RABID: The Ravages of Postmodern Medicine and Sexuality

Rabid. 1977. Directed & Written by David Cronenberg.
Starring Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan, Patricia Gage, Susan Roman, Roger Periard, Lynne Deragon, Terry Schonblum, Julie Anna, & Gary McKeehan.
CFDC/Dunning-Link-Reitman/The Dilbar Syndicate
Rated R. 91 minutes.
Horror/Sci-Fi

★★★★
Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 2.16.03 PMAs a Canadian, I hold David Cronenberg on a huge pedestal. Not simply for the fact he comes from this great country, also for the fact he was one of the early auteurs behind the camera during his era that was pushing boundaries, exploring places not everybody wanted to go and not every artist wanted to explore. He’s been an inspiration to many filmmakers, but it’s especially relevant how he influenced Canadian filmmakers, many of whom hailed from smaller provinces, smaller towns, and they saw what Cronenberg was doing as a license to get into their own niches, no matter how deep, dark, or disturbing.
Rabid is one of his first feature films, and in a similar vein to his other early foray into sexual-type horror, Shivers.
Starring Marilyn Chambers, this is the story of a woman who suffers injuries during a motorcycle accident and then undergoes a experimental plastic surgery to graft back a bit of missing skin. Afterwards, a strange appendage grows from her armpit, and it stings people, infecting them. Soon there’s an epidemic of zombie-like people roaming the city.
Before AIDS was officially discovered and everyone knew its sexual terror, Cronenberg’s film was tackling issues of a hypersexual society, as well as one in which technological developments were being made specifically in relation to the body, no matter if the ethics were caught up at the same level. Culminating in a vicious, unsettling film that showed audiences quickly where this auteur was heading.
Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 2.58.43 PMYou can take Rabid as merely a gross take on the zombie sub-genre of horror. Or you can consider the implications of Cronenberg including medical science at the core of his plot. Because, when considering medical technology and its various advancements, we have to consider our humanity. As in, do they help make us human again after serious accidents and injuries? Do they turn us into something less/more than human, something Other? Rose’s (Chambers) skin graft changes her irreparably. She’s given an experimental treatment, one that’s fresh, new, so there’s no certainty as to what its effects will be later. We see the carelessness of medicine, worried solely with progress and not with consideration of repercussions, ethics, so on. This leads into an epidemic of zombified humans after Rose and her new appendage claims victims.
Post-humanism is always at the fore of Cronenberg’s work as a whole.  Here, Rose begins struggling with herself, and later in the film, as we near the climax and finale, she struggles to come to terms with her own role in the epidemic she’s unwittingly caused to erupt. Is she still herself? Has she wholly become another person, another thing?
And this leads into yet another concept about humanity, re: the STD-like nature of the infection spread by Rose. If we consider the AIDS connection, we can also see points in the film where the infected citizens are treated how those with HIV were often seen on a societal level. For instance, an official says later in the film: “The victims of this disease are beyond medical help.” This is pretty much how society, for a couple decades at least, saw those living with HIV/AIDS, as incurable, walking dead, and consequently, whether as a conscious effort or not, as less than human.

Im still me

Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 2.42.35 PMThere’s a further symbolism in the appendage itself, a phallic, living thing that squirms from Rose’s armpit. It’s a monstrous, infectious stinger. Its phallic imagery centres this wholly on a male issue. There’s violence in male sex, the phallus penetrates, pierces, wounds, and in the case of a hypersexual society it leaves behind an illness. In a sense, this phallic stinger is representative of the poisonous violence in the male sex, their perpetual lust, how it works its way into everybody, like an outbreak, an epidemic.
Moreover, this epidemic is an overall allegory about STDs, in a pre-AIDS global society where people were frequenting adult movie theatres and other places providing the possibility of carefree sexual contact with random strangers.
This is why Cronenberg situates many of the ‘stings’ in urban spaces: the hospital, the porno theatre, an apartment building, transport trucks leaving the city, et cetera. This is all especially relevant considering the lead role is played by Ms. Chambers. And such a relevant scene epitomises the strong male sexual theme when Rose goes trawling for prey at the porno flick, symbolic of a feeding/breeding ground for sexually transmitted disease; made scarier only by the fact we consider that the threat of AIDS only became known about six years following this film.
It’s in this vein sex is represented as madness, as violence, and ultimately vampiric. There’s an exchange of blood, in how the penis damages the vagina; most significantly if we consider virginity, the violence of how the male appendage violates a physical part of womanhood. There’s the passing of disease, re: the STD symbolism, here in a form of rabies, just as the vampire gene is passed by the bite.  The vampire, like the person carrying an STD, goes unknown in the urban landscape. You never know who has the disease, how quickly it then spreads. This is captured well when Rose is at the mall. An old, rabid man attacks somebody. She knows she didn’t infect him, so she begins seeing the consequences of her phallic, fleshy weapon and its thirst for blood while the epidemic unfolds.
Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 3.30.01 PMAlthough Cronenberg has shifted slightly from body horror in the past decade or more, we’ll always have Rabid and his other nasty films to remind us he is the single greatest auteur to have worked on artistic representations of the future of bodies. There’s just no doubt of the director’s competency as a filmmaker, and also as a philosopher, or at the very least a theorist drawing on all sorts of contemporary issues we as a postmodern society are facing on a daily basis.
Before AIDS rocked the world, wreaking havoc on the personal sexual lives, Rabid confronted the scariness of a world where people weren’t considering the implications of unchecked sexual activity, the effects of medical/technological advancements on human beings. It seems to suggest there are untold, horrific consequences to our actions.
Not that sexuality is bad, neither is Cronenberg suggesting advancing our knowledge and use of medical technology is a bad thing. Rather, he’s showing us what happens if we choose to not pay attention to our ethics and morality, letting progress and freedom dictate our way forward.

