Fargo – Season 3, Episode 2: “The Principle of Restricted Choice”

FX’s Fargo
Season 3, Episode 2: “The Principle of Restricted Choice”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a recap & review of the Season 3 premiere, “The Law of Vacant Places” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Law of Non-Contradiction” – click here
Pic 1Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) goes over the crime in her head. She digs into the box she found at the Ennis’ place in the floorboards. Inside are several Thaddeus Mobley (Thomas Mann) novels, she flips through them to see if there are any little notes or anything significant stuck between the pages. Nothing. There’s a newspaper clipping of Mobley winning a Golden Planet award. A photo of a woman, signed. She says Ennis Stussy and Mobley are “one in the same.” Hmm.
Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregory) and Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) go see Irv Blumkin (Hardee T. Lineham) about their problem with Mr. V. M. Varga (David Thewlis) and their stupid, illicit deal. The two men are clueless, it’s almost amazing how they got as far as they have at this point in life. A curt commentary on many ‘successful’ businessmen, to my mind. Either way, Emmit still has problems with Ray (McGregor), the stamp. Although Sy says he doesn’t want the stamp, he wants his brother’s life; the “green monster.”
Watching Irv operate a computer, let alone Google, is absurdly hilarious. When he manages to search Varga, a webcam turns on and takes a picture of them. Then everything shuts down. Now that can’t be a coincidence, can it? That Varga is sketchy. His teeth alone are the stuff of nightmares. Even with that grill of rotten chompers he’s somehow charming, in the way he speaks to others like some villain from a fairy tale whispering in the ear of others along the peripheries.
At a lot Sy and Emmit control, Varga’s parked a big rig truck. What could be inside? Something sinister? “Slave girls,” Sy wonders? Who the hell knows. They’re trying to cover their asses while bigger things are happening, and have been a long while, without their knowing.
Pic 1AGloria meets with Moe Dammick (Shea Whigham). He’s a bit more of a rough character than some of the cops we’ve seen on Fargo, which is a welcomed touch. There’s already a tension between the two characters, as well. He’s her new boss, and wants to lay down the law at the office. He also wants her to take time off, after the death of her stepfather Ennis.
She goes out and starts investigating. A store owner says a Russian man came in – though, he doesn’t remember it was only a shirt with Russia on it (that’ll cause something to fuck up at some point) – and tore a page from his phone book; we know that man was Maurice LeFay (Scoot McNairy), but the information’s been mangled by this bumbling man.
Ray is checking on the death of Maurice, at the very same time. It’s been logged as ACCIDENTAL. Making him a very happy man, putting more pieces of the puzzle together for him. All the while the guy’s brains are being scrubbed off the sidewalk over in front of the apartment where Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) lives. Things look as if they’re going well. She’s busy trying to put together a new job, to make more money. Ray would rather get “out of the woods” before anything else. She says there’s something wrong with his “chi.” Blocked up. Not good. Sometimes it’s like she strings him along, though it also looks at times like she loves him. She is damn dedicated, that’s for sure.
Ray: “I never killed anybody before
Nikki: “Well me either. Lifes a journey, yknow.”


Ray goes to Emmit’s place. At 10:30 in the night, imagine that? Goes to show the disconnected brothers, one a buttoned down family man and the other a semi-regular guy. It’s fun to watch McGregor play off himself, a hard thing to do. Yet each of the Stussy brothers is different. Their mannerisms, how they talk even under those Minnesota accents. While Ray apologises to his brother, inside the house Nikki tracks down the stamp’s location. It was moved. In its place is the picture of a donkey; an ass. She discovers the receipt for a safety deposit box in the office desk. Then leaves her bloody tampon in the drawer. What she doesn’t know is that the stamp wasn’t moved, the frame’s only being fixed.
Ah, the ole Fargo comitragedy of errors!
Moreover, we get a look at Meemo (Andy Yu) and his friend Yuri from the Old Country. They toss an old man over the side of a parking garage, then walk away like they just finished playing a game of basketball. Dark and hilarious. Now there’s more of a Russian-ish connection coming into play, I’m very interested to see that unfold.
Later, Emmit gets a call saying Irv jumped off his garage.


Gloria’s making arrangements to have Ennis buried, she and her boy Nathan (Graham Verchere). They can’t track him back past 1980, before he married her mother. He’s a bit of a mystery, especially considering her mom passed already. He didn’t really have friends. Gloria is stuck on the Mobley theory, which ought to prove for more interesting story in upcoming episodes.
In a diner Sy visits Ray, unhappy about the break-in. They certainly don’t have any kind of good relationship, not even a working one. Sy says Ray won’t ever speak to his brother again; “nonnegotiable,” he claims. Appears the guy’s got a temper, which Ray doesn’t take to nicely.
At the office Emmit finds Varga kicking around suddenly, like a wisp of fog out of thin air. He’s got Yuri and Meemo with him, too. They’re taking up some office space. They’ve got plenty of boxes of… files? Already being wheeled into an empty wing. We’re coming to see V.M’s shadiness. In a way, he represents others outside America today while Sy and Emmit are the stupid men at the helm of the nation currently in 2017; as he says, they think the deal “can be changed” but once you’ve started down certain roads there’s no stopping. “Youre trapped,” Varga explains. He further assures the audience of what happened with Irv. Nasty dude.
Pic 4Loved this second episode! Hawley did a great job writing, and the characters have started opening up. I particularly have interest in Varga, whose purpose becomes clearer with this episode and specifically the final few minutes. Awesome stuff.
“The Law of Non-Contradiction” is next week.

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Fargo – Season 3, Episode 1: “The Law of Vacant Places”

FX’s Fargo
Season 3, Episode 1: “The Law of Vacant Places”
Directed by Noah Hawley
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “Palindrome” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Principle of Restricted Choice” – click here
Pic 1Year 3.
1988 in East Berlin. A man is interviewed by an officer, though claims he’s not who officer believes he is, a man named Yuri Gurka. Seems they’ve got a problem. “That state would have to be wrong” for all this to be an issue. Surely, that can’t be correct, can it? I see where this is headed. There’s a murder, which puts this poor man, not Yuri, at a disadvantage when up against the crumbling Soviet.
Now, we head into Minnesota during 2010 for our current timeline story.
Pic 1AEmmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor) and Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) are conducting a bit of business, as a 25th anniversary party for Emmit and his wife Stella. Afterwards the celebration goes on happily. In attendance is their daughter Grace (Caitlynne Medrek), as well as brother Ray (also Ewan McGregor). And the much more greasy-looking brother is there to get a meeting with Sy and Emmit. It’s been some time, evidently.
They do a little catching up, awkward as that goes. The tension is clear. Ray obviously feels lower class compared to his brother; Sy’s like the best friend who’s more like a brother than the brother himself. We’re also introduced to Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and the fact Ray wants to get her an engagement ring. This brings up issues of money, plus some betrayal over a stamp collection, “vintage” stuff worth tons of cash.
The relationship between Nikki and Ray is a weird one. Likely she’s using him, but too early to judge. He’s a cagey one, too. So, I wouldn’t count anything out. Nikki says they’re “simpatico to the point of spooky” and he’s inclined to agree. Be interesting to watch more of them together, love McGregor and Winstead’s odd chemistry.


Ray is a parole officer – where he met his latest girlfriend – spending his days drowning in paperwork and piss. No short of characters he encounters. And no doubt we’ll see some kind of ethical murkiness rear its head; well, more than already with Nikki. You can’t help imagine what kind of plans Noah Hawley has for a main character with that profession in his quirky, twisted little world of Fargo.
At a bar Ray meets with Maurice LeFay (Scoot McNairy) who’s recently failed a piss test. This P.O is a little more lenient on those under his care. He wants Maurice to help him out with a robbery; quid pro quo, poof, vamoose, and the problems go away. If he can get his hands on the stamp in Emmit’s office.
Sy and Emmit have business to take care of late in the evening. Simultaneously, Maurice lurks around waiting for the right time to strike on his mission; he’s a little busy smoking a joint and talking to his shrink via speaker phone in the car. Then he loses the paper on which Ray wrote the address; it flies out the window, into the snowy roadside. Does he remember? Or will this cause unintended consequences? I’d vote on the latter.
When Emmit gets to the office he finds V.M. Varga (David Thewlis) waiting for him. He’s from their lender, Narwahl. Says they don’t need to pay back the money, apparently. It’s an “investment” he tells them. Followed by cryptic talk of “singularity” and “continuity.” Hmm, a few strings attached. Seems the boys got in over their head and didn’t ask questions before jumping in deep.


Chief Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) is at home celebrating her son Nathan’s (Graham Verchere) birthday. They’ve got a bit of a fractured family; modern by most standards. Another interesting family for the series.
A great tune, as always, plays (Adriano Celetano – “Prisencolinensinainciusol“) us through while cards are being dealt in a regional tournament. Dream team Swango and Stussy hit the tables together to make themselves a big a payday.
Poor, stoned Maurice, searching out the address he lost, remembering it incorrectly and headed in the wrong direction. Headed right for Eden Valley, where Gloria’s the law. Then the guy winds up going to Ennis Stussy’s – no relation to the twins, far as we know – place, where Gloria just left. She turns back to get the model he made for her boy, then finds the place in shambles, door open. The old man taped to a chair, dead. After looking around awhile she locates a hidden compartment in the floor with a box in it; inside, old books, a figure, and more.
When Maurice goes to see Ray, things are messy. The misunderstandings are only just beginning to pile up. It’s about to get wild, and nasty. Particularly when the parolee goes crazy on him, pulling a gun. However, Nikki’s always thinking. As Maurice leaves the apartment, they drop an air conditioner on his head obliterating him. They’ve got a plan and everything. A convenient way out.


This is the beginning of what’s sure to be an interesting Season 3. Such a great premiere, and I know there’s even greater things to come.
Not sure how the East Berlin moment earlier plays into the whole thing, though there’s a Russian connection: Maurice is wearing a shirt in the bar with RUSSIA written on it; maybe nothing, or maybe something. Who knows.

Legion – Chapter 8

FX’s Legion
Chapter 8
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Chapter, click here.
Pic 1Now that the Interrogator (Hamish Linklater) has returned, we see flashbacks to his encounter with David (Dan Stevens), his injury and subsequent recovery. At his bedside waits Daniel (Keir O’Donnell); it appears they’re partners, as well as having an adopted child together. The poor guy rests in bed, recovering, and he’s left with burns all over his body. “Theres my handsome guy,” Daniel says reassuringly, yet we’re juxtaposed with the mangled scar tissue on his partner’s face as a jarring visual. He has a Jack Nicholson’s Joker moment – except much more subdued – asking for a mirror, seeing his new face for the first time, too. Thus begins a long period of rest, trying to get better. When he gets back to work he says fuck desk duty. He’s “going to war” and finishing what was started that day at the pool.
Need to note that the visuals of the series are gorgeous and well conceived. On top of that, Jeff Russo’s score is haunting, it’s a huge part of the show’s atmosphere. Russo has done good work before, I’d vote that this is his best yet. Accompanies the psychedelic, surreal feel of Legion in such an appropriate way. The music has such an ’80s feeling at times that it’s wonderfully throwback.
Now the Interrogator and his SWAT members have David, Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris), Syd (Rachel Keller), all of them at gunpoint. Ready to die. Except David disagrees, using his powers to make a human totem of the SWAT team. Instead of letting Ptonomy shoot the Interrogator, David takes the time to build bridges instead of burn them. Problem is, Daniel and everyone back at D3 are watching through the eye of the Interrogator.
Pic 1AAnd worse, David worries that schizophrenia still grips him. That everything happening is an elaborate dream. Syd tries convincing him either he accepts his powers are real, or else they’ll never get out of the trouble they’re in.
David: “Im so sick of myself. This only works if its not about me.”
At Summerland, Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) tries to wrangle everyone together, as Cary (Bill Irwin) keeps an eye on David’s halo. She wants to find out more about D3 with the Interrogator in their keep. The halo, however, is losing juice. They’ve got to figure out what to do; about the Shadow King, Farouk, that Devil with the Yellow Eyes. And fucking Lenny (Aubrey Plaza), still talking. Always talking. Then there’s Cary and Kerry (Amber Midthunder), fighting over what happened between them on the astral plane, and she is pissed. A lot of tension happening.
Melanie’s also distraught over the situation with Oliver (Jemaine Clement), who still can’t remember her. They agree to have dinner together, she hopes he’ll soon remember. Sad to watch her essentially left behind by him, albeit not intentional. Either way, she has the Interrogator – he says his name’s Clark – with whom she must deal. He mostly has threats for her. Doesn’t faze Dr. Bird: “You better learn to fly like a bird because the age of the dinosaur is over.”


