From August 2016

Dead of Summer – Season 1, Episode 10: “She Talks to Angels”

Freeform’s Dead of Summer
Season 1, Episode 10: “She Talks to Angels”
Directed by Steve Miner
Written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz

* For a review of the previous episode, “Home Sweet Home” – click here
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The finale is directed by none other than Friday the 13th Parts II and III alumni, Steve Miner! Very exciting, as we finish off Dead of Summer‘s wildly fun and unpredictable first season.
Amy (Elizabeth Lail) has been fully taken over by Malphas, as the rest of the crew are left without much clue. Jessie (Paulina Singer), Deputy Garrett (Alberto Frezza), and Alex (Ronen Rubinstein) only have the camera with all of Joel’s (Eli Goree) taped material. At least they have some kind of proof. For now, if Malphas doesn’t decide to eradicate that, or them, too.
They shove off from Camp Stillwater, each unsuspecting of the evil still lurking in Amy. When the cop car Garrett drives goes dead, the battery suddenly shutting off, things get spooky. The demon in Amy reveals itself, saying that Holyoke (Tony Todd) left the “last piece of his soul” inside Jessie. Worst is when Amy brings out the dead t0 help her – Joel, Cricket (Amber Coney) – and now everything is scarier than ever before.
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Garrett sees his father Jack (Dan Payne) out on the dock at Camp Stillwater. He disappears into thin air. Then he wakes up. It’s the day before all the counsellors show up for summer in 1989. He tells Sheriff Boyd Heelan (Charles Mesure), a.k.a the teacher. But no real help there, clearly. I guess hanging out with a weirdo you don’t yet know is a weirdo would be much better than where they are now, running from Malphas and his legion of undead.
How do we stop a demon?” asks Alex. Right before they discover a bunch of murdered corpses in the cabin. Afterwards, Malphas drops in to cause a bit of mischief. Meanwhile, bussing all the kids away from camp Drew (Zelda Williams) and Blair (Mark Indelicato) get an eerie, urgent warning from the little boy who used to see Holyoke. He tells them to go back; their friends need help.
And they do. Garrett’s hurt, although he makes sure Jessie and Alex know: “This is bigger than us.” They’re forced to leave him behind. Such is the case when you’re in a supernatural horror mystery for real, I guess.
A flashback takes us to Blair before camp. Cricket comes to see him with a new mix tape. He’s busy washing HOMO off his car; so sad. She tries to assure him things will change now that they’re finished high school. He’s a romantic, though, and wanted to meet a guy. Sadly they take about it being “me and you forever” and things we know can’t come true because of her untimely death. In their present situation, Blair and Drew try calling the cops. I don’t know if that’ll do any good. Kudos to the writers: not often in horror does anybody actually try the police.

 

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Lots of creepy shit is happening now in the woods. Alex and Jessie come across Blotter’s severed head on a tether-ball pole. At the same time, Malphas-Amy is calling out to anybody left at camp to play a game of capture the flag. Except the flag “is Jessie,” the demon cackles through the speakers. That scene honestly felt like it came right out of Stephen King. Dig it.
When the cops arrive at Stillwater they’re greeted by Amy – similar to how she looked as child, informing the firefighter her family is dead: “Theyre dead. Theyre all dead.” Only problem being that she now has the place totally under control. Over the speakers, Malphas-Amy talks in the policeman’s voice; the one she’s dispatched. Because the demon needs more blood to fill the lake.
Alex tries going head-on with the demon. He gets an axe to the chest, savage and bloody. Yikes. A quick and nasty death for the poor Russian immigrant, just looking for a better life. Now, Jessie is on her own out in the forest with the demon hunting her down. Soon enough she finds Garrett, Drew, and Blair.
Either way, Jessie lures Malphas-Amy into a cabin where they circle her inside purified water along the floor. In the other cabin Garrett plays the music from Holyoke’s recording, but there’s nothing on it anymore. Remember when Amy stroked the wax before they discovered she was still possessed? I knew it. God damn you, Malphas!
Well the shit hits the fan. Undead Joel, Cricket, Deb, they all show up.
Ah – Garrett remembers the tape. It has the music on it. So he broadcasts it through the walkie into the cabin, causing Malphas-Amy and the undead great pain, repelling them.
And when Malphas is weakest, Jessie plants an axe right into Amy’s head. The blood runs out of her, the demon returning to Lake Stillwater and disappearing below the surface, hopefully never to return again.

 

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They’ve survived, those who are left – Garrett, Jessie, Blair, and Drew. Out in the water, the dead wade back down to the depths. A fitting goodbye to them all, as the friends watch them all go.
Plus, Townie and Braces are once again together. Or are they? He’s just a ghost. I knew it, again! He died out on that bench in the woods. Love allowed him to linger on as a spirit; the light from Holyoke gifted him the extra time to help. That’s better than what I predicted before – him becoming another undead during the last big fight.
The three remaining souls walk themselves out of Camp Stillwater, for the final time. Ghostly Garrett heads into the water of the lake, to his friends, and his father. A place for everything and every thing in its place. Life moves on with Jessie going to college, Blair and Drew road tripping to Seattle for a Bowie concert (and totally in love with each other). All is well once more.
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I honestly loved this show’s first season. Hoping there’ll be a Season 2. While it wasn’t perfect, it both played up to the horror genre tropes and also subverted expectations in that regards, as well. It didn’t have to be perfect. The nostalgia, without going too overboard, along with decent writing and interesting characters made for lots of fun.
And now Stillwater’s up for rent. What could happen there? Oooooooooh.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is Marvel’s Best Mix of Action & Character

Not usually a fan of Marvel movies, this one thrilled me with exciting action & a surprisingly well-juggled ton of characters.

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Inside CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER are Great Political-Style Action Thrills

THE WINTER SOLDIER plays less like a Marvel film, more like a political action-thriller. And that's a-okay by me!

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The Night Of – Season 1, Episode 8: “The Call of the Wild”

HBO’s The Night Of
Season 1, Episode 8: “The Call of the Wild”
Directed by Steven Zaillian
Written by Richard Price & Zaillian

* For a review of the previous episode, “Ordinary Death” – click here
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Detective Dennis Box (Bill Camp) is going through the motions. He watches security footage of the night in question, over and over. He watches Nasir Khan (Riz Ahmed) pick up Andrea Cornish (Sofia Black D’Elia). He keeps the crime scene photos nearby. He’s meant to be retiring and yet can’t let any of this go. He notices, in the security footage, that Andrea looks behind her, as if watching for somebody. Her eyes widened. Box knows there is something else going on behind those eyes, so he wonders.
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In court, Trevor Williams (J.D. Williams) is on the stand. Chandra Kapoor (Amara Karan) grills him on the lie he told, about being alone on that night. He’s not exactly a credible witness. District Attorney Helen Weiss (Jeannie Berlin) opts not to ask any questions, probably for the best. But then Duane Reade (Charlie Hudson III), the other man with Trevor the night of the murder, is put on the stand, too. Well, Chandra dives on in to get more information. It works. Seems that Duane’s M.O. is to find the weapon of choice for his crimes while inside the victim’s home. Doesn’t look good for Mr. Reade. Except Weiss asks no questions to him, either. John Stone (John Turturro) thinks Chandra’s doing a splendid job, so he heads out. She later gets the hearse driver, the creepy misogynist, on the stand. He does his best to make himself credible, yet Chandra pokes holes in his explanations. The whole scene is very eerie.
Meanwhile, John still has eyes on Don Taylor (Paul Sparks), Andrea’s stepfather. He brings a subpoena for Don, to appear in court on the stand. Plus he makes sure the sly dude knows there’ll be no more threats, or else a guy “from New Jersey” – one of John’s clients – will be paying him a visit. Next day on the stand, Don reels off a story about Andrea being an addict, her mother, as well. The details of their relationship come out while Chandra prods about the will, so on. Not looking good for ole Don. Not looking good for several people. I also worry about Weiss, she seems so tricky. Biding her time, not cross examining. What’s her plan?
There’s so much mystery, though. It’s why I love this series so god damn much. Don is implicated, as is Duane, even Trevor to an extent. And you know what, even Naz is still slightly suspicious simply because of his secretive past of violence that he let nobody know of, as well as his history of selling Adderall to fellow students.