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Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams – Season 1, Episode 5: “Real Life”

Channel 4’s Electric Dreams
Season 1, Episode 5: “Real Life”
Directed by Jeffrey Reiner
Written by Ronald D. Moore

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Crazy Diamond” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode “Human Is” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 7.48.19 PMWe meet Sarah (Anna Paquin), she’s a Chief of Police. She and Mario (Jacob Vargas) are out patrolling the city. They’re looking for someone who committed a massacre, a killer. She’s obviously obsessed with finding him. Everyone wants her to move on, saying it’s “in the past.” But she can’t just move on, not when she constantly goes back to the day of the massacre, waiting to be next.
Her partner introduces her to a new fad, something beyond simulation. A virtual experience that convinces you it’s real. You have a new life, a new self, drawn out of your “own subconscious.” She agrees to go for it, only a few hours to test things out. A vacation from oneself.
Sarah wakes up in the mind of a man named George (Terrence Howard). He’s disoriented, in some place with a man he knows named Chris (Sam Witwer). Then there are men with guns, taking them to see a few rough cats. Seems George hasn’t done something these lads want him to do.
But George and Chris, they aren’t going down without a fight. Their target gets away, though. His name? Colin. Same as the killer Sarah’s been chasing. The two men get away. George is having trouble with reality, things are a bit “fuzzy” and he can’t even drive.
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 7.55.11 PMThey go to see Paula (Lara Pulver), she checks George out, advising to stay awake in case of concussion and steer clear of any booze, or drugs. He’s slowly feeling better, remembering reality. Yet behind his eyes is a whole other thing going on. He can remember bits and pieces, not everything. Not right away. It comes back to him. He runs Avacom, he’s a billionaire, a visionary sort of software designer.
He designs helmets for those vacation simulations. The “neuronic pulse maps” of the helmet are specific to each person. He puts one on. Afterwards, we’re back with Sarah, lying in bed. She wakes up and now it’s her turn to feel disoriented. Food doesn’t exactly taste right. She’s distracted, still partly on vacation.
Sarah and Mario get a lead about Colin and his associates, some still may be in the city. They head to an old building, creeping in to spy on several men meeting inside. There’s mention of “nuking City Hall.” Sarah gets caught by one of the men, they take her down.
And elsewhere, George falls to one knee. He shakes it off, then heads upstairs. He’s being questioned about seeming like a “real life Bruce Wayne.” In three months, he’s been doing some vigilantism. His wife was murdered the video of which went viral. Devastating. Soon, George vomits from the memories. His memory centres are all fucked up in general. Wonder why?
Oh, and George’s wife Katie (Rachelle Lefevre), she’s the same woman we’ve already seen as Sarah’s partner. Is it dissonance in his mind? Or is this other reality genuine? Are there two Katies? Paula advises him not to do any more of the VR, it could irreparably harm his brain, not in just a mental capacity, a physical one, too.
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 8.03.23 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-20 at 8.14.29 PMHe chooses not to listen. Back to Sarah, waking to Katie and Mario. They’ve won: caught Colin. Things are all okay. The wives go home together, have sex, get back to normal life. Sarah tells her wife about the vacation, that her wife was killed, she was searching for the man who got away. Katie finds it all a bit strange. Too many eerie parallels. Sarah wonders if it’s all an “ancient male fantasy” out of the sci-fi genre.
Is her life real? Or is it a simulation?
Please stop saying both worlds. Theres only one world, Sarah.”
Back to George’s life. He and Chris go to their usual diner, sitting for a chat. Chris tells him that Colin’s left the country. The diner’s a mirror of where Sarah and Mario sat, the same music, the same people, the same food. Everything’s too familiar.
At home, Paula finds George is getting worse. She doesn’t want him going back into the VR world again. He’s detached now, seeing himself fully as Sarah, wanting to go home, seeing Paula and everything around him as fantasy. She tells George his brain will be ruined. However, he believes he’s only in the real world as Sarah. He has memories, though. About his history with Paula; they had an affair when his wife was taken. He experiences genuine reminiscence, of a past.
Ultimately, what will he choose? He smashes the headset.
But on the outside looking in, Katie watches as Sarah’s neural pathways shut down, she disappears into the simulation as George. She is the real one, not him. She chose a punishment over happiness; “for her sins, real and imagined,” Katie says.
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 8.36.31 PMAmazing. Now my favourite episode of the series, thus far. Terrence Howard and Anna Paquin were both great. The story itself was so compelling, really enjoyed it. Love the whole concept of simulation, Jean Baudrillard’s theories on simulacra, so on. Very well expressed here.
“Human Is” comes

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams – Season 1, Episode 4: “Crazy Diamond”

Channel 4’s Electric Dreams
Season 1, Episode 4: “Crazy Diamond”
Directed by Marc Munden
Written by Tony Grisoni

