Fargo – Season 3, Episode 6: “The Lord of No Mercy”

FX’s Fargo
Season 3, Episode 6: “The Lord of No Mercy”
Directed by Dearbhla Walsh
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The House of Special Purpose” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Law of Inevitability” – click here
Pic 1Open on a concerned Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor), sitting through night until morning worrying about Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) after the brutal beating she took at the hands of Meemo (Andy Yu) and Yuri. She only remembers so much. They did an absolutely savage number on her.
But Nikki isn’t one to stay down, neither literally nor figurative, either. Then there’s Ray, he certainly isn’t going to let any of this stand. A pretty solid, unbeatable team. Capable of anything.
Note: love that opening, silent shot going from night until morning, it’s a fantastic moment of filmmaking.
V.M. Varga (David Thewlis) tells of history, his interests of course lying in food. World War I started “over a sandwich.” Then he tells of the moon landing being filmed on a “sound stage in New Mexico,” which Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) just refuses to believe. Roundabout is the sly, bulimic wolf convincing Emmit (McGregor) and Sy to do more things they don’t really want to do. I can’t help feeling the character of Varga, and his actions/intent, are similar to the shady businessmen we see shambling through the corridors of power today.
The poor IRS auditor (Hamish Linklater) is caught in the middle of all the nonsense. Meemo poses as an upstanding lawyer in order to take care of their problems. Meanwhile, he and Yuri are followed by Stussy and Swango as they plot their revenge and bide their time.
Pic 1AUp at the Stussy offices, Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) and Winne Lopez (Olivia Sandoval) arrive to talk with Emmit and hoping to speak with Sy about his vehicular accident. While picking his nasty teeth bloody Varga hears them speaking, so he greases his way into the conversation. The two officers bring up Ray’s name, the homicide of Ennis Stussy, Maurice LeFay, so on. The tangled web of Fargo‘s chaotic world. The officers have connected the dots and believe – what we, the audience know to be true – Maurice, dumb as he was, killed the wrong Stussy. Too many coincidences. And as we know, in Fargo there are rarely any coincidences that amount to nothing.
I worry now. Because Varga’s a dangerous, creepy man. His picture of Stalin on the wall, his Google habits. He’s interested in Ms. Burgle, so he dispatches Yuri to the little Eden Valley Police Department where there’s no computers, only files. Reconnaissance mission. Furthermore, he gives the order on Stussy and Swango: “execute.”
Soon, someone comes knocking at their door as they hide out together. Only it isn’t the V.M. death squad, it’s the police. So, what’s their plan? Fucking bolt. They pack up what they can carry in two arms then pile into the car, heading for a motel. With a tail. Then Ray realises he forgot their getaway cash. He leaves Nikki alone – with Meemo lurking in the shadows – while rushing home.
Pic 2When Ray gets home to get his money, he finds Emmit waiting in the dark. He wants to end their feud. He’s tired. He offers up the stamp to his brother. “You cant give me what was mine from the start,” Ray balks, wanting him to take it back. In a struggle a piece of the glass in its frame smashes, poking into Ray’s neck. He pulls the shard and starts bleeding out all over the place. And his brother stands there, doing nothing. Watching him die.
Emmit makes a call. To whom? Oh, you know: Mr. Varga. He’s an unsettling man, even while listening to a beautiful piece of classical music. The remaining Stussy needs help, and he sure called the right lad. One thing I know is that Emmit thought he was in deep before. He was, sure; financially. At this point it’s beyond any money troubles, he’s in the dirty moral soup.
Varga: “Things of consequence rarely happen by accident
Back at the motel, Meemo waits to kill Nikki. Right before she walks into the room he gets a call, though. Then he’s gone without a trace, and she’s left alive. He’s helping Varga over with Emmit at Ray’s place. Those perpetual criminals have it covered. They’re using Nikki’s wounds, her criminal past, all to make it look as if she killed Ray for being an abusive partner. Yikes, that is coooooold blooded.
And trusty ole Gloria, she’s headed to Ray’s place. She has suspicions. Oh, my. OH, MY!
Pic 3What a wild, unexpected episode. This series only gets better with every season and each episode. So much to love. The characters are well rounded and even downright symbolic at times. Loving Varga and Gloria most this season, as well as – of course – Nikki Swango!
Up next week is “The Law of Inevitability” and I can only imagine the fallout of what happened this episode.

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The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 1, Episode 7: “The Other Side”

Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale
Season 1, Episode 7: “The Other Side”
Directed by Floria Sigismondi
Written by Lynn Renee Maxcy

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “A Woman’s Place” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Jezebels” – click here
Pic 1We begin back before Gilead, as Luke (O-T Fagbenle) and June a.k.a Offred (Elisabeth Moss) flee with their girl Hannah. They crash their car, but Luke sends his wife and child off running while he gathers his gun and some ammo. In come the black SUVs and one fires on him, right in stomach. He fades out, thinking of June and his daughter.
When he wakes there’s an ambulance taking elsewhere, until they flip off the road upside down into a ravine. He makes it out alive, though remains wounded. Packing up a few supplies, grabbing a gun, Luke heads alone out onto the road.
But he isn’t well, his gut holding that bullet. He makes it back to the car where he last saw June, then goes into the forest. Soon enough he comes upon the remnants of his family’s things, neither his wife nor his child are anywhere to be found. An impossible situation. Full of terrifying emotion. What does a person do at that point? Aside from fear the absolute worst, knowing where June is likely to get taken.
Unsure where to go, what to do, he concentrates on mere survival.
Flashback to before they fled and crashed. In the car, they try driving out of the city. Moira (Samira Wiley) already left crossing the border on foot and June wishes they’d left then. However, things take time. Passports, all that type of thing. They had to be sure, to try covering all bases. At a dockyard they meet a mane named Mr. Whitford (Tim Ransom); turns out June’s mother gave him a vasectomy after it was made illegal, so he feels he owes them. He’s helping smuggle them out of the county.
Pic 1AWhitford helps them out to the woods where he lives, and they’re safe. For the time being. Their trustworthy friend also shows Luke how to load and handle a gun. Furthermore, U.S. passport “doesnt mean shit” these days, so Whitford’s heading into Canada to get them passports. At a lake near the cabin a man happens across June, Luke, and their daughter. In this world they can never be sure if it’s just another friendly face, or if it’s someone who’ll alert the Guardians to a free woman roaming.
Then switch back to Luke alone, as he’s found by two women who first believe he’s a Guardian. When he explains himself one of the women takes a look at his gut wound, which will surely be fatal if he doesn’t get help. And they’re with a few people that are certainly helpful. He’s piled into their little school bus and they head off together in that dark, new world.
For a while in Whitford’s place at the cabin in the woods, life is okay. Not normal, but okay. All the more sad when Luke thinks back to it, now without his girls and cast adrift with strangers. Many of them with similarly brutal stories surrounding the search for fertile women, the patriarchy knowing it’s dying and attempting to secure the future for them and the world in the most misogynistic way imaginable. Luke’s friends are headed to Canada. He’s determined on going to Boston.
When the man from the lake comes back to the cabin at night, he warns them people are searching for them, they know the car and the license plate. So he offers further help, to get them over the border. “This is pretty fucked up,” he says; and boy, is that ever a huge understatement.
Pic 2One of the women shows Luke what happened at a place where fertile women were being hid. The town was trying to fight back. When the Guardians found them all, they were strung up from the roof of the church. She makes Luke look, to see what’s happening. To understand the grave magnitude of the situation, the depths of the male, patriarchal depravity at play. This changes his mind and he decides on going with them across the border.
But suddenly they’re attacked by gunfire, though they manage to get on a boat and speed away into the night.
Cut to 3 years later. Luke is living in a city of relative freedom. He and one of the women that escaped, Erin (Erin Way), are drinking coffee. A far cry from Gilead’s authoritarian nation-state security. Then he gets a call on his cellphone, another luxury of this place compared with the rigid law in the city of the handmaids.
He goes to a place littered with posters of missing women, cards, drawings, et cetera. There he meets a woman who asks him about June, she has an envelope for him. Inside, a note: the one she wrote him and gave to the Mexican trade delegate. Although it’s only a short note, written three weeks prior, it is one major thing to him: hope.
Pic 3Wow. This was an emotional ride. While I care more about the female perspective and characters, it’s nice to see the other people out there, Luke included. Now I’m wondering what he’ll do, now that he knows for sure she’s alive. Will he and others go searching for June and the handmaids?
Next is “Jezebels” and I love the name of the episode, I’m excited to see something intense!

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 7: “Expenses”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 7: “Expenses”
Directed & Written
by Thomas Schnauz

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Off Brand” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Slip” – click here
Pic 1So what does Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) do while he’s not practising law for the next year? Well for starters, community service with the Parks Department. Paying his debt to society. Funny to see a lawyer handed an employee agreement to sign and urged that he doesn’t need to read it all. Jimmy and a bunch of others are given a mechanical grip, a fluorescent safety vest, and sent to pick up garbage. All the while Jimmy runs Saul Goodman Productions hawking commercials. Trying to, at least. He gets docked hours of service for being on his cellphone.
Pic 1AAfter they’re finished Jimmy rushes to do a quick wet wipe wash, strip down, then change, so he can rush off to do a Saul Goodman job at a furniture store. He’s good at directing commercials. Lower budget ones, anyways. Only there’s still trouble selling all the time, as hard as he tries. He and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) still have their office to manage. It’s just one bill after another bill after another. Although he manages. Just barely. He’s killing himself to keep up appearances spending the last cash he has on Chinese food for he and Kim.
Nacho (Michael Mando) goes back to his old buddy with the baseball cards, Pryce (Mark Proksch). He’s looking to do business. He wants empty pills, replicas of the ones his boss Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) takes for his health condition. For $20K. That’s a heft price tag.
Back with Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), we see his stash of money under the floorboards. A considerable size. He takes out a hunk to pay for supplies, for the church playground his daughter-in-law Stacey (Kerry Condon) asked him to help build. We see him interacting with other people for the first time ever, really. In the sense that they’re doing normal people things, rather than the criminals we usually see him around. Speaking of, he finds baseball card dummy Pryce waiting for him at work. Needs him to help on the latest job he’s been offered. Mike isn’t interested until he hears Nacho’s name, and even then he still won’t agree.
Pic 2Poor Kim’s so overworked she has to set a timer in the car for 5 minutes, catch a quick bit of shut eye. At Mesa Verde, she starts feeling the pangs of guilt about what’s happened with Chuck (Michael McKean) as her client gloats. There’s eventually going to come a time when she lets that guilt bubble over, and it’ll do something more than just end up as a passive-aggressive moment with a client. She is a good person. I can’t see her living with every last thing Jimmy’s going to put her through.
Kim: “All we did was tear down a sick man
Every single day is a routine for Jimmy now. Like he’s in prison without being IN prison. He rushes from community service work to his wet wipe bath to another commercial set with his faithful crew of industry hopefuls. They head to a music shop called ‘ABQ in tune’ where twin brothers have cold feet about paying so much for a lot of bullshit mostly. He ends up offering it to them for free with a promise they’ll pay the original rate for more commercials after business picks up. Resulting in him handing out all his money yet again. Never getting ahead, and it’s affecting him. The world keeps beating him down.
One of the women from the church (Tamara Tunie) is in the same support group Stacey attends. Mike seems to further connect with her more than they did while working earlier. A genuine relationship with another soul. I love Mike as a character because he’s a good guy. Yes, he ends up in a terrible place doing bad things. Doesn’t change that underneath it all he started as a good man, going down the rabbit hole because of a need for duty; his being to provide for his family. So seeing him and this woman connect, even if it’s only brief, it is special.
And now Mike decides he’ll help the hapless Pryce, another sense of duty calling him to keep providing for the day he’s not around to anymore.
Pic 3Like old times, Jimmy goes out with Kim for drinks. He keeps on keeping up those appearances. At a nearby table they spot someone to pull a quick grift on. Jimmy gets a bit dark, his criminal self coming out further. And in that moment Kim can kind of see the darkness, more than ever. He sort of loves it. What she sees is the lengths he’ll go, that it isn’t only talk. That he will do all sorts of things in order to keep himself above water; many of them illegal. Furthermore, it’s clear to her that even if Jimmy does feel guilt somewhere he’s buried under anger, and that road leads nowhere good. For now, she’s still by his side. Though the clock is ticking.
Nacho meets with Pryce, and Mike. The old fella knows about the nitroglycerine pills, Hector’s heart medication. He advises Nacho about what he’s getting into, then he discovers the whole debacle with Nacho’s dad. No choices left. Mike gives his best advice: once the deed is done, switch the pills back so all looks legit. Smart.
At his insurance company Jimmy meets someone about his policy, wondering about a refund. No dice. He’s paid in full and there’s just no way for them to cash out unused coverage. Not to mention after he’s reinstated the price goes up 150%. Even after his suspension is over he’ll be held down by various rules. Right now his car won’t start, he has no money, he has no family left who cares about him.
He has a use for tears. This shows us more of his duplicitous nature.
Then the younger of the McGills lets slip – yes, purposely – that Chuck had a breakdown in court. Ah, insurance issues headed for the older brother. One small bit of revenge. Only what will it bring? What does this revenge beget in turn? I hope it won’t affect Chuck’s health. That could be the turning point finally for Kim if Jimmy’s responsible for anything serious. He already nearly put his brother out once last season.
Jimmy: “I just need a break. Just one break.”
Pic 4Yikes, this was a solid episode. Intense and emotional. I’m itching for “Slip” and we’re getting close to the end of Season 3. You know that we’ll get a Season 4, there’s no way we can’t get another! The storytelling is damn good it’s ridiculous.

