September 18, 2017

Outlander: Surrender (3x02)

Fergus!!!! My darling!!!

Cons:

Honestly, this episode was pretty close to perfect. The one thing I have in the "cons" column is more a question about how they've chosen to pace this season. In the books, the time with Claire would be spent with her in her late forties with adult Brianna in Scotland, like how last season ended. By going back and focusing chronologically on Claire's life, we're not going to get as much build over time of Claire's decision to go back and find Jamie again (I know, shocking spoiler, right?). This also means probably less screen-time with Brianna and Roger before the fateful moment of separation between Claire and Brianna. In last season's finale, I found Brianna a little one-note, and I was looking forward to getting some more time with her to flesh out the character a bit. She's really important moving forward, and I don't want the TV show to skimp on Brianna Randall just in the interests of focusing more on Claire and Jamie, as much as I like them.

Pros:

Literally, though, this episode was great. To start with Claire and Frank, they finally rekindle their sex life, but it seems pretty clear that Claire is thinking of Jamie whenever she's with Frank, and he eventually calls her on it. They go back to having a sexless marriage, although they are still amiable and still both love their daughter greatly. We also see Claire make the decision to go to medical school. As she sits down in her first class, she is ostracized by her fellow students, and the professor seems intent on ignoring her existence. She is approached by Joe Abernathy, a black medical student. The two share a brief moment of bonding over their shared isolation.

September 14, 2017

Suits: Donna (7x10)

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's pretty much all I've got for the intro.

Cons:

Alex got a plot thread this week where the other name partner at his former firm tries to poach one of his clients. With Louis' help, Alex gets the guy on tape admitting to trying to screw Alex over, which fixes the problem. This was a perfectly fine plot thread, and I'm liking the way Louis has fully accepted Alex in the firm. But the whole thing felt like an afterthought in an episode already dealing with Harvey and Mike's big case, and Rachel and Robert's pro bono. Why throw it in now? Why did we need another moment to show that Alex is loyal to the firm? I feel like we already did that.

Pros:

Let's start with Robert and Rachel's plot thread. It wasn't anything too surprising or really innovative, but we got to see Rachel as a child and we got to see Robert's sister. I like the fact that she wasn't a passive victim in her poor treatment, and actually tried to stand up and do what's right. Robert was the one who took a backseat and let this thing slide. Robert's sister died young because she got sick, and Robert's guilt has eaten him up ever since. I like the fact that Robert's temper actually got him in trouble on a case for once, and I also like that Rachel is the one to come up with all the answers. This episode had a lot of cuts between two thematic scenes happening at the same time. The best use of this was when we cut between Robert talking to the CEO of the bank, and Rachel talking to the board, leading to the moment where ultimately the board signs documentation to remove their CEO, and the CEO signs the settlement agreement.

September 11, 2017

Outlander: The Battle Joined (3x01)

Yep, still good. This season is going to have to move along at a nice clip, honestly... I'm wondering if they're going to stick with the chronological storytelling, or jump us forward to the juicy reunion stuff and then tell parts of the story in flashback. At this point, I'm actually not sure what I think would be better... but this was an extremely strong opening and I'm beyond excited to see where we go from here.

Cons:

Okay, so, for the most part Jamie's side of the story was very strong. I really admired how they were able to keep me invested in what was essentially just Jamie lying there on the verge of death and contemplating the battle he's just miraculously survived. However, there was one moment towards the end that felt hokey, and that's when Jamie arrives back in Lallybroch. See, I can suspend my disbelief enough to believe that Jamie would survive the battle, and then survive execution because John Grey's brother (Hal, although we don't exactly get formally introduced at this juncture) happens to recognize Jamie's name. It's a little harder to swallow that Hal would actually go to the trouble of getting a cart to send Jamie away from the battlefield, and even though I know it happens this way in the book, I'm not entirely clear how he ends up safe and sound in Jenny and Ian's arms by the hour's end. How does a delirious, half-dead Jamie Fraser make it back to Lallybroch? Who was driving that cart? I don't know... maybe it just felt a little too easy, despite all of the hardship I know is to come.

