Mr. Mercedes – Episode 2: “On Your Mark”

 

AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Episode 2: “On Your Mark”
Directed by Jack Bender
Written by David E. Kelley

* For a recap & review of the Pilot, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 3, “Cloudy, With a Chance of Mayhem” – click here
Pic 1Ole Dt. Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) doesn’t have much else going on other than the occasional puzzle, lots of beer, and feeding his tortoise Fred in the yard. Oh, and the Mr. Mercedes case, which he obsesses over at night. Watching videos of the victims, the woman and her baby which turns to eerie pictures with blood pouring out of the eyes.
The killer, he’s still haunting, still taunting. Now that we know Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway), Mr. Mercedes himself, is also an ice cream man, slipping in and out of the neighbourhood undetected with relative ease, there’s no telling the amount of mind games the detective will find himself up against.
A kid winds up breaking his arm while snooping in Bill’s backyard, so he and Ida Silver (Holland Taylor) call an ambulance. But things don’t look so good, with him stinking “like a saloon.” So the ever crafty Ida brings a whiskey bottle. She comes up with a story, that he was verging on a panic attack. He took a drink to calm his nerves.
Slick mama, that Ida. Always looking out for him, even if he doesn’t want her to do it. Painful to watch. Not because of her, because of how desperately he seems to insist on being alone, isolated, alienated. Once Ida leaves he nearly does have a panic attack, too.
Pic 1ABrady’s co-worker Lou (Breeda Wool) gets in more hot water at work. A guy gives her lip, then calls her out for being a lesbian, even though he’s got nothing to go on other than his stupid conception of who she is after a single conversation. Again, their boss Anthony aka Robi (Robert Stanton) acts like a dick. Apparently customers can “gay bash” as long as they’re paying.
At home, Bill’s got his neighbourhood buddy Jerome (Jharrel Jerome) helping with the latest e-mail from the killer, the disturbing video he’s been sent. He’s got bigger worries, though. Former partner Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence) calls on behalf of the police, asking him to come down and talk about what happened with the kid in his backyard.
So Bill gets down there, facing question after question from Pete who’s not convinced with his story, wanting his retired friend to find some kind of drive, a purpose, a hobby.
Bill: “Whats wrong with you, did ya never see an old guy talkinto himself before? Youre new to the planet, are ya? Fuck off while youre at it.”
The Hartsfield house is a weird one, indeed. Downstairs, Brady plays around with his computers, doing… other things, as well. Things his mother Deborah (Kelly Lynch) wants to see, though he’s not inclined to let her. So she presses him, wanting to know what he does down there all the time. He keeps his secrets, and his mother blames him for the pain she says it causes; keep in mind, she does sexually prey on her son, so I don’t think she’s entirely worried properly about his psychological well being.
Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 11.23.45 PMOver at the electronics store, Robi chats with Brady and Lou about the most recent incident, as well as their “underlying contempt” for customers, or so he says. He calls Brady strange, definitely a step over the line. And more than before I’m starting to wonder how long this guy will live, a psychopath working in their midst, right under his nose.
Ole Bill has already got a purpose. He’s poking around through the still warm bits of the Mercedes Killer case. Yet even the warm bits are cooling fast. Meanwhile, he and Ida are still sniffing around one another, at least she’s been sniffing. He’s interested, he just doesn’t totally understand why she’s into him. She claims he’s “convenient” and also he has some charm left in the tank. More than that she is concerned for him, as a friend.
But, oh, no… another communication, a letter from Mr. Mercedes. He taunts about the cop’s retirement, gloating in his subtle way. Upping poor Bill’s paranoia even further. Now he’s also left a way to communicate online, a digital tin can telephone on a string just for the two of them. All the while Brady’s still driving through the neighbourhood hawking ice cream to kids.
At home, Brady shows his mom a “super remote” he’s been working on, he calls it Thing B. It controls all sorts of stuff, he can program it to activate or deactivate relatively anything. He tells his mom he’ll sell it to the Pentagon someday. Delusions of grandeur? Almost a diabolical speech, convincing his mother he’s headed for big things.
Bill goes to meet, unofficially, with a woman named Janey Patterson (Mary-Louise Parker). She’d like to help catch the Mercedes Killer. They speak of the e-mail he got. Janey’s sister – the one who owned the stolen Mercedes – also got letters. The killer encouraged her to commit suicide. Until she did.
Pic 4After Lou closes up shop and heads out for the night, Robi’s left by himself. To work, he claims. He’s actually getting ready for a jerk off session, has the towel ready and everything. Only when he starts a video, it shuts down. Then his laptop all but explodes in a burst of flame.
Bill goes home and logs on to the site where Mr. Mercedes has their little two-way conversation setup. He sends a message: I’M HERE FUCKHEAD. LET’S PLAY. And this is the ignition Brady needs to really start his games. I’m worried about what that means.
Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 11.32.37 PMChrist, an awesome follow-up to the Pilot! Great, great stuff. I’m excited now. The first episode was truly creepy, unnerving. This one started to get into true thriller territory. Gleeson is fascinating, hilarious, perfect. Treadaway terrifies me, particularly that final look he gives, looking at the glow of his computer screen.
“Cloudy, With a Chance of Mayhem” is next week. Stay tuned.

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The Sinner – Part 3

USA’s The Sinner
Part 3
Directed by Antonio Campos
Written by Derek Simonds

* For a recap & review of Part 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 4, click here.
Pic 1Cora (Jessica Biel) lies in bed, in jail, dreaming of home. She later talks with a psychologist, who takes her back through old memories of being 13. She’s asked what she’d tell herself, back then. She replies: “Run.”
Out on a trek, in a stark juxtaposed shot from the inside of Cora’s cell, Dt. Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) and his semi-estranged wife Faye (Kathryn Erbe) are hiking, and he is sweating it out fierce. At the station, he’s not entirely thrilled with the psych report, as it doesn’t seem out of whack. He’s wondering about the song that played on the beach, the one which triggered the exact identical response in the interrogation room with her. Psych says it’s possibly linked to PTSD.
Harry: “So, shes somewhere else, and shes stabbing someone else.”
At home, Mason (Christopher Abbott) is continually dealing with the fallout, the media attention. His wife calls, asking to see their boy. She’s in a bad space, though the father doesn’t sound averse to bringing him to see his mom. One ray of light in the life of Cora. Only that doesn’t turn out so well, once Mason doesn’t bring their child to see her, realising this could and likely will be a long, difficult road. After finding out things from the cops about her former life.
Harry goes to see the Laceys, adopted family of Cora – Elizabeth (Enid Graham) and William. They say she ran away five years, about the Fourth of July, a day before. Of course mom calls the girl selfish, so on. Sick little Phoebe died only weeks after Cora ran off. It’s obvious just from being around them something wasn’t right between the two adopted parents and Cora.
Note: We keep getting the wallpaper imagery, and now we’re going deeper inside. A great visual representation of going deeper into the walls of a home, discovering what’s actually inside as opposed to whatever it might look like on the outside.
Pic 1AWe see more of Cora having nightmares. Terrible ones. She loses her mind in the night, having a dream of a woman telling a man to “give her another hit” and then someone steps right down on Cora’s chest, it cracks. As guards come to subdue her, she pleads they don’t put anything in her arm. When they pull up her sleeve they see the dried, cracking wounds of an old injection site, a veritable crater. Same goes for her other one, too.
Before Cora met her husband, after she left home, she got hooked on heroin. But there’s a deeper story. And Dt. Ambrose is going to get digging. He finds out something else, that Cora had a new visitor recently: Margaret Lacey (Rebecca Wisocky), the cool aunt. Seems Cora disappeared a long while, then showed up at a detox centre. Elizabeth refused to have a “whore” and a “degenerate” living with her, so aunt Mags took her. Yet she blames herself for ignoring the “signs” of something larger wrong. Like a large, jagged scar on the top of Cora’s head, one her aunt never discovered the story behind.
Quick flashes to the old Lacey home, Cora as a teenager. Dad isn’t happy sharing a room with his daughter, so long. There’s many nasty things going on beneath the curtains here. So then dad takes sick Phoebe, transplanting her back into the room with Cora, where the two girls eye each other with a strange emotion running like a current between them. Afterwards, they have an awkward discussion. And Phoebe, for the one slowly dying, is surprisingly more free than her sister, knowing about sex, even reading a stashed magazine she took from the hospital.
The further Harry gets into the details, the more he sees a sort of spiralling abyss into which he’s falling. Someone named Caleb Walker brought Cora into the rehab facility several years before. It also didn’t look like she was a regular junkie, she was clean, wearing new clothes. Strange, no? Meanwhile, Harry’s got himself a problem. He might be fixing things up with his wife, but he’s still hooked on his dominatrix lover; she purposely spills oranges in a grocery store, watching him as he dutifully picks it up.
Pic 2More flashes back to the past. Elizabeth finds the magazine from the girls’ room, and so Cora takes the blame, admitting to her apparent sins. “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned,” she and her adopted mom pray together, kneeling painfully on a line of dry white rice (at least that’s what it looks like) in penance. It’s the little sister who later must try getting through to the older, to show her all this religious stuff is bullshit. That’s when the two bond mischievously over makeshift communion, wine and crackers, lying on the floor next to the crucifix together. Interesting to see how the young would choose to worship Jesus over how the older, more foolish deem it necessary to be afraid of God, to be scared of his power. These two merely tell Christ they love him, caressing his wounds.
Phoebe: “Cora, God doesnt listen.”
Sitting around with people at home, Harry has to listen to other people talk about their perceptions of Cora’s case, from what they know in the media. One guy’s pontificating too hard for his liking, so he gets a bit mouthy. That night he and Faye try connecting physically again.
Mason is still looking for J.D. and he’s tracked him to a bar. They wind up in a bit of a fight after the guy’s nonchalant about the whole ordeal. This puts the cops on Mason, luckily Caitlin Sullivan (Abby Miller) helps as much as she can, what little she can.
Back at prison, Harry brings in the tools of the trade, asking Cora to show him how she shot up heroin. Except it seems she doesn’t know much about the process, really. So, what exactly happened to her back then? Was someone force feeding her the drug? Oh, I’d bet on that. She barely remembers the two months she was gone; “fragments,” she tells Dt. Ambrose.
Pic 3Was Cora forced into prostitution? It seems like an almost human trafficking-type scenario, a pimp plying her with heroin to sell her off. I can’t help believe it’ll never be so simple; ugly, but not simple. We get a last flash, of that room with the black wallpaper, a man in a strange mask, kind of like a ski mask, and he asks: “How are you feeling today, Cora?”
Pic 4Whoa, this episode – like the one preceding – blew the lid off my expectations. There’s so much more to this story than I ever thought. Can’t get enough of the mystery, plus the well drawn characters like Harry Ambrose, who make the picture that much more complete. I’m frothing for the next episode! Part 4 is next week.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 11: “The Leopard”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 11: “The Leopard”
Directed by Michael Morris
Written by Eliza Clark

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Treasure” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “You Will Be Gutted” – click here
Pic 1Craig (Ben Robson) and Renn (Christina Ochoa) are off gambling, having fun together like before; before he left her for dead to OD in a bathroom by herself. Not sure if that’s something someone can ever get past, though she did get him back pretty damn good. Either way, they’re having a ball. For now.
Back at the bar, Deran (Jake Weary) is flat off his ass busy. Then Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark) shows up, he’s got something for him: a picture of Deran surfing a wave. He found it while packing, heading out for “one last shot” at a competition. The picture’s from the last competition Deran won. They remember younger days, perhaps in many ways better times. The two kiss, and then Adrian heads off. These two are so sweet together, man. I want Deran to fully embrace his own life, his sexuality, and it’d be great to see the two of them last.
Hard to when things are going so sour. Baz (Scott Speedman) is looking through a bunch of Smurf’s (Ellen Barkin) belongings from storage. In a suitcase he finds fake IDs for her, a bunch of things. Including a file marked BLACKWELL, evidently containing police photographs of marks on a young Barry’s barely teenage body, bruises and strap marks all over the back. Like walking back into the past, into a nightmare.
Great juxtaposed pictures, from the better times in Deran’s life to Baz and the darkest moments of his own. Impressive, emotional visual that sort of weaves through the opening ten minutes here.
What’s more interesting? Last time Smurf was at Barry’s place, she left a bug. She hears everything he and Lucy (Carolina Guerra) are saying, about her, about Pope (Shawn Hatosy), Marco (Joseph Julian Soria); all of it.


