Welcome Back: Supernatural

I know, I know, I know.  Supernatural came back three weeks ago.  As much as I like this show, It’s always kind of sat on the back burner of the queue.  It’s one of the few shows that I will come in and out of during a season.  This is rare, typically I’m all or nothing.  I’m not sure why I’m like this with Supernatural.  Perhaps it’s because I like Dean Winchester more than I like Supernatural; I’m somewhat more invested in his relationship with Castiel than with Sam.  Maybe it’s the lack of women.  For whatever reason, it’s just not priority viewing, but it is steadfast entertainment (perhaps because I’m not overly invested in it).

I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here

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Welcome to the premier of season nine of Supernatural.  In which: we find Dean worried about Sam, per usual; we find Sam in a coma near death, per usual; we find Castiel freaking people out with his weird honesty, per usual.  The tropes are in place, shall we begin?  Good.

It’s the day after all of the angels fell out of heaven, thanks to Castiel’s dup by Metatron (worst angel name ever!).  Sam is in a coma, and the doctors have done all they can do for him.  Dean goes to the chapel to pray to Castiel, who he doesn’t realize no longer possesses his “grace”, as Metatron took it from him to slam shut the gates of heaven.  In desperation Dean sends out a message to anyone listening on “angel radio”.  This calls to him an angel in a business suit who beats him up for Cas’ location (the angels are feeling a bit revenge-y).  It also calls to him Helo (Tahmoh Penikett) from Battlestar Galactica who goes by the name Ezekiel (considering Starbuck’s fate, how awesome would it have been if Katee Sackhoff showed up?  I mean, talk about a chick who could give Dean a run for his money.  Okay now I really want Ms. Sackhoff on Supernatural.).  Anyway Helo’s all peace, love, and fried chicken, and his cadence is kind of annoying and mannered.  Be that as it may he offers to use what power he has left to heal Sam.

Sam, in his coma, is having imaginary conversations with “Dean” and “Bobby” (hi Bobby!) while driving down the road in the Impala.  “Dean” represents the part of Sam who wants to fight to live.  “Bobby” represents the part of Sam who wants to just lay down and be at peace.  “Bobby” and Sam zap to some sun-drenched wood where “Bobby” walks him to a cabin all the while telling him it’s okay to give up.  Outside said cabin “Dean” shows back up and stabs “Bobby” who disappears.  “Dean” in turn beats the crap out of Sam.  Sam tells himself in the guise of Dean that he’s ready to die.  “Dean” disappears and Sam walks into the cabin.  Who should be waiting for him, but Death himself.  When he learned that Sam is the one about to move on, he felt it warranted his presence instead of one of his reaper-minions (I wonder did he show up every time Sam died?).  While I’m wondering how we’re supposed to care that Sam is about to die, again, Sam himself asks Death to guarantee that this time, his death is permanent.

Castiel is out wandering the highways of Colorado.  He gets picked up by a trucker (not like that), and taken to a pay phone.  A biker is using the pay phone and when Castiel tells him to get off the line or he’ll hurt him, he realizes he’s lost his grace, and thus can’t mind-whammy the guy.  Despondent he begins to walk away when a girl named Hael (Grace Phipps) walks up to him, remembering him from Heaven, as she’s another fallen angel.  (So that’s where April‘s been hiding! And, is it just me or does she look pregnant?) Castiel is all consoling, and gives her the free-will spiel.  When asked where she wants to go, Hael mentions that she just so happens to have created the Grand Canyon and would like to see it.  Cas gets on the phone to tell Dean his travel plans, when Dean fills him in on Sam in a coma, and the bounty on his head.  When Cas calls off his plans to take Hale to Arizona, she bonks him over the head with a 2 x 4.  (She’s not out for revenge per se, she just wants to posses or maybe co-habitate in Castiel’s body, since her vessel is weak and deteriorating).  Cas comes to in an SUV speeding down the highway, and having watched a few movies, buckles his seat belt and crashes the car, sending Hale flying through the windshield.  In a truly cheesy practical effect, she’s sitting on the ground, her legs all kinds of broken, and starts threatening to tell all the angels where Cas is, so he stabs her with the angel stab-y weapon thing.  He heads off to a laundry mat to clean his blood encrusted clothing, and after getting all naked, he spies the vending machine.  With a mournful look at his suit and trench coat, he uses the few monies he has left to buy a bottle of water (seriously there’s no water facet nearby?), and steals a hoodie and jeans so he can attend to his basic human needs.  (Moment of silence for the trench coat – I will miss you).