Pros:

But all of that is nitpicking. Because - for real, this premiere was stunning. Let's start with the way they did the famous Battle of Culloden. We see Jamie, barely breathing, with a redcoat lying on top of him. Jamie's arm is around the man's shoulders, almost like they're holding each other. Around Jamie, we see the bodies of countless fallen Jacobites. Various redcoats patrol the field, killing anything that stirs with a swift stab of the bayonet. Slowly, we see snippets of the fight. We see Prince Charles calmly setting up to watch the battle, confident in victory. We see Jamie and Murtagh exchange quips. We see Jamie and the other soldiers charge fiercely into battle. Everything is disjointed, nothing makes sense. We see Jamie and Jack Randall make eye contact and rush each other, each intent on blood. We see Jack take a blow at Jamie's thigh, and finally we see Jamie stab Jack in the gut, mortally wounding him. As we continue to switch between the flashback and the present moment, we are finally greeted with the chilling sight of a dead Black Jack Randall and a barely living Jamie Fraser lying in a pseudo-embrace, their faces nearly touching.

September 07, 2017

Suits: Shame (7x09)

Ah, yes. The Mike and Harvey banter and bromance continues. This is the good stuff. However, unfortunately that doesn't mean the whole episode was a winner.

Cons:

This is a small thing, but I wanted to bring it up because it's been bugging me. Why does everybody feel the need to have serious conversations in bathrooms? You've got Gretchen walking in to the men's room to confront Louis, and then Louis walking in to confront Gretchen later on. You've got Rachel finding Donna in the bathroom... it's just a lot of bathrooms. I always think about the convenient timing, that people always seem to find each other washing hands, and not still in a stall. It's just kind of weird.

Rachel and Robert's plot thread felt a little disconnected from the rest of the narrative. Robert wants to work with Rachel on a pro bono, and so they start going after a bank that apparently racially profiles. When they can't prove their case, Robert gets disproportionately angry, and reveals to Rachel that the real reason he wanted to go after the CEO of this bank is because back in the day, Rachel's aunt and Robert's sister worked for this guy, and he made her life miserable by sexually harassing her in the workplace. I liked this plot thread a lot, but like I said, it felt a little out of place. How does this connect with any of the other stories of the episode? And why bring it in now as a brief little plot thread just before the hiatus? I've wanted more for Rachel to do all season long, but this feels like an odd way to utilize her as a character.

August 31, 2017

Suits: 100 (7x08)

There are a few pretty big things going on in this episode, and some of them really did not work for me. However, there were lots of other elements that brought this episode closer to the Suits I used to love so much in the early seasons. Kind of difficult to decide what to think.

Cons:

Frank Gallow dies off-screen. And apparently he gets a redemption arc because he loves his daughter or whatever. I mean... okay, maybe it was unrealistic to hope for some big soap-opera-y drama where Frank actually tries to have Mike killed, but I was kind of hoping for that. Suits is a show about moral ambiguity in a lot of ways, but sometimes I feel like there's too much time spent on attempting to nuance characters we really don't need to be nuanced. It's okay for Frank to just be a bad dude. Mike telling Frank's daughter that he was a "decent man" felt particularly forced to me. Frank threatened Mike's life, made threats against Harvey and Rachel, and the scummy things he did to get into prison in the first place were pretty reprehensible. It's not that I'm celebrating the death of a man, but... to call him a decent man? Really, Mike?

For the most part I really loved Rachel getting to assert some power in this episode. On the other hand, though, after she makes a plan to screw over her father, she spends the remainder of the episode playing emotional support for Louis and Donna instead of getting her own stuff to do. She's really been pushed to the side this season, and it's bumming me out.

August 24, 2017

Suits: Full Disclosure (7x07)

I'm a little sick of Harvey and Mike being at odds, but it's hard not to find the situation a little compelling. Let's get started.

Cons:

Flashback episodes are a staple on Suits, and sometimes they feel a little slow and unnecessary. This was another case where the information imparted in the flashbacks could have been explained in just a few lines of dialogue. The only reason to really show it all play out was that Jessica got to come in and be in yet another episode of this TV show she's supposedly not on anymore. For example, we rehash the rivalry with Louis and Harvey again, and we see how Donna puts Harvey before her personal relationships again, and we see how Harvey is brash and hotheaded sometimes but ultimately Jessica keeps him in line, again. The only new pieces of this puzzle were the stuff with Alex, which I'll get to in a second.

