Top of the Lake – China Girl: Episode 5

BBC Two’s Top of the Lake
China Girl: Episode 5
Directed by Jane Campion
Written by Campion & Gerard Lee

* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 6, click here.
Pic 1Puss (David Dencik) comes to take Mary (Alice Englert) from Robin’s (Elisabeth Moss) place in the night. At the same time we see a surreal dream Robin has, of holding two tiny babies in her palms as she puts on a shirt, answering the door. She wakes, but the image sticks in her mind, as it does in ours. She has to break the news about their daughter leaving when Pyke (Ewen Leslie) gets there with food for breakfast. Poor dad is gonna snap soon enough. I’m surprised he hasn’t yet, he’s a good man; better than I.
Now they’ve figured out what’s going on, that Puss is prostituting Mary. Or trying to, anyways. Nearly too much for Pyke to bear. He and Robin have one another in the whole ordeal, even if Julia (Nicole Kidman) isn’t aware or into their closeness. Meanwhile, Robin’s trying her best as detective sergeant to properly put a case on the pimp, for Mary’s sake, for Cinnamon’s sake, for the sake of all the girls under his ’employ’ and those who might/will be in the future.
At least they’ve got Brett (Lincoln Vickery), he’s the only man who genuinely seems to care about the deceased China girl. He’s identifying specific marks for the police on the girl’s body, to prove it’s her, as well as to prove how well he knew her. He describes “a small gold cross” she wore constantly and some specific moles, among other specific details. Afterwards, Robin comes up against the creepy cop who wants to bed her, he’s insistent. We also see the casual misogyny of some men, as another detective says there’s “yes nos” when it comes to women; an example of the male gender not understanding that no means fucking no, full stop. Such good writing because it brings out that misogyny so many men don’t even understand is hateful towards women, erasing a woman’s right to make decisions for herself.
Pic 1ABrett is going absolutely crazy. He’s hallucinating Cinnamon, so much so he introduces his mother to her while clearly there’s not a soul there with him. That’s shocking, in such a sad way.
Constable Miranda Hilmarson (Gwendoline Christie) is having troubles, worrying about her baby. Not getting much sympathy from her supposed mentor. This puts the big lady on a warpath, no time for anyone’s bullshit. She questions a woman about Cinnamon, revealing that she was a “sex worker” who’s wound up dead. Then the constable trips out, scared for her baby and making a scene. This puts the two women at odds once more, Robin and Miranda both butting heads.
Nobody ever seems to ask about Robin’s story. So she reveals a bit of herself to the constable: she’s been pregnant 4 times, 3 of those miscarriages. Through it all they become honest with one another. Miranda reveals she isn’t having the baby, right now she’s wearing a fake stomach. Shit, I didn’t expect that. We see that the whole emotional bit for the constable involves the fact she had problems getting pregnant. She went through IVF, and worried the baby in Cinnamon’s belly was her surrogate daughter until it was revealed the fetus was a boy.
Robin: “I will haunt you
The psyche of Brett is further crumbling, worse by the hour. He’s back with his friends around the table again at the coffee shop. He’s still acting like Cinnamon is alive. Not just that, he’s filming everything. Telling people it’ll be “on the news.” This sort of freaks me out. Could Brett have done something to Cinnamon? Or is he merely having a psychological break after her death?
Pic 2Miranda: “Fuck love, its a disease. People die from it.”
Despite all the shit, Mary is still in love with Puss. She seems intent on being a part of that whole lifestyle at the brothel, like she actually believes it’ll be good to be a prostitute. At the same time she’s noticing things around Silk 41, how they operate. I wonder what happens when Dang (Ling Cooper Tang) feels she’s too much a liability.
One of the girls is leaving, going to Thailand. Puss and Dang’s partner take her to go. I wonder if she’s really going, or if it’s the same way Cinnamon was leaving with a suitcase. Mary wonders, too. The rift beginning to wedge between her and the pimp, finally. I hope it’s soon enough.
Pixie, the woman from the doctor’s office where Miranda had her freak out, isn’t answering her door. Everyone is outside waiting. So they bust inside, only to find her lying in bed, stone dead. Apparent suicide. A letter left to Miranda, involving people who’ve lost touch with surrogates. Devastating, yet this will hopefully help with the police investigation, and surely very worried couples.
Pic 3Coming home, Robin finds Puss waiting for her. To apologise, he says. She’s of course got her back up immediately. Then he asks about Cinnamon, the case. He tries deflecting onto someone else, to make himself seem innocent. Except he reeks of guilt. “You should do your job,” he says. Also the girl is Thai, which I suspected but did’t know for sure. Goes to show you the label of China girl is a slight racism, in how white people just assume Asian is Chinese, or sometimes Japanese.
Julia (Nicole Kidman) isn’t overly happy to know Pyke (Ewen Leslie) is having Robin over for dinner. Nor that the birth mother’s been seeing the daughter a bit as of late. The adoptive mother gets her back up. The so-called feminist doesn’t care to know anything about Robin’s story, about what happened to make her give up her child. Luckily, the detective sergeant can laugh things off. She and Pyke have a nice little bit of wine, cheese, grapes, they talk about his past. She even gets a look at Mary’s room, the place she grew up. A touching, heavy moment. Giving her a window into her daughter’s mind, her identity. And also a pregnancy test lying on the dresser: negative. Dad worries her daughter isn’t being safe, Robin worries she’s invading her daughter’s privacy.
Pic 4Looks like Puss is trying to make himself a movie, making a set look like the jungles in Thailand. He directs women and a bunch of screeching babies, shooting with the camera himself and not letting Mary or her friend help, bossing them around. Everything he does, he’s a woman hater; misogynistic, through and through.
Meanwhile, Robin and Pyke are trying to get talking with Mary. They see the pimp waiting for her outside school like a creep. Finally, dad loses his cool, confronting the man, who pumps out his idiotic rhetoric while Pyke professes the fatherly love he has for his girl. Honestly? Broke me a bit. Ewen Leslie is a damn fine actor, man!
Together later, Pyke and Robin fall into bed. Finally. He treats her with tenderness, as opposed to so many other men in her life, almost every one of them. Across the city, Brett continues hallucinating Cinnamon. Then he heads out on the bus, telling more people to watch the news tonight. I’m starting to really worry about this dude.
At Silk 41, Brett walks in with his gun drawn. Heading for Puss. The cowardly pimp pushes Mary in front of him, heading into an elevator. Just as the young man shoots at him.
Pic 5Holy fuck. Will Mary take the bullet? If so, will she die? Oh. My. Laaawd. I’ve not been this twisted up by a cliffhanger in ages. What a powerful moment, a scary one that nearly stopped my heart.

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Top of the Lake – China Girl: Episode 4

BBC Two’s Top of the Lake
China Girl: Episode 4
Directed by Ariel Kleiman
Written by Jane Campion & Gerard Lee

* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
Pic 1Although my personal feeling about prostitution is that it’s slavery, I feel bad for Brett (Lincoln Vickery). He clearly used her services, at the brothel Silk 41. But there was more of a relationship between him and Cinnamon, he obviously cared about her deeper than seeing her as an object like so many men do. Not excusing his use of a brothel, I still feel buying women is wrong, full-stop. It’s hard not to see Brett’s feelings as a positive, though. When so many of these young women indentured to pimps have nobody who care about them, whatsoever. Maybe his care will lead to justice eventually.
The Edwards family are together, Julia (Nicole Kidman) and her lover, Mary (Alice Englert), Pyke (Ewen Leslie) and the rest. It’s a dad and daughter dance, a big deal for Pyke who’s been looking forward to it a long while. Mary heads off to see Puss (David Dencik) beforehand. Not impressing her father in the least. The man’s still up in his room sulking, refusing to come out. In a depressed funk. Says he’s “ending it” between him and Mary. He’s a pastiche of tired philosophical cliche, telling his fiancee he’s “gazing into the abyss and Im going to keep gazing until the abyss gazes back.” Such an edgy, Nietzsche quoting pimp. Suddenly that she’s turning 18, Puss starts mentioning her becoming a prostitute. He keeps telling women about being victims, all the while victimising them. A nasty fucking piece of work.
Pic 1ARobin (Elisabeth Moss) is happily getting herself inked at a tattoo shop, she even has a big smile on her face. She seems almost happier today, after the business with Al Parker recently. She’s still dealing with that same nonsense at work, though. She doesn’t particularly like working with Constable Miranda Hilmarson (Gwendoline Christie), she doesn’t like that Adrian (Clayton Jacobson) and the constable are having an affair, nor that Miranda runs to him behind her back, or that she smokes and drinks while pregnant. Not to mention Robin knows about the relationship between her and Liam. Of course this leads to judgement about her own motherhood, without anyone knowing the real story of her pregnancy, that she was raped by several men at a young age. Man, this police partnership is tense.
Things get much worse over at the dad and daughter celebration. Pyke gets word Mary’s bringing Puss. So, y’know, that’s not gonna be incredibly awkward. You can see the utter disdain in Pyke’s eyes for the man trying to marry his daughter. The stares could kill. Immediately the pimp starts working his class war madness on one of Mary’s young friends. Always looking to get one over on women. Then he barges his way into a dance with marry, pushing dad out, as well as getting far too sexual on the dance floor. This starts a whole scene as Puss prances around like an asshole. When he gets tossed, she goes chasing him. Heartbreaking to watch.
Brett contacts the police about the “China girl” case. He tells Robin and Miranda about Silk 41, the connection between him and Cinnamon, that they had more of a relationship than a service provider and a customer. He’s actually got pictures of her at home, genuine clothes on pictures and sweet mementos. What’s more is that closer and closer Robin comes to Puss, the man trying to marry her daughter. Mary is actually brought up, Brett’s seen her with the violent pimp. The whole thing is a scary mess, between the prostitution and the illegal surrogacy operation. Fuck me.
Pic 2We see Mary has been brainwashed by Puss, trying to get Dang (Ling Cooper Tang) to let her work at the brothel. The den mother tells her that the pimp is a “sick guy” and she knows better, she knows the life, the truth of it; rape can easily happen in those rooms. Meanwhile she and her white dude partner know exactly what happened to Cinnamon, having pushed that suitcase into the ocean themselves. An ugly place. Mary’s basically begging to work, not realising the brutality.
Dang: “Once you choose this, its forever. No going back.”
Robin hits the beach with Pyke, they’re meant to be waiting for Mary, though the girl might not show. I wonder if the two parents might get a bit close. Nevertheless, Mary does arrive with the Chinese girls. As does Puss, which doesn’t thrill dad. He wants to run, but Robin stops him; he then sees the tattoo she got, Mary’s name and date of birth. Very interesting moment. Might be the start of a connection between these two. Pyke is such a caring man, it’s evident in every scene he’s onscreen.
Thus also begins the duel of Robin and Puss. His slick, pimp charm doesn’t work on a woman like her. She’s seen too much to fall for that bullshit. Then he cuts right at her heart, bringing up what Mary told him about her rape. He talks openly to her about it, she tries her best not to tear his face off. After that he bites HER face, clamping down onto the nose. Holy shit! Yet again misogyny, male violence rears its head on our poor Detective Sergeant Griffin.
At the hospital, Robin tells Pyke about Puss, the brothel, that the Chinese girls are prostitutes under him. This freaks the father out completely. Rightfully so, their daughter’s hanging around with a dangerous man, one who conspired to drop a girl’s dead body in a suitcase to the bottom of the ocean. Who knows what else he’s capable of doing.
Pic 3Felicity and Mike, the surrogate couple, are moving from their home after putting time into a baby room, which they won’t need now. Strange: there’s two beds. Where exactly was the other child coming from? Well, they’ve got several illegal surrogates. To make sure they have themselves a family. Turns out the baby in Cinnamon’s belly doesn’t match the hopeful parents. And there’s a middle man in the process of the surrogacy. Someone is connecting all of this together in a nasty little web.
Over at the brothel, Mary still wants to sell herself even if Dang doesn’t want her to do it. Puss then encourages her to go to the street. Is she blinded totally by love? Will this help her realise that this pimp cares nothing about her, that he’s only looking for a way to make money? I hope so. He’s already starting to hit her in the face, saying this is no worse than what “the Johns will do” to her. Typical sleazy misogynist, acting as if he’s empowering women while stripping their power, their identity, turning them into nothing except skin on sale. Horrifying stuff at this point with Mary caught in the middle.
She misses her birthday dinner being put out on the streets by Puss to prostitute herself. While Pyke, Julia, her lover sit home reminiscing on better days, their girl is out trying to force herself to do disgusting things for men.
Instead she’s kicked from a John’s car. She calls Robin to pick her up, the only one who’ll likely not judge her or rant and rave in anger. In the car, Mary comes across a picture of Cinnamon. This begins leading our young lady in the right direction, starting to discover the truly vicious side of life in the brothel. Perhaps the beginning of her understanding about Puss. Let’s hope. Roundabout Robin tells her daughter what to start doing, how to get away from the violent pimp safely. Only problem there? Love. But it’s clear Mary wants to get away. She’s like a junkie, knowing it’s bad for her and yet stuck in the inescapable undertow of it all.
Pic 4What a whopper of an episode. So many things happened, and the story’s really opening up into its full potential after the past sort of comes full circle, in many ways. Plus, after the Al Parker chapter of Robin’s life closed, she has a sort of freedom of spirit that’s not been present in awhile. Problems arise when there’s so much at stake now, her daughter in the mix heavily.