Outcast – Season 2, Episode 8: “Mercy”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 2, Episode 8: “Mercy”
Directed by Daisy Von Scherler Mayer
Written by Jeff Vlaming

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Alone When It Comes” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “This Is How It Starts” – click here
Pic 1For the first time in so long, we see Blake Morrow (Lee Tergesen) in his jail cell. He’s worried. “Its not supposed to be like this,” he laments after a fleeting vision of Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), a.k.a “The one who ends it all.” He warns everything’s about to end. To others, the rantings of a crazy man.
And who’s there witnessing his death in the small audience? Dr. Park (Hoon Lee). Hmm. I’m continually interested in the doctor, and we keep getting more.
Pic 1AKyle worries about his sister Megan (Wrenn Schmidt). But he ain’t doin’ so hot, either. His wound isn’t altogether healed, not by a long shot. He goes back over to the hospital to try finding help under the radar. He finds one of the demon host doctors and strong arms her into stitching him closed. Not long after when he can’t find his mother Kyle winds up getting arrested.
At the same time, Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) wants to get his hands on Sidney (Brent Spiner). Although Dakota (Madelyn Deutch) wants to go for a softer approach. She wants to get all the information she can from him instead of letting the rev get too handsy. Anderson manages to get down in the cellar with Sidney, taunting and toying.
So Blake isn’t dead. Not anymore. Park’s brought him back, he has a purpose for the man surely. Hoping to figure things out before the Great Merge comes down. To find out how they can live in the world as they are without having to use humans as hosts.
At least Kyle wasn’t actually arrested. It’s a friend of former Chief Byron Giles (Reg E. Cathey) who picked him up as a favour. Now, these two are trying to figure out what to do next, and Kyle wants to follow the steps of his father before him, as well as see what the people from the Lighthouse know. Added to that Junkyard Bob (M.C. Gainey) is suiting the Giles’ up with ammunition and guns.
Kyle: “It wasnt you
Byron: “Fuck that excuse, it was me. I shouldve been stronger.”
Moreover, we now discover that the demons they have a “collective memory” which Blake is out around Rome trying to tap into so he can find Kyle.
Pic 2Soon enough Megan runs into Blake. He says he was saved by Anderson and Kyle. So now he’s going to find out exactly where one of them is for certain. Shiit. Meanwhile, Kyle looks through the van Bob buried, the corpse inside. Turns out that Helen Devere “needed their light” and stole it from the beacons, like Simon Barnes and his son Kyle, now little Amber. Then Simon mercy killed the damaged beacons. That’s a YIKES moment if I’ve ever seen one.
At the Lighthouse, Megan arrives with Blake in tow. He then ends up talking to young Holly, they bond briefly. Right as soon as Kyle himself shows up. Bigger things are happening at the moment, too. Nobody can coax Anderson out so Kyle finally gets the job done, and they find a butchered Sidney inside, bloody and weak. Alive, though.
When Megan goes to the doctor she’s sent to see, she starts feeling strange. The woman tells her: “We are the chosen ones.” Ugh, this isn’t sounding good at all.
At home, Byron and Rose have dinner by candlelight. Their lives are much more worrisome as of late. They’re posted up with lots of guns. Doesn’t stop Nunez from lurking around outside, threatening him. So he blows her foot off before putting a bullet through her neck. Hot damn, Byron!
Pic 3Before the supposed doctor can do something terrible to Megan, she’s interrupted by Blake. Who strangles the woman to death and saves the day. Is he going to use this AND Megan as leverage over Kyle?
Speaking of, Kyle’s figuring out what they ought to do with Sidney. The white-haired devil talks about the man he chose as a host, a serial killer apparently. Then says the outcast can help him and the others change the world. Yeah, that sounds great.
Over at the coffee shop, Dr. Park and the rest of the council meet once again. Talking of Sidney and his big talk/no action. The doc has his own design on what they need: “Fuck the merge. No, to finally crawl out of the shadows,” this is his plan. Not only that he’s poisoned the other council members. Mutiny is right.
And where’s Sarah Barnes? She’s lying in a bed. Cared for by a man (C. Thomas Howell). Is this the long lost Simon Barnes? If so, whoooooa.
Pic 4Another fine chapter in Season 2. Love that Howell is part of the cast, he’s an awesome character actor with lots of good television roles under his belt over the past decade. Can’t wait for “This Is How It Starts” – the penultimate episode of the season. And Cinemax, you best be ready with that renewal pen; or else!

Unpacking the Puzzle of TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME + MISSING PIECES

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. 1992. Directed by David Lynch. Screenplay by Lynch & Robert Engels.
Starring Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, Madchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook, Phoebe Augustine, David Bowie, Miguel Ferrer, Pamela Gidley, Heather Graham, Chris Isaak, Moira Kelly, David Lynch, James Marshall, Harry Dean Stanton, Kiefer Sutherland, Grace Zabriskie, Kyle MacLachlan, Frances Bay, Michael J. Anderson, Frank Silva, Al Strobel, Calvin Lockhart, & Carlton Lee Russell.
New Line Cinema/CiBy 2000/Twin Peaks Productions
Rated R. 135 minutes.
Drama/Fantasy/Horror/Mystery/Thriller

★★★★★
PosterTwin Peaks as a series was, at the core, about very human issues; no matter the dreamy qualities. David Lynch has spent his entire career mainly dealing in surrealism. His aim is the human mind. Far out in the stratosphere as his imagery can get there’s always that humanity. I’ve attributed it to the spiritual nature of his filmmaking. Not religious: spiritual.
Lynch’s interest in things like transcendental meditation and other abstract concepts shows us how he thinks within his creative works. In this vein, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With MeMissing Pieces, and the various surreal scenes throughout the series – continuing now in “The Return” – are a way to understand how Lynch sees the concepts of good and evil particularly amongst human beings.
What Fire Walk With MeMissing Pieces does is serve as the sort of thesis for the entire world of Twin Peaks as a whole. Even though it comes later in non-linear fashion, when considering the film and its previously unreleased scenes this thesis becomes clear in the mind and then you can go back watching the two seasons – now blessed with another 18 episodes – to connect the dots which Lynch allows.
At the middle of the mysticism, mythology, its quirky and surreal esoteric nature, is the story of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). We venture into a tortured world – HER tortured world – in which the spiritual plays a large part. Specifically, we see how evil influence plays a macabre role in the corruption of goodness, of everything that is sweet and innocent.
IMG_0039I get that people feel the film is disjointed. It’s disjointed in a purposeful sense. Lynch and co-writer Robert Engels begin with groundwork. Literally, we start with the investigation into the murder of Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley) – this is the case similar to Laura’s which Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) mentions in the initial Twin Peaks episode. Through this, as we catch the story of Agent Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak), we come across several of the basic concepts that come together throughout the series.
Electricity as an outside influence is constructed as corrupting. Within the Douglas fir-infested world of the town, all the beautiful and isolated nature, electricity comes to symbolise an evil seeping into the natural world. Lynch presents this literally with the inhabiting spirits, such as the nasty, murderous Bob (Frank Silva).
The most significant scene concerning this is twofold. First, we see the electrical pole in the trailer park with the sound of the electricity whooping through its wires. Not long after, we see the Man from Another Place (Michael J. Anderson) explain he is “the Arm” and his sound is that of the electricity; not just that, the sound is similar to a Native American call which suggests further connection to the Earth.
The first instance of electricity? When Cooper initially looks at the body of Laura in the morgue, where he realises the similarities with the murder of Ms. Banks. A light overhead flickers constantly.
RingIn addition there’s other moments which add up to show us how electricity is the major concept concerning spiritual beings in the Black Lodge. For instance, the owl ring we see Laura and Teresa wear is connected to electricity. The Man from Another Place says: “This is a formica table. Green is its colour.” Well, formica insulates from electricity. The owl ring is cut from that very table, which can be seen during both Fire Walk With Me and Missing Pieces when Lynch treats us to a lengthy sequence above the fabled convenience store, where the beings have their meetings (see table below).
Formica Table #2 - Ring Piece MissingSo, wearing the ring is a kind of double-edged sword. It’s a marker to the evil beings, like Bob, and at the same time it’s able to keep the evil from entering them. We see this when Laura wears the ring. Bob lusts after her, wanting to “taste” through her. But he can’t because the formica owl ring pushes him back, insulating Laura’s soul from being inhabited by Bob. This makes it further clear that the spiritual beings – this includes all those above the convenience store, including the Man from Another Place, Mrs. Tremond(/Chalfont) and her grandson, the electrician, the two lumberjacks (one of whom may likely be the Log Lady’s husband) – they don’t only travel through electricity, in a sense they consist of electricity. Which is why Bob cannot enter those who bear the owl ring.
Now, on to the specifically evil beings a bit more. There’s a passage from the Bible, Ephesians 6:12, which references “spiritual wickedness in high places” and this is better understood in consideration of Greek origins . Mainly I’m interested in the fact evil spirits and the devil come from the air, if we go by the Greeks. All spirits come from the air, though the higher air is where the good sit and the lower air is where the evil lurk. This all comes to bear on the lines from the Man from Another Place, once more: “Descended from pure air. Intercourse between the two worlds.”
Furthermore, we know from seeing the various spiritual beings not all of them are evil. Above all it’s Bob who is for certain an evil spirit, as well as the Jumping Man (Carlton Lee Russell) – whom I will discuss later. So the distinctions of the Greeks in seeing evil v. good spirits in the air (this air, I should note, is that directly below Heaven) is clear by the evil and good spiritual beings who frequent the Black Lodge and the room above the convenience store.
Jumping Man FWWMThe good v. evil spiritual beings isn’t only evident in Fire Walk With Me. During the series, Coop comes in contact with the One Armed Man, Phillip Gerard (Al Strobel). He admits to having been corrupted by Bob – “I too had been touched by the devilish one” – though coming to his senses and to the light of God, which changes him. He becomes an agent of good.
However, Mrs. Tremond and her grandson can be seen as at least a neutral force. They come in contact with Laura, and the boy warns her about “the man behind the mask.” Now this is a larger connection, which I believe involves the aforementioned Jumping Man. We have to unpack this, could take a minute.
Masks. Masks. Masks. Don’t forget, Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh) leaves a mask for Coop in his hotel room in Season 2, Episode 15. This now relates incredibly to the first episode of the new Twin Peaks where Laura removes her face exactly like the way the mask opens in a flash of light for Coop.
So, the man behind the mask young Tremond speaks of is Bob, because we know he was the one “under the fan” – a reference to the staircase and hallway in the Palmer household. This is where Laura feels Bob pull at her, wanting to taste through her mouth. The Jumping Man connects because he has a similar face to the mask young Tremond wears, only his isn’t so much a mask, rather a face; or at least a painted face. Either way it’s as if the Jumping Man is an entirely demonic influence. Whether he’s connected to Bob, I don’t know. The Jumping Man appears dressed similarly to the Man from Another Place, suggesting a doppelganger-type issue.
Also, the Log Lady has a connection to the Jumping Man and the lumberjacks, at least possibly. She mentions in the series how her husband “met the devil” and she continues: “Fire is the devil like a coward hiding in the smoke.” We see the Jumping Man who jumps off and onto a box, partly obscured in clouds of smoke. Likewise, the Log Lady’s husband, a logging man, supposedly met the devil. Not far fetched to imagine that one of the lumberjacks, likely the one played by Jürgen Prochnow, is now a spiritual being up there. Maybe.
Man Behind the Mask FWWMFinally, we come to the human core. Even before we fall into the morbid story of Laura Palmer, Lynch shows us how even the heaviest mythology of Twin Peaks involves humanity. The convenience store is perhaps the best example. While Lynch explores these expansive concepts, existential thinking at the highest level, he remains connected to the real world, rooted in it – these spiritual beings not only look just like humans, they meet in a shabby room situated over a convenience store. In the real world Mrs. Tremond(/Chalfont) and her grandson live in a trailer park. These are ways in which Lynch says that the spiritual and the corporeal are interconnected, by barely a hair’s width. Living right alongside one another, on top of each other.
So it all winds up, all the mythology and the symbolism, into a tale about abuse in a small town, in an otherwise happy family. That outside influence of the unnatural, the evil influence, the electricity, infects the Palmers and eventually drives Leland (Ray Wise) to commit a horrible atrocity.
Part of the disturbing genius in Fire Walk With Me is Lynch makes us sit through Laura’s episode of, for better or worse, mental illness. It’s maybe the most harrowing, intense vision of such an experience in any film I know. Because it is genuine torture, watching Laura bounce back and forth between friends, family, foes, strangers. Never able to explain to anyone exactly what is going on, and even when she does it’s passed off as “not real” by those who couldn’t possibly comprehend her level of spiritual strife.
Laura Palmer Dead FaceAnd this is the bottom line, the chief concern of the film’s thesis statement: spiritual, existential pain.
Lynch’s own interests in transcendental meditation belie his interests on film. Through the story of Laura Palmer, her eventual murder and the forces surrounding the town of Twin Peaks, Lynch is able to address the concept of existential/spiritual pain, how the outside world infects the natural world around us – even inside us.
On one hand, Twin Peaks as a series bounces around joyfully from soap opera romance to 1950s throwback to horror to science fiction and fantasy, and almost every stop in between. For me, it’s exciting and fresh. When I first saw the series 16 years ago it enthralled me and I never let it go from my heart or my mind. On the other hand, Fire Walk With Me and its Missing Pieces are an exercise in dark surrealism and Greek tragedy. This is a macabre, gruelling piece of cinema. One which holds so much more than even casual fans of the series are likely to appreciate.
Soon enough I’ll come back to discuss the original series and its two seasons. If anyone has any further theories, please comment below! For now these stand as my clearest thoughts on the film. But Twin Peaks in all its forms is never far from my mind.