We also see, in flashback, the origins of Louis' relationship with his therapist. And this rubbed me the wrong way SO hard. Louis walks in, hears the therapist's German accent, and immediately calls him a Nazi. When the guy explains that he's actually Jewish, Louis later actually doubts that, and calls him a "supposed Jew" and then throws the word "Nazi" around again. Calling a Jewish man, whose parents were in Germany during the War, a literal Nazi is a shitty, horrible thing to do. I get that Louis, as a Jewish man himself, has a lot of traumatic baggage associated with the Germans and the Nazis. But this exchange felt very blunt, and frankly out of touch with our current political and social climate. I could have done without it.

August 17, 2017

Suits: Home to Roost (7x06)

I mean, what the heck did you expect, Mike? This whole thing is so stupid. Harvey, Rachel, Alex, and Oscar are all right, and Mike is completely wrong. Getting a little frustrated.

Cons:

The drama with Mike staying on the prison case is resting on a foundation of sand. As the episode ends, Alex has come in and blown up the case, and the court has kicked the clinic - and Mike - off of it. Oscar Reyes is hurt and angry, but Mike says that it's not over - somebody else can take the case. And, yeah. That's the whole problem with this damn plot thread. Of course someone else can take the case. Someone else should have been taking the case from the beginning! Mike getting involved is the exact reason why things are as bad as they are now. It's aggravating. He's not the only do-gooder with resources in the legal world. I'm not saying any old attorney could have taken this case and run with it, but I'm sure there's somebody else in the world who could have handled it, for pete's sake.

I have mixed feelings about Louis' subplot. Stephanie sues him for sexual harassment because of all the horrible things he said to her, and because she doesn't want anybody to think she can't hack it as a lawyer. It takes Louis a while to get there, but eventually he realizes the right thing to do and he goes to apologize to Stephanie sincerely. He explains to her what happened with Tara, and how he took it out on her. She then reveals that the real reason she's been upset is because Louis said that no one would ever want a baby with her, and Stephanie is insecure about that very thing because she's thirty-four years old and a workaholic.

August 10, 2017

Suits: Brooklyn Housing (7x05)

There are so many things that I'm feeling frustrated about, but I'm still sort of enjoying the ride. Let's take a look, and I apologize in advance for my brevity.

Cons:

Mike is being an idiot in continuing to work on this case. It's going to break Harvey's heart when he finds out, and there's really not a good reason for it. Oliver and Mike should have come clean to Nathan earlier, and then Nathan could have devoted other resources to it. Rachel is completely in the right on this one. And bringing Frank back felt a little cheap. He just doesn't seem nearly as threatening as he used to. Does Mike have any PTSD associated with this guy trying to kill him? I don't know, it doesn't really seem to bug him at all. Pretty annoying.

I liked Donna standing up for herself and taking a firmer role in the firm, but I will admit I was a bit confused by the whole Holly subplot... what was the point there? I don't dislike her or anything, but I was sort of like... Holly who?

August 03, 2017

Suits: Divide and Conquer (7x04)

Uh... Mike? Mike? What the heck are you doing? Are you for serious? What? No. Nope. Bad job. Let's take a look.

Cons:

So, Mike is going behind everybody's back and helping Oliver with the deceased prisoner case. This is horrendous. Mike has talked long and hard about how having a secret has weighed so heavily on his mind, and now that he's finally free, and a part of the bar, he lasts only a handful of weeks before he starts breaking the ethical rules of being a lawyer? He could get disbarred for what he's doing, and at this point I'm very sure he doesn't deserve another chance. Like... what the heck. After everything Harvey has done for him, and after everything he's been through, and after all this time of Rachel being so patient with him, and he's about to risk it all? Again? The part of this that kills me is that it's not like it's a black and white choice. If Mike keeps to his word and stays out of the case, that doesn't mean the client is going to lose everything. Mike could perhaps recommend another attorney to Oliver, or, as I mentioned last week, he could just do a waiver letter and PSL could legitimately represent both clients. This whole thing is such unnecessary and manufactured bullshit, and I'm pretty disappointed in it.

Speaking of manufactured bullshit: Harvey tells Jessica that he's having a hard time being in charge, and that Louis is angry with him. So, Jessica basically goes behind Harvey's back and helps a competing law firm (Alex's old firm) to go after them. This forces Harvey, Mike, Louis, Donna, and Alex to all work together to save the day, bringing the firm closer together. I have two problems. First of all, Jessica gave privileged information to another firm, which is, as discussed above, a horrible and illegal thing to do. Secondly, Jessica is great and all... but why has she appeared so much in this season? If she's gone, she's gone. Save her for the spin-off, please and thank you. Gina Torres is amazing, and it was great as always to see her. She looked particularly stunning in that dress. But at this point she's become something of a crutch for the story. We need to let the show grow and separate from her at this point.