Top of the Lake – China Girl: Episode 3

BBC Two’s Top of the Lake
China Girl: Episode 3
Directed by Ariel Kleiman
Written by Jane Campion & Gerard Lee

* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
Pic 1At the station, Robin (Elisabeth Moss) gets called in about a supposed confession concerning China girl. A man named Toni (Damon Herriman) has turned himself in, telling the cops about being in a brothel encountering some trouble with one of the girls. Wound up in the backseat of his car with her. Says she stabbed him, so he started choking her. Then she’s dead. Only issue is his story, he doesn’t mention putting her in a suitcase. His confession’s bullshit, a waste of time.
Not the only waste. She’s got male colleagues wanting to bang, even though she barely has time for some of them on a working level. At home in her building, she hears Constable Miranda Hilmarson (Gwendoline Christie) across the hall getting it on. Everywhere around her it’s all about sexuality, one way or another. While Robin just wants to do her job. Seems like the one over at Miranda’s place was actually Adrian (Clayton Jacobson). Good lord! They’re “an item.”
So now Robin is trying to figure out the whole surrogate angle of Cinnamon’s death. Too young to be a legal surrogate, which means this is something darker, more devious. Robin wants to find people “neurotically fixated” on having a child or their own, who’ve failed at IVF (in vitro fertilisation). One doctor mentions the risk with illegal surrogacy, in Sydney, Australia is dangerous; the law lays down that if a surrogate changes her mind, she can then keep the child. That could drive someone to murder, no? I wonder if somehow Julia (Nicole Kidman) and Pyke Edwards (Ewen Leslie) play into this? Or is that too dark and devious?
Pic 1ASpeaking of the Ewards’, sans-Mary (Alice Englert) and along with Julia’s new girlfriend, they’re out at dinner to eat with Puss (David Dencik). They want to figure him out. Dad says if he finds out anything untoward, they’ll expose him. The pimp is a weird man. The entire dinner’s confrontational, especially once Pyke and Julia fully realise this guy is full of shit. They’ve found out bits of his past, that he’s “a bigamist” and he has a wife from long ago, still married.
When Mary turns up afterwards she isn’t happy with her parents, choosing to ignore the truth of her soon-to-be husband. She doesn’t take much stock in what any of them say, as they’re all married while moving on, too. Christ. Poor Mar’s hypnotised, like a worshipper under the leader of a cult. Willing to die if rejected by the pimp. Casting off her adoptive family.
Puss is in a dark mood. All the women at Silk 41 try soothing him, as does Mary. He won’t eat, he won’t talk or come out of his room. Then Mary gets a call from her birth mother. Robin wants to meet up, having heard from Pyke. Wanting to help the girl. They go out for a bit of food together, eating burgers on the floor of Robin’s apartment and slowly getting to know one another. It’s tragic to watch Mary slip into a dangerous life with Puss, it’s even harder to see the mom who had to give her away watch her daughter feel torn in so many directions by life.
In a dark set of hallways a woman wanders toward a crying baby. She finds it on the floor, tiny, frail. It collapses in her hands like a balloon. Then in the streets, a woman stumbles around in a nightgown, crying about her missing child and unable to remember anything. Terrifying, chilling moment. Turns out, she doesn’t have a baby, she wasn’t pregnant. She wandered off from a psych ward.
Pic 2Robin goes to see the woman, Felicity. The woman’s domineered by her husband Mike, answering personal questions for her instead of letting her answer them herself. She keeps saying “its lost” and that someone won’t return her calls, so on. The husband reveals they’ve got a “guest mother,” and she’s nowhere to be found: our poor China girl, Cinnamon.
The husband’s no angel. He’s got a bit of a record. Now they’ve all got to provide DNA, Felicity and Mike, as well. It’s clear their marriage has been torn to bits over her inability to conceive. But enough to murder if Cinnamon wanted to keep the child? Perhaps, though can’t be sure. Yet.
A familiar face returns – Al Parker (David Wenham). He’s now in a wheelchair permanently. He deserves worse. His civil suit is making Robin’s life hell, particularly in a profession where the misogyny runs rampant, and any shred of doubt on the part of male cops towards her is like a goddamn crucifixion.
Today, Robin comes face to face with Al. Before their official meeting, the man finds her alone. They talk, he acts like a nosy weirdo. Then he whips off his belt, as if to try assaulting her again. But it’s to try strangling her to death. The only thing she can do is start a fire with her lighter. People come to the rescue, though she nearly kills Al before they do. What a fucking mess.
Pic 3Wow! This was a wild ride of an episode. Fits right in, even if some may find it out of place. I wish she’d have killed the man, the nasty pervert. Excited for whatever comes next, it’s sure to be exciting.

The Mist – Season 1, Episode 6: “The Devil You Know”

Spike’s The Mist
Season 1, Episode 6: “The Devil You Know”
Directed by James Hawes
Written by Noah Griffith & Daniel Stewart

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Waiting Room” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Over the River and Through the Woods” – click here
Pic 1Bryan (Okezie Morro) is figuring out he forgot so much since being at the military base. He may not even be himself. The man in the hospital, the one Mia (Danica Curcic) talked to before taking off, he lunges at Bryan, and the two men fight brutally in the hospital room. Bryan keeps pleading, violently: “Tell me who I am!” All before he has to choke the man out.
In the hallway, Kevin (Morgan Spector) is left with his brother’s blood all over his hands, after having to put Mike down, leeches covering his body in the mist. There’s other bad shit going down, too. Adrian (Russell Posner) can tell, even if the adults, the nurses, the doctors are keeping secrets. Apparently people have been… disappearing. Nevertheless, he and Kevin and Bryan want to leave.
Pic 1AAt the mall, Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) and Alex (Gus Birney) are surviving. As are the folks at the church, from Father Romanov (Dan Butler) and his staunch faith, to local cop Connor (Darren Pettie) who’s having a crisis of faith and of duty and of manhood. The man of faith and the man of the law, they chat a bit. The priest talks of being “loyal to God” and it’s less like an assurance, more like trying to gain favour against Nathalie Raven (Frances Conroy), her unholy worship. The woman’s still speaking of “the Black Spring,” she’s trying to bring others into her fold. Romanov combats this with a hymn on the organ. Drown it out. Not so easy, though.
Only now are Kevin and Adrian finding out the keys are gone, so is the vehicle. Shit. At the same time Mia’s out in the mist, on her own personal journey.
There’s trouble brewing at the mall, as well. The woman who lost her child to the mist sees only resentment when she looks at Alex. I worry there’s something sinister brewing, whether by her hand I don’t know. But she’s throwing off dark vibes.
There’s a danger in the relationship between Connor and the widowed Mrs. Raven. A parallel of how fanaticism mixed with the arm of the law can possibly turn into an ugly thing. Hasn’t happened yet, of course. There’s a connection already apparent between the two. We’ll see if it goes where I feel it’s headed.
Kevin’s sneaking around in the hospital. He finds Dr. Bailey with a nurse, mouth taped shut on a gurney. The doc asks for help. Then he attacks, putting a needle into Kevin. Out goes the lights. Goddamn, that’s not good. After an hour gone, Adrian’s beginning to wonder if something went bad. More importantly: the fuck is this doctor up to? Well, Kevin wakes strapped to the gurney, mouth also shut. All under the guise of medical “experiments” and trying to help people. Same shit the Nazis said, like Mengele.
Pic 2While Nathalie’s new faith in nature is a bit disturbing, on the opposite side is the church. And while Romanov isn’t entirely full steam ahead, one of his followers is determined to stop the blaspheming, no matter what it takes. This is where things get scary. All forms of faith can turn mad, from the organised religions to the more pagan-like worship. It’s all corruptible.
In the mall Alex winds up being locked in a small room. Someone pours lighter fluid under the door, igniting it. The place goes up in flames. Who comes to her rescue? Jay (Luke Cosgrove), the guy who raped her. He risks himself to put out the fire, burning his hand. Then she accuses him of pulling the stunt to “play hero.” Is he gaslighting her, in the most brutal of ways? Hard to tell. Certainly conveys the often problematic relationship some women wind up in, by no fault of their own, with the men who’ve assaulted them.
Mia’s out on her own, looking for a big bag full of cash. She encounters something after coming through a patch of mist. A presence in one of the rooms. Writing appears carved on the wall. Music plays suddenly from a radio, despite her smashing it to pieces on the floor. Between withdrawals and the mist, she’s up against the shit, man. “Its not real,” she tells herself. But it’s painfully real, as her mother appears to scold and shame her.
And what about the priest’s crazy worshipper? He hauls Nathalie into a dark room, bullying her into being loyal to God. He starts slapping her around. She gets the jump on him, smashing a nearby window and locking him there with the mist. You get what you give, buddy!
Pic 3I worry most about Kevin. He’s had it rough. He’s being tortured via experiment by Dr. Bailey, wanting to see more of how the mist reacts with people. So he drugs the poor dude up, sealing him in a room and letting the mist in to do its work. Kevin experiences a hallucination of various things: a bending gurney, a white owl, a version of himself. All before Bryan and the kid come to get him out.
Mia barely gets away with her life, too. After tangling with her mother in mist form, she manages to escape. Bag of cash in hand. Why risk herself? What’s her plan? I guess she’s still withdrawing, so it could be the junkie brain fuelling her decisions.
There’s a sinister side to Jay, no matter how he acts. The way he comes up against Eve is especially telling, to me. In these moments he’s dark, almost grotesque. And mama bear, she does not back down. Punches him right in the face off the bat. This lady does NOT fuck around! Love her.
At the same time she conspires to give people hope. Photocopying a bunch of leaflets to make it look as if troops are coming for them soon. It’s a good gesture, a thoughtful one. Shows that Eve has both sides of a leader in her, that she’s tough first and foremost, as well as capable of treating people well. Gonna need that in the days, weeks, months to come.
And at the hospital, the power goes out, the automatic doors giving way to the air outside. The mist starts coming in and everyone’s forced to head out or find a place to hide. So where do they go? “The only place the doors will stay shut.” In the psychiatric ward.
Pic 5Great, tense episode. Really didn’t know what was about to happen with Kevin. Now I wonder, will this affect him? Will he have a neutrality in his blood in some way that’ll protect him from the mist? Could get interesting. It will, I’m sure. Also, the crowd at the hospital are being forced into a smaller space, which is always good for claustrophobic tension and suspense. Maybe some outright madness.
“Over the River and Through the Woods” is next week, can’t wait to see more.

Top of the Lake – China Girl: Episode 2

BBC Two’s Top of the Lake
China Girl: Episode 2
Directed by Ariel Kleiman
Written by Jane Campion & Gerard Lee

* For a recap & review of Episode 1, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
Pic 1Flashback to the day Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss) is meant to be married. That very day Johnno is arrested by the police. So they have the ceremony through the bars of his cell. Problem is Johnno was out having a bit of fun with a young blonde in the woods when he was picked up. His bride-to-be knows it, too. So the rumours of her walking away on her wedding day aren’t entirely true as others now see it. She walked away. Because of him and his untrustworthy cock, his unfaithful mind. Heartbreaking, considering all they went through up to that point. But not entirely unforeseen. Don’t forget, he let horrible things happen to her when they were young, in love. She took him back after all that, yet he was willing to throw it all away.
This sent Robin off, away from home. There’s nothing left, really. So why stay? Tui, everyone else, they’re moving on. And in present day, not long later, she and Constable Miranda Hilmarson (Gwendoline Christie) are facing a horrific, misogynistic murder. A young Chinese girl, Cinnamon, washed up on the beach. We know she worked at Silk 41, a brothel at least in part run by Alexander ‘Puss’ Braun (David Dencik).
Not only the crime reeks of misogyny. The cops both Robin and Miranda deal with are full of that shit, which they only take because this garbage world forces women to choose either their pride or their job in too many situations. The “China girl” is nearly unrecognisable in her decomposition. Robin begins uncovering whatever possible, along with the medical examiner. Strangulation is a possible cause of death. It’s early, but Puss is a clear front runner suspect. On top of that, Cinnamon was pregnant with a little boy; “1720 weeks” is the estimate. Double murder. Whoa.
Pic 1AThe great thing about Top of the Lake is it takes the whole damaged police officer angle and turns that concept on its head. We never get to see such a fragile, wounded cop played by a woman, at least not often, and certainly not this well written. A woman’s perspective is illustrated with such depth here, unafraid of getting dark, dangerous, not scared of exploring territory on the edges of morality. At times it’s almost suffocating: what I imagine it’s like to be a woman, day in, day out, unfortunately.
Sussing out to the crime offers nothing any more positive. The male police haven’t a clue. Meanwhile, Robin’s got a better grasp on sexual assault and other sex-related crimes, as well as a personal understanding of it in her own traumatised past. She’s tough, smart; usually the smartest one in the room, if not a bit stubborn at times. Her character’s great to take the journey with, especially now with her sniffing around her daughter Mary (Alice Englert), wanting to make contact. If even just for one conversation. Juxtaposed with the lost and lonely girls forced into prostitution amongst the brothels, Robin doesn’t want her daughter to wind up damaged because of her bloodline baggage.
The lads at the coffee shop, Brett (Lincoln Vickery) and the others, continue on trying to one-up each other over foolish chauvinist nonsense. Brett starts to worry, though. He sees the report about the Asian girl found on the beach. The rest of the idiots are full-on misogynists, casual woman haters masquerading as nerds wanting to get laid. But Brett seems a bit different. He loves Cinnamon, the fact she may be dead is too much for him to bear. He goes to Silk 41 hoping she’ll be there. Of course she’s not. I wonder if Brett is the father of that unborn child, or Puss, or someone else. So goddamn tragic.
Puss and Brett meet at the brothel. The pimp’s not entirely thrilled to hear he’s “in love” with Cinnamon. You can tell there’s something not right with Puss. He knows something, whether he’s the murderer he knows SOMETHING.
Pic 2We all look the same to you
At work, Robin gets a call about the letter she left at the Edwards place. They’ve agreed to meet. Simultaneously she and Constable Hilmarson are tracking down leads on Cinnamon, where she may have worked, in a brothel or otherwise. They get a bit of help, though surely it’ll be a tangled web to unravel. Thus begins their dive into interviewing women around the various brothels and sex dens in the city. This brings her directly to the women with whom we recently saw Brett talking, the very place where Cinnamon worked at Silk 41.
One of the disheartening things we see – not that most of us didn’t know – and watch Robin learn, is how so many men frequent brothels, all types, even the sort you’d never expect. More of the underlying casual misogyny that overtakes our society.
Robin goes to meet Pyke (Ewen Leslie) and Julia Edwards (Nicole Kidman) for the first time. Naturally they’re a bit sceptical, particularly the adoptive mother. They sit together, to talk about things before Mary’s brought into the situation. Doesn’t help that the Edwards’ are fractured with Julia going lesbian, their relationship crumbling. But Julia levels with Robin, about how difficult the daughter’s been. She also scolds the birth mother, for not replying to Mary’s letter. Blaming her for all the problems. Saying the girl is “violent” at times. Just a rough first experience together.
Luckily, Pyke is laid back. Perhaps a bit too much, though it helps when he and Robin talk together. He’s more willing to listen. Funny how Julia is such a feminist, yet her fierceness in adoptive motherhood blinds her to the possible reasons for Robin having to give Mary up, whereas Pyke actually bothers to listen. He thinks it’s necessary for the daughter and her biological mother to meet.
Could it quell the fire burning inside the girl? Or will it drive her further into her rebellion?
Pic 3Later, Robin gets a call from Mary. They agree to meet one another. In a restaurant they meet: “I believe we share a gene pool,” the girl starts off with a funny quip. Although I think she’s insane for being with Pussy, there’s a maturity about Mary. The way she talks is very adult, and direct, too. It’s an awkward meeting, though the girl seems happy enough to be there with her mother. She goes on about getting married to Puss, which Robin questions, knowing the darkness of men and the vulnerability of young women amongst such horrific predators. One thing’s certain, Mary also understands her real mother, she knows there are reasons why women make the choices they do, it isn’t always selfishness like society (and men) wish to believe. Mom levels with her girl about being raped by three men. This is why she couldn’t bear to keep her child; the ugly story of far too many women.
The medical examiner calls Robin – the fetus’ DNA doesn’t match that of China girl. Very, very odd. What could it mean? Robin figures it out: “Shes a surrogate.” Oh, my. This changes everything.
Pic 4What a fucking killer follow-up to the first episode of Season 2. Lord, is it ever good, this return to Top of the Lake. Really rounds out Robin’s character while offering up such new, exciting, dark, wild things.