So Clark’s sat down with David, who seems more in control than ever. Which is less comforting, more scary than I expected. “You dont have to be afraid,” he tells Clark, over and over and over. Then things start getting strange. Syd finds herself in more of the dream world, faced with a creepy, decaying Lenny, appearing to her as the Devil with the Yellow Eyes, its true form. She has to face the evil down, and she does – explaining how they’re cutting it out, like doctors do with a tumour; cut it out, burn it. Only Lenny says she’s a part of David now. To get her out, David must go, as well.
Clark: “Youre gods, and someday youre gonna wake up and realise you dont need to listen to us anymore.”
David: “Isnt that the history of the world? People of different nations, different languages learning to live together?”
Poor David goes weak. Syd explains to Clark about the parasite, what it is and how they plan on ridding David of it. I wonder, will this guy succumb and help? Regardless of that, all the while D3 is listening holding the Peacemaker at bay, for the time being.
With Clark back in holding with Kerry, the others go to work on David – Oliver, specifically. He and Cary detect a second set of brain waves within their subject’s head. Hopefully they can fix it while leaving David’s mind intact. As Pink Floyd and Tom Stoppard plays, they work away, and David flashes back through memories in his past, Lenny struggling harder and harder inside to get out.
David’s lost in a sea of memory, right back to being an infant. And the Devil with the Yellow Eyes lurks right behind. He confronts it, calling Lenny out from within. He wonders of his identity, without Lenny. Who and what he is without that part of him. “Are you my phantom?” he asks. “What happens to me when you’re gone?” Like a child, first dealing with the prospect of life without their imaginary friend. Then the parasite chokes David, trying to kill him. Can he survive without Farouk? Must he die?


Doing the unthinkable, Syd tries saving David by kissing him on the lips. Transferring the parasite into herself. Oh, shit. Off come the gloves, both figuratively and literally. Going from Syd to Kerry, the Devil with the Yellow Eyes uses her ass kicking skills to start a lot of trouble. Even Clark tries to stop it before getting tossed aside like trash.
Then we have a face off between Kerry possessed and David, healthy, powerful again. They fly at one another with full speed and power, blowing each other back. And Oliver, he winds up in the way of things. While the Summerland facility is in chaos, he walks out and drives off on his own. Right after he’d just remembered his wife, too. A sad, unexpected consequence of David’s battle with Farouk.


On the road, Oliver rides with Lenny shotgun. Another powerful mind latched onto by the nasty parasite. What’s going to happen next? Who knows. One thing’s for sure, Season 2 is going to be wild, in all sorts of ways. Also a great inclusion of “Children of the Revolution” by T Rex in the last scene. Beauty way to close out an awesome season!
An after credits scene sees David tracking Lenny and Oliver, knowing they’re headed south. They’re also visited by a strange orb. It scans David, then sucks him inside. Carrying him off elsewhere. WHOOOA!
Pic 4Pic 4ACannot wait for next year. This was one of the best series to have premiered in years, honestly. Lots of good stuff out there, but Noah Hawley is on another level. Between this and Fargo? One of TV’s auteurs, for certain.

Legion – Chapter 7

FX’s Legion
Chapter 7
Directed by Dennie Gordon
Written by Jennifer Yale

* For a recap & review of Chapter 6, click here.
* For a recap & review of Chapter 8, click here.
Pic 1The Eye (Mackenzie Gray) is stalking, closer and closer, behind Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder). She tires to run and hide, though it isn’t easy to escape him.
And watching as always, the Devil with the Yellow Eyes, a.k.a Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza). She’s got Amy Haller (Katie Aselton) in her grasp. She asks Amy about when David (Dan Stevens) first came to live with their family. Sly little visual reference to Professor X, as his wheelchair dissolves past in an image while Lenny shouts: “What did he do with it?” Hmm.


In the meantime, Cary (Bill Irwin) has found his way to Oliver Bird (Jemaine Clement) in that astral plane lounge. They drink, chat. Oliver wants to help however he can with the parasite that’s attached itself to David. Apparently the monster is called Amahl Farouk, the Shadow King. He’s sequestered David in the deep recess of his own mind. The longer this goes on, the more chance Farouk takes over the body entirely. This prompts Cary to come up with a plan. A wacky one, though a plan. Starting with the diving suit.
First visit is to Syd (Rachel Keller), removing the headphones keeping her subdued in the dreamy space of David’s childhood room. Cary brings her away to a safer place, so they can talk; she already knows the whole deal. Because she’s smart. Sort of ruins his excitement of explaining in hilarious fashion. Regardless, the plan is underway.
The halls of the hospital are absolute havoc. Good thing Syd’s got special glasses to cut through Farouk’s created imagery. Cary always keeps a few tricks up his sleeve, just like Oliver.
Meanwhile, Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) is drifting through the abstract, too. She comes across the diving suit with Cary inside, as well as Oliver in the room where their gunfight went down. Only the husband can’t remember his wife, his memory’s been affected quite a deal. It’s good to have him there, if only to help think through their next steps. But it’s what Melanie does next that’s interesting. Whispering in a Rudy’s ear, who in the later part of the timeline is stuck in a wall. But for now, Cut to Syd – she slips a pair of those nifty glasses onto Kerry, thwarting The Eye on the way.


Stuck in a “mental coffin” David faces British David (fun with Dan speaking in a native British accent). His rational mind. It’s all “just an idea” and the monster’s implanted in their head. Farouk is manipulating David’s mind, and in turn the wild mutant powers he wields. Very fun seeing the two sides of David, led by the rational mind, work out the problems with logic and reason. We’re watching the visual representation of the mind at work. And eventually, rational David convinces the other part of David the monster’s been around since he was just a child. Beautifully conceived sequence, all around! References to X-Men abound in this episode. Even as David figures it out, he gives his long lost father a British accent, not yet knowing his identity.
So the monster waited, watched after being defeated by David’s father, then found David, possessing him. Torturing him and feeding off his energy. Its parasitic machinations were to regain its own power to take revenge. Usually such exposition would feel lame, overdone, tedious. This doesn’t because of a) the visuals, and b) the storytelling works because of David having this two-way conversation with himself. Glorious fucking writing and directing, all around a fantastic job in this episode particularly.


Syd and Kerry keep moving forward. As does David, breaking through room after room, many of them the same, hearing Syd call for him. Melanie and Oliver and Cary, they work on their side of things in the room of that gunfight; Oliver does some wonderful conducting on the astral plane. This is even wilder and weirder and more fun than the previous sequence. Add in title cards like a silent film as Syd calls to the others, fighting alongside Kerry, and the whole thing’s more interesting than you can handle.
This will blow your mind, honestly.
Then Lenny shows up. She (literally) crushes The Eye, who’s of no use any longer. What a wild effect, such good work! And in that frozen gunfight, The Eye’s head starts running with blood. However, Lenny infiltrates that space, tossing Oliver to the side. Free to do as Farouk pleases.
Simultaneously, Cary puts the device on David’s head, Rudy grabs hold of Lenny, and with the full influence of David’s mind the place is under his control again: he saves Syd. But takes the bullets; catching them in his hand, like a true bad ass. All is well again, at least for now. Everyone returns, and so they can return to reality once more.


And who else came back – Oliver himself. His memory still a bit ransacked like on the astral plane. Then there’s also a divide between Cary and Kerry, the latter feeling abandoned by the former in a deep way. Although things are better, they aren’t all perfect. It’ll do at the moment.
David and Amy get time together, as well. She feels bad for not telling him about the adoption before. But she finds it cool he’s a mutant. He does, too. Sadly Amy has to stay away from her family for a while because of D3, all the madness.
Furthermore, David has flashes of the monster inside. He wants to get Farouk out of him, and fast. Before who knows what happens. Yet they can’t do that because the interrogator David long thought he was rid of at D3 returns, burned up face and all. He’s got men with guns. Threatening to kill everyone else, except David. Oh, shit.
Not to mention deep down inside him still lurks Lenny, Farouk, the Devil with the Yellow Eyes. And that nasty bastard wants out. Strangely enough, it might actually help to let the devil out to play.
Pic 5Pic 5AI keep thinking I’ve seen my favourite episode of Legion yet, then Noah Hawley & Co. come at us hard with another visionary chapter in this impeccable first season. One of the best debut seasons of any series; ever. I’d take that to the bank. So excited for the season finale. NOW GIVE US SEASON 2, QUICK! Mainline it to my veins.

Legion – Chapter 6

FX’s Legion
Chapter 6
Directed by Hiro Murai
Written by Nathaniel Halpern

* For a recap & review of Chapter 5, click here.
* For a recap & review of Chapter 7, click here.
Pic 1Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) sits with therapist Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza), who talks with her about her frozen husband. They’re in a dangerous place. Next is Ptonomy Wallace (Jeremie Harris), talking of his mother who died while unloading the dishwasher. Then, Kerry and Cary Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder & Bill Irwin) ruminating on their likeness, their relationship (“Whos it hurting?”). Even The Eye (Mackenzie Gray) must have a session with Dr. Lenny.
Syd (Rachel Keller) is the only one to formally question their current reality. But it’s just more medication and off Syd goes back to the halls of the institution in which they’re all patients. In the lunge, Ptonomy and David (Dan Stevens) talk about a drooling, near comatose patient sitting in a wheelchair across from them.
Continually we see that Syd knows something isn’t right, she sees a different door than usual in one of the hallways. Yet nobody else does, and the more she tries to alert them the further Dr. Lenny meddles. And David, he’s sucked into that little world. Far too much.


At dinner, Amy (Katie Aselton) – a nurse in their facility – won’t let David have any pies. “Its just pie,” he quips when Syd offers not to eat in solidarity. Her next bite is filled with insects, swarming. Only it isn’t. But we’ve seen that before, right? Another sign of that Devil with the Yellow Eyes. If that weren’t enough we focus on the pie, as Lenny’s face is revealed in a nice cross-fade. Before a fun musical number with her edited in various ways across various places in David’s mind. Love the visuals of this series as a whole. And Lenny is the perfect chaotic embodiment of the mess going on inside David. Legion gets my vote for one of the most visually exciting TV shows of all time.
Syd: “You ever have that feeling like somethings happened before, except differently?”
David and Syd talk about their life in that hospital. He’s not keen on getting out because of his prior experiences. He can’t handle real life. Although what he knows, or thinks he knows there with Dr. Lenny, it’s all a lie. Syd knows this, and she doesn’t want to stay. She keeps on having a dream; about the moment before they wound up in that place. Creepy. Cary and Kerry, Ptonomy, Dr. Bird, David, they’re convinced in a need for treatment. But Syd keeps pushing.
And The Eye never stops sneaking, watching.


In the night, Cary sees that place Oliver showed us. Just beyond consciousness. Cary reaches out for it then everything around him disappears. Then he’s in a forest of stars. Across from him someone in an old diver’s outfit, like Oliver. But is it him? Or someone more sinister?
Syd begins to articulate to David that the facility they’re in may be a “version of reality” and not anything concrete. He insists it’s part of her psychosis, why she’s in there, maybe. He says she’s delusional. That he isn’t schizophrenic. It confuses her completely. Again, something isn’t quite right.
She comes across a strange, soft spot in the wall. Blood leaks out. Triggering memories, all sorts. They flood back to her relentlessly. Afterwards, Dr. Lenny turns up offering some music therapy, a nice pair of headphones. And once more Syd is subdued, thrown off track. She floats on to the sound of crickets.
When Kerry goes to find Cary she only finds The Eye, being utterly terrifying. Worse, she doesn’t know where her other half is gone.


David has a run in with his sister Amy, the nurse. She tells him he isn’t wanted there. Nobody likes him. “Youre a freak, youre disgusting,” she says. Then she gags and gags and gags without actually throwing up. Wow, that’s more unsettling than I’d have thought! And the mindgames, good lord. Poor David is being thrashed mentally. The closest person to him, his blood, telling him he’s revolting. That is deep and sharp and awful.
In her room Melanie sees Oliver. Or, someone in the diver’s suit. I worry for her, she seems particularly fragile out of the group. Then she follows the diver through a wall into a tunnel; at its end a flashing light. Further on she goes, in past a locked door, and this leads her down to a dark place. We see the moments before they were transported to that hospital. Bullets in mid air, frozen. She can’t piece it together. The diver points, suggesting she change the course of events. Yet always watching are the eyes of Dr. Lenny.
Speaking of, she tries convincing David that Syd isn’t the “right girl” for him. She has a grim conception of love, which he believes he has with Syd. She has a lot to say about power. And that it is in itself the entire point of life.


Dr. Lenny drops a bomb, too: she knew David’s father. Whoa! “I found you,” she taunts menacingly. Furthermore, the Devil with the Yellow Eyes wants to merge their powers. It needs the physical form.
Lenny: “I could give a shit about your mind
Later on, Syd gets a visit in her trance-like state from a man in a diver’s suit: Cary himself.
Pic 5LOVED THIS EPISODE TO DEATH! Jesus. Only gets better with every chapter. There were so many wild things happening here, and the story’s various strands twist together so well. A ton of great acting on top of all the solid writing. What a series. Already renewed for Season 2. Even a bit of David Bowie at the end of this episode; fucking sweet.