Twin Peaks – Season 3: “The Return, Part 4”

Showtime’s Twin Peaks
Season 3: “The Return, Part 4”
Directed by David Lynch
Written by Lynch & Mark Frost

* For a recap & review of Part 3, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 5, click here.
Pic 1In Las Vegas we find Coop (Kyle MacLachlan) winning jackpots all over the casino, fresh off his transition back into the real world since spending all those years in the Black Lodge. He sees that strange little vision of the lodge’s curtains and patterned floor all over the place, each one indicating a jackpot. Like a second sight.
Then a man named Bill Shaker (Ethan Suplee) and his wife Candy (Sara Paxton) think they’ve spotted Dougie Jones, chatting him up. Poor Dougie just wants to go home. Such a comically absurd scene, so perfect.
Thank you, Mr. Jackpots.”
The casino’s manager (Brett Gelman) and his pit boss Warrack (David Dastmalchian) wonder why Coop’s headed off without all his winnings. All he can say, again, is “call for help.” They get him a limo home, but not actual home – Dougie’s place. His wife Janey-E (Naomi Watts) is waiting, worried sick; he’s been gone three days. Now he’s back, much quieter, and with a ton of cash. Seems that the Jones’ have been worried about paying somebody back. This can solve all their troubles.
Pic 1AFBI Director Gordon Cole (David Lynch) is meeting with Bill Kennedy (Richard Chamberlain) and Denise Bryson (David Duchovny), who’s obviously in a much higher position than last we left her – Chief of Staff at the bureau. Seems that Cole is taking an agent named Tamara Preston (Chrysta Bell) with him on his latest excursion to find Coop. Absolutely love this exchange between these two. It’s funny, kind of heartwarming at moments.
Back in Twin Peaks, Lucy Brennan (Kimmy Robertson) is worrying over the thermostat. Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) arrives and scares the life out of her; she’s got trouble with understanding cellphones, apparently. And there are various other little things going on while the boss was away fishing. Not only that, Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) is now on the side of the law.
Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse) fills Truman in on everything that’s happening, what the Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) prophesied. One of the newer men at the station doesn’t particularly dig how things are done in their town. Not used to all the mysticism the locals understand as important and very real. Afterwards, Bobby winds up seeing the picture of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) in all the evidence and has a minor breakdown. When he calms down he mentions Coop was the last person to see his father Major Garland Briggs before he died in a fire.
At the station arrives Wally Brando (Michael Cera) – son of Andy and Lucy – wishing to “pay respects” to the sheriff, about his brother Harry’s recovery. A weird kid, though no surprise there with those two with his parents. He dresses like Brando in The Wild One. He’s a traveller, too: “I think about Lewis and his friend Clark…” – I mean, he fits right in. Frank Truman is much like his brother, in that he’s a normal fish in a pond with a whole lot of strange fish.
Pic 2Coop’s still stuck as Dougie, for now. He remembers bits of the Black Lodge, where the One Armed Man, Phillip Gerard (Al Strobel) searches for him. He sees that other world just barely below the real one, superimposed below everything he sees. “Now one of you must die,” Gerard explains. Pretty tall orders for a guy who can’t even properly take a piss yet.
It’s as if coming back into the world Coop is once more like a child. Then he looks into the mirror, touching his reflection. There is no other face but his own; the chrome does not reflect any other image, like in the finale of Season 2 where Bob existed in the bad Coop behind his face. He can’t take a leak, he can’t wear a tie, he can barely eat on his own. When a coffee’s placed in front of him a familiar light brightens in his eyes, then he almost scalds himself to death. Too funny.
Gordon, along with Agents Preston and Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer), arrive from the airport and head towards their destination. Their banter is so perfect, and I think even after 25 years the hearing problems of Director Cole are still as funny as ever, maybe even better with Albert’s intolerance after decades of the same shit. They’re looking into what was found in the car, where bad Coop crashed. And then they get to have a chat.
Pic 3They ask Coop where he’s been, it’s clear there’s something not right. He tells Gordon he’s been working with Phillip Jeffries. He continues repeating himself. His voice is low and unsettling unlike before. Gordon especially sees that this is not the same man who’s been his close friend all these years. Not a bit.
When they’ve left Gordon also questions Albert, about his reaction to their mutual friend. Albert says he authorised Jeffries to give over information to Coop years ago; he told him about a contact in Colombia, who wound up murdered the day after. So, was it the doppelganger of Jeffries? Were he and the bad Coop working in unison? Seems the two older FBI men are now concerned there are dark things at play. They’re just as much confused as they are sure of something sinister coming.
Then they come to the decision there’s a woman who needs in on the Coop situation, a fresh perspective. Could it be Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn)? Could it be Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie)? We’ll see.
Albert: “Blue Rose
Gordon: “It doesnt get any bluer
Pic 4Another beautiful, dark, mysterious episode. So much going on, and so much to look forward to over the next 14 parts of this new Twin Peaks.

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

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

* For a recap & review of Parts 1 & 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 4, click here.
Pic 1Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) falls through that space of darkness. Amazingly strange visuals here, love the new evolution of what Lynch is doing here. Soon, Dale falls to a balcony overlooking black ocean waves. One thing I’ve always loved, that plays through into these surreal sequences, is the calmness of our faithful FBI agent. His mind is so open he’s willing to experience these often terrifying things with a grace and poise not many would have, I’m sure. This whole scene is unnerving. Like Coop’s lost in a wasteland of some kind, the building he enters is a nightmare. He finds a lady with no eyes – almost resembling Josie Packard – sitting inside by a fireplace. She mumbles, touching his face. Then a loud pounding on the walls.
Coop notices a safe-type contraption on the back wall with a visible number 15 on it. He goes toward it but the thing repels him, and the eyeless woman urges him to leave. He follows her up through a trap door and onto an odd structure, in the middle of a starry sky, on top of which is a lever the woman pulls. Electricity throbs and then sends her flying out into space while Coop watches helplessly. Through the sky floats a face that says “Blue Rose” – remember, Gordon Cole (David Lynch) and his Blue Rose Cases? Ah, I love that more of the pieces are beginning to fit now in the series’ return.
Pic 1ABack inside the structure, Coop discovers a woman, dressed similarly to the eyeless woman. But she does have eyes, and a watch with no face. On the wall, the safe-like contraption now has the number 3 above it. Cut to bad Coop in his car, as the time approaches 3 PM. We move back and forth between these places, as the good Cop somewhere further than the Black Lodge is trying to find a way to get himself back to the world. As he moves closer to the thing with the 3, bad Coop feels himself get weak, and good Coop is slowly sucked through its middle, leaving his shoes behind. The doppelganger proceeds in flipping his car, as the empty cigarette lighter’s electricity crackles, threatening to haul him inward. And outside the car appear the curtains of the Black Lodge.
When you get there, you will already be there.”
Elsewhere, a guy named Doug (MacLachlan) is with a prostitute, he feels his left arm going numb. He’s also wearing the owl ring on the same hand. The guy has terrible pains in his gut, falling to the floor. He vomits brutally before being pulled into nowhere; the Black Lodge curtains again appear. Bad Coop vomits what looks similar to creamed corn – garmonbozia – everywhere then passes out.
Doug, however, is in the lodge. There, he finds Phillip Gerard, the One Armed Man (Al Strobel) watching him. “Someone manufactured you,” he tells Doug: “For a purpose.” And now the purpose is done. Gradually the guy’s hand starts shrinking, the ring falls off, and his head disappears in a smoky black shadow. An orb rises from him then he disintegrates into a fleshy pod and further vanishes. Whooooa.
Thus, Gerard puts the owl ring back in its place on the marble table. More electricity in the mythology now, as Agent Cooper shows up through the electrical sockets in the house where Doug and the prostitute were shacking up. He’s got no shoes, either. He isn’t exactly feeling himself. Still has a key to the Great Norther Hotel in Twin Peaks in his pocket, too.
In the meantime someone’s watching them. They’re near Sycamore Street, in fact; wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Someone’s looking for Doug, though when Coop drops his Great Northern key it looks like he isn’t in the car, and the men watching are thwarted. For now.
Pic 2A junkie in a nearby house screams “one one nine” over and over. I wonder, does she deal with spirits from the Black Lodge? Are these numbers connected to those Coop’s been told by both the Arm and the Giant?
Bad Coop’s car is found by officers on highway patrol. They smell something disgusting inside and can’t even open the door, so they call in reinforcement with gas masks. I imagine he’s basically a puddle of skin and blood and creamed corn.
At the police station in Twin Peaks, Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse), Andy and Lucy Brennan (Harry Goaz & Kimmy Robertson) look through a mountain of various evidence. The typically quirky, hilarious dialogue ensues between our old favourites. Andy’s not AS goofy as he was, though still foolish in the best sort of sense. Hawk keeps pressing himself to figure out the clues left by the Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) even if his two pals aren’t overly helpful.
And what about ole Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn)? He’s out at that camper, spray painting shovels. I’m endlessly curious about this, because the doc was always an odd duck. Right from the first episode of the original Twin Peaks run he was a weirdo, and I can only imagine what he’s up to now.
Cooper connects words from Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) in his newest Black Lodge experience to the prostitute, as she urges him to go. He walks spaced out into a casino’s revolving door, still not adjusted to life back in the real world anymore. LOVE seeing Meg Foster at the cash dispensary, she’s awesome! Poor Coop wanders the casino floor, he sees a flash of the Black Lodge’s curtains and the patterned floor. So he sits at a slot machine and hits a big win. He goes from one machine to the next, hitting jackpots. Yet all he can say is “call for help.” He continues seeing machines lit up with the tiny vision of the Black Lodge. Jackpots everywhere. Even helps a dirty old woman hit it big!
Pic 3At FBI HQ in Philly, Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer), Director Gordon Cole, and others look over a murder case involving young women, a boy, an automatic weapon, some pliers, and a jar of beans or something similar. They’ve also got a few things about New York to discuss. Mutilated bodies in an apartment complex; yes, that one we saw in Parts 1 and 2. They have evidence of the glass box, and a recording of the eerie apparition in the darkness.
Then Cole receives a call about Agent Cooper after all these years.
Albert: “The absurd mystery of the strange forces of existence.”
Pic 4Amazing. Just spectacularly weird, wild stuff. It’ll only continue.
Now with Agent Cooper back in the real world with Gordon and Albert on their way to meet him, there’s bound to be a deepening sense of the surreal working its way farther and farther into these next episodes. And that’s saying something!
A new case, a new world. Bring it on.

Twin Peaks – Season 3: “The Return, Parts 1 & 2”

Showtime’s Twin Peaks
Season 3: “The Return, Parts 1 & 2”
Directed by David Lynch
Written by Lynch & Mark Frost

* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
Pic 1Welcome back!
We start in that old dream with Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) and Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan): “Ill see you again in 25 years. Meanwhile.” And thus begins our walk down those familiar trails, through the town we knew so well. Revisiting the heartbreak surrounding Laura’s own murder.
Cut to Cooper in another dream with the Giant (Carel Struycken). Telling him to listen to the sounds, which come from an old gramophone record player. “It is in our house now,” he says. “Remember 430.” Is it a time? Or something else? Well, we’ll see how Cooper pieces together all the cryptic messages, y’know – when he does his thing.
Pic 1AAt a camper in the woods is Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn), the one and only. He gets a shipment of shovels. Not at all strange. The doc’s got a bit of digging to do. Meanwhile, in New York City, a young man (Ben Rosenfield) sits in a strange room with a glass box setup in the middle, lights and cameras trained on it. I’ve got a couple ideas about this – could he possibly be trying to contain a spirit from the Black Lodge? Too early to guess, even. It’s a genuine facility, security guards and cameras all over the place. A girl named Tracy (Madeline Zima) shows up with coffee, but the work is very secretive, so she’s sent off fast. The young gentleman has work to do watching the glass box, the porthole in the building’s wall. Hmm.
Back in Twin Peaks, Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer) is business as usual with a new secretary Beverly (Ashley Judd), and you know brother Jerry (David Patrick Kelly) is kicking around like a hippy as usual. In fact he’s growing weed these days. They’re hilarious as ever. Then there’s sweet Lucy Moran now Brennan (Kimmy Robertson), still at the police station running the show in her unique way.
More of those dark roads we know well. Ominous music playing over top. Headlights lead us to a house where Agent Cooper pulls up and goes inside to see a man named Otis. Coop’s looking… tough, different. Is it possible this is the bad Coop? The one who came back possessed from the Black Lodge? No matter for now, he’s there to get a pair named Ray and Daria.
Back at the NYC, our watcher receives another visit from Stacy while the guards seem to be off on a break. He explains it’s a “job to help with school.” The place belongs to an anonymous billionaire. That’s curious. He has to watch and see if anything appears in the box. Oh yes, they’re looking for spirits from the Black Lodge. I know it! While they’re meant to be watching the box, they have sex. And of course something happens. The box fills with darkness. Then something inside becomes more visible, an odd corpse-like figure; it breaks out. Then dices the two lovers to bloody bits. Jesus. Terrifying.
Pic 2In an apartment building Marjorie Green and her dog come across something foul in a nearby room. The woman who lives there, Ruth Davenport, hasn’t been seen in three days. Police arrive promptly to check on things, though with not much help from Marjorie. Nor any of the other people in the building. When they get into Ruth’s apartment they discover her corpse in bed, a hole in her face. Not just that – her head is cut off, her body posed and twisted in a ritualistic fashion. It’s happening again.
The Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) calls to speak with Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse). “Something is missing, and you have to find it.” She also tells him it’s to do with Agent Cooper, as well as his own heritage. Now this is interesting! I’m hoping this time around Lynch and Frost give us more Hawk, I love him. Hawk, Lucy, and Andy (Harry Goaz) are starting to look into the Log Lady’s clues. We find out Coop’s actually been missing for nearly 25 years. Did Bob infect Coop all those years ago then take him on a joy ride?
A fingerprint match comes up from the crime scene at the apartment building: William Hastings (Matthew Lillard), a local Buckhorn boy. The principal of a school. Ah, in proper Twin Peaks fashion things are about to get fucked up. But they’re never all they seem, ever. Hastings is naturally picked up by the cops. He’s questioned about Ms. Davenport, denying any relationship with her or being at her apartment. Soon he’s asking for a lawyer. Things aren’t looking too good, though he doesn’t exactly seem like the murderer. Surely there’s an evil lurking somewhere behind all this. Feels like something we’ve seen before, too.
When the cops have a look at the Hastings home they open his trunk and find themselves a torn patch of skin. No bail for ole Bill. More interesting is that he says he wasn’t there, except he had a dream that he was there.
Pic 3Oh, this is absolutely where Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) found himself a couple decades ago. As night falls a strange figure appears in one of the cells, quite unsettling. At home Bill’s wife gets shot in the face by a mysterious stranger in the dark.
Those Black Lodge spirits are still swarming, and the town of Twin Peaks was only a start. Just look at Agent Jeffries (David Bowie) and all that he went through, it isn’t a confined problem. This is one of the excellent parts about the series comeback, so far we’ve already seen it branch out to NYC, Buckhorn. Delicious!
In the city of Las Vegas, a man named Mr. Todd (Patrick Fischler) is being extorted. He sends an employee named Roger with a wad of bills for a payoff. He’s being forced to hire someone.
We go back to Coop, in a diner, with Ray and Daria. There’s definitely something quite different about Agent Dale, he isn’t the same guy we left back in Season 2. Although he does still drink coffee, still looks at it the same way; he’s there underneath it all. And there is a connection between their little crew + Hastings. Uh oh.
Pic 4Hawk is out in the woods, worried of what will happen next. He gets another prophetic call from the Log Lady herself. She cautions him to watch carefully. Hawk can almost feel the divide between the two worlds in those woods, the red light shining dim around the trees.
And just like that we’re back in the Black Lodge. Cooper is there, too. Along with Phillip Gerard, the One Armed Man (Al Strobel) repeating the words of his counterpart, The Man from Another Place: “Is it futureor is it past?” He disappears after a moment. Then Laura Palmer returns! She and Dale, back there again 25 years later. Or did he ever leave, really? I don’t think so, I think he’s been stuck in the Black Lodge all these years.
Laura also removes her face, like a mask. Remember the masks on the little boy and the Jumping Man in Fire Walk With Me? Significant imagery/symbolism. More of which we’ll explore surely as these new episodes play out.
And what does Laura whisper this time to Dale? Surely it’s not about her murder, the whole thing’s solved. So, it’s something new. By the look on his face it’s something shocking. Followed by rippling curtains and Laura is ripped into nowhere, screaming. Cooper sees a white horse in the distance – death? – and then Gerard asks him to follow through the curtains. We see the “evolution of the Arm” and he’s no longer the tiny man, rather a fleshy head on a tree. The Arm reminds Coop of his doppelganger who escaped; he has to come back before Coop can leave.
Pic 5Out in the world the doppelganger Coop goes about his business. That hair noticeably longer, sort of like the way Bob wore his hair. At the motel with Daria he lurks around in the dark, only concerned seemingly with the next act of violence or whatever it is he has planned. He’s also uncovered the betrayal of Daria and Ray, they were contracted by somebody, which doesn’t bode well for her alone with him. We know of what this dark spirit is capable. And he’s ready for whatever his other half good Coop brings, not willing to be pulled back into the Black Lodge.
Bad Coop gets in contact with someone he thinks if Phillip Jeffries. There’s also mention of Major Briggs. There’s so much juicy stuff going on I’m beyond excited. Afterwards he checks out info on Yankton Federal Prison. He then goes to see a woman in a nearby room (Jennifer Jason Leigh) about his plan, they’re pretty intimate.
In the Black Lodge, Cooper receives other cryptic clues from the Arm. Now it’s up to him to escape, to draw Bob back in so he can leave. First he has to navigate the various rooms, where he runs into Leland Palmer once more who urges the agent to find his daughter. In another room he sees the place blur, and the Arm mentions his own doppelganger, which attacks Coop in one of the halls as the floor tears apart and he falls inside under black waves.
The Arm: “253. Time and time again.”
Pic 5ACoop appears in the glass box in NYC, he floats on through the side of the building and finds an empty room. Immediately we’re back before the young man and Tracy get busy. The box rattles, then it expands before closing in on itself. Then Coop is in a terrifying black hole of sorts, falling through space.
In her home Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) watches television and smokes cigarettes, as usual. And in Twin Peaks at the bar (as The Chromatics play), things go on as they have for so long, including the lives of those we knew years ago like James Hurley (James Marshall) and Shelly Johnson (Madchen Amick) and more.
I suspect that’ll change soon enough, though. The town’s about to experience something like it did 25 years before. Maybe worse this time around.
Pic 6The Return Parts 1 and 2 have been an amazing experience. I first saw Twin Peaks about 16 years ago, ever since I’ve been enthralled. Lynch and Frost, for me, are doing fans right. 18 episodes is plenty to open up the mythology they began 25 years ago. This time, the Black Lodge, the White Lodge, all these things will come full circle, I believe. We’re bound to see much more wildness.

American Gods – Season 1, Episode 4: “Git Gone”

Starz’ American Gods
Season 1, Episode 4: “Git Gone”
Directed by Craig Zobel
Written by Michael Green & Bryan Fuller

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Head Full of Snow” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Lemon Scented You” – click here
Pic 1Love the opening shot, as the music and the hieroglyphics imply Egypt, but of course we’re actually in a casino, American Egypt. This is where we find Laura Moon (Emily Browning) before she’s Mrs. Moon, dealing cards at a blackjack table. There’s almost a relation to how detached the Egyptian symbols are to the location we find them, and how technology also replaces the everyday, such as how Laura says “I like to shuffle” in a simple response to automated machines now doing her job. Just terrifically written.
Note: Anubis is branded on the playing cards they use as the casino.
The episode’s title – “Git Gone” – is in reference to the bug spray Laura uses at home. She uses it while covering herself in the hot tub outside. A suicide attempt she decides at the last minute she does not want to complete. Next shift at the casino, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is hustling at the tables. When he tries rolling Laura she gives him a few friendly words of advice, telling him not to try his grift there, or else.
Pic 1AOoh, bad luck.”
Except it isn’t, it’s the beginning of their relationship. An interesting one, at that. They head back to her place falling into each other’s arms, and the rest is history. The next morning they’re going over their respective card talents, though his are slightly more magical than hers, even if she’s a pro at dealing them.
We also see Robbie (Dane Cook), whom she later cheated on Shadow with, as they all become a big, happy group. Meanwhile, Laura’s worried about her new man, what happens if he keeps on grifting and stealing. They get around to talking about belief. She doesn’t believe in anything religious whatsoever. Funny when that’s juxtaposed with what we’ve seen so far from Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) and all he’s introduced Shadow to since they’ve known one another.
Laura: “And its like everything that made the world anything more than what it is is just is just stories. Just snake oil, but worse because snakes are real.”
Also, a great tune “Queen of the Bored” by Shirley Manson – produced by series composer Brian Reitzell – shows up during a montage of Shadow and Laura, fucking, each of them going about their day. However, it’s more than that. We see how Laura’s going through the motions. She was in a bad space before meeting her husband, and she never recovered or get healthy. Now she’s quickly getting tired of married life. So she decides it’s time to rob the casino. He doesn’t feel good about how things are happening, after she admits being unhappy.
Ahhh, you see where this is going, right?
Directly to Shadow sitting in jail. Serving time for their botched robbery. She wants to cut a deal that would put her in prison, too. But they’d get out faster. He refuses, he accepts his fate. Problem is she can’t do the time, we know that. The night her cat dies is when her affair with Robbie begins.
Pic 2Cut to Shadow getting ready to be released, at home Laura’s prepping the place for his big welcome home party. When he’s still unaware of the nasty affair going on. At the same time Robbie wants to reveal the affair, she wants to forget what they’ve been doing together. The Band’s “The Weight” plays as the two lovers drive, agreeing to let their affair be the last of it all, and Laura gives him a bit of road head. This sends them into oncoming traffic.
Then, death.
Laura finds herself in a strange place. Anubis (Chris Obi) has come to take her to the scales, to see her judgement. She won’t let him take her heart, explaining it’s certainly heavier than that feather. She refuses to go to death, she wants to go home. Anubis isn’t impressed, but then Laura’s pulled away out of sight.
Anubis: “In life, you believed in nothing. You will go to nothing.”
And where does Laura go? Back to her grave. She pulls herself out of the earth into the world again, autopsy stitches and all. She wanders into a field and finds the Children surrounding Shadow, hanged from a tree by the neck. So she does what any woman would in that situation: punches holes through them, punches their heads off, flicking blood everywhere. Now we know who saved poor Shadow in his time of need. Coming back to life has given Laura some exciting abilities. She even kicks one guy in the balls, splitting him up the middle.
She’s a little worse for wear afterwards, one arm literally off her body. But she carries it with her and sews it back on later. Except her stomach’s hurting, too. Being reanimated from death isn’t exactly all the rage. Not to mention all those lingering, terrible memories of the betrayal she visited upon Shadow. When Audrey (Betty Gilpin) walks in it’s a frightening scene, seeing the dead woman who banged her husband. Hilarious and scary all at once. Even more so because Laura has to shit out a load of embalming fluid in front of her.
Pic 3After patching things up, literally and figuratively, Betty and Laura head out on the road. Laura’s dealing with the fallout of being shitty in life, now that she has returned. She continually sees a bright, shining light beaming from Shadow on the horizon; the actual light of her life. Not before the women run into Anubis and Mr. Ibis (Demore Barnes).
They take her back to the funeral home Mr. Ibis runs, so they can take care of her properly. Get that arm in place, paint her skin a lively colour. “Care and maintenance is needed for your dead body,” Ibis explains. Ah, the joys of coming back to life!
Laura also discovers that when she’s finished with her unfinished love business on Earth, she’ll be taken to death by Anubis once and for all. The Git Gone bug spray is now replaced with fly tape; symbolic of her newfound will to live, ironic in that she had to die to discover it. She sits and waits for Shadow to come back.
So what comes next for them? How does he deal with her betrayal and her reincarnation?
Pic 5What a fucking show! Goddamn I love Mr. Fuller and Mr. Green, they’re amazing together. Such imagination inside an already imaginative story from Neil Gaiman. Their powers of adaptation are strong.
Next is “Lemon Scented You” and I look forward to more madness, more psychedelic sequences, more heavy drama. Dig.

Banshee – Season 3, Episode 7: “You Can’t Hide From the Dead”

Cinemax’s Banshee
Season 3, Episode 7: “You Can’t Hide From the Dead”
Directed by Greg Yaitanes
Written by Christopher Kelley

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “We Were All Someone Else Yesterday” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “All the Wisdom I Got Left” – click here
Pic 1Poor Hood (Antony Starr) is plagued by memories of Siobhan (Trieste Kelly Dunn), neck snapped at the hands of Chayton Littlestone (Geno Segers). Looking through mounds of papers Hood only wants to track the man down and put an end to all the brutality.
At the same time, Chayton’s lying in a barn with bullets in him, bleeding, trying to stay alive after his recent brush with the law. He hallucinates a bit, too. Not exactly able to reconcile the life he’s recently taken with the scope of his mission.
Pic 1ABusy watching her new dude friend fist fight, Deva (Ryann Shane) is definitely not in a good place. Both figuratively and literally. She’s hanging with a nasty crowd, and enjoys it thoroughly. Not easy to deal with for Carrie (Ivana Milicevic) and Gordon (Rus Blackwell), that’s for sure.
Hood gets a visit from Aimee King (Meaghan Rath), who feels sorry for not stopping Chayton when she had the chance, though he assuages her guilt, knowing it isn’t easy to forget “all that history” in a single second with someone at the end of the gun’s barrel. Meanwhile, Job (Hoon Lee) and Sugar (Frankie Faison) are doing their thing, the former working on some voice recognition for their planned, upcoming military heist. He’s having a slight bit of trouble, but y’know, Job is slick.
At the funeral of his mother Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen) arrives, surprising all. Instead of rejection, he receives opens arms from his father. They sit and listen to the priest speak over the body. Then there’s Rebecca (Lili Simmons), the resent trouble with her uncle. She’s not exactly playing nice, nor is he. She meets with Hector Morales (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), outside her uncle’s purview. Hmm, that’ll definitely mean trouble. One way or another. She makes a deal, using her own mental muscle to get things going for herself. Rebecca don’t play, she can hang with the gangsters.
While Hood is working out his issues, Job is keeping an eye on the military compound. “With all due respect we should all be a little worried,” Job tells his friend. He worries about the faux-sheriff’s state of mind, plus what that means for everyone around him. Hood wants to do their job tonight, and it doesn’t sit well with Job.
Pic 2When Lisa Marie (Susan Misner) checks on her barn she finds Chayton bleeding. He passes out while ordering her around, so she decides to help him in a time of physical trauma. She patches him up, as she would any other person. Despite that everything goes sideways when a neighbour turns up, getting stabbed with a pitchfork by Chayton for his trouble.
Carrie and Gordon find out where Deva’s been hanging with all those fighters and the rest of their wild crowd. The parents want their daughter to leave, but Deva’s new friends aren’t so keen on letting them go. This shows off Carrie and Gordon as a fighting team, both adept at kicking ass. The husband-wife team take on all comers. Best is Carrie – we get to see her kick the living shit out of three dudes, effortlessly. While Gordon gets to lay a beating on the greaser trying to bang his daughter. When dude pulls a gun dad dares him to use it, which he won’t. And the family walks away together.
Although they aren’t together, for real, Gordon and Carrie hook up after their crazy afternoon. But there’s still a flame for them, which is difficult. Carrie is hauled in two different directions, more than that really because of all the conflicts in her new life v. the old one.
Over at Sugar’s bar the crew are getting ready for the first steps of their latest robbery. No one, other than Hood, is too confident, though they’ve got the gusto. So they’re off, but will it go smoothly? Not everything goes entirely as planned. They get going well enough. A nice First Person Shooter view takes us through their respective cameras they wear. All Job’s gadgets work, allowing them entrance to the vault, and Sugar keeps an eye on the hacked cameras throughout the facility, as well as all the crew’s cameras. Hood, he starts having one of his Siobhan hallucinations, seeing her everywhere. Simultaneously, Job gets attacked by a soldier, going one on one, hand to fist. After too long Hood snaps out of it and goes running to help his old pal. His guilt laden brain nearly caused a lot of shit.
On their way out, the crew has to make sure Colonel Stowe (Langley Kirkwood) and his men don’t lock them down, after the military discovers someone’s got them under siege. This causes Hood and Co – mostly Hood – to make noise, leading to a gunfight.
Everyone makes it back to the vehicle. Not before Hood winds up in a close confrontation with Stowe who nearly takes him down. They blow the bomb set in the tunnel, and Hood uses the smoke to escape nearly getting himself killed in the process. Stowe gets up in the vehicle with them and almost gets the upper hand. But they manage to toss him outside, speeding away. Close fucking call.
Pic 3The memory of Siobhan is everywhere. Even Deputy Brock (Matt Servitto) mourns her loss with great grief. Wanting Chayton to pay badly. Worse is the fact her memory lingering with Hood almost got them all caught, or killed. After their mission’s complete Job is not happy with the way things went, and Hood.. well, he’s still having visions. They won’t likely stop any time soon. At least he now knows more from Aimee on Chayton, the big obstacle in his existential way; the big man’s also killed the woman who helped him in her barn. Nasty.
It’s Brock and Hood on a road trip to New Orleans. Should be fun.
Pic 4Love this episode, because it’s one of the first big divides between Job and Hood which actually comes with consequence. This leads into some serious action and ramifications for them all. Next episode is “All the Wisdom I Got Left” and there’s plenty of intensity left to reveal in this season. The scene after the credits shows Stowe’s unstable headspace in a frightening few moments. He’s insane.