Top of the Lake – China Girl: Episode 1

BBC Two’s Top of the Lake
China Girl: Episode 1
Directed by Jane Campion
Written by Campion & Gerard Lee

* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
Pic 1After a fantastic Season 1, which I’ll eventually get around to reviewing, Jane Campion and Gerard Lee return with Season 2, China Girl. We open on a few people sitting together to eat in a small apartment. The feeling is there’s business to discuss. In a back room are a bunch of young women, crammed together on a bed. A white man and a Chinese woman take suitcases with them, out into the night. They bring one down near the ocean, it’s heavy and hard to carry. After some trouble they toss it into the ocean. Is there a body in there? I’d be willing to bet yes.
Then we switch over to see Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss) once again, after all this time. Although she doesn’t appear much better than she was the last we saw her. She’s got a letter with her, one she literally holds close to her heart. Is it from Johnno? Or Tui? Who?
Regardless, Robin’s still an officer of the law. In fact she’s higher up nowadays, a bit. teaching cops how to do their job properly. When a young officer laughs at her, things get a bit tense when she has him up as an example for the others and he asks a question that does not sit well, about her shooting Al Parker. While Constable Miranda Hilmarson (Gwendoline Christie) admires her for all her work, the men are full of misogyny, piss, and vinegar when it comes to our kick ass detective. Her superiors think she’s being an “asshole” instead of standing up for herself. Ah, nothing’s really changed, has it? Men, they never change.
Pic 1AAll the while, below the ocean’s waves, a suitcase sits still in the water, a long bit of dark hair sticking from out of it. Soon, it floats to the top. You can be sure our Dt. Griffin will end up hearing tell of this case.
Adrian (Clayton Jacobson), Robin’s boss, takes her out for a drink, to chat about things and how she’s been doing. She says she’s “celibate now” after so much bullshit, nearly getting married; then, whatever’s happened between her and Johnno. He isn’t around anymore, from the looks of it. Just wonder why. Meanwhile, Parker’s putting a civil case against Robin, saying her shooting of him was related to personal issues between the two of them. The “circumstantial evidence” may not cut it, though she believes it will. Also she mentions being drugged, waking up in his bed. What we’re seeing, more and more, is the misogyny from all angles women face. Robin’s merely a microcosm of that symptom.
We also see the man from the apartment earlier, an East German named Alexander ‘Puss’ Braun (David Dencik). He’s eerie. He waits around a school for a young girl to come out, escorting her home, yet it doesn’t feel like a father-daughter relationship. Feels sleazier than that. Either way he’s no good to be around, he’s helping to run a brothel called Silk 41, full of Asian women of various ages. And now there’s a girl missing, the others worry, knowing she didn’t take her passport with her. Puss passes it off as her running off for a bit. Seeing that suitcase, we know different. He uses his pimp charm to ease his ladies’ minds. His own history’s riddled with brutality: the bastard product of a rape.
What could be worse? The young woman he pals around with is Mary Edwards (Alice Englert). And who’s she? The daughter Robin gave up for adoption.
Puss: “No one ever gives away power. Power has to be taken.”
Pic 2We hear roundabout of a girl at Silk 41 named Cinnamon, from a bunch of men who frequent the joint. The same girl the others at the brothel worry over. She’s apparently a favourite. What we witness is the undercurrent of how so many men view women as disposable, as objects, as a “transaction” and a means to an end. Whereas one guy Brett (Lincoln Vickery) actually seems to care about the girl, the others see her only as another piece of meat. He cares so much that it bothers him thinking Cinnamon would leave without telling him. A glimmer of hope amongst the shattering misogyny: at least someone cares about her, enough so it may help figure out what’s happened to her, how she wound up in that suitcase at the bottom of the ocean.
Things are shit shit shit for Robin. She’s been living with her estrange brother Liam, but things are getting too much. Oh, and that letter from before, the one Robin cherishes so dearly? It’s from Mary, the daughter she gave up. Her adoptive parents are Pyke (Ewen Leslie) and Julia Edwards (Nicole Kidman). The relationship between the Edwards family certainly isn’t picturesque. Mary and Julia do not get along, the daughter calls her a “lezzo” and doesn’t want to even hug her. Pyke is sort of caught in the middle, an easy going dude who plays referee. Makes things all the more uneasy for the fact Mary wants to bring Puss over, calling him a “professor friend” instead of that pimp she’s dating from the local brothel.
They have him over for dinner. Chatting away about Puss’ supposed research, sussing out who he is, what he’s about. Stark contrast between a pimp and Julia, a self-professed feminist who studied in great places, taught politics. Plus the pimp busts out his bullshit chauvinist rhetoric while calling himself a feminist. Enough to want to make her jump down his throat. All the while Mary thinks her mom is trying to hit on the guy. Poor young girl’s indoctrinated, like so many today in real life, into believing feminism is out to hurt women, when it’s out to help everyone, men alike.
Worse still, Puss is asking to marry their daughter. Christ almighty. Not to mention Robin’s semi-stalking the daughter she gave away to adoption, lurking outside the house and likely regretting the decision she made.
Julia: “Im just trying to survive
Pic 3 (1)Robin ain’t doing well. She has horrible dreams, so much so it wakes Miranda across the hall from her at her new place. She checks in on Dt. Griffin, who isn’t happy to have a fellow officer hear her screaming in her sleep. Nevertheless, Constable Hilmarson is hilarious and ridiculous and weird enough to make Robin feel comfortable.
Simultaneously, on the shore that suitcase drifts in, and a lifeguard pulls it onto the beach. Where it’s horrifying contents are all but clear. This sends Dt. Griffin and Constable Hilmarson down to investigate. Inside the suitcase, of course, is the body of a young Chinese girl. Surely our Cinnamon.
Pic 4Fantastic opener to Season 2 of Top of the Lake! God, I love this series. Was so thrilled to hear Campion and Lee were going to bring it back, and with a few additional talented acting talents to boot. Excited to watch where this goes. I have a feeling we’re going to go even darker, deeper than Season 1, as well.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 8: “Grace”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 8: “Grace”
Directed by Cherie Nowlan
Written by Megan Martin

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Dig” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Custody” – click here
Pic 1Pope (Shawn Hatosy) heads out late in the night, early in the morning. He seems on edge. What’s he doing? Where is he going? Back at Smurf’s (Ellen Barkin) place the weird vibes between J (Finn Cole) and Nicky (Molly Gordon) continue, as she’s still banging uncle Craig (Ben Robson). Plus, the girl finds out that “Javi cant come back” when she inquires about J’s gun. And the whole thing’s just… awkward, tense, strange.
Well, Pope is waiting for mom when she wakes up, watching as she sleeps. Creepy. She’s creepy, too. Naked under the sheets, calling her eldest boy in with just a sheet separating them to cuddle. Although he refuses; this time.
Pic 1AIn other news, Baz (Scott Speedman) worries about Smurf and her skimming. He makes the mistake of telling Lucy (Carolina Guerra), because the more people around him know the more they’re at risk. And everyone even near Smurf, or Pope, or Baz, are at risk, at all times. Doesn’t help that Lucy and Pope aren’t exactly friendly, either.
But he’s got issues with Baz, that’s where it all starts. I keep wondering when it’s all going to explode. He loves Baz as a brother, and there’s also a fucked up jealousy.
Deran (Jake Weary) is out of the closet, so he’s experiencing life as a gay man truly for the first time. Banging dudes without worrying. Even feels strange to him to get a compliment for fucking a guy well. I love him, he’s so innocent in a way in terms of his sexuality while simultaneously totally non-innocent in his life as a thief. The guy he’s with right now? It’s the dude from the local business owners meeting.
Pope’s still into Bible study with Amy (Jennifer Landon). During one of their studies the police arrive to speak with her, naturally worrying our man who’s acting so casual, so cool. Problem is the police are looking for Leon, an ex-con working with the church; he’s scared, not contacting them back. Looks like the boys’ robbery is putting others in harm’s way now. I continuously feel curious about whether he’ll be able to shoulder the weight of guilt throughout this whole ordeal, it’s always getting worse.
At the house, Smurf is making bullets, to help show J. She’s also contending with Baz’s prying, trying to keep him happy. And wondering about the self-destructive nature of Pope, how Baz can “take care” of him. Likewise she tells Baz: “I took you in because the minute I laid eyes on you I fell in love with you.” She’s trying to keep him close, close, close. As he keeps an eye on her, tracking her every move.
Pic 2 (1)Craig’s starting to scope out the next job on his own. Ingratiating himself to other employees of the company where he’s working. For a fuck up, the dude is charming. Very charming. And back in the garage, Smurf teaches her grandson to make “loads” for the gun, pressing their own bullets. Ah, family time! Grandma further works to pump him up again, to restore his confidence. She teaches him much more than just how to make a few bullets. They actually talk about his mom, as well. A rare occasion for Smurf, she obviously didn’t love her daughter the same as her sons, for many reasons.
We see a bit of the good in Pope, a glimmer of hope in his personality. He talks with Amy’s friend Leon, levelling with him about their time in prison, what it’s like to come out and deal with the real world. Seems the man’s got a drug problem. During the robbery, he was fixing on heroin. Doesn’t want his parole jammed up. So Pope suggests an alternative plan, to help the guy out. As well as to help out his own conscience from feeling worse.
Baz gets out to the storage place where Smurf’s got a stash. Since 2004. Whoa. That could mean she’s been skimming for quite a long time. He manages to bribe his way into finding the exact number of her locker. Using some shady gear to spy the safe inside.
When Pope arrives at his apartment later he’s got cops tossing his shit, some of the ones from the church. They’re suspicious, naturally. He plays it totally cool on the outside, a simmering anger inside and no doubt a fear of heading back to jail.
Pic 3But what does Pope do now? So much for that guilt, or that conscience. He plants a bit of evidence he still has kicking around on – you guessed it – Leon. What a low move, man. Just as I thought there was humanity left in him, he puts the frame on someone he doesn’t deserve it. You can tell it weighs on him, but what’s the good of a conscience when it does nothing, when it’s only a vestigial, useless psychological organ?
Smurf tries patching things up. She doesn’t “believe in sorry” so that means she hands over $20K to each of her boys, to make up for being such a control freak and ruining their collective trust. However, she requires something: she needs their cash, to launder through her business. Works both ways, though. Gets them a tax record. Choices to make for everyone. The trust isn’t quite there again, not yet.
Baz: “Thats a lot of free cash, man. What are you gonna do with it?”
J: “Nothings free, man.”
Now Baz is discovering there was a Confidential Informant file started on Catherine, by her cop friend Patrick. This is starting to lead our boy in quite a scary direction; scary for those who know more than they let on, who are involved more than anyone else knows.
Speaking of scary, I’m worried for Nicky, getting further into the family business with Craig pulling her in on the latest job. Not only that she’s trying to one up on J, to make him jealous. Scared this may lead someplace dark.
One nice bit? Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark) and Deran get together at his bar for a drink. They talk about life, where it’s headed for them both. Deran wants to buy the whole building where he has the bar, to “go legit” – Adrian wonders if his brothers will let him.
Closer and closer Baz comes to the truth. He believes Smurf will do anything, from stealing her boys’ money to having Baz’s wife killed. And expressing this sentiment to Pope isn’t the the smartest move. Little does he know.
Pic 4Pic 4AThis was a good episode because it didn’t have any wild action, or much of the thrilling robbery stuff. It worked well on a character development level, focusing on plot points headed our way in the near future. Specifically, we’re seeing more sides of Pope, more of his guilt, his lack of any morality, as well as Baz starting to discover more of Catherine’s disappearance. Where that leads could irreparably change the Cody gang and the Animal Kingdom series as a whole forever. “Custody” is next week, promising further intensity, as usual.