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And then there’s Box, tracking down more security footage that they never bothered to find before. Andrea argues with a man, heated and intense. She leaves him standing alone on a street corner, before the man then follows behind her a little ways. This sends the detective on a journey.
Naz has all but become a junkie while waiting in Rikers Island for the nightmare to be over. He scrapes out every last balloon and package he can to get a tiny little bump, to keep him straight. At that very same time, Chandra wants to call him to the stand. Stone doesn’t want that to happen. She really feels the court will need to hear from him. So, against John’s wishes, she asks Naz about it, whether he can handle going up there. With one little gesture he lets her know he’ll need some “help” and that means getting him clean, or who knows what. Detox is the best option, although they may not have that time.
So off Chandra goes to get condoms. Then she goes to find the other ingredients to help her client as best she can. On the corner, recorded by cameras, she buys drugs. The ethical boundaries of this case have effectively disappeared. But when your client can barely make it through the day without the lingering effects of withdrawal, what do you do? You smuggle drugs into jail. Sort of embarrassing to see a good woman like her have to do that, the look on her face is one of shame. There’s obviously no length to which she won’t go for Naz, to help him out.
On the stand, he’s bright and clear eyed. John isn’t happy to see him up there, but Chandra goes ahead with her questions. He describes the night of Andrea’s murder, finding her in the bed dead. Once Helen Weiss gets up, she opens up the discussion of Naz marking up and selling drugs to people at school. Then she dives into information about Andrea. This gets to Naz talking about when he went back to get his keys, breaking the window, taking the knife, none of which makes him look good. At all. “I knew how it looked,” he tells Weiss and the court when asked why he did such a thing. Mostly what goes down is Helen drags Naz through the mud by making him seem inconsistent, or at the very least irresponsible for not having bothered to call 911 even though he was supposedly of sound enough mind to run off with evidence from the scene. A terrible idea to have Nasir up there in front of the court. Stone knows it, and he tells Chandra: “You just convicted him.”


Helen: “Did you kill her?”
Naz: “I dont know
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Along with the hope of Nasir going free is that of the cat going free. John brings it back to the shelter, likely to be put down eventually. A tragic, sad turn of events in the metaphorical sense. He’s given up. Simultaneously, Naz embraces the prison life further, getting tattooed from the neck on down. Everyone acts like there’s no longer any hope.
However, hope may reside in unlikely places. Box is sleeping at the station, he can’t let go. He knows there is another explanation lying beneath what sits at the surface. Letting this case go without completing all the good leg work isn’t something he’s willing to do. Nor should he, as he and the others were probably too quick to jump all over Naz’s guilt.
Dt. Box tracks the man in the video with Andrea. He finds it’s Ray Halle (Paulo Costanzo), the one Stone talked to awhile back. He was also a victim of violence some time ago. Because he beat up a prostitute. So it all leads to the detective questioning Ray a little about that evening when Andrea got murdered. Another viable suspect emerges late in the game. Very intriguing stuff.
At Rikers, Freddy Knight (Michael K. Williams) and Naz play cards. A new inmate arrives and the young Muslim goes to talk with him. His name is Terry (Charles Brice), and Naz hopes to bring him into the Knight Gang. He’s been indoctrinated. Nasir doesn’t even need to be led into the whole thing. Sad to watch.
Box goes to see the D.A. He’s worried about $300K that disappeared from Andrea’s finances. He talks about Halle, the lies he told, his meeting with Andrea. There’s also a picture of him at 3 AM tossing out some garbage bag in an empty street. “Weve got more on the kid,” she tells Dennis. The look in his eyes is disappointment. Helen doesn’t want to admit she’s wrong. At what price? A young man’s life.

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On his doorstep, Stone finds an envelope; inside is a disc. It’s been sent from Freddy. It shows Chandra kissing Naz in the cell when they spoke awhile back. Needless to say, John is not a happy camper. Regardless, he brings it to Naz and suggests there could be a retrial if they divulge what Chandra did. Only that means she most likely loses her career in the process. Still, any means necessary to escape the prison system’s lure.
The video of Chandra and Nasir is brought to Judge Roth (Glenn Fleshler). What happens is that John is put up as the lead defence lawyer. He must give the closing argument. “This is clearly grounds for a mistrial,” Stone exclaims again unhappy with the outcome of things raining down on his head. But the Judge sees through it as a tactic. It’s all up to him at this point.
Weiss does her best to give a big final push. She likens the lost time in Naz’s memory to an FBI classified document being redacted: “Self preservation,” she tells the jury. Everyone in the court notices Dt. Box get up in the middle of her statement and leave. Quite telling.
In the midst of stress, John takes a bleach bath trying to get rid of the itch in his skin. Later in court, he gives his closing statement with his skin absolutely destroyed, gloves on his hands, the whole nine yards. But Stone talks about the first time he met Naz, the look of the kid, and how different he is from the regular clients which he takes on. Furthermore, John makes a good case for how Naz has decided to survive in Rikers, looking the way he does. He lays out the “rush to judgement” against his client, how people were caught up in a flood of his guilt, as it seemed then. His speech is heavy, important, sensible. Beautiful, even. His eyes tear up near the end where he pleads with the jury not to ruin the rest of his client’s young life.
Now it’s all in the jury’s hands.
John goes back to trying to fix his skin. Chandra starts to think about moving on. At Rikers, Freddy talks to Naz about what happens if the verdict comes out guilty. The former boxer talks about prison not being so bad while Naz is around: “You smell like innocence.” He feels it’s a source of pride, to be alongside the young Muslim. To have a person with him who isn’t like everyone else is refreshing. Not a nice situation to live forever, though. Especially seeing as how the drugs have all but taken over Naz’s life.