Fargo – Season 3, Episode 5: “The House of Special Purpose”

FX’s Fargo
Season 3, Episode 5: “The House of Special Purpose”
Directed by Dearbhla Walsh
Written by Bob DeLaurentis

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Narrow Escape Problem” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Lord of No Mercy” – click here
Pic 1Mac Davis’ “It’s Hard to Be Humble” plays as we see Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor) driving, and at home a package arrives marked FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. She gets a bit curious, eventually opening it to find a DVD intended on going to her. You betcha – a sex tape, and it’s Ray (McGregor) dressed as his brother having sex with Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
Cut to the pair themselves getting ready to record their video. Blackmail, baby. It’s getting slippery. And I can’t help but wonder that once the going gets especially tough, is Nikki in it all the way with her man? I’m not so sure, to be honest. Then Ray busts out a ring, down on one knee. She says yes, too. So I guess I’m wrong. For now my thoughts about Ms. Swango – the soon to be Mrs. Nikki Stussy – are assuaged.
Pic 1AEmmit’s wife has packed up and left. This is it. He is pissed, seeing the video and the damage its causing so quickly. Wonder what he and Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) are gonna get up to, how they’ll try and fight back.
They’ve got other issues, though. Such as the big, bad wolf V.M. Varga (David Thewlis) and his odd techniques. He pops his dick and balls into Sy’s WORLD’S BEST DAD mug while asserting his power over a chick v. egg quip. A dash of antisemitism. Then his thugs make Sy drink from the mug. Blech. A nasty, hostile takeover, essentially.
Out at a swanky restaurant Sy meets with Ruby Goldfarb (Mary McDonnell). They chat about life. Then they discuss business matters. She’d like to acquire Stussy Lots Ltd. rather than have a partner. Or else become the competition. But the meeting is cut short when Emmit texts with an emergency. And of course you know the sly wolf’s boys are keeping tabs on where he goes.
Sy: “Yever have that feelinlike you stepped off the map into the, well, unknown, I guess?”
When Sy gets to Emmit’s place he finds his buddy sobbing in a corner over his wife leaving. They’ve got problems on top of problems on top of other problems. Now, the friends are turning on each other a little. Sy wants to be let loose, to solve their problems with Ray once and for all. Emmit agrees: “Shackles are off
Pic 2Back to Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) and Winnie Lopez (Olivia Sandoval), they’re getting closer to where they need to be, all the Stussy connections, Maurice LeFay (Scoot McNairy). Only a few more dots together before they’re right on top of Ray and Nikki. Yoowzah.
On the phone, Sy talks with Nikki. He wants to meet now that things are already fucked up. Then she piles on saying they’ve got video proof of Emmit banging his secretary. Oh, man. A meeting’s set for one hour.
What sort of bad shit’s about to go down? Note: there are possible trails of evidence for everyone here – first, Sy leaves a voicemail for Emmit at his house with possible incriminating evidence; second, Ray freaks out on a bus in public, looks like a guy behind him is taking video of his very personal fight with Emmit re: blackmail. Whoopsy!
And wouldn’t ya know it, Officers Burgle and Lopez get talking to the balder Stussy. They want to know all about the brothers’ relationship, Maurice, the car accident courtesy of Mr. Feltz, so on. Only problem is Moe Dammick (Shea Whigham), he’s the new boss and he’s trying to shut Gloria down constantly. He says it’s “random life” and there’s no Stussy connection.
Emmit runs into Varga, the ever mysterious, creepy bastard. The guy is so sleazy, particularly his Jew fixation. He’s sowing the seeds of discontent, saying that Sy might’ve been in cahoots with Ray all along. Oh, the chaos is brewing. He explains his entire plan as a souffle. Fitting, for a guy who binges then purges when eating.
Pic 4No sooner do they finish their conversation does a man from the IRS (Hamish Linklater) turn up to see Emmit. Christ, what timing. He’s there about the $10K withdrawal from his account recently, the one made by his brother in disguise. The IRS may need to see his books. Hmm, that’s no good with the wolf prowling around as of late. Nothing good’s going to come of this, nothing at all. In fact, the poor tax man may be in trouble himself with Varga keeping an eye on things. Moreover, ole V.M. is pretty much pulling the strings at this point, so much so he’s already got fake books cooked for the company.
Emmit: “The jig is up
Finally, Sy meets with Nikki. They’re quite a ways out from the main road, at one of the Stussy lots. Great tune called “Track Suit” by Minor Mishap Marching Band plays during this scene, too. Nikki requests $200K and the contested stamp. However, Yuri and Meemo are there to interrupt. The Russian has lots to say about America v. Siberia before they beat Nikki brutally. The random chaos of Fargo reigns, once again. Instead of doing anything sensible, Sy rushes off. The tough girl ain’t dead, though. She manages to get to her vehicle and get home. Ray finds her in the bathtub with internal injuries, definitely not doing well.
Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 2.36.10 AMThe wild world of this series gets wilder. I can’t wait for “The Lord of No Mercy” next because I feel like something bad and big is coming. Maybe Ray and the wolf Varga will come face to face soon enough.

The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 1, Episode 6: “A Woman’s Place”

Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale
Season 1, Episode 6: “A Woman’s Place”
Directed by Floria Sigismondi
Written by Wendy Straker Hauser

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Faithful” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Other Side” – click here
Pic 1We start as we finished last episode, as Offred (Elisabeth Moss) falls into actual passion with Nick (Max Minghella). She thinks of it the next day, but laments it won’t happen anymore. “Sorry, Nick.”
The handmaids are out cleaning a wall of execution blood. Government officials are coming, so they don’t want any of the nastiness around to make Gilead look bad, now do they? Janine (Madeline Brewer) remarks how it doesn’t look the same without all the “dead bodies.” Amazing what you can get used to in Gilead. Back at home, Offred’s called to see Serena (Yvonne Strahovski), she preps the handmaid on the coming visit, a trade delegation from Mexico; the one which Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) went to arrange a short while ago. The woman of the house wants everything to go smoothly.
But will it?
Offred: “Reds my colour
We see Serena remember different times with Fred. They rushed to the bedroom in lust for one another. Although quoting the Bible’s a bit strange. Either way, there were happier moments for them. Now it’s all an eerie struggle, a routine, an elaborate, emotionless spectacle. Serena’s complicit in the patriarchy, despite any of her issues she continues trying to make her husband happy.
Pic 1AOne thing Offred, the woman formerly known as June, has not lost is her spirit, and her sense of humour. She’s very sly, in many ways. Also there’s a clear connection between her and Nick. He does his best, outwardly, to deny this fact. It’s obvious, though. And they keep it as quiet a secret as possible. In the meantime, Offred’s trotted in to see the delegation. There’s a vast divide between women in Gilead v. women from Mexico, for instance. She automatically believes the ambassador could not be a woman. Even as smart and tough as June was, still is, she’s been brainwashed, beaten down by the system in this nation-state.
On top of everything, she’s forced to say that she chose being a handmaid. When Ambassador Castillo (Zabryna Guevara) asks if Offred is happy, she reluctantly reads the script prepared in her mind. Sadly, she knows a woman’s place in Gilead. As do the barren wives, all too tragically. We find out more of Serena, too. She was a rebel. The ambassador puts it to her pretty hard and sees how these women, all of them, are trodden upon.
Ambassador Castillo: “Never mistake a womans meekness for weakness
More flashbacks show us a time before. When Fred was working towards the idea of Gilead, setting things in motion. Serena supported him every step of the way, which illustrates the lengths of her complicity in an authoritarian patriarchal rule. We see the divide between America then, Gilead now. Even Fred, he was slightly different. Before power took hold, anyways. Then suddenly he gets word about “three attacks” coordinated in several weeks. The beginning of the end.
So, as much as I pity Serena, I pity the handmaids more. She used an epidemic to subjugate the will of fertile women. Offred, and so, so many more, they suffer much worse because of what Serena allowed to grow in her own actions and support of Fred. Kinda like how I couldn’t give a shit now that Ann Coulter thinks anybody cares that she’s FINALLY figured out that Trump duped her and a portion of the country. Because she is one of those women whose toxic aid to the patriarchy of America has only made things worse for women who don’t hold the privilege of her status.
Pic 2Alone together, Offred gets closer and closer with Commander Waterford. Perhaps too close. It’s a dangerous game, even if it’s a part of a plan she’s enacting over the course of time. He feels wildly unpredictable. He asks for a kiss, which she grants him. Later she scrubs her mouth raw with a toothbrush to get the taste out.
Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) has the handmaids out, well behaved, going to a dinner. They even get to sit at tables like normal people. Present and enforcing strict dress code, Serena requires “the damaged ones” removed. But Lydia says they are serving the Lord, therefore it’s worthy of honour. To Mrs. Waterford they’re “bruised apples” and nothing more.
More flashbacks take us to before Gilead rose, as America fell. Serena slowly sees her privileges erode. Once a writer of books, she was on her way to never being allowed to read one again, being pushed out of the bureaucracy of the coming changes. Fred actually starts coming off as a guy who didn’t realise what would happen when he started out. As if he was one of those bible thumping Republicans who began hard on terrorism, letting civil rights erode, then watched as it all spun out of control. But no matter. Somewhere along the way he wholly accepted the state of things.
In Gilead, at their fancy dinner, Serena is allowed to speak. ALLOWED is the operative term. The handmaids are honoured. Blah, blah, blah. All for show. Then the children are paraded through to music, those who’ve been produced in Gilead like cattle. IT’s a way of blinding the delegation. All the sour, hideous shit is hidden beneath this glossy exterior, fabricated out of the sadness of these women who are made to stand by and, some of them, watch their own children who’ve been yanked from their arms being used as propaganda.
Worse – Mexico’s looking to trade for handmaids. That’s so terrible, so ugly. What a heavy scene. With all the heaviness that’s come before it, hard to imagine this is so weighty. One of the subtle, toughest moments shows us a flashback as Serena gathers things together, throwing things away; outside, garbage trucks and men take all things belonging to women, truckloads, and cart it away for a new beginning.
Pic 3A rare lovemaking moment occurs between Mr. and Mrs. Waterford, going against the whole idea in Gilead that sex is for procreation only. Tsk, tsk. But I wish they’d get back to that, their old lives. Instead of raping women into pregnancy for their own cruel needs.
Offred beats herself up for acting in front of the ambassador and everyone else, saying she’s happy there. It rips her apart, and no wonder. Having to say that, even if she doesn’t mean it, just having to let those words out of her mouth is a form of giving up to the patriarchy of Gilead.
The next day when the ambassador stops by before leaving, June tells her it is a prisoner there and about the abuse they suffer. She tells her everything. She pleads for her to do something, but the woman refuses. Another woman complicit with the authoritarian patriarchy of Gilead. Disgusting. All in the name of making babies.
Ambassador Castillo: “My country is dying
Offred: “My countrys already dead
However, the man with Ambassador Castillo offers to get a message to her husband. He is not dead, and Mr. Flores (Christian Barillas) knows. He also knows that her name is June. Wow. I could see the whole episode his eyes were kinder, somehow he was sensitive to their plight. And dammit, I was right.
Pic 4What’s going to happen next? What a grim yet still beautiful episode. Christ, they up the ante every week with this series. Next is “The Other Side” and I’m anticipating other, bigger things will come out.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 6: “Off-Brand”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 6: “Off-Brand”
Directed by Keith Gordon
Written by Ann Cherkis