SHOT CALLER’s Ugly Truth of Incarceration & the Violent Transformation of the Male Psyche

Shot Caller. 2017. Directed & Written by Ric Roman Waugh.
Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jon Bernthal, Omari Hardwick, Lake Bell, Michael Landes, Jeffrey Donovan, Benjamin Bratt, Emory Cohen, Holt McCallany, & Chris Browning.
Bold Films/DirecTV/Participant Media/Relativity Media
Rated R. 121 minutes.
Crime/Drama/Thriller

★★★★
Shot Caller PosterRic Roman Waugh’s Felon is honestly one of the more surprising crime-thrillers since 2000, because it wasn’t a film I expected to find fascinating. It seemed the regular, same old crime fare to which we’ve become accustomed over the years. But it blew me out of the water, from Val Kilmer’s fine tuned performance to Stephen Dorff playing the best character he’s played in a long time.
Now he’s given us another chapter in his prison-related saga: Shot Caller. On the surface it, again, feels like something we’ve seen before, time and time again. Yet there’s a number of things different about this film from other prison pictures, even the previous Felon. Instead of a pointless journey into the prison system, Waugh offers us a poignant, if not violent and disturbing account of how normal people go from normal to indoctrinated into a gang’s lifestyle.
At a point in time where so many white Americans feel energised by hatred, specifically in terms of race, Shot Caller presents a vision of the way in which some people get caught up in the gang world by mere coincidence. The film doesn’t seek to normalise hatred, in fact it goes to good length in trying to present to us a situation where a family man becomes a monster moulded by the prison system, its desperate, inescapable limitations, and the lack of choices for men inside those walls who aren’t hardened criminals. Yet.
Shot Caller 1The most immediate thing is the desperation of the non-criminal entering into prison, shown in such a subtle and terrifying manner. Part of this – a huge part – is the contained, subdued performance of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, whose character Jacob feels incredibly real. For instance, his first night and first morning in jail are all played out across his face, as behind him in another bunk a new inmate who came in with him is gang raped by other prisoners, and he quietly acknowledges to himself the hideous realities of living in prison. As if to say: I accept this, and today I’ll start to change. Thus begins the transformation of a normal person into a prisoner and criminal.
Waugh’s method of storytelling here is powerful, passing from present day up through to Jacob’s incarceration and the process by which he becomes indoctrinated into the gang life in jail. Then we go through to another arrest, which takes Jacob back inside prison. We watch, effectively, a man’s life spiral out of control. Tragically, we can also see the process as a whole, how it happens to many men who’ve made a horrible mistake for which they’re jailed, then how they go into prison only to be forced to choose the only life left available to them that doesn’t involve daily beatings and nightly gang rapes while even the guards can be paid off to turn a blind eye. The way Waugh shows us and tells us the story allows for maximum effect, as we start out with the already hardened Jacob and backpedal as we simultaneously move forward to see, to understand how it came to this moment.
Shot Caller 2It’s the humanity in Jacob that offers us a better look at prison life than something less nuanced, or say listening to Fox News constantly or any other similar leaning publication that treats crime and criminals as a monolith. Waugh writes about the unfortunate, desperate lure of the criminal lifestyle in jail, how it doesn’t pull EVERYONE in by virtue of any weakness in themselves. Rather it can act as a spinning whirlpool, sucking people into its wake, leaving no other choice but to become part of it to ensure survival and not die a brutal death, in turn sucking others into its force, too.
Bottles: “And then a place like this forces us to become warriors or victims. Nothing in between can exist here.”
Prisons, for those who end up there in a cruel twist of fate or by their own mistakes as opposed to criminals lacking any sense of morality, are places of desperation, a place with a dearth of options where much of what goes against regular morality is often the last vestige of the prisoner, their sole remaining option in a hellish place. Jacob’s journey is the epitome of what it’s like for a normal person to experience a sudden change in standing. He was a man who had too many drinks, accidentally ran a red light and killed his best friend in a car accident, and this one moment ends up defining the rest of existence, shaping him, his family, and the people around him.
Shot Caller is a testament to how we as a society have allowed prison to become a place where someone who makes a mistake, even if it’s a fatal one, can’t just serve their time as the law states, but instead a place where this man is no longer allowed middle ground: he must either be penitent through abuse and torture via other inmates, or he must relinquish penitence in lieu of day-to-day survival at the additional cost of his morality. The only bit of humanity Jacob actually retains involves his refusal to fall into the white supremacy of the gang he rides with in prison, though it doesn’t excuse his loss of conscience; all else is permanently lost.
Shot Caller 3A great, shattering concept in Shot Caller is the double-edged sword going into prison, for a man such as Jacob. He must become a monster in order to live, which further requires he hold his family at arm’s length, if not further. So much so that even when free, out in the world, he still exists in a cage, in a prison not of his own making but one that’s inevitable due to the state of correctional institutions in America.
Most importantly, Waugh is all but shouting at society, wondering how we can all allow such places to exist where men – often young men – are sent to choose the protection of a gang, shoving balloons of heroin in their rectum over being raped in the night, throat cut as they sleep, who knows what else. Moreover, this calls into question our own morality, a society’s sense of morals, as well as what we truly believe to be the function of the prison: is it really a place for penitence, or more just a warehouse of meat where men are sent to either live as beasts or die, sometimes experiencing a spiritual death full of abuse and rape and never ending violence?
Prison flicks are a dime a dozen. This is one of the best prison thrillers post-2000. Much as I loved Waugh’s Felon, this one takes it up a notch. Best of all is that Shot Caller contains great performances, an excellent score, and a message that speaks volumes, particularly in an era where we need to both be critical of white supremacy but also understand how SOME (not saying it’s a huge portion; most racists are utter scum) people wind up in an ugly life because of a lack of choices.
And while Waugh’s film focuses on a white protagonist, we could use more films like this for all races. A parallel to this for black culture is Menace II Society, which illustrated the dangerous life of young African-American men in Los Angeles living the gang lifestyle, simultaneously not judging, showing us HOW and WHY things are like that; not simply that they are, something people know well enough already. These movies don’t glorify prison, nor do they glorify gangs. We need less action trying to use guns and gangsters and prison to be edgy, more stuff like Menace II Society and now Shot Caller. Both use all these elements to try getting at the core of what crime and prison do to people, how they do it, and why, to get at an understanding that can help us grow, perhaps if anything it can aid us in coping as a society until we figure out the right way to do things.
That’s what art is all about.

Preacher – Season 2, Episode 6: “Sokosha”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 2, Episode 6: “Sokosha”
Directed by David Evans
Written by Mary Laws

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Dallas” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Pig” – click here
Pic 1The Technician (James Kyson) is setting up a procedure for a man, his wife is worried about the consequences. What sort of procedure, exactly? Involves a strange contraption the Technician inserts into the back of the man’s knee, like a scope. He locates something, drains it of 15% of its fluid. For this the man and woman receive $150K. The Technician, he’s carted around in a secure truck by armed men. Like a normal workday.
Next stop is the home of an old, rich couple. The woman’s not well, mentally. The fluid from the donor is matched with her, then turned “into a consumable.” When she takes the little pill it’s concentrated into, she suddenly regains memory, her disease no longer sapping her away.
Such a creepy yet truthful allegory, as we see people struggling in the middle to lower class literally being drained of their life’s essence, bought up by the higher class, the rich trying to extend life beyond its natural course not through altruism of any kind, but by the black market purchasing of (essentially) life. Yikes. Wonder how it all ties in further to the main events and actions of Preacher.
Pic 1ADenis ain’t doing so well, and the sweetness of our vamp Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) is clear when he tries helping the old guy out. But he can’t win, our man, he’s thwarted at every corner whether it’s by Denis, Tulip (Ruth Negga), or Jesse (Dominic Cooper). Otherwise things aren’t so bad, after all the nonsense with Viktor (Paul Ben-Victor) is finished; even further than any of them realise. The vamp and the preacher are patching things up after their brief rough patch, too. All’s well, for now. I mean… sort of.
All the while the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish), led by the little girl, approaches the apartment. Ready to murder anyone and everyone in his path. Except the girl gets the apartment wrong. The murderer ends up with “a Jew” (funny in its context) in another apartment, kills him, then has to go from one to the next looking for the preacher.
GREAT SEQUENCE where Jesse finds a hot bullet in a cup of yogurt, after the Saint of Killers starting shooting up the building! Just love how this series does neat little things like that, turning action and horror and comedy on its head with atypical moments. Meanwhile, our friends get themselves out of there before the murderous cowboy makes it to them. Although the relentless killer knows they were there, indicated by the cute pancakes Tulip made; Jesse’s name is spelled out on his with M&Ms.
So what will the gang do next? They know Fiore’s gone now after the cowboy put him down. Next stop: the library. Do some reading, or as Tulip chooses a “book on tape” called American Psychopaths where she learns of the Saint of Killers – “The only living man without a soul” – his history as a man before becoming the flesh and blood cum supernatural force he is today.
We hoped you enjoyed this edition of American Psychopaths. Join us next time for Chapter 58: Dick Cheney.”
Pic 2Pic 2AJesse uses Genesis to try and stop the Saint, saying that he’ll come back to the apartment and meet him. There, he finds the cowboy holding Denis hostage. The preacher tries making a deal, talking to the Saint. “God aint givinyou shit,” he tells the man. Hearing that God may be gone is enough to lower his gun. Jesse fills him in, showing him the video of the fake God. He knows the killer wants into Heaven, but without God? Not gonna happen, dude.
This leaves Jesse a limited amount of time to prove to the Saint his word is true and this deal is legitimate. There’s “one thing” needed to get the killer into Heaven. What could it be? One hour for our preacher to get the job done.
He heads over to the Papa Bebe’s House of Voodoo, looking for a soul to buy. Seems he’s been pushed out of the business. Capitalism in the soul industry is wild! Ah, this is what we saw during the opening scene, the Technician removing “fractions of souls” from the poor to feed the rich.
At the apartment, Tulip tries levelling emotionally with the cowboy. He only picks her up by the throat, tossing her to the floor. This upsets Cassidy, whose foolish white knighting might get them in trouble. I hope he knows better than to get handsy with that bad motherfucker.
Jesse gets into the armoured truck with the Technician. He needs a match for the Saint, only it’s rare. They don’t carry around anything like that, only back at their storage facility. Turns out, Jesse’s soul is a match. He’s got what the cowboy needs. Gets back just in time to save Tulip, though the vamp has his fingers lopped off trying to keep the sword from cutting her in half. He gives the Saint his edible soul, then it’s time to “enter the kingdom of Heaven.”
Pic 3But it seems not having a soul is the only thing that protected the cowboy from Genesis, which Jesse uses liberally against him now. He takes him on a ride in the armoured truck, out into the swamps. Where he keeps the Saint of Killers locked inside, then sends it into the water to sink. Ah, the threat is quelled for the time being. Not so sure it’s going to keep him down for good.
At the apartment Denis is back to normal, the vamp’s fingers are getting better. However, Tulip seems like she’s not doing so good, she looks almost ill; was she pregnant again after all this time? Did getting thrown hard to the floor by the cowboy do some damage? Makes me wonder, and worry.
And I truly wonder about Jesse, if this path he’s taking might not get much darker for him, as well as everyone around him.
Pic 4Fantastic chapter in this second season, I mean, honestly – what more could you ask for? Smart, witty, and bad fucking ass, all around! Can’t wait for “Pig” next week because we’re going to find out about that file we saw a few episodes ago, what it means to a greater extent.

Twin Peaks – Season 3: “The Return, Part 11”

Showtime’s Twin Peaks
Season 3: “The Return, Part 11”
Directed by David Lynch
Written by Lynch & Mark Frost

* For a recap & review of Part 10, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 12, click here.
Pic 1Over at the Fat Trout, a few kids play catch. When one of them runs to find a stray ball, they see a bleeding woman crawl from the trees. Presumably it’s the woman Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) beat brutally. At the diner, Shelly (Mädchen Amick) gets a call from Becky Burnett (Amanda Seyfried) saying she needs to borrow her car, there’s something wrong with Steven (Caleb Landry Jones). The girl takes off with the car, Shelly tries jumping on the hood but gets tossed into the dirt when Becky spins around. Carl (Harry Dean Stanton) sees it all go down, so he comes out to see if he can help. He calls her a ride with his tin flute. Fucking love this show.
They wind up getting in contact with Deputy Sheriff Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook), to tell him that the young woman has a gun with her, too. At the same time we watch Becky rush into a house, up the stairs in a blind rage, gun in hand. She beats on the door of apartment 208. When nobody will open the door she fires a handful of shots inside. Through the halls we do see Steven with another woman, staring up toward the sounds of the gun. The sheriff’s department gets a boatload of calls about the gunshots, naturally.
Pic 1AOut in Buckhorn, William Hastings (Matthew Lillard) is walking Special Agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) through his claim about seeing Major Garland Briggs. They’re out at an abandoned shack, along with Special Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) and Deputy Director Gordon Cole (David Lynch). Then, a strange apparition out on the property, perhaps similar to the dark spirits we saw reviving bad Coop (Kyle MacLachlan) awhile ago.
Think theres one in there, Albert?” asks Gordon as he and his old pal head inside. Electricity buzzes in the air. Up in the sky a cyclone-like opening appears, drawing everything into it. Albert’s vision goes blurry, Gordon reaches up with his hands doing… something; interacting with the cyclone in the sky, or calling to it, or who knows what. He almost disappears. Only for the fact Albert hauls him back. So what exactly is the thing? Clearly they’ve known of it, they wondered if “one” would be there.
Then they also discover a body lying in the nearby field: the headless body of Ruth Davenport. Ah, the Briggs connection once again. It all comes together in a twisted weave of alternate dimension, as is usual for Twin Peaks. Worse still, the eerie man covered in burnt engine oil is lurking at the car near Hastings. Suddenly, his head basically explodes, the top half gone. The darkness has taken him.
Notice they’re on a street named Sycamore?
Pic 2Pic 2ABecky, Shelly, and Deputy Sheriff Briggs sit around a table at the diner, trying to take care of things in at least a HALF discrete way. Admittedly, Bobby tells Becky if he wasn’t in his position with the department she’d be in cuffs. Luckily no one was hurt; this time. She’s clearly got a toxic relationship going, like a worse version of Bobby and Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee).
Oh, and Becky’s mom and dad? It’s Bobby and Shelly. I sort of expected that. Just to hear it out loud is sort of stunning, all the same. No wonder the girl is who she is, she’s Bobby Briggs’ kid! Making things sketchier, Shelly’s boyfriend is Red (Balthazar Getty), the insane coke dealing madman who deals to her son-in-law. Christ, Twin Peaks is one hell of a town.
Suddenly a bullet flies through the window of the diner, another one. Deputy Sheriff Briggs goes out into the street to find a kid found a gun in his parents’ van and shot it off. The two parents freak out each other, and Bobby gets the gun out of their hands. He looks at the boy, who has a strange sort of air about him. A woman freaks out in the road beeping her horn, a sick girl in the passenger seat throwing up what looks like bile. Jesus. The whole thing swirls poor Bobby into an absurdist nightmare.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse) and Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) look at an old map, a Native America piece of hide with symbols on it. One looks of a campfire, Hawk describes it as “modern day electricity” – tying into the Black Lodge’s inhabitants, the evil spirits, how they travel through electricity. They study it using information given to them through Mjr. Briggs. There’s also a symbol of “black fire” that’s meant to be important. There’s yet another symbol, the black orb with the two wing-like pieces on the top; Hawk says Truman doesn’t want to know about that one. Ominous. Hawk also gets another call from Margaret the Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson), she knew they’d found more. She says “theres fire where you are going.”
Pic 3Gordon, Albert, Tammy, and Diane (Laura Dern) are back with the detective chatting about Ruth’s body. There were also coordinates on her body. Plus, what the hell happened to Hastings in the backseat of the cruiser? They all saw that engine oil-covered lumberjack-like figure creeping around. Except the detective, and Tammy. Then Gordon says he’s seen them before – “dirty bearded men in a room“; is this the convenience store? Does Cole have previous experience with them just like Philip Jeffries 25 years ago?
Back in Las Vegas at the Lucky 7 offices, Dougie-Coop (MacLachlan) is led by a coffee in to his boss for a talk. Turns out he’s helped his boss root out corruption in their business, which the boss believes is why there’s been attempts on his life as of late. He mentions the Mitchum brothers aren’t part of it, apparently. Higher up, it seems. Now the Mitchums want to meet Dougie. The boss has a $30-million cheque to deliver. All sorts of insurance madness that Dougie-Coop goes along with, his true mind elsewhere, locked away.
Speaking of the Mitchums, Rodney (Robert Knepper) hears about a dream Bradley (Jim Belushi) had about killing that “Douglas Jones fuck” and openly anxious to get the murder finished. So much so, his 2:30 PM breakfast is ruined. At the Lucky 7 office, the Black Lodge appears to Dougie-Coop and pulls him toward a coffee shop; toward his old self. Then he’s carted off to meet the Mitchums, his boss telling him to “knockem dead” giving him the one of the ole pretend knockout jabs to the chin. Wonder if our man’ll take that all too literally. Wonder if he’ll need to.
Dougie-Coop’s actually being brought out to a spot in the desert. Typical Vegas gangster move. When our man shows up holding his box from the coffee shop, Bradley freaks out, saying this was the dream he had. That they can’t kill him. “It means hes not our enemy,” he pleads with his brother. Long as what’s in the box is what he saw in the dream. And indeed it is: a cherry fuckin’ pie. Likewise they find their $30-million cheque in his pocket.
When Dougie-Coop goes for a meal with the Mitchums after, toasting to their day, he’s entranced by the music playing. He’s also greeted by the woman who he helped in the casino, the one who calls him Mr. Jackpots. Her life’s changed for the better, all due to him. Everyone sees him as this saint-like, Christ figure almost. Silent, dumb or more so sweet, innocent. He reminds partly of Sellers from Being There in his quiet sweetness.
Another Coopism comes out when Dougie-Coop quips that the pie is “damn good.” Such a perfect moment after the roundabout way in which the old Cooper’s life helped save his latest form’s life.
Pic 4This was a fabulous episode, it took all the beautiful aspects of the series and intertwined them into one weird, fun, silly episode. It’s honestly just such a treat!