The jury finally returns. They’ve deadlocked; six to six votes, no change ahead. So Judge Roth dismisses the jury, wondering what D.A. Weiss would like to do. She opts not to prosecute any further. “Youre free,” says John turning to Naz. An unexpected yet happy finish for Mr. Khan and his family, Dt. Box sees it so, as well.
Nasir has to pack up and get moving for his release. He doesn’t get to see Freddy before leaving. Probably because the one time boxer doesn’t want to have to say goodbye to a friend. Either way, out goes the young Muslim, back into the real world sporting his jailhouse tattoos. He does get one parting gift from Knight: Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. On the outside, his father waits with open arms to take his son back home. Back at their place, the Khans try getting back to normal, all at the dinner table together and eating happily. Yet until someone else has been caught and prosecuted, the Muslim community judges him, staring. Worse, he’s still fighting addiction, which won’t ever go away. And he’s left for a lifetime with memories of that night with Andrea.
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Stone: “Everyones got a cross to bear, Naz. Pardon the expression. Fuckem all. Live your life.”
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A perfect ending comes when we see that John has taken the cat back in, or we hear it in the background, anyway. He’s been renewed with hope. Then the cat traipses through the apartment, free from its locked room. John has certainly changed to a degree.
Also, like a real trial often we’re not privy to who really did the deed. Maybe Halle will get prosecuted. Maybe it’s actually Don. We’ll never know. Often too true to reality.
What a great finish to this first season. Lots of poignant little moments to take in, and I can’t wait to go back for a re-watch soon enough. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. A great set of eight episodes.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 9: “Los Muertos”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 9: “Los Muertos”
Directed by Deborah Chow
Written by Alan Page

* For a review of the previous episode, “Grotesque” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Do Not Disturb” – click here
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After checking in with Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) last episode back from the break – where is his mother Madison (Kim Dickens), his sister Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey)? What about the others?
Well, Nick’s enjoying a bit of peace and quiet in the Mexican commune where he’s found shelter. Although not everybody there’s having a great time. There are still those who are ill, those injured, and so on. For the most part it’s a paradise compared to where he’s been since the zombie apocalypse began.
Except for when it isn’t. Everyone has their own way of dealing with things. Mexicans are no different than the rest of us. Let’s just say the first 5 minutes opening this episode are intense. Looks like south of the border human sacrifice has come back.
This is my favourite Fear the Walking Dead opener yet, out of both seasons. Chilling to the bone. I love it.
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We catch up with Madison and Co. She and her daughter ride in the back of a truck, scoping out the horizon with Strand (Colman Domingo) and Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason). The mother is the only one dead set on continuing to search for her son. She knows he’s a survivor. And indeed he is, help or no help. He’s doing her proud, though. Helping out in the village where he’s been taken in, not sitting by idly while others work. A good man.
When Strand and their small group go back to the coast his boat is gone. The military’s taken it. Totally different situation for them at this point. “Its me and you now, whether you like it or not,” Alicia tells her mother when Madison worries Nick won’t find them without the boat. They do the smart thing now and leave a message in the sand, just in case.
Then they head off to scope out a hotel by the beach. Shelter is a must. After watching the place awhile they head on inside. Not expecting to find anything other than a roof over their heads. In the building there is a barricade against the door; a last stand was taken, no doubt.
Will they find humans? Walkers? Both? Strand, with his big ole balls, starts ringing a service bell. Not a sound, other than the ringing. Safe for now.
In the village, Luciana (Danay Garcia) does a lot of the boss work. She keeps an eye on Nick, enlisting him for a bit of help. She knows what he’s capable of after seeing him on the road, caked in blood, walking amongst the dead. I wonder what she has in store for him. Out in the sacrifice pit she starts killing zombies, laying out rules: “You stay absolutely quiet.” They cover themselves in blood then get going.
Strand and the crew find a wedding inside, left with the cake barely cut into. They share a bit of personal information, as Ofelia talks about a near marriage. “The pastitll make you sick,” Strand tells her deciding the chat is over. Smart move.

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When Nick asks about the morning ritual, Luciana talks about faith. There’s lots of superstition in the way she, as well as many of the Mexicans, understand the apocalypse. She and many of the others, such as the doctor Alejandro (Paul Calderon), believe that once everything passes, the world is washed clean. Yeah, okay. I wouldn’t hold my breath. After some time they come across a gang; guys you do not want to fuck with, whatsoever. The man running it all? Marco Rodriguez (Alejandro Edda). Seems that Luciana has a deal going with the gang, a trade-type setup. They’ve got a supermarket full of everything, stocked on the shelves, and Luciana wheels herself a cart to get supplies.
At the hotel, Madison and the others start searching. She wants to keep things careful, although Alicia and Ofelia are off to starting searching on their own. Strand and Madison do a bit of hanging at the bar. “You need a drink, I need a drink,” he quips. They pour themselves some martinis, take a load off for a few minutes. Upstairs, Alicia and Ofelia look through the corridors, checking to see if there’s anything of use to them. Not all the rooms are clear, as the sound of zombies is evident behind several doors. They do find empty ones; relatively. One of the creepiest walkers yet is in a bathroom, though he poses no threat. However, he does start a conversation between Alicia and Ofelia, about the tiresome nature of surviving amongst a new and awful world.
When Nick leaves the supermarket, he’s caught taking an authorised treat in his pocket. They want to cut off his hand. But the tricky ex-junkie makes a deal, saying they won’t bring any more drugs. And that’s no good for Marco, whose family would be directly affected. A close call, nearly getting Nick’s throat cut. What a deal maker. He gets his tasty treat, too. Luciana isn’t too happy he did that because now the gang is following them, hoping to figure out where their little commune is located.

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The drinking makes Strand get closer to Madison. She tells him about what happened to her husband; impaired driving I assume, Madison doesn’t say it in so many words. She told the kids he fell asleep at the wheel. “To false hope,” she and Strand toast while she drinks and tosses glasses at the wall. Smart move. More so when Strand bangs on the piano a bit. They make lots of noise and nearby there are zombies, dying to get close to some human meat.
Alicia gets out of the shower and sees walkers taking swan dives off the balconies. They hit the ground, then get up walking again. Shit. All the noise downstairs has been drawing walkers through the halls, down from stories up. Real smooth move. Sort of ironic, after Madison was talking about trying to protect her kids.
Remember that treat Nick stole? It wasn’t even for him. It was for the little girl whose father got eaten alive in the opener. Wow. A good man becomes more good by the minute. This puts Nick in a room with Alejandro. They chat, Alejandro talks about their current situation. He doesn’t want to offer comfort. Only faith. Strange that he can’t see that it’s all the same thing. He believes that the dead will leave. Nick catches a glimpse of the man’s shoulder: a big bite once taken out of it is now a healed wound. Very, very intriguing. He’s like a sort of Jesus figure amongst the zombie apocalypse. The one who has risen after the dreaded, infecting bite: “This world is for usthe children of the resurrection,” he preaches to his masses. Nick is falling into the faith head first. Not good.

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At the same time, Victor and Madison are starting to discover their walker problem at the hotel. Time to check out? Definitely time to start moving, as the zombies are encroaching on the bar. Nice time to be hammered. They are boxed in crazily. How will they manage to get out of this one?
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A solid episode to add to this back half of Season 2. I’m hoping that next episode we see more of the crew and find unity once more. Also, I worry for Nick. He is becoming sucked into a dangerous place, I think.
Next episode is titled “Do Not Disturb” and it’ll be good, I can feel it.