Speaking of Pope, he and Amy (Jennifer Landon) are closer, but they’ve each got issues. She laments her mistakes, the situation of her son that she put him in. And strangely enough, in a weird irony, Pope’s the one giving her moral support. While his own morality is a topsy, turvy sea of shit.
Things between J (Finn Cole) and Nicky (Molly Gordon) are changing. She and Craig are officially not together. But that doesn’t necessarily mean these two are falling into a relationship, though it looks more possible now. J has other things to worry about, grandma’s rushing around rambling about cash, so he helps her dig up a box in the yard with a nice few stacks. She tells him about Baz ripping her off, too. Scared to see how she’ll manipulate her grandson here, if she’s going to find out his part in it.
Marco finds Craig in a pile of naked women, they were supposed to meet. He’s got keys for Craig, to take a car for him, bring it to another location. Drugs, he assumes. Until Marco leaves and Craig hears someone, muffled, calling from the trunk. Oh, fucking great! The Cody boys have got themselves in some bullshit again.
At the house, Baz comes over to talk to Smurf. He admits to stealing it, straight up. Even gives J a share before he heads out for the day. Baz is trying to cut a deal with her, to keep the family together. Essentially it’s a take the deal or not-type situation, except for the fact she doesn’t have much else left to lose, does she? What’s Baz really trying to do here?
Oh, and Pope, he’s following Catherine’s cop friend Patrick (Dorian Missick). Hope he ain’t thinking what I think he’s thinking…
Pic 2Not knowing what to do Craig takes the guy in the trunk to Deran’s bar. When they tie the guy down to take off his gag, the young guy tells them: “Youre dead.” Seems he’s got an important father. The gruesome behaviour he describes, sounds like a cartel sort of man.
There are big moves happening in the family. Baz has long had power of attorney over the family’s ultimate finances. Now, Smurf’s handing that over to J; he holds that power from here on. This could turn ugly. And I’m not totally convinced that she isn’t playing it that way.
Pope confronts Patrick at a restaurant, blaming him for putting too much stress on Catherine. Of course the cop believes Baz killed her, and he already knows that Smurf had her oldest son torch Catherine’s parents and their house. Pope is playing a dangerous game. Afraid he might be going a bit far off the rails.
Baz meets with his dad down at the scrapyard where he works. Pops is sober three months, working again obviously. His son shows him one of those Polaroids. Then he’s told about Smurf having him worked over with a pipe brutally back in the day. Deserved it, though. No happy reunion in this family’s future.
We see that the kid Marco took, Alejandro (Gustavo Gomez), has a dad who’s a cop. Likely a dirty one, by the sounds of what we’ve heard so far. A particularly nasty one, too. Simultaneously, Renn shows up; perfect timing! She’s there to get money she floated Craig for their trip to Vegas. “Baller” shit went down, apparently. Private plane, all that jazz. At the same time, Deran isn’t happy with his newer life being infringed upon by their family and their madness. This leads to arguments over him not being able to have anything individual, it’s always a Deran-Craig thing, from surfing to the bar to all their criminal idiocy. Deran says once he’s fully bought the bar, he’s out. Finito.
Pic 3Then they discover Alejandro escaped in the time they took to yell at each other. Good job, lads! They’re able to chase him down. In the process Deran takes a rusty nail to the leg, before Craig lays a beat down on him. But Alejandro says it’s only because he believes he’ll be killed in the process of him getting handed over. He’s afraid for his life. The plot thickens.
Pope brings the new information on Catherine, via Patrick, to his mother. He boils over with anger, screaming at Smurf that she didn’t talk to the cops. He’s so angry he could nearly kill her. It’s almost as if he wants to, then when he grabs hold of her he breaks down in tears. A tortured fucking soul.
Baz makes a call to the Sheriff’s Department. Is he about to drop a bomb(/a dime)?
Elsewhere, Pope meets with Amy. He asks if “forgiveness is possible” and says he’s done something horrible. He reveals that he killed a woman he loved. HOLY FUCK! This horrifies Amy rightly. This will only serve to alienate Pope further, and I can’t blame her for her reaction one bit. Also can’t believe he said that to her.
Later that night, Craig and Deran hand the kid over with Marco to the people waiting. Alejandro’s dragged away pleading. The Codys get a fat envelope of cash, for their morality. Before they can leave a woman returns to pistol whip Marco. Far cry from the family just thieving, not hurting others.
And on her way home, Smurf gets pulled over by the cops. You guessed it, they’ve got her surrounded. Back at her house, Baz walks in. Getting a beer from the fridge. Like he owns the place. Maybe he does now. We’ll see.
Pic 4Fuck, there’s so much happening at once, and the major bit is what will happen to Smurf next? Baz has really put her in a corner. I worry she’ll come out swinging harder than he expects, harder than he can parry. Who knows.
“You Will Be Gutted” is the penultimate Season 2 episode. Great to know already we’ve got a Season 3 coming. Bring it, baby!

Preacher – Season 2, Episode 9: “Puzzle Piece”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 2, Episode 9: “Puzzle Piece”
Directed by Michael Dowse
Written by Craig Rosenberg

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Holes” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Dirty Little Secret” – click here
Pic 1We see a young Jesse Custer, watching a pistol put to his father’s head. The boy says he “prayed for this.” He feels he did that to his dad. In present day, the memories still remain with Jesse (Dominic Cooper). Deep, dark.
He’s online looking for sightings of God on YouTube. Various videos, all varieties of nutjobs certainly. Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) says that Denis (Ronald Guttman) is feeling better, turning around; did he give him the bite? Seems the vamp and the preacher at odds, in more ways than one. And Tulip (Ruth Negga), she’s still taking bullets to the chest with the bulletproof vest on, making cash hand over fist. Also not getting any rest, either. She isn’t well. So Jesse uses Genesis to put her out for a while. This doesn’t exactly thrill Cassidy, who couldn’t get him to use it to save his son. Yikes, that’ll drive a bad wedge between the two of them.
Jesse: “Without God, theres no structure, no order.”
Meanwhile, Herr Starr (Pip Torrens) is filled in on the situation at the apartment by Hoover (Malcolm Barrett) and Lara Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery). But he’s not so interested. Merely ordering the two Grail operatives to “kill them all.” He has better places to be.
Pic 1A (1)Now there’s a Grail SWAT team headed directly for the apartment, locked, loaded, and loving Jesus Christ! Amen. They head in, equipped with night vision and assault rifles, the whole nine yards. Inside they come across Cassidy, attacking a group of them. Another one shoots Denis. Jesse kicks the shit out of him, then orders him using Genesis: “Kill your friends.” As they stab the vampire, he takes them out one by one. Unable to stop himself. Before the preacher can get answers from the last remaining man, vampire Denis attacks, sucking him dry of blood.
Cut to Herr Starr’s date, sitting in an empty restaurant with a woman he doesn’t particularly take a liking to, mostly sitting through listening to her talk. Once he’s had enough he makes her take off her shirt, then tuck a stick of butter under her chin. He asks how long she can hold her breath. However, this is all interrupted. Assume he’s heard of how things are going at the apartment building.
We hear about someone, or something, called Brad. Instead of getting killed, Lara makes sure she and Hoover stick around. Between Brad and corralling prostitutes for his “rape fantasy” they’re set. They’re sent to get things prepared. Although if they fuck up again, the murder tarp will be waiting in Herr Starr’s office.
After the sleep of Genesis, Tulip wakes to the carnage in the apartment. We see the police, all kinds of people are there. They’re being ordered around by Jesse and Genesis. And y’know, this is great, in a way. They’ve got protection, for now. Only thing is that the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) will be drawn more and more as he uses it without much thought.
Pic 2Starr is educating himself more on the preacher, watching the surveillance footage of him. As well as digging into the man’s past, from his boyhood right up to before he left Annville. I wonder if he’ll come up with something to use against Jesse, something that might hurt bad.
At the apartment, Denis is happy to be alive. Forever. He’s nursing dad back to health, but also discovering that the “suns bad” and there are other drawbacks to being a vampire. He’s not really adverse to drinking blood, though. At the same time Jesse’s trying to get through to Tulip as she’s falling apart in front of his eyes. She doesn’t like that he used Genesis on her, something she previously said wouldn’t sit well with her, being forced to do something, out of her control.
Tulip winds up going to the other apartment, asking Lara if she can borrow a gun. So the woman, in her disguise, hands one over. No questions asked, though fairly helpful in tone. Because a “guns not gonna stop Brad.” Oh, man, I can’t wait to figure out what Brad is. Something fucking bad, I know that.
Things are tense at the apartment. Doesn’t help Denis throws on a record at full volume, refusing to turn it down even with dad scolding. Just as a massive man in an Obama mask shows up outside. He attacks a cop, sending a bunch of others to the officer’s aid. Tulip also shoots a guy in the apartment, believing he had a gun; he doesn’t.
None of it matters with B.R.A.D (Battle-Ready Remote Operated Aerial Drone) on the way. Back at HQ, Herr Starr gets the fantasy he wasn’t exactly looking for – three professionals show up, indeed, to wreck him. Instead of the other way around. He takes the time bent over to figure out his “missing puzzle piece.” After getting fucked with a boring look on his face, he calls Lara up to call off the use of B.R.A.D. Just barely averting the destruction of Jesse and his friends. The drone hits Harry Connick Jr’s house instead.
Pic 3Fantastic fucking episode! Loving the inclusion of the Grail more, Herr Starr is terrifying. After this episode I’m especially unsettled by him, which I didn’t think was any more possible.
Moreover, I’m highly interested in the last scene, as Starr sits down next to Jesse on a bar stool. Ready for a chat, just the two of them. Might just be the eerie German’s got answers about God. Hmm.
Pic 4

Twin Peaks – Season 3: “The Return, Part 14”

Showtime’s Twin Peaks
Season 3: “The Return, Part 14”
Directed by David Lynch
Written by Lynch & Mark Frost

* For a recap & review of Part 13, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 15, click here.
Pic 1Out in Buckhorn, Gordon Cole (David Lynch) calls Twin Peaks. He chats with Lucy (Kimmy Robertson), though between the two of them it’s painfully hilarious. She puts him in touch with Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster). They talk about the “strange” things Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse) found. The stuff from Laura Palmer’s (Sheryl Lee) diary, about the “two Coopers.” Quite helpful, considering what’s been going on lately, what Gordon and Albert (Miguel Ferrer) have been investigating.
1975, a murder in Olympia, Washington. This is the first Blue Rose Case. Albert tells Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) all about it, a woman named Lois Duffy. Turns out she had a doppelganger. She was put up for murder, while the doppelganger disappeared. The arresting agents? Gordon Cole and Phillip Jeffries. When the double died she spoke the words: “Im like the blue rose.” We likewise get a mention of the word “tulpa” that comes from a mystic concept, translated from Sanskrit, referring to a thoughtform, something previously non-existent which comes into being through power of the mind. Interesting note.
Afterwards, Diane (Laura Dern) shows up, and Gordon asks her if the last night she saw Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) he mentioned Major Garland Briggs. When she’s shown the ring found in the Major’s stomach, it clicks: her estranged half-sister is Janey-E Jones (Naomi Watts), married to none other than Dougie Jones.
Oh, my. Things begin coming together.
Gordon talks about a dream he had, of Monica Bellucci (playing herself). He met her in Paris at a cafe. Cooper’s there, too. Only Gordon can’t see his face. Everyone had coffee, then Monica said the “ancient phrasewere like the dreamer who dreams and then lives inside the dream.” Then she added: “But who is the dreamer?”
He sees his old self, from Fire Walk With Me. When Cooper was worried about a dream, the day Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) suddenly turned up after years. This is when we saw the Jumping Man, as well.
Pic 1ABack in Twin Peaks, Hawk and the boys get Deputy Sheriff Chad Broxford (John Pirruccello) in handcuffs, after finding him out for his criminal shit. However, I worry. Because the dark little places in their town, the drug dealers that frequent their bars, their streets, it might not like if their network is compromised. Either way, it’s good to have out of their way. Hawk, Truman, Deputy Sheriffs Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) and Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz) head to the woods.
Briefly, we see electrical wires amongst the natural landscape. Crackling. Those evil spirits everywhere, the symbolic evil of modern man set in juxtaposition against the natural, green beauty of the world.
In they head together, through the bush. Bobby talks about his father, his connection to this place up in the forest: Jack Rabbit’s Palace. It’s a huge, ragged stump of a massive tree. A place of memories from Bobby’s younger life. They all put a bit of soil in their pockets, as per the note left. Further on they find a foggy place, electricity sparking. Suddenly there appears a naked woman, her face and eyes just brutal wounds. Isn’t she the one we saw in that strange place ages ago, in that odd industrial-like landscape where Cooper passed through? That other spot beyond the Black Lodge? Above our friends a cyclone appears, like the one Gordon witnessed. Electricity again crackles through its portal opening. They all look deep into it. A bright light burning.
And now, Andy is in that very same place where Cooper was, where the lady came from. The Fireman (Carel Struycken), formerly the Giant, greets him. Raising a hand. Andy looks at something that appears in his hands. A cloud of smoke wisps around him, evaporating up into the porthole light above. He stares silently into it, as it changes to a screen. Showing him images we’ve seen before: the gas station and convenience store, the dirty bearded lumberjack asking for a light, old memories of Laura Palmer, then the two Coops side by side, Lot 6 at the Fat Trout Trailer Park, among others.
Before too long Andy’s transported back, carrying the woman who appeared. He says they have to protect her. People are trying to kill her. Puzzled, though trusting his judgement, the others follow. Although not sure what happened to them.
Pic 2Pic 2AWe see a bit more of James (James Marshall), he works some kind of security job for transport, something like that. He doesn’t have much of a social life. It’s his birthday and even his co-worker Freddie (Jake Wardle) doesn’t know until he’s told. Poor James, always the lonely soul. Freddie wears one rubber glove, just one on his ring hand. He ends up telling a story about being sucked up into a cyclone in the sky, where he saw the Fireman, who gave him instructions to go find a specific rubber glove, in an open package at the store. This gave him a strange power, like an “enormous piledriver” for a hand.
He was also told by the Fireman to travel to Twin Peaks: “There you will find your destiny.” Most might take this as ridiculous. James has lived there all his life. He knows this place is magical, mystical, mythical.
Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) wanders into Elk’s Point #9 Bar, sitting down for what’s sure to be a long night in the bottle. People whisper as she passes, talking to themselves. Near her at the end of the bar a man approaches, she brushes him off. Guy doesn’t take her seriously, getting particularly nasty: “Its a free cuntry.” He pushes harder, saying she likes to eat pussy. Her reply? “Ill eat you.”
Like her daughter did in the first episode of The Return, Sarah opens her face. Like a mask. Inside is darkness, smoke, electricity. She closes her face, then quickly chomps a bite out of his neck. He falls over, bleeding out. Nobody sees a thing. Only his corpse. God damn. Now we know an evil spirit resides in her. Just a matter of what it means in the grand scheme of things.
And at the Roadhouse, a pair of women talk about a disturbing, bloody scene involving Billy. Y’know, the one Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn) is looking for. Or I assume.
Just another day in ole Twin Peaks, right?
Pic 3Pic 3AMan, I loved this episode. One of my favourites of The Return. Impressive, in many ways. Storylines coming together, mythology expanding and connections to Fire Walk With Me fleshing out. Beautiful stuff. Always great fun when these episodes end with a nice musical performance, too.
Is it next week yet?