Legion – Chapter 5

FX’s Legion
Chapter 5
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Peter Calloway

* For a recap & review of Chapter 4, click here.
* For a recap & review of Chapter 6, click here.
Pic 1Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin) is going through the motions as his spiritual counterpart Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder) is brought back to Summerland, injured and in need to medical attention. In the meantime, David Haller (Dan Stevens) talks to Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) through glass, saying he’s met her husband, which shocks her though in a sense likely calms her knowing Oliver’s still out there, somewhere.
When Kerry’s in stable condition, Syd (Rachel Keller) goes to talk with David about who he is, what they’ve found in his past. He proves to her they can be together, in the physical headspace he creates with his powers. Reality’s just an illusion. He can make places in his mind, transfer them into what others perceive as reality. While it looks and feels like they’re touching one another, Rachel’s only imagining everything as David creates it. On the surface there’s a romance. But underneath is something sinister, or the possibility of something sinister. Great imagery in this scene, as at the end we focus in on a bowl of strawberries crawling with bugs. Where hides the Devil with the Yellow Eyes?
David: “Im the magic man
There’s also the question of whether Oliver can come back from the astral plane, if David can bring him. Of course Melanie hopes so. This also has repercussions in the world of Loudermilk; what happens if this is true? That would fundamentally change the relationship between him and Kerry. So interesting, a lot of things revolving around Oliver and the whole concept of the astral plane.
Pic 2Turns out Oliver essentially experienced a downfall, mentally, in the sense that he wanted to be the “creator” of his own world, entirely, and he’d sometimes just sit there, conjuring up another reality in his mind. Melanie is desperate to see her husband, hoping David can bring him home for her. I feel that sinister quality rearing its head quite a bit in the early parts of this episode, in David. Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) and the Devil with the Yellow Eyes, same person or not, have had a nasty effect on him. He’s also got that yellow triangle shirt on; the logo looks suspiciously like an eye, too. It’s almost eerie how quick and forceful he uses his powers to seduce Syd into their alternate reality bed. Worse, she opens up, both intimately and emotionally/mentally. I worry.
Syd: “Who teaches us to be normal when were one of a kind?”
Oh, and speaking of Lenny, she turns up in David’s head. Speaking like Shakespeare’s Iago into the ear of David’s Othello. Influencing him. As if that weren’t enough, they’re in a neon red lit room. Although when Syd gets up to see who David’s talking to, he and Lenny are gone.
Together, Dr. Bird, Syd, Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris), they start figuring out how to tackle this latest problem. Ptonomy feels they’re fighting “a war” and it isn’t all about David, or his sister. Melanie thinks it’s best they track David down because if not, and they turn him, it could mean trouble for them. Big, big trouble. It’s hard not to believe she wants him around most of all to see Oliver again.


When the team arrives at D3, where they assumed David’s heading, they indeed find a trail of carnage: bloody SWAT members, people half stuck between concrete, overturned vehicles, fire. All set to “The Daily Mail” by Radiohead; perfect! Inside the facility, the group splits into two, heading further on. They find Dr. Kissinger, the only one remaining where Amy (Katie Aselton) was kept. They find the security footage of David breaking in, and it’s so clear he isn’t himself. Just in the way he prances around using his powers. That sinister thing inside him rages, showboating and having fun killing people. And when Dr. Bird sees the thermal footage, it’s clear: the Devil with the Yellow Eyes has taken him hostage, from the inside out. Moreover, the nasty thing, an “older mutant” is rewriting David’s memory, as well as those who come in contact with him in those reality-bending landscapes.
It wears a human face
In another one of those places, Syd discovers David, playing banjo and singing, crying. The bathroom’s still lit neon red; in there, the World’s Angriest Boy in the World lurking, David’s imaginary pet dog King. The whole place is creepy. Out in reality, Amy tries to apologise to her brother for not seeing the truth about him before. Yet she doesn’t realise what’s hiding in his skin. Then out comes Lenny to interrogate and taunt. That Devil with the Yellow Eyes has always been there, since he was a boy. He was King, then that Angry Boy, then Benny, or Lenny, and whoever else. Amy finally reveals the truth, that David was adopted. And if you don’t already know, he’s the son of another powerful mutant; not sure if that’ll be revealed in its entirety soon, if at all in the series (I’m sure it will at some point).


The team goes back to David’s childhood home. A place filled to the brim with terrors. Also blanketed in silence, as we watch a heavily stylised, awesome sequence leading up to Kerry taking charge over Cary and leading the way with a spiked baseball bat through the house’s dark corridors. Upstairs is Amy, and Lenny, too. She is a ruthless entity. Devious and horrible. Then, in his disguise, The Eye (Mackenzie Gray) bursts through firing his gun at David. And in the other reality, Syd is confronted by the Devil with the Yellow Eyes in its awful, true form.
Lenny: “This is not the talking place. This is the listening place.”
Suddenly, they’re all sucked into a therapy session, somewhere else. Lenny’s the therapist, and the rest of them are patients. Uh oh. This is getting dangerous.

Pic 15Each episode is better than the last. Challenging us, and the characters, as to what IS reality at any given moment. So clever, great writing. Can’t wait for Chapter 6 next! The back half of this season is going to get even wilder as we near a finish.

Legion – Chapter 4

FX’s Legion
Chapter 4
Directed by Larysa Kondracki
Written by Nathaniel Halpern

* For a recap & review of Chapter 3, click here.
* For a recap & review of Chapter 5, click here.
pic-1We open on Jemaine Clement playing Oliver Bird, husband of Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart). He paraphrases Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote: “Under peaceful conditions, the warlike man attacks himself.” He speaks about the fear of the unknown, and violence as ignorance. Everything around him’s cold. Very, very cold. Then he mentions empathy v. fear in telling stories to children. Ought to remind us of David Haller (Dan Stevens) being told the story of that angry boy.
Back to present events. Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), Ptonomy Wallace (Jeremie Harris), Dr. Bird, they’ve been sucked into the world of David, the one trapped in his head. There’s no telling if anything is real, at any point in time. At Summerland, Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin) tells them there’s no medical explanation for why David’s in a coma-like state now. Neither he nor Ptonomy can figure it out. He’s stuck between dreams and reality, somewhere. They’ve got to discover what happened to David before he wound up at Clockworks Hospital, what damaged him so bad.
pic-2Off they go, searching for answers. They go to the places where his memories took them. First, the office of Dr. Poole (Scott Lawrence). Ptonomy and Syd discuss what happened in David’s memories, the abnormal “tear” in the physical space where they experienced those moments. They find a recording device from the doctor’s sessions, beaten, bloody hand prints on it – using their powers, it comes back to life and tells them of a possibly brutal, violent crime. Poole was beaten horribly with savage force. But, did David actually do that? Or was it the dark entity, The Devil with the Yellow Eyes? Did he break into Poole’s office originally to steal things for drugs? Was it something else? We’ll see.
What did the stars say?”
Poor Amy Haller (Katie Aselton) is still being held captive, too. She’s not faring well, psychologically. Although she discovers there’s someone else nearby locked in a cell just like her: David’s former doctor at Clockworks. She laments not realising sooner there was something different about her brother, since he was young he moved from “room to room” and even further at times. He talked to people frequently, such as their dog King. Only they never had one.
Everyone around the man’s been affected. Amy is in a cell, alongside the doc. Meanwhile, Syd, Ptonomy, and Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder) are searching for the clues that will lead them to the answers. We get the story about the Loudermilks, or, well… the one Loudermilk. They share a body, Cary and Kerry. Two people in a single body, though the experience for each of them isn’t entirely identical, Kerry exists in a sort of spirit state while Cary is the more corporeal form on a regular basis; she comes out to play when necessary.
In her office, Dr. Bird has a vision of a person in an old school-type diver’s suit. She tells Cary of the incident, hoping it’s a sign David may be coming back to the land of the living. The guy in the suit is Oliver. His physical body is kept frozen in a chamber downstairs.

pic-7David, in one of his mindfuck landscapes, meets Oliver. Not really, he just gets a wave from the diving suit-clad dead guy. To follow him elsewhere. So, they head into the great unknown together, as David follows him to a ladder. Up, up, up. This leads to that place where first we saw Oliver, talking to us. That freezing place. There, Oliver sits for a drink and a chat with his new friend. “Whats real in this space is whatever you want it to be, so, my feeling is: why not wait in style?” he quips to David.
Bad news – David’s lost. Good news? Oliver has himself a bit of company. And someone to bounce beat poetry off when the mood strikes. They get to talking about David and his powers, the monster waiting for him around every corner. Now he’s intent on getting out of that cold place. He plunges back into the “vast subconscious” in order to make his way back to real life. If possible. Oliver certainly doesn’t assuage any fears, warning him things get tricky out there, outside of that protected place.
Ptonomy and Syd go to visit David’s ex-girlfriend. To scan her memories. They need to find more of his past, from wherever it comes. Back through a few of them, Ptonomy watches a dinner with the formerly happy couple and Dr. Poole. Then he finds traces of another memory within it: they know where Poole lives. Ah, and more comes to light! Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) was actually a drug pusher named Benny. Plus, the ex tells Syd and Ptonomy ominously: “Tell him theyre watching.”
Oh, my. So many questions. Implanted memories, hidden secrets.
What is real?
pic-8They track down Dr. Poole at a lighthouse, who’s reluctant to speak about David. Soon he tells them about the good and bad sides of his former patient. He says he’d actually like to see David again. Because he needs answers, after having his entire life ruined. Afterwards, they find themselves trapped by The Eye (Mackenzie Gray). Nothing is real. Armed men lay siege to the lighthouse. The trio run upstairs, but Kerry’s ready to take the offensive to their attackers. A fight breaks loose, where Kerry fights (and Cary goes through the motions back at Summerland), and we also see The Eye in action for the first time, he has his own powers. Unfortunately, Kerry’s taken down. But Syd, she touches The Eye with her bare hands. You know what THAT means!
Note: This is one of the best sequences of the series so far in these first four episodes. So powerful, exciting. Gives us awesome insight into the Cary-Kerry dynamic, as well.
David’s brought into another headspace with/by Lenny. She has things to talk about with him. She chastises him for going with Dr. Bird, ending up in Coma Land. He only wants the truth, even if she’s intent on her own designs. She riles him up into an angry, terrifying state.
Lenny: “Uncle Fiddly with the glasses and the angry girl inside him, they could be fingering you right now.”
Then suddenly, David is in the woods. He runs a truck off the road containing Syd and the others; he doesn’t realise there’s been a switcheroo. This starts up an awkward chase, as David urges Syd – The Eye – to run. When they switch back, The Eye puts a bullet into Kerry, sending Cary back at Summerland into a bleeding tailspin. Not so sure anymore that Lenny’s there to help David, not at all. Seeing as how she appears on his shoulder, while her hand looks suspiciously like one belonging to the Devil with the Yellow Eyes.


Another fascinating Chapter in Legion! Wow. Every one gets better visually than the last. I don’t doubt we’ll see the momentum charge forward in Chapter 5. Lots of weird and wild action afoot.

Taboo – Episode 8

FX’s Taboo
Episode 8
Directed by Anders Engström
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 7, click here.
pic-1As George Chichester (Lucian Msamati) was digging into the sinking of the Cornwallis, James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy), tortured beyond the realm of human imagination, finally received his meeting with Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) in the Crown’s dungeons.
This final episode begins with Zilpha Geary (Oona Chaplin), ruminating on what’s next in her life. OR, in her death. She plunges herself off a bridge into the frigid waters below after sending a last letter to her half-brother. And he’s chatting with Strange, telling of his time in Africa when an African saved him, as well as admitting to his own atrocities: “The things I did in Africa make your transactions look paltry.” They speak of Godrey (Edward Hogg), his role in the plan James has enacted. Then he offers Strange a deal. Not an easy one, apparently. Yet James always has a plan in his back pocket. Usually a bit of blackmail. The table’s set. Will Strange deliver a ship and whatever else is in Delaney’s letter? Can he?
pic-2Young Robert (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) goes running around to see Brace (David Hayman), Cholmondeley (Tom Hollander), with letters for them written by James. Like dominoes, one after one receives whatever news and plans are at hand, including Atticus (Stephen Graham).
All the while Strange is sweating the details, and James starts in on his eerie voodoo prayers in his dungeon cell. A few of the Crown’s men go to get him, finding he’s seizing, foaming at the mouth, bleeding. Solomon Coop (Jason Watkins) worries they’ve done permanent damage, though I’m inclined to believe it’s all part of the master plan. Simultaneously, on the road Atticus stops a coach taking Helga (Franka Potente) and her friend elsewhere, which ends in the death of Mr. Pettifer (Richard Dixon). A little while later Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley) picks up Helga, and the young boy she tracked down confirms that James did not kill her girl Winter. It was the Company.
But most of all Strange is falling apart trying to maneuver all the pieces in order to appease Delaney, as the man himself continues pulling strings from behind the scenes. Everything is set deep into motion. Cholmondeley works on “things that go bang” and others which “cause confusion.”
Lorna goes about her business, too. She’s off to see the Countess Musgrove (Marina Hands) about certain feminine products, secrets. And powder. Ah, yes. Afterwards, alone, Musgroves pulls a knife on her visitor until finding out the details, her association with Delaney. He’s sent word about the “leaky ship” she captains.

pic-6What about James? He sits there in that cell, having masterminded the entire series of events. Now he hears Robert singing from outside the dungeon’s walls. A sign. “Im ready,” he tells his captors.
Upstairs, his account for the Crown begins. Only it isn’t what Coop and the lot expected. He reveals the nastiness about to come. His double dealing, playing both sides has ensured his own best possible outcome. Everyone else is left in his wake. So, James walks free from his chains and all his charges.
Plus, he has a ship once more! There’s also his discovery now that Zilpha has plunged into the River Thames, carried away dead to another place. This certainly won’t do him any good. He refuses to believe her death: “If she was in the river, she would sing to me. And I would hear her.” Lorna tries convincing him otherwise, but he’s lost in all that voodoo magic or whatever he believes in, thinking that he can see beyond the grave. He manages to get himself back in action, with a little help from his friends, such as Dumbarton (Michael Kelley) and laudanum. Trouble being he’s got to captain a ship from England to America. Might not go so smooth if he’s fucked up, in more ways than one. And that friendship with Dumbarton, it goes sideways. The doctor’s left strung up, sliced up, his face inked in blue. Yikes.