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Commuter” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Real Life” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 5.07.44 PMEverything decays, everything dies.”
Ed Morris (Steve Buscemi) dreams of a woman literally falling apart before his eyes, wrinkling into a prune-shaped person. He wakes on his boat off the dock. He heads back home to Sally (Julia Davis), his wife.
But they have a visitor: the woman from his dreams, an insurance agent (Sidse Babett Knudsen).
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 5.08.16 PMGo back seven days. The world is falling to pieces, climate change sliding homes into the ocean. Nature is not the same anymore, you can’t even keep eggs around for more than a couple days. And you can’t waste anything, not in this world. Ed talks about going on a voyage, just he and his wife, to the “Elysian Fields” and “El Dorado“; mythical places, as if they can simply sail there by boat.
There’s talk of “quantum consciousness” and implants, synthetic humans – Jacks and Jills. Around the facility, the spirit mill where Ed works, the woman from his dreams is touring with a group. The two of them get talking, he explains the process of creating QC, et cetera. These synthetics, they are “latent possibility,” but they have no experience – without the QC; this is what makes them, essentially.
A little later, we see the process of the dormant, fleshy shells being implanted with their own QCs. They come alive, from a pile of skin and bones. They have genuine thoughts about thought: “metacognition.” An amazing yet totally eerie experience.
On his way out of the facility, he sees the woman from his dreams – Jill. She’s one of the synthetics. Although he’d already assumed so. She seems a bit disoriented, so he offers to help take her home. They stop at a bar. Jill is “failing” and doesn’t have much long left. As a human, Ed is a bit callous at first how he talks to her, not taking into account her own humanity despite she’s a fabricated person.
In fact, Im a big believer in neural network equality.”
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 5.14.51 PMEd’s becoming increasingly disillusioned with reality, the natural world keeps on slipping away from them. Sally’s trying to keep him grounded, so that he doesn’t do something illegal by taking his sailing fantasies any further than that. Meanwhile, he and Sally spend time together at the bar, she tries convincing him they could make his fantasies reality. Maybe they could steal a QC, sell it on the black market at an enormous price, begin a new life. This is when they get closer, spending time together on his boat. She makes a synthetic copy of his hand, so she and a couple thieves can get into the spirit mill, to steal themselves a QC or two. When Sally finds Ed watching the heist, wondering what’s happening, he sends out an alert for the facility.
The “living doll” Jill gets away with a few souls to pawn off on a fella. When they do the exchange, things go wrong, and the buyers start a gunfight, attempting to steal the QCs.
The next day, Ed’s championed at work for being a hero. He plays dumb, trying to get what info he can on the robbery. They already know it was a Jill. Hopefully they can’t trace it back to him. Sally’s worried that her husband has done something wrong, she suspects he’s having a crisis.
One day, Jill arrives at the Morris home in her insurance agent role. They talk about having children, trying to get pregnant, so on. Now we’re back to the beginning, when Ed arrives at home to find Jill there. It worries him a little. But they get talking about life insurance, like it’s all normal. When Jill has a bit of trouble, fainting slightly, Sally wants to help her. She doesn’t realise what’s going on right under her nose.
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 5.26.04 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-20 at 5.28.37 PMWhen they get time alone, Jill asks Ed to help her go after the men who took the QCs. He doesn’t want to do this anymore. Only problem is she’s used his hand print, his DNA, it was used to get inside, so he’s a part of it no matter how he feels. He’s realised that his fantasy is just a fantasy; in real life, he’s a simple man with simple desires. However, she has a way of convincing a man.
Ed discovers Sally met with Jill, about the “double indemnity” policy. She wants to go ahead and purchase it, so that they’ll be taken care of in case one of them dies. A bit of assurance, instead of remaining perpetually unsure of their lives, what might happen; in a world falling apart, it’s a brief comfort. He’s also being chastised for trying to grow his own vegetables. It’s a no no. Funny, a self-sustaining lifestyle is “illegal” in this future economy. Strange how times could change.
Jill is failing faster by the minute, even with Ed agreeing to another heist. They head out to meet the black market dealers in the woods, posing as buyers. He tests one of the QCs by implanting it into Jill’s head. She doesn’t have much to say immediately. Until she hops up and fires shots into a couple of the men, initiating the rest of their heist plan, getting away with their box of QCs.
But soon we discover the spirit mill’s big boss isn’t such a wonderful guy like he seemed. He stops Ed and Jill in their tracks, wanting the QCs back. Ed has to make a choice, whether to go for his fantasy, or continue living in this grim reality. Jill makes the choice for him and manages to kill his boss. Then she has her human buddy at her will, leaving with the QCs on her own.


Jill goes to see Sally. When Ed gets home, they’re gone, a note left for them. Right then more of their little provincial town crumbles, the ground falling into the ocean. He goes for his boat, sailing onto the waters by himself. From nowhere, he sees Sally and Jill at the bow of the boat, both unimpressed. He tries apologising. It isn’t enough. And he goes into the dark, deep waters. He makes it back to shore, seeing the house over a cliff, wreckage of this new world. On the beach, he sees one of his vinyl records, so he slips back into the music, running his hand over it, and falling back into that synthetic world. Because it’ll all fall apart, soon enough. One of the lessons here being, hold on to what you’ve got rather than seeking something that may not even exist at all.
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 5.52.09 PMLoved this episode. Buscemi’s a fantastic actor, and Knudsen is so talented! Great pairing. The whole thing had a wonderful atmosphere, very dystopian and eerie in its own ways. Can’t get enough of this series.
“Real Life” is the next episode.

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams – Season 1, Episode 3: “The Commuter”

Channel 4’s Electric Dreams
Season 1, Episode 3: “The Commuter”
Directed by Tom Harper
Written by Jack Thorne