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Chicanery” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Expenses” – click here
Pic 1We open with Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) and Nacho (Michael Mando) at their place of business, the latter counting rolls upon rolls of cash as his boss drinks coffee and reads the newspaper. Business as usual. Then one payment comes light, from the man we later know in Breaking Bad as Krazy-8 (Max Arciniega). Although Nacho lets him off with it, until his boss comments: “Who works for who, huh?”
And so Krazy-8 gets one rough beating in the kitchen from Nacho.
Cut to Nacho in back of a shop, sewing steadily until he just about sews his hand right into the garment he’s making. There’s a lot more to this dude, and I hope we’ll see this before he disappears eventually.
Pic 1AIn court, Kim (Rhea Seehorn) pleads the case of Mr. James McGill (Bob Odenkirk), that he is a compassionate man helping his ill brother Chuck (Michael McKean) and many seniors. She paints a picture of betrayal by the older brother. He gets a 12-month sentence, I assume a time during which he can’t practise law. Definitely worthy of their celebration.
At the same time, Rebecca (Ann Cusack) goes to see her former husband in his fortress of electrical solitude. He won’t answer, he simply wastes away in darkness. So Rebecca goes to see Jimmy, who does not want to help him anymore: “I dont owe him squat.” She is very disappointed, believing Chuck was right about the younger brother.
Rebecca: “Hes mentally ill. Whats your excuse?”
Stacey Ehrmantraut (Kerry Condon) sits and talks with a support group, her father-in-law Mike (Jonathan Banks) at her side. She says she volunteered him to help with a playground at the church. We see more of that whole other side to Mike in these moments with his family, which were only short and sweet in Breaking Bad. It’s interesting to see how he got to such a desperate place in that original series through the moments in this wonderfully written prequel.
Howard (Patrick Fabian) goes to see Chuck, refusing to leave without a word. And a drink. Although the older McGill isn’t happy about anything. Not his mental state, not Jimmy’s one-year suspension. His partner tries painting a positive picture, but it’s not of much use. He wants Chuck to focus on the future, to keep being a good lawyer, so on. Saying he’s too smart a man to throw a life away on a delinquent brother.
So, can he bounce back? Or will he succumb to his unfortunate mental condition? Alone at his desk Chuck takes a battery in his bare hands, forcing himself to hold it tight and cringing the whole time.
Pic 2And what about Jimmy? What’s next? He has to take care of the situation with his clients for the coming year. He calls them to let everyone know he’s taking a “sabbatical from the law.” That’s it, y’know. Plenty of the older folk will miss him, so it’s mostly a lot of chatting. He’s a slick one, that we already know. A great montage sequence of him calling his clients fits right in with his character. Perfectly placed.
He also finds out his commercial’s still running on TV, in for another $4K of ad space with it off the air. So many money issues with him leaving for a whole year. Wonder how he’s going to fund the whole venture while not working. He goes out trying to hawk the ad space, offering to shoot the commercials for the $4,000. 9 commercials, 9 airings. Or one commercial at a lower rate, airing still included. But no one’s biting at the sales pitch yet.
What Jimmy decides on doing is “offbrand” to him, though finally he comes to a decision: “Well have to Karloff this thing.”
Pic 3Meanwhile, the drug trade in New Mexico continues through the trucks of Los Pollos Hermanos trafficking the cartel’s meth. Men go to work taking out packages and packages of product from the trucks’ false flooring, giving it over to Nacho. We see a familiar face with Victor, one who actually takes the place of Victor later on in Breaking Bad: Tyrus (Ray Campbell). Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) gets a call when Nacho tries taking more than expected, and the boss says to give it over. All ends well, for now.
Speaking of Gus, he’s checking out the new digs at an industrial laundry facility. Oh, you know the one. He’s got an eye out for a place where he’ll construct a lab, one to make him the kingpin of meth distribution in New Mexico. Another familiar face shows up, Ms. Quayle (Laura Fraser), helping him on the search for the perfect location.
Poor Chuck, out on the streets covered under his clothes with the space blanket. He finds a payphone and calls a Dr. Laura Cruz, his former doctor. He wants to get treatment again, obviously. I feel so horrible for him, despite any of his own faults aside from his condition. It’s heartbreaking.
When Nacho and Arturo (Vincent Fuentes) get back to Hector, the old guy’s not impressed with what happened at Fring’s place. He wants to go into his own big time distributing business, hoping Nacho will convince his father to help. But the young man doesn’t want to let that happen. At the same time they find out Tuco’s in trouble for a stabbing. This prompts the old fella to nearly have an attack. Also, note the errant pill Nacho keeps under his boot.
Pic 4Looks like the McGill plan has worked. He’s optimistic about the ad time. He “made a commercial for commercials” in a single afternoon. A hilarious little cheap commercial with star swipes and chunky-lettered graphics.
Finally, FINALLY – we have the pseudonym, Saul Goodman making an apperance. “Sall good, man.” Even though he says it’s merely a name, we know better. This becomes the first time he dips into a truly other identity, his second life. His future.
Pic 5What an impressive episode. I love how the writers weave together and make these little moments from Breaking Bad come to life more vivid, as well as still creating their own world of Jimmy McGill before he too broke bad. Can’t wait for the next episode “Expenses” because I smell more cartel treachery coming soon.

Outcast – Season 2, Episode 7: “Alone When It Comes”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 2, Episode 7: “Alone When It Comes”
Directed by Josef Wladyka
Written by Helen Leigh

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Fireflies” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Mercy” – click here
Pic 1When in Rome… yeah, that’s not gonna work here. Or maybe it does work for Sidney (Brent Spiner).
At home, Kyle (Patrick Fugit) and Allison (Kate Lyn Sheil) and their daughter Amber (Madeleine McGraw) scramble to figure out what’s next in the wake of all his girls have learned. He knows the demons are coming after them now. “Theyre out in the open,” he tells Allison. He knows that likely “half the damn town” are on their way for him with Sidney and Dr. Park (Hoon Lee).
Speaking of the hacking, white-haired devil, he and Park are having a look at a boy, precious cargo he fucked up. The doc is clearly one of the other higher up demons, and they talk of The Council, which I’m sure we’ll discover more of later, too.
Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) and Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) rush to Kyle’s place, they worry for what’ll happen if Kyle isn’t around. But the Barnes family has to get away, at least for the time being until he can think up a plan.
Pic 1AWhat about Rosie (Charmin Lee)? She’s been up to a few things, without her husband Byron (Reg E. Cathey) in his weakened state. She’s been real busy getting shit done. But is she safe?
In Kyle’s absence, Megan and the Rev get closer. She tells Anderson once about hating him, because she didn’t believe what Kyle was going through as a boy, instead believing he was toying with Kyle. Now she knows, far too well, that the truth about demons is real. Then he mentions the Lighthouse.
Amber: “The monsters like us
On the road Kyle notices someone following them. Or believes he does, anyways. His behaviour starts scaring his wife, though his daughter’s well versed at this point in demonology and many of the nasty creatures’ tricks. Up at the junkyard, Kyle looks for Bob Caldwell (M.C. Gainey), hoping he’s got a car for him. Bob is a little worse for wear yet always fighting.
Anderson takes Megan out to the Lighthouse, to see Dakota (Madelyn Deutch) and her congregation of sorts. The Rev also tells her that Kyle isn’t actually dead. Everyone there recognises Megan instantly, as if they know her. It’s because they recognise her struggle. They’ve struggled, as well.
In other news, Evelyn Bailey’s turned up dead. Chief Nuñez (Briana Venskus) has sent for former Chief Giles to be brought in, warrant and all. Byron gets a cell to himself, though not all the officers are giving him the cold shoulder. Nuñez, of course, isn’t one of them. She’s one of THEM; if you know what I mean.
Pic 2Across town the big, bad boss Sidney goes to meet the Council for coffee. He tells them Helen Devere was “successful” in her work. That he’s trying to figure out how she nearly brought about the Merge. But the Council is waning in their support for his little experiments, they want action.
Dakota and Megan talk alone, they discuss the sins of those who’ve been touched by demonic presence. Dakota tells her she can’t remember most of what she did while under the evil influence. She was a junkie on the street, later chewing the face off her boyfriend/dealer in a fit. Whoooa.
Sidney’s slow breaking down, his coughs worse every day. He falls in the parking lot, mocked by Park who thinks the Merge isn’t their only hope. Well, he also has his own ideas about how the demons might learn to live on Earth. He just isn’t keen on telling. Heading off, Sidney winds up putting his car off the road from coughing up black liquid.
Along the road Kyle and his family find a blockade, construction work being completed. He’s too paranoid, so they turn around only to see the car that was following earlier waiting. He drives off into the trees, but they run the car into the bushes.
A face we’ve not seen in awhile, Kat Ogden (Debra Christofferson), meets with Rosie. She’s been lured. Rosie fires a shot at her, but they trade blows and the demon is strong in Kat. Can’t put Mrs. Giles down, though. She knocks Kat over a railing and puts a finish to another demon infested soul in Rome. Bad ass.
At the station, one of Giles’ former officers believes in the devils. He says he had troubles one time, that maybe this was the cause. Now he’s into “old school” Jesus, y’know. And this officer believes in second chances, letting Byron out from distrust of Nuñez. Hell yeah, baby!
Pic 3Sidney’s still kicking, walking along the road until someone picks him up. He heads back to town in rough shape. Over at the Lighthouse, Anderson follows Dakota into the woods as she goes on by herself. To a cellar a ways out. He finds what they call a dormitory, and he knows better. They’re going to be keeping somebody down there. Then he sees it’s Sidney himself.
In the forest Kyle, Allison, and Amber are surrounded by a large group of people. Nuñez at the helm, wondering where the Barnes family are headed. They don’t want anybody leaving Rome. No, no, no.
What about Byron? He gets home and Rose has finally come back. She’s injured, full of Kat’s blood. This worries her husband, obviously. But it worries him more that she’s been a busy bee, doing the work they need to do. However, the noose in their little town is tightening. Something Kyle knows all too well, as he and his girls are pursued by the group with Nuñez. That is until Junkyard Bob turns up to save them, ploughing through the roadblock and nearly running the new chief over.
But Kyle won’t go. He lets Bob take the girls and leave. He faces the crowd, taking Nuñez to the ground while Amber burns a demon off Bob to get them free. He puts a hand over Nuñez’s face until she’s nearly drained of life, and watches while his family gets out of that demonic place.


Such a killer episode and an emotional, intense finale. Also, we’re getting ready to see a great battle. Kyle is ready, as are others including those at the Lighthouse. You know he’s going to hook up with them soon enough, via Anderson. And what about Dakota & Co. holding Sidney in that cellar? What do they have planned?
Next episode is “Mercy” and we’re closing in on the latter moments of Season 2. Sincerely hope Cinemax is smart enough to renew this for Season 3. Or else!

American Gods – Season 1, Episode 3: “Head Full of Snow”

Starz’ American Gods
Season 1, Episode 3: “Head Full of Snow”
Directed by David Slade
Written by Bryan Fuller & Michael Green

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Secret of Spoons” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Git Gone” – click here
Pic 1Somewhere in America, we start with a woman cooking, complaining of her grand children. A hairless cat sits listening to her rant over the food. At the door a strange man says she has died, she must come with him. This is Anubis (Chris Obi): “I am of death.” She is actually lying dead on the floor. It is now time for her to go elsewhere. She is Muslim, and wonders why Anubis is there for her. Because she learned about “Egypt of old” as a girl, therefore he will take her to “the scales.” Love the mythology of the various religions and cultures that comes together in the boiling pot of America. A testament to the genius of Neil Gaiman’s novel.
He takes the woman up through a mountain of building, fire escapes. Then they’re on top of a mountain, where the landscape becomes desert, far as the eye can see. They walk across the sand until reaching the scales. He rips her heart out and weighs it against a feather. Her heart is equal to its weight, so she goes further with Anubis to the Duad. Past which are many worlds. She goes on into a door and his cat pushes her in. Sneaky bastard.
Pic 1ALast we saw ole Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), he lost that game of checkers to Czernobog (Peter Stormare). In the middle of the night Shadow wakes to find the sky doing eerie things, the clouds crowding the city. Up top of the building he finds Zorya Polunochnaya (Erika Kaar), staring at the sky with a telescope, doing experiments or something wild. She’s watching a constellation, though takes time to read his fortune. “You believe in nothing so you have nothing,” she tells him. Very telling. Afterwards, she pulls the moon from the sky as a coin, placing it in Shadow’s hand. Then he wakes from his sleep.
Polunochnaya: “Youd rather die than live in a world with bears in the sky
Shadow tries making a new deal, another game of chess with Czernobog for his life. He plays upon the Old God’s vanity, saying one blow from him won’t likely kill anymore. He offers Czernobog a bit better of a deal, still resulting in his death either way. And so they play another game.
Meanwhile, Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) sneaks in to see Zorya Vechernyaya (Cloris Leachman). He believes she deserves more in life, promising it’ll all get better soon. She tells him that he’s going to fail at his latest mission, that he will be killed. At the same time, the chess game is on, as Shadow plays a tougher game this time around and wins.
Vechernyaya: “I can taste you on the rain. What else can I taste?”
Wednesday: “War
When Shadow wakes in the morning he’s informed they’ll be robbing a bank soon. Now that’s a wake-up call.
Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) is quite the party animal, waking up in a bathroom stall at the bar. He’s kicked out and makes his way along the side of the road. A guy driving (Scott Thompson) stops to offer the hitchhiker a ride. He offers Sweeney a bit of advice before a steel rod flies off a truck impaling him through the face. What a car for Mad to step inside. Then he pours his pockets out trying to find something after the accident, pissed off for having misplaced or straight up lost it.


Elsewhere, we see a man named Salim (Omid Abtahi) walk through the streets looking somewhere between mystified and terrified of the city. He goes to a Panglobal Imports office for an appointment, though isn’t pleased with how long the wait takes. He waits, literally, all day. For nothing. Such a futile cycle, as he can’t make an appointment in person, only by telephone. So he smiles and heads out. The story of bureaucracy.
Salim gets in a cab and the man driving also speaks Arabic. They chat, reminisce of back home. They likewise lament their struggles in America, the pitfalls, so on. In a gridlock, the cabby falls asleep and Salim winds up seeing the eyes behind his glasses, like “burning flames.”
This man is the Jinn (Mousa Kraish), one of the People of the Fire. They touch hands, sharing a moment of the open desert in their minds. Poignant and touching. Up in a hotel room they meet and fall into one another’s arms. For some psychedelic lovemaking. Next day, the Jinn is gone, everything left behind. So Salim takes the glasses, the sweater, the cab, and heads out to meet the day.
Jinn: “They think all we do is grant wishes. If I could grant a wish, do you think Id be driving a cab? Once I had a man shit in the backseat.”
Mr. Wednesday brings Shadow to the bank he plans on robbing. Although our hero isn’t exactly thrilled with that plan. Particularly after just getting out of jail. Regardless, they head inside for a look. Cameras everywhere. Technology is watching, always. He’s worried about the authorities. I’d be worried about Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) and his ever watchful eye.
The old man keeps telling Shadow to “think snow” and to focus his mind. Eventually, this works, and he falls deep into his own mind. He wakes and the sky is pouring snow. Hmm, very interesting. They go out to eat and then Sweeney shows up, looking for his coin. The one Shadow has, apparently. His lucky one. Left at the grave of Laura Moon (Emily Browning).
Pic 3The bank robbery is about to go down. Real smooth, too. Wednesday uses deposit slips he took from inside, blocks off the night deposit slot and the ATM. People requiring the slot then give him the bags, leaving their names, so on. Then cops show up. They end up calling the number Wednesday gives, the one from the business card he left with Shadow. A perfect circular plan. Money in the pocket.
When will Shadow come to understand the fantastic is a part of life? That the divide is not between real or fantasy, that the mythical can be concrete, vice versa. Nothing is as it seems. Nothing.
Shadow: “Americans know who they are
Wednesday: “They pretend they know, but its still just pretending.”
Sweeney actually digs up Laura’s grave. Except she isn’t there.
She’s waiting in Shadow’s motel room, waiting to see him after so long. But how?
Pic 4What a strange and exciting episode! Love the gay sex scene because it’s great representation, plus psychedelic; two things you’ll not see anywhere else on television, I guarantee. Fuller & Co. are just spectacular, the right crowd to do this adaptation.
Next episode is “Git Gone” which will continue the saga, showing us more of why and how Laura ended up where she did, and what’s next for her and Shadow, and all of them.