Cholmondeley’s got himself laced with explosives, ready to rock. At the docks, the ship is readied, and more Company men are laid to waste. Delaney is really doing a number on Sir Strange before shipping out.
Prince Regent George IV (Mark Gatiss) eats like a slob, talking with Coop about faith. Then, how many people might be dispatched for treason. He wants Delaney dead. When his right hand man protests a bit, the Prince Regent proclaims angrily: “Im the head of fucking state!” With so much death and betrayal and double-crossing afoot, no telling who’ll make it out alive in the end.
On the dock, James cuts Brace free, revealing he will not be going to America; only decent thing is that anything Delaney-owned left in England belongs to him.
With that, the plan commences. When Crown soldiers rush the dock, Cholmondeley sets off a huge explosion, killing some and disorienting the rest. After which the remainder are smoked out and gunned down mercilessly. More soldiers rush in and the rest of the guns start blazing. Lorna, Godfrey, Helga, everyone is rushed to the boat – stopping for her dropped pistol, Helga’s shot before boarding. And Lorna, she takes a bullet in the shoulder. The streets and the dock are literally and figuratively on fire; Cholmondeley is gravely wounded when some of his explosives go off. Nothing goes as well as hoped.
Eventually, those still able make it onto the ship. Away they go.


At the East India Company, Strange finds a message waiting. He still believes everything’s going according to what he discussed with Delaney. That is, until a package from Cholmondeley is set off as he opens its strings, and his office blows sky high. The end of Sir Stuart.
Brace sits quietly at the Delaney home, facing an eternity of loneliness left behind. That same afternoon, Chichester turns up to get the account of the Cornwallis, Godfrey’s account, as well. Justice will be served.
On the open ocean James and his crew sail towards America. With plenty of interesting intentions. What will they do when they get there? James has his machinations, as the American flag is hoisted up in place of the ole Union Jack.
Atticus: “I thought the gunpowder was for the Americans?”
James: “We are Americans
pic-13Whoa. Are we going to get ourselves another series? Seems like it. I anticipated this as a limited series, but I’d LOVE to see Delaney and Atticus and Lorna and the lot doing their thing in America. Could get pretty wild. GIVE US MORE! We need it now.

Legion – Chapter 3

FX’s Legion
Chapter 3
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Peter Calloway

* For a recap & review of Chapter 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Chapter 4, click here.
pic-1Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) and her Summerland facility run on smoothly, as David Haller (Dan Stevens) digs deeper into his mind. Everybody’s doing something constructive, from Syd (Rachel Keller) to Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris), and Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin).
Still, The Eye (Mackenzie Gray) holds David’s sister Amy (Katie Aselton) hostage. And how long until something really bad happens?
Now more of therapy, just amped up. They’re digging into the “shit that scares you the most” in terms of the largest events in David’s life where he manifested powers, believing it mental illness. We cycle back through the familiar stuff, the kitchen before everything exploded. When Melanie and Ptonomy witness what happens afterwards they’re both wowed by their new friend’s powerful abilities. Then they’re back to a memory with David and Lenny (Aubrey Plaza), high as fuck, which starts a confrontation after Philly arrives.
And once more the Devil with the Yellow Eyes returns, scaring David. The memory changes, things aren’t the same anymore. When they come out of the memory work they’ve literally transported “600 feet through two solid walls.” Yowzahs.
pic-2The continuing relationship between David and Syd is fun, not a conventional-type relationship we so often see. Of course that’s precipitated by the fact they’re mutants, or whatever you’d like to call them. Either way, she’s awesome, and it’s excellent to see a different female character in these superhero stories. In this episode, David and Syd talk about their past to one another. He also has residual physical manifestations of their switching bodies.
Syd: “Were more than just this
Later, David goes over with Cary for a few tests. A kind of stress test. This takes him back to a memory on Halloween, as he and big sister Amy go trick or treating. When their dog ran off, David ended up seeing The World’s Angriest Boy in The World come to life. Oh, and Lenny shows up, too! We watch now as he speaks to Lenny, hearing her, yet to the outside world he’s not actually talking. His brain’s lighting up as if he’s talking, but he’s not at all. Lenny is one hell of an antagonist, though. As if his mind, in general. It goes into overdrive. David levitates, followed by Syd, as well. They disappear into nothingness.
They’re transported to where Amy sits, interrogated over and over about her brother and his powers, confronted with the fact he doesn’t have schizophrenia. Rather, he’s a powerful “god.” She has no information for them. That’ll be a problem if David and Co can’t get to her in time.


Melanie doesn’t want David doing his transportation act again any time soon. Could put them all in danger. We also get a history of the place, or a short one, anyways. There’s a lot going on for them, between Amy missing, David’s powers, old friends now foes of Melanie. On top of that, Dr. Bird wants to weaponize David, essentially. He won’t let up until his sister is safe. Simultaneous, he won’t stand for putting Syd in danger, even though she kicks ass, has saved him a few times already, et cetera. They deal with it in their own way, talking it through and feeling their connection immensely without any physical contact; one of the interesting, fun things I enjoy about their relationship.
David: “To be a monster, youve first got to do something monstrous.”
More memory work!
This time, Dr. Bird puts David into sedation. They go back to see how he wound up in Clockworks. Intriguing that Syd’s powers don’t work inside the memories, not without her physical body. She actually gets to hug David, but a young, little David. Odd, yet in a way romantic across space and time.
Then strange flashes, banging around the room while they watch David’s memories. Except they’re only images Syd can see. Something tears open a wall behind Melanie and Ptonomy, creeping its hands through the gap. They lose track of one another when Syd stumbles back through various memories of David’s in succession, chasing the child version of David through room after room. She even witnesses David having sex, at one point; very weird, considering she’s unable to have human contact.
Trapped in David’s head, The Angriest Boy in the World stalks the child. And worse still, the Devil with the Yellow Eyes. Syd and Ptonomy manage to make it out of their deep sleep. Although David and Melanie remain under.


Amongst the memories, Dr. Bird still walks, looking for answers. She finds The World’s Angriest Boy in the World tucked away in a closet. She reads through the sinister book. It soon slams shut on her hand, sending her back to the couch with Ptonomy. However, the memories are scaring everybody now, not only David.
He’s got his own demons, too. Terrifying ones that won’t let go.
screen-shot-2017-02-23-at-3-33-09-amscreen-shot-2017-02-23-at-3-34-43-amWhat an episode! This series is just knocking each Chapter out the park. Hawley and the crew doing amazing work, solid directors and writers involved. Great, great stuff. Looking forward to Chapter 4.

Taboo – Episode 7

FX’s Taboo
Episode 7
Directed by Anders Engström
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 6, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 8, click here.
screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-51-25-pmHow will James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) atone for his sins after murdering young Winter by the shore in a drunken, mad state? Surely he did it. Or maybe not. I’m not sure he can redeem himself to begin with, really. Although such is the grotesque landscape of character in Taboo.
Helga (Franka Potente) and Atticus (Stephen Graham) and others stand by while Winter’s laid to rest, readied in a boat. At the same time, Brace (David Hayman) receives a visit from Cholmondeley (Tom Hollander); he’s come with little Robert (Louis Ashbourne Serkis), the possible son or brother of Mr.Delaney. Well, Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley) receives him just fine. I’m interested to see where her character winds up in these last couple episodes.
Still James is in need of a ship. He’s consumed. As he struggles to find one, Helga, Atticus, everyone wonders whether he’s killed the girl. And he sees her, there by the fire at home while he drinks. Ghosts all around him.
Then suddenly James receives George Chichester (Lucian Msamati) at his home. He’s there to talk about The Influence. He believes James was onboard when the ship sank. More of the harsh truth comes to light. He was a slave, then became a slaver. Then “much worse things than stealing diamonds,” which Chichester already knows. What George wants is James, last remaining survivor of the wreck, to name Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) as the organiser of the slave ship. Headed to Antigua. If so, full pardon for what Delaney’s done. Yet you just know there’s something else always up the mysterious bastard’s sleeve.
James: “What kind of rational man believes in justice?”
screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-54-24-pmOn the street, Helga takes a shot at James nearly popping his skull. She doesn’t manage to get the job done, only screaming “MURDERER” at him over and over. Then there’s poor Zilpha (Oona Chaplin), caught between life and her half-brother/lover, having just murdered her wickedly abusive husband. Between that and the loss of James’ ship neither of them are doing well.
Something about Brace comes to light. He purchased a large quantity of arsenic. For the rats, supposedly. Perhaps to kill Horace. “It was a kindness,” he confesses to James. He says that the state the old man was in, mentally, everyone trying to get at Nootka Sound and his money. So he tried to ease the pain. It doesn’t seem as if the son wants Brace to leave. Surely he doesn’t hold it against the old chap, having his own reasons to hate his father.
At the East India Company, Sir Strange receives a visit from Helga. She brings word of the gunpowder, its gifting by Delaney to an American citizen. Another of the prostitutes is brought along to corroborate. Now Strange wishes to use this as a charge of high treason against James. Looks like things aren’t going to go too nicely for Helga and her girl, either. Accessories to the crime. All this sends Godfrey (Edward Hogg) running to see his secret friend, to try and give him warning.
Strange: “We have him. We fucking have him.”
In the woods James breathes in smoke from a fire he makes, spreading a chalky yellow powder on it. He sees visions of his mother. His father. Himself. Godfrey finds him to let him know what’s happened, though he says he already knows. Then the two head off together.


Over with Solomon Coop (Jason Watkins), Thoyt (Nicholas Woodeson) and the lot, Sir Strange brings word of the treason charge. The law is consulted. Nootka Sound is being brought to the King. All a way of sucking up to the Crown, as Strange does nasty things in the dark and under the guise of the “loyal and honourable” EIC. For all the tea in China. Literally.
James takes Godfrey to see Chichester. They have a chat together about him giving account of what he’s heard about the sinking of The Influence, a.k.a The Cornwallis. However, it isn’t easy for Godfrey to accept. His good friend Delaney convinces him they’ll sail for The New World long before his having to testify. Is this truth? Or is he spinning fiction to get what he wants?
Quickly the house of pleasure clears out while James prepares for the incoming soldiers. He sits and plays cards instead of running anywhere. Elsewhere, Dumbarton (Michael Kelly) is alerted to the treason charge of his associate. And the soldiers, they don’t take it easy on Delaney. They taunt and beat him brutally in a dungeon before leaving him in the dark.
Lorna tracks down a young boy on the street who knew Winter. He says: “I want her to forgive me.” Turns out the EIC killed Winter. At home she finds Brace gone mental, wishing he’d killed James alongside his father.
For what’s coming is even worse.
In that dungeon James is prepared for a gruesome bout of torture. To get information. Simultaneously, Cholmondeley and others burn papers, evidence leading back to the source, the laboratory. All of it. Delaney says he’ll give up the information, so long as he gets a meeting with Sir Strange. This is met with immediate, vicious torture, as a Mr. Arrow begins cutting, waterboarding, whatever he can to draw out the truth.


On the links, Sir Strange whacks a golf ball, and Chichester arrives for a casual confrontation. This puts a scare into the old company man. Of course he thinks it all hinges on Delaney, but doesn’t know who Chichester has Godfrey in his pocket. Later, Strange and his friends discover Godfrey is a “Molly” and that he is the mole.
Prince Regent George IV (Mark Gatiss) sits waiting for good news on the torture of Delaney. Next, a mask is put on him, and an Asian doctor pours a liquid down his throat that “alters perception.” Taking James back to a time before, in the forest. Back through terrifying images and memories. Still, nothing comes. They cannot break him. He will only speak to Sir Strange.
So what will the Crown do next? Prince Regent tells Coop to give Delaney what he wants. Out of nowhere, when Strange goes to meet him in the dungeon, James seems to have it all in the palm of his hand.
James: “I have a use for you


Coming up on the last episode, Taboo throws a nice curve into the story. Let’s see where Delaney and the others end up. I can only imagine his plans for Sir Strange, what that’ll mean for him and everyone involved. And how will George IV ultimately come into play, if at all, in the finale?

Legion – Chapter 2

FX’s Legion
Chapter 2
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of Chapter 1, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 3, click here.
screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-2-49-05-amAfter the exciting events of Chapter 1, we find David Haller (Dan Stevens) alongside Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) and the others, as one of them sings “Road to Nowhere” by The Talking Heads.
They get back to a facility – Summerland – where David meets others, including Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin). But the poor dude is sick, he has too many voices rushing through his head. Melanie tries to help, getting him to focus: “Theres a single voice calling your name. Can you hear it? Can you find it?”
And who’s the voice? Could it be his mother, maybe?
The next day things start in full swing. He sits with Melanie and Ptonomy Wallace (Jeremie Harris) discussing how to harness his powers, which involves looking back through a lifetime of memory.  So it begins.
screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-2-53-07-amWe see memories of David and his sister Amy (Katie Aselton), though they’re very young, maybe eight years old. They run in a field with their dog, they laugh and play. The goal is to figure out where his supposed mental illness started, then leading to, hopefully, controlling the energy of his mind. They head more and more through various memory work, and David witnesses himself as a boy with his mother. Happy memories, evidently. Also, he remembers his father as an astronomer. Those of us who know the comics know better though, don’t we?
Ptonomy: “Pretend were in a museum; the museum of you.”
Suddenly something goes wrong. The dream feels sinister, ugly. The room starts to shake, as David spins out of control. Back to the table where they all sit. David’s beginning to freak out, until Ptonomy puts him to sleep.
Another trip back sees David sitting across from Dr. Poole (Scott Lawrence). He’s twitchy, he’s nervous. The voices scatter his brain. Outwardly, he seems incredibly mentally ill. On the inside is something nobody would’ve ever been able to diagnose, in terms of regular everyday medicine and science. Moreover, we see him and Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) together, the earlier days of their friendship. But quick as we went in, David wakes up in Summerland with Ptonomy, and has a glass of milk to settle his stomach. I love Ptonomy, too. He has memories of his entire life, right back and into the womb.
Out in the woods, searching for David, is The Eye (Mackenzie Gray) and a fleet of black dressed, gun-toting SWAT team-looking cats. They will not stop, either.