Back at the hospital Helo’s efforts are to no avail, he’s too weak, and Sam is too far gone.  The angels are also descending, and when Dean goes out hero it up, they find him and beat him up, because it’s not an episode of Supernatural if the boys aren’t cut and bleeding.  They threaten Sam’s life for the location of Castiel.  Dean writes a glyph on the floor with his blood and blasts them out of their vessels.  He returns to Helo and Sam, where Helo discloses that there are no good solutions left.  Of course, Dean asks about the bad solutions.  Helo can posses Sam, and heal the both of them over time.  To prove that Sam’s about to go, Helo puts Dean is Sam’s mind, so that Dean can overhear Sammy’s conversation with Death about being dead for real this time.  This is enough to convince Dean that Helo is his brother’s only hope.  With the possession in place, Sam as Ezekiel and Dean walk away from the hospital.  Zeke convinces Dean to keep this a secret from Sam, because if Sam becomes unconsensual, Zeke will get kicked out, and Sam will die.  After hemming and hawing and dealing with honesty and trust issues, Dean accepts the plan for now.

We’re back in the Impala headed down an endless stretch of anonymous highway when Sam comes to with no memory of anything past the angel meteor shower.

Bottom Line: I Am Amused

Even long in the tooth, Supernatural is an entertaining show.  I do find Dean and Sam’s weird co-dependent and yet awesome love for each other, complete with trust issues, a bit redone.  However, if it ends with our boy Jensen Ackles crying his manly tears, it’s worth it.  I don’t believe I’ll be reviewing this show on a regular basis, but I will be watching.  Probably off and on as I’m want to do.

 

The Vampire Diaries: In Which Damon Learns to Hug

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So my original title was “The Witch is Dead”, but Ms. McLennan beat me to it.

The Links

Still no Thomas Galvin, and no Crissy Calhoun thus far.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Beginning Human Population: 5

The Yay!

  • No Silas (!) and no Qetsiyah (!) and no backstory exposition (!)
  • EoW: Remembrance Day, a day in which the good people of Mystic Falls ring a bell for all those who have died.  I’m thinking they might need to expand this into remembrance week.  Either way it looks like a helluva party.
  • I love drunk brother bonding, and it’s completely in character for Damon to keep the Elena-explanation on the back burner of the getting to know Stefan tour. Before Damon trashed his incredibly beautiful car (moment of silence) to prove he’s the fun brother, there is a great moment where Stef goes to toss the blood bag on the floor, and Damon’s OCD kicks in.  It’s a great little character trait to give Damon, and I kinda love him all the more for it.
  • While I’m not completely sold on Stefan 3.0, I do applaud him for tossing his diaries in the fire and quitting Damon and Elena.  I mean if you didn’t carry the emotional ties to these people, they are very toxic. (Okay even with the emotional ties they are toxic, but emotions are complicated).
  • Also starting to let go? Caroline of Tyler, which I approve of.  So, of course he comes back, but I’m thinking he won’t stay long. I think he just came back for Bon Bon’s funeral.  We also see her learning things and applying herself, in part to get close to Dr. Maxwell, but also to help Stefan (awe).
  • Stefan and Caroline connect even without his memories of her, or course this is after his failed flirtation with Elena.
  • We got a mention of Damon and Stefan’s mother … I always wonder about her.
  • I’m glad the Bonnie secret is out in the open, and it’s always heartbreaking to realize just how much these kids have lost is such a short period of time.  I mean Elena has “funeral clothes” (or at least until she burned her house down she did).
  • The funeral was touching.  I didn’t cry, and maybe that makes me a cold-hearted snake, but I did feel sad, especially when Elena put the feathers on the memorial pile.  It reminded me of when I actually liked Bonnie, and believed in her friendship with Elena.  With his two two ex-girlfriends being comforted by the other men in their lives, Matt stands alone *sad face*,
  • I like how Damon is learning to give into his feelings, and care for others.  When he hears about Bonnie’s death, you can see him wrestling with himself.  The old Damon would have shut down the emotions, pretended like it doesn’t matter, and maybe acted out violently.  This time, when we think he’s going to attack Jer for delivering the bad news, instead he hugs him.  Not for the first time this season.
  • Stefan perception that he and Elena were bonded by death is a good reminder that Elena used to be Gloomy Graveyard Girl.  Whereas she and Damon were bonded by Stefan.  Less pathos = more fun.  Even Bonnie thinks so.