The Mist – Season 1, Episode 8: “The Law of Nature”

Spike’s The Mist
Season 1, Episode 8: “The Law of Nature”
Directed by Guy Ferland
Written by Andrew Wilder & Christian Torpe

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Over the River and Through the Woods” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Waking Dream” – click here
Pic 1Kevin (Morgan Spector), Mia (Danica Curcic), Jonah a.k.a Bryan (Okezie Morro), and Adrian (Russell Posner) are out in the streets, in a vehicle, of course. They’re near Adrian’s parents’ place. He wants to “say goodbye.” They’ll also be able to likely gas up a bit.
The other three head inside while Kevin watches the car.
Nathalie (Frances Conroy) survived the mist. When people are asking for answers, she tells them: “The Black Spring is the miracle.” Apparently when it occurred in 1860, it due to the abuse of a young woman. Thus why it’s back. She explains nature has taken others because of crimes they’ve committed, terrible things they’ve done, et cetera.
Pic 1AAt the mall, Jay (Luke Cosgrove) is cooped up with Alex (Gus Birney) and Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) and the others. The adults worry about what’s going on between the groups, as well as their own. Strangely, scarily enough, the fierce mother asks to find a room with no windows. Is she planning on doing something nasty to the accused rapist?
At the church, Connor (Darren Pettie) discusses his problems with the church as he and Nathalie talk awhile. He also speaks of raising his boy alone, a single father. Not knowing how to show someone how to “be a person.” And now he admits he believes his son raped Alex. Whoa, didn’t expect that. Certainly, he blames himself. He’s got Nathalie and her newfound trust in nature to comfort him.
When Adrian finds his dad Duncan (Shane Daly), things aren’t entirely well. His mother’s dead. No eyes. Rotting on the couch. Seems birds from the mist got her on the porch outside. Gruesome shit.
Nathalie: “Bad people, bad, bad people hurting the very thing that gives us life. And now Mother Natures had enough.”
Alex and Jay are spending time together, rooting through the sports store. They wind up getting very, very close. Of course the mother of the dead girl, Shelley DeWitt (Alexandra Ordolis), sees this, automatically assuming this as more proof the girl was lying. Instead of realising being raped is a complex thing, you don’t always act how you want or usually do. This is going to cause something bad, I feel it.
Pic 2Later, Jay winds up going to get some water. Supposedly. One of the women’s sent him into a trap set by Eve. She’s stuck him in that room with no windows, couple rolls of toilet paper, the essentials. And now there’s a level of madness going on in there that’s terrifying.
Nathalie believes they must “offer those who trespass against the natural order of things.” Exactly how far does that go, and exactly whom is it decides what goes against nature? Depending on who’s the judge, this could extend to many things. A dangerous, slippery slope. She says they’ve got to head for the mall, to find Jay, since his father’s confessed that he is likely guilty of rape. She describes to her followers the “purposeful violence” they must carry out in order to appease nature. We’re seeing a great parallel to certain current events, in my mind. How someone with a radical view can rally people, no matter how mental, in the name of “order.”
In the street, Kevin finds Vic (Erik Knudsen) running by himself in the mist. The young guy tells him about the escalating situation at the mall, how scary it’s getting. Speaking of which, mall manager Gus (Isiah Whitlock Jr) and army boy Wes (Greg Hovanessian) are trying to figure out what to do about the grieving mother, she’s bound to light a bad fire under someone in the group if they aren’t careful.
Most interesting is Adrian, having to deal with a rotten father who hates him simply for being gay. Duncan is a scared, frightened homophobe. He pokes at his son, saying awful things. Calling him a “monster.” Saying his mother didn’t even love him. Then it all gets too much, shooting his dad in the stomach. Between all this, Adrian says that he had sex with Alex. Holy fuck. Is he the one who raped her? Is that what we’re hearing? If so, I’m devastated.
Either way, he covers up killing his dad when Kevin runs in to find him. And suddenly I’m feeling there are a lot of other lies underneath that seemingly gentle exterior. What’s more is that it’s tough to see Kevin offering the kid so much love and acceptance while he was the one who hurt his daughter. It all comes out once the father finds the exact drug in Alex’s system that night right in Adrian’s medicine cabinet. This puts the two at odds, a shotgun between them in the kid’s hands.
Adrian orders Kevin on his knees. Before he can pull the trigger Kevin knocks the gun to the side, blowing off a shot, getting knocked out in the process. He runs to the car, telling the others his father killed Kevin. Meanwhile, poor Kev is left with the mist seeping into the house.
Pic 3Shelley admits to starting that fire at the mall, she also says she knows Alex didn’t do anything wrong. Furthermore, she’s found a stash of food in Gus’ office. So they’re in a deadlock. He won’t tell the others about his food, in turn she’s going to tell everyone. This prompts Gus to smash her in the head, killing her. “Go be with your daughter,” he tells her as she slips into death. He passes it off like she was found that way. Except not everyone believes him.
After that? He blames Alex.
While Nathalie and others head out to the mall from the church, some others wish to stay. But off she goes, Connor and a few others alongside. They’re not leaving the church, though. They douse the place in fuel, then the cop’s given the match to strike.
How quickly people descend into primitive chaos, excusing violence as somehow useful. Cold blooded murder. All over town, in different forms, violence has fully taken hold.
Nathalie: “Every act of destruction is an act of creation
Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 10.44.47 PMWow, this is the craziest episode yet. There’s no telling where things go from here, on many ends. I mean, damn! So much happened in the span of one single episode. Things are about to get terrifyingly rocky.

Mr. Mercedes – Episode 1: “Pilot”

AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Episode 1: “Pilot”
Directed by Jack Bender
Written by David E. Kelley

* For a recap & review of Episode 2, “On Your Mark” – click here
Pic 1We start in 2009, in Ohio. Extremely early in the morning at a City Jobs Fair. People are lined up outside through a roped walkway. Everyone waits patiently, some introducing themselves to one another. Others aren’t entirely happy to be there, not into the socialising. Regardless, everyone there’s starved for work, from the older folk to a young mother with her baby and every sort in between.
Suddenly, a Mercedes pulls up. Lights beaming onto the crowd. The driver slides on a clown mask, breathing heavy. Then he drives directly through the people, barrelling forward at top speed. People scream, running away fast as they can.
But some don’t escape. The driver ploughs over them, including the young mom and her child, a man helping her. Tons and tons of bodies lie bloody, crunched, smashed to bits in his wreckage. Holy christ, what a brutal sequence! When the smoke clears, Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) turns up on the scene to survey the carnage and begin an investigation along with fellow lawman Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence). The senselessness isn’t immediately evident. Pete thinks the driver “lost control” of his vehicle. Hodges knows better.
Pic 1AWe jump ahead, two years later. Looks as if Dt. Hodges is a bit rough around the edges, lying in his own wreckage now. Mostly consisting of beer cans, cigarettes, and peanuts. Bit of a mess, in more ways than one. He’s got a lot of time to himself these days. Him and his friend Fred, the tortoise in the backyard. Seems they’re sort of at the same pace. He still has dinner with Pete, keeping in touch after his retirement.
One thing’s clear, though – Bill’s got unfinished business. Like many cops who’ve retired with unsolved cases. He doesn’t even feel like himself. While Pete and a local waitress named Sheila (Tuesday Beebe) try keeping him on track, as does nosy neighbour Ida Silver (the incomparable Holland Taylor), there’ll always be something not right with him. He just slides further into the bottle.
Bill: “Ever notice everythings upside down on a spoon?”
Sheila: “Maybe thats how life is, hon. Spoons just got it figured out.”
Perfectly with The Ramones playing “Pet Sematary” on the radio, we’re introduced to Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway). He works at a store dealing in electronics, computers, all that sort of thing. He’s got a regular life, he and co-worker dealing with shitty customers and a corporate cut-out boss. And his boss, oh, man: a piece of work! He’s basically jealous of Brady’s talent with computers, cutting him down a peg at any corner possible.
We see that Ida’s nosy because she’s looking for a companion, at least a sexual one. But underneath all that – she’s a proud lady, after all – there’s a genuine concern about Bill. She doesn’t want to see him waste away, she’s seen it before. She doesn’t want him to have “retreated from the living” just because of retirement. So, despite her sort of snooty attitude at first, she’s genuinely worried the man doesn’t have any purpose. And without purpose, without telos, what IS a man?
Pic 2Well, there’s still a purpose. Deep down there somewhere.
Particularly after he gets an e-mail addressed from Mr. M. Subject line: Long Time. We see a clown mask briefly. Then the screen switches to a smiley face, speaking to him with an electronically disguised voice. Taunting about his retirement, his weight gain, and the fact he never solved his case. Up come a bunch of pictures of the victims driven down outside the City Jobs Fair. He even tells the former detective he wore a condom that night, for fear he’d ejaculate and leave evidence. The whole video is wildly disturbing, and totally terrifying.
So if there wasn’t purpose before, if he didn’t consciously care about it already, now Bill is paying attention. Now, he has something he must do. If not, he’ll likely suffer the rest of retirement in a haze of insanity.
We also cut back to Brady, his mother Deborah (Kelly Lynch) worrying he’s working too many hours. That he’s “all work and no play” – sound familiar, Stephen King fans? Similar to another fella named Jack. She worries more about him, that he’s never had a girlfriend, that he’s withdrawn, even if he’s a smart guy. Oh, and it turns out mommy has other things on her mind. Things no mother ought to be doing with her son, y’know, like incest. Yikes. Although Brady leaves before things go too far. Instead he spends time alone stroking one out rather than go all the way. Man, that’s unsettling.
If you didn’t know already, Brady is Mr. Mercedes.
Pic 3Pic 3AThe fun will-they won’t-they between Ida and Bill continues. She’s not happy she showed him a nude on her phone and he wouldn’t look at it. She insists he looks. He does, if not a bit reluctantly. I hope they continue this relationship, on any level, because Gleeson and Taylor together’s like some kind of sweet magic.
When Bill clicks a link on his computer with a smiley face, it goes to a short few clips of Mr. Mercedes driving through the people in the crowd that day, the clown mask, his distorted laughter. A fucking evil thing to witness.
Bill: “Now personally I think closure is overfuckingrated, but the nightmares, the panic attacks I could do without.”
So he’s poking around more, asking Pete questions about the case. His friend doesn’t want him to obsess anymore, like he did at the end of his career. Later, he ends up at the electronics store where Brady works. He’s looking for a surveillance camera, though he doesn’t come in contact with the young man. A slick moment of near chance.
Afterwards he heads to a towing lot. A place he’s evidently been quite a few times. There lies the bloody, beat up Mercedes kept in storage. Just seeing it leaves the retired cop in agony, imagining all the people being run over in those seconds of brutality. He sits in the driver’s seat, as if imagining himself driving.
Pic 5At home he gets the camera installed with help from a neighbour kid who does stuff around the house for him regularly, including with the latest e-mail business. And who else is rolling around the neighbourhood? It’s Brady. One of his other jobs is as a Mr. Friendly’s ice cream truck driver, serving up scoops for the kids, and fucking with Hodges, tossing a tennis ball with a smiley face into the yard for him to find.
Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 5.15.26 PMMan, oh, man! I did not expect the first episode to be so damn good. Much as I love King, I’m always sceptical going into a film or television adaptation of his work. Which is a bonus when it’s actually fucking great. So much to love here, and not least is the use of punk rock in the soundtrack. Love it!
“On Your Mark” is next week, so stay tuned. We’re going to get deeper into this creepy little world of Mr. King’s together.

 