Aquarius – Season 2, Episode 9: “Sexy Sadie”

NBC’s Aquarius
Season 2, Episode 9: “Sexy Sadie”
Directed by David Boyd
Written by John McNamara

* For a review of the previous episode, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Blackbird” – click here
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Last episode, Dennis Wilson (Andy Favreau) talked on the phone with Detective Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) who was going to tell him everything about ole Charlie Manson (Gethin Anthony).
So what will be the fallout?
We start once more on August 9th, 1969: Sadie (Ambyr Childers) walks back through the bloody house of their victims with things from a child’s crib. Cut back 11 months earlier, she’s with Charlie and telling him how wonderful he is for getting them into a recording studio. “Let us love you,” she tells the enigmatic family leader; her and her pregnant belly. Then Manson listens to the Beach Boys singing a tune he wrote. Although you can tell in his eyes there’s a hatred bubbling. The song’s been changed, drastically. And he is not taking it well whatsoever. The Wilson house has been cleared out, nobody home. Everything is packed up. Things are really falling apart for the Manson clan.
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Hodiak is worried for Emma Karn (Emma Dumont). Her father Ken (Brian F. O’Byrne) is a piece of shit, but Grace (Michaela McManus) is still a good person, deserving of knowing where he daughter’s gone. Except she knows where her daughter is, she’s the one who put her daughter there. Sam finds her in a psychiatric ward. “Im an embarrassment, right?” she asks him, knowing the answer – to her parents – is yes.
But duty calls, and Sam is back at the station. He gets more copycat photographs of the pictures he’s received in the past, though the original perpetrator hasn’t come calling in awhile. Hmm. Aside from that Dt. Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) continues struggling with his addiction; he’s a tad better looking than the last time we saw him. All the same, Sam knows there are problems. “Heroinyou were a better cop when you were shootinit into your veins,” he scolds a worn out Shafe. The only thing the older detective of the two wants is his partner to be doing good work. Regardless of how it gets done. He’s got a way, though. Sam takes his partner over to a place he’s been before, where CIs go to clean up and go straight. Basically the 1960s equivalent of a methadone clinic. Well, the nice thing is that Sam cares about Brian. Enough to take him there and see him into a better way of life, hopefully.
That altruistic side of Sam comes out further, as he goes back to see Emma more. All the while we’re only four days away from the 9th of August when all that horror begins at the hands of the Manson Family. Sam goes to see Grace after visiting Emma, wondering if after the election is over they’ll let their daughter out of that hospital. But those Karns, they’re a terribly egotistical, selfish couple. I guess Grace isn’t so awesome a person after all.


Sam: “I think thats what beina parent is, Grace. You love them, and eat a lifetime of pain in return.”
Grace: “Tell me how to be a parentyou raised a traitor and put his mother in the ground.”
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When Kristin Shafe (Milauna Jackson) shows up to the station looking for her husband, she gets talking to Sam. Turns out Bunchy Carter (Gaius Charles) assaulted a cop. She doesn’t think it’s true. At the same time, Brian is going through the motions of his treatment, getting better all the time. Only the woman helping him has to give hard news: “Relapse happens more often than not.” He can’t just go out and pretend things will be fine. You have to accept addiction is not always a straight, finite line. It can go on and on forever.
Hodiak goes over to see Bunchy in his cell. He claims his security personnel were illegally searched, et cetera. Problem is the Black Panther Party has a strict code of ethics. Bunchy’s sure there were no drugs because of that, and so the police must have planted what they found. “We got history, Hodiak. Im callinit in. You want riots? Just leave me here,” Bunchy tells him plainly.
We get see more Charmain Tully (Claire Holt)! Went too long. She’s an awesome character. Now, her undercover skills are getting put back to work. Meanwhile, Kristin isn’t happy being gawked at, that nobody at the office knew she was black. Certainly it has nothing to do with her husband not being proud of her, he loves her to death. Anyway, Hodiak has some awesomely Hodiak-ish wisdom: “Yknow, Im not positive, but I dont think Id get married again if it cured cancer.”
Who has bigger problems? Ken Karn. His homosexuality’s been discovered by the Nixon team. They’re not happy. Grace’s father delivers the news. Neither of them are safe, as she knows about what her husband likes. This later sends Ken off to find Hal Banyin (Spencer Garrett), only to find him in a similar state of sexual enjoyment. He’s the one who told people about Ken and his predilections. Worse for Ken is the fact Charlie is kicking around, needing a new place to stay and all, washing Hal’s feet (literally). Man alive.

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Charmain finds more sexism in the police department, as even asking a question about operations gets her bitched at. I suppose doing Hodiak’s bidding doesn’t exactly put her in the best position. Speaking of Hodiak, he has Shafe back working, doing his best. They dive into the LSD supposedly found on the Black Panthers and Bunchy.
Now Officer Tully is pushing her luck, peeking into envelopes she’s not meant to peek inside. Then she starts worrying about the people with whom she’s involved with undercover. You can see her good heart pushing up against the duties of a police officer; specifically, a female undercover officer. Not an easy thing to be at any time, especially not in the late ’60s.
The Karn household is tearing apart, even if Grace wants to keep it together. Ken knows things are gone to hell. However, his wife thinks her father is just pissed off, that the Republicans are only giving them a warning shot, essentially. “We make them need us,” Grace tells her husband fiercely. They decide being discrete privately, together publicly is the best way forward, as well as to let go of their daughter for good. Nasty, nasty people.
Later on, Sam gets a call from none other than Ken. He wants to find his daughter, as he originally did so long ago. Hodiak meets him at the hospital and also informs him that someone authorised Emma to have electroshock therapy; she can barely remember herself, let alone anyone else. Well, father seems determined to take his daughter back home. An interesting turn of events, to say the least.


With the help of Hodiak and Shafe, Bunchy is released. Faulty police work after all. Free at last, free at last! He gives a speech at the Black Panthers HQ: “The Man is armed, we are armed. The Man kills, we kill. This is the only relationship respected by the Man because it is the only form of relationship understood by the Man.”
Right then and there men with guns walk through the doors. They blast Bunchy several times in the chest and arm.
Charlie is out looking for Dennis Wilson. He’s latched onto the Beatles White Album already. His madness is getting much deeper now, as if it weren’t before. Then it’s like Manson can see the coming murders in his mind. A terrifying barrage of images.
They’re coming. Soon.
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Another whopper of an episode. Really loved these latest two that came on in succession tonight. They built up so much tension and excitement. Really looking forward to the next one titled “Blackbird” – stay tuned with me!

Aquarius – Season 2, Episode 8: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

NBC’s Aquarius
Season 2, Episode 8: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
Directed by Nelson McCormick
Written by Alexandra Cunningham

* For a review of the previous episode, “Piggies” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Sexy Sadie” – click here
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Last we left the characters of Aquarius, Detective Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) is a junkie, Emma Karn (Emma Dumont) was being taken away in a black car, and of course Detective Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) was caught in the middle.
We open in 1969, the night of August 10th. Shafe is full of blood. He makes a call, but it’s clear he is strung out. He paces through the scene, as his voice narrates in voice-over while he takes a look at all the bodies. He lies on the couch looking awful.
Switch back to 12 months prior. He’s going through the motions of withdrawal, sweating hard in bed and sick from the smell of coffee. “You dont have a fever,” his wife Kristin (Milauna Jackson) clearly knows there’s something other than a flu at hand.
And Hodiak, he’s got his own crutch: a little liquor in the coffee. But at least he’s not waking up sweating and crawling out of his skin. He has other things to which he must tend. He got a call last episode that’s kept him intrigued, although nothing else is turning up to help.
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Out of nowhere, Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony) shows up to see Hodiak outside the precinct. He’s looking for Emma, who hasn’t returned yet since being whisked away in that black car. Oh, he ain’t  happy. One of his women have wandered off; not good for a misogynist like Charlie. “Ever know somethinbut you don’t know how you know it?” he asks Sam cryptically. There is lots of tension here. Whereas Manson is worried for Emma, he isn’t worried for the right reasons. What I’m excited to see now is more of the intersection between Charlie and Hodiak, how that will play out further in the back end of this season.
Ken Karn (Brian F. O’Byrne) is off taking care of some business. He has Nixon sneakiness to be done concerning Vietnam. He meets with a diplomat from their government (François Chau of Lost fame). A little bit of iced coffee can’t exactly smooth over Karn’s message. He wants to make a deal, one to do with the ceasefire and waiting for Tricky Dick to slip into the White House. Love the political intrigue mixed in with the other various subplots.
At the precinct, Hodiak is looking into a hit and run incident. He visits the ME. Turns out the incident was just a drunk man being run over while passed out in an alley. Two older women show up back at the station to claim the body, which leads Sam into a conversation about his last name’s Ukrainian origin, as the women are from there. He comes to believe they “might be murderers.” Can’t wait to see more of this. For now, Hodiak gets a visit from an old female friend; she’s brought him food, dressed up nicely, and isn’t there just to see him casually. It’s Ed Cutler’s (Chance Kelly) wife, upset about the affair her husband had with Sam’s now deceased ex-wife Opal. So Sam does some lying and promises the lady Ed is taking her on a trip soon. Yeah, right.
But the most trouble is when Sam gets home to find Charlie Manson digging around in his things. That does not sit well with the detective, obviously. He’s not happy to be pressed so hard by a dirty hippy. Charlie just wants to find Emma: “I dont like to wonder, I like to know.” They talk over the loaf Cutler’s wife made, as Charlie eats and Sam susses out more information.

