ARROW 203: BROKEN DOLLS

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I might never look at face cream the same way…

As you can tell we are a little behind this week in posting.  This is partly due to busy work weeks (I know, CJ and I are forced to have jobs) and partly due to busy evening schedules that prevented us from watching this week’s episode of Arrow until last night.  Having to wait an entire day to watch episode 3 did force me to have a pretty important revelation though…Arrow is the show that I look forward to watching more than anything on TV right now (except for The Walking Dead).  That’s right, I like Arrow more than Scandal.  There, I’ve officially said it.  I’m sorry Kerry Washington, but it is true.  So, let’s get to talking…

1.  Three’s company, but four is a party – I could not be more excited that Detective Lance (I know, he isn’t a detective anymore, but he always will be to me) has decided to willingly team up with Ollie, Dig, and Felicity.  It shows some growth on his part and frankly makes him a far more interesting character.  It’s nice to see that he is no longer seeing the world in black and white and is beginning to realize that Ollie can actually do some good, especially when they are working together.  I also thought it was important to show that Lance and Laurel have effectively switched positions when it comes to Arrow.  And, it was interesting to see Lance try and help Laurel figure out what her fixation on Arrow is actually about.

2.  Say what? – Ummm…did you really just say “Ra’s al Ghul?”  Because that definitely caught CJ’s and my attention.  This week we got to see more of Black Canary–Starling City’s newest vigilante and Arrow’s sometimes crime fighting partner.  We got a little more of her origin story and a surprise at the end with the mention of Ra’s al Ghul.  It seems fitting given the similarities between Arrow and the Dark Knight, but man can I not wait to see how much of the League of Shadows makes an appearance on this show.  Did anyone notice that the ninja’s costume at the end looked very similar to Malcom Meryln’s darker archer costume?  Perhaps we will learn that there is a link between Meryln and Ra’s.

3.  Not Crixus! – Ok, so the actor that plays Slade in Ollie’s flashbacks also played Crixus on Spartacus, which really makes it hard to call him by any other name.  The flashbacks were intense this week with the discovery of the ship (I know we had seen it before, but Ollie and Slade had not) and the rockets flying.  Should we assume that Shado is dead?  Hopefully, Slade isn’t.  Also, my mind virtually exploded when we saw Ollie wake up as a prisoner aboard the boat.

4.  Work that camera – Did anyone notice how great the camera work was this week? And, the lightening.  With so much impressive action sequences happening in Arrow, especially in this episode, I think we often don’t focus on the work that it takes to put those scenes together.  But, this week’s episode also showed great camera work in the subtle moments as well.  My favorite moment, by far, was the scene where Ollie and Detective Lance break into the villain’s hotel room and the phone rings.  The shot of Lance standing alone answering the phone was magic.  Also, the lightening totally mimicked the lighting of an interrogation room…which seemed fitting since Lance was questioning the Dollmaker over phone.  Seriously, impressive stuff.

What did y’all think??

-LJ

THE WALKING DEAD 402: INFECTED

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This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home…and this little piggy got fed to zombies.

The second episode of season 4  was pumped full of just as much suspense and horror as the premiere.  It also became clear to the gang and residents of the prison (as well as the audience) that there really will be no peace in this post-zombie apocalyptic world.  I managed to make it through the episode without feeling the need to hide under a pillow (an improvement from last week), but I am pretty sure I did start crying when the pigs died.  I have problems, I know.  I am working on them.  Just be glad you aren’t watching with me.  In any event, let’s get to talking…

1.  Silence is scary – What was the most terrifying part of last night’s episode?  Definitely when Karen was tippy-toeing through the prison bathroom where zombie Patrick had recently died at the end of the premiere.  Nothing happened in these few minutes, but I found myself on my edge of my seat acting like a nervous-wreck.  Yes, zombies chewing people’s necks out is terrifying, but even more terrifying is knowing as the audience that something horrible is about to happening and all we can do is sit there waiting for the other shoe to drop.

