The Mist – Season 1, Episode 3: “Show and Tell”

Spike’s The Mist
Season 1, Episode 3: “Show and Tell”
Directed by Nick Murphy
Written by Peter Biegen

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Withdrawal” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Pequod” – click here
Pic 1Everyone at the church wakes up, the first morning after the mist came over their town. Adrian (Russell Posner) worries the others are “all dead” but Kevin (Morgan Spector) assures him they’re okay, that they’ve survived just like them. Upstairs, they look through a stained glass window’s scratch to spy a vehicle worth taking. They’ll need Mia (Danica Curcic), though the kid doesn’t trust her. And there’s the fact Connor (Darren Pettie) has her handcuffed. Those two dads are going to have a difficult moment, at some point.
Over in the mall, Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) comforts her daughter. Alex (Gus Birney) doesn’t exactly know how to be comforted, with the things outside, her rapist Jay (Luke Cosgrove) inside, people hanging themselves. The bodies are cut down by Jay and mall manager Gus Bradley (Isiah Whitlock Jr) – they’re military personnel, soldiers. Even more unsettling. There’s discussion of what to do with the corpses, then they want to search everyone for dog tags. One other soldier is left, a private in the army; he doesn’t have any information, so he says. But it’s more likely the military knows exactly what is happening.
Thus, suicides.
Pic 1ANatalie (Frances Conroy) talks about finding something 1860 in the newspapers. She’s told it’s supposedly a local legend concerning “the Black Spring” – a curse, after the murder of a young woman. Even creepier is they can see her husband Benedict lurking out there in the mist.
Then Kevin asks Connor to help them with getting to the mall, he needs Mia. Of course the cop won’t help. He’s suddenly concerned with law, despite leaving people behind to maybe die at the station. They get into a big argument which leads to the cop putting Mia in the basement. Bryan (Okezie Morro) keeps on looking out for her, helping her through the withdrawal symptoms; with a bottle of pills. Plus he gets her cuffs off. They form a mutual trust, as he’s just as lost in his own ways amongst the rest of the town. He didn’t even remember himself when he woke up.
After getting chewed out by the mall manager, the game store guys – Vic (Erik Knudsen) and Ted (Jonathan Malen) – decide they’ll make themselves useful. By using the bodies found to test the mist, to see what’s going on out there. Hmm, could make for interesting trouble.
One interesting note: I love the moral implications at play, in terms of the way Adrian sees things. He doesn’t like Jay, for likely raping Alex. He also does not trust Mia, as she’s accused for murder. The way Kevin sees no problem trusting Mia under the circumstances of what they’re facing, Adrian can’t reconcile morality on those terms.
Pic 2Later when Kevin tries helping to free Mia and Bryan, he winds up down there with them after Connor the pig – in two senses of the word at this point – says some heinous shit about his wife and daughter.
Speaking of, Alex runs into Jay in one of the mall shops. He says he “didnt hurt” or “touch” her that night. So, is he a liar? I think so. He acts like he did something noble, taking her upstairs and covering her up to sleep off the drunk. Why not get her out of there, get her home? Anything could’ve happened by leaving her there. He’s a rapist, gaslighting his victim.
Out of nowhere, Natalie decides she’s going home. She means out into the mist, with her husband. When one of the men tries stopping her, a bug flies into his ear. Then, perfectly, it bulges out of the moth tattoo on his back, splitting him open, sprouting the wings through his flesh. A swarm of bugs flying from his mouth. Almost more terrifying is how Natalie reacts, as if she’s seen a revelation. Although not one out of the Bible.
Natalie: “Its okay, I dont want to die anymore. Im happy. Ive seen God.”
The remaining soldier flips when he finds the games store dudes put the bodies out in the open, as an experiment. Gus finds out and he’s not entirely pleased, either. But there’s no bringing them back inside. Moreover, they need to “establish a set of rules.” This could be where things begin getting out of hand, when new rules are imposed on people. Might get tricky.
Pic 3The priest believes God’s testing their faith. Of course, what else would be think? He reels off the story of Job to Adrian, telling about the challenge of Satan to God. Et cetera, et cetera. Job prospered in patience, ever faithful. The kid’s reaching out for any kind of love, even if it’s the love of God. So long as it’s genuine. An interesting gay character I want to see more of throughout this season.
Mostly the new rules at the mall cover not stealing from the various shops, these types of things. Then one of the security guards decides anybody who “endangers the group” gets tossed. Jay’s writing down the rules, clearly a part of the new makeshift administration with Gus. So Eve isn’t having that. Neither is shopkeeper Raj Al-Fayed (Nabeel El Khafif), not wanting to see what the prejudice against someone like himself will produce. To get themselves in a more suitable position of power, Eve grabs the guard’s gun: “I always was an anarchist.” Nice fucking move, mom! This woman is a goddamn survivor.
Adrian decides he wants to be baptised in the church, which Father Romanov does gladly. Helping him accept the love of God into his heart. Now he’s repenting sins. However, things get sort of weird. As if the boy’s being turned inward on himself. Yet he manages to slip some keys out of the priest’s pocket. To help his friends in the basement. WHAT A SMOOTH CAT! Jesus, people are surprising me here in this episode. Dig it. Not only that, Kevin gets to lay a few punches in on the asshole cop Connor before their little group makes off out the doors.
At the mall, Alex works on notes to tie on a ton of balloons, they let them fly in the air outside to maybe reach help somewhere, to reach anybody and let them know survivors are there. Let’s hope Kevin and his friends get there soon. In one piece.
Pic 4I’ve got to say, The Mist is defying my personal expectations. I didn’t think it’d thrill me in the way it is already. First three episodes are fantastic, I look forward to the rest. These characters have drawn me in, their predicaments are compelling. Effects aren’t always perfect but they’re intense and imaginative at times so far, so that’s enough for me.
“Pequod” is the next episode and it’s sure to provide us with something wild again.

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The Mist – Season 1, Episode 2: “Withdrawal”

Spike’s The Mist
Season 1, Episode 2: “Withdrawal”
Directed by David Boyd
Written by Peter Macmanus

* For a recap & review of the pilot episode, click here.
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Show and Tell” – click here
Pic 1SO MUCH TENSION in the pilot episode! Now, we’ve got people stuck in tight little places together, all their various beefs and tensions locked in there with them. Juicy, and scary.
Everybody more or less knows something sinister, something horrible lurks in the mist. Kevin (Morgan Spector), Bryan (Okezie Morro), Mia (Danica Curcic), and Adrian (Russell Posner) try to determine what they ought to do next. Kevin wants to go to the mall, to find his wife Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) and daughter Alex (Gus Birney). Meanwhile, big brave Connor (Darren Pettie), man of the law, left them at the station to run like a coward. He ends up having a moose crash right through his windshield, then must go the rest of the way on foot.
Poor Natalie (Frances Conroy), having watched as an unknown man blew her husband away, so Father Romanov (Dan Butler) comforts as much as he can. Nobody knows what’s going on. Not only has the mist crowded the land, it’s bringing an almost peak level of hysteria already.
Gus Bradley (Isiah Whitlock Jr), mall manager) asks Eve and Alex about what happened to the woman who went outside. Hard to explain, though she does. Nobody can tell what’s inside the mist. Only that it’s horrific. There are many people stuck in the mall. Gus makes sure nobody goes through the doors, locking them. All they can do now is sit tight, be safe. Awkwardly painful for Alex, as her accused rapist Jay (Luke Cosgrove) is in there, too.
Pic 2We see that habit of Mia kicking up. She’s obviously got dependency issues, looking for a few pills in the evidence locker. Wonder if she’ll cause a problem on the way to the mall, once they’re at the mall. Either way, Bryan finds her out, and he’s willing to help her. If she goes into withdrawals then it’s going to get ugly.
Eve and Alex and a woman named Kimmy go around helping to lock the doors at the mall. One of the hallways is “filled with mist” and there’s already a dead body. Not looking fucking good! There’s a radio in their security office. Only problem is it’s past the misty hall. People speculate whether this thing is natural, if it’s “terrorism” or who knows. It really doesn’t matter particularly, not at this point. All that matters is staying safe and survival.
They use a drone from one of the stores to get a look down the hall, Jay flies the unit on through. They locate another dead body; on the floor, something spelled out in blood. AMMO? ANNA? Now someone must go for the radio. Nobody exactly wants to volunteer. Therefore, they’ve got to a lottery-type draw.
Kevin and the others are trying to get out of the cop shop. They run for a cruiser outside, the longer they stop the more the mist envelopes them. Luckily, they’re able to get away. Although Mia’s starting to get the shakes, the sweats, not sure how long she’ll be good to drive. Someone stops them in the road, drawing a gun to steal the car. Rather than wait for anything to happen Mia runs the guy over. Before flipping the car in the road.
Nobody’s hurt too badly, which is the only saving grace. Yet the mist stats pushing in, cracking the window while they’re all stuck momentarily upside down. After they get out it’s either run or die. They flee towards the church bells ringing. Mia is about to go back for the guns when she comes across her dead mother in the mist, calling out to her; fuck that, go to the church!
Pic 3When they get inside Kevin confronts Connor, who ends up putting the cuffs on Mia. This guy’s a real piece of work. The cop blames them for taking too long, for Kevin staging a “prison break.” Truly he’s just a coward, doesn’t want to admit that. He’s meant to serve and protect. I guess that means only if he feels brave enough. We also see how lost Natalie is without her husband, lost in such a brutal, random killing.
Natalie: “Theres no spirit. Theres just nature. Theres here, and not here.”
At the mall, Eve is drawn in the lottery to go get the radio. One man refuses to let her go alone. They head downstairs, into the hallway, rushing through the mist. In the security room they get to the emergency radio. We gather this guy with Eve is a military man, he’s got a gun and knows more than it seems. She wants to get away, worried about being alone with him. She takes off, they end up wrestling in the mist. And she puts a bullet in him to escape before whatever’s in the mist can get her. Knowing she already has past issues with men, in some awful way, this can only exacerbate her fears. When she gets back to the others she says they lost each other down there, that the radio didn’t work. Shit, I hope that lie doesn’t come back to bite her hard.
Natalie finds some communion wine, to make a toast for Benedict. She talks about their lives together, the simple joys of their marriage. “We had money, but we never stopped drinking cheap wine.” It’s tragic. Everyone joins in for a toast, even those who didn’t know him well. Bryan gives a bit to Mia, to take the edge off. But there’s big trouble brewing between Connor and Kevin, they won’t last together under one roof for too long.
This is the first night in the mist. Everyone lays their head down with a wariness, that tomorrow might bring anything, and who knows what it’ll be, in what form. And life still goes on, people can’t turn their lives off just because of this incident. So all those tensions keep on rising. Not to mention, Bryan confirms to Mia she wasn’t having withdrawal when she saw her mother in the mist: “I saw her, too,” says Bryan.
In one of the mall bathrooms, Jay finds two people hanged by the neck from a pipe.
Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 11.21.59 AMMan, I’m impressed. Not everything’s perfect, but it’s a great show so far! I’m eager for more. These first two episodes flow really well and the excitement’s growing. Bits and pieces of horror along the way. Like any good slice of Stephen King, what’s best are the characters, their lives, their stories, and how they react in these mortifying moments.
“Show and Tell” is next. Will we see more devastation? Count on it.

The Mist – Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”

Spike’s The Mist
Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Christian Torpe

* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Withdrawal” – click here
Pic 1Bryan Hunt (Okezie Morro) wakes in the woods with a dog named Rufus. It’s almost as if he isn’t sure he’s himself: “I am Bryan and you are Rufus,” he says assuring himself. All around him a fog, a thick mist wafts over the forest, over everything. The dog runs in and Bryan chases him. But inside the mist is something terrible, it guts the poor animal to nearly nothing, a pelt left and innards, blood splattered all over the ground.
A woman named Eve Copeland (Alyssa Sutherland) is chastised for teaching topics not meant to be covered in the curriculum at her school, such as sexual education. She’s taken it upon herself, since it was taken out, to teach it at her discretion. This lands her with a temporary leave from work. She and her husband Kevin (Morgan Spector) discuss things, deciding to take it all as it comes. They’ve got a good family, nice neighbours including Natalie Raven (Frances Conroy). It’s a typical small town, people watching the football game and cheering the local boys.
Then there’s Mia Lambert (Danica Curcic), being held in a barn by some man, having the shit kicked out of her. Calls her “junkie” and knocks her around. Before she stabs him in the gut with a pitchfork.
Christ, there’s a lot going on in this place. A town full of wild characters, normal characters, everything in between.
Pic 1AKevin and his family are interesting, he loves his wife and at the same time recognises she can be cold, particularly with their daughter Alex (Gus Birney). Later at a party when her father lets her go out, Alex and Adrian (Russell Posner) run into a bit of trouble. Until football nice guy Jay Heisel (Luke Cosgrove) jumps in to help Alex after another player calls him a “faggot” in front of everybody.
At the police station, Hunt runs in talking about “something in the mist” and his dead dog. He wants to get a gun, so they naturally believe he’s gone mad. Local cop Connor Heisel (Darren Pettie) throws him in a cell, as he raves about the thing in the most, that it’s coming for them.
Mia goes to her mother’s house, only it isn’t her place anymore. She’s dead, someone else lives there now. This woman’s got history, a deep and dark one. Look forward to seeing more of her. The characters in general are very quickly developed, well rounded, in the sense it’s easy to feel part of their lives. All the better for when the horror begins.
Problems start when Alex tells her parents she blacked out as someone led her upstairs at the party, after she was drinking. Fuck. Someone raped her. She blames herself, but mom assures her it isn’t her fault. Turns out Adrian knows what happened, claiming that Jay did it. Furthermore, Eve is pissed with her husband for letting their daughter go to that party. It’s nobody’s fault except for the dirty rapist.
The cops ask Bryan a few questions. He mentions he’s homeless, doesn’t remember his Social Security Number. They treat him like an asshole instead of being either bit understanding, throwing him up against the bars and acting aggressive. Ah, American law enforcement!
In her garden, Natalie sees a bunch of toads come out, other insects and things acting strangely, birds flying away from a patch of woods in the sky. An eerie omen.
Pic 2Tests at the hospital are tricky, confirming a drug in her system, meaning she was passed out. Although there’s no trauma, which of course in a fucking court would cast all kinds of doubt because humans are idiots. Meanwhile, Alex finds only slight comfort in Adrian at home. They know how the town will act in the face of football star Jay being accused, refusing to believe he could be anything but wonderful. A few jocks already vandalise the street outside with the word WHORE. Simultaneously, Connor coaches his son along. Sort of assuming he’s guilty, only telling him he won’t go to jail. Yikes. What a mess they’re into, all of them.
Mia’s broken into a barn out back of her mother’s, digging up a bag. The owner ambushes her, keeping her at gunpoint. She gets the drop on him, yet has to leave without her satchel of cash and passports and whatever else. Cops catch up with her, though. She’s thrown in prison right next to poor Bryan.
Eve wants to take her daughter out of the house, leaving Kevin behind. She doesn’t feel it’s safe there for Alex. Mom knows about “guys like Jay” and she needs to get them away from there, at least for a few days. All the while that mist keeps on creeping.
And Natalie, along with her reluctant husband Benedict (Derek McGrath), she’s a bit of a conspiracy nut. She’s reading up on things, on “nature turning sour.” She wonders if there’s a connection with what she saw earlier, looking at microfiche of newspaper from 1860.
Pic 3Outside the police station are noises, car horns and a crash. The mist is swallowing the town, opening wide above it and covering everything. Alex drops hints about her mother’s past, saying that the town knows she was a slut; prompts a strong reaction from Eve. Did something bad happen to her? With that mist growing, Kevin, Connor, the other officers, they’re clouded in it. Cell reception drops out. And one cop taking selfies in the foggy air meets a pack of bugs swarming him, devouring him.
People don’t know any better, so they head out into the mist. It’s so thick they literally can’t see more than several feet ahead of them. A man with a gun appears, not knowing if what he’s seeing is real before shooting Benedict right in the throat, sending Natalie off on her own, stumbling into the church to the arms of Father Romanov (Dan Butler).
Kevin and Connor are about to leave, but the former runs in to get Adrian. He’s left with the decision of leaving Bryan and Mia, or taking them, as well. Mia does a good job talking him into letting them go, clashing with the kid a bit first. She’s a bad motherfucker. Outside, Connor leaves them behind like a coward.
What we can see is all the conflict in the town that’s about to be stuck in close quarters, every hateful remark, every nasty rumour, every secret bound together in a tight spaces with others of the same kind. Whereas The Mist we know stuck to a smaller space, it looks as if – at least at first – some of the groups of people will be separated in various claustrophobic locations.
Pic 4One perk? A woman who says Alex “lied about getting raped” walks directly into the mist, like a dummy, and the people inside the shopping centre watch as she has half her face torn off, then gets sucked back into the mist by something unseen. SCARY, and holds a bit of retribution for that woman’s awfulness. Nothing any better at the station, as the officer covered in bugs barely has a face left, either. Mia has to put a bullet in his head, saving Kevin when the cop nearly thrashes him.
Only now they’re all stuck, the mist outside, and all their demons raging inside.
Pic 5Great first episode! Was quite wary when I heard about it, but I love Stephen King. Huge fan. This story was always a good one, very chilling and spooky. The film was great, so I’m now looking forward to what they’ll do with this season.
“Withdrawal” is next week. Honestly, I might have withdrawals until then. Because I’m revved up by this pilot.

Aquarius – Season 1, Episode 2: “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game”

NBC’s Aquarius
Season 1, Episode 2: “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game”
Directed by Jonas Pate
Written by John McNamara

* For a recap & review of the Season 1 premiere, “Everybody’s Been Burned” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Never Say Never to Always” – click here
IMG_0244Ken Karn (Brian F. O’Byrne) gives his wife Grace (Michaela McManus) and Dt. Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) a load of bullshit, about nearly being mugged at knifepoint. He won’t tell them about Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony) almost raping him. Nor the fact he knows Charlie, and well. The other two are curious, as to why he’s hiding things. But Ken shuts it all down with his talk of knowing those in high places. Our detective is relentless, though. He’ll figure things out.
Up at the hippy ranch, Emma (Emma Dumont) is falling more and more for the persona of Manson. Although she’s hungry, they’ve got no food. He certainly isn’t working. He’s hypnotising them all into working “for the dream.” And what’s the dream? His career in music.
Dt. Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) is trying to get things done with Mike Vickery (Jason Ralph), but he’s also helping Hodiak, distracting him. The pair of detectives are unlikely, an interesting relationship. They’re parts of two different generations, vastly different, as Shafe has a bit of hippy in him. They end up heading down to a minority neighbourhood, where a woman’s been killed; blunt force trauma to the head. The victim’s husband is a racist, upset by the police not coming down there when they ought to; not liking “darkest monkeyville” where he’s living, in the “Congo.” His disgusting talk seems to really upset Dt. Shafe, too.
IMG_0245Ken meets with Hal Banyin (Spencer Garrett), who’s also aware of Charlie. He advises to take care of Charlie, get rid of the detective. It’s clear they’ve got mutual interests. And with political season around the corner, they can’t afford any big messes boiling over.
In a store, Emma gets caught trying to steal a jacket. This puts the store owner in the line of Charlie’s fire. He gets the jacket for them, not without some blood on his blade. “Do what needs to be done,” he tells Emma.
While the police force as a whole in America, particularly during the late ’60s, is a racist institution, Hodiak seems to have an actual relationship with black people, store owners, so on. Even more so with Shafe, he’s got a rapport with the people in the neighbourhood where they’re investigating the murder.
At least until Bunchy Carter (Gaius Charles) from the Nation of Islam arrives, shutting down the cops and their questioning; he chastises the “occupying force” of the LAPD, only concerned with white murders. All the while Sam is figuring out the murdered woman might’ve been done in by her husband. He uses Bunchy as a decoy, though. An opportunity to make the husband feel at ease? I’d bet on it.
Through Vickery and his man Art Gladner, Hodiak and Shafe make certain there’s no confusion about the latter being cool, not being an undercover cop. Clearing the path for more of their mission.
IMG_0246At a Young Republicans bash, Ken runs into Manson. He’s dropped by to give thanks for being connected to some music industry folk. The father also wants his daughter back. Except it isn’t something Charlie will grant, not without cash for a demo to shop his music around. So, it’s either cough up the money or face some “ugly ass genies” popping out their bottles to see the light of day.
Emma’s doing more for the hippy clan, she’s found them plenty food to feed on. This prompts Charlie to rename his girl Cherry Pop. Only more sinister because his hooks are in deep, too deep for her to escape.
A surprise shows up at Hodiak’s place: his son Walt (Chris Sheffield). He’s back from military duty, though his dad thinks there’s something strange about his apparent leave. Hmm. Sam’s got more to do down at the station, interrogating Bunchy as the husband of the murdered woman kicks around outside. All part of the plan. He orchestrates things to pull a confession out. A method to what previously seemed like madness.
We also see that there’s a good deal of tension beginning to bubble between Hodiak and Bunchy, something we’ll surely see more of play out soon enough.
Hodiak: “Wives can be a lot of things, but we dont get to beat them to death.”
IMG_0247Sam discovers why Shafe feels for the black community – his wife Kristin (Milauna Jackson) is black. Discovering things about each other all the time. The pair of detectives do jive, even if there’s a generational gap. Because it feels to me that the worst parts of Hodiak are the fact he’s a cop. It’s that side of him which draws out the primitive parts of himself, the badness.
He goes to see his ex-wife Opal (Jodi Harris), she’s been part of their son going AWOL from the army. Shit. Now there’s also the side of Sam which deals with duty, honour. He’s a military man himself and he’s disappointed in the fact his son has deserted his duty.
Grace dug up phone records on her husband and Manson’s conversations. Likewise, she brings up more. That, to her, Ken is like “a sphinx” and he’s a mystery. They only got married because she was pregnant.
And at the very same time, Ken is with Charlie giving him money for the demo. Half upfront, half later. Before they kiss. Such a psycho-sexual bond between these two men. Ultra strange.
IMG_0249What a whopper of a follow-up episode from the premiere. Things have gotten twisted, they already were at the start. But this episode truly gets things pumping, the deeper we watch these character open up, fall, and move through a dark world.
“Never Say Never to Always” is next and will bring up even more madness to chew on.

Aquarius – Season 1, Episode 1: “Everybody’s Been Burned”

NBC’s Aquarius
Season 1, Episode 1: “Everybody’s Been Burned”
Directed by Jonas Pate
Written by John McNamara

* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” – click here
IMG_02281967, in Los Angeles. Emma Karn (Emma Dumont) is sick of her parents Grace (Michaela McManus) and Ken (Brian F. O’Byrne) fighting. She heads off in the night with Rick Zondervan (Beau Mirchoff) to escape to a party, a place of free love, fun, weed, drinks, music. What any young person the late ’60s hoped to enjoy. Except at that party, taking a shine to Emma, is a man named Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony). The manipulation he employs in order to meet her immediately shows his character, how eerie and possessive he is as a person. He speaks of the city, its lights as a “snake” which they’ll eat before it eats them. His hypnotism already at work.
Charlie: “I know how much it hurts, like a body, soul screaming to be heard.”
We meet Detective Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny), a local cop. He’s friends with Grace Karn, she calls about her daughter going missing. They need help. So, Sam is the man to get shit done. There’s a quick introduction to his character that serves him well, seeing him miss his keys, forced to hotwire his own car to leave. At the Karn place, he meets the parents and gets more information on their daughter. It’s revealed Ken is in politics, wanting to keep his wayward daughter out of the papers, unofficially. A point of contention in the marriage. Turns out Grace and Sam, they’ve got a romantic past, too.
IMG_0230Sam starts by talking to Rick, who threatens him with daddy going to court. Quickly, we see more of Hodiak, that he isn’t one to worry about such things. He’s a renegade cop, the type that still exist but ran absolutely rampant back in the ’60s, strong arming and doing whatever necessary during an investigation.
Up at the camp with Charlie, Emma is falling in with their little roving family. He’s charismatic, interesting, he plays guitar and sings, write songs. She seems to be enjoying this new adventure in life. She hears about Charlie’s “vision” of being “bigger than the Beatles.” Thus starts the psychosis of it all.
The streets are on fire with protests. At a diner, Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) is buying drugs from Mike Vickery (Jason Ralph). In fact he’s a cop, undercover. We also see that he’s not your typical officer of the law, even gets taken down by one of his own while trying to calm down a forceful cop agitating protesters. And this fighting spirit when he’s taken to the precinct impresses Hodiak, who wants a less clean, rugged type helping him on his latest case.
Shafe (re: other cops): “If its somethinyou dont understand you wanna hit it, fuck it, or shoot it.”
Fun to see Hodiak adjusting to the new rules for cops, concerning Miranda rights. They’ve actually got cards to remember them. Just a glimpse into the times changing, and whether he likes it or not the detective has to change. Or else be left behind, or worse. The detectives do wind up finding out a bit of info on Charlie, his biker friend Roy Kovic (David Meunier), so it’s something to go on.
IMG_0231Sadie (Ambyr Childers) is one of Manson’s ladies, she reels Emma in with romantic talk about their cult-like leader. She paints him as a new age philosopher, a psychic magician. All of which makes the girl feel that this is a place where she belongs, even if she’s being cruelly indoctrinated into a place of worship.
The rest of the work is done by the silken tongue of the devilish Charlie, hauling Emma further in by speaking what she wants to hear, playing on her broken spirit. Because he’s broken, too. He talks of her mother, what she did to him as a child, a brief glimpse into his wretched soul. Then they have ritualistic sex, as the other women come in to join the pleasure.
Charlie: “I dont look at you. I see you.”
Shafe enlists Sam to help with his recent drug deal and upcoming bust involving Mike. The two partners are getting closer. They also ask a young officer named Charmain Tully (Claire Holt) in order to infiltrate a party. There, Brian finds out more about Manson, and then meets Kovic, a member of the Straight Satans biker gang. Only it gets tense when Charmain thinks she might have to fuck Kovic. More than she expected out of this little mission. So Shafe topples the biker down the stairs, beating up his leg to get them out of there fast. Further than that we see that our young detective isn’t afraid to dip into the buzz while undercover. Might this come back to haunt him?
They start digging through Manson’s history, everything from assault to robbery to anything else under the sun. They visit his parole officer, finding out the guy likes to pimp women. He’s also connected to politicians – possibly why he knows so much about Emma, connected to her dad – and movie stars, so on. Yes, Ken knows Charlie because he’s a big time lawyer, one with political weight. Should be interesting to watch the Karn family’s story play out.
IMG_0232Manson soon confronts his old pal Ken, about what he remembers; and he’s got a looong memory, good one, too. Now he needs to be put in touch with some musicians, some big names. He’s trying to move on up in the world. Then he explains about Emma being with him, taunting with nastiness. Before starting to rape Ken at the end of a blade, nearly getting the job done before a car interrupts. This is the most vicious we’ve seen in the opening episode. Not the most vicious we’ll see later on.
IMG_0235Such a good start to this series. Always liked reading about Charles Manson, a truly despicable character in the history of modern America. “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” is next, starting to unfold more about Charlie and more of Dt. Hodiak’s personal story.