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Impossible Planet” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Crazy Diamond” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 3.51.27 PMEd Jacobson (Timothy Spall) works at a train station. He’s a simple man. Doesn’t mind finishing a teabag out of the trash, dusting it off to make a cup. He’s a helpful, gentlemanly-type of fella who does what he can for the people. Also a bit of a nebbish lad. He’s got to deal with a woman named Linda (Tuppence Middleton) – she smokes when she’s told she can’t, she wants to go to a place that doesn’t exist: “Macon Heights.” He still gets through it with a smile on his face. Except all of a sudden, the woman is gone. He passes a ticket to nobody.
He walks away feeling strange, obviously. He tells his friend and co-worker Bob Paine (Rudi Dharmalingam) about it. Ed wonders about Macon Heights, if he’s ever heard of it before. He feels like he has, though can’t quite put a finger on it. He heads home to a bit of a lower class neighbourhood, trash on the streets, loud music pumping from one of the houses. Even worse, he gets back to the house and police are there. He’s got a younger lad at home, Sam (Anthony Boyle), who seems to “scare people“; there’s mention of a young girl. It’s obvious he and his wife Mary (Rebecca Manley) have trouble with Sam, almost as if it’s expected.
At the station, Bob and Ed ask Linda about Macon Heights, they’re curious about it. She doesn’t have much to say about it. Like any other place, I suppose. They show her the computer screen with the map of the train’s lines. And when they turn around, she’s gone. Again.
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 4.01.16 PMThe Jacobsons go to see Dr. Simpson (Ann Akin) with Sam. She tells them they have to prepare for his “psychotic episodes” to soon deteriorate his condition even worse. Alone together, Ed and Mary talk about whether their son frightens them; he says that now and then, yes, but she says no. She says that their son reminds her of him: “The true you. Not the one with the fake smile spread across your face.” She says his fakeness is scarier than their son’s psychosis.
What changed Ed? His life seems like a giant routine. Only now it’s been disrupted slightly, by Linda’s appearance, the mention of Macon Heights. So, he decides to hop on the train and go looking for himself.
Out of nowhere, the man sitting across from Ed opens the door and leaps into a field, as do a bunch of others. This is where Macon Heights is meant to be. Everybody walks off through a barren field out over the horizon. As they do, a city is visible not far ahead. Ed finds a beautiful little town, not unlike any other. He goes on into a restaurant, orders a tea. The waitress brings a compliment bit of apple cake. It’s a nice place, indeed.
I think youll find a lot of things divineround here.”
The town is different, though. Very unlike the modern day. People are still friendly, a man and a woman are just engaged and they run through the streets pronouncing their love, someone waves and says hello to Ed as he passes. Sitting on a bench, Ed watches children play, and Linda shows up, remarking this would seem a weird thing in another place. Not here. She tells him he’s unhappy, he isn’t used to happiness, so this is why Macon Heights feels unreal to him.
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 4.15.06 PMJust after seven in the evening, the train comes around. All the visitors run and climb their way back onto the train, people helping them back inside. They go back to the rest of the world, back to their various stops at the stations. Ed finds himself back to his life again, the routine, the sort of crushing realness that exists for him. But slowly, he begins believing it wasn’t altogether unreal in Macon Heights.
At home, Mary seems pretty happy. Things have changed. They no longer have a child, it’s just the two of them. This appears to be a life without Sam, without having to worry about him so much. Even the world itself seems a little friendlier than before similar to Macon Heights. Then on the platform, Ed sees Sam going onto a train but can’t catch up with him.
This gets Ed interested in Macon Heights more than he was already. He tracks down Martine Jenkins (Anne Reid), to find further information. “Its a town that almost existed,” she explains. As if epitomising hope; the ideal town “that stays ideal.” He finds out more about Linda, daughter of the man who tried building Macon Heights; she found him dead in the woods after they took away the contract and gave it someone else.
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 4.22.32 PMEd goes back to that place again, the restaurant. He basks in that place’s energy, its perfection. Yet it’s uncanny, and unsettling. He sees all the same things, experiencing it as if in a loop. Not unlike his own routine. Just another way of avoiding the real world, real life, struggle, adversity, all the things that make it real.
What couldve been doesnt exist. Theres only what is, and thats you and me.”
One night Ed hears jazz music, like the stuff Sam would listen to, and he winds up in the attic. Videotapes are everywhere, showing the life of their little boy growing up, the good and the bad. In a way, he realises finally the loss of his son, despite the troubles. Losing Sam is losing a piece of himself.
When he gets back to Macon Heights, everything’s fucked up. People stare at him in the restaurant. One man’s face looks half shot off. He needs to find Linda, he wants to get his life back. The residents there want their ideal home back, but he’s tainted it with the truth. Trauma’s leaked into Macon Heights, the horrors of some peoples lives coming back to them.
He finally tracks down Linda. They talk about reality, the brutality of it. Ed argues against Linda’s pessimism, that he and Sam did experience joy, that it’s worth seeing the boy grow into a man. He can’t agree with erasing Sam, despite her believing they’re better off without him, with a new life.
When he leaves Macon Heights and goes home, he finds things as they were, but that it isn’t a desperate, hopeless situation. He can make a change, if he wants it to happen. Linda sees a hopeless world, whereas now, juxtaposed with the unreality of the fake ideal qualities in Macon Heights, Ed can change himself rather than wish for Sam and everything else to change. Seeing his boy again makes him smile, a genuine smile, for the first time in who knows how long.
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 4.43.23 PMSuch a fantastic episode. Surreal, creepy, beautiful in ways. Lots of impressive writing in this one, plus Timothy Spall is a treasure.
“Crazy Diamond” comes up next.

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams – Season 1, Episode 2: “Impossible Planet”

Channel 4’s Electric Dreams
Season 1, Episode 2: “Impossible Planet”
Directed & Written by David Farr

