Preacher – Season 2, Episode 2: “Mumbai Sky Tower”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 2, Episode 2: “Mumbai Sky Tower”
Directed by Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen
Written by Sam Catlin

* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, “On the Road” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Damsels” – click here
Pic 1The Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) approaches Jesse (Dominic Cooper), drawing his gun. He shoots and a truck runs in the bullet’s path, killing the driver. Swerving the truck right into him, squashing him against a post. You can bet this motherfucker ain’t dead, though. He pushes the truck off himself, no problem. Meanwhile there’s a bunch of gun lovers staying at the inn, they pitch in to shoot the Saint down. Not a long lived celebration. The cowboy gets back up and starts gunning them all down, aside from Jesse and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) who manage to slip away. And Tulip (Ruth Negga), she’s transfixed by a bit on television about Annville blowing sky high.
But they’ve got to get going, to figure a way out before the cowboy gets them. He’s killing everything in sight. Many sights to see in this episode within the first five minutes, from explosions to gunfire to bloody, blown off limbs.
Also, can the Saint hear Genesis specifically? Or was it merely a coincidence in this scene Jesse used it before they cut to him? Either way our trio makes it off on the road again, with many questions about the Saint, who he is and how he’s indestructible. Jesse’s similarly concerned about Annville, why it’s nothing but a mushroom cloud of methane smoke.
Another problem solved by guns
Pic 1AWe see Fiore (Tom Brooke) for the first time in quite a long while. He’s sitting on the side of the road, waiting for a bus. It takes him to Mumbai Sky Tower. He checks in to a room. He misses DeBlanc. And he’s decided on killing himself, hanging to death by the bed. Reappearing in the bathroom, of course. A meaningless existence. He does a sort of Groundhog Day-style suicide, doing himself in only to regenerate once more. Joyless in life, whether winning a ton at the tables or having sex with beautiful women. Nothing excites him anymore. Even kills himself during one of the shows by the house singer Frank (Vik Sahay), and everyone gives him an ovation, assuming it’s a magic act. So they hire him, as Ganesh the reincarnating man. Going so far as to behead him, amongst other nasty deaths to the thrill of the audience.
And still,no happiness for Fiore.
Jesse, Cassidy, and Tulip show up to find the angel-like entity doing well for himself. Well, he’s not particularly thrilled to see the preacher. They ask about the Saint, finding out more about the “ghost story” of the “beast straight out of hell.” All about murder. He wants to kill Genesis, and the one in which it resides. We understand now that the Saint is “tracking the word” through the lure of Genesis, as I suspected. Sort of like the ring in Lord of the Rings: use it, and those tracking it are drawn to its location. Ah, the struggle of ultimate power! For his part, Fiore’s not willing to do anything to help. He cares about nothing whatsoever.
Note: Some great comic book-style sequences already in Season 2, even the simplest things. Such as Cassidy’s little countdown. Lots of fun. Love to see Goldberg and Rogen letting loose, having fun with the episodes they’ve directed. Talented guys when they’re working with the right material.
Pic 2Tulip: “Youre one of the best figure it outers I know, Jesse Custer.”
Together in a room at the hotel, Jesse suggests to Tulip they get married. They’re in love, they’re both bad ass. Why not tie the knot? She slaps him in response. Although they laugh about it afterwards. Up in the big suite, the vamp tries to help cheer up Fiore with a speedball intravenous cocktail. Just the trick. Except the first try he kills him. Lucky the guy’s a regenerating angel. Tone down the heroin and Fiore’s flying, actually having fun. Smiling. They smoke some drugs, too. All the while Cassidy gets a few bits of information about the Saint, angels, the like. Our vamp’s got his own skill set.
All’s not well. Tulip spots someone eyeing her across the bar, a big man looking shady. She rushes out after him. He winds up at her door later, this is Gary (Michael Beasley), a blast from the past.
Together at the bar, Jesse talks with Frank, who laments working at the casino, the Grand Guignol element of the show with Ganesh. “People like violence,” says the preacher. Then, the singer mentions music, which sets Jesse alight with ideas of where to go next. At the same time Cassidy says Fiore will call off the Saint. But will he, really?
Tulip asks Gary into her room. He’s from down in Louisiana, up checking in on business interests for Viktor. Apparently the man is looking for her, so Gary suggests calling him. There’s clearly some more to her relationship with Viktor, she won’t even admit to Gary about her impending, spontaneous marriage. This leads to him manhandling her. She fights him with everything, as he all but mops the floor with her. Before she fights back harder and bashes his face into a bloody pulp. Cassidy stumbles onto the scene, so she asks him not to tell. She has a wedding to get going.
Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 12.38.33 AMFinally, we hear of Eugene aka Arseface (Ian Colletti), thrown into hell. Fiore refuses to go back down and get him, as well. So that’s out of the picture. Moreover, Jesse says he’s starting to release the implications of Genesis, that it ought to only be used in dire circumstances. If it means “finding God.”
But Tulip shows up and says she doesn’t want to get married. I think this has to do with her secrets, with her connection to Viktor. Otherwise she’d be hitched, she does love him. There’s something behind all this that she can’t yet admit to Jesse. I wonder exactly what that is, if it’s a simple relationship or something more complex.
Jesse: “If God likes jazz, what better place to look for him than New Orleans?”
With that, the worry on Tulip’s face speaks volumes. Headed right for Viktor. Many terrifying things ahead. If not terrifying, then wildly fucked up. Before the gang heads out Jesse uses Genesis to try granting Fiore a way of finding peace.
Later, the Saint arrives. He and Fiore still have a deal on the table. If he kills Genesis, he sees his family again. So the cowboy’s sent on to Louisiana on the gang’s tail. Not before he helps Fiore die, once and for all. Being on Earth, for him, is more Purgatory than anything.
Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 12.45.00 AMFucking great episode. So many interesting things, a bit of that comic book love, a crazy sequence of the lads on drugs. Such a wild ride! “Damsels” comes next and I’m looking forward to seeing the next leg of the journey, which characters our friends run into, as well as what mad shit the Saint will do, who he’ll kill, how badly he’ll kill them. Long live Preacher!