The Mist – Season 1, Episode 5: “The Waiting Room”

Spike’s The Mist
Season 1, Episode 5: “The Waiting Room”
Directed by Richard Laxton
Written by Amanda Segel & Christian Torpe

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Pequod” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Devil You Know” – click here
Pic 1With Bryan (Okezi Morro) wounded from the gunshot, Kevin (Morgan Spector), Adrian (Russell Posner), and Mia (Danica Curcic) rush trying to get him to a hospital, driving through the mist. They get him there, but like everywhere else people are stuck together, stuck inside, there’s no telling what the situation is like amongst the staff, patients, and anyone who’s ended up in that building as a result of the encroaching mist. As well as the fact Mia blames Kevin for Bryan getting shot, treating it the same as if he shot the bullet himself.
Luckily, the guy’s going to recover. Just a good deal of blood loss. Meanwhile the hospital’s on an emergency generator, only a few days left. Food and medicine are depleted. Mist has taken over a whole wing of the hospital.
We get a flashback to Kevin and Eve Copeland (Alyssa Sutherland) as they move into their home for the first time. A happy, excited couple. Far cry from where they are now, and that’s not just including the town’s latest situation. Their marriage is rocky after Alex (Gus Birney) was raped. Mom blames dad in a way, for being too lenient. Because of her own past I’m sure Eve has troubles with trust, particularly concerning the trust in men.
Pic 1AKevin doesn’t stop looking for his family, though nobody’s seen them anywhere around the hospital. One of the worst places to be trapped is the hospital. There’s death around almost every corner. Moreover, Kevin finds his brother Mike (Peter Murnik) in a bed, a brutal wound in his gut. His brother said “they knew me” – whatever’s in the mist – that they knew things about his past. “I dont even know whats real anymore,” Mike says. The two brothers clearly have NEVER seen eye to eye, yet there’s a comfort in the older of the two with his younger brother there. Perhaps that’s because he’s on the edge of death. Or maybe he just hides his affections.
Either way they’re stuck, for a while, in that hospital together. At the same time Bryan’s recovering, his connection with Mia deepening. She’s got demons, very dark ones. She tells him: “Im not ready for you to be nice to me.”
More flashback. Eve and Kevin talk about the nature of women. She says that “all women are two people.” You can see he desperately wants to understand and know his wife completely, and there’s a resistance in her, even if she obviously loves him. Their connection is clear and strong, but she’s mysterious in ways.
Then later, Mike asks his brother the unthinkable: put him out of his misery, to send him on from the pain. Only Kevin can’t bring himself to do that, even if it’s meant as mercy. They go from anger to nostalgia to laughter in a matter of moments. It’s touching, and also eerie in a way. Because no matter what happens Mike’s going to die, one way or another.
Pic 2Another flashback shows a brief moment with Mike and Eve, as they’re all together in the new house. The older brother’s comment puts a momentarily sour look on her face. Afterwards, she and Mike have sex, she asks him for it harder. I worry there are dark secrets, darker things about the town, what happened to Eve all those years that we don’t yet know. I’m not sure exactly if I have any theories yet, I do know there’s something else there yet to be revealed.
Now, Mike needs to be taken to the OR. But it goes through the mist. They’ve got to get through it with a hospital bed. However, the doctors won’t go, so it’s up to Kevin: go and his brother may die, or stay and his brother will die anyways.
Adrian’s run into a guy from school in the bathroom, Tyler (Christopher Gray). He approaches him and then goes in for a kiss. Tyler responds with “faggot” and beats him brutally, kicking him, punching him. Instead of just, ‘yknow, saying: I’m not gay. And Adrian gets right back up, goes in for another kiss, finally accepted with little reluctance as they make out.
More flashback shows us that the thing with Mike and Eve is that the older brother talks about her as the “town whore” and speaks ill about her to the parents of children at the school, all sorts of other nasty shit. While Kevin wanted to rush out and “beat the fuck” out of his brother, his wife makes clear: “I just dont need you to save me.” Now we can see all the conflicted feelings further between Kevin and Mike.
Pic 3Pic 3ALost souls Adrian and Mia bond over being single children in their respective families, over trouble with her mother, his father. The junkie, and more experienced sleazeball, snags the keys from the kid without his knowing. After that she makes a swift exit, driving away from the hospital in a hurry. And this not long after her discover of a Bryan Hunt in another hospital bed, who says he was attacked by a man at the military base. Ohhhhh, shit.
Kevin rushes through the misty wing of the hospital transporting his brother to the OR. They barely make it there before Mike’s fingernails start bleeding, his nose and his mouth, too. Now it’s left to the younger brother, to take orders over a headset and do surgery on the older one. Before they start Mike mentions he and his friends were “all in love” with Eve; part of his hatred for Kevin stems from jealousy, that his younger brother was the one who wound up with such a wonderful, beautiful woman instead of him. Petty masculine bullshit.
Kevin manages to get the rebar out of his brother’s stomach, then he has to stop the bleeding, close the wound with stitches. He finishes up before having to head back through the mist to the other wing.
One more flashback reveals Kevin is not actually Alex’s father. They also make a promise not to tell her, so as not to break the little girl’s heart. So, is the birth of their girl a result of what happened to Eve? Wow, that adds a whole other layer to their family and relationship if so. Jesus. Heavy stuff.
When Kevin takes Mike back through the hall, he slips on some blood and his brother topples to the floor, more blood coming from all over his body. The mist drops leaches onto him, they cover his skin and start sucking the life from him. When it’s too much, Kevin has to put his brother out of his misery finally, and get out of the mist.
Pic 5What a fucking episode! I’ve seen people rating this low, and I have no idea why. Crazy. Such history, character development, as we figure out more of the Copelands’ inner lives, what drives them, what’s brought them to here. There’s so much to unpack. The writers are doing a great jog so far. “The Devil You Know” is next week.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 7: “Dig”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 7: “Dig”
Directed by David Rodriguez
Written by Eliza Clark

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Cry Havoc” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Grace” – click here
Pic 1In the aftermath of Javi (Alex Meraz) attacking J (Finn Cole) and Nicky (Molly Gordon), what will Smurf (Ellen Barkin) do? Will Pope (Shawn Hatosy) and mom join together at least momentarily to take care of this family problem?
Meanwhile, J took a good beating. That nasty wound on his leg got opened up. Just vicious stuff. While he washes off, Pope and Smurf watch the security footage of Javi and his boys raiding the house. At the bar, Deran (Jake Weary) and Craig (Ben Robson) ignore mom’s calls, talking about their new, upcoming job, something they’re keeping secret until the time is right.
Smurf comforts J who’s feeling “shame” for not being able to protect the place, or Nicky. He wants to go after Javi. At the same time, Baz (Scott Speedman) is picking up Nicky over where she was dropped off. She doesn’t blame J for anything, it’s just him being hard on himself. Feeling the traps of faux masculinity knocking at the door. Hope it doesn’t drive him to do anything stupid, anything he doesn’t think real damn hard about first. Grandma’s doing her best to keep a lid on that temper.
Pic 1AFinally, Smurf has to explain to the boys about Javi, his father, all the tragic story from back in the day. Manny supposedly put Javi’s dad out of his misery, then he was buried at a construction site. That’s now on the street where they let Nicky go earlier. So, do the boys ride or die for big mama? Probably not. They aren’t too eager to help mom, particularly not Deran who feels “foster care” would’ve been better than being in the Cody family. That pretty much puts an end to their conversation. Although Smurf cautions: “This doesnt end until we end it.”
While normally I’d say she’s full of shit, J is involved, he was beaten, tortured. Now his uncles aren’t willing to help, when he’s put work in for them, done robberies, so on. Baz and Pope are a little more willing to entertain the idea; Craig and Deran say fuck that. What I see most is the breakdown of loyalty. I don’t know how J will take this going forward. Either way, the boys figure instead of killing Javi, they’ll move the body of his father so the cops can’t put a case on mom. Plus, Craig and Deran want cash. Yikes. The stake is driven deeper.
Furthermore, Baz – after getting pulled over by Catherine’s cop friend – brings up doubts, thoughts about her disappearance, and now thinks she’s dead. When he mentions this to Pope, the latter’s struck very uncomfortable. No telling how long his secret will last, sooner or later it’ll come out. Then there’s the fact Pope and mom have their dark little secret(s) to boot, that’s a dangerous fucking mixing pot.
Pic 2Pope worries that the cops may arrest Baz on suspicion, something he possibly can’t live with, though it’s difficult to know what he can or can’t live with in the end. Then there’s J, constantly worried that he didn’t do right by Nicky, even if she doesn’t actively blame him. Everyone is preparing to go dig up Javi’s dad, as well as figuring out their own shit simultaneously.
Out on the beach, Baz goes to meet Javi, they go way back; Pope, too. Baz tries reasoning with him. Making clear nobody is going to touch Smurf. Javi feels a lifetime of lies bear down on him, having believed his father merely ran off on him ages ago. That’s gonna cost a lot of money.
Javi (to Baz): “Youve come a long way from cryinyourself to sleep and pissinthe bed, man. Good for you. Yknow shit didnt turn out so well for me, or my dad.”
The Cody family archaeological dig’s about ready to happen, no matter if mama’s a tad sketchy on a few details. Everyone is on edge. Things are more tense between Smurf and Baz after he questions her on where she got all the money before to pay Javi, knowing that she’s been skimming on their jobs. Now the two of them opt to use money from the church job to do the payoff. Only hope is Baz can get it back before the boys figure it out. That might not go over so well with the gang.
J and Pope head into the backyard of the house where Javi’s dad was buried years prior. First, they need to take care of the people living there. So they’ve got to fake a gas leak, set things up to get at the old corpse. Outside, uncle Pop tries to steer his nephew away from doing horrible things, like he’s done: “It doesnt feel like you think it will.”
Pic 3Baz goes with Smurf to take care of the drop off and the cash. But I wonder, maybe they’re walking into something bad? Maybe. Out in the middle of nowhere, they meet Javi, who’s brought along a friend. Just seeing Smurf makes the dude’s blood boil.
The rest of the boys get down to business in the basement of the house. They’ve got all the gear to make it a quick, safe, smart job. They get down into the concrete a little ways before it looks like they’ve found the remains. Just boots, a gun, tattered clothes, and a skeleton. Only they’re missing a foot. A bit of extra digging, they locate the tootsie, and then they’re off. Another successful, greasy mission.
In a dumb move, Smurf tells Javi he’s “worthless” and “stupid” among other things. Insulting his dad. Holy shit. When Javi goes for his gun, his own buddy shoots him in the head. Looks like Smurf’s got friends in all sorts of different places. He gets the payoff cash, too. Whoa, what a sly motherfucker this lady is! Doesn’t sit so great with Baz, who doesn’t see that Javi would never stop, he needed revenge. I mean… she’s not wrong, though she is quite cold.
Baz: “I mean, cmon, Smurf, we grew up with that kid. He was like family to us.”
Smurf: “And like family isnt family
After all’s said and done, they have a mini reunion, all together out on the shore. While Javi’s dad’s remains are stuffed into a barrel, ready for burning. A weird moment, sort of bringing them all back together in a way. A fresh start for Smurf, for them all with this chapter behind them.
Pic 4Only problem is there are many bad things lurking underneath, specifically that dark secret between Pope and Smurf, the one that if it’s discovered by Baz the Cody family will be obliterated. I wonder how long more until things start unravelling. My guess is in “Grace” next week, we’ll see a bit of his come out.