There’s still no full explanation about what happened when Syd and David changed places. Although she remembers it being “so loud” while they did, it scared her. She likewise saw the horrible entity David keeps seeing in the background, that malevolent, hideous thing. And then, Syd remembers she probably killed Lenny.
Note: This scene had some awesome editing, from the memories of Syd about what happened in the hospital to the quick cut to Lenny reciting a line David is saying to Syd. I mean, Hawley & Co are pulling out all the stops to make this series work. Dig it!
Finally, David steps in with Mr. Loudermilk for a CT-scan-type test. Well it looks like Cary’s a bit of a character himself. There’s two Loudermilks: Cary and Kerry. Hmm, I’m intrigued now, especially seeing as how he said he was talking with Kerry, and she’s nowhere to be found. Either way we tumble back into more of David’s memories, now one in which he and Amy sit together chatting about her personal life. Memories slip by quick and we’re over with David and Lenny once again; she’s trying to trade an oven for drugs. Meanwhile David is having aural troubles. When they get their drugs it’s back home to get high! Only, should someone like him be experimenting? What I love most about Haller’s issues is that we see a genuine depiction of mental illness: he hears things, sees them, he’s not sure what’s real or what isn’t, and it’s as if we’re watching a documentary sometimes on the nature of schizophrenia. Inside the sci-fi trappings is a genuine depiction of a struggle with a disease of the mind.
We’re actually watching more of the memory work with David, Ptonomy, and Melanie. They try getting to the bottom of his visions. Particularly once the eerie, dark entity shows up and it freaks him out. Then the memories are glitching, jumping time. They dig up one of David’s flashes, in his apartment when he blew the place near to pieces.


Loudermilk is trying to help David figure out where his “memories are stored.” Stubborn little things. They head back into another one and try again. He goes into a dark place of his memory where things fold back onto themselves, the voices overcrowding his thoughts. Then there’s Amy, who can’t find David at the old facility anymore. She’s distraught, wanting to understand where her brother’s been taken. And Amy winds up being found by none other than The Eye. Uh oh.
Has David discovered a further power? Can he hear and see things from across time and space? Oh, I wouldn’t doubt it.
After Loudermilk leaves him alone, amazed by what he’s seeing on his readings, David’s greeted outside the machine by that grotesque entity. Another second passes and he’s not even in the machine anymore. It’s because he blew the thing right outside and into the yard with his powers. A truly disturbed individual, frighteningly powerful.
Alas, David’s decided to leave for a couple days and figure out what’s going on with his sister. At the same time, Amy is stashed away somewhere being held by The Eye and his associates, in a dreary basement akin to an old mental hospital. What is he planning for her?
screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-3-35-05-amWhat a spectacular follow-up to the first episode. The next ought to be a thrilling experience, just as these two have been! Loving this series. Hawley is an impressive writer, showing us more of his talents here with every passing chapter.

Taboo – Episode 6

FX’s Taboo
Episode 6
Directed by Anders Engström
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 7, click here.
screen-shot-2017-02-11-at-10-50-53-pmJames Delaney (Tom Hardy) is continually plagued by visions. “Youre as mad as your da,” Brace (David Hayman) tells him. They’ve a vast difference in opinion on James’ mother. She apparently tried holding baby James under the water of a river, so says the trust Delaney caretaker. If true, this is seemingly the reason Horace put his wife in an asylum. Is it all true? Or does the truth lie somewhere in the middle of what James has dug up and what he thought he knew?
While there’s a lot of plot going on, much of what we see is James experiencing an existential crisis. He’s got to deal with what he’s become, one way or another. For better, for worse, he can’t erase any of his own sin, nor can he blame it on his father or his mother. That’s what feels interesting to me. Whatever darkness lies in his past, he’s done bad things, that much is clear. There’s no real redeeming him, only to an extent. How far the extent, we’ll see.
Over at the little factory, Cholmondeley (Tom Hollander). He’s got a crew of men ready to do his bidding. They must “stir continuously” in order to mix the powder, both efficiently and safely. Young Robert (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is amongst the men whom are chosen to do the stirring. A precarious operation, to say the least.
screen-shot-2017-02-11-at-10-54-17-pmThere’s lots of intriguing aspects to George Chichester (Lucian Msamati), as well. He makes the white men around him uncomfortable. Two reasons: 1) he’s smarter than them and smarter than they believe him to be; and 2) he brings to mind the uncomfortable truths of the travesties of the white man. Great character, great writing, great performance. He knows the real name of the Influence, why “in four days the ship ran aground” and everything associated. Hmm. Trouble.
Spooky James is down in the river, hearing things. Having terrifying visions. You know, the usual. And to anyone around him he’s a mythic creature. Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley) and Brace have to kind of hover nearby, trying not to let him go mad completely.
Certainly once Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) gets the entire report about the ship formerly known as the Influence, and what Chichester knows, including a bit about Sir Strange’s brother, who happens to own a sugar plantation. Ah, now things are getting properly treacherous. Because the look in Sir Strange’s eyes as he describes everyone as chess pieces is creepy.
When Lorna goes to see Zilpha Geary (Oona Chaplin) about where James may be, she’s greeted by husband Thorne (Jefferson Hall). The nasty man accosts Lorna a bit, verbally abusing her. After a moment Zilpha turns up, her face bruised and cut. No information is given up, although nobody really knows where James has been. Will Lorna try and help Zilpha? I hope so.
And speaking of James, he’s over meeting with Dr. Dumbarton (Michael Kelly) – the powder will be ready tomorrow at midnight.


They begin the slow transport of their gunpowder across the city. At one point, young Robert helps them when they’re stopped by guards, posing as a cholera-ridden corpse in a coffin. Upon delivery, Dumbarton is happy with the deal and offers what he can to James. Meanwhile, Ibbotson (Christopher Fairbank) looks more and more concerned, sneaking about. What is he planning/thinking?
James: “You tell me one thing that isnt a matter of time
In the night, Zilpha crawls on top of her husband. Then she sinks a long, thin blade up in under his ribs right into the heart. Afterwards, she goes directly to James. He’s not entirely thrilled, even if he wants her in his life. He agrees to help her take care of the body. Dumbarton has Thorne marked for immediate burial, and that is that, my friends.
At the East India Company, Sir Strange brings good news. Ibbotson made a confession to a priest. And the priest, for 25 pounds, gave over the goods on the factory to the company. Wow. James said he’d blame it on Dumbarton if this were to happen. Godfrey (Edward Hogg) brings the news to Delaney, but no telling what the man will do next. Biggest problem is what to do with their powder. James already took care of the betrayal, handing Cholmondeley a bloody organ – a tongue? Either way, it belongs to Ibbotson; his corpse is left in the confessional booth, too. Nasty stuff from a wonderful heathen like James Keziah Delaney. Moreover, they move the powder via boat instead of doing it under unstable conditions on the road. Smart. Only a moment is the EIC thwarted, though. They’ll keep coming.
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With Thorne dead and gone, buried quick, will James and Zilpha get close again? What does the future hold for their relationship? It doesn’t take long at all for them to fall into bed, passionate, intense. Only he starts to have those awful visions, nearly choking Zilpha at one point. Half-sibling incest is actually the least of James’ problems, and that’s saying something. He’s a maniac, sitting near the barrels of gunpowder and flicking a flint in the darkness. There’s a definite path of self destruction he’s on and has been on for a while, one which only gets worse. And now the EIC has a message for him: “Its war.” Their first move? Blow up the ship James owns. Shit, that is a bold move.
James heads to see Atticus (Stephen Graham), needing a ship and wondering how to keep himself safe from further betrayal. Tough times to navigate. So Atticus helps him tie up loose ends, killing the man meant to be guarding the ship. This prompts another horrific display of violence from Delaney.
Later still, James goes to Helga’s (Franka Potente) place. Drinking. Hoping for an easy solution to his ship problem and finding no answers. He stumbles drunk into the streets, raving to himself in the night. Winter finds him wading in the harbour: “Im not fit to be near you now,” he warns. He has another drink, then spirals into unconsciousness. Waking the next morning face in the mud.
Worst of all, he discovers that he’s killed Winter. Not fit is right. James can’t seem to gain any traction, only falling deeper into his own despair and evil, no matter how hard he tries to escape himself.


What an episode! Perhaps my favourite since the first two, though I dig them all. Can’t wait to see what happens next in the decline of James Delaney.

Legion – Chapter 1

FX’s Legion
Chapter 1
Directed by Noah Hawley
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a recap & review of Chapter 2, click here.
screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-4-01-17-pmWe open on a little baby. We watch him grow up to “Happy Jack” by The Who. Along the way we see he has… issues. He goes from hearing voices in his head to blowing the windows out of a cop car to being examined by a doctor, and more. The boy, soon to be a man, is David Haller (Dan Stevens). Even tries to hang himself later down the road due to the voices running non-stop.
We see David in a facility getting a visit from his older sister, Amy (Katie Aselton). He’s not happy, but he’s doing better: “Something new needs to happen soon.” He goes about the days taking his medication, suppressing supposedly crazy thoughts, mingling with the others at the Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital. Such as Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza), Wild Rusty Combs (Sidartha Murjani), among others. He drags himself through therapy, going through all the motions. A feverish dream of images comes at us and shows us the power of his mind, which ends in his bed getting smashed, orderlies with needles. Typical mental hospital stuff.
screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-4-03-29-pmAnd then another day begins, same old routine repeats. Although David’s life is disrupted, not in a bad way, upon the appearance of Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), a woman who does not like physical contact with others. She’s also funny, self-deprecating, and a pretty free spirit. The exchange she has with David next is fucking hilarious and perfectly written by Noah Hawley.
David: “Do you wanna be my girlfriend?”
Syd: “Okay. But dont touch me.”
David: “Okay
Syd: “Yeah?”
David: “Yeah
Syd: “Okay
So they’re together, enjoying one another’s company. They even hold hands – well, not really, they hold a small fabric belt between themselves. Just as good.
But soon, she’s gone. Disappeared. “They took her” according to David. An interrogator (Hamish Linklater) questions him, saying Sydney Barrett was never a patient at Clockworks. Curiouser and curiouser. Are the other people he sees mostly in his head? We find out there was no noose when he tried to, apparently, hang himself. Simply rope burns left around his neck.
The interrogator heads back to a larger operation and tells his boss: “He may be the most powerful mutant we have ever encountered.” Apparently, Division One wants him dead. Before he can figure out his powers. Deep down, he already knows they’re real despite feeling content with mental health treatment.


David gets to talking about the incident at Clockworks. He’s hooked up to machinery and asked to discuss. He speaks of when Syd left. He went in to kiss her, and this triggered something in his mind, in turn triggering a strange blast between the two sending he and Syd flying. Then David’s anger unleashed the power within. Something dark and dangerous. At the same time, something in Syd has changed, too: David sees the world through her eyes, literally, she’s no longer herself; and vice versa. And throughout the halls of the hospital, a massacre. Or, sort of one. Voices call out through the walls, no longer any doors through which to escape. Bodies, bloody, caught in the wall; that of poor Lenny. And David – or Syd – stuck in his room.
Out into the world Syd-David goes free. The situation gets nasty, though. Back in the interrogation room, David sends his powers raging, smashing the place to bits and throwing everybody around him into the air. After which he’s gassed into unconsciousness by the organisation holding him captive.
Suddenly, we see David out int he real world. Himself again? On Halloween, he turns up at the door of his sister Amy. Her husband Ben (Matt Hamilton) is surprised, as is she, to see her brother released. Not that they’re mad. Just surprised. When David’s alone, Lenny comes back to chat. In his head. She wisecracks about being killed, making fun of him for his multiple personalities, or the multiple people in his head, or whatever. “Theyre cominfor you, babe,” she tells him. And who’s coming? People who don’t like his powers. People who want to kill him.

screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-4-47-36-pmThe world inside David’s head is a crazy one. Rich, exciting, funny, beautiful. But they’re just symptoms of a troubled mind. An extremely troubled mind.
Particularly considering he’s still at the facility with the interrogator and his team. He’s submerged in water, connected to electrical cables. He says that Syd is gone, vanished. Taken? Who knows. David searched for her, only to be followed by Ptonomy Wallace (Jeremie Harris) and Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder). Are they the ‘they’ Lenny warned him about? They’re intent on tracking him down, hot in pursuit. Out of nowhere, he starts seeing strange visions of Syd, telling him not to stop. She’s inside his memories.
And with Syd in his memory, they concoct a plan. David slips into the water. Above him the room erupts in gunfire and the men holding him turned to burned skeletons. Waiting afterwards are Ptonomy and Kerry, and Syd. They’re all friends of Melanie Bird (Jean Smart). David’s extracted from the facility by fellow mutants and friends with weapons. An awesome sequence that’s both shot well, also edited to perfection; killer action!
The gang escape to the sea while David struggles to realise what he sees is real, and not a figment of his imagination. Ms. Bird is there to greet them and bring him away, though he continues to see a darkness following closely behind.
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AMAZING FIRST EPISODE! WOW. Noah Hawley is a fucking king, first Fargo and now this slice of superhero heaven. I’m not even huge on the superhero stuff anymore, other than actual comics and graphic novels. Legion has changed all that.
Now, give me more.