Advertisements

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

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

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

WE OWN THE NIGHT Examines a Family’s Violent Intersection at the Edge of Criminality & Law

We Own the Night. 2007. Directed & Written by James Gray.
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Robert Duvall, Danny Hoch, Alex Veadov, Oleg Taktarov, Maggie Kiley, Paul Herman, Antoni Corone, & Craig Walker.
Columbia Pictures/2929 Productions/Industry Entertainment.
Rated 14A. 117 minutes.
Crime/Drama/Thriller

★★★★1/2
POSTER Ever since 1994’s Little Odessa, James Gray has been a writer-director to watch. He has an excellent style as director, but as a writer he also has as much style. Gray does well with the visual plane of any film he takes on. It’s his attention to detail and character that make the worlds he infiltrates so interesting. We Own the Night has a great throwback look of the 1980s, feeling of the time without being too heavy handed in its execution. More importantly, the main characters played by Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, and Robert Duvall each come off as realistic, endearing, frustrating. They’re genuine people. A lot of writers fill up their crime films with either generic characterisations or over-the-top caricatures. Gray explores characters in similar fashion to pictures from Martin Scorsese in that he takes us into that self-contained world, involving us in the lives of these people instead of making us feel like we’re standing at arm’s length. Also doesn’t hurt that Gray does fine work with Phoenix and Wahlberg, having previously directed The Yards; Gray and Phoenix also did The Immigrant in 2013, another amazing little drop of cinema.
But what you get here, all those elements together, is a classic crime story combining concepts of law and order, family and loyalty, as well as much more. Focusing on a cop family, and the one black sheep within it who rubs shoulders with the criminal world, Gray takes us on a ride through a Brooklyn rife with danger and new possibilities.
Pic1 The character arc of Bobby (Phoenix) is by far the most complex and interesting out of anything. He starts as this completely aloof, loving life-type guy who’s only concerned with clubbing, doing drugs, having a fun time with his girl and his friends. Even confronted with a story about a scary Russian gangster, he and his good buddy Jumbo (Danny Hoch) laugh it off making crude jokes, not taking it seriously in the least. Over the course of the plot, though, we watch Bobby move from careless and clueless to someone very aware of the dangers in front of him. The large divide between Bobby and his family – father Burt (Duvall) and brother Joseph (Wahlberg) – makes for such an exciting change. And it doesn’t happen instantly, not even once Bobby gets hauled into jail, charcoal poured down his throat, seeing a Russian with a self-inflicted slash in his throat bleeding over the police station floor. That’s where the entire thing gets so interesting. Because it takes a terrible act of violence committed against his brother to finally set his moral compass into motion. After that, the plot’s emotional intensity becomes ruthless, as Bobby dives into the world of his family instead of teetering on the edge of crime. Truly great writing.
Pic2 While We Own the Night comes most heavily as a dramatic crime-thriller, there’s a nice helping of action tossed into the mix. The first scene of that nature is probably most devastating. It stays brief, nasty. When Joseph takes a bullet, he gets it right in the face, and the way Gray has it shot makes for maximum effect; brutal and vivid. Later, the action pieces get more intricate as the plot does, too. Once Bobby feels compelled to start fighting against the crime right under his own nose, the nature of the plot involves more excitement, more suspense and tension. Leads to a great finale that’s at once action-oriented, but also wildly emotionally involving. We feel rooted to Bobby, his whole family, and through him Gray lets us feel the suspenseful moments ratcheted up to the point you could grip whatever chair or couch arm or anything next to you.
The obvious strength that lifts everything up is the performance of Phoenix as Bobby Green. Yes, Duvall and Wahlberg and Mendes, they each offer solid supporting performances. The meat of the emotional hook is in Phoenix. We start with a character that’s not particularly a criminal, he lives in the midst of them managing a club in New York and living the high lifestyle of which his police family does not approve. By the 60-minute mark, Bobby’s transformed into an entirely different person. He’s been sprayed with brains and blood, he’s jumped out a window just to survive, smashing his body into a chain-link fence and to the pavement below. The vulnerability and equal amount of bravery Phoenix instils in the character is really damn impressive. First time I saw this I expected nothing more than a run of the mill crime tale. Was I ever surprised, especially with the powerhouse performance at its centre.
Pic3 This is absolutely a four-and-a-half star film, all the way. Maybe a couple blemishes here or there. However, over all, We Own the Night builds upon a mountain of tension, each step filled with emotion and suspense, all kinds of elements in one gritty package. Phoenix leads the charge by making Bobby a real, ultra-human character with whom we relate, and then follow into the belly of the beast that is the Brooklyn crime world. Duvall and Wahlberg give their all as the cops in Bobby’s family, as well as Mendes makes Bobby’s girlfriend Amada an atypical female character in a male-dominated cast and story. The story is the crowning achievement. Gray directs well, yet his writing weaves a nice, dark tale of the line between criminals and cops, illustrated in rich colour by examining one family’s struggle in particular. All the turns the story takes could have felt melodramatic, but Gray allows it to flow organically alongside his excellent directorial choices. If you’ve not given this one the chance, do it. This is one of the better crime-thrillers since 2000 and it does not get the love it deserves.