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Hood Maker” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Commuter” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 1.26.57 AMWe see a group of people with visors on watching the “Hermagon aurora.” A man named Brian Norton (Jack Reynor) narrates, as everybody witnessing the spectacle oohs, aahs. We’re on a space ship, deep in the midst of space in some distant star system. There’s also Ed Andrews (Benedict Wong), who watches the “rats in a sewer” enjoying the trip. They’re space tourism agents, essentially, for Astral Dreams.
Someone shows up knocking incessantly on the door. An old deaf lady named Irma Louise Gordon (Geraldine Chaplin). She wants to go to Earth. She’s 342 years old, from a planet called Rega-2. And she has a lot of money to offer, a cash transaction. The reason the lads don’t initially want to go is because a while back a solar fire brutalised the planet, it’s said to no longer be inhabited.
So, why go, Irma Louise? Can Ed and Brian even get there safely?
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 1.31.53 AMBrian gets talking to Barbara (Georgina Campbell), she mentions a transfer. Then he gets a video message from Linus Primo (Justin Butcher), denying him a transfer. He’s applied fifth times. Rejected. Now, Barbara isn’t happy with being there so long. She’s disappointed in his lack of social status, it seems. Ah, though things change with technology, it’s all still the same. Money’s the bottom line.
This prompts Brian to consider the old lady’s offer more seriously, and they’re on the way now. Irma Louise has a drink, talks about her own grandmother, who lived to 279, whose own father lived in Carolina on Earth, a “logger.” She told Irma Louise about a place where her grandparents skinny dipped together, a place she always wanted to see – “Elk River Falls.” Where she wants to go.
Brian finds out from Ms. Gordon’s robotic friend RB29 (Malik Ibheis; voiced by Christopher Staines) that she is actually going to die in a couple months, a heart condition. Afterwards, they use a bit of technology to actually talk without RB29 communicating between them. He talks about Barbara a little, though he seems a bit apprehensive; he second guesses himself when his words are coming up Ms. Gordon’s little screen. He begins questioning the divergent desires between him and his girlfriend. Reoccurring is an image of the spokes of a red bicycle, spinning and spinning, he’s seen this a couple times now.
RB29 is sneaking around, too. I don’t trust him. Neither should you. Or Ed, or Brian. He’s up to something, I’m just not sure what as of yet. They’re getting closer to Earth, and the closer they get the less I trust the robot. Although I guess he’s only looking out for Ms. Gordon’s interests, worried that these guys are scamming.
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 1.34.46 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-20 at 1.50.29 AMEd: “I mean, me, Im trash, got no illusions. You, you got class.”
Brian feels bad because he and Ed are con artists, that they sell “predigested happiness” to people. Now they’re ripping off an old woman so they can do what they want for the rest of their lives. This starts putting the two lads at odds, Ed certainly doesn’t like the way his friend is talking.
They’re supposedly about to orbit Earth. Brian gets closer with Irma Louise, who gives him a kiss for being so gentlemanly. She shows him a picture of her grandparents – he looks exactly like her grandfather, Bill Gordon. Eerie. Like fate, across space and time.
Later on Brian calls Barbara, wondering if she dreams of him. He says he doesn’t dream of her, not anymore. He’s beginning to reevaluate his life, and all due to meeting Ms. Gordon. Things start going awry for Astral Dreams when she knows Mars is red, not green like what they see outside the ship. RB29 steps in to let her know about an event that broke Saturn from its rings, turned Mars green. Then Brian tells her Earth isn’t the same as it was once. They can’t even get too close to the planet. Nothing’s the same, not like she’d imagined, anyway. Not from what she’d heard, the memories of her grandmother.
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 1.57.55 AMBrian decides they’ll land, they’ll try and take Ms. Gordon to Carolina.
But it’s a rough journey. They fly through a terrible storm, the ship rumbling as space debris flies past at ultra high speed. The old woman holds on for all her life is worth. Brian has flashes of the bike, a couple riding it together.
Then a crash landing. Everybody’s okay, but things are messed up.
At odds with Ed again, Brian agrees to take the old woman out onto Earth, so as to get her money’s worth, to fulfil her dream. One condition: under the suit he wears the clothes of her grandfather. While RB29 and Ed stay behind, the other two head into the “toxic, sterile” environment. Then Ed discovers the robot’s done some nasty business, shagging with the oxygen tanks, leaving Brian and Irma Louise out there to breathe in the atmosphere.
When they take their helmets off, they’re in another place. Back on Earth. There, with the red bicycle; it’s name, Dream Weaver. Irma Louise is young like her grandmother. Brian in the clothes of ole Bill Gordon. They skinny dip together below the falls in a paradise. Or is it merely illusion within death?
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 2.15.12 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-20 at 2.17.38 AMI enjoyed the first episode; this one was even better! Love these inspired episodes, love the themes. It’s so enjoyable to see Dick’s writing out there more, plus such great actors and actresses involved.
“The Commuter” is next.

TERRORVISION’s Intellectual Decay

TerrorVision. 1986. Directed & Written by Ted Nicolaou.
Starring Diane Franklin, Gerrit Graham, Mary Woronov, Chad Allen, Jon Gries, Bert Remsen, Alejandro Rey, Jennifer Richards, Randi Brooks, Sonny Carl Davis, Ian PAtrick Williams, & William Paulson.
Empire Pictures/Altair Productions/Lexyn Productions
Rated R. 83 minutes.
Comedy/Horror/Sci-Fi

★★
TV3It’s ultra disappointing when a horror movie feels geared towards something bigger than the sum of its parts, because there’s a sense of loss, that you could’ve gotten more, and it might’ve been awesome. Plenty of movies, of any genre, end up that way. They’re lost in their ideas, muddled in a less than competent screenplay, then often actors giving sub-par performances can truly put the nail in the coffin of even halfway decent writing.
TerrorVision has a fun concept, centred on a family who’ve recently installed a new satellite system, so they can enjoy new programs, from fitness to MTV to all the dirty movies they can fathom. But instead of that they get a hungry space monster, yearning for tasty humans to gobble.
In an age where technology was beginning to skyrocket at an unbelievable pace, like never before and in wildly new directions, this movie holds so much more than it gives us, unable to allow it to flow correctly. It’s fun enough for a group of friends to put on and laugh along with, sadly it’s more disappointing than it is enjoyable when all’s said and done. I’ll forever curse it for not expanding on its exciting themes, not even giving us top notch horror, or comedy, or anything it’s aiming to accomplish.
TV1Can’t get enough of the awesomely weird opening scene, a science fiction start on a distant planet before we get a glimpse of a satellite signal bounce around space; one that’ll surely cause shit on planet Earth. Immediately then, Earth. Including the uber-80s clothing, the hair, the workout program fad the wife is into, an MTV-loving daughter, conspiracy theorist grandpa an artefact of the ’70s lingering. The family consists of a less likeable human cast of The Simpsons, a quintessentially media obsessed American household.
Satellite, the new technology of the age, is used as a thematic device for the unknown, as if their signals reaching into outer space were inviting extraterrestrials and creatures from other dimensions not only to our planet, but directly into our individual homes. Sort of a horror movie allegory about an era of new technology in terms of national security, only rather than the Russians as the baddies, it’s alien lifeforms crawling right into the U.S. citizen’s living room.
Likewise, there’s a whole commentary on television and technology, in which aliens are literally coming out of the TV set through the satellite, devouring people. Just as the programs on television devour brain cells, at least supposedly, if you ask an old guy like grandpa who’s still waiting for the Viet Cong to knock down his door. This feels specifically ’80s, satirising the whole concept and making fun of peoples fears, decades ago, of new media rotting the brain of the youth, of everybody. Today, it’s smartphones, computers; then, it was TV, the boob tube (a sexist nickname for TV that fits right in with TerrorVision). Satellite must’ve felt akin to a figurative bomb dropped on the collective societal consciousness for some folks.