2.  Rat stew anyone? – In the opening scene this week, we became privy to the fact that someone has been feeding the zombies.  At this point, we have no idea who though.  This one scene put so many questions in my mind though.  Is someone purposefully trying to attract the zombies?  Are the nightly feedings leading to an influx of zombies at this spot in the fence (which will ultimately lead to the fence toppling)?  Is this the work of the little girl whose father died (and who her sister says “is messed up”)?  Rick and co. notice the rat piles when they are attempting to secure the fence, so hopefully someone will get to the bottom of this soon.*

*I had been wondering why there seemed to be so many more zombies surrounding the prison this season.  I had been assuming that the increase in humans had somehow created a higher attraction for the zombies.  But, it is possible that the zombie numbers are increasing because someone is feeding these zombies nightly (this theory of course assumes that zombies can remember where their food comes from).

3.  RIP Miss Piggie – Man, did I take the slaughtering of the pigs hard last night (probably just as hard as Rick).  I mean, I know it was a good plan to save the fence and since it is possible that the zombie flu originated from the pigs, they had to be done away with.  But, that didn’t make it any easier to watch the poor demise of the little animals.  The pigs dying symbolized something more to Rick, I believe though.  In taking this action, Rick had to fully come to terms with the fact that he isn’t going to be able to live in a world or raise his kids in a world where they are shielded from death and killing.  So when the pigs died, so did Rick’s farming dream (I think that is why he cried so hard ).  And, this ultimately led to Rick and Carl both becoming armed again.  I know Rick wishes for a simpler life of a farmer, but I think we all know that it simply isn’t possible in this zombie-filled world.  I wonder now how involved Rick will become in taking on the responsibilities of leadership that he gave up 6 or 7 months ago.

4.  More insight into Michonne, maybe – Between this season and the premiere, once Michonne was given the ability to talk, it became clear that she had been forming a special relationship with Carl.  But, as we see Michonne interact with Beth and Judith, it becomes clearer that Michonne has had some sort of significant relationship with a child in the past.  Was she a mother herself?  I know in season 3 it was revealed that one of her walker friends was actually her boyfriend turned zombie, so it is possible that Michonne had a kid at one point too.  And, the loss of a child could certainly explain the driving force behind her lack of communication and need for independence that we experienced in season 3.  As I said before, Michonne is one of my favorite characters so any insight into her backstory would make me very happy.

5.  Karen who? – Last week we lost a few of the new characters, and this week we lost a few more–namely, Karen (also known as Tyreese’s lady friend) and dad with two daughters (yup, he is so new I don’t even know his name).  Between the end of season 3 and the beginning of season 4, 6 or 7 months had passed at the prison.  I hadn’t minded the time skip because I believe that showing the prison as a fully functioning community has been interesting.  But, the problem with this approach is that the audience is only getting briefly introduced to the new characters before they meet their demise.  This makes it a little more difficult for the audience to feel the same sense of loss that the prison community is feeling–there is somewhat of a disconnect appearing.  So this week, it was hard for me to feel incredibly bad for Tyreese or for the orphan little girls beyond some cursory feelings of “that sucks.”  I think this is just the nature of The Walking Dead universe and something the show has decided it is a necessary evil that it must deal with in order to keep the overarching story progressing.

6.  Who forgot the s’mores? – Ok, that was somewhat crude, but I am trying to make light of a rather dark ending to this week’s episode in which we find the bodies of Karen and infected-person #2 burned.  Did they die before they were burned?  Did someone decide to take matters into their own hands and try to stop zombie flu from spreading?  Tyreese seems to think that the latter is true (at least that is how the promos make it look).  At this point though, how many people knew about the infection?  It does not appear that a large announcement had been made to the prison community as a whole yet.

A strong second episode for season 4.  Definitely looking forward to next week.  What did y’all think?

-LJ

ARROW 202: IDENTITY

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“Healthcare has enough problems without you punks!”