Bellevue – Season 1, Episode 7: “The Man Behind the Curtain”

CBC’s Bellevue
Season 1, Episode 7: “The Man Behind the Curtain”
Directed by Adrienne Mitchell
Written by Morwyn Brebner

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Problem with the Truth” – click here
* For a recap & review of the season finale, “You Don’t Understand Me at All” – click here
Pic 1Annie (Anna Paquin) and Eddie (Allen Leech) aren’t on speaking terms at the moment. She actually takes a spill in the road chasing his car because he won’t say a word. She apologises for the previous night, his run-in with Brady (Billy MacLellan), though her ex isn’t totally in the right, either. She tells him about having a brother, named Adam (Patrick Labbé), that he’s lost, “messed up” and such. So, is her long lost older brother her Riddler? All these years?
Meanwhile, Virginia (Sharon Taylor) has poked holes in the alibi of Coach Tom (Vincent Leclerc). She and Annie interrogate him. Although he’s a bit drunk. They probed further about the night Jesse was murdered. Turns out he DID pick the kid up, and others were involved. Lily (Janine Theriault) and Father Jameson (Joe Cobden), to be exact. Welland (Shawn Doyle) asks his detectives to bring the priest and the mayor in for questioning.
And what about Adam out there in the wilderness? He gets a call on his radio from… Brady (Billy MacLellan), or is that someone else’s voice? Then at the station, Dt. Holt interrogates Father J, as Annie and Welland are in a room with Lily, and Victoria stays with the coach.
Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 11.58.03 PMThe three were “worried about” Jesse, supposedly. They wanted to convince her to play the game, not rock the boat in their little town; that’s all it was, not some altruistic intent on their behalf. Only problem is that Jesse took off from the church, not leaving with either of the three. They lied to save themselves the embarrassment, to not look weak in front of their town. Bunch of dummies. And why go to the church, simply to talk? Suspicious, if you ask me.
Furthermore, Annie goes to the church, determining someone else was there lurking behind the three and Jesse that fateful night. Afterwards when they’re alone together, she and Welland discuss Clarence possibly having another child. There’s no record of an Adam Ryder in the system, as if he’s invisible; or he does not exist. A ghost. But he’s very real. He’s keeping an eye on the mayor, the coach, and the priest. Was he the one in that church? If so, what is the ultimate connection? WHY Adam?
Annie and Welland are searching for their mystery man. Nobody seems to have seen him around Bellevue. Suddenly, Welland remembers a clue about “this mess” from Sid hearing the man talk. It was in fact a man called Bobby Storms, a military school boy; this is the mystery man, Adam. Psychological issues abound, sent away at a young age.
The two cops together go into the forest, they find Adam’s makeshift lodge. Annie sees relics of her youth, the clown statue, the doll. She remembers lost memories of her and Adam. He was strangely possessive about her: “Youre mine.” Such an eerie moment.
Pic 4A bit of a break comes when Daisy falls in the lake where Jesse washed up. She gets an antibiotic because of bacteria in the water. Thus, the killer might very well have some kind of infection requiring medication.
Annie and Eddie connect again, a little, as she tells him about Adam and what she can remember about their past. “Maybe he just wanted me all for himself,” she rationalises. Even if it wasn’t a paedophilic thing, it was still unsettling. A dangerous thing, possibly. It’s no wonder Clarence reacted by sending him away, I don’t exactly blame him. Either way, through the prism of Adam we watch Annie discover things about herself, her own possessive tendencies towards love. I’d like to think she can change.
With a clue from a note in the woods, Welland goes to the church where he sees Adam in the flesh. They casually sit in the confessional – a great little piece of symbolism – talking about the past, Peter saying he wants to take him in the woods and shoot him in the face. So the long lost brother has a few final things to say before running off. Only we don’t hear the words ourselves.
Virginia and Annie come across new information about Brady, his confidential informants. He’s also acting strangely. This sets Annie off, and she finds an empty bottle of antibiotics in his bathroom. Holy shit. There’s a white truck in the garage outside, too. Now he’s on the run from her, off into the night. Or maybe not. He pulls a gun on her from out of nowhere before she can contact Welland. He threatens that if she doesn’t play along, he’ll kill her daughter.
Pic 5Dt. Holt was there that night, watching in the church. The three pressured Jesse, not to tell the police, to serve his community. They effectively blamed him for “freak urges” inside. What exactly drove him further? Why has it affected Brady so deeply? He has feelings for his sister Briana (Amber Goldfarb), he loves her more than a man should love a sibling. An improper, taboo love. And that’s what drove him to it. When he tried to reach out to Jesse, equating his feelings of incest with the transgender issues Jesse faced, the kid called him “sick” and it drove him over the edge. Oh, god. Such devastating things we could’ve never seen coming.
Then, as he’s about to shoot Annie in the woods, someone hits him in their vehicle. Knocking his body bloody and lifeless onto the windshield in front of her.
Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 12.22.50 AMHOLY CHRIST! What an episode, I never saw any of this coming personally. Such intense, deep revelations. Just spectacularly dark writing, and comes together in a neat little package. Although there are still things to uncover.
“You Don’t Understand Me at All” is next, the final episode of the season and series as a whole.

Bellevue – Season 1, Episode 6: “The Problem with the Truth”

CBC’s Bellevue
Season 1, Episode 6: “The Problem with the Truth”
Directed by Kim Nguyen
Written by Waneta Storms

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “How Do I Remember?” – click here
* For a recap & review of the penultimate episode, “The Man Behind the Curtain” – click here
Pic 1If it wasn’t obvious by now, Annie (Anna Paquin) is obsessed. She’s whittling away at the similarities between the deaths of Jesse Sweetland and Sandy Driver. Eddie (Allen Leech) grew up with Jesse’s mother Maggie, so he gives his two cents. Even young Daisy (Madison Ferguson) has opinions.
There are no clear answers, though. Everybody has some sort of dark secret in Bellevue. There’s a muddy past behind every door. Welland (Shawn Doyle) has his big secrets, some of which our lead detective has already figured out, resenting him for, obviously.
Moreover, Annie wants to see her father Clarence’s (Patrick Labbé) notes from before he died, concerning the case of Sandy’s murder. She starts digging into the details, starting with Randy Oldring (Kent McQuaid) whose entire life has been shaped negatively due to finding the girl’s corpse, fingernails missing, all that. Something we don’t often see, aside from the murder victim – the people who’ve seen the remnants of brutal murder, corpses left in the woods like garbage, they must go through difficult psychological issues. Still, they weren’t murdered, and no matter how bad Randy seems he’s alive; unlike Sandy.
Pic 1AWe see that young Ms. Driver was Mary in the school play, same as Bethany Mansfield (Emelia Hellman) is now. Mayor Mother Mansfield (Janine Theriault) is in a photo, also in the play. What’s her connection to Sandy, I wonder?
Annie finds a cut out page in her father’s notes. Something involving a 9-11 call and Lily Mansfield. When she listens to the call on a tape, Annie discovers mentions of an intruder at the house who left “fingernails.” Yikes.
She comes across VHS tapes, as well. Trusty ole Brady Holt (Billy MacLellan) has a VCR at home, she heads over to watch the tapes with a few beer. They bond, chat. And on the tapes they find Lily as a girl, her answers to questions about Sandy. Lily says she’s an “old soul” and she clearly comes on to Clarence. Uh oh, I am seeing this heading someplace problematic. Starting to become apparent why dad tore out those pages.
Or is it? Part of why I love Bellevue – tragically, seeing as how it’s cancelled now – is that the mystery is always deep, incredibly palpable. In that, at times, you can never decipher whether things are headed where it seems. Although it looks as if maybe Clarence knocked up Lily, who on the hush-hush supposedly had an abortion years ago.
Annie goes to see the Mayor of Bellevue. The woman is less than forthcoming, acting like a real jerk. “I have a fucking alibi,” she crows through gritted teeth. No information coming out of this one, that’s for sure. When Annie brings it all to Welland, he confirms part of his trying to protect her was to avoid any awkward revelations about her father. Except, why did Clarence not file anything about the fingernails, the 9-11 call, everything else? WHY?
Pic 2Later, Welland gets a call from Sid Oak (Raphael Grosz-Harvey), saying he’s heard the voice of the Riddler again, down at the bar. Ah, a lead, and Peter actually invites Brady to go along, so it looks legit. Just another way to make himself look genuine? Hard to tell.
Meanwhile, Virginia Panamick (Sharon Taylor) is running down leads of her own to connect all the dots. She’s starting to wonder about their boss, what he’s investigating. He might’ve included Brady in helping round up men at the bar, but he certainly didn’t say much else.
A code of numbers written on Clarence’s notebook corresponding to his pager and the symbols on it lead Annie to another clue, leading back to previous pieces: New Horizons. She requests a patient list for the old mental hospital. At the same time, she’s becoming more and more suspicious of Welland, that it was possibly him involved with Sandy, not her father.
We see a flashback to young Lily, a younger Peter responding to her call and collecting the fingernails. She flushed the evidence down a toilet, not wanting the grief. Followed by seduction. Welland took the 9-11 call that night, prompting everything else. So it’s less a sinister act on his part, more the fact he’s a liar who made a mistake and let things snowball into a fucking avalanche. Now he’s lost the trust of Annie, too. In a massive way.
She has other problems aside from that. With Eddie. She wants them to be together, to finish all the nonsense between them. Yet he worries about her, constantly, about things going crazy. He can’t do that anymore. He wants a “calm, simple” life, one that doesn’t jive with her, so he says.
Eddie: “You dont have to feel pain to be with someone
Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 11.06.07 PMWelland goes to see Lily, demanding to know more about the man who left the fingernails. He’s very serious. He’s pissed, and lashes out in anger. The guilt of Clarence killing himself over the case tears him to pieces. And Lily, she feels that Welland brings out the best in her, that she can’t be real with anyone else. It’s a dark thing they have together.
Virginia’s finding out more about Coach Tom. That his wife wasn’t home the night of Jesse’s murder, which then means she can’t alibi her husband. Hmm, curious, no?
In the woods at the cabin, Annie stumbles into a man as she rages in a drunk stupor. Who is he? Is it the Riddler? She almost believes it’s her father, at first. Then, back in the cabin, she finds another clue, about someone named Adam; his height etched into the door frame above her own.
Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 11.10.33 PMAnother solid chapter, unravelling a bit of the mystery while still retaining the core, the darkness which makes the atmosphere of the series so interesting. “The Man Behind the Curtain” is the penultimate finisher. I hope that, despite its cancellation, this sole season can end on a good note story-wise. We’ll see!

Bellevue – Season 1, Episode 5: “How Do I Remember?”

CBC’s Bellevue
Season 1, Episode 5: “How Do I Remember?”
Directed by Kim Nguyen
Written by Jane Maggs & Thomas Pound

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Hello Little Light” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Problem with The Truth” – click here
Pic 1Talking through the surveillance system, Annie (Anna Paquin) talks to the Riddler, the mystery man. She thanks him, for helping with her father’s death. He helped give her purpose, in a strange way. He tells her now to “trust her instincts” about his identity. She asks him more about the murders of Jesse Sweetland and Sandy Driver, how they’re connected. It’s a strange relationship she has with the Riddler. To keep it going any further, she asks more of him. Although he doesn’t give her much more than before, only cryptic references and no promise of any concrete answers.
Maggie (Victoria Sanchez) goes to talk with Danny (Cameron Roberts), about how to remember Jesse at the funeral, what do for him; he replies only with the word “she“. At the same time, Annie’s figuring out more about Rainmaker Jed (Neil Napier), whose further information about his drug distribution sends the detectives in other directions. The package in Jesse’s room wasn’t done up like how Jed and his operation do things. So, there’s somebody else in the mix. Someone dangerous.
Not only that there’s trouble with Eddie (Allen Leech). Annie sees him punching his truck window, looking very angry. She knows’s something is up. Moreover, she starts believing he is caught in a bad place, possibly trafficking drugs. All the more troubling for the fact Daisy (Madison Ferguson) is around him. Could make for nastiness. Simultaneously, Annie believes the mystery man is suggesting things about her estranged boyfriend. He responds by telling her to wear Neil Driver’s watch during the funeral for Jesse. Hmm, why?
I dropped a stone, but youre not seeing the ripples.”
Pic 1AAt the funeral, tensions run through the crowd. Particularly when Danny comes in. But Bethany (Emelia Hellman) and others embrace him as a big part of Jesse’s life. Maggie talks about her boy, mourning his death; more importantly, she refers to Jesse as “my daughter.” Suddenly, Mr. Driver (Andreas Apergis) barges in saying she deserves everything that’s come to her family before cops pull him outside.
What’s the full history between Maggie and Sandy Driver?
Down by the lake, being morbid, Daisy hears a woman’s voice calling out in the woods. She runs into Bethany and Danny and Max (Ryan Doherty). They call out in grief to the woods, saying they loved Jesse, that it hurts having lost her. Finally they’re able to grieve, out in the open. A sad, tragic openness.
Eddie is tasked with doing something by the people for whom he’s working. While he’s doing that Annie finds their daughter’s dog in his freeze. Weird. He admits to her about owing money, but denies planting any drugs at Jesse’s place. He says the drugs were stolen from him. The dog was killed in retaliation for his debt, obviously. In way over his head.
Welland wants him to testify the drugs belong to him; they were stolen AFTER Jesse’s death. These two have history, the cop doesn’t exactly like him. Except he knows that Eddie, at heart, is a good man. So with it being a first time offence, a self-professed “one time thing” Peter is willing to give him a chance. Afterwards, he leads Annie on with more lies about the burning of the shack and the fire at his house Still playing towards something dark, unknown.
Pic 2Such a strange connection between the Riddler and Annie, like two strange souls linked together in the night. She’s starting to realise that, too. She believes he’s getting his kicks from watching her scramble, listening to his clues. Yet I can’t help wondering who he is, why he’s doing all this to her. She gets a trace on his line and finally something’s come back. Annie follows the signal out to the grave of Sandy Driver, where she finds a phone and a text message reading YOU’RE NOT CRAZY.
But she wants this relationship done, sickened by the manipulation she’s allowed.
Cali (Catherine Kidd) has ties to the drugs, whether she’s top dog I don’t know. Regardless of that, Eddie goes to her, he wants to be relinquished of their ties; it’s clear she wants Annie taken out of the equation. This requires he take a beating instead, which he does willingly.
Maggie tells Annie about the “retribution” she’s faced, for what she did to Sandy back then. Before she can tell her story, though… she passes out, having binged deliberately hard by herself on pills. No telling if she’ll survive, but the chances are good with Annie being there at the right place, the right time. We at least know there’s a strong connection between Maggie and the death of Sandy.
Annie goes back to talk with Neil, about the night his daughter die and where he was supposedly working. He kept the receipts of being on the road, all these years. In order to remember that he actually did not kill her. He gives them over to our detective, providing another bit of evidence from which she can work.
And later at home, Annie falls back to the relationship with the Riddler. Trusting in him more than she does herself, or anyone else for that matter.
Pic 3The building of character is as good as the plot development, all the backstory. Bellevue deserved better in terms of viewership. I think because of it being a Canadian show and done by the CBC, it might not have been eagerly watched by too many. Certain viewers likely didn’t expect the gritty, deep, mysterious (and weird) take on the typical crime-mystery series that we received here.
“The Problem with The Truth” is next, I’m looking forward to seeing further things about Eddie and his situation, and again – what is Welland up to? Need to know.