Intellectual decay!”

TV2Ultimately, none of these big themes develop any further than these initial thoughts. It’s all cheese, cheese, wrapped in more cheese. Some is good, in that so-bad-it’s-good-type of horror way. But lots of it is plain bad. This would’ve been a brutal, great satire if it weren’t so intent on being as sleazy and gross in the wrong ways. Beneath the shit are relevant themes, even today, not put to proper use, wasted on a near slapstick horror-comedy. Fun now and then. Mostly the bad cheese, lame acting, and more ’80s catchphrases than you could ever anticipate in a million years.
I’ll admit, I cracked up when the father changed the satellite to channel 69, blatantly repeating the number in front of the whole family as some porno flickers (after all they’re a swinger couple). And the greasy alien monster effects are campy, with a glee that’s admirable. To think, they almost had Frank Zappa scoring this, which definitely makes odd sense; better off he didn’t, after seeing the final product.
Just so unhappy with the fact this had huge potential, winding up totally lost.
TV4There’d be further things to discuss about TerrorVision had it played out its themes to a deeper extent. And even if not, the horror – or the comedy – was also capable of lifting this out of mediocrity. Truthfully, it isn’t even exactly mediocre, either. This is close to forgettable, if it weren’t for the first scene, and the alien monster, its creepy eyes.
If you want something solid out of director-writer Ted Nicolaou, check out Ragewar or the unique Subspecies for his better work. He’s good. This film isn’t an example of his talents, though you can admire where he was heading in his screenplay. Unfortunately it didn’t translate to the screen, and if his directing here were better, maybe it’s fate would be different.
If you’re looking for something to laugh along to, this is an appropriate horror movie for the Halloween season. You, a group of friends, maybe drink every time a crude reference pops up? There’s one October night set! Just remember, you’re not going to be blown away, and if, like me, you dig on those themes, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Take it for what it’s worth: mindless, numbing entertainment. If you see any weird aliens talking through the screen at you, though, turn that TV off.

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams – Season 1, Episode 1: “The Hood Maker”

Channel 4’s Electric Dreams
Season 1, Episode 1: “The Hood Maker”
Directed by Julian Jarrold
Written by Matthew Graham

* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Impossible Planet” – click here
Pic 1We open on a gorgeous river, people fishing in the distance. One woman stands basking in its natural beauty. Cut to the dreary streets of a city, people marching and protesting, signs make it clear the government has overstepped its scope. The woman from the river is Honor (Holliday Grainger), flanked by other law enforcement such as Agent Ross (Richard Madden). She’s telepathic, marked by a large red scar down her face. She’s there to read people, to see who’s a committed activist, who’s merely there for one foolish reason or another. Someone she lingers on too long can tell she’s reading him, then a crowd bears down on them. Suddenly, a man in a hooded mask appears, tossing a molotov cocktail.
Ross chases the man through the streets until he gets the guy. But the hood spells troubled times. I wonder if it prevents a person from being “read“?
At the office, Ross speaks with fellow copper Senior Agent Okhile (Noma Dumezweni). In the meantime we see how people like Honor, they’re treated differently. Outcasts, bearing a version of the Scarlet Letter right across their face.
These telepathic folk, “teeps” they’re called, get partnered with cops. Reluctantly, Ross works with Honor on a man in their interrogation room. She reads his life, his memories, taking on the personality of his mother and speaking in her voice. Getting to the dark secrets inside. Then the man repeats a mantra, she repeats one opposite of his own until he’s repeating what she says and he’s back to being under her spell. She begins to figure things out, about the hoods, about the secret operations of their misfit group.
I can see everything
They’re able to make a bust, but Honor’s clearly drawn to something further. She finds one of the masked men in the basement of where they make their arrests. A sharp noise pierces her brain, now she knows the hood prevents her from reading those who wear it.
Pic 1AWhat’s funny is, we’re essentially watching a world where police have foregone the traditional idea of law enforcement. They’re busting people based on this extra-sensory perception the telepaths have, like working on thought crimes, similar to an Orwellian concept or Dick’s precrime in Minority Report. So, there’s a kind of double-edged sword where you feel disgust for how telepathy is used by the state, and simultaneously you feel sympathetic to Honor and the plight her people face at the hands of both the state and other citizens. She even considers herself “software” at society’s disposal.
Ross and Honor continue searching for answers. Soon, she starts seeing another telepathic woman named Mary (Anneika Rose), trapped in the service of awful men, calling out for help. They track her down in a veritable den of iniquity. A man holding a gun to her. They manage to diffuse the situation, though the guy’s Franklyn (Paul Ritter), a Free Union man. Untouchable. He speaks of an “underground” saying they’re “ready to rise up.” But it’s clear he has, other nasty ideas for the use of telepaths.
At least they’ve got a bit more information, about the hoods, where they’re being made, as well as ultimately why. They discover a doctor, Thaddeus Cutter (Richard McCabe). Apparently, he had a break down. Surely he knows lots, if they can find him.
Already on the streets is a breakout of the underground. Mary and others rising, using their telepathic powers to try taking back social power, to take back their lives. Meanwhile, Ross and Honor are also stuck between the dynamic of the “normals” and the teeps. Although they do get closer, the cop isn’t exactly like all the others. It’s against the rules for the telepaths to read cops, but Ross asks her to read him. She refuses, not wanting to push him away, explaining things about her growing up. Moreover, we discover that opening scene was Honor looking into the past of Ross, he and his father fishing on the river. Beautiful moment. And she explains to him that when they’re together, her mind feels quiet just like the feeling he had on the river, unlike the noisy headspace of being on the streets.
Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 1.18.27 AMLater, Ross finds Dr. Cutter stowed away in a dingy old basement. He believes that, eventually, people will “make [their] own hoods,” that perhaps humans will evolve to resist the telepaths.
And this is why Ross is a potential aid to those fighting the telepaths. He’s a “weapon” with the ability to block being read. A tragic moment, undoing all the trust between him and Honor.
So then she sings the song, to call the underground. She’s led them directly to the doctor. Now, she leaves Ross and Cutter to the others. They kill Cutter, then soak the masks, the material, and light the place on fire.
Will Ross allow himself to be read to prove himself to her? Or will he burn?
We go back to the literal beginning of the episode, on the river. Honor walks down through the waters where she finds him as a young man, his father fishing. And she also sees him talking with his fellow agent, hearing how he’ll do whatever possible to infiltrate her, the underground. The only question left is whether she’ll let him live, or if she’ll leave him behind.
Or does it matter, when the world outside is crumbling, burning to the ground? Does love still matter? Can it conquer all?
Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 1.39.33 AMScreen Shot 2017-09-18 at 1.45.23 AMWow, I truly loved this episode! There’s a lot to take out of this one. Saw a review that said there’s no ‘modern day message’ to the episode, which I find insane. Clearly shows a divide world, on the precipice of burning down entirely. At its heart, the episode speaks to whether love can heal the divide, if it’s worth pursuing the individual interest nowadays in a time where there’s so much hate that the social climate necessitates we keep strong in groups opposed to hatred, so on. So, really, I don’t know WHAT some reviewers are talking about, honestly. Give me more!
“Impossible Planet” is next week, a whole new world, a whole new story, new characters, new cast. Love anthologies.

