From March 2016

Hap and Leonard – Season 1, Episode 5: “War”

SundanceTV’s Hap and Leonard
Season 1, Episode 5: “War”
Directed by Jim Mickle
Teleplay by Nick Damici

* For a review of the previous episode, “Trudy” – click here
* For a review of the Season 1 finale, “Eskimos” – click here
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The penultimate Season 1 episode of SundanceTV’s Hap and Leonard starts out after the betrayal in the previous chapter, on the part of Angel (Pollyanna McIntosh) and Soldier (Jimmi Simpson) with the greasy Paco (Neil Sandilands).
But we step back in time, to when Hap Collins (James Purefoy) was a little boy, and the racism in Marvel Creek is alive and thriving. A minstrel show is put off, as people crack up laughing and enjoy it, far too much. We see little Hap and his father driving, when they notice a black man on the road with car troubles. Then the worst looks like it’s about to happen.
Cut back to the 1980s again. Angel and Soldier, with Paco alongside, have Hap, Leonard (Michael K. Williams), Trudy (Christina Hendricks) in tow. So what kind of madness will we see this time around? Surely Hap and Leonard aren’t going down without a fight.


Naturally, Trudy is disgusted by Paco, having been an intricate part of their team before. He’s a man of his own, though. Meanwhile, Leonard tells Hap: “If you see a chance, dont you hesitate.” For the time being, they go along to get along. They start digging up the money from their little treasure hunt. And poor Leonard’s the one designated to do the shoveling. Typical.
Except, down in the dirt there’s no money. Just an empty box. Turns out Trudy moved the cash somewhere else. Soldier takes her aside for a little heart to heart, though, she’s one tough cookie.
Love the dialogue. Not only does it keep in the spirit of Joe Lansdale, it’s just solid television writing, and keeps the scenes moving along at a nice, spirited pace. There’s wit, there’s profundity at times, others it can even be silly as hell. Dig it all around.
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Soldier: “The biggest balls in this room are swinginfrom a cooch, I gotta love that.”
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With only Trudy holding the whereabouts, things might get to looking ugly. Well, not until Soldier’s had himself a nice meal of french toast a la Angel. A set of handcuffs Leonard uses in bed end up chaining him and Hap down; nice little touch there, especially his mouthy response to Paco.
But the situation is starting to get scary. Soldier is a psychotic, as is his partner/lover in crime. The headstrong Trudy will not reveal where the money’s hidden, despite Hap trying to convince her otherwise. “Who are you, Joan of Arc?” sighs Soldier. This may lead her somewhere dark and disturbing. My favourite scene so far comes when Soldier throws on some VCMG, “Spock” to be exact, and starts dancing. Right before Angel reappears with a toolbox. Lots of interesting things to use. Nothing really works on Trudy, though. Even a semi-crucifixion. Until Howard suggests they put some pain on Hap, that’ll get her mouth jawing.


Soldier: “I figured you more of a Soul Man
Leonard: “Country got soul


Finally, Hap reveals he’s pretty sure where Trudy put the cash – he’d seen something on her shoes which gave her away. What’s most interesting in this scene is the bond, again, between Hap and Leonard. It’s stronger than the one between Hap and Trudy, even as lovers. Because Leonard stopped Howard from bashing Hap’s face in. Then when Leonard faced a bullet, Hap stopped it all. He could’ve really stopped things when Trudy got that nail in the hand. Yet he didn’t. He saved that card for Leonard.
Ole Howard bites the dust. I knew somebody had to. But the chaos goes on. Hap’s busy leading Soldier to the right spot. Can they slip themselves out of this mess?
At the dog pens, Hap goes in to try digging out the money. Then they throw a plan into action, as does Trudy, stabbing Paco through the eye after hauling her hand off the table and using the nail in self-defense. Everything goes wild. Hap and Leonard run off, though, the latter takes a bullet. Trudy manages to do Paco in. But Angel and Soldier are still lurking about, just as ready as ever to do more damage.


Hap and Leonard go back for Trudy, holing up in the house. Outside, Soldier removes an arrow from Angel’s neck, one Hap gave her. And so Soldier watches as she fades away, whispering sweet nothings to her; a tender relationship for two maniacs, all the same. Will this only serve to make Soldier more crazy?
Right now, Leonard’s bleeding out quick, and Hap decides running is their best option. Well, Hap plans on carrying Leonard, but still – high tailing it is their only shot.
The plan gets interrupted by Soldier. And then Trudy leaves, fast as she can. Alone. Another double cross in the books for this Southern femme fatale. How are Hap and Leonard about to squeeze out of this one?


The final Season 1 episode, “Eskimos”, comes out next week. Stay with me, folks. Loving this Lansdale adaptation to the fullest!