Taboo – Episode 5

FX’s Taboo
Episode 5
Directed by Anders Engström
Written by Ben Hervey & Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 6, click here.


At last we saw James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) he was at a party, stuck between Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley) and his half-sister, his true love, Zilpha Geary (Oona Chaplin). And then Zilpha’s husband Thorne (Jefferson Hall) challenged him to a duel.
We open as James and Thorne are rowed in their respective boats on a foggy river. They head to a small island, a patch of land where others including Thoyt (Nicholas Woodeson) wait to watch the duel. A gypsy woman owns the land, between two parishes. Perfect place for a duel, no? Pistols are inspected, and all is ready; Lorna’s even walked through the walker to the island without a boat, like a bad ass. According to the “Irish Code of 1777” they go to first blood, no second shots afterwards, and a doctor stands waiting to treat them.
When they line up and the pistols are drawn, a shot from Thorne doesn’t do much to James. Because there is no bullet in his pistol. The young man meant to help Thorne was obviously sent by the East India Company. James remarks that his life is, apparently, “more precious” than that of Thorne. Yikes. Another blow to the man’s impossibly fragile ego. However, when Zilpha sees her husband return she assumes things worked out for the better, but he of course responds with his usual half-paranoia, half-bottled up anger.
At home James is tended to by the ever faithful, ever hopeful Brace (David Heyman), whose faith does dwindle a bit in the face of his master and friend’s unpredictable behaviour. Meanwhile, James confides more in Lorna, whose interest in things is obviously more than just money; she cares. How much, who knows. But she does, enough to not want to see him dead. She meets Winter, too, who also doesn’t want Delaney to die, either. Can they help that? Or is it inevitable?
screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-2-43-51-amThe East India Company discovers their warehouse raided, as James heads off into the wilderness. He catches a man following him: “Are you King or are you company?” Instead of killing the man, he leaves him with a few nasty cuts to tell his friends about when he gets back. Back at James’ new factory Cholmondeley (Tom Hollander) is working steadfast on his gunpowder formula and things are going as planned. Four weeks to go if he’s given an assistant.
Lorna discovers a trunk at the Delaney house, one which Brace seems to hate. He’d rather burn the thing, saying that inside is “the truth.” And what exactly is that? Sounds dangerous.
In town James goes to see Ibbotson (Christopher Fairbank) for a ship’s sail; the man who takes care of the boy, y’know, the one that could be James’ son, or his brother, or whatever. And this will be the chemist’s apprentice during the gunpowder process. Now, that’s an interesting little twist. Of course Atticus (Stephen Graham) is still in the mix. James asks him and his crew about the bounty on information concerning his business around the city. He claims he knows who’s considering giving him up. Then he cuts a man’s thumb off: “I am inside your heads, gentleman, always.” After that it’s off to see Helga (Franka Potente) and her harem, asking for help with the Company men. He offers the thumb up to show he’ll help them, and with a ruthless attitude.


Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) is in a foul mood with Delaney making the Company look like a bunch of idiots. “We are richer than God,” he exclaims while making clear they must squash the problem. Poor Godfrey (Edward Hogg) sits at the table, visibly worried for his safety after aiding the man the Company wants to ruin. At the same time a man from the Company searching for information, threatening one of Helga’s girls, is dispatched bloodily, left with a note on his chest to make sure there’s no misunderstandings: the devil Delaney did the deed.
And what of that devil? The Gothic feel of the series keeps poking its head through, peeking at us, and we’ve not yet understood it all. Which I enjoy. There’s plenty to keep us intrigued, or at least myself, anyways. The mystery behind James’ time in Africa, all he experienced, is gripping me. “Everybodys scared of you,” Cholmondeley tells him at one point; very fitting, and true.
In the big, old house, James searches for the Nootka Sound Treaty, signed between him and the Natives. The land was bought for gunpowder and not much else, which included his mother, something he obviously wrestles with in his soul. His mother wouldn’t play along, so she was sent to an insane asylum by Horace; shit, that’s brutal. And then amongst the papers James searches, he finds that very document.
Back with George IV, Prince Regent (Mark Gatiss), he’s eating and getting fatter, his health truly starting to decline in the decadence of his luxury. His man Solomon Coop (Jason Watkins) continues advising him on the best course of action going forward, concerning the East India Company. Coop believes it best to go headlong at Sir Stuart, as they have a bit of dirt on him apparently.
Again, James meets with Dr. Dumbarton (Michael Kelly) in his cholera-ridden building. Perfect for their clandestine chats. The doctor needs his help with gunpowder, and he knows about the farmhouse, the factory James has going with Cholmondeley. So many spies, everywhere! Everybody has spies, especially an American in London. Not only that, Dumbarton even knows Cholmondeley, too. The plot thickens. The doctor wishes James to make chlorate gunpowder, a process the French attempted and one that created an undesired, massive explosion. There’s more danger now than before, and that’s saying something. Needless to say, Cholmondeley isn’t exactly thrilled with the prospect, him being the chemist and all.


In the Geary household things are becoming worse. Thorne finds his wife fantasising in bed again, prompting him into nasty violence. He beats her badly on the floor. You can already see how things will turn out for him in the end, if you couldn’t already.
George Chichester (Lucian Msamati) is called to Mr. Coop’s office, to talk about a slave ship which sank; 280 souls, even children, drowned at sea. He’s given a bit of offence, as Coop assumes he had relatives aboard, at which Chichester chuckles briefly. He believes the ship was sank deliberately by slavers, supposedly men of the EIC. Coop delivers him a letter from the Prince Regent; good news, he says. Things are about to get dicey. There’s a new commission opened into the sinking of the Influence, the slave ship, and this has Sir Stuart more prickly than you can even imagine. He sets about a frantic rush to set things in place to cover their asses.
James goes to see Countess Musgrove (Marina Hands) about the gunpowder, though she plays coy and talks of Nootka Sound, their overall deal. She pressures James to trust her, something on which he isn’t too keen. Every relationship he has is a slippery one, no matter with whom.
At home Zilpha is confronted by Thorne, with a priest wanting to exorcise the spirit of James that visits her in the night. Now by force they’re planning to relieve her of the demons, or so it seems. A terrifying prospect. The priest goes to work in his madness, basically molesting her as he recites nonsense about “evil come to the surface” and other wild crap. They leave her on the floor, they untie her. But this has done nothing, obviously, to change how she feels. Only that she hates Thorne more. So much so you can see his death in her eyes; it’s coming.
screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-3-30-02-amA fascinating episode, beginning with a bang and ending in a weird, wild way with plenty to offer for a setup leading into the following episode. Next one ought to be another whopper. I’m loving Taboo. Some others seem to think it isn’t so great, but I couldn’t care less. It’s interesting to me in so many ways. Let’s see what comes next.

Taboo – Episode 4

FX’s Taboo
Episode 4
Directed by Kristoffer Nyholm
Written by Steven Knight & Emily Ballou

* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-9-50-31-pmJames Delaney (Tom Hardy) can’t shake the memories of where he’s been, they’re with him all the time. All the while life does go on. Suddenly men from the Crown are looking for Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley), so James tells her to “hold out” and he’ll sort everything proper. In the meantime, she’s cast down to some nasty old dungeon with a filthy man putting her in shackles. Solomon Coop (Jason Watkins) arrives to play his part, the rotten bastard. He threatens her physically and sexually in no uncertain terms, despicable to say the least. He urges her to sign it all over to the Crown, or else she’ll be convicted for attempted murder. And who knows what else would happen to her before she ever got into a court.
However, in the face of it all Lorna will not relent. She believes in James. This obviously angers Mr. Coop and as he further threatens her, she’s set free in the nick of time. Brace (David Hayman) is there to pick her up, too.
screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-9-52-33-pmOh, and you know that Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) has his knickers in a twist. At the same time, James is off getting what information he can from the crossdressing Godfrey (Ed Hogg). He gives over what he knows of the latest East India Company movements. Apparently there’s a “blacklist” and Delaney is definitely on it. “They cant kill you, but they will crucify your name, and crucify those around you.”
We’re introduced to an interesting character now, a wild chemist played by Tom Hollander named Mr. Cholmondeley. He gives a demonstration for a crowd, of which Delaney is a part. Later while Cholmondeley is having sex with a fan of his, James turns up awkwardly. But all’s well when gold is literally put on the table. Seems the chemist has a process he’s very interested in.
At home, James walks in nonchalant. “All part of the plan,” his trusty caretaker Brace remarks, a bit pissed. And it’s true, though. No matter the knocks he takes Delaney looks as if he’s got it all figured out, at every turn. How long will that last? He’s juggling so many things, not least of which is the taboo love he has for his half-sister Zilpha Geary (Oona Chaplin). In an eerie sequence she experiences a sexual moment in her bed, as in his own home James does some strange ritual, as if both connected in a spiritual sense across space and time. Weird, yet cool scene. Truly conflicting moment. Then Thorne (Jefferson Hall) shows up, drunk, soaked to the bone. Wanting her, even as he detects she was just thinking of someone else. The whole thing is twisted, though it’s almost most twisted how Thorne wants to have sex with her knowing she’s thinking of James. It’s just… a ball of awfulness.
In other news, James has Cholmondeley aiding with some pigeon and cow shit chemistry. Throw in a dash of human piss on the ash of some fire. Then, in a year – gunpowder! Well, Delaney doesn’t have a year. If they can get some saltpeter, or potassium nitrate, then that cuts the time to a month. So now there’s a new journey ahead. James must go either to Burma, or an East India Company warehouse. Hmm. You know which one he’ll pick.


Great tension in a lot of Taboo‘s scenes. One of which in this episode leads up to a fight James finds himself in when attacked by a massive man on a lonely street. He knocks James totally unconscious with an old school wooden flapjack. Or does he? Delaney uses the last bit of force inside him to stab his attacker with a sneaky knife. The brutality in him comes out at certain times in such unexpected ways: “I told your friends, Nootka Sound is not for sale,” he tells the man as he butchers him with two wood-lifting picks. Followed by a perfectly shot moment where James uses his blade on the man, again. Haunting stuff.
And that’s one of the best Gothic aspects of the entire series. There’s this magical realism at play, but it’s dark. James walks around his ancient house without making a sound, to the surprise and near heart attack of poor ol’ Brace. He conducts strange rituals in the dark by himself. He goes into a near trance when defending himself, descending into tribal violence in those same moments. Truly a mythic quality about Mr. Delaney.
Now James gets an invitation from the Americans. Right now he goes to see Helga (Franka Potente), setting up a few girls for later in the evening. Then he goes to see his well of underworld information, Atticus (Stephen Graham). Thus getting more plans set in motion. That night, James heads over to the East India Company Docks, where he briefly meets Cholmondeley and receives a package. Then it’s back home to fetch Lorna and they’re off to spend their night dancing. All gets pretty awkward when James spots Zilpha, who runs off. And in the midst of all those people he nearly has what might now be known as a near PTSD attack. He finds Zilpha in the garden. They speak, Zilpha worries people know about them. He, of course, references his ghostly visitations in the night. Then Dr. Dumbarton (Michael Kelly) arrives, breaking it all up. He has things to say about their “first resort” – the man Delaney gutted in the street. The Americans want to guarantee safe passage for him, to let James flee with his half-sister, to find anonymity elsewhere. Neither side of the deal for James, despite his own leverage, is turning out to be too spectacular.
The prostitutes James paid for work their magic, providing distraction at the East India Company Docks. All the while Atticus and his motley crew infiltrate the place, killing who they must, and Helga even puts one of the men in a precarious situation herself. Everyone doing their part. At the party things rage, Thorne gets hammered. James looks worried and constantly checking the clock. Luckily Atticus and Co get the job done, blowing a whole through a door in the warehouse. They get what they need, as the soldiers are momentarily stuck in their quarters, and make off into the night. Meanwhile, Lorna’s starting to sniff out the relationship between Zilpha, who doesn’t do much to make things easy on herself.

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At the party, James is hauled into a crowd by Countess Musgrove (Marina Hands). His PTSD-like symptoms return. A magician does a trick, during which he’s meant to step into a closet contraption with the Countess. They’re put inside together, and the contraption spins them around so they’re hidden. It’s all a ruse, so that the Countess and James can speak in private. He makes clear that he can be a good deal of trouble, as if he hasn’t already. The Countess doesn’t particularly settle anything, and James is left unsure. The way he looks at everyone around him, seeing the decadence of their lifestyles and the depravity into which they all fall with a bit of drink and music, it’s astonishing. The way it’s shot makes things perfectly intense.
Then Thorne goes mental, drunk off his ass. Until James takes him outside and Thorne proclaims to Zilpha: “You dont call him anything but nigger.” He also says this is “my society” and challenges James to a duel, at dawn. To the death. Whoa.
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I never expected the James-Thorne situation to come to a head this quick, nor to this level of madness. Will he accept the duel proposed? Or will his love for Zilpha reach further and allow him to turn it away? Can his reputation stand turning down such a duel? So many questions.
Next episode ought to be intense. We’re halfway through, looking forward to seeing how the plots and the overall arc of James play out by the time the mini-series is finished. Hardy is great, Chaplin is fascinating. They’re all doing fine acting, and the cinematography, production design, all these things are on par, too. Amazing work all around!