You’ve Got Horror for Days? THE VOID’s Got Cosmic Dread for Weeks

The Void. 2017. Directed and Written by Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Kostanski.
Starring Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Won, Mik Byskov, Art Hindle, Stephanie Belding, James Millington, Evan Stern, & Grace Munro.
Cave Painting Pictures/JoBro Productions & Film Finance
Rated R. 90 minutes.
Horror/Mystery/Sci-Fi

★★★★1/2
POSTEREveryone goes on and on about how this movie’s influenced by The Thing, which I’m sure is definitely true. I’d argue it’s more Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness than any of the master’s works. Others go on that it’s Lovecraftian, though I don’t agree totally; the filmmakers say it was their influence, and that’s fine. As I often preach, artistic intent doesn’t always have to equal concrete meaning to the audience.
Most of all, this is an original bit of sci-fi-ish horror on its own. Sure, it draws bits of heart from films co-writers Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski likely grew up watching. It throws back to the 1980s. To give their influences too much credit is to do a disservice to their horrific originality.
Many movies post-2010 seem to feel like throwback means an ’80s-type electronic score and a dark yet vibrant look. The Void has a wicked score, the sound is perfect. Best is the fact the team behind the film went with expert practical effects for the various creatures and abominations. Add these technical aspects to solid performances from one of my latest genre favourites Aaron Poole, as well as the great Kenneth Welsh (Windom Earle from Twin Peaks). This makes for one fine ride into the heart of darkness.
TheVoid1The Lovecraftian influence, the Carpenter roots, they’re fine. Gillespie and Kostanski are what matters. Their story, particularly how it’s told, works wonders on the suspense and tension which builds so dreadfully over the course of the first third of the film. Their directorial work is startling, with grim delight. We start out with an act of violence that’s inexplicable; at the time. From there, the writing-directing team unravel a tale of a cult offering sacrifices to an otherworldly entity called from the cosmos.
Production design on this one all around is fantastic. The location of the hospital is like they found a facility in the middle of nowhere, cultivating a mood all of its own. In addition, the costumes for the cult add to that atmosphere by sort of crashing down on top of the audience. When we first see them it’s a shocking moment, oh so excellent.
Not to mention the cinematography of Samy Inayeh (The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh; another great flick with Poole starring) makes everything feel hazy, terrifying, like a feverish nightmare even before the descent into utter madness and hell. The visual style is most definitely part of what gives it a throwback feel. The biggest part of that essence is the practical effects work, up there with some of the best in the genre.
TheVoid2Kostanski has an extensive background in makeup effects. He’s doing stuff on the new It, he worked on ClownGirlHouseHannibal, and even worked as an uncredited prosthetics shop assistant for 2005’s Capote. Point being, he knows his shit. He uses his chops here, alongside Gillespie, whose resume is as impressive having worked on It and Suicide Squad as assistant art director (both of which his co-director and writer worked on). He was a graphic designer on Hannibal, too. He served as assistant art director on Atom Egoyan’s The Captive, and the underrated found footage 388 Arletta Avenue is his first art directing credit. These two artists together did something on this film which amazes, in the best horror kind of way.
The creatures involved in the descent to hell, as the characters of The Void explore the hospital basement, are totally wild! Some of the best stuff out there, truly. I can see why The Thing is used as comparison. Particularly when it comes to the final monster we witness birthed; like a combination of pieces of living things. A vicious finale creation. That isn’t it, though. Throughout the movie we see various creatures, and you can’t forget the other practical effects like the blood, et cetera. That seemingly simple stuff can often get lost in the shuffle for other, lesser horrors. Not these guys. The attention to detail is what drives this whole effort home.
TheVoid3Above anything else, the end and what the film builds to from the start is the payoff. I won’t spoil it. Just to say that I love the vision these guys brought to the visuals. There’s something wholly original in the way they presented the other world, where Dr. Powell (Welsh) intends on going. Those last shots are perfection, impressing upon us without words the tiny speck that is humanity on the entirety of the universe. Gorgeous, if not also disturbing.
I gave this film a 4 and 1/2 star rating (out of 5) because The Void does what two other similar movies, Baskin and Last Shift, didn’t do despite their awesomeness: it shows us an end result. What I mean is that those other two films, kick ass as they are, sort of end in a place where there’s ultimately no traction. Not saying nothing happens, if you check my reviews of them both I’m actually a huge fan (I’ve seen Baskin at least a dozen times).
The Void goes a step further, not only in its inventiveness and practical effects monster work, it also opts to go full-on cosmic. In this way, I concede that they touch on Lovecraft and his rightful idea about man’s insignificance to other much greater, larger, non-human entities out there in the universe; gods, if you will.
Again, I don’t like to lean so heavily only on influence. Gillespie and Kostanski deserve what’s due – praise, for a breathtaking wave of pure terror, start to finish. They’ll live on with this film, though I cannot wait to see their next project. These guys are the real fucking deal.