Seriously, CW.  You had to include that in there, didn’t you?!  Other than that incredibly cheesy line, Arrow was back with a vengeance this week with Oliver continuing his new strategy of stopping the bad guys, but not killing them.  Let’s get to talking…

1.  Oliver’s got a new enemy – The Triad gang made it’s first appearance in season 2 this week in which we saw them stealing FEMA medical supplies that were bound for the Glades hospital.  While I wish we would have gotten more backstory on why the Triad was so intent on stealing the medical supplies (I assume it was to sell on the black market, but a larger purpose might have been interesting), our reunion with the Triad also introduced the audience to Bronze Tiger.  Think Wolverine-like.  Bronze Tiger is interesting in that he is one of the few opponents of Arrow’s that can stand up to Oliver physically, but I also would have liked to know why BT was so interested in taking Oliver down.  Maybe more will develop in the upcoming episodes.

2.  Laurel is the worst – Ok, that is what CJ said during last night’s episode.  I don’t share that same opinion.  I still like Laurel a lot.  And, I still want her and Oliver to get together.  But, I am a little concerned that this “Laurel blames Arrow for Tommy’s death and must take him down” storyline could get a little old.  It’s been only 2 episodes and I am already kind of over it.  Also, when you compare Felicity and Laurel side by side, it is clear in this episode which character is more likeable at this point.*  I hope they expand the Laurel storyline a bit more this season and show her working at the DA’s office taking down other criminals besides Oliver.

*To be fair, Felicity isn’t dealing with the death of her boyfriend, so it is a little easier for her to be light-hearted and jokey.

3.  Sometimes being Oliver Queen is important too – Oliver does not yet seem to fully realize the value and impact he can have on Starling City as Oliver Queen in addition to being Arrow.  At a critical moment in this week’s episode, Oliver chose to go off and fight the Triad, instead of showing up at his benefit for the Glades hospital.  Wouldn’t Oliver been able to help more people by drumming up support at his fundraiser than in fighting a few criminals intent on taking down a single FEMA truck?  Also, Oliver’s lack of attendance gave Sebastian Blood an opportunity to once again slam the Queen family and make Oliver out to be the bad guy.  I don’t know what Sebastian’s ultimate goal is, but I can tell that he is up to no good.

4.  All’s not perfect in paradise – We got more flashbacks to Oliver’s time on the island with Slade and Shado.  The best thing about these flashbacks is the dynamic between the group.**  However, it does appear the Shado may be driving a wedge between Oliver and Slade–something that I don’t want to happen at all.  Also, I am becoming increasingly concerned about what happens to Oliver’s friends, since we know that Oliver ends up completely alone on the island before he is rescued.

**Plus, every time I see Slade, I am reminded of Spartacus and that makes me happy.

5.  BFFs?? – So this week’s episode made the partnership between Roy and Arrow a reality.  I imagine that the only reason Oliver is willing to team up with Roy is to “protect” his sister and hopefully reduce the chances that Roy gets himself killed.  It will be interesting to see whether Roy is able to curb his anger and actually serve as a helper for Oliver or whether Oliver will even let Roy help.  Teaming up with Roy does give Oliver a way to figure out what “things” in Starling City need a fixin.

What did y’all think??

-LJ

THE WALKING DEAD 401: 30 DAYS NO ACCIDENT

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What’s worse than zombies?  Oh, let me tell you…zombies falling from the sky.

The Walking Dead is back.  And, I personally could not be more excited.  Although I will admit that zombies scare the crap out of me, which is why I spent a good portion of the episode screaming and oh yeah, burying my head under a pillow.  I wish I was kidding, but I am not.

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Yup, that’s me.  You can imagine what a treat it is to watch The Walking Dead with me (sorry CJ).  But, don’t let my childishness fool you.  I love me some TWD and thought the season 4 premiere was pretty great.  So, let’s get to talking…

1.  It’s raining zombies – Ok, I didn’t come up with that.  That seems to be the tag-line the internet has chosen for this week’s episode.  And, I like it.  The scene in the grocery store was definitely the most nerve-wrenching and anxiety-producing part of the episode.*  Every good TWD episode needs a good zombie attack and this week we certainly got it.  And, I thought that the zombies coming through the ceiling was a new an interesting way to have the crew attacked.  It certainly created a lot of unpredictability.**

*I didn’t necessarily find Rick and the Irish woman’s scene to be that intense–actually I found it to be the least interesting part of the episode.  Also, why are people still caring for their zombie loved-ones?  CJ, please don’t feel compelled to keep zombie LJ, it’s creepy.