The Sinner – Part 2

USA’s The Sinner
Part 2
Directed by Antonio Campos
Written by Derek Simonds

* For a recap & review of Part 1, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 3, click here.
Pic 1After the surprising, devastating first episode, The Sinner continues as Cora Tannetti (Jessica Biel) faces the court after committing a brutal and spontaneous murder on the beach. She pleads “guilty” and prepares on facing the consequences of her actions. Detectives Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) and Dan Leroy (Dohn Norwood) watch on, as does the terrified husband Mason (Christopher Abbott). Now, Cora’s ordered to psychological testing, to see if she’s fit to stand trial.
After the court adjourns, Mason comes across a police officer he knows from back in the day in school, Caitlin Sullivan (Abby Miller). He tries getting info out of her, but she’s too professional for that. Inside, his wife gets a visit from Dt. Ambrose, who knows that she knows the man she killed, Frankie Belmont. Although she denies it. However, it’s like she’s resigned herself to being guilty. As if she believes she’s guilty, knowing something more than she lets on.
Flashback to her life as a girl. Her father rants and raves about not being able to sleep in his own bed. Clearly, their love life has suffered because of their sick child. Meanwhile, dad looks to be sleeping in bed with one of the other daughters, young Cora (Jordana Rose), only eight. And there’s something not quite right about it, either. Christ. So much ugliness in her past that’s yet to be uncovered.
Pic 1ADt. Ambrose keeps on trying to suss out the truth. He talks to Frankie’s wife, Leah (Teri Wyble). Apparently the husband once told his friends about a girl with whom he had a relationship, something tragic happened. They had an “intense connection” but the girl was damaged. Later, an accident nearly ruined his whole life. Hmm, all about five years prior. This is interesting, ramps up the mystery to a serious degree. The intrigue’s already high, but now my Spidey senses are TINGLING!
Flashback to Mason first meeting Cora, the latter waiting tables in a nice little place. They talk a bit, he chats her up. After she’s off they go for a stroll together, getting to know one another, the usual first meet/date type of thing. It’s cute. Very sharp juxtaposition against where we are now. What this does is show us their connection, particularly we see why Mason’s so torn up. It isn’t like she wound up a serial killer. This sudden outburst of violence in her life is totally inexplicable to him, so to see their beginnings as a couple is kind of poignant.
We get a look at some of Dt. Ambrose’s rocky relationship with his wife (Kathryn Erbe). They go to therapy, but the separation between them is shocking. Not entirely surprising, still shocking. He’s not exactly the doting husband, having left her in the hospital once to go spray his plants at home. Even when she calls him out on it he’s poised to argue rather than admit he fucked up. Typical man blinded by his own bullshit.
Another flashback to young Cora, her aunt Margaret (Rebecca Wisocky) leaving a treat with her before leaving. They’re all together in vigil for her little sister Phoebe, sick, frail. We see the first semblance of a second life for Cora. Aunt Peg gives her a Delicieux chocolate bar, a little treat she takes to a secret hiding place. Where she’s got other items most likely from her aunt. She stashes them, so nobody will find her special items. Sort of how she’s stashed away all the secrets of her previous live, so deep down and in the dark that even her husband has no idea what’s gone on.
Those closest to her, then and now, they don’t truly know Cora.
Pic 2In the interrogation room, Harry gets Cora to start talking. She met Frankie in a bar five years ago on the “Fourth of July,” though he went by a different name, J.D. They took some pills, drank, dance. The song she heard on the beach that day is the one he used to play endlessly. They had sex, of course. A couple weeks later? Pregnant. She panicked, not even having Frankie’s phone number. So then she finds out he gave her a fake name.
And she stepped in front of a car on the road. No longer pregnant, banged the fuck up in the hospital, she was still clinging – for a while – her religious upbringing. Before realising God’s shit. Cut to five years later, she stabs Frankie to death on the beach. All good, right? Well, Harry doesn’t seem convinced. Not yet.
Flashback to Cora and her mom Elizabeth (Enid Graham). The little girl kneels in the yard in the middle of the night, praying to God for her sister. The recurring theme is religious fanaticism. Mom found the stash, the chocolate bar. She says “one bite” could mean God will decide to let Phoebe die. Holy fuck. It’s like everything wrong with Cora’s sister is blamed on her, in some way. A life of having sin heaped upon her, sin that isn’t her own.
Another flash to Mason and Cora in bed together, what looks like their first time. Or at least the first time Mason is about to go down on her and she almost cracks his neck in half, squeezing her thighs around his throat. When he asks what happened, she replies: “I dont know.” Although we know, at least in part. There’s a terrifying trauma in there somewhere.
Caitlin, talking to Mason, lets slip bits of the story concerning his wife and Frankie, the secret history. Naturally, it rocks him. All the while Dt. Ambrose continues combing through evidence, to find a better answer. He goes to Carl’s Taproom, where Cora met Frankie. The bartender remembers her, though confirms a different man than Frankie being with her, also mentioning she was extremely drunk. Might be possible something non-consensual happened that night. Cora is absolutely not telling the whole truth.
The big news? Harry gets over to Frankie’s parents place. Turns out, their boy wasn’t even on the same coast as Cora that Fourth of July. Oh, shit. Moreover, the cops are coming up with more lies she’s told. They have to dig much, much deeper.
Pic 3Another flashback to young Cora, her mom, sick little Phoebe. “Youre not doing your part,” the hideous mother says. She makes Cora tell her sister she isn’t better because she’s “a sinner” and took the chocolate bar. This poor little girl grew up having to bear the brunt of all the supposed sins her parents blamed on her. That could really fuck a girl up.
Ambrose: “The truth is my job
In the interrogation room Harry presses Cora harder than before. He’s getting pissed off about her lying. He even puts on the song she heard that day. You can see by the look in her eyes it dredges up horrible memories. Finally, she jumps on top of the detective, pounding him and screaming: “Im gonna kill you!” WHOA.
Mason comes to see his wife. He mentions J.D. and knowing him before they met. He’s also getting pissed. The person he pledged to love in sickness and in health won’t tell him the truth. This sends him off looking for J.D. in any place he can think, old buddies from his younger days. Uh oh. I feel something bad coming.
There’s also a tenderness we see in Harry, after he and his wife start their reconciliation. While they eat dinner a bird flies into their patio door. He picks it up, nurturing the bird and helping it fly once more. Not long later he also has an epiphany about Cora. She smashed him on the chest in specific places. Right where she stabbed Frankie. And she hit Harry the same amount of times she stabbed him, too. A pattern. She’s subconsciously repeating that pattern. I assume it’s got something to do with what happened to her as a girl.
But there’s really no telling. Cora is an enigma, wrapped in a mindfuck. Who knows what the key will be to unlock all her mysteries.
Pic 4Pic 4AHonestly, the first episode was good! Enough to get me into the whole concept. This episode blew me out of the water. I never expected the twists that came here, nor the final little revelation Harry has about the wounds. Interested for Part 3. So much dark, dangerous stuff to explore.

KILLING GROUND is a Fierce & Frighteningly Human Survival Thriller

Killing Ground. 2017. Directed & Written by Damien Power.
Starring Tiarnie Coupland, Harriet Dyer, Aaron Pedersen, Stephen Hunter, Aaron Glenane, Maya Strange, Mitzi Ruhlmann, Ian Meadows, Julian Garner, & Tara Jade Borg.
Hypergiant Films/Arcadia
Rated R. 88 minutes.

Horror/Thriller

★★★★1/2
KILLINGGROUND3The first feature film from Damien Power, Killing Ground, comes disguised as a survival horror-thriller we’ve all seen before, in which a happy couple camping in the wilderness come upon the scene of a grisly murder, only to be caught in the cross-hairs of the killer. While other well known entries in the survival horror sub-genre both start and end how we expect, Power gives his film extra power in his method of storytelling, as well as with unexpected characters and the surprising plot. Not to mention he conveys the story’s brutality without resorting to showing anything overly graphic, nevertheless illustrating a central theme: man is a worse beast than any animal.
When lovers Sam (Harriet Dyer) and Ian (Ian Meadows) head out to a beach in the middle of the bush, they setup their tent next to a family’s campsite, though nobody seems to be around. As time passes no one returns, and the couple become suspicious. At the same time we watch events from the days prior, discovering exactly where the family from the campsite have ended up and what’s become of them.
Like an Aussie Deliverance, yet somehow even more devoid of hope, Power’s Killing Ground pulls no punches. In 88 slick minutes, the story of Sam and Ian and the other campers collide in a brutal, tense exercise in terror. By telling the story in sections moving from the young couple to the other group of campers, and further segues to some local hunters, Power amplifies the tension as we hurtle toward a savage climax that manages to elicit dread without feeling the need to be cheap and nasty.
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Power could’ve easily made a by-the-numbers thriller. Likewise, it wouldn’t have been hard to fall into a trap of exploitative filmmaking. Killing Ground does go for the jugular, it just doesn’t do it the same as every other thriller of its ilk. There are a few instances of downright cruelty, but the power of the film’s horror is built foremost on the way the story’s told.
The immediate focus is on Sam and Ian, an endearing, normal couple. As we get to know them we’re also introduced to the family from the now abandoned beach campsite, a day or so prior to current events. In between these two main plots is a view into the lives of two deadbeat local hunters. Power weaves the three plots together, creating a particularly tense storm of events; a storm we see coming. It’s the fact we do see a horrific confrontation coming down the line which allows such palpable fright to set in slowly.
The storytelling puts the audience directly in Sam and Ian’s shoes. They sit on the beach by the abandoned campsite, not knowing where the people are, while the audience gradually becomes aware of the what the other campers have experienced. This feeling rises to an unbearable boiling point. When Power finally snaps the tension, the film’s climax and finale play like any camping aficionado’s worst nightmare. Best of all, it’s not ham-fisted how other similarly themed films play out, opting for something more unsettling than jump scares and explicit gore.
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There are two huge reasons why Killing Ground is so effective. First, a large part of why the film works as a whole are the characters; they’re not archetypal, instead they’re interesting and at times unpredictable. Sam and Ian aren’t a couple with dark secrets hidden from one another, in fact the young couple specifically go on a journey that exposes things about themselves they never actually knew in the first place. They are real, three-dimensional. Same as the local hunters, whose depressingly real socioeconomic situation feels more unsettling than that of nameless, faceless villains in the woods in other survival movies. As all the characters and their paths merge, the tension is fed by the audience’s investment in these people.
Once Power has the audience gripped in the lives of the characters, and after we’ve discovered more of the plot of the camping family, he sets about grinding us down with pure terror. However, it’s how he executes the horror of his story which sets the film apart from many in the sub-genre. For instance, there’s a nasty element of sexual assault hovering over certain scenes. Even in the gruelling moments Power opts to leave most of the physical horror either off-screen, suggested, or not the prime focus of the camera’s lens. In a way, not seeing certain moments intensifies their impact.
It’s amazing how heavy the savagery feels in the moments that do include violence, considering how relatively little we see. Most of the on-screen blood depicted is after the fact of death; there are no slasher-type scenes where blood and gore flies, knives enter skin, so on. Another significant portion of horror comes out in the portrayal of humanity amongst the various characters. It isn’t solely about the evil men do, it also involves what men won’t do, and also the evil they’re not willing or able to stop.KILLINGGROUNDCOVEROne of the hunters owns a dog, whom he takes hunting often. But in the context of the plot’s events, the hunter unleashes the dog in an effort to help him and his hunting buddy in their villainy. The interesting part is that the dog won’t hurt any humans; clearly evident in a scene where the dog sits protecting a victim left in the woods by the hunters. The dog, though only visible at a few points, parallels human beings; particularly to men. The audience gains a further, devastating sense of Ian’s character through the dog, too.
There comes a moment when Ian makes a decision ultimately giving us the verdict of his character as a person, not simply one in a movie. This makes a statement on his own personal nature as a human being, on his tendency of fight or flight. Sam interprets his decision in an honourable way: after one hunter tosses the campsite family’s baby in the woods and leaves it for dead, she believes Ian has left her alone to save the child. Later, we see the hunter’s dog with the injured infant, standing guard in the woods in case anybody comes near. Again, men and animals are juxtaposed, with the dog coming out on top as the more honourable creature.
One of the major differences about this film compared to other survival movies is its ending and how it speaks to human nature. Whereas many of these movies conclude on a totally dark note, others finish with optimism as the hero, or heroes, overcome their would-be killers and triumph. Somewhere amongst the middle is Killing Ground. The end sits somewhere halfway: it isn’t dark, but the conclusion for the heroes is left on a bittersweet note. They’re not entirely filled with hope. Rather, they’ve learned things about themselves, some of which isn’t exactly positive. When the film finishes there are tough questions left to be answered. The heroic characters are safe from the danger of villains, though they remain in the line of fire of their own criticism for how they chose to act in the face of that danger.
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The reality of Killing Ground is perhaps why it feels so intense, and surely one of the reasons it succeeds in touching a nerve with its horror. All the characters involved go through a journey, they are left irreparably changed by their experiences throughout the plot, by its consequences and revelations. Choices are made with which the characters must live, or else their lives will never be the same. Instead of going for cheap, easy scares, Power aims for the heart and digs in deep with an 88-minute film fuelled by an oppressive psychological horror with glimpses of real human monstrosity.
A powerful horror-thriller, whether it goes for the physical nastiness, is built on a director’s ability to tell the story with interest. Power’s film is steadily paced, so much so the entire thing turns on a dime becoming utterly horrifying with a single shot of Sam walking a wooded trail, a blurred, unexpected figure in the background. He doesn’t need to resort to a jump scare, blood flicking from a machete as it hacks its victim. With one shot he provides more frights than some other directors can offer with an entire film.
Killing Ground slow burns the nerves to gristle. It’s a relentlessly suffocating piece of work that’s impressive for a feature film debut. From the opening, subtle credits sequence of shots lingering on desolate wilderness and an abandoned campsite, there’s an immediate sense of dread that never once lets up for a second. Writer-director Damien Power turned what in other hands would’ve been a tired rehash of tropes into something with lasting, unsettling power, one that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Deliverance, Southern Comfort, the newer Eden Lake, and other now classic survival movies.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 10: “Treasure”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 10: “Treasure”
Directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka
Written by T.J. Brady & Rasheed Newson