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Shafe continues sweating through his withdrawals. His wife Kristin tries to help him by giving him some milk of magnesia, grapefruit juice, a peanut butter sandwich. She is a loving woman, even if he is slowly becoming less likeable and harder to deal with, and I’m not sure how long they’ll last. Kristin worries, she wants her husband to get better. Brian’s secrets don’t help, either.
The loaf conversation continues between Sam and Charlie. Most of it goes the way of the latter’s persuasion. While he spouts off, it’s clear Hodiak reads his every move, his every sentence and phrasing, the way he responds, and so on. Furthermore, the psychology of Manson comes out. Sam knows that Charlie only serves to “use people” and makes the women in his clan feel as if they were the ones who chose the life, not him. We all know the truth, too. They later end up jamming together on the guitar, some “Run Around Sue” and other tunes. Except Charlie keeps spying the gun on top of the fridge. Uh oh. Hodiak gets his new sleazy pal out without any violence, but it’s the air of impending violence that hangs thick over them.
In other news, Mr. Karns heads back to the diplomat’s office later, after hours. Yes – you know why. Ken has that sexual prowess going for him.


The withdrawals are getting better for Brian, only there’s no assurance his marriage will get better. For now, Kristin talks about her brother being at war, and how people over there used drugs to take away the pain of they’d done. We find out Shafe knew her brother, they were soldiers and that’s how he got introduced to Kristin. There’s an empathetic nature about her. She knew when they met he had a darkness in him, so this has all come part and parcel with their love. “Im sorry, baby,” he moans to her in the throes of his terrible addiction.
Sam is trying to figure out if those two Ukrainian women are in fact killers. He’s got his buddy Joe Wilson (Brian Goodman) hoping to get back into the detective work again, doing his best to help. In league with Sam’s uncle Don Hodiak (David Proval), they have the Ukrainian women together, starting a fight, which helps Don come up with a translation. Good job, fellas! The old ladies know more than they let on.
Later, Hodiak calls father Ken looking for his daughter Emma. Of course he doesn’t know and eggs Sam on saying “ask my wife” and none of it leads anywhere. Sam also gets a call from Dennis Wilson – he spills the beans to the Beach Boy about Charlie and his truest intentions. That’s going to make for an interesting situation all around.
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Finally, we cut back to Shafe at the murder scene during ’69. His mind is breaking, he sees terrifying images. Then Charlie appears next to him: “Rise,” he whispers.
That is one of the words left scrawled in blood at the same murder scene, in real life when the murders occurred. Spooky.
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What a fabulous episode! A great return after the Olympics coverage. Aquarius doesn’t get enough love, but that’s fine. Those who love it, we dig it hard.
Next episode is “Sexy Sadie” and I’m excited to see where Dt. Hodiak, Dt. Shafe, Charlie, and the rest of the gang end up.

THE CONJURING 2 Makes the Sequel Mighty Again

As a moderate fan of the first, THE CONJURING 2 - though based on a debunked story - is utterly haunting, holding a high level of tension almost throughout the entire runtime. Be prepared.

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American Gothic – Episode 10: “The Veteran in a New Field”

CBS’ American Gothic
Episode 10: “The Veteran in a New Field”
Directed by David Barrett
Written by Aaron Fullerton

* For a review of Episode 9, “The Oxbow” – click here
* For a review of Episode 11, “Freedom from Fear” – click here
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Boston is now terrorised by The Silver Bells Killer, all over again.
Detectives Brady Ross (Elliot Knight) and Linda Cutter (Deirdre Lovejoy) are still working the case, as Madeline Hawthorne (Virginia Madsen) does her best to get her son Garrett (Antony Starr) out of legal trouble.
There’s a silver bell found at Jennifer Windham’s murder scene. One with the same indentation as the ones left in the original crimes. So, it couldn’t be a copycat. It has to be the accomplice himself.
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Alison (Juliet Rylance) and Madeline both have to cooperate with the detectives. However, we know for sure that Mama Hawthorne has big secrets to hide. Mostly Alison has a couple skeletons – sexual in nature – but her mother has festering, rotten things hiding in her past. We’re soon going to see them start spilling out. I can feel it.
Well, Garrett meets with his younger sister Tess (Megan Ketch). She wants to know why he wouldn’t answer her question last episode, about whether he actually killed anybody. Her trust and belief in him is broken. “Cryptic comments” and “evasiveness” have her less than impressed. Then he tells his sister about Al Jenkins, that old chestnut. A mercy killing, essentially. But Tess understands. She isn’t disgusted or scared of her brother. Now, they have a closer connection, as he’s never told anyone else about Al’s death. He further reveals Christina (Catalina Sandino Moreno) is pregnant, even if their relationship isn’t exactly stellar. Can the will to love a child overcome the genetics of the Hawthorne family? It’s like a gamble having a baby in that clan.
Meanwhile there’s Cam (Justin Chatwin), whose time in rehab is coming to a close. He’s done well, obviously. He wants to get to know April (Bethany Joy Lenz) more, although she sticks pretty closely to the whole concept of rehabilitation and not pursuing romantic relationships so soon out. We’ll see how well that sticks.
Cutter has Alison in for a chat, a.k.a interrogation. When Brady finds his partner giving his sister-in-law the third degree, he isn’t happy. Not that anybody needs to protect Alison; she’s a bad ass. Either way, she and Brady get to sit down for a conversation instead, which leads to her admitting she may know who murdered Jennifer – Mayor Conley (Enrico Colantoni). Reason being is that Alison asked Jennifer to dig into him, his past, et cetera. Then she ends up dead. Alison gives Brady the pictures of Cutter with the mayor, and now he’s becoming a lot more interested in this seemingly wild conspiracy theory. It’s a tall accusation. If it’s true there is no telling who’s to trust. Both Brady and Alison understand this already.
At home, Madeline finds a window open and several belts all laid out on a chair. Eerie. She thinks perhaps Jack (Gabriel Bateman) did it, and y’know, it isn’t exactly out of the realm of possibility. Yet she doesn’t think much more of it after the kid denies. Even eerier.
Then there’s Jack’s mother Sophie (Stephanie Leonidas). She encourages the weird behaviour of their child by doing a project with him that consists of plenty blood (fake stuff). She needs help, but doesn’t have the self-awareness of Cam. I’m not looking forward to how things play out with this little family simply because of the drugs involved; you know there’s bad business on its way.
Sneaky Madeline finds out that the accomplice was likely at Mitch’s funeral, from a new detective on the case. Then, she calls him (we assume it’s a man). Tess hears part of their conversation, not all. Enough to be suspicious.
So, who could it be? Someone we’ve already seen? Or someone brand new to the audience? All we know is, even more so now, that Madeline knows plenty more than she has ever let on. To anybody. And maybe Garrett holds some keys to that knowledge. For the time being, Tess is smart enough to do some Caller ID magic and get the last dialled number: somebody named Caleb O’Connor.