July 27, 2017

Suits: Mudmare (7x03)

Last season, I complained quite a bit about the fact that Harvey was bending over backwards, and Mike was looking like a selfish little git. This season, I'm forced to think that perhaps Harvey's the asshole after all. I'm having some really strange mixed emotions about this episode, to be completely honest. Let's take a look.

Cons:

Harvey treats everybody like shit in this episode. Donna, Louis, Mike... seriously. He actually does. The thing that bothers me isn't the decisions he's making, but the way he's delivering them. Basically, Alex has a big client that has a conflict with Mike's pro bono, meaning Mike has to drop his client. Mike is really unhappy about it, but Harvey forces him to drop it anyway. Louis and Donna both tell Harvey they think this is a mistake, because it sends the messages that Alex's clients can steamroll over existing PSL clients. Harvey doesn't listen. Mike, doing as he's told, gives his pro bono case to the clinic, trusting that Oliver will take care of it. Harvey yells at Mike again because of Mike's association with the clinic, and tells Mike to put it in writing that he won't be involved with the case. In the end, Mike and Alex have a conversation, and it turns out both of them felt pressured in this situation, and Alex really didn't like having to mess with Mike because of his client. What does this all shake out to? Harvey was the only one who was a dick in this whole scenario!

Harvey tells Mike to drop his client, which he knew would make Mike angry. But instead of trying to work things out, he steamrolls over Mike, ignores advice from his fellow name partner Louis and his new COO Donna, and then yells at Mike some more for good measure. He comes across like a total dick. He could have explained himself better. He could have let people talk it out. He could have, I don't know, suggested doing a conflict waiver letter? Which is, you know, a thing? And all of this would be fine? But no. He had to behave in the most caveman-ish way possible during the whole exchange.

July 20, 2017

Suits: The Statue (7x02)

Yeah, okay. This was a good episode. And it actually fixed some of the things that made me angry about last week's installment, so... good on ya!

Cons:

Rachel took a backseat again. Last week, we learned that she would be taking over the associates, but we didn't get to see that play out. This week, she almost took over a case for Mike but then ultimately didn't, and we didn't get to see her playing bad-ass attorney. What with Mike becoming a legit lawyer, I sort of feel like we've forgotten that Rachel is a lawyer now too.

Harvey and Louis get into another brief tiff in this episode. Louis is whiny, Harvey is a steamroller, they both say sorry and are okay by the end. It wasn't a bad plot thread. I guess I just don't know what they can do with Louis' character at this point to make him more interesting. He's been through the same whirlwind dozens of times and I'm getting really sick of it.

July 13, 2017

Suits: Skin in the Game (7x01)

This show has a special place in my heart. It's sort of like a disobedient, not-too-bright child. It can piss me off so easily, but nothing it does makes me love it any less. And lemme tell you something - there are a bunch of things about this opener to Season Seven that are not what I would call ideal. And yet... I still had fun watching.

Cons:

Donna... okay... look. All last season I was annoyed because the whole plot thread with "The Donna" was stupid and made no logical sense. However, I really liked the idea of exploring Donna getting more attention and respect for all of her hard work. Now, we throw this whole "Donna is suddenly a senior partner" thing into the mix. Yo. I'm a legal secretary who works at a corporate firm... let me tell you that this is ridiculous. There are plenty of other ways to move up in your field without going to law school, even if you work at a law firm. Donna seems to be suggesting that she's valuable not because of legal expertise but because of her management skills. Great! Promote her to a practice manager, head of client relations, executive administrator... any of these things. These are all real jobs with real power and money and an office and a say in firm policies. And they all make a lot more sense than just her being made a partner in the firm. It's ridiculous.

Louis screws up, people call him on it, and he backs down. Again. This time it's because he's smarting over his breakup with Tara. I get that he would be hurting, but he yells some truly horrible and abusive things to the associates, and we're all just going to forgive him and move on to the next cycle in the never-ending Louis story? Yikes. I'm sick of it.

July 03, 2017

Doctor Who: The Doctor Falls (10x12)

I really quite enjoyed this episode. I won't lie, though, I also had a few complaints. I can taste freedom, though. Moffat is almost out of here. Let's dive in.