Preacher – Season 2, Episode 5: “Dallas”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 2, Episode 5: “Dallas”
Directed by Michael Morris
Written by Philip Buiser

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Viktor” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Sokosha” – click here
Pic 1So Jesse (Dominic Cooper) just found out Viktor (Paul Ben-Victor) is Tulip O’Hare’s (Ruth Negga) husband. He’s got the guy in the torture room, too. He even uses Genesis to get who he thought was his lady out of the room. As she reminds him of “Dallas” and asking if he wants to “go there again.” Hinting at a dark, dark place in the preacher’s former life.
Flashback to Dallas, several months after that botched robbery and Tulip’s botched pregnancy in the wake of it. Jesse lives sort of washed up, his friend literally rolling joints out of the Bible’s pages and Tulip using the Bible to prop open the window. A far cry from where we first met Custer in Annville. We see the couple trying to get away from living the criminal life. At the same time, we see that Viktor was one of the jobs they were being offered; looks like Tulip went behind her man’s back, did a job when she pretended with him they were out. Wound up with a husband. Shiiiiet.
Pic 1AI mean, normal life doesn’t suit either of them. Not Tulip, and certainly not Jesse who looks wholly miserable without a bit of criminality in his existence. But there’s also the fact they were both on different wavelengths. She likely didn’t want to jump right back into conceiving a child after just losing one, whereas he seemed to feel the only way to get past it, to get over the loss was to replace the child now gone.
At Denis’ place, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) gets a surprise when Tulip shows up with her stepdaughter Allie, while dad and the preacher are getting acquainted for the worse. It’s an awkward situation. Although the vamp does his best to entertain. He also feels responsible for letting Jesse loose, so he goes in hopes of talking sense into his buddy.
But I ain’t so sure the man’s willing to listen. He wants to hurt Viktor, to kill him. He’s still got him strung up in that torture room. Taking his sweet time. Viktor reminds him, though, how HE was the hell from which Tulip crawled to New Orleans, to Viktor. A constant, repetitive living hell of sex, drinking, fucking to get pregnant. Why wouldn’t she want to get away? Who can really blame her? Makes sense she loves him, after all their time together.
She surely felt conflicted, having to go through the motions over and over. Just the same as what we’ve seen in actual hell, with Eugene (Ian Colletti) and Hitler (Noah Taylor) and the bunch: living your worst day, from morning to night; exactly what Tulip was experiencing.
Pic 2It all broke down when Jesse stumbles across something stuffed in a vent at home: a bag filled with cash. She’s been working their old contracts again, after lasting only three weeks at her real estate job. She isn’t made for the straight life. He isn’t, either. But he didn’t realise that. However, we also see Tulip’s been lying, taking birth control without telling him. That’s a bit sad, though again: her life’s been shit. Still, I can’t help feeling they’ve both done each other wrong. Plus there’s the fact Jesse beats his friend in anger, terribly, showing off that dark temper we can already see is inside him lurking.
Cassidy gets over to Viktor’s place, where he and Jesse can have a chat together. He tells a story from “years ago” when he was rich, before telling his friend he’s an idiot, that Tulip loves him and not the man she went and married. But the preacher rejects the vamp’s affection, his too-late honesty. Feeling Cassidy is trying to be “a hero” to stop him from doing what he wants to do. Jesse doesn’t trust the “lying, junkie vampire.” For his part the vamp lays it bare and honest, sympathising, and assures his friend he’s with him, thick and thin. Regardless of what he decides to do to Viktor.
Cassidy: “No more Jesse Custer and Tulip? Please. Some thingsll never change.”
Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 12.56.08 AMSo what does he do?
He lets Viktor go, and goes back to Denis’ place with the vamp and Tulip. He chose to go with divorce papers rather than a nasty murder. All the same it feels like Cassidy was hoping his words would’ve pushed the preacher into killing Viktor, possibly ruining things with Tulip. Maybe, not sure. He’s clearly in love with the woman.
Tulip: “This is Americanut up or get out!”
We see Tulip, back with Viktor. Supposedly happy, not taking on jobs. Only until she found out more info on Carlos. Despite not acting too emotional over the past while, soon as she hears word on Carlos, the memories flooded back. And she disappeared into thin air on Viktor.
Speaking of Viktor, he’s home and paranoid after the preacher’s craziness. Prepared for anything that comes next. Except for the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish), whose quest for the preacher continues and the trail left by the use of Genesis still warm. Viktor’s killed, but little Allie is willing to reveal where Jesse is, how to get there. Uh oh. They’re in for another chase soon.
Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 1.09.42 AMLoved this one, filled in bits of backstory for Tulip and Jesse that I was hoping to see sooner than later. The writing in this series is great, because the characters come through so subtly, even without some of the flashbacks. Yet those moments give life to the actions, reactions, emotions of Jesse and Tulip in present day after seeing what they’ve been through. “Sokosha” is next week, looking forward to a bit of action as the Saint of Killers is hot on the gang’s trail.

Twin Peaks – Season 3: “The Return, Part 10”

Showtime’s Twin Peaks
Season 3: “The Return, Part 10”
Directed by David Lynch
Written by Lynch & Mark Frost

* For a recap & review of Part 9, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 11, click here.
Pic 1Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) goes to see Miriam, who saw him during the hit and run. She wrote to Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) to tell him about what she saw. This doesn’t stop Richard from breaking into her trailer, doing something terrible. I’ve got a feeling the FBI might be back in Twin Peaks sooner than later, not just for the ordeal involving Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). ‘Cause Ricahrd, he’s one bad, bad dude.
Over at the Fat Trout Trailer Park, manager Carl Rodd (Harry Dean Stanton) plays the guitar, crooning away to a few chords. Across the way a cup is tossed through a window, inside is Steven Burnett (Caleb Landy Jones) losing his mind at his wife Becky (Amanda Seyfried), surely hopped up on cocaine, or maybe something more. Either way he’s an abusive man. A “fuckinnightmare” as Carl puts it eloquently.
We jump out to Nevada, in Las Vegas with Rodney Mitchum (Robert Knepper). His lady friend Candie (Amy Shiels) cracks him a good one with a remote control trying to get a fly, putting a nice cut in his cheek. Lovely slice of absurdist humour, as usual for Frost and Lynch.
In another part of town, Dougie-Coop (MacLachlan) is finally being taken to the doctor by his wife Janey-E (Naomi Watts). Which probably should’ve been done ages ago. The doc has a bit of a struggle with the child-like man, wondering how Dougie suddenly dropped all the weight, gotten wildly healthier compared to before. A mystery, indeed.
Pic 1ARodney and his brother Brad Mitchum (Jim Belushi) see a news report on Ike the Spike, glad to see him snatched up by the cops. Then, a report on Dougie Jones surviving Ike’s would-be assassination. The news footage is fucking hilarious, with Dougie-Coop trying to reach out and touch the cop’s badge, Janey-E swatting away his hand. But the Mitchum brothers, they’ve found their “Mr. Jackpots” and it’s not as if it was overly hard.
At home, Janey-E is seeing the possibilities of having a brand new husband while believing he’s the same man, seeing him now in such good shape, and y’know, obedient. Even if his Cooper love of food hasn’t stopped shining through. Dougie was sort of the perfect vessel in that way for a guy like Dale, whose love of food and coffee are unparalleled.
Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) is continuing to preach his madness out into the world, Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie) and likely other local kooks listening and watching over the internet. Strangely, at the core there’s truth to watch Jacoby’s saying, but as many like him he sounds like an absolute maniac: “Buy yourself a shovel, dig yourself out of the shit, and get educated!”
In Twin Peaks, Lucy Brennan (Kimmy Robertson) notices a bit of curious behaviour out of Deputy Sheriff Chad Broxford (John Pirruccello). He’s been tasked by young Horne to intercept Miriam’s letter. Uh oh. There’s corruption in the ranks of the Twin Peaks Sheriff Department. Meanwhile, Johnny Horne (Eric Rondell) is extra cared for at home after his recent accident, tied up at the table, head padding on. His nephew Richard’s come to see his grandmother, wanting cash. Willing to do whatever he needs to get it. No matter if it’s to a stranger or his own family.
Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.12.51 AMIn Las Vegas, Duncan Todd (Patrick Fischler) – rival and a “bitter” enemy of the Mitchums – has Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore) under his thumb. He tasks him with making sure the Mitchum brothers kill Dougie Jones, or else do it himself.
Out on the town, Gordon Cole (David Lynch) and Special Agent Tamara Preston (Chrysta Bell) revel in watching Special Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) actually wining and dining with a woman, local ME Constance Talbot (Jane Adams). Rare for the gruff, often misanthropic Albert. Love to see it!
The Mitchum brothers receive a visit from Anthony. They’re not particularly thrilled with Candie, she’s been acting aloof lately since whacking Rodney with the remote. At the same time they’re curious about the visit. Anthony fills them in about a recent claim for them, taken care of by Mr. Jones; he makes it look as if Dougie did them wrong. Thickening the plot in the Mitchums’ world. Making things more dangerous for Dougie-Coop.
What are Brad and Rod to do? Get even, I’d imagine.
At his hotel room door, Gordon has a vision of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), startling him. Although it’s only Albert calling. He has information about Diane (Laura Dern), the text she received after bad Coop’s escape. Diane returned information about William Hastings (Matthew Lillard). This forces the FBI men to keep a close watch on their old friend. Not to mention Preston brings a picture of bad Coop, photographed in that penthouse with the glass box in New York.
Gordon: “This is something. This is really something.”
Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.21.54 AMScreen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.25.02 AMBen Horne (Richard Beymer) gets a call from his wife Sylvia (Jan D’Arcy), she tells him about the attack by Richard, asking for more money. Seems grandma likes to stay far away from the rest of the family, or at least Ben and all his bullshit.
Log Lady Margaret Lanterman (Catherine E. Coulson) tells Hawk (Michael Horse): “Electricity is coming. You hear it in the mountains and rivers, you see it dances among the seas and stars, and glowing around the moon. But in these days, the glow is dying. What will be in the darkness that remains?” Furthermore, she tells him that Laura “is the one.”
Lyrics of the closing song are great. Nothing overtly revealing, just fits; naturally, seeing as how it’s partly written by David Lynch himself. Rebekah Del Rio’s wearing a beautiful dress that’s the same colour as the floor in the Black Lodge, a sequined pattern reminiscent of that place as the Roadhouse’s red curtains hanging in the background call it even more to mind.
Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.35.21 AMA fantastic episode, one that’s more linear and adds bits to the plot, strengthening things while also letting our minds relax; soon enough there’ll be more surrealism, count on that. Excited for the next part, this has been a journey of mythic proportions. I have no doubt in my mind Frost and Lynch are going to take us through another gamut of wild, weird, exciting, confusing, gorgeous moments in the back 8 episodes of The Return.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 6: “Cry Havoc”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 6: “Cry Havoc”
Directed by Larry Teng
Written by Jonathan Lisco

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Dig” – click here
Pic 1Smurf (Ellen Barkin) talks with her old pale Jake (Jack Conley). He’s been paid a visit by Javier (Alex Meraz) and the boys, about back in the day with Manny. The tapes. They tortured information out of Jake, threatening to do the worst. He wants Smurf to just pay up.
Meanwhile, J (Finn Cole) has his own injuries, after their semi-botched yet successful robbery at the church. His leg is cut up bad from the vents, so he takes care of it, just like he helps take care of Baz’s (Scott Speedman) little girl Lena (Aamya Deva Keroles). J and Nicky (Molly Gordon) are also still floating around one another, flirtatious though nothing overly wild. I sense it isn’t the end for them.
Pic 1AOh, and uncle Craig (Ben Robson), he’s in the slammer. Out on bail, though. That’s one good thing for him. He gets picked up by Nicky, who used her dad’s credit card to free her boyfriend. What’s clear is, juxtaposed with her, he’s so much less mature while being a good deal older. We can’t see how much of a boy he is, amongst the gang.
J: “Is everything okay?”
Smurf: “Everythings fine. Bring your gun.”
Smurf’s got her grandson with her again, requiring further help in her latest personal troubles. At the same time, Baz is back to being dad again, for now; I love him as a character, but I’m starting to get mad at him for how he’s handling his fatherly duties.
Then there’s Pope (Shawn Hatosy), watching Amy (Jennifer Landon) deal with the police. Her past bringing up a few issues after the robbery. There’s a small glimpse of regret in his eyes. As he embraces Amy there’s this look that you could almost mistake mistake for a blank, vacant stare; it’s the weight of everything weighing on him, heavy. Another great shot: Pope watches a bunch of police officers stroll by, they look at one another and it’s like the perfect pair of opposites, criminal v. cop.
Grandma takes her boy down to a storage unit, one the brothers and Baz don’t know about apparently. “And neither do you,” she advises J. She heads in by herself leaving him on watch. Oh, Smurf! You and your fucking secrets.
Pic 2My favourite brother? Deran (Jake Weary). He’s trying his best to fit in with the business community, going to meetings and playing the part of proper business owner. He comes up against a bit of shit when finding out there’s a suggested fee to help with services in the community. Sensing he’s being shafted, Deran opts not to pay. My guess is the head of the whole business owners group will turn up dirt, forcing our man into a tough spot.
Meanwhile, Baz and Pope are at the bar drinking. They talk like pals again, their relationship feeling as if it’s smooth like it used to be a long time ago. But Pope’s falling in love with Amy, they’re together. This doesn’t sit well with Baz, particularly seeing as how Amy knows quite a deal about her man, his time in prison, his real name. Shit, this might lead somewhere nasty instead of back to a normal friendship.
Plus, the whole gang is heated. Deran won’t allow them to launder money through the bar, pissing the other two off. There’s always a divide working between them. Standing on the outside is Craig, too. He’s in a weird little space, half in, half out. And totally irresponsible.
Smurf and Jake have a load of cash, they’re ready to meet with Javier. Then we see her get double-crossed, and hard. Jake pulls a gun on her, then the tables have turned. They briefly discuss something we’ve already heard about briefly: that Jake is Cragi’s father. Now he’s taking the cash, leaving Javier up shit’s creek, as well as starting a blood feud with Smurf after all those years.
On the road, Baz is pulled over by a cop. That friend of Catherine’s, Patrick (Dorian Missick), and he’s not happy. He thinks that her disappearance is due to Baz. Now there’s fucking heat, man! What’s of most interest to me is the fact that he still has no idea what truly happened to Catherine. The closer to the truth anyone gets, the closer to Baz discovering what his friend, his adopted brother did to the woman he loved.
Pic 3Craig’s trying to get a legitimate job. He needs to give a piss sample at a nice place, so he pulls a gun on a guy in the bathroom to get a bit of clean stuff. What a way to try going straight. What a piece of shit. Not hard to tell that lowlife Jake is his real dad. Not that any of the boys are upstanding citizens. And not as if he’s actually doing it for the work. It’s to help on an upcoming job, of course.
After getting to the phone Smurf calls who? Pope. He goes to her, freeing her from where Jake left her tied. The eerie tension between mom and her oldest boy so palpable, so scary. Simultaneously, Javier’s still at the beach waiting for her to show up, not knowing what’s happened. This is gonna bring some bad mojo the Cody family’s way.
While J and Nicky get close again, intimately so, windows shatter. They see someone breaking in. Javi and his men are there to play. J and Nicky hide as the men toss and trash the house, looking for any money, anything at all valuable they can find. When he gets the chance J goes for his gun, winding up in a fist fight with one man, beaten down by the others quickly. They tie him up. Dunk him underwater in the pool, pressing for info on where grandma keeps the cash. A couple of the men also come across Nicky. To try getting them out of their predicament J tells Javi about the storage unit. Then they leave with the girl, tossing J into the pool.
Right as Pope and Smurf pull into the driveway. Only they’re too late, all that’s left is the ransacked house, a beaten, bloody J having nearly drowned. Luckily Nicky’s left unharmed by the men, dropped off in a strange neighbourhood, at the corner of Trailhead and Ash. The location where Javi’s father was buried those years ago.
Shit, this is a war right here.
Pic 4What an intense episode, one of my favourite of the entire series to date! Action, emotion, revelation, brutality. Wow. Seriously, just a great episode all around. Can’t wait for “Dig” next. Will surely get wild.