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Busy Garrett has things to do. His younger brother doesn’t want him to leave again. He worries for Jack and wants Garrett, admired by the boy, to stick around. “Its your call,” Cam tells Garrett. Before his brother heads out again, who knows where.
When the unlikely pair of Alison and Brady suss out a safe in a picture behind the wall at Jennifer’s place, they stumble upon a flash drive full of information on Conley.
Speaking of the Mayor of Boston, he and Cutter are being confronted by Brady and Alison. There’s recorded audio of Cutter and Conley talking about evidence being destroyed. But what evidence? When Morales was murdered, all those years ago, Conley was at his house. A cuff-link was lost, so Cutter was brought in, a young naive cop: $25K to lose some evidence. The Mayor has an alibi, unfortunately. There goes that theory.
At the Hawthorne mansion Madeline finds her purse filled with bells. In the background, a bell sounds. She’s distracted for the rest of the evening. Until Tess asks about Caleb – that’s the affair Madeline had back then. Yowzahs.
Anyway, you know that Jack’s presentation at History Night has got to be something special. He narrates while his mother helps with sound effects in the background. He tells of the big molasses spill. And suddenly, his weirdness is enjoyable, not creepy. Everybody laughs, his mother smiles. Jack is a happy, odd little boy.
Brady’s being put on leave for a conflict of interest, which surprisingly didn’t happen sooner. Strangely enough, he thinks that Garrett might actually have had something to do with the murders after all. Really? There’s so much mystery, it’s hard to tell.
An awkward moment comes when Jack and his father are out for a day together. Jack gets some gummies. When he pays $20 for it, Cam wonders why it costs so much. Mom’s been sending her boy to get candies with drugs strapped on the inside. Certainly not a happy situation. “He never knew,” she says hoping to excuse her behaviour. That’s the last straw. If not, Cam would be insane. He’ll get full custody of their boy and it’s no longer just a possibility. She doesn’t deserve to have that child. I’m just afraid she may do something awful.
Out in a public park, Tess and Alison meet with Caleb. He looks like any other regular dude. Nothing strange, immediately. What they get out of the meeting is that Mitch wasn’t dragging Caleb the night of their fight; so who did Papa Hawthorne pull down the stairs back in the day? What did Cam truly see?
All sorts of old secrets are bubbling under the surface. Madeline is constantly holding them back. When her children confront her, she’s backed into a corner.

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The homage to Winslow Homer’s painting, from which the title of the episode comes, happens as Garrett digs a hole out in a field. What exactly is he doing out there? He’s got the machinery to harvest corn and everything.
He hasn’t been digging a hole so much as he’s dug up a grave. Down there sits a skeleton. He starts to take it out, preparing to mulch it into dust. Oh, Garrett: what have you done? Things get much more intense when Brady shows up, having followed his brother-in-law to the field. Uh oh.
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What a great chapter! Really dig this one. Things get more twisty, then they take you back for a loop and make you see certain events and plots in a different lot. Fun writing. Next episode is “Freedom from Fear” and is based on a painting by Norman Rockwell from 1943 (the last of a series called Four Freedoms).

Dead of Summer – Season 1, Episode 9: “Home Sweet Home”

Freeform’s Dead of Summer
Season 1, Episode 9: “Home Sweet Home”
Directed by Alrick Riley
Written by Ian B. Goldberg

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Devil Inside” – click here
* For a review of the finale, “She Talks to Angels” – click here
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Heading into our penultimate Season 1 episode, Joel (Eli Goree) is dead, and the others have now discovered that Holyoke (Tony Todd) isn’t the madman they thought he was, nor is anything as it seems.
A young woman hitches a ride to Camp Stillwater, saying she’s worried about a friend. Hmm.
Amy (Elizabeth Lail) is possessed. Everyone is prepared to do what they can to turn her back into who she was once upon a time. At Holyoke’s cabin, Garrett (Alberto Frezza), Jessie (Paulina Singer), and Alex (Ronen Rubinstein) prepare to do a “purification” on Amy, to try and get the demon out of her. Holyoke explains what must be done, as well as the fact it’s not going to be easy. At all.
While the counsellors are trying to get rid of the demon, Deb Carpenter (Elizabeth Mitchell) busses the campers off, as Blair (Mark Indelicato) and Drew (Zelda Williams) make preparations of their own.
Everybody’s waiting to face off with the big bad demon. Soon enough.


Back to 1980 – a young Amy doesn’t get much love from her family, mostly just annoyance and misplaced aggression. Her brother is the worst, telling his younger sister their parents don’t want her anymore. She winds up killing her brother’s pet rat, by accident. And we can see that Amy has always been a little different, a little innocent. Meanwhile, in ’89, Holyoke is explaining things about the demon to the young people now helping him. “We must call to the spirits of light,” Holyoke tells them. It all starts with a few hymns on the piano. From the lake something rises. Then Holyoke himself is evaporated into thin air, blood and bone and all.
Nobody is safe.
Once again in ’80, Amy’s brother plays a trick on her. He locks the little girl in their garage and she’s there until morning. A firefighter comes in to find her laying on the floor. This act of childishness by her brother wound up saving her life: Amy’s entire family die of carbon monoxide poisoning after the flue in the fireplace closed. Wow. That’s god damn heavy.
In ’89, the young counsellors and deputy try figuring out what went wrong. Garrett wants to go the original recordings of the hymn Holyoke played. But Jessie wants to “be the spirits of light” on their own. She thinks by using the knowledge they have, the books and notes, so on, they can do the ritual themselves. In order to save Amy’s soul. Reluctantly, Garrett and Alex go along. Not as if they’re wrong to do so. Jessie has her heart in the right place, and also – who the hell knows how anything works in a world filled with ghosts, demons, Satanist cults, and more? Either way, Jessie, Alex, and Garrett do their best to call Amy back to herself, away from the demon. That demon Malphas doesn’t make anything too easy for them, though.
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Blair, Drew, and Deb bus the kids through the woods. Yet the further they go, the thicker a mist appears in front of them. Like a wall. Until blood starts raining down over the bus, covering the windows, frightening all the children. The bus driver heads out to make sure they didn’t smash something onto the road. Big, big mistake, as he gets dragged off into the misty horizon. Something outside scrawls LET ME OUT on the bloody windows.
At the cabin, Malphas uses Amy to toy with each of the counsellors – talking to Garrett in his father’s voice, coming on to Alex with seductive Russian. Not a good time. Jessie and the boys press on with the ritual, and it isn’t any easier on Amy than it is on them. All the pain of her life flows outward. She later bites into Garrett’s neck. Malphas fights to stay in his vessel and they fight against him. Things get real wild once Malphas takes full control, tossing people around the cabin and manipulating everyone/everything in his path. He has Amy prepare Garrett for a hanging, unless Jessie opens the cabin door to let him free.
But I can’t help worry for Deb, out in the woods alone, as Drew and Blair try getting the bus to move. She finds the bus driver, dead and bloody, and something growling in the nearby woods. “If you want someone, take me,” she says in the darkness. Keith (Dylan Neal) comes out of nowhere. To comfort? No, to kill. He strangles Deb telling her all the young people will die, because of her: “You brought her herethe perfect vessel.”
And in the cabin, Jessie allows Malphas to take her as the vessel.
In he goes. So what next?
Alex puts Jessie in the lake water, closing her in. Keith disappears into the lake, the blood clears from the bus and it starts again. All is right once more. Well, not everything. At least Amy’s alive, Garrett is safe, so is Alex. Except Jessie gave herself over to defeat Malphas, which isn’t something Amy feels good about. So she pulls her friend out and tries doing CPR. After a properly dramatic wait, Jessie spits out the water, breathing hard. And defying the prophecy of Holyoke that nobody could survive the process; Jessie is one pure lady!