Bellevue – Season 1, Episode 4: “Hello Little Light”

CBC’s Bellevue
Season 1, Episode 4: “Hello Little Light”
Directed by April Mullen
Written by Jane Maggs

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Guy with Fire in His Eyes” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “How Do I Remember?” – click here
Pic 1Annie (Anna Paquin) is setting her place up for surveillance, in light of recent events. And she’s not giving up on the case of Jesse’s death, either. Even though it’s all clearly weighing on her heavy. So many things surrounding the case, her own life, it’s a wonder she’s keeping her head above water.
She and Welland (Shawn Doyle) and the other cops go check out a house belonging to Rainmaker Jed. He’s a drug dealer, apparently. Brady (Billy MacLelland) comments that Jed is “so white” and that it’s a surprise he’s allowed to live on the reservation. Virginia replies that he’s married to a woman from the tribe, she doesn’t spend much time there. They find Jesse’s boyfriend Danny (Cameron Roberts) kicking around, he looks after the place from time to time. Inside they find fake eyelashes and size 13 platform boots. This leaves Welland and his crew wondering if he has a “sexual proclivity for young boys.” Moreover, we see that the boss man is slipping a bit in front of his detectives, he’s got his own issues going on. Still curious about what exactly he’s into, his secrets.
Virginia and Annie go to the Rattlesnake Bar, talking with Jed. He’s a sly one. They also run into Eddie (Allen Leech), his latest fling Briana (Amber Goldfarb) – sister to Detective Holt. To that Virginia replies: “Fuck him. Girl power.” LOVE THIS WOMAN! God, I hate that they’ve cancelled this already. I wanted more of her, more of the queer Native perspective through her character, among other good things about the series. Still, at this point in time in Canada we deserve more roles like this for Native actors, specifically women.
Pic 1ASo the question is now, what’s Jed got to do with Danny, Jesse, et cetera? They’ve found a pink Eiffel Tower earring on the man’s property. Belonging to the dead boy; buried. Virginia further digs up info on his past, that he was sexually abused as a kid and has anger issues. She and Annie interrogate Jed, whether drugs were stolen by Jesse, if there was a sexual relationship, a three-way thing between the two of them and Danny. Or, was it something more forcible? Was the earring a trophy of a murderer? Rainmaker Jed lawyers up, either way. And he says that all he was trying to do was help. Hard to tell. Suspicious and eerie nonetheless.
Annie presses Welland about the mystery man’s riddles, asking if he’s found out anything more. She further wonders about the fire at his place, knowing there’s something more to it than coincidence. Oh, my. Dig the dark tension that’s always lingering, the show has impressive atmosphere. Welland does some pressing of his own, talking with Sid Oak (Raphael Grosz-Harvey), the local sex offender. He wants to know about the Riddler, if he’s heard from him since, so on. Threatens to put false charges on him if things don’t go his way.
Part of a crime-mystery show like Bellevue, this dark and dreary-type stuff is the fact that we see the grey areas of the law. Where things aren’t always black or white, which they aren’t in life. Part of the intrigue is seeing how characters cope with being on either side. Annie isn’t perfect, far from it. But she’s miles from Welland, whose character is obviously a deep, scary kind of his own sort.
Pic 2Meanwhile, Annie is diving into the past of her father Clarence (Patrick Labbé), the psychiatric records and tapes of his sessions with a doctor, things she’s never heard before. It’s tough for her to hear, though necessary. It helps us come to understand her past. Also, it’s leading Annie to wonder if Neil Driver (Andreas Apergis) is her Riddler. He is, indeed.
Or, is he dissociating, and taking on the personality of the mystery man?
A man named Anthony Greene (Karl Graboshas) who works for Jed is in the interrogation chair now. Brady and Virginia ask him about Jed, using his sister as a bit of leverage. Anthony burned the white truck belonging to Rainmaker Jed. He’s officially the prime suspect in the murder.
Mayor Mansfield (Janine Theriault) has borderline psychotic tendencies, slapping herself in the face to stop a crying jag; her daughter Bethany (Emelia Hellman) sees it, though has her own issues with everyone at school texting her WHORE. And the small town itself seems at odds with Annie, who isn’t wholly sold on Jed’s guilt. She finds comfort drinking with Brady, talking about his sister and Eddie, the case; even if there’s an awkward moment before she leaves where things feel sexually charged.
But she heads out to sneak into the home of Mr Driver, seeing an almost shrine-like kitchen table with words carved into the wood, a paper with a front page concerning the death of Annie’s father, her name circled in the newspapers paragraph. And at her place later, she hears someone speaking through the surveillance system outside: “Hello, little light.” Was someone out there, or did they hack in? Becomes clearer Neil isn’t the Riddler. Poor guy thinks Annie is his daughter Sandy.
This means someone else is creeping about.
Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 2.42.46 AMWhat’s the ultimate connection between Jesse and Sandy? Could the latter’s father have killed her, then years later killed the boy? Welland doesn’t think so, and Annie’s father never believed Neil murdered his daughter. Our fearless detective finds a note on a nearby swing, about a bracelet. This leads her to call up Daisy (Madison Ferguson), about the hospital bracelet  she found belonging to her grandfather. This and the watch together, the time of 12:13, adds up to more mystery.
When Neil is let out of the hospital, he finds Annie at his place. She’s asking about the references to 12:13, the time with links to his daughter’s death. We see a flashback of him yelling at her, fighting physically. His watch broke on that particular time. We find out more about someone being there with Sandy that day – Jesse’s mother, Maggie (Victoria Sanchez). Our detective goes to talk with the grieving mom, suggesting Jed may not be her son’s killer.
But the evidence stacks up against the guy. He acts as if he knew the real Jesse, as if he cared. It’s so difficult to cut through to the truth. At least, for Jed, he’s got Annie semi-rooting for him. She judges his character by him knowing Jesse and Danny were planning on running away, and that he didn’t tell anybody. This is a caring gesture, deeper than most anyone in town offered the kid.
Jed: “She was a good kid
Annie: “Jesse referred to himself as she?”
Jed: “She did at my house
Pic 4Solid episode that builds on the case itself, in favour of leaving some of the Riddler stuff as secondary. Not that I don’t dig Annie’s personal little mystery, I do. It’s just nice to see the development in Jesse’s case, seeing more of him as a character instead of him just being a trans victim. “How Do I Remember?” is next. Hoping to see more of the Riddler story this time, as well as how Welland ties in. He’s a sneaky one, that Peter.

American Gods – Season 1, Episode 8: “Come to Jesus”

Starz’ American Gods
Season 1, Episode 8: “Come to Jesus”
Directed by Floria Sigismondi
Written by Bekah Brunstetter & Bryan Fuller & Michael Green

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 1 episode, “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney” – click here
Pic 1More spiders, crawling all over a garment shop, as clothing is sewn and fitted by Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones). Sitting by, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) and Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) listen to Nancy tell a story while they wait. He speaks of Bilquis (Yetide Badaki), her “place of worship” in a temple below the red planet Mars shining bright in the sky. A large room full of writhing, naked bodies. They lift her above the crowd, carrying her, worshipping, as she anointed them. Men came to challenge her, to try knocking her off her throne. But she absorbs her lovers. She takes them into herself, into her “vagina nebula.” The source of her power.
In fact, Bilquis is a version of the Queen of Sheba.
Mr. Nancy: “Clothes and hair change with the times, but this queen, she kept the party goin‘.”
In the era of disco, we see Bilquis go from sitting on top of the world to dealing with the misogynoir and plain racism of supposedly modern times. Yet, she played the game, the part, adapting when necessary. Never forgetting she is a fucking queen; always. Until she falls farther and farther.
Perhaps like never before with the other Old Gods, the story of Bilquis illustrates how far respect for the old traditions, the ancient and first peoples of human history. Monuments being destroyed by ISIS perfectly show us the cruelty of men, the relentlessness of modernity. Likewise, we see Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) offering Bilquis a way back towards remembrance, towards worship – social media. This is the new form of worship. Instant gratification.
Will she accept her position as a New God in his company?
Pic 1AMeanwhile, Shadow’s not particularly happy about the way things are going. He doesn’t understand what Wednesday is doing, seeing as how he just killed one of his old buddies. Now the old man says they’re going looking for a queen. Shadow doesn’t even know Wednesday’s real name. He’s not sure how his dead wife Laura (Emily Browning) came back to life. No easy answers.
At the same time, he’s having his dream of the bone orchard again. Of the ancient buffalo, breathing fire from its nose. He has no idea what it all means, any of it. Yet.
Mr. Nancy: “Angry gets shit done
Then Shadow and Wednesday arrive in Kentucky, to see a lady called Ostara a.k.a Easter (Kristin Chenoweth). Apparently they “might not be welcome at first” and it could have something to do with him running over a pack of rabbits on his way up her massive estate’s driveway. The lady is quite a piece of work. Her house is a saccharine pastel fever dream, full of decorations and more rabbits and even Jesus Prime (Jeremy Davies). There are different Jesus’ for each denomination. Every god, every depiction of every god has a form. Sort of a Platonic form for each sect’s ideal of what their god looks like.
Mr. Wednesday: “Believing is seeing. Gods are real if you believe in them.”
We’re privy to the difference between worship and celebration, as Wednesday calls out how Jesus is a New God of his own. Ostara is tossed to the wayside nowadays for Christ, he hijacked her day. People don’t worship her, they don’t pray to her as they do the son of God. The old man uses this to get her alone, so they can have a proper chat. He tells her about the New Gods, the coming war.
Pic 2So it looks as if Bilquis has taken the bait, she’s been given the gift of modernity by Technical Boy. She is no longer homeless, on the streets. She’s the curator of a museum, looking after the artefacts of the past. However, she avoids him. So he shows up to call in the favour for returning her to glory. She does seem reluctant, which gives me hope.
In other news, Laura and Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) also get to Kentucky, at the big Spring festival wit all the different Jesus Christs. Inside, Shadow talks with Jesus Prime. They talk about faith, belief, and fate. And Wednesday, he’s still busy convincing Ostara to come with them on their journey.
Poor Laura ain’t doing so hot. Throwing up maggots and her skin is getting worse, starting to peel back, come apart. Ostara isn’t thrilled about a dead girl being in her house during a big to-do. Mad asks her to help, and to keep it quiet from the unknowing husband upstairs. The only problem? She gets a look at the last image in Laura’s eyes before her death; Mr. Sweeney himself. Uh oh. This might cause an issue if Shadow were to find out. Plus, the girls is dead “without undoing.” She was killed by a god. Later, Mad admits it was him who did the deed, but it was the old man made the call.
Arriving at the party is Media (Gillian Anderson). She’s been part of building the Easter holiday, of course. She made it a brand, ushered into modernity with chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs and bright coloured decorations and capitalism. Hmm, wonder if it’ll pop off with them all kicking around.
Pic 3Media: “Youre an Old God new again
The sinister presence of Media doesn’t even need the Children around. Goddammit if they don’t make her creepier, though. She and Easter have it out, the latter feeling misrepresented by the media. But as Media makes clear, this is – more and more – an atheist world.
When she and Wednesday come face to face, Technical Boy at her side, there’s a feeling of change coming. Or is it? Media says they’re taking Easter with them. Even Mr. World (Crispin Glover) turns up to threaten, saying they’ve got all the power, and the Old Gods have none; he’s one unsettling dude.
And above them all, a storm rages. Lightning strikes the Children down. Then he asks if Shadow has faith, before revealing his true self: Odin, among many names. He calls up all his powers, bringing them forward, as does he command Ostara to do the same. Which she does, proudly. As the sun comes out, the life is sucked from the trees and the fields and shows the New Gods how she can take Spring away. Only returned when people pray for it. Lots to look forward to next season!
Not to mention we see Bilquis on the road again, sucking souls into her nebula. She’s headed into Wisconsin. What’s her task for the New Gods, exactly?
Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 3.04.02 PMNow that Laura and Shadow are back in one place, the Old Gods are coming together more… what will happen next? Wow. Just wow! This whole season is fucking fantastic. A visual head trip. The plot’s been written well, too. Neil Gaiman should feel good about this adaptation, I hope he loves it as much as fans do.
Here’s to Season 2. I’m dying for it already.