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The Path – Season 1, Episode 2: “The Era of the Ladder”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 1, Episode 2: “The Era of the Ladder”
Directed by Mike Cahill
Written by Jessica Goldberg

* For a review of the previous episode, “What The Fire Throws” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “A Homecoming” – click here
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After the first episode, Hulu’s The Path continues on its ominous journey.
We open on Eddie and Sarah Lane (Aaron Paul/Michelle Monaghan) going through some type of couples therapy. They go, together, back in time to a different place in their lives. Turns out Eddie’s taking the rap for infidelity, instead of admitting the truth – he is doubting, his faith is crumbling, and he was in that motel meeting a woman named Alison (Sarah Jones). Although, he only goes so far. He adamantly refuses the “14 days“, which seems to be some type of reflective punishment.
Meanwhile, Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy) is off meeting with a possible wealthy donor to the cause. The family has an addict son who requires a last ditch effort to be turned around. Speaking of young people, Hawk Lane (Kyle Allen) is coming up against the religion of his family. He’s not supposed to spend time with young women outside of school, alone, things like that. Eddie sort of bands with Hawk against the rest of the family, which is obvious. He’s trying to slip out of the whole debacle as it is.


In the aftermath of the tornado also lies the aftermath of Cal supposedly protecting Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell). So then there’s Cal, pushing forward into his own agenda. He talks with Sarah, wondering how the couple therapy – branded with yet another Scientology-like name, IRP (Infidelity Rehab Program) – is actually going. Also, Cal continually presses into the life of Mary, as now they’ve got a bond over what happened in the previous episode. And she definitely, clearly, has a lust for Cal.
We’re finally introduced to Detective Abe Gaines (Rockmond Dunbar). He’s discovered the reach of the Meyerist cult, how they swooped in on the latest disaster area. This will provide an excellent, fun thriller element to the series.
Outside the community, in the real world, Cal and his minions help spread their word. Subtly, sly, they infiltrate the minds of others and casually rope them in.


Deeper down the rabbit hole goes Eddie. He and Alison have another meeting. “Maybe it doesnt matter if its real or not,” says Eddie. Now he’s doubting his doubt. “Because it fucking matters,” Alison replies. She reveals her husband was killed after they tried to leave the cult, and though Eddie doesn’t believe it, there is an obvious fear in him. The elderly people she was going to meet were her grandparents. She’s on the run, “like a fugitive“, and all because of the madness within the cult of Meyerism. For now Eddie decides to halt on going any further with their clandestine activities.
Hawk’s trying hard to fit in with the little family of his maybe-girlfriend, Ashley (Amy Forsyth). He even eats meat. The whole situation is sort of odd, especially in modern times. He asks personal questions of the girl, the mother, he doesn’t like to have the door closed in the room alone with the girl. Such a noble, honourable kind of belief system, though, under it all there lurks darkness.
That darkness is defined in Cal. He appears so candy coated on the outside. But inside, there is chaos. He has huge ideas, wants to help humanity. Yet is he any kind of leader? He manages to keep the anger inside him at bay, at least when required. Then it rips out of him at times. A very Hubbard-esque characterization in contemporary times. One little thread slips out – Cal’s mother. He avoids talk of her completely when asked point blank if they see one another. Mommy issues, Cal?


Eddie and Sarah still struggle. There are tons of underlying bits and pieces to their relationship. He was a sort of outsider, one who found his way into the inner circle with the likes of Sarah and Cal, those who’ve spent their life in the cult. So there’s an aspect to Eddie that’s on the fringes to begin with, and now this bit of doubt pulsing in him only serves to put him further on the edge. But he and Sarah can’t talk too long before they tear one another’s clothes off for a steamy romp. Hawk comes home in the midst of their lovemaking and has a bit of an existential mini-crisis, throwing up the meat he’d ingested earlier.
One way or the other, the Cleary family tries to keep on keepin’ on.
The media are being courted as a new possible avenue for the cult. Cal claims Doc told him the message is ready to spread. It’s obvious there are chains, a hierarchy, one that’s as rung-like as The Ladder they tout – whomever is higher has more authority, more knowledge, supposedly. And Cal exploits that to a certain degree in order to further his personal agenda, where he wants things to head. I love that they’ve used Scientology as a basis for the cult, but steer clear from copying everything too readily.


At school, Hawk gets called “Jim Jones” and warned of bringing the “Kool Aid” too close to Ashley, by her boyfriend. I knew repercussions for this were coming. A fight ensues, no doubt bringing more drama to the Lane clan. Needed at the school, Eddie’s drawn away from investigation the claims of Alison, re: her husband Jason. Mostly here we get an examination of how these cults, these communities affect families, the children in them, their social relationships, and much more.
Closer and closer, Cal and Mary come together. And no longer can he control his urges. Well, sort of, sort of not.
After everything, Eddie wants to go through with the rest of therapy. He wants to normalize their relationship, to “get back” to the old way. It’s the whole fourteen days thing. And into the room he goes, a veritable jail cell, self-imposed. A place of introspection, of clarity. Two weeks in there? Very similar to a practice in Scientology, though, again – not lifted entirely.