**I will say that I was sad to see Cassidy (that’s his Veronica Mars name) come and go so quickly as Beth’s boyfriend.  However, it did allow Beth to have an emotional (or really a lack of emotion) arc in this episode and truly showed how living in a walker world can change a person.  I thought Daryl’s and Beth’s moment was particularly insightful when they discussed not getting too attached to people.

2.  Do we have an outbreak situation? – So Violet the pig got sick and so did Patrick (the nerdy kid who died in the shower).  What the heck is happening; is there an outbreak of some kind?  I am particularly concerned about all the people that Patrick came in contact with before his demise.  Dude, he shook Daryl’s hand, hung out with Carl and the rest of the kids, and the coughed all over the water in the shower.  I think having to fight a disease epidemic on the inside as well as the walkers on the outside could be an interesting plot for this season.  I am stressed out about it though.

3.  Carol, oh Carol – Carol has come a long way hasn’t she? She is now a multi-dimensional character on this show.  Her interactions with Daryl are always enjoyable and I certainly appreciate the fact that she is trying to teach the kids some survival skills.  Someone needs to!  I am curious as to why she is so concerned about Carl telling Rick about storytime.  Probably because Rick has seemingly tried to reject everything that has to do with killing walkers…including no longer carrying his gun.

4.  We got a lot of new faces – We got introduced to a lot of new faces this episode.  Some clearly aren’t sticking around for long (i.e., Beth’s bf and Patrick).  But, it also appears that some may last for awhile.  For instance, in this week’s episode, we see that Tyreese has a new lady friend and we meet Bob the army medic.***   And, if you read the internet, then you know that Michael Cudiltz (from Southland) will also be joining the cast later on this season.  I don’t have a problem with adding new cast members, but it seems that every new cast member eventually meets his/her demise.

***Is it just me or do we think Bob is going to have some issues?  He sure was staring at that wine a long time.

Also, although it’s behind the scenes, we have a new showrunner, Scott Gimple.  If you remember we also had a new showrunner back in season 3.  I thought season 3 started out incredibly strong, but lost some momentum in the back-half.  I again felt that season 4 came out of the gate strong, so here’s to hoping that it is able to keep the momentum going throughout the entire season.

5.  Seriously, the Governor still? – By the end of season 3, I was over the Governor.  So, I am a little disheartened to see that Michonne is out searching for him.  But, I am extremely happy to see Michonne smiling and to see that she has developed a comradery with Carl and Rick.  Next to Daryl, Michonne is quickly becoming my second favorite character.  I just hope that we don’t see less of her this season because she is out on the hunt.

Season 4 started out with a bang.  I can’t wait to see what is in store next week.  Also, I am seriously stressing about the walkers piling up on the fence.  I am legitimately concerned.  What did y’all think?

-LJ

THE WALKING DEAD: BEST MOMENTS OF LAST SEASON

Season 4 of The Walking Dead is premiering on Sunday night, and although we have yet to talk about The Walking Dead extensively on this blog, CJ and I are both incredibly pumped.  (I also just finished reading World War Z and cannot express how jazzed I am about zombies at this point)  In order to wet your whistle, here are some of the best moments from season 3.  Counting them down.

5. Rick cuts off Hershel’s infected leg – Ok, this scene is super intense to watch.  I couldn’t even make it through the entire clip.  Is Rick using the dullest axe ever?  Because I feel like he is hacking at Hershel’s leg for eternity.  Let’s be glad though that Hershel made it as he clearly was the voice of reason and maturity through much of Season 3.

4. Michonne, Carl, and Rick’s roadtrip – While some people criticized this episode as being out of place, especially in the midst of all the drama centering around the Governor, I rather enjoyed this episode.  We got to be reunited with Morgan Jones.  And, this is the first time Michonne actually started becoming a person (and not simply a sword-yielding mute).  Plus, the Michonne and Carl escapade to retrieve a family photo from the tavern in Carl’s hometown provided some much needed humor to an overall dark show.