The Meh…

  • It seemed a little out of character to me that Damon wouldn’t at least try and see if Stefan could handle a little fresh blood.  He’d be there to stop the ripper test if it got out of hand.
  • I’m on the fence about Stefan’s new personality, sans memories.  In truth, he’s not that easy to separate from Silas … in fact I thought for a moment he’d reveal himself as such.  I don’t really get why he wouldn’t be mournful, learning about the people he’s killed, when he’s upset as he is over his brother stealing his girl.  It feels petulant, he doesn’t get this girl he’s been flirting with all afternoon *foot stomp*.
  • I’m kind of tired, too, of Stefan/Silas always talking about what a boring idiot he was … I’m not Team Stefan, but he isn’t a bad character.  I feel like a bit of Paul Wesley‘s apathy is playing through.
  • The near-kiss is annoying, because it seemed to come out of nowhere.  I didn’t really see them connecting with each other in a way that would warrant the betrayal on Elena’s part.  They were flirting, sure, but that’s not really connecting.  I don’t know, I just didn’t sense it.  (I’m rejecting the whole universe brings them together BS, because it’s stupid and makes me not care about the characters’ fates).
  • It’s annoying to me that now that they need Bonnie, they suddenly realize her absence is odd.  It’s been the defacto state of that character that she’s not real until they need her witch-y-ness.  It’s perhaps one of the reasons why she’s always stayed two-dimensional.
  • I’m leery of whole Dr. Maxwell experiment with Jessie.  While I’m interested in the Founder’s Council: College Chapter, I don’t like the idea of modern science and mythology blending.  To begin with, it always stretches the believability of “science”, but also because it’s a tonal shift.  Please witness the not-good that was Buffy Season 4.

The Wha?

  • Okay, so clearly the college campus isn’t far if Caroline brought Jessie to Mystic Fall’s Remembrance Day event after classes.
  • Why is no one mad at Jeremy for lying to them all summer about their best friend’s death?
  • The Passenger, Gregor threatens to slit Matt’s throat if he does anything to prevent Gregor for manifesting, or co-existing.  Isn’t that a hollow threat, surely Matt will figure that out.  Where would Gregor go if he kills Matt?
  • Now that they found Stefan, why isn’t Elena back at school?  I do like that Bonnie told her to go back to college.
  • Was Elena just being evasive when she says that being a vampire changed her, and that’s why she broke up with Stefan?  I mean did it really change her, because I just thought it intensified her per-existing feelings for Damon.  Is that what she means by changed her?  Otherwise, Elena isn’t that different then before.
  • I don’t understand why this show is constantly willing to ignore Stefan’s sins.  With Damon, Elena is able to love him despite his impulsive violence, but rarely is he not brought to bear over his choices.  With Stefan, everyone sweeps it under the rug, and forgives him for it.  Is this because Stefan is won’t to beat himself to death over his guilt and Damon isn’t?  Is that admirable?  Because I’m pretty sure that goes hand in hand with addiction.
  • Okay, so I don’t understand why Bonnie doesn’t have any magic on The Other Side.  The Original Witch had enough magic to bring Alaric’s evil twin to the surface, and then bring herself back to life.  Q had the ability to bring herself back to life when the veil dropped.  Bonnie herself had enough magic to bring the veil back up after she died last season.  Is it just that it’s not effective unless there is access to the living world?

Moment of the Week: Elena putting feathers on the memorial fire.  I really loved that small call back.  I love that it’s what Elena would remember.

Quote of the Week: Damon once again gets the winning line: “I need you to be less vague, and less weird.”

Ending Human Population: 3.5 RIP Jessie, we’ll see you soon.  Don’t get too attached to blood, I’m sure Damon will stake you soon enough.  (I downgraded Matt to 1/2 human, until such time as the traveler leaves his body).

Bottom Line: I’m Amused-Ish

The show is still missing the juice that makes it such a fun ride.  At least this time around we got some character development and the Exposition Queen hung up her hat to tell her friends how much she loves them.  The funeral saved it from being a dud, but I’m still waiting to be thrilled.

Throwback Thursday: The Fringe Edition Part 3

A Look Back, Season by Season

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Season Three

Season one was about trust, and season two was about family.  Season three is about fate.  Honestly, fate has always under woven Fringe, but it comes to a head in season three.  With a parallel universe at its disposal, it’s a great opportunity to play with the idea of fate, since your mirror self is available for comparison.  It’s interesting that the fate of two entire universes is up to the one person who doesn’t have a double.