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Custody” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Leopard” – click here
Pic 1J (Finn Cole) finds grandma Smurf (Ellen Barkin) in his bed, drinking. She’s worried about who robbed her storage unit. Naturally, the kid’s nervous. He helped uncle Baz (Scott Speedman) break in, though he wasn’t the one who told him about it; Barry did that all on his own.
Speaking of him, he’s checking out the haul from Smurf’s safes. Quite the goddamn loot, too. From jewellery to stacks of bills, it’s impressive. This is one time Baz is truly off on his own. He and the other lads are in two different directions. While he’s robbing his adopted mom, Craig (Ben Robson) is heading up the next actual job. He’s still dragging Nicky (Molly Gordon) around while doing shady shit. They’ve got it all planned. But I keep seeing her winding up in handcuffs. Meanwhile, Renn (Christina Ochoa) turns up again, warning the young lady about Craig not being “worth the ride.” She’d know, she nearly died after overdosing and being left in the bathroom to die by him. My only fear, that I know is justified, is that Nicky won’t figure that out before it’s too late.
Pic 2At the bar, Pope (Shawn Hatosy) goes to see Deran (Jake Weary) before they’re supposed to get going on their end of the job’s preparations. He’s not happy, he doesn’t like that Marco (Joseph Julian Soria) and Nicky both – outsiders – are part of the job. And these are genuine, smart concerns.
The younger brother doesn’t see it as anything more than simple risk. He also believes they “owe” Craig. But, if you look at the dude’s track record he’s a junkie, one who’s caused the gang a good deal of nonsense. Remember the first we really saw a lot of Craig he got himself shot? Yeah.
J goes to see Baz, worrying about the Smurf trouble. Knowing he went back on his own after the kid was gone. Baz suddenly plays the family card, after usually keeping J at arm’s length. Now he’s ready to trust him. Hope the kid is up to the task. Playing in the rough game his uncles do is dangerous shit.
Then there’s Smurf, going off the deep end. She has a cattle prod, pumping the storage locker attendant full of voltage to get answers about what happened during the robbery. She discovers it was indeed Baz, that he was alone. She also shows the guy a picture of J, but he didn’t see him there. “Thank you,” Smurf says before heading back to the car. Where little Lena Roo (Aamya Deva Keroles) sits with headphones on. Lord, what a piece of work.
The Cody gang are now pirates. Heading out to jack a boat. Craig leads them on the job, acting more responsible than we’ve ever seen him. He isn’t exactly the hard, heavy handed leader that we see in his mother. I guess he’s trying, at least. He wants to be taken seriously by his brothers, to prove to Smurf he isn’t useless, either.
And Smurf, she’s plotting the next step in her conflict with Baz. The father, as usual, isn’t around to take care of his daughter. He’s actually watching the place. He heads inside after Smurf leaves, to find the gun stashed in the fridge. Shit, man. He’s really escalating this little war. Would he go so far as to implicate Smurf in something, or perhaps turn in evidence to drop the law on her? Whoooa, if so.
Out on the open sea, Craig plays his role as member of the staff. Pouring drinks, being polite and tending to the newly married couple celebrating. All is well. On the boat he rented under a fake ID, Nicky is practising her lines, then she calls out to the response of the US Coast Guard. A nice distraction while there’s trouble on the ocean elsewhere. Craig’s setting everything in motion, throwing lines over the side and heading down below to cut off the boat’s communications, the rest of the sabotage required.
Pic 3All the while Baz is taking a walk out to a hill in the middle of nowhere. Looks very familiar. Maybe like the place where Javi was shot in the head, buried. Is he going to dig up the body? Seems to have brought the right gear – a shovel, a suit to keep from getting anything on him. Oh, my. Baz… this is fucking intense, dude. He digs the body out, puts a bullet in the head with the gun from the fridge, then covers it all back up. Not what I expected exactly. Still wild.
Simultaneously Smurf is at his place, searching for anything at all. She looks everything, top to bottom. Wonder if she’ll come across anything. Barry was dumb enough to let himself be seen at the storage unit. What else did he forget?
The ship is stopping, just like Craig planned. Out on the smaller boat, Nicky fumbles around acting innocently dumb for the Coast Guard who are towing her back. Then we’ve got the rest of the boys, Sea-Dooing to the ship. They’ve even got clear, creepy masks! They zip tie the crew, Pope controls the captain and the bridge, as Deran looks after the crowd with Marco, using his Spanish speaking skills. Then Craig is used as a decoy, getting his face and ribs beat in by Pope and Marco; the latter seeming to pile on more than agreed.
Nevertheless, the job goes over after the money, the jewellery, everything’s collected. When one woman will not give over her ring, Marco cuts the finger off with the ring intact. Fuck, that is horrifying. This went from a robbery to a bit of torture. Craig seems fine with it. Glad they’ve got shit done. I only wonder how far the Cody gang is willing to go morally. Doesn’t sit well with Pope afterwards, though. Of all people!
Pic 4What’s with Baz spending up cash? He’s bought a car, a house for him and Lucy (Carolina Guerra). Well, the house is a place for him to stash all his earnings. As well as the massive haul from Smurf’s storage unit. Although I’m not sure if Lucy’s down. It semi-impresses, and also freaks her out, I think.
And J, my lord, J! He’s become such a jaded part of the gang. When Smurf asks if there were any problems on the latest job, he dumps the ring finger out on the table. Then watches her throw it down the garbage disposal with some bleach. Also, he took a picture of the loot on his phone. Yikes. Not a good idea, bro.
Later he goes to see an old friend, his previous neighbour Dina (Karen Malina White). They’re having a bit of dinner together, for old time’s sake; something they’ve been doing lately, apparently.  Then he goes to her bathroom. Under the sink, in a secret stash he hides some jewellery. Where there’s already several stacks of cash. Hmm. Maybe the kid’s planning not to be part of the Cody shit show much longer.
Celebrating at the bar, J gets closer to Nicky while Craig rails coke, Pope goes home for an early night, and Deran swipes around on Tinder until he finds a guy to fuck. All’s good in the land of the Codys. Although Pope isn’t actually gone home. He’s off to see Amy (Jennifer Landon), having grim visions of making love to her mixed with killing Catherine. He isn’t doing so hot after all. And J, he runs into uncle Deran giving a blowjob this time rather than getting one; no animosity anymore, since he’s come out of the closet. Oh, and Craig’s trying to get a second chance from Renn. A very tenuous, rocky one, but a second chance nonetheless.
Not to mention he asks Renn on a trip to Vegas. Maybe he’s turning a leaf. Or maybe he’s just finding other ways to be irresponsible.
Pic 5Now, Baz tells Lucy he wants to leave with her. Go to Mexico, move in her with her, her son, Lena. A happy little life, away from the family, and away from Smurf.
Goddamn. Is this the ultimate plan? To get Smurf put away, then take off down south of the border? Might be a good plan, if I didn’t think she was slippery enough to get out of it all unscathed. There’s no telling to what lengths she’ll go in order to save herself. And Baz might’ve been adopted by her, taken in from a terrible family.
But remember: he ain’t real family.
Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 12.19.31 AMWow, this was another intense slice of Animal Kingdom! A couple real interesting developments happening, from Nicky and J, as well as J and Deran sort of getting closer and less fist-to-fist, plus Pope’s mental state and now Baz v. Smurf. SO MUCH GOING DOWN. It’s unreal. Great Season 2, can’t wait to see how it closes out. We already know Season 3 is a go, that leaves me excited for how we’re going to head into a third outing. I’m feeling there’ll be a very suspenseful, suspicious, paranoid third season if things continue this route.
“The Leopard” is next week. Can hardly wait!

Preacher – Season 2, Episode 8: “Holes”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 2, Episode 8: “Holes”
Directed by Maja Vrvilo
Written by Mark Stegemann

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Pig” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, ” Puzzle Piece” – click here
Pic 1What are things like in Hell? Eugene (Ian Colletti) is buffed up a bit, using the time to work out. He’s got a TRACY tattoo across his back. He’s like one of those tough guys you see in a prison movies, a veteran of the block. He and Hitler (Noah Taylor) aren’t as buddy-buddy as they were before. But y’know, shit happens. Here, you aren’t allowed to be nice, either. Not to anybody. It’s Hell, for fuck sakes!
Ah, hell is changing Eugene. Not totally, but it’s changing him. The guy who doesn’t deserve to be there has now become indoctrinated into the life. A familiar story, paralleled well here through Eugene’s days in Hell. He’s just playing the game, though. Go along to get along.
Pic 1AFlashback to 1946, as Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) looks over tiny newborn Denis in the hospital. His boy. In present day, Denis (Ronald Guttman) is old, on death’s door. He hates his father, even more now that he won’t be granting his son eternal life. Flat out refusing. Because he knows the pain of being immortal. Living forever isn’t so great when you’ve also got to deal with lost love, unrequited love, mistakes, failures, deaths, so on. It’ll get ugly.
Poor Tulip (Ruth Negga) isn’t doing so hot, either. She’s having nightmares about the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) attacking her. But, of course, she pretends she’s fine, always strong to the point of stubbornness.
What about Jesse (Dominic Cooper)? He’s still chasing God. Looking for clues anywhere possible. All the while he’s being watched by Hoover (Malcolm Barrett) and Lara Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery) from the Grail. The priest is trying to get the fake God video blown up, examined; hoping to get a serial number off the gun.
Down in Hell, the inmates are almost back in their own “personal” little Hells. Apparently they’ve also discovered someone isn’t supposed to be there. Somebody “doesnt belong in Hell.” Eugene almost raises his hand when they’re asked, but doesn’t; Hitler notices. Thus begins an investigation. A bunch of inmates plead their case to each other, as the higher-ups figure it all out. Love the little touches in Hell – you get a basketball hoop, but a half deflated basketball. When Hitler asks Eugene about his story, he sees the kid doesn’t belong, he can tell. This ain’t gonna be good.
Pic 2Cassidy starts asking Tulip about his immortality, wondering if she ever wanted to live forever. Trying to see other opinions. She gives us the typical “nothing to be afraid of” line. To which Cassidy replies: “Things still hurt.” Everything from that unrequited love to the sun, can’t even go enjoy the beach anymore. The pain of immortality comes through in this scene, by way of Joseph Gilgun’s powerful, quiet acting.
At the video shop, Jesse doesn’t luck out on a serial number – no identifying marks, the number’s scratched off. Nothing to go on, no closer to God than before. So the preacher goes over the footage with the guys at the shop himself. He spots a reflection of a face. Hmm.
Eugene gets tossed into a worse part of Hell, into an extrapolator. A deep, dark hole. It’s there he’s transported back to that moment with Tracy Loach (Gianna LePera) before she’s about to blow her face off. He talks her out of it, putting the gun away. She calms down. Then he goes for a kiss. Instead of rejection, this time she accepts it, they embrace. Then they sing “Closing Time” by Semisonic together, so happy.
Well, until Jesse shows up. Or, God as Tracy calls him. She’s promised herself to him. Oh, lord. This is a real thumb in the eye to Eugene. He’s also worries that she’s calling the preacher God. This drives him mad, watching the two of them nearly fuck in front of him. Forcing Eugene to pick up the gun, to blow his face off.
Pic 3Tulip just about runs into the Grail operatives, after knocking on the apartment door next to Denis’ place. She’s trying to fix the bullet holes from the Saint. Well, she does run into them. Just not as themselves. Close call. Tulip and Lara actually bond for a second there, too.
The video shop lads come up with nothing. The face Jesse thought he saw is just a coffee pot. And so there’s nothing to help from here. The stress is starting to show. If only he noticed the PROPERTY OF GRAIL INDUSTRIES stamp on the DVD, might put him on the path to discovering the company, the men in white with whom he previously tangled.
At the apartment, papa Cassidy’s made a decision. Finally. He can’t handle watching his son die, so awfully. Not when he’s got a way to alleviate it, despite what’ll come with that later. Will he bite? Or will he kill?
Pic 4Man, this was a heavy episode. Loving these bits of the story with Cassidy, fleshing out the concept of what it would be for a vampire to be immortal, living amongst humans. Never thought of one having a child. So cool! Love this series. Preacher gets better with age. “Puzzle Piece” is next week. I have a feeling there’ll be some coming together, as per the name. Maybe a genuine piece of the puzzle will come to Jesse, or somebody else.

Twin Peaks – Season 3: “The Return, Part 13”

Showtime’s Twin Peaks
Season 3: “The Return, Part 13”
Directed by David Lynch
Written by Lynch & Mark Frost

* For a recap & review of Part 12, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 14, click here.
Pic 1At the Lucky 7 offices, the Mitchum brothers – Bradley (Jim Belushi) and Rdoney (Robert Knepper) – are prancing around like they’re kings of the world. Marching in to see the boss, along with Dougie-Coop (Kyle MacLachlan), after a nice celebration. Bearing gifts, too. The brothers are quite happy with their big haul.
At the same time, Duncan Todd (Patrick Fischler) chastises Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore), who’s only got one more day to do whatever it is he’s supposed to get done. Sinister stuff, no doubt.
Bradley: “A wrong has been made right and the sun is shining bright
Over at the Jones place, Janey-E (Naomi Watts) receives a new jungle gym set from the Mitchums. Also noticing the beautiful car in the driveway, literally gift wrapped. Quite a change of pace from living with the old Dougie Jones. His wife is certainly thrilled.
Funny, how in parallel with the spirit of BOB, when Cooper came back out from the Black Lodge he became an agent of good, a positive spirit. Making lives better everywhere he goes.
Pic 1AMeanwhile, the bad Coop (MacLachlan) is meeting with a couple bad lookin’ dudes, including old pay Ray Monroe (George Griffith); he of course thought the guy was dead. Seems bad Coop – or Bob Cooper, if you will – is up against a tough arm wrestling competitor named Renzo (Derek Mears). If he loses he’s got to work for Renzo. If he wins, he’d be the boss of their whole organisation. He only wants Ray.
They sit to the table, rules are read out for all to hear. Then, the match begins. Renzo nearly puts bad Coop’s arm flat. But he holds on, he doesn’t let up, much as Renzo, the big brute tries. It’s like the evil entity isn’t even breaking a sweat. It actually becomes scary after a certain point. Especially considering Ray witnessed the weird voodoo shit which brought the guy back. It ends when bad Coop decides to lay the big man’s arm flat to the table, snapping it. He punches Renzo in the face so hard it sends him back, nose and forehead crushed in. Blood spurts from the open hole.
Who’s the boss now, bitch?
He and Ray get a bit of alone time, the latter taking a bullet first before they have a chat. Then he reveals who hired him to kill bad Coop: a man by the name of Phillip Jeffries. Or at least, that’s who the guy says he is, anyways. So, is it the real Jeffries? Or a doppelganger from the Black Lodge? Moreover, Ray was given the owl ring to put on him after he did the deed. Now, he’s made to put it on.
All the while people are watching on the camera in the other room. And who should walk in but Richard Horne (Eamon Farren). Oh, shit. This is a very, very interesting connection. Then before Ray gets a bullet in the eyes he mentions Jeffries, a place called The Dutchman’s. And after he’s dead, the ring disappears, flicking across the patterned floor of the Black Lodge.
Pic 2Pic 2AThe Dougie Jones plot thickens when the streams cross: he’s not just Dougie, he’s also a guy who escaped from a max security prison, as well as a missing FBI agent. Of course the Las Vegas cops laugh that off as total bullshit. Because, really, only in the Twin Peaks universe of David Lynch and Mark Frost would such a mad thing happen.
Sinclair’s got friends around town, including Detective Clark (John Savage), who’s clearly in dirty business with the insurance man. The Dougie plot lines are all going to come together in a spectacular whirlwind of shit by the end of this season. Sinclair has big troubles of his own, he wants to poison Dougie but Dt. Clark says. His cop friends work for his boss Mr. Todd, too. So he’s on a tight leash.
Out for coffee together, Sinclair and Dougie-Coop sit quietly at a table. When cherry pie takes our man away for a moment, his fellow insurance salesman slips a vial of poison in his cup. Luckily some of Dougie-Coop’s strangeness renders Sinclair into a blubbering mess, unable to finish the job. Back at Lucky 7, the boss hears Sinclair’s confession about what he’s done, working for Mr. Todd, so on. I love how Dougie-Coop has become this tabula rasa-type deity, without words – or at least with very few – he helps people get back to their better selves, he helps people get what they deserve, in many ways. This leads towards possibly testimony to take down Todd and his dirty operation.
Pic 3In Twin Peaks at the Double R, Shelly (Mädchen Amick) gets a call from her daughter Becky (Amanda Seyfried). She hasn’t heard from her husband Steven (Caleb Landry Jones). Who knows where he’s gone. Mom cheers her daughter up with the suggestion of cherry pie and ice cream. Yum!
Other things back home are uneasy. Ed Hurley (Everett McGill) has to watch Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton) move on romantically. Although she’s doing well, Norma’s Double R is a franchise now, turning profits. But neither Ed nor Norma it seems have totally moved on from what they had together 25 years ago. Through her situation with the Double R, we see the modern world creeping into Twin Peaks. Lynch is a guy who loved an age gone by, so it’s fun to watch him and Frost contemplate how this little town’s being sucked in by the rest of the world around them, an inevitability for most small places nowadays.
Elsewhere in town, Nadine (Wendy Robie) has surprised Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) with a display in a shop window on the main street. She’s displayed one of the golden shovels, as well as her perfected silent runners for the drapes, after all these years! Bless both their hearts. Two fucking crazies.
At the Palmer place, Sarah (Grace Zabriskie) falls further into the drink, smoking more cigarettes than you can even imagine. Electricity snaps somewhere in the background now and then, boxing on the television. The place is like a dungeon. Creepy.
And then there’s Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn), her husband Charlie (Clark Middleton). She isn’t well, screaming at him: “I dont even know who I am.” She also can’t remember where the Roadhouse is, which is very strange. There’s something not quite right about her these days. Remember, we’ve not yet discovered how she fared after the explosion in the bank a couple decades ago, we don’t know what this new situation, this contract of a marriage with Charlie is in truth. I suspect there’s so much more to it than we understand yet. Audrey always was a complicated woman.
Over at the Roadhouse we get a callback performance by James Hurley (James Marshall) playing “Just You” with a couple backup singers onstage, crooning the singer in that saccharine voice of his, as a woman watches him closely, lovingly, tears in her eyes.
Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 12.03.01 AMLoved this episode. We’re getting bits and pieces that I want more of, specifically Audrey and Sarah Palmer. Some people can’t handle the slow, long build. But for me, it’s part of why Frost and Lynch are so powerful. They don’t have to rush. They don’t have to end each episode on a cliffhanger. They do things at a nice, steady pace, and if you can’t hang on for the ride: don’t.