Cons:

Basically, this is just a continuation of next week, which is perfectly lovely, in that we're wrapping up the only real through-lines of this season's plots. Namely, Missy. The problem is that this episode had a lot of endings, and I'm not sure I'm satisfied with them. Namely, Missy. The Master and Missy kill each other in this episode, which on the one hand is like the perfect way for them to go out, but on the other hand, it still feels like we didn't have enough screen-time with Missy to make her inclusion in this season feel worthwhile. There was so much more to explore. And I get the whole dramatic irony thing, because now we know that Missy was going to go back and stand with the Doctor, but the Doctor doesn't know that... yadda yadda.... I just feel like there was a more satisfying ending that could have come out of this.

And then there's Bill... On the one hand, I love the way her character ended up, going off with another immortal lesbian to explore the universe forever more. I'm all about that shit. But at the same time, my complaints from last week still stand. She did a lot of reacting instead of acting in this episode, and I still feel like we're only just beginning to understand her as a character. I really wanted her to be the carry-over companion for our new Doctor and new show-runner. We didn't get nearly enough time with Bill.

June 26, 2017

Doctor Who: World Enough and Time (10x11)

Oh, gosh. Sometimes this show makes it very difficult for me to pick a score out of ten. I liked watching this episode quite a bit, but my brain kept interjecting with complaints all the same. Let's take a closer look.

Cons:

In brief, this plot thread tells us the origins of one of the Doctor's most fearsome foes: The Cybermen. Cool. It does so with a twist about a black hole, and time moving more swiftly at one end of a large ship than it does the other. Also cool. Then there's the additional twist that the kindly yet strange old man who has been caring for Bill during most of the episode is actually the Master. C...c-cool? I mean, seeing John Simm back in that role is absolutely thrilling, don't get me wrong. And the idea of watching Missy and the Master riff off of each other is just delightful. I suppose my problem with this is that it seems like a twist for the sake of a twist. You could say that this older, even more evil version of the Master showing up is a chance for Missy to decide where her allegiances lie, and all of that. But for my money, Missy is plenty interesting on her own. There's so much to untangle with her character, and now that we're adding Simm to the mix, I worry that Missy's development will be halted or ignored. This is the first episode where Missy has had anything to do beyond an extended cameo, basically, and she's being overshadowed by the return of a sinister face from the past. Just a little bit hard to swallow.

I rather loved the conceit of Bill being separated from Nardole, the Doctor, and Missy, even though we just saw that happen in last week's episode. But I couldn't help but notice that in last week's episode, Bill had a lot of agency and tried to figure out what was going on. In this episode, however, Bill is taken in by the Master (albeit unbeknownst to her and us) and she sits around waiting for the Doctor to rescue her. Literally. It's a significant plot point. Bill hasn't suddenly become "the girl who waited" or the "mystery girl" or any of the other pithy and sexist epithets given to Moffat's companions in the past. But Bill starts off this episode getting shot, and ends it crying to the Doctor that she waited for him, apparently turned in to a Cyberman. I'm not going to rant and rave and get all angry about this, because I'm waiting for the finale to see how this all shakes out. But if things stand as they are, it's a little annoying, is it not? Bill sits around and waits, and then she ends up being one of the Doctor's most fearsome foes. Sound familiar? Did we not meet Clara originally in the form of a Dalek, and then see her again as a Dalek in a later episode? And now Bill has succumbed to a strangely similar fate.

June 19, 2017

Doctor Who: The Eaters of Light (10x10)

This is an episode that I might give a middling score, but it made me think a lot, and it makes me want to write a big long meaty review analyzing some of the pros and cons. In some ways, that makes it better than the average episode of this show nowadays. I'm going to try and restrain myself and make this brief.

Cons:

Apparently, Bill just now figured out about the TARDIS having a universal translator. A little slow on the uptake, there? For some reason, this just really rubbed me the wrong way. I liked the fact that everybody understanding each other led to a deeper conversation, but it felt silly that Bill hadn't put this together before now. Also, that "deeper conversation" involves Scottish natives and the 9th Roman Legion realizing that they are all just scared children and should be on the same side. Oh, good. An end to a violent conflict. Except that it's more complicated than that. I feel like the episode failed to wrestle with the fact that there definitely is a wrong side in this conflict. I'm not blaming the individual young people fighting with the Romans, but I am blaming the Roman Empire... they were invaders and conquerors. They enslaved and murdered innocents. It felt a little strange that the episode's thesis was all about how these two sides can be united, but there was no point in which we really wrestled with the philosophies of the two different sides in this conflict.