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When all is said and done Amy takes a moment alone. To say goodbye to the place.
We go back to a month before Camp Stillwater opened. Amy meets Deb at the edge of the lake. She finds that there’s no space for another counsellor – unless a counsellor doesn’t show up, or drops out, the like. So we go to that night when Amy and her friend Margot went to the party; that fateful night. Now, the events are shown in a much different light. All to get to Camp Stillwater, Amy lets her friend go. “Unfortunately there is only room for me,” she chillingly tells Margot before letting her grasp slip. That girl from the opening scene of the episode – it’s a friend who witnessed the aftermath at the party. That’s intriguing. Even more so once she shows up, only to get murdered with an axe by Amy.
Yikes. Poor Deb has really been through the ringer. She has to deal with an axe-wielding Amy, confessing to killing her own family and all the evil she’s been up to, even before Malphas came along. She was an evil little seed, anyway. The demon only made things more epic in nature. Oh, yes – Deb gets the axe, too.
A nice little montage takes us through the deaths at Camp Stillwater, each perpetrated by Amy herself under one of those eerie cult masks made out of wicker. She was there, lurking everywhere. Behind Garrett when he shot the Teacher. When Blotter got his head cut off. Every single death.
And for the time being, Malphas has everyone convinced he’s long gone.
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Wow – this is my favourite episode so far! I loved it. Death, blood, wild revelations, some backstory. All sorts of madness. The finale is titled “She Talks to Angels” and I’m so excited to find out what Dead of Summer has in store for us.

The Night Of – Season 1, Episode 7: “Ordinary Death”

HBO’s The Night Of
Season 1, Episode 7: “Ordinary Death”
Directed by Steven Zaillian
Teleplay by Richard Price & Zaillian

* For a review of the previous episode, “Samson and Delilah” – click here
* For a review of the finale, “The Call of the Wild” – click here
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Detective Dennis Box (Bill Camp) is at the scene of another homicide; one that bears a striking resemblance to the murder of Andrea Cornish.
In court, Nasir Khan (Riz Ahmed) has to see the pictures of Andrea’s bloody, desecrated body along with everyone else. District Attorney Helen Weiss (Jeannie Berlin) does her best to steer the evidence where she hopes the jury will see it go. Her Medical Examiner pal, Dr. Chester, repeats the line he’d been working on the last time we saw him. Once Chandra Kapoor (Amara Karan) gets at the doc things start slipping. The whole testimony on his part does not look good after she pokes holes in both what he’s said, as well as his reputation. She is a sly lawyer in her own right, even compared to Weiss.
Meanwhile, John Stone (John Turturro) has become honed in on Don Taylor (Paul Sparks), stepfather to Andrea. He’s keeping a close eye on the guy. Especially after Chandra, in court, makes clear the wounds on Andrea’s corpse look like a crime of passion; a personal one. And though we don’t know everything, Naz did not know Andrea before that night.
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Sadly it’s Safar Khan (Poorna Jagannathan) who suffers most, it seems. She is torn up having to see the pictures of the supposed crime Naz committed. She seems adrift, alone even within her own family. Salim (Peyman Moaadi) isn’t having any better of a time. He finds himself an object of derision in his own community, as other Muslims don’t look pleased with his family bringing shame on them all. Worse still, his own business partners Tariq (Mohammad Bakri) and Yusuf (Nabil Elouahabi) are essentially turning their backs on him. They’ve blamed Naz for bringing shame “on all of us,” they tell him. “You are the father of a killer,” says Tariq. Now that is brutal. I like that the series shows the good and the bad of the Muslim community. While trying to show the positive aspects, they also don’t shy from showing how within their own communities there’s so much of this type of thing; guilty before proven innocent.
Lots of anger being thrown at the Khans, from graffiti poised towards the community in general right down to rocks tossed through their windows.
All the while Stone keeps his eye on Don as he woos women for their money. Plus, Johnny gets to keep his feet moving since they’re no longer wracked by the bubonic plague. He’s got all sorts of information rolling in on Don. He even gets in contact with an older woman that was once romantically involved with him. She actually had to call the police because he strangled her. A bit of money and then the Don problem went away. So he’s got himself a history of nastiness.

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A witness for the prosecution tells the court he bought Adderall off Naz at school. Turns out the young Muslim had customers. He has secrets in his past. Not so innocent after all. But a murderer? Nah.
With his feet fixed, John’s already got a new rash started on his neck. In other news, his family – what’s left of it – is falling apart. One thing gets better, another gets worse. The tragic life of a Greek-like figure, that Stone.
At Rikers, Naz is getting along well enough. At least he’s not doing sexual favours like Petey (Aaron Moten) whose mother smuggles in the drugs that Naz takes in for Freddy Knight (Michael K. Williams). Then again, having to swallow drug balloons from a strange woman’s vagina isn’t exactly glorified behaviour. Especially considering Naz does it now without hesitating, not a single choke. Similar to how his behaviour is described in court, by a man on the witness stand testifying about Naz’s incident of violence years ago nearly killing another student.
And yet again, another secret. A second act of violence, not known by the defence. Naz threw a full Coke can at someone’s head and busted him up good. Hearing this in open court like that rocks Chandra. Her idea of Nasir seems to constantly be changing.
Poor Salim and Safar. They’re giving up everything to pay for their son’s defence. They pawn off jewellery, anything possible just to keep their boy with a lawyer. What’s sad is that Safar is really beginning to doubt the illusions of her son; they’re becoming just that, a mirage.
Finally, Don confronts John. He does so in fairly violent fashion, though not enough to freak anybody out, other than Stone. A threat’s been made. Easy to see that Andrea’s stepfather might have more rage in him than anybody knows.

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In court once more, Dt. Box is on the stand. He is a pretty rational, sensible talking man. He doesn’t beat around the bush, even as Chandra gives him a proper going over.
Alone together, Naz and Chandra talk. He wonders why she defends him, lamenting that his father is the only one who believes him. Not even his mother. There’s an air of sexual tension, and then Chandra leans in to kiss Naz. Images of the night Andrea died flash, her and Naz embracing. Ah. No good for their professional relationship, that’s for damn sure. This can only complicate things further.
Chandra has Dr. Katz (Chip Zien) on the stand. He talks about a missing knife from a set found in the brownstone. He also testifies that the wounds on Naz’s hand were not from stabbing. That it came from a game of five finger fillet (though she incorrectly calls it mumblety-pegs). Katz pokes a lot of holes in the evidence of the prosecution, as best he can. Remember that odd picture he took in the apartment? Well, he’s got an answer for that one, too. Smart chap. Weiss gets hold of him then to try poking her own holes, such as attempting to link Naz and O.J. Simpson in a snide remark. She goes at him head-on. Admirable. But clearly she’s only trying to sneak one past the goal post.