Bellevue – Season 1, Episode 3: “The Guy with Fire in His Eyes”

CBC’s Bellevue
Season 1, Episode 3: “The Guy with Fire in His Eyes”
Directed by April Mullen
Written by Jane Maggs

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “He’s Back” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Hello Little Light” – click here
Pic 1Now that Annie’s (Anna Paquin) found the body of Jesse Sweetland, and Virginia (Sharon Taylor) found out about the boy’s boyfriend Danny (Cameron Roberts), among other things, there’s so much going on in Bellevue. Welland (Shawn Doyle) isn’t particularly impressed that Annie has been running around investigating on her own, not telling him things. All the same she’s found some intense, very possible connections to the Sandy Driver murder. The relationship between Annie and Welland is not doing well. Still, he knows she’s good at her job, he’s just worried.
Welland: “So tell me that you understand that you may be talking to a killer right now
What we have now is Annie reverting to the old games she played with the mysterious man in her past, leaving notes in the mailbox at the tree in the woods. Christ, it makes my skin crawl. In the best sort of way.
Pic 1ABellevue’s been rocked with the death of Jesse. Even Dt. Brady Holt (Billy MacLellan), usually a bit of a hard man, seems to feel it. However, they’re police, and they’ve got to keep on investigating, to figure out who killed the young man. He was killed with blunt force trauma, then tossed into the water.
Biggest clue so far? Danny’s mention of a white truck.
At church, Maggie Sweetland (Victoria Sanchez) mourns her son, as Father Jameson (Joe Cobden) tries comforting her. She laments in the belief of God, that he’s only about “punishment” and nothing more. Then they’re shocked to discover one of the paintings on the church walls has been defaced. More religious iconography, a hand with a knife drawn on in red paint.
Young Daisy Ryder (Madison Ferguson) has a fixation on Sandy Driver. She’s actually doing weird rituals in the attic, cutting her hand to drawl blood. Afterwards, she sees a man yelling through the darkness: “Theres no point in coming back to life. Well just kill you again.” Real? Or is she seeing things? It was Neil Driver (Andreas Apergis), scaring the shit out of her.
Possibilities become real when Annie sees a picture of coach Tom Edmonds (Vincent Leclerc) with Jesse, and his white truck. Hmm. There’s definitely more to this guy. He wanted more for Jesse, wanting him to focus on hockey instead of his identity. Not realising that for so many who struggle with gender identity, wondering if they’re transgender, identity is everything.
Pic 2After Daisy gets in trouble for her little seance, Eddie (Allen Leech) is pissed with Annie. He feels she’s starting to become “obsessive” as her father started out, apparently. Did the mystery of Sandy Driver’s murder all those years ago drive him mad? It’s all certainly threatening to push his daughter over the edge in present day.
Someone I find a bit repulsive is Mayor Lily Mansfield (Janine Theriault). Very opportunistic, a cold person. She worries more about investors than the killing of a boy. Don’t think she’s guilty of any crimes. Just of being a terrible human.
In the woods, Tom has his boys fighting over beefs. Jacob (Robert Naylor) and Max (Ryan Doherty) are called into the middle of a circle where they beat the shit out of each other. Primal and nasty, hypermasculinity in its ugly glory. But what’s most apparent is that Tom is a bit insane.
Annie finds out that the coach was destined for an NHL career, sidelined by an accident. Ah, broken dreams. Surely has something to do with his aggressive way of handling the team. The story familiar to many who’ve played sports when they were young, myself included.
Most creepy is the continuing game between the mystery man and Annie. She comes across Welland on the road, they then run into Tom and the the team, smearing their faces with some “Lord of the Flies blood shit.” Certainly does not help the case for the coach. At the same time, I wonder about Welland. I’m not sure if he’s got his own secrets, or if he’s mainly just angry with Annie. Either way he goes overboard chastising her for being like her father.
Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 10.29.16 PMThe relationship between her and Eddie isn’t good, either. They get in a fight, she runs out to a bar dancing with another man, and he goes straight for her. They’ve got a love-hate thing going on, exacerbated by the fact she’s wildly unpredictable. So is he, though. No shortage of issues between these two, from emotional to drugs and alcohol. Also doesn’t help that Annie is obsessed with her job, the past, all of it mixed in a mess together.
AND WHAT THE HELL IS WELLAND DOING? He’s tossing the fingernails into a bonfire he sets in the shed on the old New Horizons grounds. What the fuck? This is beyond suspicious. Does he have a connection to Sandy Driver? Shit.
Annie and Victoria chat with Danny, hoping to find out more about Jesse. There’s connections to the reservation, so Victoria takes the lead. Danny talks more with Annie about coach Tom, how the relationship changed between him and Jesse. They went to a motel somewhere to meet a scout. After that, hatred. Doesn’t sound good, at all. Tom’s wife further confirms questionable behaviour.
Tom sees a prostitute, where he brought Jesse to have sex with her, as well. At the motel. He wanted to make Jesse into a star hockey player, seeing his identity as a barrier to that. But, is it motive? Did he feel it wasn’t panning out? Annie thinks he’s got “motives buried deep” and he’s one of those quiet types, capable of snapping loose.
Annie and Welland question Tom, about the hooker and everything else. His masculinity is incredibly fragile. He thinks men are meant for “another world” like we’re cavemen. He’s definitely insane, in his own way. Did he kill Jesse? Tough to say.
Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 10.38.09 PMSomething else to add into the investigation: a large quantity of MDMA, half a pound, in Jesse’s closet. Perhaps a distributor for a local drug dealer. More clues to lead them in other directions. Good, especially for the fact they can’t pin anything on Tom as of yet.
Then the working girl Tom sees lets slip more information: he may have “walked into traffic” suggesting his long ago accident was not so. And only days after the death of Sandy Driver. He keeps a sign in the arena basement, a Bellevue sign with his name on it. The boys… like to see it.
So this connects to the latest riddle about a hero’s fall from glory. Annie goes to the arena, she finds a picture of Tom as Joseph in a pageant back then. More religious symbolism and iconography combining, in regards to the pageant with Sandy back then.
And Annie’s been locked in the basement. Someone pours gasoline into the room. Ready to light the place on fire. She pleads for her life, to be trusted again. Such twisted shit.
Dont trust the guy with fire in his eyes,” says the man with the riddles. Is he speaking of Welland, who himself recently lit a fire? Indeed. Plus his house is on fire, as he looks on. What exactly is his secret?
Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 10.49.57 PMSo many things to ponder. I already know that Bellevue won’t return for another season; I hope they finish on a good note at the end of this one. Pity, because I’m really into it. Lots of mystery, intrigue, so many characters with their own lives and deep secrets. Great stuff from CBC. A true shame this won’t be renewed, I guess it didn’t impact others as it did me.

Bellevue – Season 1, Episode 2: “He’s Back”

CBC’s Bellevue
Season 1, Episode 2: “He’s Back”
Directed by Adrienne Mitchell
Written by Jane Maggs

* For a recap & review of the Pilot episode, click here.
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Guy with Fire in His Eyes” – click here
Pic 1At the old church, Annie Ryder (Anna Paquin) brings Peter Welland (Shawn Doyle) back to see the bleeding mural she found. She has pictures, from the one sending her riddles, and luckily because it’s gone now. As if it were never there. She also shows Welland the UR MY LIGHT message written on her back windshield.
Welland doesn’t want her going down the old path she went as a younger woman, when the mystery man and his riddles drove her to the brink of insanity. He wants to take care of it himself.
Annie’s whole life is in a mess. Her daughter Daisy (Madison Ferguson) isn’t feeling so great about her, and Welland’s constantly worrying about her psychological state. The two of them and Virginia Panamick (Sharon Taylor) and other police are investigating the scrapyard where the items belonging to Jesse Sweetland (Sadie O’Neil) were found. Not much to go on, but bits and pieces; such as a tooth and some skin.
Jesse’s mom Maggie (Victoria Sanchez) is keeping a keen eye on the other people in her town, to “look in their eyes” and see if she can figure out if someone’s done something to her boy. At the same time, she hears people disparage Jesse for wearing women’s clothes. The poor woman misses Jesse, and some people couldn’t care any less. It’s tragic to see.
Maggie: “Evil looks just like you and me
Pic 1AMaggie flips out on Father Jameson (Joe Cobden) about his relationship with Jesse, so of course Annie talks with him more. Wondering if someone connected to the church conducted a “violent form of conversion therapy.” With all the religious iconography and imagery connected, it has to be somebody of faith, right?
At the school, Annie and Virginia probe friends and acquaintances about Jesse, his problems, so on. Some girls suggest talking to people on the reservation, where he hung out. Welland talks to coach Tom Edmonds (Vincent Leclerc) and the rest of the hockey team, only digging up very surface-type things. Nothing too concrete thus far.
Note: Loving Virginia’s character, I hope they don’t bury her. She seems like a straight up, honest cop. Interested to see exactly how her relationship with the reservation and her people works.
Bethany: “Dont native people like wear dresses and dance around a fire?”
Virginia: “Yeah and every year we sacrifice a privileged white girl
When she sneaks around at night, Annie catches the Mayor’s daughter Bethany (Emelia Hellman) snooping in the scrapyard. Looking for something. The young girl plays it off with legal threats, clearly she knows more than she’s willing to let out.
Annie’s got bigger things to worry about, like who planted the creepy doll in back of her car. It’s one her father Clarence (Patrick Labbé) gave to her years before, to protect her when he’s not around. Moreover, the doll’s been dressed as the Virgin Mary.
Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 1.55.27 PMAt the church, Maggie talks to Father Jameson and tells him that she knows Jesse is “who he is.” She doesn’t need him to be fixed. She kisses Jameson, saying: “When you put on your dress, I thought it was a phase, too.” Such a STELLAR line! I love that. Because religion is a fluid as identity, if you want it to be. To those of us who don’t believe. A way for Maggie to sort of say fuck you without having to actually say those words.
So, what does Bethany Mansfield have to do with Jesse’s disappearance? What was she looking for up there? Annie wants to find out. She tells her about finding the tooth, his skin on the fence. Bethany calls him “sick” and that Jesse didn’t want to be the way he was anymore. Except he did, it was his friends who wouldn’t accept him. They were holding the pictures of women’s bodies in front of the fence; he reached out and the photos were pulled away, giving him the shock, those cross-like burns.
Jesse later told Bethany he was leaving, that he cared about her deeply. She’s too repressed to feel anything for him, causing a scary confrontation between him and Bethany’s boyfriend, Jacob (Robert Naylor). When Annie susses things out, the boyfriends turns on his buddies who in turn start telling the truth. She and Brady Holt (Billy MacLellan) press Jacob, taunting about Bethany being with Jesse. Picking at his fragile, young masculinity. Until finally the kid says he saw his friend get into a white truck headed for the reservation.
Bullshit? Or no?
Virginia meets with Danny Debessage (Cameron Roberts), Jesse’s boyfriend; he isn’t honest about their relationship totally at first, before she shows him a picture of her wife. Ah, see, she’s even more interesting than I even thought before!
Meanwhile, Annie goes to see Eddie, feeling lost in the world. “These are my arms,” she says. They’re not together, yet there is a huge connection. Something’s been keeping them apart as a couple. They’re still very close. I think she lets her job and her past lead her life too much. Not easy NOT to do, but it’s obviously something driving a wedge into the relationship between her and Eddie.
Her mind is consumed, entirely. The past is everywhere. In the road Annie comes across a truck that backs away quickly, something between the vehicles. It’s an animal carcass, in its side is carved REMEMBER ME. She thinks about the memories of the past, the riddles, the doll. So she checks inside the doll and finds nasty fingernails wrapped in plastic stuffed in one of the legs. Disgusting, and so compelling.
Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 2.02.37 PMThis all relates back to the death of Sandy Driver, those many years ago. He fingernails were never recovered. Bringing her back to those memories, that place in the forest. Where there hangs a mailbox, taking us back to the opening scene where she sees her own mailbox at home, hanging crooked. Great imagery.
Annie starts figuring out a riddle, connecting to an old mental hospital named New Horizons. A place in the woods now only a wreck, barely anything remaining. When she goes up to have a look, to “find a fish out of water” like the riddle says, there are scratches, blood. Is it from when Sandy died? One thing’s certain, it’s all fucking with Annie’s head.
Not long and she finds the corpse of Jesse, lying face down floating in the water close by. So goddamn sad.
Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 2.14.40 PMClear now there’s a big connection between Sandy’s death and the tragic death of Jesse. But what is it? “The Man with Fire in His Eyes” is next, I’m hoping we’ll see a few more weird, exciting developments. Bellevue has got me hooked now, two episodes in.

Bellevue – Pilot

CBC’s Bellevue
Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Directed by Adrienne Mitchell
Written by Jane Maggs

* For a recap & review of the next episode, “He’s Back” – click here
Pic 1In the town of Bellevue, Annie Ryder (Anna Paquin) stumbles to her car out of a bar. She breaks a man’s car window, before the two of them head back to a motel to have sex. This guy’s Dwayne (Victor Andres Turgeon-Trelles), he’s a bit crazy, plus he’s got good drugs. They have some fun, they snort a little coke. Then the cops bust in – Brady Holt (Billy MacLellan), Virginia Panamick (Sharon Taylor), and Peter Welland (Shawn Doyle). Seems that Annie’s a cop, working undercover. Except she’s a bit… deep undercover.
She’s also a mom to a young girl named Daisy (Madison Ferguson). They live in Bellevue, Annie’s hometown, where she’s stayed to raise her own family. It’s a town like any other, it has all the bitchy neighbours, the drug issues, all of what you’d expect from a tiny community. We also find out about an old murder victim, whose death was being investigated by Annie’s father; it’s also the anniversary of his death.
Out at a scrapyard, Annie meets Welland and the others in relation to a missing kid from town. They have a bit of evidence, they’ve recovered a cellphone and a few other items belonging to Jesse Sweetland (Sadie O’Neil), the local star hockey player. He’s also contemplating his “gender identity” – in a small place, nothing is secret.
And there’s a spooky feeling in the air, as we simultaneously hear Daisy’s class presentation about the death of Sandy Driver. This show already has great atmosphere. Might not hold up every episode, but definitely intriguing from the get-go.
Pic 1AI like that they’re tackling a sensitive issue, including ideas of transgender identity, gender fluidity, so on. Don’t like that the trans community is often relegated to victimhood. However, we’ll see where Bellevue takes us in that regard. It’s nice to see some inclusion, and particularly from CBC here in my country.
The cops get a tip on a sex offender; a paedophile recently moved in near the reservation. Out at the bar, Annie confronts the man, made a bit more complicated when the bartender outs her as police. Then the guy hands over a note addressed to her. What the fuck? This is a creepy twist. He up and disappears before she can ask him anything further.
We get a glimpse of her past, after her father died. Young Annie (Habree Larratt) spent quite a bit of time in the woods by herself, a private getaway. Where she starts to find notes written by her father, little riddles left for her to solve. As if he was still alive. This caused problems between her and her mother, a lot of emotional issues for her, too. This story’s just become infinitely weird and just as unsettling.
Annie mentions the riddles to Welland, wondering if he knows anything more than he’s told her. He says he doesn’t, worrying more about her focus on the latest case. But she IS having a hard time. Mainly due to the anniversary of her dad’s death. Moreover, we see she and her estranged boyfriend-not quite husband Eddie (Allen Leech) clearly both have dependency issues, on drugs and alcohol. It’s a thing they share together. Deep history between them, obviously.
Pic 2During a conversation with her daughter Annie figures out one of her father’s riddles. She goes to an old, rundown church. There she finds a statue painted half man, half woman. A cellphone goes off nearby: Nature is calling, apparently. The sound echoes around her everywhere. Terrifying.
Who gave that paedophile the note? She goes to confront him, he says it was anonymously passed in the bathroom. Annie calls in an anonymous tip about what she’s found, then Welland and the others check out the church; it’s a hangout for teens. They find the statue. Clearly a message. Is Jesse “caught in the middle” of someone’s religious obsession clashing with the idea of trans identity? Or his own?
We start seeing the various opinions in town about Jesse, the trans aspect of his life. Father Jameson (Joe Cobden) believes he was a confused boy, as do the Bible thumpers. Maggie Sweetland (Victoria Sanchez) talks about her husband’s death, then about what she noticed in the days before her son disappearing. He recently, supposedly, stopped dressing feminine as of late. Only we know different, having seen him in the opening moments of the episode. Likewise, we saw a cross-like symbol on his hand. Like a burn.
Annie and Welland comb over the evidence they’ve uncovered so far. Nothing obvious, yet. She remembers seeing the statue as a child. Part of the nativity scene. Meanwhile, the town acts like they’re all hoping for the safe return of Jesse, everybody acting as if their hearts are bleeding when under the surface it doesn’t seem to be the case.
Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 11.01.10 AMLater, Annie gets a call about Neil Driver (Andreas Apergis) out at the old church. Off his meds again. When she arrives she finds streaks of blood. From a wall hangs bags of it – red paint, not blood – leaking over a painting covered in barbed wire and a rosary. Spooky religious imagery. And that cross on Jesse’s hand? It’s a mark from an electric fence. Perhaps someone is trying to shock the femininity out of the young man wanting to transition? Either way, something connected to Annie is happening. She finds one of her childhood toys in the building. While her daughter sees someone crawling around on the car outside. He’s left a note, too: UR MY LIGHT on the back windshield.
Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 11.09.45 AMThis opening episode did it for me! I’m in, Bellevue. Take me for a ride. It’s obvious there are many things swirling around Annie, now including the fact her daughter is nearly traumatised and I know it’ll get worse. I love the idea of imperfect parents, and she is definitely one. She’s an interesting character, as is the story compelling.
“He’s Back” is the next episode. Will be exciting to watch these characters and this gritty plot expand in the coming chapters.