Room 104 – Season 1, Episode 2: “Pizza Boy”

HBO’s Room 104
Season 1, Episode 2: “Pizza Boy”
Directed by Patrick Brice
Written by Mark Duplass

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Ralphie” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Knockadoo” – click here
Pic 1At a hotel, Room 104, a delivery boy from Pizza Palace named Jared (Clark Duke) arrives with an order for a couple. Scott (James Van Der Beek) opens the door, joking, being a little charming. He invites the kid inside from the cold. In the bathroom is his wife Jennifer (Davie-Blue), she takes off her clothes and stands naked in front of the mirror before Scott pays for the pizza.
Except when he finds his wallet there’s no money in it. Scott says he’ll run down to the ATM while Jared waits with his wife. Then Jennifer calls the pizza boy in further. He’s nervous, as she asks him what dress looks best. There’s a current of sexual tension running through the air, you best believe Jared’s feeling it. Jennifer knows the kid isn’t focused “on the dress,” so to speak. Other things on his mind.
Pic 1AThe woman says she’ll put on another dress. But “no peeking” this time. There’s something… strange, about her demeanour. She encourages him, chastising him a moment later. Afterwards, she says they’re not even going to eat the pizza. So why order it in the first place? Especially when she loves pizza. She uses food as an innuendo, for extramarital affairs, the forbidden fruit. All that sexy jazz.
Jennifer: “So here we are… so hungry.”
When she calls Jared over to the bed with his pizza, it’s about to get steamy.
Then Scott gets back with the money, a nice tip for the delivery boy. But then his wife walks out in a huff. The husband mopes, wishing Jared would have a drink with him, talking about women. Everything feels so innocent. It’s naive to think there’s not something eerie behind it all.
Suddenly, Scott receives a text from Jennifer. His whole demeanour changes. He asks about what “services [were] performed” while he went out to get the money. The tension quickly rises. Our pizza guy’s nervous, wanting to get out of there fast. Scott starts believing the kid fucked his wife. Then he twists the deliver boy’s words, over and over, making him look crazy.
Scott: “Did you deliver the Meat Lovers to my wife on that bed?”
Jared: “Sorta
Scott jumps on Jared, pinning him to the bed. Tying him in the phone’s cords. A frenzied, psychotic moment. The husband throws on a few tunes, getting himself dressed again. Laying out what’ll happen if Jared doesn’t admit to what went on between him and his wife. Yikes. This night shift at Pizza Palace is getting worse by the second.
Pic 2When Jennifer gets back, Scott gets even more darkly excited. Yelling at them both, accusing, saying some mental shit. He’s about to pull down the kid’s pants to smell his dick to check if he smells his wife before Jennifer starts acting to her husband like they actually did have sex. So insane! The married couple scream each other down.
This leads to them smacking each other around. Then to them fucking wildly in the bed next to Jared, forcing him to watch. “Heres your Meat Lovers,” Scott taunts, as does Jennifer in her own way. Horrifying.
A little later we switch to the couple sitting on the edge of their bed, cleaned up. As is Jared dressed nicely in a suit. They’ve been role playing, apparently. Jared is teaching these two how to work over a client, giving pointers about when to take the tits out, the “characterisation” and all sorts of stuff. It’s an audition for a role playing-escort company of some kind.
Not long after Jared leaves, their first official client comes to the door. It starts over once more with Scott answering the door, Jennifer hiding in the bathroom. The never ending loop of kink.
Pic 3This episode was good. Although I didn’t like the ending, sort of lost impact. Not sure if it’s how it was written, or how it was filmed and edited. I just didn’t dig this one as much as the first. Still enjoyable! But isn’t what I was hoping for as a follow-up on “Ralphie” – that was a damn good start.
“The Knockadoo” is next week.

The Sinner – Part 1

USA’s The Sinner
Part 1
Directed by Antonio Campos
Written by Derek Simonds

* For a recap & review of Part 2, click here.
Pic 1Cora Tannetti (Jessica Biel) works in a warehouse, looking after business for a heat and air specialist company at which her husband Mason (Christopher Abbot) works. They’re a simple family, they have dinner with his parents a couple times a week and the grandparents look after the kids. Cora calls her husband a “mamas boy” for all the time they spend with them. Not to mention they work with pops at the company, too. A nice, quaint life.
At the same time it’s predictable. Friday nights are for fucking, just like everything seems to have its place, every aspect of their lives is plotted out. She has to take a pill before they get in bed. Doesn’t bode well for their relationship as we see it from the omnipotent angle. Something about Cora’s vacant eyes when they have sex is chilling. This is not a happy woman.
Bowing to the more patriarchal aspects of marriage and motherhood, she looks like a woman stuck. Not that she doesn’t love her husband or their child. She loves them so much that she appears to have forced herself into a life that isn’t what she wants. All this is without words, as well. All by way of Biel’s expressions, the way she looks at others. You can see her existing in her own head while the world goes on around her.
There’s a great metaphor in how, when they go swimming Cora goes out past the rope on her own, past where people are meant to swim. Like it’s something she has to do, compelled to. She puts herself under the water and holds her breath awhile, long as she can.
She returns to her husband freaking out a bit. “I wanted some quiet,” she tells him.
On the beach, a young couple groping catches her attention, making her feel strange. Out of nowhere Cora attacks the man, stabbing him in the neck with a steak knife, stabbing his chest, over and over telling him to “get off her.” Before Mason can pull her away, it’s over. He’s bleeding out. People are screaming. Nobody knows why it happened.
Problem is, neither does Cora. Naturally she’s carted off by the cops.
Pic 1ALooks like this is a case for Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman), a bit of a grizzled dude with rough fingernails, possibly liver troubles from drinking, or could be something else. Either way, he’s out on the beach faced with the murder of the poor young dude at the hands of a stranger. Along with Detective Dan Leroy (Dohn Norwood). Plenty of witnesses. But if they want to find a motive, this one’s like a needle in a massive stack of identical-looking needles.
There’s something in Cora’s past. We see glimpses of her upbringing, her praying. Only brief. It’s clear that we’ll find at least partial answers there. I don’t think this is going to be as simple as some exploitative abuse angle, though there’s no telling just yet. It simply feels bigger, more complex than that.
The detectives are meeting with Cora, laying out the next steps in what will happen from here on. They advise her to call a lawyer. She refuses. Knowing what she did, yet not sure why. She can’t produce any reason for doing so. Also, what are the shots of the black wallpaper in her head? Or is it the pattern of curtains, a duvet? Is it a key to unlocking her past? We’ve seen it a couple times now, directly linked with her. Visions. Puzzle pieces to some kind of trauma in her childhood.
Cora: “I just did it. And I dont know why.”
Pic 2Nice audio touch, as Cora suffers in her cell for the night without her medication and the sound that played on the beach before she killed the man pounds in her ears, like it’s coming through speakers. She sees images of her crime flash through her mind. So, she drops to the floor. On her knees, in prayer.
Dt. Ambrose is a troubled dude. The black fingernails aren’t liver damage. They’re bloodied, bruised fingernails from having them stepped on by a lady friend of his he goes to see now and then. Lord, Harry. Bit of S&M, baby! Dude does enjoy his drink, though.
Everyone’s life is torn apart. Mason is having a hard time, he hasn’t gone to see his wife since she’s been in jail. It’s tough. He was there, having witnessed the murder. Not understanding from where this bout of rage exploded. He mentions to Dt. Ambrose what she said after the attack to the girlfriend of the man: “Youre okay. Youre safe. Hes gone now.” As if she were saving the woman from something.
Pic 3We’re offered a glimpse of Cora as a girl. She’s meeting her sister for the first time. Her mother, essentially, blames her for the sick new baby they have. That after her, there was no more strength left in the mother for another child. All this under the guise of being a test from God. Already we can see there’s a religious angle to whatever trauma Cora experienced when she was young.
Finally, Mason goes to visit her in jail. He’s struggling to understand it all. The cruel irony is that she is in the same boat. She’s willing to admit maybe there’s “something wrong” with her. He’d rather believe it was a momentary lapse, a psychotic break out of nowhere. So obvious there’s far more to the story lurking below. On top of everything, they’re going to have to figure out where to go from here, in their relationship. She accepts what’s coming, from jail to her husband maybe having to move on. That’s not something he’s ready to hear.
Dt. Ambrose goes to see the others present when the victim was killed. The girlfriend, specifically, though she’s sedated. One of the guy’s present doesn’t have much to say, until the cop starts poking at him for not having tried to save his friend. This prompts what he’s looking for: the guy mentions his friend grabbed her by the elbow, that he was a strong guy, and it’s strange because he didn’t do anything. Ambrose susses out it was like “he let her kill him.” As if he knew her, recognised her after the first stab in his neck, then let what happened happen.
Could it possibly be? Will Ambrose pursuit it even if Cora doesn’t know it herself?
Pic 4Man, I have to say, I wasn’t expecting much. Then I realised Antonio Campos was directing this episode, and I’m willing to watch anything he does or is involved with, full stop. Biel impressed me, big time. Look forward to Part 2.

The Mist – Season 1, Episode 7: “Over the River and Through the Woods”

Spike’s The Mist
Season 1, Episode 7: “Over the River and Through the Woods”
Directed by Matthew Penn
Written by Daniel Cameron Talbott

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Devil You Know” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Law of Nature” – click here
Pic 1Mia (Danica Curcic), Kevin (Morgan Spector), Bryan (Okezie Morro), Adrian ( Russell Posner) and Tyler (Christopher Gray) get through the mist to another one of the wards: the psychiatric wing. An orderly named Nash knew Mia’s mom, saying there was “nothing bad in her” and assuring she wasn’t like the other patients. Meanwhile, there’s plenty else to worry about than the mist, with Kevin still drugged up and having been exposed to it by the doctor, as well as Bryan and Mia’s now tenuous relationship.
At the mall,  Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) and Alex (Gus Birney) are holed up with Jay (Luke Cosgrove) and others. The protective mom is keeping an eye on the rapist, not willing to leave anything to chance. Not to mention there’s trouble with the new society in the mall, people eating too many rations. And people still believe the military’s coming. There’s a real hostility, too. Towards Eve. Although she manages to plant a baby monitor in the other camp, to figure out what’s been going on.
Over at the church, Nathalie (Frances Conroy) is having her face treated after taking abuse from that insane follower of Christ, the wayward sheep of Father Romanov (Dan Butler). The idea of faith, particularly Catholicism with its confession, is funny. You can do bad things, yet God is perpetually willing to forgive, so long as you repent. Thus begins Chief Connor Heisel (Darren Pettie) putting the priest to a confession, asking him if he’s responsible for what happened to the older woman. The cop beats Romanov to the floor, as Nathalie hums in the background. Eerie moment. Church and state coming apart, a new religion taking hold. However, the priest isn’t so innocent. This beating’s gonna put him over the edge.
Pic 1ABryan Hunt isn’t Bryan Hunt, he’s Jonah Dixon. He beat up the real Bryan, a soldier at Arrowhead military base. So she’s worried he could be “psycho” or it could be amnesia. The two talk about things, he tells her about meeting the real Bryan, that he was attacked. She then tells him about what happened at her mother’s house, the apparition of dear ole mom, the thought of fading into death. What brought her back was Jonah. In order to feel worthy of it, of anything, she’s doing a rapid detox. Harsh, brutal.
Particularly considering there’s a mist outside with terrible creatures inside.
Note: The score is absolutely perfect. Giona Ostinelli’s a killer composer, he’s done good stuff on several Mickey Keating films such as Darling and Pod. His music here comes perfectly fitting, punctuating the creepiest and most emotional moments alike.
Alone later, Adrian and Tyler talk about the worst things they’ve ever done. Tyler talks about beating up a guy who walked “swishy” and threatened his faux-masculinity, his closeted sexuality. Beat him then pissed on him. That’s how much he hates himself. So he apologises to Adrian, who offers forgiveness. Perhaps this is the relationship which helps a guy like Tyler accept himself. Maybe. Just maybe.
Nathalie questions Romanov about his beliefs. She’s reading the Bible, for the first time. He believes she’s holding people’s souls in her hands. But also, he admits to letting his insane follower do what he did to her, knowing it would happen. He speaks about a “trial by ordeal” that involves walking into the mist, seeing if God and nature spare the two of them: “Whoever dies, we will provide an answer for the people here.” Does she accept?
Pic 2When Adrian’s nowhere to be found, Tyler panics. He goes to Kevin, then the orderly tells them not to bother. That the kid’s a bad person, he can “see people” and who they are underneath. Turns out the orderly is not an orderly, he was a patient. An especially violent one. He runs off before the two can get to Adrian, who’s bound, gagged in a room. Not far from where the guy’s got a bunch of dead bodies stashed in a closet, piled atop one another like sides of beef.
At the same time, Jonah’s seeing Mia through her detox, a gruelling stretch ahead of them, as she sweats and cries and teases him with more information about his real identity. Lies from the throes of withdrawal? Or truth? Suddenly, he remembers bits and pieces on his own. And nothing good at all.
The ordeal of Father Romanov and Nathalie is set to commence. Whomever survives may have a chance at saving those in the church, rescuing them all from whatever’s in the mist. While the priest goes in his robes, she does so naked as the day she was born. As nature intended. Out from the doors they go, into the mist. They close their eyes and wait for whatever comes. Romanov hears the hooves of horses come near: the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The priest calls out scripture, receiving nothing in return but an arrow through his torso before they pull him back into the mist with them.
The only one left is Nathalie, so she goes back inside. Welcomed by everyone eager to hear what went on outside. One of my favourite couple scenes in this first season as a whole! Great, spooky stuff.
Pic 3Jonah remembers being experimented on, zapped, a woman speaking random words to him through all the pain. He sees all sorts of things coming back to him. He tells Mia about it, how he survived, and coaches her through the pain she’s feeling.
Simultaneously, Kevin’s trying to reason with Nash. He has serious issues, this dude. He talks about a nun that taught about the evil in people, having to beat it out of her. He’s gone past the deep end into an abyss. Determined to purge evil. Until Kevin says Adrian isn’t evil; he’s the one. This sets Nash after him, just long enough for Kevin to get in the room with him. They fight, tooth and nail. To the death.
Now people at the mall, some of them, are starting to look for a scapegoat. Why not start with the family who supposedly makes up rapes? That’s what the mother of the dead little girl’s suggesting. Not everyone is on board. But some are, and that’s scary.
And sadly, as Kevin and the others leave the hospital, Tyler refuses to go. Despite he and Adrian becoming closer in private. Teary eyed, the kid stays while his secretive gay lover Adrian, just as devastated, leaves with his close knit group.
Pic 4Wow, this episode was one of my favourites! If not the best of The Mist‘s Season 1. Such good stuff, on all ends. Interested to see what happens in many areas, like the gay relationship which is awesome – and so needed in this day and age for representation, very well written, at that – and also the budding trouble at the mall. Many things to come!
“The Law of Nature” is next week.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 9: “Custody”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 9: “Custody”
Directed by Gary B. Goldman
Written by Etan Frankel