Olivia is trapped on the Other Side, and Fauxlivia has taken her place in our world.  Despite being manipulated into believing she is the other Olivia, her subconscious holds on to her connection to Peter as a symbol of hope, and ultimately perseverance.  This isn’t the first, nor will it be the last time that Olivia’s memories and experiences are altered.  It begs the question, are you the sum of your experiences, or is there something beyond that which makes you unique?  She’s as integral to Fringe Division over there, as she was in our universe, but she’s less of a lone wolf, now part of a team and not its superstar. Imbedded with Fauxlivia’s memories, our Olivia still approaches things slightly outside the norm.  Whether that is the lack of muscle memory (not automatically checking her oxygen in “The Plateau”), the part of Olivia that responds naturally to children (connecting with Broyle’s son in “The Abducted”), or whatever it is in her personality that allows her to accept what others would consider insane (conversations with the illusion of Peter, someone she only “knows” as The Secretary’s Son).  I love that in the end, no one rescues Olivia, that she is not just capable of getting herself home, but resilient enough to do so.

14l3iphPeter’s dilemma is something else entirely, it’s more directive.  His fate is tied to the machine, which we believe Walternate created, but we learn was the invention of our Walter. (Given how it’s tied to Peter, it’s something so obvious in retrospect).  Peter finds himself unable to walk away from something so personal; it’s his nobility of character that prevents him from doing so, an aspect of Peter that is essential to who he is.  It’s what kept him from leaving his father behind, and kept him tied to Fringe, when his instinct was to leave, to run.  He’s also in love, unaware that he’s fallen into Fauxlivia’s “vagenda” (thank you, Walter for one of the best made-up words, ever!).  He partners with “Olivia” in the truest sense of the word, believing he has her strength to sustain him as he pursues a course of action that may lead to his death.

Walter’s fate is to let go of Peter.  It’s his biggest struggle, and the catalyst that set forth the current state of these inter-woven universes.  It’s such a beautiful thing to see how much he loves his son, and true to Walter’s character, his love is selfish.  His relationship with Astrid, helps him do this.  If he looses Peter, he’s not alone.  Their relationship also lets Peter walk away from his father more and more.  In a telling moment, Astrid turns to Peter and says, “Peter, go, I’ll take care of him.”  She is the quiet constant that allows the Bishops to disentangle from each other and thus become more whole.

Their world, of course, is turned upside down when they discover Fauxlivia’s deception.  The quiet anger of Peter, reminiscent of him from season one returns, along with his fatalism.  Walter, again feels impotent, with no idea how to cross universes to bring her back.  When Olivia does return, she’s heartbroken to find out they weren’t looking for her.  When she realizes that Peter had a romantic relationship with Fauxlivia, her heart breaks, and her violation is complete.  Olivia tears apart her apartment, realizing this woman has slept in her bed, worn her clothes, opened her mail, etc. When she finds Peter’s MIT shirt in the wash, she gives in to her pain in a heartbreaking moment.

The remaining tension of season three rests in Peter and Olivia finding their way back to each other, and the impact that has on the two universes of Fringe.  It’s interesting to me that Peter embraces his fate, seeking to understand it.  Meanwhile Olivia fights it, not content to be used for something she doesn’t acquiesce to; a testament to a childhood of being used by her stepfather than Walter and Bell.  We learn, though, that Olivia’s abilities are influenced by Peter in a unique way.  We also learn that the Olivia Peter chooses will determine which universe survives the machine.  When our Olivia and Peter finally connect and begin a relationship, Olivia’s mind is once again taken over by an outside influence – this time it’s Bell’s consciousness that does the invading.  By navigating the complex working of Olivia’s mind (literally), Peter and Olivia truly find each other, and in doing so commit to each other, thus sealing their fates.

Walternate is not content to let fate play out anymore than Olivia is.  When he discovers that Fauxlivia is pregnant with Peter’s child, he finds a way to accelerate her pregnancy and then harvest the child’s DNA in order to activate the machine on the Other Side.  This in turn accelerates the breaking down of our universe, as environmental phenomenon such as vortexes and lightning storms begin to tear it apart.  Peter’s attempt at entering the machine tosses him into a coma.  Not clear on how this is happening, Olivia and Nina seek out Sam Wise, who is the keeper of the secrets tied to The First People.  He is as confused and concerned as anyone else, but he has an emergency weapon.  That weapon?  Olivia.

fringe-fringe-27407126-1024-768Olivia is able to use her abilities to shut the machine down on the Other Side, allowing Peter to enter the machine in our world.  In that moment we have the three leads coming together to save the world: Walter’s intellect manifested in the machine he created, Olivia’s abilities magnified by her emotional connection to Peter, and Peter’s awesomeness and charm (or his noble spirit).  Three people who are incomplete on their own, form not just a family, but a collective that can either destroy or heal universes.