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3.  Glen fights off the walker that Merle unleashes on him – Dude, this is the moment when Glen became a full-fledged bad ass.  He single-handedly takes down a walker on his own, while strapped to a chair.  Glen rocked it and I think we (and he) learned exactly what Glen is made of during this scene.

2.  Michonne kills the Governor’s zombie daughter – This scene came in the midseason finale and it was awesome.  Not only did Michonne discover the creepiness that is the Governor, but she also got him where it hurts…by killing his zombie daughter.  I think this scene was pivotal in killing whatever humanity was left in the Governor.

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1.  Daryl is forced to kill zombie Merle –  This is by far the most horrible moment (in my opinion) in Season 3.  Yes, I know we lost Lori and Andrea last season, but let’s be honest, they weren’t anyone’s favorite characters (and if they were, then you probably need to do some re-evaluation).  And, I am not saying I am sad to see Merle go.  But, my heart just breaks for Daryl and since I am such a sucker for redemption it is particularly sad since Merle died attempting to save the group from the horror that is the Governor.

Other scenes considered:

– When Milton refuses to kill Andrea and ends up as a zombie assassin

– When T-Dog saves Carol

– When Glen and Maggie got engaged

**And finally, the award for the worst scene goes to – Every time Rick hallucinated about Lori.

-LJ

ARROW 201: CITY OF HEROES

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“…so what do you wanna be called?”  GREEN ARROW bitches!

Ok, so that is not exactly what Oliver said in response to Dig’s question, but it is what I screamed out loud.  Let’s just say that by the end of the season premiere I was a little pumped up.  Yes, I am excited to have Arrow back on TV and I am even more excited for what this season has in store.  Let’s get to talking…

1.  The black book is gone – I didn’t necessarily dislike the episodic nature of Season 1 of Arrow.  But there was something a little routine about each week tackling a new bad guy in Oliver’s dad’s book.  In the season 2 premiere, it appears that Oliver is done with the name checklist and seeks a higher purpose for his crime fighting escapes.  I like this idea.  First, it sets up the ability for the show to have more a season long story arc when it comes to the big bad.  It also feels like a completely relevant and proper way for Oliver to be dealing with Tommy’s death.  Tommy definitely called Oliver out when it came to Oliver’s killing spree last season (even if Oliver was trying to kill the “bad” guys), so it seems appropriate for Oliver to take his departed friend’s criticism and use it to potentially change for the better.  It will be interesting to see if Oliver is forced to kill anyone this season and how he handles being put in that predicament again.

2.  Thea gets some lines – I was happy to see the writers of the show actually use Thea in a real and relevant way.  This season she might actually have a purpose beyond being Oliver’s partying little sister.  It appears that the destruction of the Glades and learning of her mother’s role in the undertaking has forced Thea to grow up some, and we now see that she has been running Oliver’s club in his absence.  Thea is also given an emotional story arc this episode as she attempts to come to terms with her mother’s role in the killing of hundreds of innocent people.  I like this more mature and grownup Thea.

3.  Three’s company – I was happy to see the dynamic trio of Felicity, Diggle, and Oliver reappear at the beginning of the episode.  Following the destruction of the Glades, Oliver retreats to his island and Felicity and Diggle are forced to hilariously go retrieve him.  This show would be nothing without Felicity and Diggle.  They are funny and serve as a good sounding board and grounding tool for Oliver.  And, let’s just take a minute to remember the kick ass bow that Felicity made for Oliver.  Awesome.  Seriously though, how did the three of them get off the island and back to Sterling City??

4.  Walter is back – I must admit I was very excited and surprised to see Walter at the end of this week’s episode.  I hope he continues to reappear throughout this season.  With Oliver’s dad dead and his mom in prison, I think Oliver needs a go-to adult, especially when it comes to the business side of Queen Consolidated.  I have a hunch that Oliver is going to need all the help he can get from trying to prevent Isabel Rochev from taking over the family business.