Fargo – Season 3, Episode 4: “The Narrow Escape Problem”

FX’s Fargo
Season 3, Episode 4: “The Narrow Escape Problem”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Monica Beletsky

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Law of Non-Contradiction” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The House of Special Purpose” – click here
Pic 1Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor) and his brother Ray (McGregor) are portrayed in a juxtaposed couple shots showing how different they are truly, at the same time the latter’s trying to impersonate his brother. Also, the instruments of the score play us through, every character – named by animal – has a sound.
Great opening sequence, from the Stussy brothers to Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) helping her man prepare for their latest con, to Sy Feltz (Michael Stulhbarg) keeping an eye on the situation at the office, and V.M. Varga (David Thewlis) who likes to binge eat and throw up apparently. Can’t forget Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon), either; fresh off her trip to LA in search of clues about Ennis Stussy a.k.a Thaddeus Mobley.
Loving this season. The characters are incredibly interesting, almost more than ever because there’s a true air of mystery, particularly with Varga.
Pic 1ASo Ray’s pretending to be his brother, looking for the safety deposit box. Nikki does her best to pump him up for the work at hand. She definitely believes in him, which I wasn’t so sure of at the start. Inside he goes for the box, briefly meeting a woman from Bemidji, Minnesota which of course was the setting of Season 1. Ray ends up in the office of Buck Olander (Dan Wilmott), he knows Emmit well. Most interesting is how we, and Ray alike, see the difference between the brothers. At first he finds it uncomfortable. Then uses it to his advantage to get the box opened.
When he gets inside there’s a small bag filled with dog ashes. At least he gets out with $10,000. After Emmit finds out he and Sy aren’t happy, but they have bigger fish to fry with Varga. Their money worries are quite real, and they’d rather not find out what worse a wolf like V.M. might do if triggered.
Plus, there’s Meemo (Andy Yu) and Yuri Gurka (Goran Bogdan) up to no good for their eerie, mysterious boss.
Ray: “Buck, if I wanted an opinion from an asshole Id ask my own.”
Meanwhile, Gloria investigates the death of Maurice LeFay, going through his belongings at the morgue. Where she soon comes to find a Parole Board business card amongst them. Only a few steps to Ray Stussy, then a few more to connect him, his problems with his brother and the death of ole Ennis. Moe Dammick (Shea Whigham) thinks she’s digging too deep into something that requires no digging.
Pic 2One thing prevalent in this series is the chaotic randomness inherent in our world.
First, Gloria passes Nikki on the way into the Parole Board offices. Then, as it happened to her previously at another building, Gloria’s ignored by the automatic doors. Will this little nugget come to play a bigger part? It’s the same thing in the washroom when she tries getting soap, water, the sink and dispenser refuse to acknowledge her. There’s got to be more to this, I know it. Random events often come to mean bigger things in the Fargo universe.
So now Ray meets Gloria. She discovers his last name’s Stussy. No relation, of course. But curious to note for our woman of the law. They get talking about Maurice and his death, his involvement in the death of Ennis, that he may have been looking for something at the old guy’s house. When she leaves the balder of the Stussy brothers he’s visibly shook. No wonder.
He has worse problems. Pictures of him and Nikki turn up from their night out gambling. The higher-ups aren’t happy with him. They offer to sweep it under the rug, if it’s just a “one time thing.” So, he has to choose love or his job. They also threaten to revoke her parole if he chooses the former. Eventually he talks them down and leaves his job behind. But if he officially gets closer to Nikki, then it’s increasingly likely that Gloria will be more suspicious about what happened to Maurice, at Nikki’s apartment building, et cetera. Yikes, what a mess. A beautiful mess.
Ray: “They always find a way to screw ya, dont they?”
Gloria: “They try
Officer Lopez, who ran into Gloria while in the Parole Board office bathroom, is over chatting with Sy about the car accident reported. He’s real cagey, too. Not a good poker face. With the big Russian and Meemo lurking around the office it’s never good having a cop around.
Pic 3At Emmit’s door arrives Varga, sniffing out pork chops. He sits with the family and eats. A very nervous dinner, indeed. The sly Brit intimidates while being sweet as a slice of apple pie. And when he’s finished his meal, he goes to the bathroom to keep himself thin with a vomit. Later, the two men talk business, though Emmit does so reluctantly. “Youre living in the age of the refugee, my friend,” Varga tells him cryptically, as he speaks of class war, capitalism, and how when things go to shit nobody will differentiate between a guy who pumps oil or a guy who makes tons of cash leasing parking lots.
Interesting how much Varga knows, of the Brothers Stussy, their struggle. Also note that V.M. has a picture of Stalin on his wall near the computer. What a creep. I doubt he idolises the man. More so he’s the type who thrives under a dictator, one who reaps the spoils of such a situation. A dirty opportunist of the lowest, darkest sort. And Emmit’s right in his cross-hairs.
Note: I suspect Varga’s bulimic tendencies are symbolism, of how the upper class gorge themselves, purging, then gorging; all for the sake of it rather than out of need.
At home Gloria contemplates the case of Ennis’ death. She gets a late visit from Officer Lopez about her visit to the Stussy office. Bringing about the conversation about Ennis, two brothers with the same last name and one living in Eden Prairie. Ahh, the pieces are really falling together now.
Pic 4Love the twisting and turning plot of this season. This episode deepened that to further lengths. Great, labyrinthine writing!
Next episode is “The House of Special Purpose” and I’m never sure what’ll happen in any episode, so I look forward to a new surprise.

Outcast – Season 2, Episode 6: “Fireflies”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 2, Episode 6: “Fireflies”
Directed by Fernando Coimbra
Written by Sarah Byrd

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Common Good” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Alone When It Comes” – click here
Pic 1Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) is being worked on in the ER at the hospital, Dr. Park (Hoon Lee) and others work tirelessly to figure out where the bleeding’s coming from, how to stop it. They start losing him.
Then he wakes in an empty room. He’s okay. In a room he finds his mother Sarah (Julia Crockett), wondering if he’s dead. He apologises to his mother for not saving her. But she refuses to let him take responsibility. “You were given the power to stop this but you werent up for the job,” says his mother, scolding him for not beating the demon in Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey). She grabs him by the throat. A pillar of fire bursts out of his mouth.
This series keeps getting more interesting by the episode!
Pic 1AWhile her dad is in the hospital, Amber (Madeleine McGraw) eats junk from the vending machine with Rev. John Anderson (Philip Glenister). She’s an inquisitive little lady: “Sometimes I wish adults would talk to me like they talk to each other.” This gets the truth out of the Rev, admitting he’s scared. He also discovers that Amber has the same power as her father.
This whole situation is bringing everyone together who haven’t been together in a long time. Allison (Kate Lyn Sheil) and Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) wait to hear about Kyle, as Dr. Park delivers the news: he died. Everyone is rightfully devastated.
Byron and Rosie Giles (Charmin Lee) deal with the aftermath of his brief possession. He’s no longer the chief, at least for now. He worries worse than ever about his situation, about Rome; with Kyle gone it’s much harder. For her part, Rosie doesn’t believe they can give up.
In other news, Sidney (Brent Spiner) and Aaron (C.J. Hoff) use the home of Evelyn to hide out while they do their work. The young man isn’t particularly easy to control, even for a force like the white-haired devil. Although he has a few surprises for his time in that “deep fried shit bucket” of a town. We find that 30 years ago a woman named Helen Devere was waiting for “The Great Merge” in Rome. She might’ve found a shortcut to get there. Apparently involving a young kid Sidney has stuffed in his trunk.
What’s interesting is seeing the other characters while Kyle is, temporarily, dead. We know he’s coming back. So does his daughter Amber. She isn’t fretting like the others, not like mom or aunt Megan. The girl has intuition, she’s like her father. At the same time Allison blames herself for all that’s happened to her estranged husband, though Megan assures her she is nowhere near the one to blame.
Megan: “The biggest mistake we made was not believing him
Pic 2In another place, Kyle wakes from his hospital bed, still attached to an IV. Locked inside a recovery room. Unable to leave.
In the real world, Rev. Anderson goes to Giles about Mayor Owen’s death at the hands of Sidney and Aaron. He’s not willing to go silently and let demons overtake the town. He mentions the Lighthouse, someone with the same powers as Kyle being at that meeting the previous night. Sadly, Byron’s on the verge of giving up entirely.
Megan’s busy trying to convince Allison about the truth of Kyle, the demonic influence in Rome. She likewise reveals what happened to her husband Mark, what Kyle pulled out of Giles, so on. Not an easy pill to swallow, especially considering Allison’s been on the mental ward for so long receiving treatment when it’s, all along, been a devilish power.
Into the Lighthouse goes Anderson, looking for Dakota (Madelyn Deutch). He wants to know who was there with the other power. He wants to save their West Virginia town. She asks about Kyle, finding out of his death, which shakes her. When the Rev leaves she texts someone needing to talk about the Outcast.
Speaking of him, he’s looking for a way out of that room. Stuck in a limbo. He hears someone coming and gets back in bed. It’s none other than Sidney, who isn’t doing so hot himself with that nasty cough, spurting black liquid. He talks to Kyle about remaking the world, a time when they won’t require human bodies anymore. They end up wrestling, Kyle laying hands on him momentarily and nearly pulling that tar from him. But Sidney gets a few fingers in his wound and staves off more coughing, more fighting.
Aaron talks to the kid Sidney brought around. Taunting. He’s jealous, wanting to become a demon, assuming this is what’s planned for the boy. I see trouble coming.
Pic 4There’s still tough times with Allison ahead, she can’t accept what’s going on around there. Anderson tries convincing her more, then finds out Dr. Park worked on Kyle; he knows the doctor is one of them. And poor Kyle, he’s taken care of by some other doctor in that limbo hospital. He stabs the guy and gets free of the room finally, finding only a dark, dreary basement. Meanwhile, Amber senses something when she and the grownups go to the hospital; she walks through the halls alone as they argue with Dr. Park.
Through the building Amber goes, as if following a scent. She finds the old wing of the hospital, sealed behind a locked door. The girl tells them her dad’s behind it. From the other side Kyle hears his wife, his daughter. Then Amber grabs hold of Park by the arm, his skin singing under her touch. He gives up the keys and they unlock Kyle from that forced limbo. Dead no longer.
Amber: “Fireflies can see other fireflies
At Evelyn’s place, Sidney discovers Aaron bled the boy out on the floor like a pig. He’s not a demon, but a true psychopath, that’s for sure. His master isn’t impressed. The boy was supposed to help speed up Aaron’s transformation. Oh, my.
Pic 5Rosie goes to see Evelyn for a chat. About Byron and Evelyn’s husband. She wants to figure out how to have a fulfilling life with her husband, a true retirement. First step? Blowing Evelyn’s head off. WHOOOOOOOA, ROSIE! You bad.
With Aaron ready to crossover into demonhood, Sidney starts the process. The young man closes his eyes, reading himself, as the master readies something else for him altogether.
Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 3.12.25 PMMan, after most episodes of the shows I love I always say that they’re spectacular, even with a few flaws. This is one flawless piece of television. The writing is downright perfect, to me. Loved this whole chapter, with Kyle in that old wing of the hospital and you weren’t sure if he was actually dead, floating in a real limbo, or if locked away by the hand of the demons. AMAZING!
Next up is “Alone When It Comes” and I’m interested to see how Amber, Allison, and Kyle move forward as a family now that they’re all on the same page, Megan and Anderson included.