Peter steps into the machine, and transports us to a future where our universe survived, but at the cost of the other universe.  Peter and Olivia are married, and Olivia is the head of Fringe and in complete control of her abilities.  They are no longer fighting wayward scientists, but outright terrorists.  Walternate is trapped on our side, following the destruction of the Other Side.  Our Walter is incarcerated for crimes against humanity and Peter seeks him out to fight the terrorist who is continually escaping Fringe.  We discover that Walternate, of course, is this terrorist, and he creates a wormhole in Central Park that only Olivia can diffuse.  This is a ruse to lure her out, so Walternate can kill her, and thus take revenge against his son.  In Peter’s grief, he and Walter concoct sending what we come to know as The Machine through the wormhole, so that Peter can go back and heal both universes.  Which he does, bridging the two universes, and allowing them to heal each other.  In the end though, Peter is erased from existence, his fate complete.

Season three of Fringe is not as tight as season two was, and the problems that plagued the fourth season were foreshadowed.

Walter’s character is somewhat diminished, but as it’s about letting go of Peter that makes biological sense, as progenitors do give way to their progeny.  So even though his development stalled, his presence became foundational in retrospect.  The machine and its purpose were all Walter.  With Peter and Olivia becoming more and more the core relationship, and Peter out in the field much more than the lab, I did miss the Peter/Walter moments.  However, when they showed up on the screen, they were all the sweeter for it.  I loved when Walter put the gel on Peter’s hands to protect him from the machine, and Peter’s sweet acceptance of his father’s love.  That’s Walter and Peter in a nutshell.

I know I said I wouldn’t critique Fringe on its scientific merits, but even I’m unconvinced of the “science” that justified a lot of season three.  Towards the end “breaking down of physics” became phlebotinum, and emotion served as scientific principal, and not just catalyst.  I mean the whole idea that what universe is going to survive is based on which Olivia Peter loves is pretty ludicrous as far as a scientific concepts go.  Also, was there ever a question which Olivia he would choose?

There were too many episodes on the Other Side with Olivia believing herself Fauxlivia.  The MoW’s were never my favorite, and without them involving Olivia, our Walter, and Peter they were even less interesting.  What was awesome? Agent Lincoln Lee.  Likeable from the jump, Seth Gabel came on the scene and just fit with our core cast.  I think Lincoln, Charley, and Liv were an awesome team, and if they existed on a show that wasn’t Fringe, they would be the best procedural team on the TV landscape.

They retconned Olivia’s time with Bell and Walter in Jacksonville to correspond with Peter’s abduction from the Other Side.  They also softened Walter of the past too much, removing the egoism and arrogance that supposedly predominated pre-St. Claire’s Walter.  While it does provide us with an insight into Peter’s sadness, I don’t like how much older they made Olivia, as her youth is what made her memory loss of that time believable.  Why don’t they remember each other?  I wonder if some of the bad memories Peter has of his childhood with Walter aren’t memories of Walternate?

Finally, with Olivia as Bell, it provided us with the very fun Anna Torv impression of Leonard Nimoy, it just went on longer than it should have.  I liked the journey through Olivia’s dangerous mind, and I liked the cartoon/comic book technique, though it seemed our of character for Olivia to imagine that.  The emotions of this episode were very real, and it made me believe in the Peter/Olivia relationship more than previous episodes had.  One of my favorite Walter/Peter/Olivia moments comes when Peter wakes up from the LSD-induced journey through Olivia’s mind.  Peter grasps his father, terrified that he lost Olivia.

I find it fascinating that Peter/Fauxlivia seemed to have more chemistry than Peter/Olivia did.  Maybe it’s tied up with my perception of who Joshua Jackson is, of someone who is quick-witted and smiles easily.  That’s not our Olivia (not to say she’s not an intelligent character, because she is), just not easy with a smile or a sense of humor that comes to the surface regularly.  I know Joshua Jackson himself posited the theory that Peter and Fauxlivia had an easier time connecting than Peter and Olivia did based on the fact that they are from the same universe.  That maybe there was just something about vibrating on the same frequency that made it easier.  That being said, the relationship seemed more natural than its sudden appearance in season two, and that would carry through until the end of the series.

