is,  eh?)

And last but not least; Waverly, after being possessed by giant Hell worm blood, shooting…Who? Wynonna? Doc?

(We become privy to the news that Ward Earp was not a nice chap. He apparently beat up on his wife on top of his penchant for making deals with revenants.  It could well be that Willa was born to go bad from the start. Certainly her personality left much to be desired, although that could be blamed on her brainwashing captor Bobo/Robert.)

There were some stand out moments as well.  The big fight at Shorty’s.  Granted we do not see any of the chaos inside the building but we do get another  glance at the yellow-eyed demon inside of Dolls.

Another noteworthy event was the climatic shootout with Bobo and his telekinetic powers. Cue one middle finger moment from the rough and tumble  Earp heir (the real one).

Peacemaker not working for Willa, after she has doomed the denizens of Purgatory and her sisters, was equally impressive. She also abandons her lover in those final moments.

Thoughts: 

It turns out that, like Waverly, we were right to dislike the eldest Earp. She may well be a tragic figure (and she is to a degree, being captured and saved by a revenant “pedo” obviously changed her a lot) but Willa would most likely never have won the Miss Congeniality award in Purgatory anyway.

Peacemaker also worked on Willa, turing blue versus red, and this must mean that she was less human and more something else. Perhaps more like Juan Carlos…Or not.

And who is Juan Carlos? Or more accurately, perhaps, what is he. More powerful than Bobo and able to step outside the triangle with impunity, JC is a major player apparently. Rather interestingly, when Wynonna cocks and points Peacemaker at Juan Carlos it does not emit a color.  Willa made it turn blue and revenants are red.  No color at all for Juan…

The End:

By the end of the episode, Dolls is taken by Lucado to a black site as punishment for interfering. Wynonna shoots Bobo/Robert and sends him to hell moments after he crosses the Ghost River Triangle line. Waverly touches the worm blood and becomes possessed and then pulls a gun and shoots either her sister or Doc.

(Something  to consider: That rumbling heard by Doc (Tim Rozon) and Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) as Waverly turns may be the tomahawk missiles ordered by Lucado prior to Wynonna shooting Bobo. If this is the case then Purgatory and our heroine are doubly damned in this huge cliffhanger ending.)

Kudos to the entire cast here. Rozon was superb as Holliday. He gave his character a truth that sold the concept of Doc as flawed hero, making him a perfect match for Wynonna who,  as we all know, is flawed as well.

Scrofano was perfect as Wynonna another case of the actor filling her role with enough humor and pathos to make it feel real. Provost-Chalkley made us love Waverly; who was a mixture of eager enthusiasm and angst.

Mad props to Michael Eklund as Bobo Del Ray/Robert Svane. The actor managed to make us feel a bit upset at his death despite his character’s very unhealthy obsession with the Earp girls.

Wynonna Earp - Season 1
Michael Eklund as Bobo Del Ray

If Wynonna Earp comes back, if Purgatory and our heroine did not meet a sticky end by the hands of possessed Waverly or Lucado, we will be eagerly looking forward to her next set of adventures.

 

Penny Dreadful: The End (Review)

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It was always safe to assume that Penny Dreadful was going to end on one hell of a downer and the series did not disappoint. When the end finally came, after Showtime slapped the last two episodes together for the grand finale, it was a crescendo of depression all around. The characters, the viewers and the storyline all bypassed melancholia completely.

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives looked one step from dead this season; signposting that things were not going to end well for her and they did not.

The last two episodes, “Perpetual Night” and and “The Blessed Dark” both took place back in London.  Chandler, Sir Malcolm and Kataenay all arrive at the docks to find them swarming with rats.  Heading to the mansion they find Vanessa gone and the building full of vampires.

There is a desperate fight and things look pretty bad for the trio until Catriona Hartdegen (Perdita Weeks) wielding a pistol and a knife. After the battle, she cauterizes the bite on Sir Malcolm’s neck and introduces herself to Ethan. 

Cat tells the men of the killing fog and the darkness. She also explains that finding Vanessa is high on her list of priorities as well.