The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 1, Episode 5: “Faithful”

Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale
Season 1, Episode 5: “Faithful”
Directed by Mike Barker
Written by Dorothy Fortenberry

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Nolites Te Bastardes Carborundorum” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “A Woman’s Place” – click here
Pic 1 (1)Offred (Elisabeth Moss) and Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) continue playing Scrabble. They have a drink in front of a fire. “He likes it when I flirt,” she tells us, discovering this for certain after 34 games. They’re certainly spending quite a bit of time together, which you can also be sure pisses off Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski).
If only she knew her husband was giving the handmaid presents, such as a copy of Beautify magazine that were thought destroyed with all the other supposed feminine things in society reaching out to women. What we see is how Waterford breaks the rules for her, he has feelings for Offred underneath all the patriarchal horror. As she looks through the magazine the women all appear foreign to her in this new world, like “zoo animals” unaware they’re heading into extinction shortly.
Fashback. Moira (Samira Wiley) and June a.k.a Offred debate the merits of Tinder. This is when they first meet Luke (O-T Fagbenle) on the street, as Moira asks him to help pick out June’s profile picture. A cute little meeting at that.
Luke (to June): “You look invincible
In the present, Offred’s helping Serena in the garden, worrying if the wife’s found out one of her several secrets. At the same time our handmaid sees the men around her, from the Commander to Nick (Max Minghella), vying in sly ways for her attention, just like Beautify and Cosmopolitan tell ladies via 10 Ten lists. But more importantly Serena worries her husband may be sterile, she whispers of it in the garden with Offred; she wants to help her get pregnant, via another man. You know exactly who, too: Nick. That’s a lot of conflicted feelings. And is Serena doing this for real, or is she luring the poor handmaid into something worse? I’m inclined to believe the former. For now.
Pic 1AOffred runs into Janine (Madeline Brewer) and others at the eerie, white-walled grocery store. Moreover, Ofglen (Alexis Bledel) – Ofsteven now – has returned, genitals mutilated and her soul crushed. She’s adjusting to the new life. Offred wants to know about The Eyes, whether Nick is one of them. Then she discovers something called “Mayday” before being pulled away by her latest handmaid partner, Ofglen #2 (Tattiawna Jones).
We see that #2 is brainwashed. Her life before was that of a junkie, now she’s clean and sees this place as where she’s been saved. That’s sad; you offer a measly little olive branch to the right, vulnerable woman, and she winds up complicit in the patriarchy.
Later that day Serena sneaks Offred out to see Nick; an unauthorised Ceremony Day. Our handmaid thinks about Luke, for the time it’s as if she’s “cheating” on him, though every bit of it’s forced. Flashback to her on a date with Luke. They’re getting to know one another, the first steps of falling in love. Although he’s still married; tsk, tsk. And gradually they teeter along an affair, slipping into the water flirtatiously.
An awkward meet of Serena, Nick, and Offred, as they start their hopefully baby-making exercise. Nick and Offred’s first time, almost as awful as she and the Commander, is juxtaposed with the tender first time of June and Luke in a hotel room succumbing to a waiting passion. Compared to that, the sex with Nick is horrible, between the silence and Serena watching in the background, them barely touching one another aside from the obvious penetration; it’s ghastly. Then they finish and Offred’s brought back home, put away in her room like a piece of fine China.
Pic 2 (1)Poor Ofsteven. Her life somehow got worse than it was previously. Now she adjusts to a life without a literal, physical part of her. We briefly see some woman to woman care, just a glimpse, as she’s offered a slight hand by her female keeper. But Ofsteven recognises the fact there is no escape from the nastiness of a handmaid’s life.
Another Ceremony Day commences at the Waterford house, though everyone’s hiding their respective secret – Fred’s falling in love with Offred, Offred had to have sex with Nick, Serena of course knows about what she helped happen. One of the more horrifying moments of rape, if that’s imaginable, so far in The Handmaid’s Tale. That night Offred confronts Fred about how he touched her during the ritual, with lust instead of merely carrying out the function of intercourse. Oh, the waters are muddying. Fast. Particularly with the Commander dangling things from life before Gilead in front of Offred, as they continue spending time alone together at night.
Furthermore we see that Fred doesn’t care about love, he only likes fucking her. He doesn’t believe in love, or much else other than the twisted biblical law of Gilead. Offred also finds out about what happened to Ofglen during her procedure.
Offred: “We had choices then
Fred: “Now you have respect. You have protection. You can fulfil your biological destinies in peace.”
Pic 3Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse for some.”
Flashback. June asks Luke to leave his wife, to which he agrees easily. They’re in love and they both know it, no sense in denying that. Again, juxtaposed with life in Gilead there’s an emotional depth these scenes reach that wouldn’t be seen if we only watched one portion of June/Offred’s life in long stretches. Edited in like memories, these flashbacks help build the core of the story, and it makes the character development shine.
Offred again talks with Ofsteven. She tells Offred to join with Mayday, to help them in her absence. For the first time Ofsteven tells her friend her name, Emily, but Offred’s pulled away before she can also speak her name. Suddenly we see Emily sneak into a car when one of the men hops out briefly. She speeds off.
An act of driving, something so simple, allows the other women to feel a strange sense of freedom. Women are no longer allowed to do the tiniest activities, such as driving. And even with an armed standoff outside the car, Emily gives them all spirit in her brief defiance of the patriarchal rule. Compounded by running over a man’s head, popping it like a watermelon in front of the crowd. Whoa. I worry for what they’re going to do with Ofsteven after that.
Offred: “Maidez. Help me.”
At home, Serena paints, and Offred comes back following the scene in town with her renewed spirit brewing inside. While Mrs. Waterford talks of a woman’s “requirements” Offred only eyes the sharp objects nearby. The murder of that man may have instilled her with something dangerous, but useful all the same. That night she goes to see Nick in his room, she gives herself to him only this time with much more passion and heated lust.
Thus begins the next step in her own personal rebellion.
Offred: “She looked invincible
Pic 4Another stellar episode, one that bridges the past and present in such a tangible way through Offred(a.k.a June)’s memories. I can’t get enough of the series, especially the acting and the heavy themes presented with such grace. It’s all around a fascinating show, coming around at just the right time in North America certainly.
Next episode is “A Woman’s Place” and I can only begin to imagine what we’ll see go down.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 5: “Chicanery”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 5: “Chicanery”
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Written by Gordon Smith

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Sabrosito” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Off Brand” – click here
Pic 1In a flashback, we see Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) helping older brother Chuck (Michael McKean) settle. Things were obviously in turmoil for the guy at that point. A fine chef, though. He’s having Rebecca (Ann Cusack) for supper, Jimmy, as well. And we see that he hasn’t exactly told EVERYBODY about his issues with electricity.
After supper Rebecca and Chuck talk of Jimmy’s success as a lawyer, then what she’s been up to, jet setting and all. They seem to do well talking together. The younger of the brothers watches on with a sad yet loving looking.
Then we see Chuck start to lose it as her cell goes off, nearly passing out as she gets closer. He tosses the thing across the room. But still can’t admit to his illness. This is the reason Jimmy looks at his brother with those eyes.
Pic 1AJimmy’s at the vet with a fish, meeting that greasy animal doctor. He’s looking for a “light touch” to help him out with a discrete job. And so the story goes. Meanwhile, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is out kicking ass for her clients at Mesa Verde, as usual. Although she has to tell them about the allegations Chuck’s made against Jimmy. They don’t let it drive them away, which is great for Kim. But somewhere down the line she is going to get screwed over so hard. I just know that, sadly.
Readying themselves for Chuck’s testimony everybody is doing what they can to limit his exposure to electrical sources. Particularly, Howard (Patrick Fabian) is doubting his old pal/partner’s usefulness, effectively blaming him for what his brother did; in terms of PR, anyways.
So the legal battle truly begins for Jimmy and Kim. While the older brother goes hard for a disbarment, Kim hopes to do her usual good work for the youngest McGill. She argues that the case is more about a strained personal relationship and Jimmy deserves to remain a lawyer, that he is “an asset” in fact to the community. The testimonies begin with Howard, who gives his account. Then faces Kim in cross examination, as she gets him to eventually show a bias, the relationship between Chuck and Jimmy.
Then comes the tape. But Jimmy stalls the court before it can be played. Only for so long. Everybody hears what he admitted to his brother.
Pic 2Chuck: “I love my brother, but Ted Kaczynskis brother loved him, too.”
The court has to prepare for Chuck’s illness. Cellphones are confiscated. Lights are turned off, clocks taken from the walls. The whole nine yards; except for Jimmy, who says he left his in the car (yeah, right). On the way inside Chuck bumps into a man – a familiar face from Breaking Bad, Huell (Lavell Crawford). Hmm, interesting! And a little bit of an origin as to how he came to work with Jimmy, the man who becomes Saul Goodman.
So Chuck starts telling the court all about his little brother, the tape, so on. He paints himself as some grand investigator, and then feigns love for Jimmy, blah, blah. On cross examination, suddenly Rebecca appears in the back of the room. Chuck needs a break then. The two of them talk. She’s surprised about the illness, him keeping it secret.
When cross examination continues Jimmy takes the lead. He asks about the recorder, how Chuck handled it with his sensitivities to electricity; involved using space blankets and all that jazz. All getting around to Chuck using his illness to lure his brother. Then he breaks out the pictures Mike (Jonathan Banks) took at the older McGill’s home, to show how far his illness has gone.
Jimmy: “You need to see Chuck through my eyes
Pic 3This gets them into questions about when the illness first started – the divorce, et cetera. Chuck acts calm and measured, not freaking out like his brother might’ve hoped. Jimmy gets onto the electrical sensitivity, motioning for his secretary – she has Huell come into the court. He’s planted something on Chuck, revealed after Jimmy pulls a little parlour trick to snag him. Chuck spent an hour and a half with a cellphone battery against his chest in a breast pocket.
Prompting an outburst that shows exactly how badly the older brother hates the little one. Finally. An ugly moment for all to see.
Pic 4What a spectacular episode! In the top three of the series as a whole, absolutely. With no doubt. Loved this, so personal and so intense. Just impressive work.
Next week is “Off Brand” and I’m thinking we’ll see more of Gus Fring, too.

American Gods – Season 1, Episode 2: “The Secret of Spoons”

Starz’ American Gods
Season 1, Episode 2: “The Secret of Spoons”
Directed by David Slade
Written by Michael Green & Bryan Fuller

* For a recap & review of the premiere, “The Bone Orchard” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Head Full of Snow” – click here
Pic 1We start on 1697 – Coming to America – when slaves were being transported by ship. One of them calls to Anansi who is a character from African folklore, usually in the form of a spider. The slave regrets he cannot do anything to honour him in those chains. But that if the god is merciful, he will repay him for the rest of his life. Then they’re shocked by a man in a fine suit, something they’ve never seen: Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones). He tells them of a story where “once upon a time a man got fucked,” which is, essentially, the story of African Americans. He tells them of what awaits at the end of their journey. He gives them a quick lesson in how fucked they all are, and how bad American will be for their people.
So either kill the Dutch motherfuckers, or go to the land of opportunity where they’ll be fucked for hundreds of years. He sets one man free then they’re all raging for justice. The ship starts going up in flames and everyone burns while Anansi crawls ashore.
Mr. Nancy: “Angry is good. Angry gets shit done.”
Pic 1AWho saved Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), at the mercy of Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) and his Children? He’s in a hospital getting stitched and taken care of, then goes straight for Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). They chat about what’s happened, and Wednesday knows all about the toad smoking kid. Meanwhile, Shadow isn’t pleased, seeing as how he was “strange fucking fruit” for a brief moment in time. However he doesn’t realise that Wednesday is already plotting.
That night Shadow dreams of his wife Laura (Emily Browning) coming through the door. She says she isn’t dead. Yeah, that’s comforting. Of course it’s a dream, but the guy’s already been through the ringer. Nightmare land in his head won’t help a thing.
The next day he goes back to the house he shared with his wife, before he went away to jail. Everything’s laid out for a Welcome Home party, only it’s now depressing and sombre. Everywhere are the memories of Laura, in each room. So he packs everything away in boxes. Finally, after staring at it all day, he opens the box from the coroner’s office. Inside is her wedding ring, her phone. He looks through her phone to find a dick pic from Robbie, confirming the worst. That’s some ugly shit.
What’s next after Shadow leaves Eagle Point? He and Wednesday go on the road with CCR blaring from the speakers. Only deal: no highways. They need to go to Chicago so Wednesday can pick up his hammer. We’re treated to an excellent visual here that I won’t spoil by even trying to describe it, other than it makes the sky look WILD!
Pic 2The two make a pit stop. Shadow goes to pick up things on a list he’s given, everything from maps to vodka and all kinds of stuff. Suddenly, Media (Gillian Anderson) speaks to Shadow from a television screen. More of those great visuals, too. Media comes through on I Love Lucy as Mrs. Ricardo herself. She talks a good game, offering to employ him. Another one of the New Gods. Oh, this strange new world!
Media: “Dont fight gravity, Shadow.”
Shadow believes it’s all in his head. He tells Wednesday about his run in with Lucy, thinking his time in jail ripened his brain to mush. His older gentleman friend explains that mad isn’t the biggest sacrifice that might need to be made. Later he goes on a nice spiel about messages, tossing the cellphones out the window and lamenting those days of opening letters; such great delivery from the master, Mr. McShane.
A journey through the universe takes us to Bilquis (Yetide Badaki), who we last saw take a man home and devour him.. sort of, yeah. She’s got a new guy. Then a new woman. And the endlessly sexual cycle perpetuates, on and on. Note: perfect cut is edited when we see the frame jump from Bilquis naked in bed to a statue of stone standing tall, breasts in hand; clever work. She is most certainly one of the Old Gods, of whom I can’t wait to see more.
Wednesday goes to see several people, including Zorya Vechernyaya (Cloris Leachman), an old Russian woman. That’s why they picked up that vodka, particularly. She loves it. Then there’s the other sisters, Zorya Ultrennyaya (Martha Kelly) and Zorya Polunochnyaya (Erika Kaar). Vechernyaya tells fortunes, offering to show Shadow his own. There’s also Czernobog (Peter Stormare), covered in cow blood and not happy to see Wednesday.
Zorya Vechernyaya: “Family is who you survive with when you need to survive


Constantly smoking, Czernobog refuses to go along with Wednesday. He doesn’t want to do any of what they used to do anymore. Whatever that was; he also has a brother (for those who don’t know he’s a Slavic deity, the Black God, considered as a counterpart to Belobog, the White God). What we’re treated to is seeing how this Old God, he’s a dangerous one, has a sketchy reputation. He doesn’t like killing the new way, either. He likes the old fashion way.
Czernobog: “To give a good death is art
After dinner Shadow sits to play checkers with Czernobog. Then we discover his hammer. A massive sledgehammer he keeps on the mantle. He is a bad motherfucker, that’s for sure. He’s sad his tool doesn’t get fed the blood it needs anymore; Shadow has visions of it soaked in gore. Oh, this place is creepy.
Now, if Czernobog loses chess he’ll agree to go with Wednesday. If he wins, Shadow takes the hammer to feed it some of that good “sunrise blood” in the morning. And the game is on. They play down to the last pieces on the board and poor Shadow’s not doing so well. He loses at the bitter end.
Pic 4So what’s going to happen next time? Czernobog is owed blood he’s promised.
Next episode is titled “