The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 1, Episode 10: “Night”

Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale
Season 1, Episode 10: “Night”
Directed by Kari Skogland
Written by Bruce Miller

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 1 episode, “The Bridge” – click here
Pic 1We cut back to when the women were first being introduced to Gilead. Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) laments the “parade of sluts” in their regular attire. Even though they’re all dressed normally. This is a hyperreality of misogyny.
They’re instructed to clasp their hands, look downward. June a.k.a Offred (Elisabeth Moss) reminisces from her present situation, about the look in the eyes of the handmaids now, sentiment only previously known in spurts, never prolonged. Now, it is all they know. They’re indentured to the patriarchy.
June is brought to a dark room. Where Aunt Lydia and other aunts insert some kind of tracking device into her, blasting it from a nail gun-like contraption into the flesh just above her ear. Such nasty stuff.
But remembering, not forgetting is important. It fuels the determined rage which June continually feels, hopefully leading to her escape from all this someday. Right now, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) is taking out her frustrations on the handmaid. The lady of the house knows what’s been going on with her husband and their servant. She forces June to take a pregnancy test, after beating the shit out of her.
Whatever empathy I tried feeling for Serena is gone. She’s fully complicit in ways that go beyond any fear for her own safety. She is awful. Not as awful as the men, though. Never.
And now June is with child.
June: “They shouldve never given us uniforms if they didnt want us to be an army
Pic 1APoor June, she has to remember her first pregnancy, a much happier and safer time when she and Luke (O-T Fagbenle) were able to feel excited for the coming of their child. These days, it’s ugly. Nothing to feel good about.
We find out more of what Serena’s discovered when she confronts her husband Fred (Joseph Fiennes). There’s further evidence Serena also helped write some of the laws used to enslave women in Gilead. The same laws and misogyny her husband uses to keep her down, to literally make her feel as if she’s at fault for his lust. Like he wasn’t wretched enough already. Serena then blasts him as “not worthy” to father a child, telling him that Offred’s baby is not of his creation. Christ, I can’t imagine what this will cause.
Later on Nick (Max Minghella) discovers June is pregnant. He reacts with tenderness, though I still feel it’s very problematic. She did feel something for him when they had sex. However, the fact she even had sex with him in the first place is STILL forcible. She would’ve never otherwise done so if she weren’t shackled by the patriarchy in that nation-state. Every decision which led her to those moments in bed with Nick were forced by misogynist law. Therefore I find it difficult to find this meant-to-be-touching scene at all nice. It’s creepy.
Moira (Samira Wiley) is out in the cold, sneaking through the woods. She comes across a farm; she’s in Ontario, Canada. Across the border, finally! This is a bigger ray of hope than I personally anticipated.
Pic 2Off someplace unknown to her, June waits in the car. Serena heads into a house then comes back outside with June’s daughter, Hannah. Right there, where she’s unable to speak to the girl. This is one of the most cruel things Mrs. Waterford has done to the handmaid. Not THE most cruel; that would be holding her down to be raped. But this is so tragic, hurts the heart to see June so close to her daughter. Serena is despicable. And this has really pushed our woman over the edge.
June: “Youre fucking evil, you know that? Youre a goddamn motherfucking monster.”
Commander Putnam testifies to his sins, regarding the whole mess of a situation last episode with Janine (Madeline Brewer). The Council are sitting around discussing the offence. We see the hypocritical nature of them all, but most definitely Commander Waterford, whose own transgressions shine through clearly. Others aren’t so quick to forgive, such as Commander Pryce. So, what’s to be done? Putnam must offer a sacrifice to God, to show that he accepts his sins and the consequences. He gives over his left forearm to surgical amputation as a show of faith. Man alive, these fellas are some sick puppies. The lot of them. Bunch of perverted religious freaks.
That night, June goes to the Commander. Asking that he protect her daughter from Serena. She warns that Fred does not know his wife, the extent to which she’ll go, the depths she’s willing to sink to hurt one of her own kind. In her room June finds a packet of letters written by various handmaids, the postcards of abused and ravaged women calling out to the world for help. This is like viewing her own death, already written before her; figuratively and literally. It’s almost enough to make her want to give up. But she won’t, ever.
Pic 3Moira experiences a culture shock, going from the US to Canada. She is now an American refugee in the land of freedom, where women are still people. The biggest difference is just dealing with men, seeing a man that doesn’t treat her as an object. He processes her into the country, welcoming her to Ontario, and offering all sorts of things she hasn’t been able to do in so long. One of the basics? Read a book. So fucking sad to hear, and at the same time glorious. (Also feel good being a Canadian.)
Alone together, Fred and Serena hash out their issues. He’s looking to the future, the expectancy of a child coming to them. She is, of course, devastated that it isn’t her having a child. Just like a typical abuser, Fred plays sweet right now. He talks a good game about being “a family” after the baby is born, and after June is gone.
All the handmaids are out listening to Aunt Lydia, performing one Gilead’s many strange rituals. They take off their “wings” – the blinders on their head gear – and proceed to each pick up rocks. They bring out Janine, punished for the crime of endangering a child. Set for a fatal stoning. Ofglen refuses to comply, and she’s cracked in the mouth with a rifle. After that none of them move. Until June steps out of the line, the men draw guns on her. The handmaid drops her stone. Next is Alma, then the others, all of them. Each replying: “Im sorry, Aunt Lydia.”
Will this start a revolution? Is this the beginning of their rebellion, or will this cause something worse? I feel it’s one of the first acts that will help liberate the women. Every revolution must begin with small steps.
Pic 4In Canada, Luke and Moira find each other. She was on his list, as a family member. It’s a bittersweet reunion without June there, yet still wonderful. Just to know she is safe for now, that she isn’t alone.
Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 10.52.00 AM
All the while June remains in her room, under lock and key. Suddenly, men come to take her away. Although Nick says to trust him and go. The Waterfords protest, but the men take her regardless.
She’s put into the back of a vehicle, carted off. To who knows where. Punishment, or being saved? We’ll have to wait to find out.
What a spectacular finale, loved it! We know there’s a Season 2 coming, and I think that helped me with the ambiguity of the ending. I’d still have enjoyed it, anyways. There’s a lot of character development, plenty of things to get excited over for next season, and the tension was unbearable during a couple moments. Love the writing, can’t wait for next season already.
Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 10.58.52 AM

Peaky Blinders – Season 1 Finale

BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 1, Episode 6
Directed by Tom Harper
Written by Steve Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, click here.
Pic 1Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) goes to the Chinese market, to the tailors and Mr. Zhang (Lobo Chan). He’s there to see about some working girls, he knows his officers often frequent the place. Y’know, for a “certain purpose.”
In other news, Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is readying Arthur (Paul Anderson), John (Joe Cole), and the rest of the lads for a big, big day. At home, Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) prays for her nephews, each for different reasons.
Tommy: “After today therell be no need for prayers
So over at the Chinese market, Campbell is looking for a bit of sexual healing, to mend his frustrations, maybe even get his mind off Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis), if even for the moment. A young Chinese woman tends to him, removing his boots and his tie and treating him well.
And what about Grace? She’s facing nastiness from other officers. Plus, Campbell is holding what she did for Tommy, and with him, over her head. He’s angry, wounded. Now he’s hurting girls down at Zhang’s place, which gets brought to the attention of Mr. Shelby. Uh oh, a compromising position for the copper. The venom between these two is pulpy.
Campbell: “Before the day is over, your heart will be broken. Just the same as mine.”
Pic 1AWe find out more about Pol, when Ada (Sophie Rundle) talks with her. Turns out her children were taken from her, which is one of the reasons she’s so close to the nephews and niece. She speaks well of Tommy, that he does what he does to protect them. Moreover, she tells Ada about the plans for Freddie Thorne (Iddo Goldberg); and they’re not bad. He’s going free. BY ORDER OF THE PEAKY FOOKIN’ BLINDERS!
Campbell later meets with Winston Churchill (Andy Nyman) about the operation to locate the guns. Everyone’s happy. The Inspector also chooses not to say anything about Grace’s transgressions, talking her up. Then the conversations turns to the Peaky Blinders. This is more of the nasty Mr. Campbell planning something rough for the Shelby clan and their gang.
The big day’s come – Billy Kimber (Charlie Creed-Miles) is getting the oust. They’ve got dirty work to do before the legitimate racetrack stuff gets underway. One of the best parts is that John and Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) are married, so the Lee clan is alongside for the ride. That’s a grand help. Afterwards, Ada comes back to her family with baby in tow – they named him Karl after “Karl Marx” himself. So perfect for a Communist’s child. Having Ada back in the fold is good for the family, especially Tommy; a boost of confidence and trust in him.
While the lads hit the bar, Danny Whizz-Bang (Samuel Edward-Cook) picks Freddie up on the road. He’s also the one holding on to that last missing gun from the BSA stockpile.
Pic 2The love story between Grace and Tommy’s getting deeper, more troubling, more intense. He wants to change for her, he wants to be a legitimate man and not be bound to the criminal life. The racetrack, the betting, it could change everything. Right before Grace can reveal her true self, Tommy is made aware of Kimber chaps heading over to see them. Might be a war, someone’s betrayed their clan.
And who’s done it? Grace. Again. Pol goes down to talk with the barmaid. Then younger woman reveals her status as a woman of the law. However, there’s no fight as it seemed was poised to happen. The aunt knows Grace saved Tommy’s life recently, that she’s a tough woman, and that she’s fallen for her nephew.
One of the underlying themes of Peaky Blinders is that war changes people, drastically, and for the worse every time. This is the crux of the character of Thomas Shelby, he is a good man at heart but he’s been warped like an old branch on a tree, weathering a brutal storm in France only to return home where nobody wants him now that he’s broken.
Now the Blinders and their allies wait for the attack to come, knowing they’re outnumbered. On the other side, Campbell’s willing to let “the beasts devour each other.” All in the name of jealousy, in the end.
Youre bad men, but youre our bad men.”
Thus, the battle commences. Tom and the lads are locked and loaded and ready to fight. They’ve even got ole Freddie with a nice machine gun to blow them to bits. Except for the fact Ada wheels her child out in front of them all. She calls up the memories of France, wearing black as if already a widow. A woman’s power there in front of each of those men. BAD ASS ADA SHELBY! Yet Kimber takes his shots anyways, putting one right in Tommy’s chest. Followed by a return shot right through Billy’s forehead. The fucking end of that. Sad to see Danny die, too.
Pic 3After making it out of France, poor Danny’s gone. Killed back home by goddamn gangsters. The lads toast to his memory: “May we all die twice.” Everyone has a drink, remembering his honour and his strength, those who fought with him in the war then fought with him once again in the streets of England.
Life goes on, relatively the same. Just a bit more sad, a little more drunk. Although Campbell isn’t thrilled to hear about Freddie being sprung from his prison transport, knowing it was the Blinders who did it.
Tommy goes to see Grace later. Theirs is a difficult relationship, one mired in criminality versus law. She wants him to be done with business, then find her in New York. She’s got plans for them. I just don’t see that sitting too well with the family, certainly not Polly. Nor do I think Tom can leave this life behind. Or resign himself to the idea of being with a copper. We’ll have to see where the road takes him.
When Grace goes for the train, she winds up on the end of Inspector Campbell’s gun. Will she make it away?
Pic 4Season 1 has been INCREDIBLE! Impeccable writing, the acting is out of this world. Production design is some of the best you’ll see in any period television series. Can’t wait to review Season 2.