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John finds the picture of Naz’s inhaler. He wonders what happened to it, then the young Muslim tells him about Box having given it to him that night in the holding cell. So John goes to see the retiring detective, along with a subpoena.
Quickly, Stone and Chandra have him back on the stand. She asks him about the interviews, witnesses, all sorts of things. She eventually brings into question Box’s mishandling of the inhaler. He willingly admits to having given it to Naz. Chandra spins it to look as if Box took the inhaler from the evidence in order to ensure their narrative fit; can’t stab someone 22 times and take hits off your puffer, right? Box does his best to deflect. However, there’s no guarantee this won’t reflect badly on him, or the prosecution.
Back at Rikers, Naz finds Petey dead in the shower. He cut his wrists to pieces, to not suffer the sexual abuse any longer. That’s terrifying tragic. Naz looks on in desperate sadness. In Freddy’s cell, the big man doesn’t know about the real reason for the kid dying. And the rapist, he sits there trying to keep Naz silent. Even sadder.
In private, Naz confides in Freddy the reality of Petey’s suicide. This precipitates a shiv being made. The rest, you can guess. Criminal justice within the criminal justice system.
What about the real justice?

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Another fine episode from HBO’s excellent series. One last episode left! Its title is, fittingly from Jack London, “The Call of The Wild” – will the truth all come out? You can be sure of it.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 8: “Grotesque”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 8: “Grotesque”
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Written by Kate Barnow

* For a review of the previous episode, “Shiva” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Los Muertos” – click here
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They’re baaaaa-aaack!
Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) wakes amongst dead, fly-ridden bodies. A woman and her boy are there, but you know Nick – he’s doing his own thing, all the way. So much so he’s off on a dangerous path, away from his family, his few friends remaining. By far, he’s always been my favourite character, ever since that great opening to Season 1. What I’m hoping is that we get to spend a nice while with Nick, past this season. But especially right now. I want to get more into his character.
Having him on his own is perfect for that. Even if there’s nothing except death and madness lying ahead of him on the path he’s chosen. At least he figured out how to exist surrounded by walkers without them eating him alive. That’s one thing he’s got going for himself.
This opening sequence sees Nick headed towards Tijuana, all the while “How Low” by JosĂ© Gabriel González plays and the softness of the music makes me wonder: how low are we about to get, or how low can this world plagued by zombies go in its descent?
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Nick flashes back to a time with Gloria (Lexi Johnson). He’s in rehab trying to get clean. “Exploring his thoughts and feelings” and trying to get his head wrapped around how he’ll deal with his family once he gets out. He talks about his father, the lack of not being shown “how to be a man in the world” that’s so obviously lacking in his tutelage of Nick as a son. The deep pain inside him is starting to come out, so this is exactly what I was hoping for coming in.
In Mexico, Nick is still figuring out how to be a man. Only the world has changed, drastically. In this new world he doesn’t need a father figure, nor could he hope to find one. Because this world is dead, full of blood and guts and killing and worse. Nobody’s experienced it before, nobody knows how to do anything in this world. So to ‘be a man’ he needs no one other than himself. He can make his way, discovering what it is to be a man now on his own.
During the night a woman creeps up on Nick as he sleeps. She whacks him with a bat, speaking Spanish. She runs him off without his supplies; great. A headache AND no stuff anymore. Doesn’t phase him. He goes on down the road, off on his journey. Zombies and abandoned cars litter the landscape, the open plains and roadways of the Mexican hills. From one direction comes a jeep with a few armed men inside. Looks like Nick’s wandered into gangland territory. These guys are n’t the simple Mexicans out in the country, these look like militia-types packing serious weaponry. They also take enjoyment out of finishing off an old man in his car. Nothing bodes well for Nick once the men give chase, starting to fire round after round at him. Luckily he’s able to outrun them. But finds himself out in the middle of nowhere.
Smart thinking Nick tries to get some water out of a cactus. Not so smart when he eats a bit of it then pukes. At least he’s trying. This leads him to drink some of his own piss, Bear Grylls style. Surprisingly, it isn’t as a bad as the cactus. Good on you, Nick. You’re a survivor. I guess being a junkie doesn’t exactly leave you with no skills at all. Regardless he’s got a long trek ahead of him, wherever he’s headed. In the night, he flashes back once more to being with Gloria. They receive visits from their parents respectively in rehab. Madison (Kim Dickens) comes alone, without her husband. He died in a head-on collision. A bit of devastating news, even worse to be in rehab and hear it.
Nick winds up getting attacked while daydreaming in Mexico. A couple dogs nearly do him in. Just what you need: a bit of rabies! Well, he gets up on a car and escapes the animals. Right before a horde of the undead come shambling down nearby. They’re distracted long enough to eat the pair of dogs, and then they turn their attention to Nick.
When he thinks he’s finished, Nick almost silently prays to be saved. And he is delivered. Gunshots and vehicle horns sound in the distance. This gives Nick time to rip a belt off a zombie to tighten on his wound, as well as have a bit of lunch himself on one of the torn up dogs. He really has been watching Bear, hasn’t he?

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The one thing nobody can fight or trick is blood loss. Nick starts going a little wobbly after awhile. He sees a zombie that looks strikingly like Gloria – a vision only – he hears her voice, other voices, all surrounding him with the zombies. Dude is fucked up. He lurches along with the walkers, as they get closer to Tijuana.
Those armed men return and open fire on the zombies. One by one, they’re mowed down. Nick stands his ground while walkers are blown away next to him. But those men aren’t quick enough. The zombies close in and take two of them out, eating them alive. Nick walks past as the men are devoured. Down the road people watch the walkers, they see Nick collapse. A woman named Luciana doesn’t want to help him, although the men she’s with do.
Laying in the road, bleeding, Nick flashes back again.
He and Gloria lay together. They’re in the old church where the series first began in Season 1’s initial episode. Remember? They prepare to shoot up, both eager to get their fix. I’m excited to see more on this end. Are we going to see some dark secret lurking in Nick’s past?
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Without any help Nick makes it through the night lying in the road. Rain wakes him up, washing him (relatively) clean. He staggers further into town. Tough bastard, you’ve got to give it to him. In a store, he seeks out a bit of medicine to help with his nasty leg. Not sure if the junkie needs any medicine in the zombie apocalypse, post-fall, beat up leg or no. He eventually comes across Luciana and the men. He explains about the dogs, gets himself a drink of water. They take him to a legitimate doctor in their camp. He gets to work on Nick. They chat some.
And while Nick wants to be on his own, out with the “monsters” and such, the doctor shows him their settlement. It’s big, filled with kids and adults and all sorts of places within a walled compound. He sees a community.
So the world, it goes on. There are people trying to build it back up. There is hope.

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A nice episode to start up this second half of Season 2. I love Nick’s character. Now we can look forward to the rest of the gang this following episode I’m sure, to propel us forward into more wild situations, more journeys and self discoveries and death and zombies.
“Los Muertos” is next.