Favorite Death: The creepy doll who melted people’s bones.

Favorite Visual: Peter in a tux with his bow-tie untied.  I know that episode was all about Olivia in a dress, but Mr. Jackson stole that moment due to his amazing ability to wear clothes well.

Dropped Threads/Questions:

  • The man from the blimp who Olivia very blaze believes is going to kill her.  Never mentioned again.  Ever.
  • Due to the Bell invasion we never got a reaction from Olivia upon revelation that Peter was the one killing the shape-shifters.  Nor did we ever learn anything from the data storage devices removed from the shape-shifters.
  • We never see Peter dealing with Fauxlivia, despite the intensity of their relationship.  Because Peter’s existence is erased, the baby is erased, and we never see Peter dealing with this bombshell.
  • I suppose we can explain away Olivia’s memory loss as a side effect of the Cortexiphan trials, but I don’t understand Peter’s memory loss?
  • Walter as owner of Massive Dynamic did provide us with some amusing moments, but ultimately went nowhere.  It reminds me of when they won the lottery on Rosanne. I like Peter’s concern that a man who destroyed two universes in a basement lab of Harvard, might be slightly more destructive with a muli-billion dollar company.
  • I don’t understand how the part of the machine that Fauxlivia stole from our side ended up on the Other Side if she didn’t take it with her?  Wasn’t that her mission, or was her mission to get pregnant? (I’m more inclined to believe that than a professional, modern woman accidentally getting pregnant).
  • If all they needed was Peter’s DNA to access The Machine, why didn’t they just take his DNA when he was laying unconscious in bed?  Seems a far simpler plan.
Bottom Line: Obsessed

Throwback Thursday: The Fringe Edition Part 1

Throwback Thursday: The Fringe Edition Part 2

Pilot Review: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

White Rabbits, Marshmallow Lakes, and Flying Carpets, Oh My!

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I finally got around to watching Once Upon a Time in Wonderland; it’s been sitting on the queue for a couple of weeks.  I’ve been worried about being disappointed, since the other show I was really looking forward, Sleepy Hollow, disappointed me so much. (I know everyone loves that show, but it just wasn’t what I was hoping for).

Lo and behold, it ain’t half bad.

A young Alice (Sophie Lowe) pops up from the ground and runs to her home to tell her father all about the amazing world of Wonderland.  Her father looks as though he’s seen a ghost, since they had given up Alice for dead.  Suffice it to say, she’s been gone a long time (we don’t know how long).  Determined to prove Wonderland exists, she goes back time and time again.  This behavior eventually leads Alice to her “present day” stay in an insane asylum somewhere in England (and apparently the 19th century based on the clothing of the inmates and the doctors, not to mention the arcane lobotomy instruments – I mean its present day or it isn’t, Show).  In a review to determine her lucidity, we learn Alice’s backstory in Wonderland.  Apparently, after catching The White Rabbit (voiced by John Lithgow) to prove her tale (get it rabbit, tails…never mind), she hides out in a bottle that she shrank herself to fit.  In this bottle is a genie, Cyrus (Peter Gadiot) who flirts with her then grants her three wishes.  She’s given the Doctor Who treatment, taken to strange and exotic locations (within Wonderland), and they fall in love.  So much so that Cyrus, proposes. The Red Queen (Emma Rigby) interrupts their happy moment, when she tries to capture, but then tosses Cyrus off a cliff, where he drops into the “boiling sea”.  Thus the reason Alice is giving up her “fantasy” of Wonderland, and willing to be lobotomized to end her pain.

Meanwhile in Storybrook, the hometown of Once Upon a Time, a man rudely marches through town, brushing past a few denizens.  If I watched OUAT, maybe this might mean something to me, but I don’t, so it doesn’t.  Anyway he’s in a cafe stealing coffee and some poor waitress’ tips when a huge hole opens in the floor, and out pops Rabbit.  Apparently, the rude guy is The Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha), and he has to help Rabbit find Alice.  They show up at the asylum just before Alice’s planned procedure.  The Knave tells Alice that Cyrus isn’t dead, that Rabbit saw him.  Alice gets all martial artsy on the guards, and together they flee to find Rabbit waiting for them. (The doctor gets an eye full of Rabbit, too, just so everyone knows Alice isn’t crazy).  They jump down a hole into Wonderland.  Come to find out, Rabbit didn’t see Cyrus, The Dormouse saw him at The Mad Hatter’s (Sebastian Stan) house (who isn’t on this show, which is a shame, because he’s one of the few things I remember liking from OUAT).  Rabbit takes off at a rapid pace, as rabbits are won’t to do.  Alice and The Knave head off at a human pace. Eventually, they make it to The Hatter’s house, but not before running into a wanted poster for The Knave and the Cheshire Cat (whom I’ve always loved).  The whole scene was meant to show us that under his gruff exterior, The Knave is a good guy.  At The Hatter’s house, Cyrus isn’t there, of course, but Alice finds the necklace he wore when falling into the boiling sea.  Thus: hope.