Another well-meaning yet ultimately odd moment is when one of the Roman legion guys is flirting with Bill, and she explains that she's only interested in women, saying that she knows it'll be a difficult concept for him to understand. However, the soldier is completely okay with it, saying that she's just like another of the soldiers, a man who only likes men. Meanwhile, most people are "normal" in that they like men and women. My problems with this are a bit difficult to define. I want to celebrate what seems like positive representation of sexuality, and I do like it when Bill talks about her own sexuality. But earlier in the episode, Bill says she'd read all sorts of books about the Romans and found them really fascinating. Surely she would have known about ancient Roman views on sexuality? So why was she surprised? And also, it's not "modern." Men were able to take male lovers, sure, but the sexuality of women, particularly women loving other women, was not normalized. It bothered me that they were acting like the ancient Romans were these great forward thinking people. Not so much.

June 12, 2017

Doctor Who: Empress of Mars (10x09)

Unfortunately, this episode isn't exactly brilliant. Luckily, it's not as disappointing as last week's, but still. I was hoping for a more impressive comeback. Let's just take a look.

Cons:

The biggest complaint I can articulate about this episode is that it's just sort of... whatever. I didn't feel connected to the characters, and there were a few too many shortcuts in the plot for me to feel satisfied. For example, there's this Victorian soldier guy who it turns out deserted many years ago, but accidentally survived his execution. Now, he's doing the right thing by dying with honor in the service of his people. I get the sense that I was supposed to feel really emotional about this, but I really didn't.

This episode also banked a little too hard on the supposed wacky-ness of its premise. Oh my gosh, you guys, there are Victorian Red Coats on Mars! The thing is, Doctor Who does this sort of stuff all the time, so I wasn't exactly delighted and shocked at seeing "God Save the Queen" written out on the surface of the planet in rocks.

The last bigger complaint I have is that the TARDIS decides to peace out at the beginning of this episode, taking Nardole away from the action. He knows he needs to get back to Mars to pick up Bill and the Doctor, but he can't fix the TARDIS on his own, so he enlists Missy's help. It frustrates me that there was no explanation as to why the TARDIS conveniently decided to malfunction. This was a very contrived way to get Missy out of the vault. And Nardole was the one who was so insistent that she stay in the vault. I don't know... it all seemed a little too convenient.

June 04, 2017

Doctor Who: The Lie of the Land (10x08)

Ah. So we've arrived. The first truly disappointing episode of the season. Let's just get started with this.

Cons:

The Monks have taken over the world and rewritten history so that all humans will think that the Monks have been there all along, and that humanity needs to obey their benevolent overlords. Most people buy into the lie. Bill is resisting, hoping that the Doctor will be able to return and save the world. Nardole shows up, and he and Bill sneak in to find the Doctor, who is apparently working with the Monks and broadcasting messages about their benevolence. Bill shows up, and is horrified to find that the Doctor really does seem to be working with the Monks, and is not planning something to free the world. In despair, Bill gets a gun from one of the guards and shoots the Doctor. The Doctor then starts to regenerate, but it turns out the whole thing was a trick so that the Doctor could be absolutely sure that Bill wasn't under the Monks' influence. From this point on, we pivot and the rest of the episode features the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole working together to rid the world of the Monks.

Before I go in to the rest of the episode, there is just so much stupid shit to deal with in this first section. I was actually enjoying the story up until the point where we find the Doctor and it turns out that he's "really working for the Monks." There were a couple of different directions this could have gone. The stupid, boring, predictable direction is that the Doctor is faking and has a master plan. Ding ding ding! That's what they went with. Other possibilities include: the Doctor is brainwashed, or the Doctor is biding his time and doesn't really have a plan, and is pissed off that Nardole and Bill have shown up and put themselves in danger. Or the Monks had some way to replicate the Doctor and fake those TV broadcasts. But no. They went for the predictable outcome.

May 28, 2017

Doctor Who: The Pyramid at the End of the World (10x07)

Wow! I'm pretty damn happy with this one. The bulk of the episode was nothing all that remarkable, and it definitely reminded me of other episodes of Doctor Who in the past. It wasn't exactly offering anything all that new. However, the ending definitely offered something quite new, and the buildup to it was excellent. Let's take a look!