The media’s eye is now finally coming down on the cult of Meyerism. On a set, Cal is interviewed by a reporter. He tries to delineate their cult from the very world itself. The power of persuasion is on Cal’s side, as he is charismatic, charming, intriguing. His skills of oration are impeccable, he can almost melt people into the palm of his hand.
With Detective Gaines watching on, Eddie straddling the fence and Alison on the outside fighting, when will the cult find themselves at direct odds with the outside world? Soon enough. I’d bet on it.
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The finale of this episode sees Cal moving on helping the would-be-donors with their junkie son. Not just that, he’s making sure the donor professes his love and admiration for their religion. He wants true, faithful followers, and is doing whatever necessary to ensure that. “Cause I dont give a shit about your million dollars, Mr. Ridge,” says Cal: “I want your faith.”
At the same time, Eddie goes through the beginning of his fourteen days. It is a head trip. A one way ticket to absolute insanity. All billed as therapy, somehow. This whole sequence is almost terrifying, watching Eddie pace around the room, answering questions, painting, throwing paint, all kinds of things. Then, we get another glimpse at his revelation from Peru, behind the door, as Stephen Meyer (Keir Dullea) lays in a hospital bed, draped with a large snake. Back in the stark white room, Eddie loses his mind. Apparently he admits to an affair with Miranda Frank (Minka Kelly), and everything is fine afterwards. A few men go to pick her up in a cult van. What will be her fate?
Cal relays the new happenings to Doc in his bed, pronouncing their new era, “The era of the Ladder“, and now we know for sure what Eddie knew to be true really is true after all.


Where does The Path head from here? Let’s stay tuned together and find out.

The Path – Season 1, Episode 1: “What The Fire Throws”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 1, Episode 1: “What The Fire Throws”
Directed by Mike Cahill
Written by Jessica Goldberg

* For a review of the next episode, “The Era of the Ladder” – click here
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The new Hulu series begins in New Hampshire. A desolate landfill-type location, some sort of disaster area, with various types o people everywhere. Up pulls a van, beeping loudly. Out of it emerges Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy), as well as a team of others, and they proceed to start saving people. Later, we come to discover there was a tornado.
Immediately one of the things I loved about this pilot episode is the cinematography. Really beautiful stuff. With Hulu in the game now, also putting out the Stephen King adaptation 11.22.63, the tv arena is getting wider.
Cut to Eddie and Sarah Lane (Aaron Paul/Michelle Monaghan). They’re at the dinner table surrounded by others, everyone hand in hand reciting some type of ritualistic grace. We’re directly in the midst of the cult, smack dab in the middle of conversations about their practices, and so on. Sarah’s worried about her husband, whose recent return from Peru seemingly prompted a change in attitude. There is definitely something off, whatever that may be.
A short time later, Eddie gets a text that sends him off. Not before he and his wife connect intimately a little.

 


Everything about the opening ten minutes is eerie. There’s an unsettling air about these first few scenes. When Sarah creeps about the house listening in on husband Eddie, there’s some great suspense. And that sets the tone for what’s likely to be a bit of an unnerving drama. At least that’s the initial feeling that this episode lays out.
Now we’re at the compound. A gated little community, guard at the front. Everything is quaint, almost too perfect. Everything is built and structured to look very country.
And at the center of it all, or at least lead puppet: the enigmatic Cal. He is charming, he reads people well, and his history with Sarah clearly runs deep. We get a little snippet on someone named Doc, who Cal claims is in “lockdown” working on a book. Hmm. Is this some L. Ron Hubbard-esque character, a Jim Jones kind of man, or someone altogether different?
One of the people saved by Cal and his crew is Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell). She’s had drugs problems, it’s clear, and now this cult is going to nurse her back to health. To her, it’s as if the sky has opened up and Heaven shined down. But perhaps it’s more than it seems, perhaps not all it appears on the surface. She’ll have to wait and see.
An interesting aspect of this series already is Hawk Lane (Kyle Allen). He and other children of the cult members have to deal with life at school, following their beliefs in a modern world with bullying. That to me is something worth including, and hopefully will get more time to play out.

 


We get a quick scene with a woman named Alison (Sarah Jones). She tries to go talk to an elderly couple, but two men stop her on the street. Is she trying to reconnect with her old life? Are they preventing this from happening? This could be our first view into the darker side of life in this little community.
Mary Cox is being introduced to it herself. Sarah says she was “born into” this way of life, and that Cal came to the group as a young boy. There’s talk of “rungs” on a ladder, obviously parts of their belief system – the titular path, most likely.
Then there’s Eddie. He gives a sort of inspirational lecture to the newest recruits. He talks about his brother, Johnny. Sadly, Johnny hung himself, and Eddie found him. What’s most interesting is how he and Cal are incredibly close, so much so the latter already knows the story. Front to back. The community is clearly one built around close relationships, intimacy. But quickly we move into talks of “Meyerism“, books – because there’s always more than one – and more spurts of the ladder everyone climbs. Most importantly, the foreboding presence of Cal is so evident already. As is the doubt in Eddie. His faith is slipping; an amazing edit takes us over to Eddie reading to his daughter, poignantly giving us an exclamation point on his situation.