5.  Laurel’s been working out – I don’t know exactly what Laurel has been doing since Tommy’s death, but dang girl.  You look awesome.  Laurel has moved over the DA’s office after the destruction of her workplace and seems to be determined to bring down the Hood (aka Oliver).  It is interesting to see Laurel take on the role of capturing the vigilante this season, instead of her dad (who now appears to have come to terms with the fact that he could use Oliver’s crime fighting help).

What did y’all think?

-LJ

**I would like to take this moment to once again say, if you are not watching Arrow, something has gone horribly wrong in your life.  Seriously, stop what you are doing and start watching.  This show is awesome.  You will not regret it.  I promise.  (This will probably not be the last time I say this, apologies in advance).

AN OPEN LETTER: TO HOMELAND

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Dear Homeland, please stop with the Dana Brody story lines, please.

CJ will be the first to tell you that I am a harsh critic of Homeland.  (This is partly the reason that I do not do weekly reviews of the show; I can’t bring myself to care about it enough write about it each week).  But, I don’t think this particular criticism is limited only to me.  In fact, I know it’s not.  I can’t handle another week of Dana Brody-centric story lines.  I really can’t.  Please just make it stop.

Morgan Saylor recently did an interview where she compared the backlash for Dana Brody to that which Anna Gunn received for her portrayal of Skyler White (see http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/06/homeland-star-morgan-saylor-tv-s-most-hated-character-talks-back.html).  Let’s get real though.  Skyler White was a complex and multi-layered character who often got put in the position of being the “bad guy” stamping out all of Walter White’s “fun.”  This is what resulted in a good portion of the backlash.  Dana Brody is nowhere close to that.  She is just a moody teenager with no real purpose on the show.

My main issue with the character of Dana Brody is that no one has ever established why I need to care about her and her life.  Isn’t Homeland supposed to really be about Carrie Mathison?  And, yes, by virtue of that we were brought into the life of Nicholas Brody.  But, that doesn’t mean that Brody’s life was supposed to take center stage…at least not in my eyes.  In Season 1, the character of Dana Brody was at least somewhat interesting in that she served as a way for her father to stay grounded (or somewhat served as a moral compass for her dad); afterall, he didn’t blow himself up because of her.  Now, however, we are in Season 3 and Brody hasn’t even been in the the first two episodes.  So, I am really straining for a reason to care about what has been happening to his family since his disappearance.

My second issue with Dana Brody is that I find teenage angst really kind of boring.  If I wanted to watch a show about the difficulties of growing up as a teenager, I would turn on Teen Mom.  Further, it’s not like Homeland is putting a new spin on the drama teenagers face.  Instead, we find out that Dana has dealt with the destruction her father caused by trying to commit suicide and by making poor decisions in the name of teenage “love.”**  You could transplant this story line to any other show involving teens.  Heck, it sounds like an episode right out of Pretty Little Liars (don’t worry, I am definitely not knocking Pretty Little Liars).  I thought Homeland might have been trying to do something with Dana continuing on in her father’s footsteps with his religious practices–that would have at least been a twist in the story–but, as Morgan Saylor revealed in her interview, it turns out that was just Dana’s way of saying goodbye to her father.  Snooze fest.

**Side note – Dana hasn’t learned the dangers of taking too many “selfies,” really?  Maybe she should spend some more time watching the Today Show and not sulking in her room.

Finally, can someone please explain to me the value that is added to the show by adding another romantic love interest for Dana?  Because I don’t get it.  Again, I go back to my point above, this show isn’t supposed to be about Dana’s love life.  Yet, this week episode spent upwards of 30 minutes with her thinking about or spending time with the kid from rehab.  We just got over having to watch Finn and Dana make googly eyes at each other for most of Season 2 and now we have another run-of-the-mill love interest to deal with in Season 3.  Let me guess, the guy somehow breaks Dana’s heart and she ends up  spiraling out of control or actually having to deal with what her father has done??  That is some dynamic story telling Homeland…oh wait.

Ok, I have said my piece.  I am sure my prayers will go unanswered, but it feels good to get this off my chest.  I will leave with this, I don’t wish harm on Dana Brody, I just simply want to stop watching her on TV.  Period.

-LJ