Cons:

Like I said, there were elements of this episode that felt like I'd seen them before. Aliens show up and threaten to destroy the world, the Doctor says no I'll stop you, and it all comes down to a few key humans making the right decision to prevent disaster. The Doctor is always right, the humans are always wrong, and they fail unless they listen to his advice. In this case, it's the heads of the three largest armies in the world: the U.S., Russia, and China. They decide to work together, which is good, but they decide to capitulate to the aliens, which is bad, and they all die for their trouble. A little simplistic.

We also have this moment where the Doctor encourages the three powers to strike against the mysterious pyramid that has shown up in their midst, to show their strength against this alien threat. Nardole and Bill both act shocked and appalled that the Doctor would want them to try a violent tactic. Okay, yeah. The Doctor is a pacifist and so any hint that he might be violent is seen as a crazy deviation from the norm. Sure, except for I feel like I'm being asked to be shocked about the same thing over and over and over again. Moffat's Doctor frequently resorts to violence, or at least doesn't stop others from trying it. Bill's outrage in particular kind of rubbed me the wrong way, because I feel like we haven't seen enough of Bill learning the Doctor's "code" as it were. Does she really know him well enough yet to understand that this behavior deviates from the norm?

May 22, 2017

Elementary: Hurt Me, Hurt You (5x24)

Oh boy. I guess I'm really glad we do get a Season Six, because that would be one hell of a way to finish a show... and not in a good way. Let's take a little look.

Cons:

Last week, I almost made a guess as to what the deal was with the woman, May, who seemed to be following Sherlock around. I know there's no way to prove this now, but my guess would have been "May is a hallucination of Sherlock's mother, caused by Sherlock's brain tumor." And... yeah. I'm not saying I'm opposed to this turn for the show, as I think the buildup for it was beautifully executed, and there could be a lot of cool stuff to come out of this. But at the same time, I feel like this was just a little bit too obvious, you know? And too... dramatic, perhaps? This show is so brilliant at being down to earth. The characters are realistically professional when it comes to their cases, in the sense that they don't get personally drawn in to every little story line. I'm okay with some drama, but this show doesn't need to lean on soap opera plot threads like the lead getting a brain tumor. I have faith they will go somewhere good with this, but I'm slightly let down by the premise itself.

Pros:

I'm pretty happy with the take-down of SPK. Wilcox, the head of the group, gives up his entire gang in exchange for immunity, but then screws up by lying about the one murder he actually committed by hand, and they get to put him away too. What I enjoy about this plot is that in some ways, things get tied up in a pretty little bow, which means that we can be pretty satisfied that all of the bad people are going where they belong. But on the other hand, there are some really sinister dangling threads left hanging, specifically relating to Joan Watson's moral compass.

May 21, 2017

Doctor Who: Extremis (10x06)

Wow. This was a great episode. It made me really excited for the rest of the season, while also standing on its own as a solid outing. And the Doctor is still blind! I'm getting really pumped.

Cons:

Three complaints, to start. One is big, the other two are small.

The big one: Apparently it is Missy in the vault. Literally the first thing we all guessed. I'm not too upset about this, because at least they told us now, instead of waiting and trying to pull it as a big reveal at the end of the season. That would have been a real letdown. But the fact that the thing in the vault was a known entity all along is a little disappointing. The way Nardole talks about her, I was thinking she'd be something a bit more mysterious and unknowable. I get that Missy is really dangerous, but... I don't know. I wanted something new and exciting!

Small one: We see in flashback that at one point, the Doctor was tasked with executing Missy. He of course fails to go through with this, but agrees to watch over her for 1,000 years and make sure she doesn't cause mischief. This is why he's exiled himself to Earth to watch over the vault. Okay, sure. That makes a certain amount of sense. But there was this moment when one of the executioners checked the Doctor's record and saw all the many, many deaths he was responsible for. Moments like this encapsulate everything I hate about Moffat's version of the Doctor. Why does he have to be such a freakin' special snowflake? Any and all deaths that the Doctor is responsible for are his greatest shame. The only names flashing through on that file should be the names of the Gallifrey citizenry that he destroyed. The Doctor does not make a habit of killing people, and to imply that this is a regular part of his legacy is really annoying to me. The Doctor shouldn't be remarkable for anything other than being the last of his kind.