THE DARK TAPES: Fresh Indie Found Footage

The Dark Tapes. 2017. Directed by Vincent J. Guastini & Michael McQuown. Screenplay by McQuown.
Starring Emilia Ares Zoryan, David Banks, Jonathan Biver, Sara Castro, Michael Cotter, Denise Faro, Brittany Fisheli, Jo Galloway, Aral Gribble, Shane Hartline, David Hull, Clint Keepin, Casey James Knight, Shawn Lockie, Matt Magnusson, Anna Rose Moore, Tessa Munro, Jake O’Connor, Cortney Palm, David Rountree, Katherine Shaw, Wayne River Sorrell, Meredith Thomas, Brittany Underwood, Julian von Nagel, Ryan Allan Young, & Stepehn Zimpel.
Thunder Road Incorporated.
Not Rated. 98 minutes.
Horror/Sci-Fi/Thriller

★★★1/2
Dark Tapes 1Director Michael McQuown sent me a screener for his and co-director Vincent J. Guastini’s independent film, The Dark Tapes. I’d heard of it awhile, hearing plenty of good things. Not overhyped; hyped just enough. I’m always ready to dig in on a found footage flick, no matter how tired the sub-genre seems to get with so many low budget efforts being pumped out simply to get a director and some actors a credit to their names.
The Dark Tapes isn’t a perfect movie. There are a few missteps that could’ve been avoided to make the whole thing more effective, certain tapes in the lot aren’t as good as others. Often anthologies suffer from this fate. The lesser tapes are still good. There’s nothing bad here. Each tape, regardless of its setbacks, has an eerie quality to it respectively.
McQuown and Guastini use a meagre budget wisely, choosing to use effects sparingly and, for the most part, they work. This is one of their best moves, because they don’t set the bar too high yet clearly focused on staying creepy. There are standouts in the series of tapes, presented through the narrative of being proof of government conspiracy-type stuff, the truth the powers that be suppress and keep from the people – a couple deserve their own full-length treatments. Certain segments stand up with some of the best of the V/H/S series (no surprise considering Guastini is not only an effects guy, he did work on the third entry, Viral).
Dark Tapes 2My only beef, and I’ll get to this first before discussing what I enjoyed so much, is that the directing is mostly excellent. Then, they choose to show us too much. For the longest time what we only get glimpses of in frame is what drives the pulse-pounding terror. As you can see in the photo above, that’s a startling shot. Love that moment; freezing the frame only compounds the fear. However, the directors lose some of that momentum later when they choose to show this demonic figure up close for too long. They try offsetting this with the use of camera glitches (et cetera). But it never makes up for the undoing of the fright from seeing the creature long enough we can start picking out some of the less stellar aspects of its creation.
The rest of the tapes are presented with brief shots and bits that are framed properly so that the low budget qualities don’t glare. And honestly, it’s only the one main demon in the “To Catch a Demon” segments that comes off as cheesy, which is late in the game. Otherwise, in the “Amanda’s Revenge” tape, the creatures (or whatever you want to call them) look legitimately gnarly, in the best horror sense. Particularly in that tape, we get some wonderfully old school film shots, the rickety frame, catching a presence in the distance, and it’s so genuinely perfect for the type of eeriness for which this segments is aiming.
Dark Tapes 3The tapes have an overall framing narrative, though I think that while there’s a connection between the tapes as a whole, it isn’t as connective as the filmmakers might hope. Mostly, I don’t feel that the connections are tight enough. The writing is interesting, at every turn. I can’t help think McQuown could’ve brainstormed something better to make them all into the cohesive unit the beginning (and mid-credits) speech we hear wishes it’d become. If this were tighter then it would’ve greatly improved the film.
But the stories, they’re fresh. Even in the moments some of them don’t exactly work as intended, they’re innovative. I found “The Hunters and the Hunted” was my favourite because it caught me so off guard once the revelation came, until then I expected a run of the mill bit of paranormal shlock; a proper twist, if there ever were! Also enjoyed “Cam Girls” except the end devolved into a ham-fisted mess. Before that it was wildly creepy, the editing made it feel very kinetic and full of horrific energy; while it falls apart later with absolutely no subtlety and a ton of unnecessary exposition that could’ve been given to us through imagery earlier (a missed opportunity), this segment  was insane.
And “Cam Girls” has an underlying metaphor in it, about our porn-obsessed culture that involves men watching women through their screens performing, some thinking they’re falling in love just by watching. If only the plot of this segment were worked out better, it’d be a devastating short.
Dark Tapes 5For a low budget, non-studio film, The Dark Tapes has an impressive production value. This is one of the things that keeps even the lesser pieces involving, it’s better than the average indie found footage attempt. With so many of these sub-genre flicks saturating the market, incredibly easy to make on a shoestring to non-existent budget, it’s nice to see what’s so obviously a labour of horror love come to the screen from these directors.
Sure, not every segment is perfect. A couple are scary as hell. And like I’ve yammered on, even in those segments which don’t measure up there’s still things to pique your interest. If anything, the effort the team on this film put in is astounding. Kudos to them all, I certainly hope that McQuown and Guastini do more, whether it’s in found footage that’s up to them. Without a doubt they’ve got horror sensibilities.
The Dark Tapes, warts and all, is one of the better found footage movies I’ve seen as of late, running the gamut of horror, thriller, and science fiction with relative ease. Like Tales of HalloweenHolidaysV/H/S, and Southbound, this is an anthology worth dipping into for a fright.

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.