 


In a quiet room, Mary goes to see Cal. She undresses for him. His reaction certainly isn’t one of professionalism. He admires her a little before putting the clothes back on her body. For the time being, Cal’s playing it safe, which then prompts her to spill all the awful secrets in her past. “All my life I had this fantasy, one day an angel would float down from the sky and save me,” Mary tells him. Cal, for his part, spews some quasi-Scientologist madness, or pseudo-psychiatric nonsense. Either way, Mary doesn’t particularly buy it.
Another point to mention. The score in this episode is impressive. Both tense and subtle, it swells, pulsing underneath many of the scenes adding something properly ominous to the atmosphere. Props to Will Bates.
More on Eddie, as he takes off in the middle of the night. Not without Sarah on his tail. She follows him right to a motel. An affair? Could her husband be that sort of man?
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Jump back three weeks. Peru.
Eddie’s sweating out a pretty intense hallucination. He sees his brother, the one we’ve just heard of, and it brings him to tears. The shaman there encourages him to talk with his brother, which he does. To interesting results. He ends up staring through a doorway into some light. What does he see?
Forward, again in the present.
Things are obviously no longer the same for him. He Googles “Is Meyerism real?” and other such phrases, seeking out the elusive truth. His text messaging is to someone claiming to have such a truth. They cryptically communicate awhile, put off a little by the impromptu lovemaking in which Eddie and Sarah engage. Nonetheless, he’s been altered. Beyond that door, we only manage a glimpse of some sort of hospital equipment. Keeping someone alive? What could it be? The mystery is amazing, so palpable and full. Especially with the writing, which weaves us back through events we’ve seen already in the episode, giving us new insights, et cetera. Great work all around. The character development is slow, yet very full thus far while holding back just enough.

 


Eddie: “I think that I am having doubts

 


Maybe letting on too much, Eddie questions things about Doc to Cal. In front of everyone. A little out of line, from the looks of Sarah, and the slight apprehension, or faked apprehension, on the part of Cal. Appearances are a big deal here, they’re everywhere; people are keeping up a mask. At least Cal is, anyways.
Has Eddie discovered something about Doc? While Cal is fronting the whole thing, talking about what Doc is up to, writing, so on, is Doc really lying somewhere, barely alive, kept breathing by machinery? Is that what Eddie saw when let into the inner sanctum? Maybe he’ll discover the madness of the cult, just as people like Paul Haggis did in real life after figuring out Scientology was all about Xenu and a ton of fucking insanity.
Now, the whole mystery is wrapped up in a family drama. This edgy thriller is built inside a compact emotional framework. And Eddie, off in that motel, is talking to Alison. A highly interesting development.
Meanwhile, Sarah goes to see Cal. She talks about their early days together. “Your hands were like fire,” says Sarah. Things are deteriorating in the world of the Lanes, she keeps saying Eddie “transgressed“, but they’ve got no clue as to what he’s actually been up to.

 


We finally get a look at one of their little services. Interesting enough, Cal gives a bit of a speech on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. He goes over the “shadows of reality” and other talking points. He uses this to shape people and their minds. The way Cal uses his charisma, his natural charm, is almost dangerous. We can already see him peddle his heavy influence. An excellent performance from Dancy, love this turn from his other great role as Will Graham on NBC’s Hannibal.
Funny enough, Cal talks about not being able to live knowing what one knows, without breaking free of the chains which bind us. Same thing Eddie struggles with.
The part of this episode that’s most interesting is when Mary brings Cal back to her trailer park home, to meet dear old dad. To make everything “right“, as Cal had put it earlier. Such a terrifyingly quiet nature about Cal that explodes wildly, unexpected. His is a deep flowing rage. Juxtaposed with him lecturing people on Plato, it is a powerful scene.

 


Cal confronts Eddie later about what Sarah told him re: motel meeting.
Then we discover what Eddie saw, cut alongside his meeting with Alison. It is in fact Doc, Stephen Meyer (Keir Dullea), in an almost 2001: A Space Odyssey-like homage, laying in bed, hooked up to hospital equipment, as Eddie explains: “There is no light.”
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I love, love, loved this first episode. What an odd, beautiful, well-filmed and written, expertly acted pilot. Look forward to taking in the second episode ASAP.

American Crime Story – Season 1, Episode 9: “Manna From Heaven”

FX’s American Crime Story
Season 1, Episode 9: “Manna From Heaven”
Directed by Anthony Hemingway
Written by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski

* For a review of the previous episode, “A Jury in Jail” – click here
* For a review of the Season 1 finale, “The Verdict” – click here
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The penultimate episode of American Crime Story has arrived.
We begin with recap of the trial via television. The tapes of Detective Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale) are being tracked down. Meanwhile, in court Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown) is doing his thing, asking his witness whether someone “sounded black“, which prompts Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) to go off. It gets so heated that Judge Lance Ito (Kenneth Choi) calls a recess. Of course, Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) is pissed herself because the racial nonsense distracts from anything truthful.
But the defense are jumping all over Fuhrman and the supposed tapes. Bob Shapiro (John Travolta), Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) and the rest try to get things in order. “We must get them,” orders Johnnie re: the tapes.
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Johnnie: “God brought us these tapes. Theres something much larger at play here. This, is Manna from Heaven.”
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The prosecution are variably worried in their own respects about Fuhrman; Darden more so. Yet Johnnie and his crew are moving along to the beat of their own drum. We’ve got F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane) touting his influence in the boardroom, offering to head up the whole Fuhrman angle in North Carolina, where he and Cochran are headed for the tapes and transcripts. And so the two dig in on Fuhrman and his extremely complicated racist background. Unfortunately, the NC judge is not happy to have a flash, proud, strong black man like Johnnie in his court. So, Bailey has to take over. He placates the Southern racists, managing to slip out those tapes and transcripts for their case in California.