Taboo – Episode 3

FX’s Taboo
Episode 3
Directed by Kristoffer Nyholm
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-7-53-49-pmWith James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) having been stabbed, and having stabbed back, at the end of Episode 2, what’s left of the man as last we saw he was lying, bloody and dying in an alley?
As far as the attacker goes, the man with the silver tooth, he lies dead on the shore where young thieves pick him clean. They also notice his heart is gone. Eaten by sea creatures, or gone by some other means?
Well James, he’s being worked on by Dr. Dumbarton (Michael Kelly), who stitches him back together again. Luckily the doctor had someone follow him after he left the office previously. He also warns James a bit about his “peacock” swagger around London. James wants word sent to Thomas Jefferson and the US, but Dumbarton’s not particularly forthcoming in his intentions to help any of that. He’s actually trying to get Nootka Sound from Delaney, although that’s not entirely easy, either. James has his own ideas on gaining a “monopolyfor all the tea in China.” This is something Dr. Dumbarton actually understands.
In other news, Prince Regent George IV (Mark Gatiss) gets caught up on all the Nootka Sound business by his man Solomon Coop (Jason Watkins). On the horizon might be war, who knows. Coop tells the Prince Regent of James Delaney, as an “adventurer of very poor repute.” Ought to be interesting to see how George IV and Delaney come together in some way. Could make for some fun writing.
screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-7-56-27-pmBack at the Delaney house, Brace (David Hayman) continues with helping his old friend James with all his madness. They patch him up a bit before the man of the house feels compelled to run off again on another adventure. He’s essentially waiting now for more people to come kill him. “So, we are besieged,” Brace laments, as if to say: here we go again. Another Delaney, same bullshit.
More Atticus (Stephen Graham)! Bless his heart. He and James are doing a bit of business, though Brace believes the man to be a snake. We’ll see. He’s brought James guns, they discuss what Atticus thought was a partnership; could this drive a wedge between them? For the time being James has wounds that need tending to, but his tough guy stubbornness won’t allow him rest. They’re headed off, he and Atticus. They’ve gone to see Thoyt (Nicholas Woodeson). To make a will, supposedly. Then one of the lawyer’s men goes to the East India Company to see Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) about Delaney. Seems he’s left all his possessions and holdings to “the sovereign nation of the United States of America.” And Sir Strange is all but frothing at the mouth over what’s next: they can’t kill him, they must keep him alive. A strange turn of events, though all due to the cunning of James K. Delaney; he’s playing the lesser of a few evils being in danger only from the Americans at this point.
There’s still all the spookiness of whatever James experienced while in Africa, whatever he did while there and so on. In the dungeon-like basement of the Delaney house, James finds Winter (Ruby-May Martinwood). She cut out James’ would-be killer’s silver tooth out to bring him. She wants to be taught “about magic.” He knows that anywhere he goes, especially at home, is no safe place for anyone, especially a young person such as herself. There’s a Gothic feeling about Taboo, which makes every step further into the world of James Delaney eerie, like a ghost story. He wanders through the decrepit home of his father, memories of Africa and witchcraft of some kind in his head. And he ventures further into the house, finding secrets, unearthing messages out of his own past. It’s stunning as a Gothic slice of London, just before the Victorian Era.
Now James tries unravelling the story of the bird, branded on his back. Found in the base of a chimney in his house. All leading back to the trail of his mother, the supposed mad, savage woman.

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Sir Strange receives visit from Solomon Coop, on behalf of the King. They speak of Delaney, whose will is no surprise to Coop; they have plenty of spies. “Then you know we have a problem that cannot be solved with a musket or a knife,” says Strange. Well, Coop and the Crown have already received an offer from Delaney about a monopoly. None of this is making Strange a happy man, at all. Coop and the Crown are playing the game, taking land and money where they can. And Coop’s also got an idea about why James seeks revenge against the East India Company so relentless.
Widow of Horace Delaney, Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley) is sought out by Coop at her latest show. More shady deals, no doubt. Meanwhile, James is off in a dark, seedy part of London where, in drag, he finds Godfrey (Edward Hogg) – one of Strange’s men at the EIC. Ah, a bit of blackmail using the secrets James finds. Everyone has their spies. What’s more is that James doesn’t try to hurt Godfrey, he only wants information. They’ve known each other many years, and Godfrey’s been in love with him most of that time. “Ill protect you,” James tells him tenderly. Wow. A moment of beauty amongst the darkness I never expected.
Zilpha (Oona Chaplin) is written another letter by James. He talks of his plans, of the “greater good” he is seeking. She writes back about the “depth of our sin” in knowing what they did together, whatever physical love they shared, was wrong. The montage of moments cut over the writing and recitation of letters between the half-siblings is EXTRAORDINARY! Excellent score on top makes this one of the best scenes so far in these three episodes. The narration by both Chaplin and Hardy is fascinating, too.
Zilpha: “Please, Im your sisterlet all else lie.”
At the Delaney house Lorna’s turned up to tell James she has a lawyer now, that the house is half belonging to her. Seems like Coop has been up to nasty business. Doesn’t particularly worry James. Until she goes on, about owning half of Nootka Sound, as well. So either James gives up his half of the house, or she owns half of that land. He appears fine with working on things with Lorna. He also feels she’s in danger.


James runs into brother-in-law Thorne Geary (Jefferson Hall), who wants a bit of a chat. He’s interested in the ship Delaney recently bought. Wants to insure the thing for him. But James is already insured, and has no need for the patronising tone of Thorne, or any of the other nonsense he comes in with to boot. “Since you came back our fucking has become almost murderous,” Thorne taunts him. This, as rotten as it is, sticks a dagger in James’ gut.
Later, he goes to meet with Zilpha herself. In a church. And they embrace, lustily for a moment. “Now, I never want to see you again,” she claims. I doubt she’s seen the last of James. At home things are about as equally as awkward with Thorne checking the laundry to see if Zilpha’s menstruating. Weird. She’s really stuck between a rock and a hard place. Thorne is a pig. Even if James is her half-brother, he doesn’t talk to her the way Thorne does, with such a misogynistic disdain.
At Lorna’s next show, James lurks to make sure nobody is threatening her, or trying to turn her to their cause any further. There’s always a plot afoot. When Lorna leaves a woman stops so she can share her carriage. The woman says she’s an “admirer from the darkness” and tries laying lips on her. She’s taking Lorna somewhere nasty, a paying suitor. Only Lorna isn’t a woman with whom to trifle, as well as the fact James is following with a gun. They make off into the night together.
James tells Lorna she must head to Paris, to stay there until all the business with Nootka Sound is finished. At home, he plans for more people to come for Lorna: “And they will come.”


A bruiser of an episode! Really loved this one. Lots of good things happening, lots of darkly interesting things. Excited to see more, and to see what further deception lies in wait for James K. Delaney and Lorna Bow.

Taboo – Episode 2

FX’s Taboo
Episode 2
Directed by Kristoffer Nyholm
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 1, “Shovels and Keys” – click here
* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-49-42-pmOn the tail of his refusal to sell Nootka Sound, James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) is a man apart after returning from Africa to his old home in London. Over at the East India Company, Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) isn’t happy with those beneath him, with whom he’s charged the task of killing James. And it’s either play ball, or lose your job. Meanwhile, Delaney’s in the wilderness with a shovel; he retrieves a small bag. Of money? Or something more?
Back at the house with Brace (David Hayman), James charges the caretaker with arming himself against whatever’s coming next. We find out more about old man Delaney’s last days, how he rarely ate and only drank beer from a man who sold it for cheap. The paranoia is setting into James, and rightfully so, as his father was poisoned, now there are people fitting to do the same, or worse, to him. A storm is brewing. A bad one, too.
At a ship auction, James puts in a bid of 800 pounds on a merchant vessel. He buys it under the name of Delaney Nootka Trading. Now there are many more knickers in knots. Strange is less than pleased with the news. He wants to understand – “Why did he know so much about the border negotiations?” among other things. Strange comes to believe the Americans are responsible, backing Delaney. But I think it’s all in the name of proper vengeance.
screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-57-37-pmJames finds a note with the name Atticus written on it, and he comes across the man whose name he seeks, a rough looking chap named Atticus (Stephen Graham); tattooed from head to toe, covered with butchers blood. They sit and chat. Atticus plans on writing a book, which is awesome. Furthermore, we’re told “when someone wants a man killed they come to Atticus.” We’ll be seeing more of this lad.
Solomon Coop (Jason Watkins) brings a map for whom I can only assume is George IV (Mark Gatiss) in his later years, though the Prince Regent doesn’t approve of the colours for the British ships as blue when the Americans are red. He’s a bit of a crass man, both in terrible health and with an equally terrible attitude. Fuck everybody, is the basic message he sends out to all.
Along the dark harbour at night James runs into a young girl named Winter (Ruby-May Martinwood). She lives at the whorehouse, though insists she’s a virgin. She brings unpleasant news about Helga (Franka Potente) who’s conspiring to do James harm.  So off the pair go – “Are you tricking me?” asks James, perhaps knowing there’s a good chance she is, indeed. Although they have a nice little chat, and Winter feels genuine. She even asks James to take her to America one day. When they come near a ship James swims on by himself. Aboard the boat he lights a fire to blow it sky high.
At home James continues doing what he can to make sure things go smoothly with Nootka Sound. Poor Brace is caught in the folds of the Delaney family mystery, and sees nothing ahead but tragedy. Simultaneously he watches James go through all the same things as his father Horace, speaking on a strange tongue and talking to ghosts. By himself, James comes across a paper from a stage show, the name Lorna Bow circled on the back.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-8-14-26-pmOut on the town James goes to see Helga, he tells her about Winter. He susses out that Winter is Helga’s daughter, which is why she doesn’t rent the girl out. This is all a way for James to try bringing her into the fold, to help him gather intel: “Secrets to me are weapons.” Plus, he wants information on the man Winter told him of, the gent with the silver tooth. And off James goes, farther on his quest. He takes a look at the ship he’s purchased and sizes it up. Down below he feels the pull of memory take him  back to the ship he fled, the slave ship; and what other nastiness lies in those memories? Eager to find out. We get snippets of flashbacks to the ship; brief, sparse moments.
What grave sin has James committed? It’s something which haunts him, that’s all we know for sure.
He goes on trying to thwart the plot against his life. In a crude hospital he finds Dr. Dumbarton (Michael Kelly). He’s an interesting character – a doctor, a merchant, and a spy, so James says. This doesn’t impress the man. Soon James makes clear he wants help contacting the government of the United States, and hopes Dumbarton, an American, will facilitate this for him. I guess he won’t entertain the idea, as a gun comes out and James leaves rather than test the doctor’s trigger finger.
Zilpha (Oona Chaplin) receives a letter. Inside, a large piece of crystal (is it a diamond?). Hmm. Interesting. Across town, James meets with the lawyer Thoyt (Nicholas Woodeson), and lays things out on the table. “You are their whore,” he chastises Thoyt for passing information over to the EIC. And the spineless lawyer has nothing, only excuses and defeat.
Later they head over to the division of old man Delaney’s estate. Everything goes to James. this doesn’t sit well with anybody, least of which brother-in-law Thorne Geary (Jefferson Hall): “That legacy is your death sentence.” Surprising everybody, however, James brings money enough to pay off his father’s debts, making some of the men present happy. Then up turns a woman claiming she was Horace’s wife, Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley). Even has the paperwork to prove it. Thoyt and James are taken quite off guard. Afterwards, the lawyer goes to see Sir Strange and the others, to whom he must confirm the legitimacy of Lorna’s marriage to Horace. They mull over what their opportunities are with this information. All roads lead again to the death of James Delaney.


The tension between James and his half-sister Zilpha is nearly unbearable. During a grand ball they lock eyes, though she is less thrilled about it, so it appears. Even their body language speaks of a more intimate relationship than just half-brother to half-sister. She feels the lure, yet clearly wants him away from her. “Did you really eat flesh?” Zilpha asks him; one of the many rumours about James and his time in Africa. For now they’re kept apart. I feel like this is simply another avenue in life that will possibly bring ruin to James Delaney. Because there are so many angles from which death and destruction come at him already, another one is bad.
Speaking too soon, as James heads out into the streets he’s finally attacked by a random assailant in the night. He’s stabbed in the guts, left to die in an alley. Not before he kills his would-be killer, biting a chunk from their neck in bloody chaos before slumping against a wall and passing out.
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What will become of Mr. Delaney?
I loved this episode, a fantastic follow-up to improve on the first one and makes things more intriguing. The writing from Steven Knight is excellent, as usual. He keeps a lot of nice stuff, plot-wise, close to the hip. Letting things unfold in a slow burn here is perfect for the mystery of James and his time in Africa. Can’t wait to see more. I anticipate there are many more conflicted feelings in regards to our anti-hero, and I’m hoping that Knight is headed where I think he’s headed with the story.