Preacher – Season 2, Episode 4: “Viktor”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 2, Episode 4: “Viktor”
Directed by Michael Slovis
Written by Craig Rosenberg

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Damsels” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Dallas” – click here
Pic 1Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga) is in one hell of a pickle. Men are sent by Viktor (Paul Ben-Victor) to collect her. Doesn’t look like much of a way out for her. They cart her off to an uncertain fate.
Meanwhile, Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) meets up with Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) at Denis’ place. They catch up on things. Soon they realise Tulip’s been gone all night, even if the preacher says that’s “typical” of her.
They’ve got no idea what sort of trouble she’s in right now.
Pic 1ASpeaking of trouble, poor Arseface aka Eugene Root (Ian Colletti) is trying his best to fit in at the prison in hell. Things are pretty tense down there. Adolf Hitler (Noah Taylor) picks up for the young man when another inmate is bullying people around. Such a strange, surreal place. Eugene gets locked out of his cell, so Adolf invites him over to his own hell. Funny enough, Hitler’s hell isn’t particularly bad because it’s Munich in 1919 and he’s totally unlike himself, no problem with Jewish people and nothing insane going on in his head. My guess is this is hell for a truly evil person: their normalcy, their world without power, fame, genocide, and so on.
The lads are still worried, more so now having not heard a word from Tulip, who’s in the clutches of Viktor. Jesse figures she’s mad with him, out letting off steam. Although the vamp’s not entirely sure of that. The priest’s worried about what he found out recently, about the men in the white suits, all the strange things that shadowy organisation is doing behind the scenes. Sounds insane to anyone else. But it ain’t.
Later on the television, Cassidy sees the man who appeared to them all in the church last season, the “fake God” who told them afterwards that God is missing. He’s on the TV with Frankie Munoz, too. Also a local actor from New Orleans! Shieeeeeeeeet.
The vamp and the preacher get to searching. All the while Tulip awkwardly talks to the people she once knew, they’re no longer interested in being her buddy after she ran out. No warm reception from any of them. She’s got a new life now, like it or not. Can’t go back to fitting in there.
Pic 2One thing I enjoy is that Cassidy infantilises Tulip, whereas Jesse says “if theres one thing Tulip OHare can do its look after herself.” I mean, yes, there’s reason to be concerned for her. But I love that Jesse trusts in her, that whatever she’s into it’s something can handle. This is exactly why they’re together. She doesn’t need or want any man babying her. Despite the fact she might need a helping hand at the moment.
Cassidy and Jesse are tracking down leads on Mr. Fake God. They meet a wiry little talent agent who’s not hugely helpful. The whole scene is absolutely hilarious, between the three actors you’ll get a few good laughs.
Cassidy: “HBOs gonna hear about this, Gunt. I tell ya what.”
Down in hell, Eugene gets a lesson on the way the place works. “Overcrowding” and the like. He’s waiting for his cell to be fixed. Not that it’s a thrill. He’s being explained further what can happen if he gets too relaxed. Can’t get too happy: “This is hell, act accordingly.”
Jesse and Cassidy watch some audition tapes from the company where Mr. Fake God did his tests. Boring, tedious stuff. Although the obsession in the preacher’s eyes is evident, he watches each moment of the tape like a hawk. For anything worth following up on. Then at the end of the tape Fake God is killed, shot in the chest. Now that’s wild.
You’re goddamn right Tulip don’t need no man to take care of her. She starts trying to get out of Viktor’s sprawling mansion by first kicking the shit out of one of his men, taking his gun. She puts it to Viktor’s head, threatening to kill him. Before a bunch of the men show up to beat her down. Big tough boys, all beating up a woman. They’ll get theirs, you bet on that shit.
In a general population area of hell, Hitler, Eugene, all the others socialise. A rare moment for the afterlife, down there. Still shitty: even the crossword puzzles are filled in. Poor fucking Hitler, can’t do a crossword. Haha, fuck him. Strange, conflicting emotions watching Eugene being picked on by the resident bully and finding defence in the Fuhrer of Nazi Germany. Then he actually joins in as they all kick the shit out of Adolf.
Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 12.53.47 AMCassidy reveals that Tulip’s off taking care of personal business. This sends the preacher on a fucking rampage. Well, first he uses Genesis to keep the men in their places at Viktor’s home. He runs into the sick torturer in one room, they guy we saw earlier using a man sort of like a pinata. The guy with all sorts of weapons on his walls. He and Jesse fight to “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel. Genesis doesn’t seem to work on him, either. An AWESOME FIGHT SEQUENCE! Possibly the best on the series out of the two seasons so far, honestly. Wild, weird, brutal. Just like the comics ordered.
Afterwards, Jesse busts in on Viktor with Tulip, putting him in a chokehold. Forcing her to reveal: “Hes my husband.” Not what the preacher was hoping, nor expecting to hear.
At the same time, the Saint of Killers is on the road towards them. After all the use of Genesis, he’s honing in on their location. Uh oh.
Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 1.01.36 AM Cracking episode! It wasn’t exactly a twist, just dig how the whole episode and plot with Tulip+Viktor has played out. Looking forward to “Dallas” next, to see more about this latest tension. Gonna be interesting to watch how Jesse handles things from here.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 8: “Children of Wrath”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 8: “Children of Wrath”
Directed by Andrew Bernstein
Written by Jami O’Brien

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Unveiling” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, click here.
Pic 1We flashback to Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) on the road by herself, after fleeing Mexico and leaving the others behind. Right before she meets Jeremiah Otto (Dayton Callie), firing bullets at her from a distance. Before greeting her: “Welcome to America.”
She tells him where she’s headed, explaining about her fiancee. The old man says it’s best to probably go back to Mexico. The States are a wasteland now. There’s a clear air of racism about Jeremiah, he’s not a cheerleader for “brown people” and that’s something we already knew.
So he leaves her in the middle of nowhere. She continues on, dehydrating worse as the time passes, her skin beaten down by the wind, blowing sand, the desert heat. Later, she hallucinates seeing her father trying to keep her alive as she wants to lay down close her eyes. Who comes upon her? None other than Qaletqa Walker (Michael Greyeyes).
He takes her back to the Black Hat Reservation. He tends to her wounds, helps her wash the blood and dirty from her skin. Feeding her. Generally nursing Ofelia back to health. Not worried about the colour of her skin, as Jeremiah was before.
We cut back to where we left Ofelia previously last episode, running from the ranch after she set in motion a dangerous series of events, leaving many dead, poor Nick (Frank Dillane) half poisoned. Madison (Kim Dickens) chases her down – “What did you do?” she screams while beating her senseless. Violence everywhere. Luckily, the ranch survives, though their numbers have been chopped slightly, and many are left not well. Some still dying, turning into the undead.
Pic 1AMadison brings Ofelia at gunpoint to the Black Hat, confronting Walker. She wants answers, and resolution. She wants to know what was put into the coffee, what’s poisoned her son. “Anthrax,” he tells her. Incurable. At the same time, Walker respects Madison, not wanting her harmed. Says she’s “more of a man” than either of the Ottos. And she makes it very clear they’re not going anywhere. They’ll fight and die with the ranch.
Back south of the border, our man Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) is surviving, not yet food for the walkers. He’s crafty, a survivalist in his own right. Funny enough he stumbles onto his boat the Abigail near shore; little worse for the wear, but not entirely fucked up. On board are a group of zombies. He locates a harpoon, then takes them on one by one. He can handle himself, good as anybody. Nice aim, too.
Relationships at the ranch are deteriorating. Nobody’s clear on what to do next, both Troy (Daniel Sharman) and Jake (Sam Underwood) have their own ideas about what to do. Madison’s in the middle, as is Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey). All the while people are poisoned with anthrax, an attack by the tribe coming sooner than later.
Even Jake isn’t well, even as he pretends otherwise. He and Nick come together, that’s one good thing. he warns of getting too close to Jeremiah, that he’ll be let down. That all of this bullshit is due to him. Becomes clearer every episode that the Otto patriarch is a racist, with no problem stealing the land of a Native tribe.
Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 2.52.41 AMThe tribe finds parts of their land blazing in flames, Troy and the remainder of the militia, as well as Madison and Alicia on the horizon. Everything’s going sideways, fast. Back at the ranch, Nick is digging under his little house. He’s found something he wants to share with Jeremiah: a skull. To whom does it belong? The old fella tells a story about the Natives wanting their land back, killing cattle. He and the other Founding Fathers killed several of the men. The skull belongs to Walker’s father.
Jeremiah: “Get right with the past, or get off my land.”
Madison and Troy and the others get back with the tribe on their tails, a trailer in tow with tribal artefacts to help in bargaining. There’s also a big wedge now between Nick and Jeremiah, as the younger of the two calls the older out on his lies. The Clarks are trying to figure out what they need to do. Nick tells his mother there has to be “a line” where they draw their morality in the sand. More than that Alicia finally finds out the truth about what Troy did to the Trimbol family. The family’s real messed up now. Morality officially up in the air, scattered everywhere.
Strand’s drunk on champagne, lying by the radio on his boat. He hears a transmission from Russia, more about the rest of the world and its state. They share a few nice moments over famous “last words” from Chekhov to Karl Marx and more. A brief respite from the ugliness of the new apocalyptic world.
Do not wait until your death bed to enjoy your champagne, Victor.”
Pic 3Doesn’t look like a deal will go smoothly with Walker, even after Madison offers up the skull of his father. It’s either leave or die. No more options, no more bargaining chips. In with Jeremiah, Madison talks more about the situation, about how he’s leading them all wrong. She offers him a solution: kill yourself. He won’t, though. He wants her to kill him. He’s sticking to his racist guns. Then once Nick shows up the deed is done; he finishes it off before mom can take a shot.
Madison passes it off to Troy and Jake as a suicide. Making things look better for all involved, for everybody on the ranch. A new beginning for the place, a way to placate Walker and the tribe. But how long can Nick and Madison hang onto their humanity? If this is the cost of surviving in the new world, is it really worth it? These are the moral decisions with which people in the post-zombie apocalypse have to come to grip with, else they perish. Life or death at any given moment. For now, Walker has what he wants, and the folk at the ranch are safe.
For now.
Only question is, where do the people at the ranch go from here? Will Madison help lead them? Will Troy want to take charge as his brother Jake refuses to be the leader? We’ll see when the season returns after the break.
Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.21.35 AMI’ve always loved Fear the Walking Dead. No denying the quality has shot up in this latest season. Mid-season break will take us into the fall, likely somewhere around when The Walking Dead premieres for its 8th season. I do hope we’ll get a 4th out of this one, too. So many good characters, wild situations, various plots and twists. Can’t wait for the return.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 7: “The Unveiling”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 7: “The Unveiling”
Directed by Jeremy Webb
Written by Mark Richard