Bailey: “Mr. Cochran take a good look where youre standing. Were in the South. Havent you noticed the scent of mint julep and condescension in the air? Right behind you is a statue of a Confederate soldier holding a rifle. With all due respect, I dont know if you play as well in Dixie.”
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Back in Los Angeles, Marcia is getting even more worked up, as the tapes make their way further towards their trial. Ito won’t let them in yet, but the teams are allowed to review them. There’s an ominous tone to this episode. All the looming racism of the past connecting with Fuhrman and the ongoing racism, that sadly still burns today in the U.S. The entire opening 10 minutes or so are incredible.
So everybody tucks in and listens to what Fuhrman’s got to say on the infamous recordings. The editing in this series is spectacular, as always. They cut both of the teams listening to the tapes together, back and forth between the two. Super intense sequence overall. Immediately, Fuhrman launches into a tirade about “niggers” and “Mexicans“, and talks about the right way to enforce the law, tough on the street. He says the word nigger about a dozen times in the first few sentences. Brutal. Each side realizes what this will do to their case; obviously, Marcia and Darden see this can crush them.
But they’ve got something “unexpected” for Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood), an “O. Henry twist“, as Marcia puts it eloquently. There’s a bunch of talk from Fuhrman on the tape about Ito’s wife, the “highest ranking woman in the LAPD” – another nail in the whole Mark Fuhrman witness debacle. The entire thing becomes a massive shitstorm.


Gil: “This screams gross incompetence


Both sides are pressed against the wall, though. Cochran and Co. don’t want a mistrial, while Darden suggests to Marcia that’s their best option, to start over without Fuhrman and his madness. Everything involving Ito spill out in open court, as he prefers it to happen. He even happens to give a little shout out to hardworking women in male-dominated environments.
Above all else, Ito determines another judge has to call whether the case should stay in front of the court. Yowzahs. So much happening on each side.
So Marcia and Chris go back to the drawing board. As do Johnnie, Shapiro, and everyone else. The whole court, really. Cochran suggests giving Ito the tapes with the parts about his wife edited out. Everyone seemed to find that suitable, but it’s up to a new judge now. Tempers flare in the meantime, with Shapiro blowing up on Cochran. Same goes for Darden – he chews Marcia out for not having listened when he advised they shouldn’t use Fuhrman to begin with, and this opens more cans of worms, relationship-wise amongst them.


Darden: “You put me on this trial because you wanted a black face. But the truth is, you never wanted a black voice.”
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On his own, Cochran is running against the tapes, him and the Coalition with which he’s involved. They’re determined to root out racist LAPD officers. Everyone from Shapiro to Garcetti is worried about more riots like in Watts. The city is almost on fire with racial heat.
People like Ito, they’re caught in the middle. People like Johnnie are willingly in the middle o the storm.
In court, things get rolling again. Johnnie wants those tapes, and he is running with them. On the other side, Clark isn’t defending Fuhrman, but rather the victims of the crime at the center of their trial. Regardless, they’re both passionate speakers. Merely different breeds of thinkers, different strategists. And Marcia does her best to try and make sure the jury won’t hear the tapes.
It’s all down to poor Ito. He has to read through a ton of vile, racist trash, as well as contend with the backlash on either end of his decision. A terrible position in which to find oneself. Nobody would’ve wanted to be him during that time. Especially once he decides the tapes will be allowed, as they’re a matter of “national concern“, so says Ito. A huge blow-up comes out again between Darden and Cochran, with the former unimpressed how his old mentor is making a mockery of the court. This gets Marcia up on Chris’ behalf, each of them nearly held in contempt by the judge. One of the most INTENSE sequences of the entire series. Orderly chaos. Eventually it all calms down, but the dirty laundry is out on the line for all to see.


Finally, the court hears some of Fuhrman. The recording is played, his speech is spelled out in text. Damning stuff, as he goes on about police brutality. Everyone in court is horrified by some of the things he says. Openly admitting to hating black people, as well as the brutality that routinely goes on behind the scenes of the LAPD. Awful, vicious. A very creepy scene, hearing these things come out. Imagine what it must’ve been like in the courtroom that day. People like Fred Goldman (Joseph Siravo) are disgusted with the focus being taken off the murder victims, and everything honing in on Fuhrman, et cetera. At the same time, Darden and Clark are licking their wounds, attempting to figure out somewhere to move next. Marcia apologizes for not listening to Chris earlier. Too late, though, better late than never at all.
Ito rules on the Fuhrman tapes. Only concerned with “perjury” and not all the LAPD corruption. Cochran isn’t happy, neither is Bailey. As usual, Bob dances around not wanting to piss off the police. He doesn’t get why Johnnie is so inflamed. Because he’s white. He could never fully understand. Nevertheless, Johnnie blows things up and advises Los to “remain calm” – but does he want that, or would some riots help his cause? The enigma of Cochran is that he’s at once a theatrical act, a performer, a disguise, and simultaneously he’s a proud, tough man who does right by people, too. You just never know who you’re going to get at any given time.


Fuhrman is being brought to the stand. Outside the court it’s a circus, inside like a morbid auditorium awaiting some bloody dissection of a patient. And that’s sort of what’s about to happen. All his lies are poised to come out.
And before things get started, Darden leaves the courtroom. Wow, a powerful statement in itself.
Johnnie starts his surgical procedure in open court. Only Fuhrman asserts the Fifth Amendment for all his questions. Another wrench in the machine. The one question Cochran does go on to ask gets the same response, and casts further doubt on the evidence. Things are getting very rough from here on in for Clark and Co.
One ray of sunshine? Marcia got primary custody of her children. A small glimpse of hope after a terrible time in court.