It turns out that Rabbit lured Alice back to Wonderland at the behest of The Red Queen.  She needs Alice, which has something to do with her three wishes (which look like rubies, and are promised to The Knave for helping her out), Jafar (Naveen Andrews), and Cyrus’ bottle.  Jafar and the Queen have a stand-off.  Jafar is about to kill her, until she reminds him only she can find Alice, since she is the Queen of Wonderland, and he is far from Agrabah.  That’s okay because Jafar caught Cyrus on his magic carpet (please don’t let Aladdin show up!), and is keeping Alice’s One True Love locked in a cave hidden in a fortress somewhere.

For the record, I really love The Knave of Hearts.  He’s the comic relief, and the jaded anti-hero, so of course I like him!  Michael Socha looked so familiar to me, and I’m thinking, well, he looks like Jake Gyllenhaal, but then I realized it’s because he looks like his sister Lauren Socha, who I loved on Misfits (even though it seems she’s gone a bit off the deep end).  Anyway, he wins for winning me over in his first scene.  I like Sophie Lowe, too.  Her Alice is intelligent and passionate.  She at times seems very young, and very old.  The weariness of a life lived in an Asylum is believable on her.  I’m glad John Lithgow is only a voice, because I’m not a big fan (though his voice doesn’t fit with my perception of The White Rabbit, but it doesn’t bother me so I’ll let it be).  I think casting a show must be one of the hardest things to do, especially if they are trying to please people like me.  Much like my meh feelings about Robbie Amell, I’m not too excited about the actor playing Cyrus.  His screen time was limited, and it’s not like I disliked him immediately, so I’m willing to hold back any definitive verdict just yet.  Just woe to predetermined One True Love’s, they don’t always work out when the show’s chemistry gels.

The pilot didn’t do too much except establish the world, and the plot for the season.  Wonderland doesn’t look so much like the pictures in Lewis Carroll’s book.  Instead it’s a cross between Willy Wonka and Oz (as in The Wizard of… and not the gritty prison show).  The show suffers from some of the things that I don’t like about OUAT: laughable special effects, mustache twirling villains (especially the Red Queen, yeesh, take some acting classes, Ms. Rigby), and the inclusion of Disney characters.  There aren’t as many characters, and I hope they don’t introduce the fairytale of the week concept that OUAT did.  Instead, let’s just focus on Alice and let the world reveal itself through that story.

Bottom Line: I Am Amused

Pilot Review: The Tomorrow People

We Aren’t the X-Men, Really!

o-THE-TOMORROW-PEOPLE-570Steven Jameson (Robbie Amell) is a high school student in the NYC, who might be schizophrenic, just like his deadbeat dad, Roger Price (Jeffrey Pierce).  He wakes up in strange places not knowing how he got there (despite strapping himself down at night), he hallucinates voices in his head, voices that belong to a hot chick he dreams about at night.  He’s on pills that kids at school steal from him.  He no longer has friends (except Astrid [Madeleine Montock] who I instinctively want to call Aspirin, or Aster, or Clare) due to the cray-cray, or because he’s a jerk.  His put upon Mom (Sarah Clarke) has to work double shifts (waitressing or nursing it’s unclear, but there’s no way a waitress can afford their house) to pay for his psychiatric care.  He also has a brother, Luca (Jacob Kogan) who is good at sports.