Peaky Blinders – Season 1, Episode 5

BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 1, Episode 5
Directed by Tom Harper
Written by Toby Finlay & Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, click here.
Pic 1Bless Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory), she’s doing her best to look after Ada (Sophie Rundle) even though the girl doesn’t want to take any handouts from them, not Tommy (Cillian Murphy). Not when she believes he’s had Freddie (Iddo Goldberg) “shopped” into a dark, dingy cell.
But we know different, don’t we? Was Grace (Annabelle Wallis) did that. And all the while Tom falls in love with her more each day, not knowing who and what she is outside of their business together. Then there’s Arthur (Paul Anderson), who sticks by his brother’s lead mostly, and John (Joe Cole) who ain’t quite sure about Tom; thinks he grassed on Freddie.
Best of all is when Arthur and John run into Arthur Sr (Tommy Flanagan). Dear ole dad goes home for a visit. Nobody’s too happy to see him. He claims he’s changed. Nobody actually seems to believe it, though. Even though Arthur Jr looks more willing than the rest.
Tommy: “Grace, everyone in my family hates me. Why would I tell them?”
There’s a lot of trouble in the Shelby clan. The brothers are all divided, neither of them. Slipping up and telling Grace a few things he shouldn’t, such as the fact Danny “Whizz-Bang” Owen (Samuel Edward-Cook) isn’t really dead.
Pic 1AWe see Arthur Jr hanging out with ole Sr, who he apparently reveres. The younger one is like a child again, watching his father and listening to him. But it really seems like the old lad is only looking to grift a bit of cash out of his boys, whichever is willing. He doesn’t feel like an honest man, and the animosity Tommy feels towards him is enough to sell me. Right now, he’s reeling in Jr and dividing the brothers further. It’s actually fucking tragic to watch.
Arthur Jr: “And Shelby money is Shelby money
At the Garrison Pub, Tommy receives a visit from a man named Byrne (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor). He’s there about the lad who got shot recently in an alleyway, the one Grace did in. Furthermore, Byrne pokes around about Tom’s thoughts about IRA, the man shot was his cousin, deeply connected. Seems Danny’s been running his mouth drunk, telling tales out of school. “Every finger in this city points in one direction,” Byrne says before necking a glass of booze. The IRA aren’t fucking around, nor is Byrne himself. He makes a few pointed, quietly terrifying threats. CHRIST! Is Grace ever making life difficult for the leader of the Shelbys.
Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) has another clandestine meeting with Tommy, as they discuss the best way forward with all the IRA heat. The copper could spread the word around Ireland and make sure they know Tom wasn’t involved. He won’t, though. Just as he’s fine to let everyone believe lies about how Freddie was grassed up. He’ll do what he can, however, to keep anything too bad from happening.
Pic 2Tom rushes into the pub that night, saying he believes the IRA are coming to kill him. So he makes a fast plan with Grace, a signal. Then Byrne and his man come, they sit at a table for a drink. Before she comes out firing. The men wrestle, Byrne chokes Tommy nearly to death before he’s beaten into a bloody pulp on the floor and his head’s smashed in. The ferocity scares Grace. Afterwards, he asks why she shot, but we know she has her own deeply personal issues with the IRA.
Thing is, now the relationship between these two is deepening. Grace is starting to cross over, torn by the duty she feels as part of the arm of the law, incapable of fighting off all the emotions she’s beginning to feel for Tommy. Simultaneously, she’s bent to the will of Campbell, who’s a tad jealous. For her part she wants out, to get away from it all before losing herself. She knows the location of the guns – buried in place of Danny Whizz-Bang – and wants to finish the mission, as well as pull Tom out of the fire.
Campbell: “Youve been livinwith beasts
Grace: “It was the beast that tried to stop me
After the guns are dug up, Campbell proposes marriage to Grace, as she resigns her post. She rejects his advance. And this does not sit well with his fragile masculinity, lashing out. I can only imagine what he’ll do now. He’s dangerous as it is, let alone when hurt, coiling like a nasty snake.
Pic 3Out at the trains, Arthur Jr finds Sr taking off on him. The money’s gone, pissed away on booze and prostitutes. He, of course, did it all as a grift. Finally we see the son realise his father is a thieving piece of shit. It’s devastating, no matter how far away you see it coming. Just the way Sr speaks to him, so condescending and hateful, it’s hideous. Shattered for poor Arthur Jr. Gave his sanity to his country, now he’s beyond broken.
Tommy’s just finding out about the guns being found. Over at the office, Inspector Campbell’s letting his jealousy break his word. He’s not doing justice for the sake of justice, for the law. He’s being a vindictive, wounded man. His pride’s getting the better of him. Can’t be sure what he’ll do from this point on.
So Tom plans on taking off, to avoid police.
And who helps him escape before they snatch him? Grace. When Campbell finds this after threatening a bartender, he calls off the search. Jesus, he’s losing his goddamn mind. It’s scary, really.
She takes Tom back to her flat and they hide out. And make love, naturally.
Down at the fight ring, Arthur isn’t doing so well. He drinks, he laments his position in life. After that he does all he can see as the answer – he tosses a makeshift noose around a beam above, hanging himself by the neck. Doesn’t last long and the rope breaks, saving his life. And regardless of their problems, Tom is always there for his oldest brother. They’re all in business together, as one clan.
But their troubles are far, far from over.
Pic 4Another solid episode, just before the Season 1 finale. Fascinating season, a fine mix of history and fiction in one magnificently written series. Great acting, too. They’re all amazing, but lord, is Cillian Murphy ever a fantastic and underrate piece of work of an actor. Love it. This episode sets up a large deal of tension, tightening down on all that’s come before to make for a volatile situation.

Peaky Blinders – Season 1, Episode 4

BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 1, Episode 4
Directed by Tom Harper
Written by Steven Knight & Steven Russell

* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
Pic 1Freddie (Iddo Goldberg) and Ada (Sophie Rundle) are quite in love. Her belly getting bigger by the day. He’s still running news of the revolution around, and Jeremiah Jesus (Benjamin Zephaniah) watches him for ole brother-in-law Tom Shelby (Cillian Murphy).
There’s lots else afoot, as well. Bookies are taking bets as usual, Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) shows up with news for her nephew. And when they head out for a meeting, doors locked behind them, a crowd of men from the Lee clan pop out from under cover of a wagon, let into the place by a boy they’ve sent in.
Oh, lord. About to get right nasty, this will. They storm the bookies with guns drawn. This won’t sit well when the Shelbys find out.
Tom goes to meet with his brothers Arthur (Paul Anderson), specifically John (Joe Cole), who says he needs to find a mother for his children. Now he’s getting married! Only they all find it laughable he’s planning on marrying Lizzie Starke (Natasha O’Keeffe). She’s a prostitute, so they all look down on her, except John. He loves her proper.
Pic 1AThey’re all called away because of what the Lee clan’s done. Luckily, no one died. Problem is they think there’s been “booby traps” set, a hand grenade left rigged to blow. It’s a nasty little taunt from when they were in France, what they’d do to the enemy as a joke, leaving wire cutters as part of the cruel gag. Tom believes it was only set for him. Now little Finn Shelby almost dies because he’s pretending to be his uncle outside, the car’s been wired. Uncle Tom tosses the explosive before it can kill him.
Tommy: “Thats why you should never pretend to be me
Johnny Dogs (Packy Lee) walks Mr. Shelby into Lee territory, holding a white flag on a stick to keep him safe. When he speaks with Zilpha Lee (Therese Bradley), he offers a switch – take the debt off Billy Kimber’s (Charlie Creed-Miles) head instead. Quite the shaky alliance, though they’re related down the line on Tommy’s mother’s side somewhere. So that’s good faith enough for them to entertain a deal.
Ada’s not into the whole “cause” of Freddie and his boys. She thinks he’s being ripped off when he’s taking all the risk involved. She believes his lost in dreams of a revolution. Meanwhile, they’ve got a family to start thinking about, a baby they’ll need to feed. Then she asks to whom he’s loyal: her, or his revolution.
Later on Tom meets with Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill), to give him an address for an anonymous tip. It belongs to Stanly Chapman (John-Paul Hurley). Man’s got “snow in his boots” for the copper to shovel, in bed with the Russians. Mainly it comes down to whether Campbell will leave Freddie and Ada out of it. He gives his word, and I guess that’s good enough. Free reign to do business for a few Bolsheviks. The lawman warns he’ll be dismissed if the guns don’t turn up soon. Then what happens to their deal? Well if he gets caught, it’s a grim finish for all the Shelbys. Fucking GRIM. Lots of threats in this exchange. Tom’s up against a force he might not quite understand, or at the very least he’s underestimated.
Campbell: “If I were to be fired and it were your fault, I would do things that would shame the devil. My fury is a thing to behold.”
Pic 2That Inspector’s already going back on his word. He’s a snake in the grass, willing to do ANYTHING to get what he wants. He’s going after Freddie and Ada with no indication of stopping until he’s scooped them up.
Pol goes to tell Freddie what’s been going on, and he’s not exactly happy. Although Ada’s already been in on the whole thing, anyways. He won’t accept it. Because he knows that the cops won’t keep their word, which we already see to be true. The Communists don’t know one another’s addresses, meaning Chapman won’t be able to tell Campbell a thing. And it was all for nought. Except for the fact Freddie isn’t in a good state of mind anymore.
Over in a dungeon, Campbell’s man has whipped Chapman to death. We’re seeing more of how the Inspector is a truly terrifying man. His will is horrific, he doesn’t stop no matter what’s in front of him. This makes me worry about Grace (Annabelle Wallis).
Tommy announces to everybody they’ve officially got their own “racetrack pitch” for the first time. A legitimate betting license. It’s all uphill from here. Or that’s what they’d hope. In other news, Tommy wants Grace to be part of the business, because she has class. Yet he knows she lies, that she isn’t Catholic, nor is she a barmaid from Ireland.
So who IS she in his mind? And how far will it go before it becomes trouble for him?
Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 11.46.12 PMOn the street, Tom finds Lizzie for a chat. It’s clear that they’ve been together before. She didn’t tell John, which isn’t too great. However, Tom hopes she’s changed and that they can leave the past behind them. He gives her some cash, to aid in forgetting. And for one last shag. Oh, for fuck sakes. C’mon now, lad! Bad form. Or is it a test? Yes, indeed. He wanted to see if she loved his brother truly. Yikes.
Afterwards he goes to tell John about Lizzie, that he propositioned and she agreed. The younger brother’s not chuffed to hear. Also, Tom finds Grace and gives her a contract for the bookkeeping job. She’s becoming a bigger part of the operation. Little does he know she’s feeding all the info back to Campbell.
The next day Tommy throws an impromptu wedding for John. But not to Lizzie, to one of the Lee girls who needs marrying. Solves a ton of problems. If John doesn’t agree a “mighty war” could erupt. They lay responsibility at his doorstep, after Tommy’s betrothed him to the girl without knowing. The girl is Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), a beautiful young lady. The couple is married in front of a crowd, their hands are cut open and their blood is bonded.
Later, a celebration! During the dance and the drinks Ada’s water winds up breaking. They head back home for the birth. Pol helps with the delivery, though it’s a rough one no doubt. The lads go to the pub to get hammered, and Tom gives word that Freddie’s safe to come round for the baby. All goes well, Ada is now a mum. And dad gets to have a look at his newborn son.
But coppers arrive to haul Freddie away. Has Tommy done the deed? I’d lay bets on the fact it was Grace. Uh oh.
Pic 4An intense and unexpected episode. I love the cultures and traditions of the Irish people we see, the Gypsy clans, all those types of things. Very fun bit of history mixed into Peaky Blinders. Dig it!

American Gods – Season 1, Episode 7: “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney”

Starz’ American Gods
Season 1, Episode 7: “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney”
Directed by Adam Kane
Written by Maria Melnik

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “A Murder of Gods” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, “Come to Jesus” – click here
Pic 1Anubis (Chris Obi) and Mr. Ibis (Demore Barnes) work on their dead bodies, share or a beer. Or, well, Ibis has one. The other works away. The writer has a “story to tell” by the look of his fingers. So he dips into the ink and begins to speak through his pen.
Back to 1721, dispelling pilgrim myths. America is, and was, a “forgetting place” where people find themselves as much as they do lose themselves. We see people, instead of hanged, sent to the New World, indentured to those who owned plantations and so on.
Then comes a familiar face, that of Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber), speaking the name of Essie McGowan. She was a little red haired Irish lass, whose father was a sailor. Living in the land where the tales of the leprechauns are told.
When Essie (Emily Browning) grows, she keeps alive those tales of her home. She tells a story to children about fairy folk, how they can make trouble as much as they are magical. But she does more than tell stories, she believes.
Poor Ms. McGowan gets caught stealing. Rather than hang her the judge sends her off for 7 years transportation on a ship. She ingratiated herself to the captain and they become quite intimate, allowing her to make it back to London, got married, and lived happily. At least until he left for another berth. She fleeced whatever was worth taking to sell and went on living the life of a thief.
Pic 1ABack to the present day, as Mad, Laura Moon (Browning), and Salim (Omid Abtahi) make it further down the road on their trip towards Kentucky. They stop so that Salim may pray. One of the most interesting juxtapositions is with him and Laura; he loves God, she holds no god dear at all, which is why she’s a decomposing corpse. Mad goes for a piss while they talk, and he has a chat with a raven – might this be either Huginn or Muninn, one of Odin’s ravens? I think so.
Laura winds up sending Salim off to find his Djinn, as she and Mad are going on their way together to find Shadow (Ricky Whittle) and Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). They commandeer an ice cream truck to make the journey.
In between, we see more of Ms. McGowan out on the town, dolled up and nicking anything she could grab. Mostly, she was free of needing a man, only needing those old tales out of the Irish soil where she grew up to keep her company. Finally she’s caught thieving, for abandoning her prior sentence. They take her to prison, soon to see the gallows.
And it’s there she meets that familiar fella over in the next cell. Yes, Mr. Mad fucking Sweeney. They talk about her journey to the Americas before coming back to London, out on that ship. Mad mentions he used to have gold. She goes on to talk about America, the freedom available there, to start fresh and be anyone; a place to make your identity what you want.
Mad: “What the fuck is happy?”
Essie: “Fucked if I know
Next morning, Essie finds the man next door is gone. Not long later, the warden offers another deal. You know what kind. She takes what she must to escape, then she’s with child. Naturally, they can’t hang her. Therefore, transportation all over again; for life.
Pic 2She made it to America, bought up as a midwife and a housekeeper for a house in Virginia. She looked after the children, telling them those Irish stories from back where she was born. And in present day, Mad tells stories of his previous life. He was a king once upon a time, a warrior. After that he became a bird, then a leprechaun. He tells Laura: “I owe a battle.” Which is why he’s headed for Wednesday and the war of gods that’s on the verge of breaking out.
On the road, Laura swerves to avoid a rabbit. And the truck does a hard couple flips, though she won’t make out too bad seeing as how she’s already dead. Poor Mad, though. One good thing? His lucky coin rolls free of her chest after the impact.
Back to Essie, who tells the children more of the leprechaun and leaves another offering herself for the fairy folk. She finds out the master of the house wants to take her as a wife. Another new start. More of the excellent melting pot in America. She’s widowed before long and left with all that land for herself. Yet never does her tradition break, her beliefs. She continues leaving food for the fairy folk and keeping her culture strong.
But once Essie got old, Virginia didn’t need her stories anymore, they frightened children and the adults hushed her. She became quiet for the first time in her life, leaving the stories behind. Until that familiar face, Mad Sweeney, arrived at her doorstep.
Pic 3Present once more. Mad crawls from the truck’s wreckage, seeing his lucky coin on the ground near Laura. He looks ready to go on without her now that he’s got it back. We also get a flash to the first time Laura died; Mad was there, too. He speaks to one of Odin’s ravens sending word it’s been completed. OH, SHIT! Seriously? Wow.
And he remembers that moment on the road, standing by Laura’s corpse again. This time he can’t walk away. He curses a bit of Gaelic into the sky before picking up the organs that spilled out of her, putting them back in, along with his coin to seal the deal. At least she has super strength and can tip the truck back right side up.
We cut back to Mad meeting Essie again after all those years. He reveals with a sly smile his identity. He tells her his kind were brought here by the likes of her, keeping their stories burning in the heart. She died soon, happy, content with the fairy folk of lore beside her.
Pic 4Beautiful episode! Such fun seeing the backstory of Mad, as well as seeing Emily Browning in dual roles. PLUS, Fionnula Flanagan – the great one – in two roles to boot. Such fascinating writing. Now there’s only one episode left in this spectacular first season. I’m loving it. Finale is “Come to Jesus” next week.