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Red Dirt” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Children of Wrath” – click here
Pic 1Out on his own, Jake (Sam Underwood) heads out in hopes to talk with Qaletqa Walker (Michael Greyeyes) about their problems. On the way he hears noises behind him: it’s Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey). She tells him about the Trimbol family being killed, that it was Walker and his people. Except we know the nasty truth. Of course it shocks Jake, though he wants to keep going, to try fixing things.
They arrive to the Native land, “ten miles” around either side of a gas station where the tribe’s headquarters is located. The place is intimidating, certainly. Particularly due to the fact Walker’s butchering a hog and is covered in blood. What a time for them to show up.
Walker: “Youre 200 years too late for peace, Jake. But youre just in time for lunch.”
Pic 1AMadison (Kim Dickens) worries when Alicia isn’t around in the morning, though Nick (Frank Dillane) says to leave it be, she’s a grown woman. Then there’s Jeremiah (Dayton Callie), he isn’t so worried. And he’s egging Nick on, further towards a violent edge, in the same way of Troy (Daniel Sharman).
On Native land, Jake and Alicia talk to Walker about stopping any further issues between them. But Qaletqa makes clear “the days of the white mans courts are over” now that the zombie apocalypse has commenced. It is the time for the “First Humans verdict” and time for the white people to get the fuck off their land. Oh, guess who’s kicking around with the tribe? Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason). Whoa!
Alicia’s not that happy to see her, seeing as how she left them for near dead. Moreover, when the two talk Alicia discovers Walker and his people did not go out the night the Trimbols died. A deal may be worked out, a parley. This requires a swap of hostages, amongst other things. When Jake wants to send Alicia back to the ranch, she’d rather stay.
Sad when Alicia has to see the chopper that was shot down, being repaired by the tribe. The event which killed Travis. She confronts Walker with this fact. But he tells her “magnify that hate a thousand times” and you’ve got what he feels for the Ottos. Yet it’s still murder. She won’t accept his bullshit, either. Calling him a murdering hypocrite. At the same time Jake talks with his father about what to do, the deal they’re trying to work out with the Natives. Jeremiah isn’t keen on working with them.
Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 1.47.42 AMWalker shows Alicia the bones of his great grandfather. He had to take them from his grave, so as not to be desecrated by the Otto family and their plans for the ranch. This gets the two of them into talking about the afterlife. The Native leader he believes there’s a “grand plan” and that the apocalypse is merely the “Great Unveiling” to him. He believes it’s the “dawn of a New Age” where the impure are shed like snake skin. The First Humans will once again inherit the Earth.
Madison is pressing Troy to go into Native territory, to get Alicia out of there. That’s bad news, though. I’m worrying that her manipulation of Troy’s getting out of hand already. If she lets him loose there’s no telling what could be the result. Simultaneously, Jeremiah’s trying to smooth things over quietly with Ofelia; remember, they stumble onto one another at the end of Season 2. What exactly happened? Something not good in the least.
On tribal land Alicia is surprised when Troy and some men show up for her under cover of the night. Nick and Madison waiting with a truck for the escape. This sets into motion a violent series of events, as gunfire explodes in the dark and bullets fly every which way. Not exactly the clandestine mission for which they’d planned. Things are about to get downright ugly after the parley’s been broken. Furthermore, I worry about Troy’s bloodlust, how far Madison is willing to let it run wild. What the consequences are of that down the road.
Jeremiah: “Them that dont listen have to be brought to heel someday
There’s more division between the Ottos, too. Specifically the brothers, while dad is getting drunk and letting responsibility fly to the wind. Troy warns that Jake might not come back from the tribe’s land this time if he goes. I’m beginning to feel there’s an ultimate showdown that’s heading for these two, in one way, shape, or form. Ofelia also warns Alicia not to stay at the ranch. She knows that some of the Ottos are really bad people.
Jake indeed does get an ass kicking back at Walker’s place. After that he’s set to be killed, scalped. If not for Ofelia; she talks the man down. He says much violence, brutal and unforgiving is headed their way.
Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 2.06.59 AMBut Ofelia is cast out, as well. Beaten. She and Jake are dropped back home. Things are more unsure than ever before, for everybody. We also see the strength of Nick, saying he’s “suicide proof” and volunteering to stay behind to fight if things go haywire. Troy doesn’t dig that. It’s like he’s trying to create a whole new family, feeling protective over Madison and Nick, even if he sorta wanted to kill them at one point.
Alicia starts bringing her doubts about the Trimbols to Madison. I can only imagine how she’d feel if she knew Madison knows the truth of what Troy’s done. She might not be as forgiving as her brother.
One of the soldiers at the gate starts having troubles, his guts tearing him apart. Then another one. They’re throwing up, screaming in pain; dying. And they’re reanimating. The ranch is going wild, too. More people are convulsing, puking, until they’re dead and zombified. The place becomes overrun with the dead. Madison, Alicia, Nick, they band together, as do the militia men. But it may be a lost cause. The culprit of the whole mess? Ofelia, and she’s taking off into the shadows while hell breaks loose. Even worse is that Nick is sick, throwing up. Uh oh.
Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 2.17.05 AMA solid episode leading up to the mid-season finale. “Children of Wrath” is next and there’s a war about to go down.

Twin Peaks – Season 3: “The Return, Part 9”

Showtime’s Twin Peaks
Season 3: “The Return, Part 9”
Directed by David Lynch
Written by Lynch & Mark Frost

* For a recap & review of Episode 8, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 10, click here.
Pic 1Bad Coop (Kyle MacLachlan), after being resurrected by the dark forces of the Black Lodge, wanders down a country road spattered in blood. At the same time, Gordon Cole (David Lynch), Special Agents Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) and Tamara Preston (Chrysta Bell), and Diane Evans (Laura Dern) are flying high in the sky over South Dakota. Gordon gets a call from Colonel Davis (Ernie Hudson) about a case over in Buckhorn concerning Major Briggs. Should be interesting to see how that old “Blue Rose case” gets wound into the rest of the story.
The bad Coop runs across a man named Gary Hutchens (Tim Roth). He needs a “clean phone” and some guns. Also there is Chantal Hutchens (Jenifer Jason Leigh), who’s going to help patch him up proper.
On their flight, Gordon gets a second call from the warden of the prison where bad Coop has flown the coop. Many dangerous things happening, as the doppelganger is also setting further plans into motion. Including having the Hutchens’ go kill the warden, before a “doubleheader” they’ll meet for in Las Vegas. Nasty stuff.
Pic 1ADown at the LVPD, Dougie Jones (MacLachlan) and his wife Janey-E (Naomi Watts) are dealing with the fallout of almost being murdered. An investigation being conducted into the whole ordeal, talking to Dougie’s boss, so on. His strange behaviour is one thing. The fact someone’s blown up his car, tried having him killed, it’s all getting more suspicious. The cops also find out there’s nothing about Dougie before 1997, no proof of his existence. Is it a Witness Protection thing? Or something stranger?
Dougie-Coop has a bit of a moment with the American flag, a pair of red heels on a secretary. As well as an electrical outlet, which gives off a sinister vibe while he stares it down. There are bits of Coop in there, things he remembers – from the coffee to the sound of a secretary’s heels and the flag and his duty as a sworn officer of the law, pieces of his training, and the electricity, the strange horror of the Black Lodge. It’s all in there somewhere.
Ike the Spike (Christophe Zajac-Denek) leaves his motel room only to be confronted with the LVPD, arresting him for arrested murder. The whole bit is surreal, as are the cops in their absurd hilarity, the one giggling constantly at the jokes of his fellow officers. In only a way Frost and Lynch can deliver.
Back in Twin Peaks, Lucy Brennan (Kimmy Robertson) and Deputy Sheriff Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz) have a passive-aggressive conversation over furniture, specifically chairs. Fairly quickly he apologises and gives in to his love for her. Although she orders the one he wanted. Across town Johnny Horne (Eric Rondell) runs himself into the wall, smashing his face and knocking himself unconscious.
And Betty Briggs (Charlotte Stewart) tells her son Bobby (Dana Ashbrook), Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster), and Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse) about the day her husband and Cooper met for the last time. Garland told her to give them a message; in the living room chair she takes out a capsule. Inside, obviously information of potentially great importance.
Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 12.44.23 AMIn Buckhorn, Gordon arrives to see the body at the morgue. More importantly? The message bad Coop sent earlier from a cellphone arrives on the phone of none other than Diane. Shit. I never anticipated there was possibly something shady about her.
We find out that William Hastings (Matthew Lillard) was publishing a blog about an “alternate dimension” and he’d recently written about “the Zone” where he met “the Major.” This prompts Gordon and Albert to wonder about the connections between Garland Briggs and Special Agent Dale Cooper. Not to mention there was a ring belonging to Dougie Jones in the corpse’s stomach at Buckhorn. Hmm. There’s further connection considering there aren’t any records on Mr. Jones prior to ’97, which is not that long after Briggs supposedly died, and the events in Twin Peaks 25 years ago. The plot thickens!
At the station, Bobby says his dad brought home one of those capsules before, he knows how they open. He takes Hawk and Sheriff Truman outside where he tosses it against the  pavement, it makes the thing ring with a strange noise, then he tosses it again and the capsule opens. It has a small drawing of the towns titular peaks, symbols above them, dates and times, instructions. Alongside the mystery, it’s fun to see Bobby connecting through time and space with his father, the clues having relevance to him personally. With the drawing is also a cutout of the correspondence Briggs once got, from his THE OWLS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM message between matrix code. And the COOPER written twice. Hawk deciphers it clearly in line with the plot: “Two Coopers.”
Everything Twin Peaks comes full circle.
Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 1.02.45 AMGordon wants to chat with Hastings, who’s in no fucking shape to do anything, crying and moaning in the interrogation room. Special Agent Preston goes in first, asking about the Zone, the other dimension. He talks of going with others to where the Major was “hibernating” in this place, asking them about “important numbers.” When they brought the numbers people came for Hastings, asking about his wife. After which she turned up dead. The Major also disappeared, saying “Cooper, Cooper” as he went. When Preston shows him a six-pack of faces, he correctly picks out Mjr. Garland Briggs. Although we get bits and pieces, connecting back with the original series, so much still is unknown. Love it.
Back in Twin Peaks, Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) and Beverly Paige (Ashley Judd) are consistently on the case of the odd hum coming from the room in the Great Northern, unable to figure it out. A ringing tone, less sharp than tinnitus. What’s more, Ben and Beverly have more than a working relationship.
Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 1.11.25 AMAt the Roadhouse, a couple women meet over beers. They both look and seem down on their luck. One has a nasty armpit rash that’ll make you cringe as she scratches. They talk in code about a “penguin” and a “zebra” amongst talking about their bummer lives. Meanwhile, Au Revoir Simone plays in the background, a sharp contrast from the two women and their drug ravaged teeth.
Another solid chapter! Adding to the mysteries of Twin Peaks as a whole. Excited for more next week, love the building momentum that takes steps back, forward, back, then big time forward again. Wouldn’t expect any less.

The Mist – Season 1, Episode 4: “Pequod”

Spike’s The Mist
Season 1, Episode 4: “Pequod”
Directed by T.J. Scott
Written by Andrew Wilder

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Show and Tell” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Waiting Room” – click here
Pic 1AKevin (Morgan Spector), Mia (Danica Curcic), Bryan (Okezie Morro), and Adrian (Russell Posner) make it to the vehicle outside the church. But when Mia tries hotwiring it, nothing happens. The engine won’t even turn over, whatsoever. At the same time, Adrian’s the only one who witnessed the terrifying butterfly death of the other man recently.
The mall’s getting more tense, as well. People are having panic attacks, anxiety running high. So mall manager Gus Bradley (Isiah Whitlock Jr) breaks out board games, a football, little things to keep people and their minds busy, to not let cabin fever set in too deep. Alex (Gus Birney) still has to deal with being trapped in there with her accused rapist Jay (Luke Cosgrove), though it’s hard to tell how she’s feeling, she likely doesn’t even know. Nevertheless, it ain’t good.
Father Romanov: “Im not scared because Im losing my faith. Im scared because its stronger than ever.”
We start seeing how different people are reacting to the horrors they’ve seen. Father Romanov (Dan Butler) is beginning to feel a responsibility, to save his congregation, his town. Judgement Day is upon them, so he believes. Simultaneously, Natalie Raven (Frances Conroy) is following a different sort of faith: “The moth is a friend of mine.”
Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 7.16.54 PMAt a gas station, Kevin and the others run into a man with a gas mask and a gun. He knows that Kevin is Eve’s (Alyssa Sutherland) husband. His name is Clay, he has a boy in her class. He’s lost now, somewhere else. But the group knows more than they tell him. Probably best, in case it drives him mad. He’s the one with a gun.
Everybody’s figuring out how to navigate the latest stresses of their lives, stuck indoors. The priest keeps people fed, busy. Connor (Darren Pettie) laments looking weak in front of everyone at the church, as Natalie comforts him. In the mall, Eve admits to a couple of the other women she’s “happy ” her husband isn’t there, she in part blames him for their daughter’s rape, because he loves Alex so much he can’t say no, which Even says led to her getting hurt. A tough, honest admission.
Natalie’s freaking Father Romanov out, talking of the Black Spring when he’d rather speak of the Bible. He wonders if she knows what it is she’s looking for, calling into question her judgement of her own pain. She knows exactly what she’s seeking out. To others it seems like madness. Yet I wonder if she’s one of the only ones who’s got it all figured out.
Moreover, through Clay we find out about the cars not working, that everything is mostly fried. He’s got himself a vehicle, purchased from a survivalist, so it’s one that won’t burn out if the apocalypse comes. Still there’s the problem of gas. Kevin asks if he’ll take them in his vehicle. Clay clings to finding his son. Will they break the news to him? He won’t leave if he thinks there’s hope. I’m just afraid that he’ll snap if he figures out his boy is dead.
Pic 2The games store boys have a harpoon, they’re latching onto the soldiers corpses in the shopping carts outside. Trying to reel them back inside. When one gets stuck Ted (Jonathan Malen) goes out using it as a lifeline. He doesn’t come back and Vic (Erik Knudsen) gets a shock as the glass breaks, the mist beginning to seep in through the book store. Where Alex and a little girl are reading together. A black mist creature appears, Alex and the girl trapped with it next to them. The thing grabs the girl by the face, sucking the life out of her. It stands in front of Alex, ready to do the same. Only it doesn’t. She walks free, seemingly unharmed. Although I’m curious to know if the mist has possessed her in some form.
Connor mentions to the priest it felt as if the mist knew him when he was outside. He’s becoming part of the faithful in the natural world, alongside Natalie. Like they’re pagan worshippers. Could get scary; it will.
Everything goes sideways for Kevin and the gang, after Mia delivers the tough news to Clay. Not in the most diplomatic of attitudes. The man goes from stable to angry pretty quick. Bryan winds up with a bullet in the thigh after he and Clay wrestle. As I predicted, things have gotten ugly.
And the mall’s experiencing their first brush with law in their new little civil society, as Vic is faced with being ejected. He’s put them all in danger, a kid died. So a vote is taken. Several wish to forgive his sins. The rest want to toss him. We’re starting to see a distinction between levels of morality now. A greyer area than we already know in real life emerges, as even accused rapist Jay doesn’t want to feed Vic to the mist like the others. It’s an odd, compelling mix of perspectives that I find interesting the deeper we get into Season 1.
Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 7.35.59 PMBest of all is the religious war brewing, in the church no less. Natalie has called the spider in the jar “God” and she worships it; a false idol. This worries Father Romanov, some of the others. Especially considering they believe it’s Judgement Day. So the priest forcibly takes the spider, crushing it on the carpet. Horrifying Natalie. It’s a double-edged sword for the man of faith – on one hand, it illustrates how deep his faith is that he does feel they must adhere to the word of God or else perish; on the other, shows the weakness of his belief, that he’s threatened by an old lady and a spider in a jar.
Alex: “Why didnt it want me?”
Things at the mall are only getting worse. Alex breaks down saying she lied, that she didn’t fight against the monster. That she waited for it to kill her. It didn’t take her. This troubles the mother of the dead little girl, knowing Alex lied. Divisions have begun. Compounded by the fact people already believe she lied about the rape, as well as the fact many believe her mother did something similar years ago, there’s looking to be trouble coming for the Copeland family. Yikes.
Kevin and the others prepare to head out. Without Clay, who still holds out hope despite being told otherwise. He’s given up the car, though. To help them on their journey. A lot of sacrifices will be made in this dangerous landscape. This is just one of them.
Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 7.52.28 PMGreat episode! This series is getting stronger with every chapter, honestly. Started out just decent, now I’m gunning for this one. The Mist continues with “The Waiting Room” next. Surely there’ll be more tension and creeps in the episode to come.