Next and final episode, “The Verdict”, promises lots of interesting things. Let’s see how Ryan Murphy finishes things off along with his super talented crew of actors, directors, writers, and everyone else involved. An amazing series that’s giving us impressive insight into the events behind the scenes of such an infamous trial.

Damien – Season 1, Episode 4: “The Number of a Man”

A&E’s Damien
Season 1, Episode 4: “The Number of a Man”
Directed by Bronwen Hughes
Written by Nazrin Choudhury

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Deliverer” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Seven Curses” – click here
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What will Damien Thorn (Bradley James) encounter next? Last we left him, Ann Rutledge (Barbara Hershey) was working her wiles against his fragile mind. And it turns out she is more than just obsessed.
Simone Baptiste (Megalyn E.K.) is trying her hardest, too. In order to stay away from an evil approaching. Can she manage to keep free of it? She digs up some sort of chicken fetus-like creature from her bathtub, and it’s no doubt an ominous moment.
Damien’s busy fighting with whatever is inside him. Having a shave, he nearly feels like cutting his own throat. But the feeling passes. In his bathtub, he finds a tie clogging the drain – of course, the tie of the man from last episode. Which he then brings to John Lyons (Scott Wilson), whose council is no good. As we now know the older man, posing as a dear friend, is merely one of those watching along as Damien slouches towards his destiny as Antichrist.


Detective James Shay (David Meunier) gets some footage of Damien’s chase in the subway, which produces a strange, ghostly effect while being watched. More to be curious about. Meanwhile, Amani (Omid Abtahi) tries to convince Damien into taking a break from everything, taking it easy. Everyone’s worried. Even Shay arrives later to talk more with Damien about all the events surrounding him lately.
Damien and Shay head down to the cop shop for a longer chat. The cat and mouse thrill of the plot picks up, as the detective knows there’s something going on. But due to all the supernatural madness, he can’t exactly place everything correctly. Yet there’s Damien on CCTV, running after the man who died on the escalator. His proximity to the nastiness as of late, consuming those around him.
In the boardroom, Lyons addresses his staff. He even has Ann “say a few words“, in all the irony. She talks a good one about togetherness, compassion, and all sorts of similar things. Nice speech by a woman no doubt well versed in watching people die. “Nature of the beast,” she tells Lyons: “Pardon the pun.” Turns out afterwards that Ann didn’t leave the tie, but either way, she and John form a sort of partnership. For the time being, Ann goes along.
Shay is getting closer and closer to a theory of what’s going on. He knows Damien’s pulling “some freaky shit“, and that involves dogs. He shows Damien the hall where he was also attacked, right in the station. But the cop’s more concerned with trying to push the young man into a confrontation. Poor damn fella has no idea what he’s up against. Plenty of tension between these two. Something intense is certainly rearing its head, and soon there’ll be trouble. Lots.


Damien: “People who come after me dont fare so well


In the police station, a man confronts Damien, calling him a serpent, “The Destroyer“, and when he grabs some scissors Damien attempts to stop him from stabbing someone. Seems he only wanted to stab himself. In the groin. Whoa, what a vicious moment! Bloody, creepy, and foreboding.
With lighter things to worry about, Amani’s trying to get Damien a job. He is a true friend, one who knows his partner is a great photographer. So he kicks a little ass in an interview for him.
Ann receives Detective Shay at her place. He’s suspicious about the “special room” Damien told him about. The whole thing sounds like something from a mystery-thriller novel, a bad one, though, she leads the cop to her supposed panic room: “I never use it. I never panic,” Ann tells him. Well, she cleaned out the basement and there’s nothing to be found, which obviously paints Damien in a worse psychiatric light.
But now Amani is running into trouble. The protege of Ann Rutledge, Veronica Selvaggio (Melanie Scrofano), is circling around like a vulture. No doubt readying herself to clear Amani from the life of Damien. Convenient for Ann, too. Whom will escape any scrutiny for anything that may happen.
As for Simone, her mother is getting some voodoo-style witchery going on to help with her latest fetus in the bathtub troubles. She doesn’t feel too into it, but her mother and the witch doctor are awfully serious. And things get… pretty wild.


A little while later, Ann collects Damien from the station. Though he’s clearly not happy with that situation. Damien gets violently serious with Ann, threatening to kill her if that’s what’s required. Don’t forget – Ann has a serious BDSM thing happening, so who knows what she’d be into. “The day will come,” she tells Damien before walking off into the night. You creepy, sly bitch.
Damien gets a visit from Simone. More of the 666 prophecies. She brings up the visions since her sister died, the prevalence of the birds, and more. They’re both being torn apart, in different ways. He talks about the things he’s seen, in war photography, and that suffering happens; that’s it. There is no higher power with a purpose. Hard to hear, though, necessary. Only Damien will soon realize there is something else behind it all. a great, dark power.
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Damien: “Kelly died. And a bird is just a bird.”
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At home, Detective Shay and his husband have a nice little life together. Except up shows another hound of Hell, and it’s got an eye on their little boy. It lures the child out towards the swimming pool. Uh oh.
Then Shay finds the boy underneath the pool cover, dragged about by some mysterious force. The whole sequence is terrifying, as something evil tries to drown the boy. But Shay, he fights back. One of the most unnerving scenes out of the series so far, and certainly doesn’t help a kid is involved. However, Shay now knows there’s something bigger, something more horrific at play than simply Damien.