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Grace” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Treasure” – click here
Pic 1Oh, the Cody lads are at it again! Having a bit of extreme sports-style fun, racing Sea-Doos together. Well, at least J (Finn Cole), Deran (Jake Weary), Pope (Shawn Hatosy), and Craig (Ben Robson) are having a laugh together. They’re actually scouting out the boat where Craig got the job, their next target for the upcoming job. Baz (Scott Speedman) isn’t around, though. The boys aren’t entirely pleased. At least Deran isn’t, Pope is fairly sure their adopted bro isn’t going to be down for the job. Not with the way his life’s been lately. Troubling things beginning to come to light.
Then there’s Nicky (Molly Gordon), she’s out looking at guns in a shop. As in serious fucking guns. You know who she’s starting to act and sound like? Smurf (Ellen Barkin). Only she’s not as smart as the older woman yet, she isn’t as experienced. This might either be her corruption, or her total downfall. I worry and wonder.
Pic 1AThe gang gets together talking over the job, Baz doesn’t take the thing hugely serious knowing Craig is behind the brains. But the dude’s got things covered, he’s trying to pull his weight in the family to prove he’s not a total fuck up. The crowd’s a bit bigger than they’re used to, though the man with the plan has an idea: he’ll get the shit kicked out of them to control people. Lucky for one of his brothers. Except for the fact Baz is out. Neither are the rest happy with the fact Nicky’s supposedly part of the job. Risky shit.
Suddenly Pope is willing to defend Smurf, saying she might’ve taken Catherine out for him, to protect them all. Not knowing the truth, Baz insists on not letting her “get away” with all she’s done. He wants Pope with him. Reluctantly, the adopted brother agrees. Knowing in his heart what he’s done. What Smurf had him do, what they conspired to do together.
Deran isn’t ready to accept Nicky working with them. He also isn’t sure they can pull the job without Baz, the only one of the group who can speak Spanish. Other than that they’ve got no one to trust who speaks the language. Deran knows a guy from juvenile detention who might fit the bill.
Oh, and Baz? He’s readying to pull a job on his own: ripping off Smurf.
Speaking of the big boss lady, she’s assuring Pope there is no heat coming for Baz. Per a “cop friend” she says. The look in Pope’s eyes, you can just see how confused and tortured and twisted up he is inside. He gives mom a hug, but there’s this vacant look that shows the guilt, bottled up down in the darkness of his gut. It’s powerful. She enjoys the hug, the first in a long time. She doesn’t recognise what she’s done to him over the years. She made a monster.
Pic 2The boys go to mom to get their money laundered. Deran would rather not, Craig wants to get the job done, one way or another. Meanwhile, Baz is trying to keep at least one person on his side, as he picks J up to help him with his shit.
Craig tells Nicky a story about 8-years old, pulling his first job with dear ole mom. Afterwards they went to Toys-R-Us with a $1K wad. Jesus fucking christ, no wonder he’s absolutely messed up. His life’s been a goddamn mess. Smurf’s truly and wholly corrupted her family, just about from day one. Later, he and Deran go meet Rafael (Scotty Tovar) for a hopeful Spanish connection. Their lives are on completely different paths now. “You see me turn into that guy put a bullet in my head,” says Deran. It was a hot minute ago he was talking about getting out of the life of a thief.
Baz takes J with him to the storage unit; yeah, that one. Doesn’t the kid already know this is where grandma has a space? He reluctantly helps his possible father cut a way through to the safes inside. Tons of money just sitting there, waiting for the taking. Baz uses this opportunity to make sure the kid knows: “Smurfs needs you, not the other way around. Remember that.”
What about Pope? He’s headed to the sheriff’s station. Almost as if he’s about to turn himself in. Then he goes to see Amy (Jennifer Landon). Calling himself a coward. He tells her he worries about his family falling apart, that he’s not strong enough to keep it from happening. And that it’s all his fault. Part of that’s true.
Pic 3Smurf gets a call and has to run out. Down at an apartment building in town she’s found Jake (Jack Conley). She gets the jump on his ass, Tasering him in the shower. Ouch. Bad enough getting the shock, really rough to get it while totally wet. More than that she makes him choose a knee, before popping a bullet into the other one. No more running, Jakey.
Pope gets an upfront view of Amy’s life, her mistakes, her failures. This is why he’s fallen in love with her, he sees the warts and all view. He equates what he’s done with what she did, and they’re not on the same level. Not in the slightest. When he’s willingly murdered; not in self defence, but out of self preservation in the most selfish sense. Amy made a mistake that forever altered her life for the worse, one she’s dealing with and accepting every waking moment.
Deran and Craig are trying to get their buddy Marco (J.J. Soria) to help them on the boat job. They need their Spanish connection. He’s not so willing, not anymore. These aren’t the old days. So the Cody boys pump liquor into him to get their answer. Relying on them agreeing to help him move some drugs. Uh oh. That ain’t their wheelhouse. Could mean bigger heat, bigger trouble than they’re used to with robberies. Also equals bigger consequences.
Now Baz has himself a shadow, as J follows him after their storage unit job. I can’t tell if he’s going to tell grandma. She’s just discovering the theft of every single bit of her stash. Baz is ready to hit her where it hurts, deep. A civil war amongst the gang. Gonna get nasty.
COVERAnother excellent episode in Season 2. Recently, TNT confirmed they’re giving Animal Kingdom a Season 3, so we’ll see plenty more of the Codys, what drives them, where they’re headed. So much more. And there’s still plenty of deviousness left in these last episodes of this season. It’ll get wilder yet.

Preacher – Season 2, Episode 7: “Pig”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 2, Episode 7: “Pig”
Directed by Wayne Yip
Written by Olivia Dufault

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Sokosha” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Holes” – click here
Pic 1Fittingly, we open on a pig. In Vietnam. A man and his wife bicker in a small hut over cooking. The woman starts screaming, calling her husband over, as they gawk in horror.
Cut to Herr Starr (Pip Torrens), a one-eyed man in a crisp white suit. He’s led into the jungle to the hut we saw the previous night. People speaking of “a miracle.” The pig is floating, like a helium-filled balloon. And while others rejoice, Starr’s not enthused. “Shit,” he mutters to himself. Is this God’s power loose? Or something else entirely?
Oh, we’ll see.
Pic 1ANew Orleans is a mess, as people lie drunk in the streets. Piled onto carts driven around by people taking them to safety. We head to the last jazz club in New Orleans, where we find Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), and Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga). The vamp suggests they “have some fun” rather than constantly searching for God, especially after their latest troubles.
So where do they go? A place called the hurt Locker. Where they have some… unconventional fun. Cassidy plays Tulip’s boyfriend, and the vamp steps in to get shot with a gun. Bulletproof vest and all. Afterwards, our preacher pops by playing his part in their little grift. When the lady talks a good game, this puts Cassidy up against their biggest gun. Something that would make Dirty Harry wince.
When he takes a bullet, through and through, he dies. Or at least that’s how they play it off for the unsuspecting audience. Before they give him a juice box of blood. But that kiss Tulip laid on him? Yikes. It hit the lad hard, neither did it sit quite right with Jesse.
Tulip: “Oh, Im sorry, I didnt realise this was Ladies Night. Now I gotta bunch amoney, and you got a bunch aguns. So why dont yall stop beina bunch abitches and shoot my boyfriend?”
Cassidy, and his son Denis (Ronald Guttman), have a talk at the bar. Turns out the old man’s dying. He thinks the vampire is a selfish dad. It’ll be fixed if he can live forever. Something the absentee father will not do. Wholly refuses, angry even.
Back to Starr. He’s investigating people praying to the pig. We see a flashback to 2004, hearing a bit of his tortured past as he’s interviewed for a position with the ominous group Grail; a 2000-year-old group. Part of anti-terrorism unit, a military man. He has obsession with “absolute order” and discipline, he’s a really fun guy. All this leads to some sort of fascist religious militant group. Scary shit.
Pic 2Tulip is having nightmares, flashes of the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) holding her by the throat, a sky of raining bloody fingers like “french fries” as she later describes. Her encounter with the cowboy’s left her scarred, emotionally, mentally. He haunts her inescapably. She’s such a tough woman that it’s scary when something scares her this much. Makes me uncomfortable.
And Cassidy? He winds up being taken to the morgue, drunk, half shot up, assumed dead. Stuck in a drawer.
Back to Starr, and his pierced nipples with a chain linking them, in ’04. A hopeful Grail recruit. He’s put through an obstacle course, made to throw a medicine ball against a wall repeatedly. Later, all the recruits are made to wrestle with a tough young man. Starr steps in, jerks off as his opponent chokes him, distracting long enough to kick the living shit out of him. On to the “art of seduction” and that yields more interesting stuff from Starr, whose direct and brutal response to a woman is straight to the threats. He’s also not adverse to having jumper cables and a battery connected to his bare testicles. The man is perfectly psychopathic, in every way.
He’s welcomed into the fold at Grail happily. Although Starr’s not too interested in their talk of Christ, until the Grail’s main man Saltonstall (Fredric Lehne) tells him Christ is alive and well, guarded by this militant group. Preparing for the apocalypse. Oh, mercy. Well, this explains them sending him out to investigate stuff like the floating pig, et cetera. He takes care of “false prophets” and their narratives, in order to ensure belief in Jesus Christ. The Grail’s killed people like Abraham Lincoln throughout history, all for their agenda. Starr takes over after he tosses Saltonstall to his death from a balcony. Makes sense, he’s not the order taking-type.
Pic 3Jesse speaks with a Doomsday preacher (John Ales) on the corner of a street, giving out his thoughts on scripture. Our preacher asks him about the end of the world, something of which he’s been thinking a lot lately.
At the hospital, Cassidy’ s turned loose finally after being discovered in the morgue’s drawers. He’s also thinking of things, like life and death. When you’re immortal, death isn’t exactly something you think of much, or even know about after so long. Sad to see him worried for Denis.
The most worrying? Tulip returns to the bar, she puts on a vest. But she doesn’t see just any man pulling the trigger of the gun on her. She sees the Saint of Killers staring her down. And yet she still gets up. Tough as nails, asking for more like a fucked up Oliver Twist.
What is more frightening than who we are and what we done?”
Pic 4In Vietnam, Herr Starr has killed the whole village to conceal the existence of the pig, as well as the pig itself. Where’s he off to next? Well, he’s gotten word about Jesse Custer. Meanwhile, the pig story, the village, it’s all explained in a natural sounding way. To cover up a massacre. Plus, that massacre is headed the preacher’s way soon.
Pic 5Fun episode. It builds on Tulip’s latest troubles, Jesse and his relentless search for God, his obsessions, and now we’re introduced to Herr Starr, a nasty, brutish man who’s also fun in a creepy kinda way. “Holes” is next. Wonder how things will go from here. Curious to see how things go for Cassidy, too. He’s losing Denis, he’s in love with Tulip. Christ. Sticky situations, all around.