Peaky Blinders – Season 1, Episode 3

BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 1, Episode 3
Directed by Otto Bathurst
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
Pic 1Every time I hear that Nick Cave tune it gets me in the mood proper for this show to start! Great use of that very familiar tune, particularly relating to Mr. Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) whose hands are definitely red. He drops in to see Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis), she wants to make sure she looks good for the races. But he says it isn’t him she ought to be dressing for when they go.
Tommy: “Oh, I dont pay for suits. My suits are on the house, or the house burns down.”
In the Garrison Pub, Tommy talks with some people about the factory nearby. Lots of Irish work there, talking of a robbery; involving a “serious amount of guns.” The men say they want to buy them, for the IRA. One even sings some of “The Boys of the Old Brigade” in an intense, quiet moment (the song is a folk tune written by Paddy McGuigan;  an anachronism, as McGuigan wasn’t even born until 20 years after the timeline of this series, but one that fits quite well.
Meanwhile, Ada (Sophie Rundle) is running off to get married to Freddie Thorne (Iddo Goldberg). I can only imagine how Tommy will react. Part of me says he’ll be fine with it, except for the problems it may cause concerning Inspector Cambell (Sam Neill) and his Communist hunt. Speaking of the copper, he’s putting all his apples in the Grace cart, not overly impressed with any of his men and their work. There’s plenty of resentment, too. Towards Campbell, for not having fought over in France. That’s one part about Shelby he hates, that makes him feel inadequate. This will cause more grief as time passes.
Pic 1AAnd Grace, she’s out doing a bit of reconnaissance. She follows a man through the back alleys in the street. He catches her, though. Tries manhandling her and wants to take her in for questioning by the IRA. Then she puts a bullet in him and she’s got a body on her hands. From a window somewhere close, someone else is keeping an eye on her, as well. When she goes back to her flat she’s in a frenzy, the guilt of murdering that man heavy on her heart already.
It’s a slippery fuckin’ slope from here.
Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) tells Tommy about Ada and Freddie getting married. This isn’t what he was hoping to hear, but Pol says she’ll “deal with it.” Except he tells her then the deal he made, to get Freddie to leave town. She’s not impressed with the fact he’s doing his own thing behind the family’s back. All the same he IS the leader, and not only in his mind; everyone looks to him.
When the well-meaning aunt goes to Ada and Freddie, he isn’t exactly willing to up and leave. Regardless, if he doesn’t go he’ll be facing the barrel of a gun; someday, somewhere.
Freddie: “You tellinme I cant handle Tommy Shelby?”
Pol: “You cant. Im having trouble these days, and Im twice the man you are.”
Campbell’s found out about Grace killing a man, an IRA lad. She stays the course, not wanting to give up. She considers it all part of the mission. Above anything else, the Inspector is concerned for her. Although something else is behind his eyes.
Out at the Asian market, Tommy lets Billy Kimber (Charlie Creed-Miles) know that the Lee clan are planning big things for the races. The big boss man doesn’t much care for Mr. Shelby. It’s clear he does take a fancy for Ms. Burgess, and now we know for whom she’s dressing. A-ha!
Pic 2What about Freddie, anyways? He’s out priming the revolution, pushing the factory workers for a more socialist union of workers, fighting together in order to make things better for the working class.
Tommy chats with John (Joe Cole), apparently Arthur (Paul Anderson) has got the “Flanders blues” again. What it is, truly, is what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. And of course the Shelbys, they try solving that with bottles of whiskey. Moreover, Arthur feels left out of the family business, the family life, all of it. He feels disconnected from them all, detached from his brothers and sisters. He doesn’t like that Tommy didn’t tell him about the stolen guns from the BSA [Birmingham Small Arms Company].
Nevertheless, Tommy reels his older brother in close. He’s going to buy up the Garrison for Arthur to run: “Just pour it instead of drinkinit.” Ah, something to make the old lad feel better! A real part of the gang, a moneymaker and launderer for the actual family business. Not a bad racket, hey. Only Tommy’s got other things to worry about, such as Campbell not happy about Freddie rallying the factory workers towards a strike.
Out by the river, Freddie puts a gun to his old buddy Tom’s skull. He gives back the money, the tickets to leave on a boat elsewhere. They wind up with guns pointed at each other. Reminiscing and lamenting on their friendship. This won’t end well, either way.
And poor Tom, he’s still having nightmares of their time in France, tunnelling in the ground and having to fight other men in such close, dirty quarters, so violent and primal. No wonder he’s smoking opium.
Up turns Danny Whizz-Bang (Samuel Edward-Cook) from London to give his boss a bit of news, about the IRA believing the Peaky Blinders shot their man in Birmingham. They didn’t “but lies travel faster than the truth.” They’ve got to set a meeting and clear the air. Soon. For the time being, Danny and Tommy bond over their shared terror from the war, that still follows them.
Pic 3Everyone, including Charlie Strong (Ned Dennehy), are gearing up for the races, the getaway afterwards, so on. Then Tommy and Grace are off for the day, as the rest of the Peaky Blinders take care of business. They’re planning to take it hard to the Lee clan for their skimming off the bookies. All a plan to change Kimber’s mind about the Blinders.
Tommy’s brought Grace along to help with the operation, still unknowing of her true identity working for the law. But they schmooze and hang around with the upper crust, though he’s much more a fan of the pub. On the sly, Arthur and John and the others give the Lees their beatings, cutting pieces of ear with their razored caps, asserting authority.
Arthur: “I commandeer this stolen money by order of the Peaky Blinders!”
When the money’s pooled together, Tommy goes straight to Mr. Kimber with the loot and lays it on the table, dumping out coins and all. He makes clear the lads Billy employs are on the take, only makes sense to put the Blinders on the payroll and give them 5% of the take, plus a few extras if things go well. The boss seems reluctant but willing to go ahead, long as he gets a dance with Grace. Tommy even wants her to go home with the man. She’s stuck between a rock and a hard place; both Campbell and Shelby are asking her to make sacrifices of a very personal nature.
Afterwards, Tommy busts in to save Grace from a rape, saying she has the clap. Not exactly honourable in the way I’d hoped. Still, it’s better than nothing. There may be feelings for her brewing, somewhere deep in that broken heart.
Pic 5Love this episode, as it starts opening up new stories. I love Tommy’s character because there’s an anti-hero element to him, a guy you don’t wholly love but one you can’t exactly hate, either. It’s great stuff, perfectly written by Steven Knight. Excited for Episode 4.

Peaky Blinders – Season 1, Episode 2

BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 1, Episode 2
Directed by Otto Bathurst
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of the Season 1 premiere, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
Pic 1Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and the lads are out to the countryside, headed to the fair after a bit of business with Johnny Dogs (Packy Lee), a Gypsy fellow. He’s there to see about a horse. They do a coin toss, and Tom wins. Then a few boys laugh at Arthur (Paul Anderson), which doesn’t sit well with him. “Their grandad was a King,” Dogs says. Before one of the men calls Tommy’s mother a whore. Thus a few blades in the caps are put to good use. No one’s gonna pull that shit on the Shelbys. They’re good fighters, too. Even without the dirty stuff I’m sure they’d come out on top. Each of has a go, from Tommy to Arthur to John (Joe Cole).
Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) is readying the force to hit the streets. This is a man with purpose, dangerous in his own right. They start shaking down people in every flat looking for Communists. In one, Freddie Thorne (Iddo Goldberg) and Ada (Sophie Rundle) make love. They run on the rooftops to make away before they’re found and who knows what happens to him for his beliefs. But the cops find a prescription belonging to the Shelby girl; sister to “those Peaky Blinders devils.”
Pic 1ACampbell talks with Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory), who’s busy lighting candles in church for dead soldiers. He’s an intimidating man. He puts hands on her, then she lays a kiss on his lips; this intimidates him. He couldn’t possibly handle a strong woman like her. Meanwhile, the Inspector is looking for more than Communists, he wants to find what was misplaced. And he needs to talk to Tommy.
They’re all on high alert with him sniffing about, as Tommy and Polly discuss the guns Campbell is looking to find. These two have a tenuous relationship, not entirely friendly, not exactly antagonistic on either side. Still, Tom’s got his hand on the pulse. Whether any of the others like it is different business. He does things his way.
Big bonfire using pictures of the King. Around the flame, Tommy tells a journalist about it all. How they’re taking down the King in order that he doesn’t see what’s being done to them in their own home, how they’re mistreated and abused and the coppers are taking liberties.
The Inspector receives a phone call from none other than Winston Churchill (Andy Nyman). He’s heard word of the reporter at the bonfire, “the Kings likeness” being burned. He doesn’t want anybody arrested, no drawing attention to the matter.
Pic 2Pol starts wondering if Ada’s pregnant. She’s over a month late for her period. So now the aunt decides it’s time to take her niece out to a back alley doctor for an examination. Pol wants her to be rid of it, though Ada doesn’t want to do that. Neither does she want to tell who’s baby it is, or else Tommy and her brothers might be angry.
Speaking of Tom, he runs into Charlie Strong (Ned Dennehy) who passes on a message – that the Lee clan are gunning for him, all of them after the altercation in the country. Nasty bit of business. More worries for the leader of the Blinders to take on his shoulders. We also see Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis) purposefully run into him, as he walks the street with his horse. She asks for one night a week when there’ll be singing at the pub. In turn, he offers to take her with him to the races.
Tommy: “Its just noise. Youll get used to it.”
When big brother finds out about Ada’s man being Freddie, her being pregnant, he is not pleased one bit. Although it shouldn’t matter, not if they’re in love. She does love Freddie, and of course he was a buddy of Tommy’s, a good one, during the war. So it’s all just a conflicted mess, certainly. All he’s worried about is that Ada won’t have a good life with a man constantly running, looking for revolution.
Later, Pol gets mad at her nephew for rigging a race without the blessing of Billy Kimber (Charlie Creed-Miles). Their relationship is fast getting worse, too.
Pic 3Campbell meets in a fancy dining room with Tommy, face to face. They size one another up before getting straight to business. They sit for tea and a chat. The Inspector has that prescription from Mr. Thorne’s flat. He wonders if the Shelbys are in bed with Communists, but Tom assures that the situation is finished, dealt with and done.
Then the Blinder lays out his elaborate plan, telling Campbell how things are going to go from here on in. In return he offers the missing guns, the ones meant for Libya. And if he’s taken into custody, the guns go to the IRA. If things go well, he’ll give over the guns and Campbell looks like top copper. Funny to see the juxtaposition between a guy like Tommy and someone like Campbell, the former being a criminal but having previously fought for his country. He was left with demons, as well. Smoking opium to dull them.
We see the Inspector meet with Grace, telling her that Tommy is now the main focus of the mission entirely: “Beginning, middle, and end.” He asks her to do anything possible to get close to the leader of the Blinders. Figure out anything about the guns.
Someone fetches Tommy, his horse isn’t right. Someone from the Lee clan cursed him. The feet are gone bad, it’ll get worse shortly. Nothing can be done. He’s got to put the poor animal down. Afterwards, he drinks away the pain and talks awhile with Grace. He’s found out a few things about her, that she didn’t work in Dublin. But he assumes a different story than her being with the law.
Pic 4Freddie turns up for Ada, on order from Tommy. To take her and get out of town. The lad even gets on one knee proposing marriage. A happy family ahead of them instead of something infinitely worse like it seemed before. Except then Freddie says he’s staying, they’re not going anywhere. Getting married right there, Tommy be damned!
At the pub, Billy Kimber (Charlie Creed-Miles) arrives, men with guns posting up at the doors. He wants to talk with Mr. Shelby. The place clears out so they can meet in private, even Grace is sent away. They talk of the race rigging, suspicious bets. Billy calls them “gypsy scum” and more. Threatening death. Until Tommy mentions the Lee family after him; they’re at war with Kimber, as well. The Blinders are offering help.
Pic 5Daaaamn. Lots of things happening. Next episode is surely gonna pack a punch, on many fronts. The Shelbys are ready to rock, and Tommy’s fucking steering the ship every step of the way with a keen eye.