Next episode, “Seven Curses”, should be another exciting one. This was a fun episode and I’m enjoying with Glen Mazzara and Co. are doing, as the show gets better with time. Stay tuned for me with me.

Better Call Saul – Season 2, Episode 7: “Inflatable”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 2, Episode 7: “Inflatable”
Directed by Colin Bucksey
Written by Gordon Smith

* For a review of the previous episode, “Bali Ha’i” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Fifi” – click here
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This episode begins with The Stampeders’ “Sweet City Woman” playing softly in the background. A young kid grabs himself a copy of Playboy off the shelf – young James McGill, in fact. Meanwhile, his father listens to a man at the counter with his father. This exchange pits little Jimmy against the man; one bullshitter knows another. The father, all the while is clueless. Before the man leaves he says to Jimmy: “There are wolves and sheep in this world, kid. Wolves and sheep. Figure out which one youre gonna be.” Afterwards, this prompts lil’ Jim to take a bit of cash from the till for himself.


Back to present series times. Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) has Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) helping him once more. He’s trying to get the whole Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz) situation cleared up, or else deal with the wrath of the cartel and Uncle Hector (Mark Margolis). Naturally, Jimmy works a bit of magic, and then slips Mike out of the room without saying too much.
On the phone later, Jimmy talks with Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn). She’s still whipping up a nice deal with Rick Schweikart (Dennis Boutsikaris). Hopefully it goes well. She has been the slave girl at HHM far too long. At the same time, Jimmy’s getting ready to resign from Davis and Main. Omar (Omar Maskati) brings up a few good points, though, about the company car, et cetera, and possible payments he’d have to make. So Jimmy switches his tune proper quick.
What’s going on in the mind of James McGill? An oddly happy look in his eyes is tough to read. Well, at home, the first look of Saul Goodman comes out. After seeing one of those big inflatable men in the wind his style comes out. Lots of wild looking colours, bright ties. His whole demeanour changes, he becomes more of who he once was, back when that man in the store told him – choose, or else the world will choose for you. Even a ridiculously funny scene where Jimmy’s busted for not flushing his shits, concerned about the local “watershed” and so on. This whole sequence absolutely slayed me. It introduces us to who Jimmy will become. Plus, he’s obviously looking to be fired, or pawned off somewhere. Finally it’s the bagpipes he plays in his office that puts Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr) over the edge. Now Jimmy’s got himself out, bonus in tact.


Jimmy: “Hey Clifffor what its worth, I think youre a good guy.”
Cliff: “For what its worth I think youre an asshole
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In other news, Jimmy has the idea of starting his own firm with Kim – Wexler McGill. He loves her, but also has huge faith in her skills as a lawyer. Together, they could be a force to be reckoned with, possibly. “Or we fail and we end up with nothing,” Kim quips. She still has doubts, clearly. Especially with Schweikart’s deal on the table, very enticing, very surefooted unlike this new enterprise with Jimmy. She wants his assurance that he’ll “play it straight” and not “be colourful” – he tries to pretend, then comes clean. He can only be himself. Ultimately, Kim wants Jimmy, as a lover, a friend. Not a partner in law.
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Jimmy: “Ive been tryinto be the person someone else wants me to be for I dont know how long. I mean first it was Chuck, then it was youand that’s not your fault, that was my choice. But if were gonna do this, I gotta go into it as me. So, yeah. Colourful, I guess.”


Mike’s busy trying to move daughter-in-law Stacey (Kerry Condon) into a nice place. She is very happy to be getting into a new neighbourhood, a safe place. At heart, he is a good man. An honourable one, to the fullest. Might be mixed up in some wild shit, but Mike is a decent human being. Somewhere along the line things just got complicated. Later, we find him still watching the Salamanca crew, their little diner hideout. What’s he planning?
Back at the nail salon, Jimmy is moving things in, including his cocobolo desk from Davis and Main. “Onward and upward,” he says to Omar. But without Kim and the supposed new firm, where does Jimmy go next from here? Somewhere colourful, no doubt. He starts to record a voicemail message for himself, one to lure people into believing he’s got an actual office. It’s going to something more for him to break through this way.
And Kim is meeting with Schweikart and his people. They seem fairly impressed with her, especially Rick himself, who eyes her with both admiration and maybe something else. Regardless, they’re all happy with her interview. Even after she calls Rick by the name of Howard. There’s something else going on with Kim, too. The relationship she has with Jimmy has an odd sort of stranglehold on her.
She rushes over to the salon quick. He is happy as a clam being on his own again, even if in the back o a nail shop. Then Kim reveals her decision to go “solo practice” and it catches Jimmy off guard. She proposes they find a space together, just practice law separately. A-ha. Although, it doesn’t seem to be exactly what Jimmy had hoped. It’s still good, all the same.