Chandler goes to find Victor Frankenstein,  to treat Sir Malcolm, and at the lab, the doctor (Harry Treadawayinteracts with Lily (Billie Piper) and it does not go well. John Clare (Rory Kinnear) enjoys his family while his son is dying. The youngster coughs up great gouts of blood and soon dies.

Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) tells all the prostitutes to leave as Lily is gone. Justine (Jessica Barden) shoves a knife in Dorian’s chest with no effect. The women all leave in a panic except for the tiny prostitute. She refuses to return to the old life of “being on her knees” and Gray breaks her neck. 

Ethan goes to Victor’s flat and a  little boy  vampire tells offers to lead him to the doctor. Malcolm and Catriona do  a little verbal sparring.  Dr. Seward arrives and joins the “Save Vanessa Ives Party.”

Lily reveals the death of her baby and this sad tale prompts Frankenstein to  release the object of his desire.Ethan is lead into a trap. Dracula speaks with Chandler (repeated the “creatures of the night” line) and the lead vampire threatens Ethan with death.

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Victor releases Lily

Dr. Seward takes Malcolm and Cat to question Renfield (Samuel Barnett) and later Seward “regresses” her former secretary to learn where Vanessa is being held. 

Vampires surround Ethan and he battles the ever increasing horde. Morphing into a werewolf Chandler begins killing the things.  Kaetenay arrives and changing into a werewolf also helps his “son”   wreak havoc on the fanged creatures.

In “The Blessed Dark: the Penny Dreadful gang are reunited after Chandler and Kaetenay defeat the vampires. The boy vampire reports to Dracula on the two men’s victory over the vampires he opts to wait on their arrival.

Ethan learns from Kaetenay that the old Apache made him a werewolf and after a short and bitter argument, Chandler accepts his fate and swears to save Vanessa. Seward walks with Renfield in his mind and Lily returns to Dorian to find Justine dead and the prostitutes gone.

Lily learns from Gray that immortality means loneliness  and a lack of passion. She leaves. Victor and Jekyll have words and the Bedlam doctor tells Victor that his father has died and he is now Lord Hyde.

Frankenstein joins forces with Malcolm, Seward and Cat to save Vanessa.

After John Clare’s son dies, he is horrified to learn that his wife wants to have the boy resurrected by Dr. Frankenstein.

Sir Malcolm, Seward, Chandler, Frankenstein, Hartdegen and Kaetenay converge on the slaughter house. Ethan and Kaetenay enter via another entrance and the rest find a room full of rats and eviscerated corpses hanging from the ceiling. The group find Dracula and are surrounded by vampires.

Asking Dracula about his daughter Mina, Sir Malcolm learns she was only a pawn. He tells the rest of the group that they should leave and they refuse. Telling his colleagues that he would proudly die alongside of them, Sir Malcolm starts the  battle.

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Sir Malcolm, Victor, Dr. Seward and Catriona all prepare to fight Dracula

In the sewers, Ethan and Kaetenay fight their way to the main group. The two parties join and they clear the room of vampires.  Dracula begins battling the rescuers. Chandler breaks away and finds Vanessa.  The two talk and she explains that it is too late.

Ethan fulfills the prophecy and saves Vanessa by killing her. Dracula, sensing  Vanessa’s death, flees. The fog departs and the sky clears, the “end of days” has finished. John Clare buries his son in the sea and then goes to visit Vanessa’s grave.

Penny Dreadful delivered a splendid, if ultimately depressing, end to its three season run. A far ranging tale that included so many icons  in the world of classic horror. The British specialize in this type of costumed horror. (Anyone who doubts this should look at old Hammer films as proof of their expertise.)

The final fights were brilliantly choreographed and quickly paced. Short and impressive, these were the highlight of the last show in the season. Ultimately  however it was heart breaking that Vanessa Ives had to die. (Although Eva Green must have been relieved to get out of that corpse-like makeup.)

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Vanessa Ives looking pale as death

Showtime have wrapped up Penny Dreadful with a funereal tone that feels spot on for the story and its characters.  If you have not seen the finale, stop reading this and head over right now to see the end of this fantastic three season run.