Twin Peaks – Season 3: “The Return, Part 12”

Showtime’s Twin Peaks
Season 3: “The Return, Part 12”
Directed by David Lynch
Written by Lynch & Mark Frost

* For a recap & review of Part 11, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 13, click here.
Pic 1At the Mayfair, Gordon (David Lynch), Albert (Miguel Ferrer), and Agent Preston (Chrysta Bell) have a drink together, doing a toast “to the bureau.” We hear about Project Blue Book, shut down in the 1970s. Stuff we’ve heard of before in Twin Peaks, involving what later became the Blue Rose cases, things the FBI and the military looked into together, top secret, that were left unresolved from the program. This is where their “alternate path” of investigation comes from, and FINALLY WE ARE CONNECTING to Fire Walk With Me even more.
Who were the original agents involved? Phillip Jeffries, Albert, Chester Desmond, and Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). Makes all the disappearances much more troubling than they are even on their own. So, now Agent Preston’s being inducted into the Blue Rose Task Force, a promotion she proudly accepts. Although it’s one not without its worries.
Diane (Laura Dern) shows up. Gordon and Albert want to deputise her, so she can help using her close knowledge of Cooper, what she’s picked up over the years about the Blue Rose cases. She’s not overly eager, further driving suspicion of her character. Something ain’t right with Diane, man.
Pic 1AIn Twin Peaks, Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) is still running around like a madman in the woods. At the grocery store, Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) picks up the essentials for her life 25 years on from the tragedy of her daughter Laura (Sheryl Lee), her husband Leland (Ray Wise) – and the essential is booze. She’s a haunted woman, it’s clear just by the look in her eyes. “The room seems different, and men are coming,” she begins raving, sounds of the Black Lodge swirling around her head: “Things can happen. Something happened to me!” She walks out having scared everyone near. But it’s clear Sarah hasn’t been able to get over her past. The spirits won’t allow it.
At the Fat Trout Trailer Park, Carl Rodd (Harry Dean Stanton) asks a tenant if he’s been selling his blood, and wondering why he isn’t getting paid for work he does around the park. Carl’s a good man, he waves the gentleman’s rent and gives him money for chores he does around the place. He’s literally keeping the tenants of the park alive at this point.
Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse) drops by the Palmer place. Upstairs, the fan swings around; remember how the man behind the mask was under the fan, according to the masked boy in Fire Walk With Me? Very interesting image for Lynch to linger on. Are the spirits of the Black Lodge back in the Palmer house? Hawk’s curious about Sarah, realising she isn’t okay. There are bad things happening again in that place.
Sarah: “Its a goddamn bad story, isnt it, Hawk?”
Pic 2Diane gets a text, wondering about Las Vegas. She replies that they’ve not asked. Is this still bad Coop to whom she’s talking? Is it the doppelganger of Jeffries?
Or someone else? Oh, my.
Back home, Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) receives a visit from Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) about his grandson Richard (Eamon Farren), delivering the bad news that he’s the one who ran down the boy in the road. As well as tries killing the woman who witnessed the hit and run. And she’s about to die, most likely. This brings up the history of Richard, grandpa stating he’s “never been right.” Furthermore, the hotel owner gives over the key belonging to Agent Cooper’s old room, over two decades before, as a memento for the sheriff’s brother. Quite the coincidence, considering the case of ole Dale lately. All roads lead back to the middle again.
At his hotel room Gordon’s interrupted on a date by Albert, clearly with important news. An absurdly comic few moments stretches on and on as the woman gets herself ready to leave the men alone for a chat, becoming funnier with each passing glance, each glare from Albert, every sweet smile out of Gordon as he fawns over her. Literally in tears laughing. Afterwards, Albert relays the recent texts of Diane, keeping them curious about her behaviour.
Back to South Dakota, where Chantal (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Hutch (Tim Roth) wait with a gun. Cars pull up at a house nearby. A man gets out, then Hutch puts a bullet right through his chest, and another in the back of his head. “Next up, Wendys,” he says and they leave the man’s family to mourn his shot up corpse. One notch in bad Coop’s plan taken care of already.
Pic 3Dr. Jacoby: “Its seven oclock. Do you know where your freedom is?”
I keep wondering about Doc Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) and his internet radio show. We’ve already see those lumberjacks, those dirty, bearded men covered in scorched engine oil, their assault on that town long ago. The voice through the radio. Can’t help be curious if this age’s radio, over the internet, will play a part for the evil spirits once more. Hmm.
We’ve waited so long, now we get to see her again – Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn), baby! She’s searching for Billy, he’s been missing. And lord, has she not lost a bit of excellent attitude since last we saw her, particularly with her husband Charlie (Clark Middleton). They don’t so much have a marriage as much as they have a contracted agreement of a relationship. Aside from that, the disappearance of Billy’s shrouded in mystery. Audrey’s life has become no less complicated than it was as a young woman 25 years prior.
At the hotel bar Diane sits by herself, recalling the coordinates written on the arm of Ruth Davenport’s dead body. She types them in her phone finding they direct right to none other than Twin Peaks.
A conversation in the Roadhouse leads me to wonder if maybe the headlights one frantic man saw on the road were actually the lights of car at all. Perhaps the apparition of something else lurking around Twin Peaks in the woods. Something Project Blue Book never solved.
Pic 4A solid episode because it doesn’t go into much of anything surreal, rather it stays on a plot, sticks to a few core bits. There’s plenty mystery, but Lynch and Frost keep things on an even keel. Interesting, though. A few real interesting moments that speak to large bits from Fire Walk With Me. I like how Frost and Lynch lay the groundwork as they go, coming back to things later on and tying it all together. One of the greatest parts of this revival is that they get to connect things to Fire Walk With Me, which really pull the mythology tighter into a larger, epic scale work of mystery, surrealism, and even drama as the regular lives of the Twin Peaks residents continues to interest all these years later.

Room 104 – Season 1, Episode 1: “Ralphie”

HBO’S Room 104
Season 1, Episode 1: “Ralphie”
Directed by Sarah Adina Smith (Buster’s Mal Heart/Holidays segment “Mother’s Day”/The Midnight Swim)
Written by Mark Duplass

* For a recap & review of Episode 2, “Pizza Boy” – click here
Pic 1At a hotel room, Bradley (Ross Partridge) waits, looking stressed. Soon, Meg (Melonie Diaz) arrives. She’s there to babysit. In the bathroom is young Ralphie (Gavin Kent). Dad has to go, so he doesn’t introduce the kid. Dad leaves Meg in the dust, she’s a bit confused.
But soon the little guy comes out. Although he says that he isn’t Ralphie; he’s Ralph. They’re two different people. Ralphie “doesnt like girls” and he isn’t a very nice boy, it seems. The babysitter nicely tries to ingratiate herself to him, not believing the kid’s silly little stories. Believing it’s a case of dual identities. Meg even calls out to Ralphie, which gets her a half slap across the face.
Then Ralph says that Ralphie wants to talk with her. She starts getting curious, even a little worried. There’s been no word from dad, either. Suddenly Ralphie runs out in his underwear, a cape around his neck ,screaming: “Im gonna get you!” He tosses the room and scares the shit out of the babysitter. Then he’s gone again. Out comes Ralph, dressed in his normal clothes again and apologising for Ralphie’s behaviour. Very, very unsettling.
Pic 1AThey continue their night, and even though Bradley hasn’t returned Meg isn’t too worried. Just looks like the boy has issues. She talks with him, making him feel at ease. She’s not really at ease, it’s not so fun from her end. Then Ralph wants to talk about sex. Stuff his dad won’t tell him about yet. Certainly makes Meg uncomfortable. But the kid wants to know what his dad’s doing on his dates.
Afterwards, Ralph talks about how his dad “made up a story” about his wife dying, and that’s what they tell people happened to her. Suicide – Bradley claims mommy hung herself in the closet, couldn’t take it anymore. Is it because she was depressed? Or is it… because of Ralphie? Is it even real? Ralph says it’s make believe.
So, what really happened to mom?
Real talk, Ralph claims Ralphie killed her. OHHHH, NOW WE’RE GETTING TO THE MEAT! Meg’s got no time for the boy’s games. He’s super worried about Ralphie, says that he wants to kill him, too. When the boy disappears in the bathroom again, screams of “Die, die, die!” ring out. Bradley won’t answer his phone. This leaves Meg no choice but to call 911.
You wouldn’t believe it, but then the two boys emerge from the bathroom: Ralph AND Ralphie; two separate identities Meg can see. Ralphie jumps on top of his counterpart, smothering him with a pillow. The babysitter tries intervening, getting her nose smashed in the process.  Ralph goes limp, dead, and the only boy left now is Ralphie, a sinister look in his eyes. Like a primitive animal.
Pic 2When Bradley shows up, there’s no more Ralphie; only Ralph. He’s not breathing. Dead. The father’s distraught and trying to get his boy breathing again. To no avail. With sirens in the background, Meg laughs and laughs. Behind her a door slams shut. Is this by her own power? Weird. It’s almost as if she helped conjure up Ralphie, awakening a strange power in herself. Or maybe Ralphie’s real, and he’s just sneaky, devilish.
Who knows. The mystery’s more exciting than any answers could be.
Pic 3Next episode is “Pizza Guy” and from the looks of this one we’re in for something weird, something wild, something altogether unexpected. Because this one came out of nowhere. Wasn’t sure what to expect. Now I’m looking forward to more. Like a sort of modern Twilight Zone and Outer Limits-style series off the bat.

Top of the Lake – China Girl: Season Finale

BBC Two’s Top of the Lake
China Girl: Episode 6
Directed by Ariel Kleiman
Written by Jane Campion & Gerard Lee

* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
Pic 1Robin (Elisabeth Moss) and Pyke (Ewen Leslie) have gotten much, much closer. Very intimate. Then Dt. Sgt. Griffin gets a call from Mary’s (Alice Englert) cell. Nobody says anything, voices yelling in the background. This freaks the parents out, not to mention they’ve been drinking so it’s not easy to think. Then Constable Miranda Hilmarson (Gwendoline Christie) calls to tell her about the shooting at Silk 41. It’s all a bit much. They head out as quick as possible to the scene. No information’s available readily. One thing’s for sure: Mary is alive at least.
But the situation’s dire. Brett (Lincoln Vickery) has gone off his fucking rocker. No wonder he kept telling people to watch the news. At Silk 41, Miranda and Robin check the place out. Dang (Ling Cooper Tang) tells the police what happened, or at least bits and pieces. Cops are crawling all over, looking for evidence. Puss (David Dencik) is nowhere to be found, though there’s footage showing him leaving, without Mary like a coward. The footage also shows Dang’s partner shot. Except his body’s missing. They passed it on their way to the brothel, moved to a bench on the street after the fact. Now the hunt for Brett and his hostage begins.
Pic 1AMother Robin is worried. And still quite drunk. Her medical examiner friend poetically helps to give her hope, that Mary will be okay: “As youre my Queen, I am your servant, I tell you, she is not going to die.” Just a touch of hope.
Pyke goes to see Julia (Nicole Kidman) to tell her about the hostage situation. The parents are distraught, each worried for their girl and what could happen next. This springs them into action. Although there’s not much they’re able to do, it’s up to the police at this point. There’s also bit of information Julia doesn’t know, either. She hasn’t discovered the full extent of what Puss has been doing to Mary, pimping her out, shocked to hear the words “sex worker” linked to her daughter on the news.
The police are still trying to track down the room connected to the brothel, the one on the security camera where the Thai girls are being kept. Meanwhile, Julia and Pyke plead to the girls at school that may have information, anything useful at all. One of them tells the parents about Stasi Cafe, a place they used to go, where she met Puss.
The cops head to the beach where they suspect Brett might have gone, possibly hiding in plain sight. Robin and Miranda go out in plain clothes while Adrian (Clayton Jacobson) and the others wait in a surveillance vehicle. So many people on the beach in Sydney, it’s like a fleshy needle in the haystack. They find a case of beer from a photo of the beach spotted. Underneath is Brett, buried in sand. Before Miranda draws her weapon properly, he shoots her. Then Robin puts a gun to his head, demanding to know where he’s hidden her daughter.
Pic 2
Mary wakes up. She’s in her basement. She goes upstairs to the surprise of Julia, saying she isn’t able to stay long. Won’t let her mom call the police, either. Won’t talk. I worry for them, their relationship. No telling what Mary’s going to do from one minute to the next.
Either way – off she goes on her own again. And she took her passport.
At the hospital, Robin goes in to see Miranda, lying in bed unable to speak or do anything, unable to breathe on her own. Such a tragic way for this to have gone. Our detective sergeant blames herself, taking it all on her shoulders. However, she told Constable Hilmarson to draw her gun, Miranda didn’t listen, she hesitated. It’s a tough thing to accept, but true.
In the back of Stasi Cafe, Robin finds Puss hiding out. She slices him across the chest with a knife for pimping her daughter. Then he goes on a rant about Cinnamon, saying he did nothing, that his partners were the ones who put her in the suitcase. Things change with his faux masculinity, chauvinist bullshit when Robin puts a gun to his head. She sets him straight about a few things, like the fact Mary isn’t in love with Puss, she’s afraid. And the look on the man’s face afterwards is worth a million dollars; his ego shattered like fragile glass.
Pic 3They’ve tracked down the surrogate apartment, stashed away in some building. Inside is left a DVD marked PLAY ME. Simultaneously at the airport, Mary and the Thai girls with their big bellies are heading elsewhere, away from Sydney, away from the brothel. Not away from Puss, though. He’s pulled another greasy trick again, corralling all the girls toward the plane like he’s walking dogs, the misogynistic garbage that he is; nor does he offer Mary any apologies for how he treated her during the shooting. He slaps her across the face, prompting her to anger. She decides not to follow them, staying behind.
The DVD shows Puss talking about “vaginas” and “the West” exploiting Asian women. Exactly what he does. He talks like a cult leader in his thick German accent. This is why he shot the little movie, to put on a little show and tell the surrogate parents he’s flown away to Thailand, to a small village. Sadly the law is not on the side of the parents. The law says so, and the police’s hands are tied.
One good thing? Pyke and Julia have picked Mary up from the airport. She’s safe and sound, though you can still see Robin feels for the Thai girls swept away by that hideous, misogynist pimp under the guise of being their saviour. Sad, in many ways, not least of which is the fact those women, those girls, they believe in Puss.
Robin goes to see Mary. She also makes a bit of peace with Julia, if not tenuous. She also sees more of the fragility of relationships, how they’re messy; Pyke and Julia continue floating around one another despite all their troubles. No room for her, apparently. But the relationship that matters is the one involving her daughter. She takes pride in watching an old birthday of Mary as a little girl, seeing her grow up via video, better late than never. So all else pales in comparison when Robin’s discovered a ray of sunshine in the gloom of the world.
Plus a knock comes on the door for her as she sits alone in the evening. Is it Pyke? Is it Mary? Who knows.
Pic 4God, I love this series! I’d love to see another run, honestly. Maybe they could do another if Campion and Lee figure out a way to tell a last chapter in Robin Griffin’s story. We’ll see if there’s interest. Personally, I would dig it. Wouldn’t mind seeing her try tracking Puss down in Thailand or wherever they’re actually going.
For now, we have two fascinating seasons. This one went darker, more devious than the first, as well as extended that bit of Al Parker that came out in the final episode of Season 1 and put a cap on that plot very well. Cracking stuff.