Nice episode that’s heading towards something big. What can we expect from Mike’s situation? And how much more of Saul Goodman is going to peek its head from under the disguise of Jimmy McGill? We’ll see in the next episode, titled “Fifi”, so stay tuned with me, fellow fans.

11.22.63 – Episode 7: “Soldier Boy”

Hulu’s 11.22.63
Episode 7: “Soldier Boy”
Directed by James Kent
Written by Bridget Carpenter

* For a review of the previous episode, “Happy Birthday, Lee Harvey Oswald” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Day in Question” – click here
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The penultimate chapter begins, with Jake Epping (James Franco) having been left in bad shape at the end of last episode, as well as Bill Turcotte (George MacKay) being committed to a mental ward.
Seventeen days before the assassination of JFK, we find Jake coming in and out of consciousness. He sees Anderson Cooper on the television, a man on his iPhone. All these modern things. Then his ex-wife. Even Al Templeton (Chris Cooper) appears as the doctor. “I know this isnt real, I just want it to stop,” plead Jake. “Sometimes we dont get what we want,” replies Al. He expresses disappoint over the entire mission. The whole thing is nightmarish. Once things settle down, there’s Sadie Dunhil (Sarah Gadon) and Deke Simmons (Nick Searcy). But as Jake puts it: “Everythings mixed up.” Will the past take a toll on Jake, or is this simply a bump in the road?


Al: “Youre not the man I thought you were
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Worst of all, Jake’s memory is troubled. His brains are all jumbled. There’s even a great little joke by the writers, as Jake asks whether the man he worked with was named George; in fact, the name of the actor playing Bill. Love it. But feel terrible for Jake and his poor brain.
Meanwhile, Lee Harvey Oswald (Daniel Webber) is out to talk with an agent of the FBI. He’s concerned about the bug in his home. But nobody takes him seriously. Likely part of why he gets crazier and crazier.
With Jake and his memory all mashed, he missed the passing of Mimi. So sad, even sadder for Deke. But after a few moments, Jake starts to get bits of memory back. He remembers “where Bill is“, and oh… is it ever a nasty place, the darkened mental ward of a hospital in the early 1960s – a place for “people who cant pay“, a proper dungeon. They go to find him. His mind is almost no better off than Jake’s, though, it comes as a result of being subjected to psychiatric treatments that only served to make people worse decades ago.
But before they can take him away from the hospital, Bill slides out a window and plummets to the parking lot below.


For her part, Sadie tries to help Jake remember his mission. She breaks out newspapers touting JFK’s tour of Texas cities coming up soon, she brings up the Russian on those tapes in his basement. He gets a little frustrated, but Sadie’s determined to keep him on track. A good, loyal woman. A loving one.
In other parts of Texas, there’s Lee and his mother Marguerite (Cherry Jones). They have a nice relationship. She clearly loves her son, and doesn’t want him mixed up with anything crazy. Any sane mother would worry about her child, if her child were spouting out the things Lee thinks. Leading up to the assassination, it’s creepy to see them together. Not sure why. Even creepier still is Lee sitting on a park bench, enjoying a Babe Ruth. Almost like seeing some odd, rare, dangerous animal in the midst of the forest. When he spies a newspaper about Kennedy in Texas, even mapping out where the President will be going, an idea dawns in him; a purpose. What a powerful moment. The way it’s filmed is full of weight. Plus, Webber plays Oswald incredibly well.
But still, while the grimness lingers on, life goes on, too. Jake finds his memory slipping back in slices. He remembers living on Madison Street, the old place where he and Bill shacked up. Slowly, they retrace his steps. And then they run into Lee Harvey Oswald himself. What a turn of events! And more memories come back to Jake, all of Oswald, after he spies a newspaper in a pile, a pro-communist paper called The Worker. Excellent scene, especially the editing. But this whole twist, to send Jake back there recovering his memory, it’s a real treat.


Marina (Lucy Fry) and Lee have all but grown completely apart. This does nothing to help his deterioration. With Jake remembering now, is it fast enough to get the job done? Having Sadie alongside, Jake certainly has a leg up on things. They weasel their way into the garage of Marina’s friend, looking for the equipment Lee will use to kill JFK. No such luck in finding anything, though.
Only twelve hours left. Jake and Sadie do what they can to prepare for what will come next. And then the past starts to come out, pushing back against Jake. All of a sudden the Yellow Card Man (Kevin J. O’Connor) is in the car with him. Everything is eerie, strange now, with the man telling him a story, recounting how he “cant stop the past“, and weeping. It’s a sad and tragic exchange, as the man reveals his daughter drowned, and that he keeps repeating it, trying to save her but only watching the past repeat itself. He warns Jake. Then he’s gone again.
While Jake wants to abandon the plan, Sadie urges on, not wanting him to give up. She is his rock. But the past continues to push, not letting Jake start his car in the morning. So it begins. Because at home, Lee is upright, alert, ready to do whatever it is in his mind to do next. He leaves Marina in bed with something long, wrapped in paper under his arm.
We watch the final scene and find Lee setting up, in the window at the Book Depository. He looks chilling, a sentinel on high.


Amazing. Looking forward to the finale of this amazing mini-series, “The Day in Question”, which should hopefully nicely cap off these 8 episodes. Stay with me, folks!