One night the voice inside his head convinces him to come and meet her, she can prove he’s not crazy.  He hops on the subway, when out of nowhere a hot blond guy with artfully messy hair, John (Luke Mitchell), zaps him to a secret bunker somewhere in Manhattan.  Also at the secret bunker is Cara (Peyton List – aka the former Mrs. Roger Sterling), the sexy chick from his dreams, and the voice in his head.  These two, along with Russel (Aaron Yoo) who likes to steal watches, an AI computer named Tim, and a bunch of nameless extras make up The Tomorrow People (they didn’t pick the name).  TP’s (how could I not?) possess three superpowers: teleportation, telepathy, and telekinesis, also for whatever reason, they get migraines when they try to kill people.  According to Cara, Steven is special, which is why they sought to find him.  See his dad (the deadbeat schizophrenic) was also a TP.  In fact he lead the TP’s, but disappeared in an attempt to find them a safe place to live.  They aren’t safe because a government organization, Ultra, is out to kill them. Unconvinced,  Steven believes he’ll wake up any minute to discover its all been a dream.  Even a heartfelt video message from his father can’t convince him.  John returns him to his home via teleportation.

Ultra is ruthlessly led by Dr. Jedikiah Price (Mark Pellegrino).  We know this because he kills his agent that failed to capture John.  By the way, we’re calling him Dr. Jed, because I’m not spelling Jedikiah all the friggin’ time (it’s bad enough I have to deal with Qetsiyah).  Ultra uses TP’s to capture other TP’s, and they are headquartered in an environment that suppresses the TP’s abilities.  John stole a file in order to track down Steven, and Ultra determines that the file John stole concerned Steven.  Ultra, therefore is able to track him down as well.  Steven calls out to Cara in his mind, but she can’t stop his kidnapping.  Once in Ultra’s possession, he’s strapped to a chair, while Dr. Jed attempts to explain why he’s a good guy.  He’s not killing people, he’s stopping an epidemic.  He’s about to inject him with something to “fix” Steven, when Cara and Russel show up (thanks to Tim who tracked him down using CCTV).  They have to resort to fisticuffs (they don’t get migraines if they just knock people out apparently), but Steven is able to use his abilities when no one else can.  He is able to communicate with Cara, teleports from the holding room, and manifests a brand new ability, when he freezes time to stop a bullet meant for John (who shows up late to the party).

The next day, Steven’s long-lost uncle (on his father’s side) shows up at his home.  He’s none other than Dr. Jed (which I knew from the trailer, and kind of wish I didn’t).  He brings proof that his father is dead, a video showing a masked man blown up in a car accident (totally convincing and not at all sketchy).  He tells Steven that his father wasn’t a hero, and vaguely threatens his mother, brother, and Astrid (Aspirin/Aster – okay I’ll stop, I just miss Fringe).  Steven decides to work for Ultra in order to find out who his father really was, and if he’s still alive, but his loyalties lie with the TP’s who are now his besties.  By the way John and Cara are an item, and John may possess some feelings of jealousy.

While in no way dissimilar to X-men, I find it interesting that the TP’s don’t consider themselves human, but an entirely different species.  In X-Men, they are perceived as the next stage in evolution (as well as Heroes).  The people are pretty (I mean it’s the CW afterall), and the pilot moved along quickly.  I like the double-spy angle.  I also like that they possess the same abilities, which also helps differentiate from The X-Men and Heroes.  My biggest issue is Amell, he’s really not all that exciting on screen, and at times results to the James Van Der Beek school of nostril-acting.  Notably, when shown a picture of his father (ostensibly) being blown up, he doesn’t have an emotional reaction to it.  Instead it’s more of an I’m-intrigued-by-this-bit-of-exposition face.  This isn’t good for a Neo-like savior with special abilities. There are a few logic jumps in the character’s development that may have helped.  We don’t really see him go from “this is all a dream” to “wait, I’m not crazy”, for instance.  Still, Amell is easily overshadowed by the rest of the cast, who I liked, even though they need some fleshing out.  It seems they are setting up the inevitable love triangle between John/Cara/Steven, if so, I’m totally on Team John, but really, I hope they don’t go there.  If the show is meant to make us question who is noble of intent: the TP’s/Roger Price or Ultra/Dr. Jed, they didn’t do a good job.  There is a mystery surrounding Steven’s father, sure, but Dr. Jed is totally the bad guy.

Speculation:

I don’t think the TP’s are a part of natural evolution, so much as a created lab experiment that I’m sure Dr. Jed had a hand in.  Otherwise it’s too convenient that Roger and the good doctor are tent poles for the two sides.  I’m thinking Steven’s mom knows more than she’s let on, otherwise why would she (it seems) keep Steven and Luca hidden from Dr. Jed?

Bottom Line: Meh

The premise isn’t too original, but Amell needs to overcome his dullness or, for me, this series is sunk.