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 10”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 10: “Chapter 10”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy

* For a review of Chapter 9, click here.
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The cast of My Roanoke Nightmare attend Paleyfest, where Shelby (Lily Rabe) and Matt Miller (André Holland), Audrey (Sarah Paulson), Lee (Adina Porter), Dominic (Cuba Gooding Jr), Monet (Angela Bassett), William Van Henderson (Denis O’Hare), Rory (Evan Peters), Sidney James (Cheyenne Jackson) – they all answer questions for the crowd on a panel. The fans all go wild. One especially for Lee, who she feels has been unfairly judged. Shit. If the girl only knew.
The Lee fanatic posts online about the second series being “crass” instead of doing anything artistic. We also find out Lee’s headed for a murder trial. And the remaining Polk brother Lot intends on murdering her if the courts won’t do the job.
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We get television special on Lee and her history. Her family, the addiction, the custody battle, her husband’s murder. Once Return to Roanoke: 3 Days in Hell was filmed, things changed, as we know. The trial went on. The video of her torture by the Polks was used to get her acquitted, playing sympathy to the juror. But the murder of her ex-husband Mason is still on the books. Her own daughter witnessed Lee crack her dad in the head with a rock: “You killed daddy,” she says on the stand. Only problem is that Flora sounds crazy because she saw ghosts in and around the Roanoke House. And so the verdict comes back Not Guilty.
Now we get Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) back for another season! A survivor in her own right, she is now interviewing Lee Harris after her big murder trial. “Questions remain,” Lana explains. She’s come out of retirement and everything, just for the live TV interview. We get a very familiar looking format, makes the whole bit feel genuine. Lana asks her questions, starting off with soft lobs and working up towards the harder stuff. First, it’s about the custody. Secondly those murders still linger on in public consciousness. Then we get a Bloody Face namedrop, as Lee brings up Lana’s own history with maniacs.
Afterwards comes an intense moment. Lana asks where Flora is, after reports of the girl going missing just before they began their interview. Suddenly outside is the sound of assault weaponry. Lot Polk has arrived. He wants revenge. Lana tries talking him out of it and only gets knocked out with the butt of a gun. Luckily, a cop busts in and blows the guy away. Lee makes away again.


A show called Spirit Chasers takes Ashley Gilbert (Leslie Jordan), star in the original series’ reenactments, out to the Roanoke House in order to try figuring out: is it all real? A steel fence went up around the place trying to keep people out, but the show’s crew heads in on their own. During the Blood Moon. Isn’t that great? They head on in without understanding how real any of the madness there is, and surely something nasty is poised to happen. As night falls the crew go about their usual routine, detecting spirits and hoping to find conclusive evidence. Soon, the spirits start to wake. Doors slam shut. Air rushes through the rooms. Ashley even finds a bonnet laying around: “The Real McCoy,” he says and not a prop.
Craziest of all, Lee shows up from out of the blue. That is fucked up. She wants to find her daughter, and she looks crazy as hell. She warns the crew and Ashley away. The Spirit Chasers want to help her, although she isn’t too keen. On one of the crew’s thermal videos they see one of the Chen family, creeping around the walls. A recording captures the eerie voices of children, Priscilla to be exact. When Piggy Man turns up, game over! Ashley is dispatched first. Then another, as one of the Chens hauls them off. Police show up and by that time even The Butcher is carving people to bits.

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It seem as if the whole thing’s turned into Lee in a hostage crisis. We get plenty news coverage on the ordeal, including Lana Winters at home recuperating well. People want all the reality they can get. From reality television series to complete reality. “When we latch onto something it becomes our destiny,” says Lana prophetically.
At the Roanoke House, Lee and Flora are inside just fine. Her mother asks about what she ate in the woods, how she survived. Mostly she tries to explain to Flora how things ever got so bad, what it’s like to be a parent trying to make the best life for her and her family. None of that is any good when the girl clearly saw her own mother murder her father. The hardest part of everything is the fact Flora still has Priscilla kicking around in her head, or y’know, right in front of her.


Then the house begins to burn, out walks Flora safe and sound. Inside, Priscilla helps Lee dies, and the house blows nearly to smithereens, the top exploding with fire. While Flora is taken away from the old house her mother and Priscilla walk into the darkness together, torches light the woods, and the Lost Colony descend with the Blood Moon high in the sky.
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I absolutely fucking adored this season! So many interesting things went on and the format really worked out in the end. Very fun to bring Lana Winters back, too. Such great stuff. I’m excited now to see what they’ll do next season. This series, for me, gets better each year. Some don’t agree, but I couldn’t care less. A spectacular bit of television, and this season was beyond expectation.

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 9”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 9: “Chapter 9”
Directed by Alexis Korycinski
Written by Tim Minear

* For a review of Chapter 8, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 10, click here.
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A few friends head out to see the Roanoke House. They trek through the woods to get to the home when the Blood Moon is at its peak. “Racism is scary, patriarchy is scary,” Sophie (Taissa Farmiga), the only girl of the trio tells her buddies, ruminating on what happened during Season 1 of My Roanoke Nightmare. Along the way they come across an injured woman – is that Sidney’s assistant? Indeed it is, and the three friends find her overturned car, as well as her inside again.
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Back at the house, Dylan (Wes Bentley) is in the midst of all the madness when Lee (Adina Porter) and Audrey (Sarah Paulson) found him at the front door. All setup by Sidney, but of course he’s fucking dead. “Everybody is dead,” Audrey yells at him to try getting through Dylan’s head what’s happening is real. We find out Dylan was part of Seal Team Ten, having served in Afghanistan. That’s an asset. He isn’t happy knowing Monet (Angela Bassett) is still being held by the Polks. Luckily, these three decide sticking together is their best option.
We find out that the other trio from before wanted to get footage and pictures for a fan website, Army of Roanoke. Here we’re seeing the other side of fame, those obsessed with shows and looking for fame themselves while there was Agnes (Kathy Bates) whose want for fame led her to outright murder.
Dylan reluctantly heads to hotwire a vehicle, as Audrey finds Monet and Lee goes for the tapes. Once the truck starts things go bad. Dylan gets stabbed viciously, though Audrey and Monet get away from the Polks, sans Lee. Worse still the Blood Moon has risen and the ghosts of the Lost Colony have come back once more. Their torches burn in the distance as the women go on the run again.
Again, in the house, Monet and Audrey turn on the video camera from the Polks – Lee admits to having killed her husband, in the confessional to her daughter; WOW, I didn’t actually expect that. Christ.

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#BloodMoon
With the eerie omen in the sky, those three Army of Roanoke geeks – Sophie, Milo, and Todd – head back to the cursed land. Just like the cops told them not to, and normally I wouldn’t say you ought to listen to cops full stop. But this time? Yeah, might’ve been a good idea. Particularly once they come across a crazed Lee, having already been initiated into the terror of the Blood Moon. She kills Todd, sending the other two running. A very Blair Witch Project feel starts here, along with the homage of the stick figures in the trees that we’ve seen before. The pair come across the trailer where Sidney and his cameraman still lay butchered. Locked in the control room they find the cameras with everybody murdered, or most everybody. They see Monet and Audrey, alive and well. Everything’s surreal, almost hyperreal. They’re in the show now. Sort of. So strange. Then they see Lee is headed back to the house in her trance-like state.
Sophie convinces Milo to go with her so they can head off Lee. Unsuspecting, in the dark, Audrey and Monet sit having a drink. Great timing, ladies. Then Lee arrives, mumbling strangely to herself before telling them: “You dont belong here. Your vile presence defiles this sacred ground.” This starts a nasty mouthful from Monet before she’s pushed over the staircase railing, crashing bloody to the floor down below. Holy shit. Audrey goes head to head with Lee and fights her off, making a run for it. Yes, kick some ass, girl! At the same time Sophie rushes for the house, Milo wanting to turn back.
Lee finds Audrey and stabs her, kicking her down into the cellar in the woods. She ain’t dead, but good lord that’s got to hurt. Outside the house Milo and Sophie see The Butcher and her Lost Colony disembowel Dylan. Nasty.


We see raw images from Todd’s iCloud account. The Butcher and her ghosts take Milo and Sophie, rounding them up. They’re to be sacrificed. To renew the soil with blood. They’re both impaled on pikes, soaked with gas, and lit like pyres.
The next morning police rush to the Roanoke House where they discover a complete massacre. The burned bodies. Dylan’s gutted corpse. A bloody butcher’s knife. Monet impaled inside, Dominic cut to pieces upstairs.
And they also find Lee. Alive and covered in blood, screaming. Oh, if they only knew. But wait: what about Audrey? “Get me out of this hell,” Lee wails to the police. Then Audrey crawls, nearly broken, from out of the cellar. She sees Lee, pretending as if nothing happened. She grabs hold of the cop’s gun helping her, and before killing Lee the other officers blast her away. Dead and gone. Another whoa moment.

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This was a truly wild episode. They’ve all been pretty great this season, although this might take the cake. Never expected some of the twists.
Now all that remains is the finale – what to expect from Chapter 10?

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 8”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 8: “Chapter 8”
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Written by Todd Kubrak

* For a review of Chapter 7, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 9, click here.
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Agnes (Kathy Bates) is being slaughtered by The Butcher (Susan Berger) outside, as Shelby (Lily Rabe) and Dominic (Cuba Gooding Jr.) sit inside, wondering how they’re going to get out alive. They decide to head down for the tunnel. Of course they have to pass Matt’s smashed head, but they manage. Until coming across the Asian family that died in the house years ago. Fucking creepy.
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Back to Mama Polk (Robin Weigert) and her kin, still with Lee (Adina Porter) in their grasp. She’s making her boy Cain (Finn Wittrock) do a bit of slicing to get the good meat. Mama tells a tale about the Depression when there wasn’t much to eat. That’s when the cannibalism started, with a few hobos and such. Now, it’s time to get a few “prime cuts” out of Lee. As suspected the Polks are a bunch of inbreds, as well. Cain talks about being caught “in the middle” of not being able to have sex with mom and not able to cuddle either. Also, Cain wasn’t happy not being able to get into the TV story, so Lee tries making a deal. He goes on to tell her about Kincaid Polk, who wore a pig’s head and killed people before being burned alive. Knowing she’ll die Lee takes a snort of oxy to take the edge off, before Mama takes another cut off her.
At the house Shelby and Dominic run from the terrifying creature at their heels. He tries to keep Shelby from giving up, worried that they’re up against some “Paranormal Activity shit.” Then Pig Man shows up, brandishing knives. Those nurses drag themselves slowly. The house’s spirits come alive, all trying to corner Dominic and Shelby. Even the chandelier drops from the ceiling crushing Shelby’s ankle. The pair make it upstairs and she starts falling apart. She is clearly in shock after beating Matt’s head in downstairs. Soon she cuts her throat wide open.
Lee gets Cain to let her leave a message to her daughter Flora via camera. She continually tries to ingratiate herself to the young man. He even admits not wanting to kill her. She does whatever possible in order to stay alive, to the point of playing to his sexual fantasies. That is just long enough to get the upper hand. Fuck yeah, Lee! She chokes Cain out and manages to get away, stabbing him a good one in the skull for good measure.

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Poor Audrey (Sarah Paulson) and Monet (Angela Bassett) are still being taunted by the Polk family. The two women try convincing them that the real Matt and Shelby are to blame. But that matters nothing to these inbred cannibals. They’re more concerned with the Blood Moon coming up. The Polk brothers can’t comprehend the difference between reality and the reenactments on television. And they need teeth, of which the ladies have mouths full. They start with Monet, but the chair and the pliers break. Again, the woman gets the upper hand on the Polks, as Monet gets free. Although she leaves Audrey, weeping, alone. Mama ain’t happy with her boys, all the same. Now she has to get some teeth out of the British girl on her own. A brutal moment to watch. Luckily, Lee comes to her aid with a ball peen hammer. She lets Audrey use it to bash Mama’s brains to slop. Over at the house she and Lee come across the similar brains of Matt, sending his sister into hysterics. At least Shelby’s dead, too. I guess. They find her upstairs with Dominic lurking depressed in the dark. Nobody’s sure what to do next, although Lee and Audrey don’t believe what he tells them about Shelby. They lock him out in the hallway where Pig Man mutilates his body wickedly, blood flicking over the walls everywhere. Shiiiit.
When morning comes Lee says they have to go back to the Polk place. She wants to get the videotape, so nobody can use it against them. She knows that if the “wrong people” get their hands on the tape then it won’t be good, for either of them. True. Especially considering Lee has dealt with this already because of My Roanoke Nightmare.
When the two women make it the front door, there is Pig Man – only he takes off his mask, it’s Dylan (Wes Bentley) who played Ambrose White in the original show. Ah, he’s back again. However, I don’t think he’s the Pig Man that’s been slaughtering.

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A nice, bloody, creepy episode! Lots of nastiness going on and unexpected deaths.
Very excited for the next chapter. I can’t wait to see who’ll survive and who’ll be murdered in grisly fashion coming up. Will we see more of The Butcher? And what about the actor who played Dr. Cunningham (Denis O’Hare)? Also, Taissa Farmiga is supposed to show up, and we’ve already seen Finn Wittrock as one of the nasty Polks. So much to look forward to in these last couple episodes. Already primed for Season 7!