The Kettering Incident – Episode 4: “The Mill”

Foxtel’s The Kettering Incident
Episode 4: “The Mill”
Directed by Tony Krawitz
Written by Louise Fox

* For a review of Episode 3, “The Search” – click here
* For a review of Episode 5, “The Forest” – click here.
Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 8.42.02 PM
With the body of Chloe Holloway found right underneath her father Max’s (Damien Garvey) nose at the mill, things are looking bleak for Kettering. Most certainly for Dr. Anna Macy (Elizabeth Debicki). Constable Fergus McFadden (Henry Nixon) and Detective Brian Dutch (Matthew Le Nevez) are on the scene. They go to let Max and Barb (Sacha Horler) know, as well as inform everybody, anybody who was at the big party recently in the woods needs to come in, get themselves cleared, help out.
Now the investigation is on, and I feel we’re about to start seeing more of that ugly underbelly of Kettering, Tasmania. Just you wait.
Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 8.42.16 PM
You can see that Dt. Dutch is reticent towards Fergus. He doesn’t, obviously, reveal his dealings with Chloe, nor Dane Sullivan (Dylan Young). So we’ll eventually begin to discover more about Dutch. Surely his secrets will also start to unravel. Liza (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) tips the cops off to Chloe and Anna having a physical fight of some sort up in the forest. Here, we further discover Dutch is continually harbouring ill will towards his fellow lawman for his willingness to defend Anna, or at the very least give her the benefit of the doubt. And speaking of Dane, he’s devastated at home when he hears about Chloe on the radio. Terrible to see him impacted so deeply. They were clearly close.
Finally, Fergus has to take Anna in. Bit of questioning. He does so reluctantly, though Dutch is much more happy to do so. Back at the station, Anna reveals the drug “packets” that Chloe had on her that night. The discussion is getting a bit too close for the detective’s own comfort, so he veers the conversation elsewhere. Smart man. Bad man, too. At the same time, Roy (Anthony Phelan) shows up. He’s much more concerned about her now than last we saw them together. He doesn’t like that Anna’s being questioned. Begging further questions: who is Roy, really, as in who is he to the town, and what sort of secrets is he hiding? Most interesting is the almost hook up between Dutch and Anna, as he’s more threatened with the knowledge she has, that necklace she found.
A bombshell some may have seen coming – Gillian Baxter is a half-sister to Anna. Well, remember: Roy and Renae Baxter (Suzi Dougherty) had an affair. One thing leads to another, you’ve got two girls very close, close as sisters, but never officially. “Guess it wasnt something he was very proud of,” Anna says of her father’s little secret. But is that the only thing Roy is masking?

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 8.50.03 PM
Then there’s Renae, whose life has all but been obliterated by the disappearance of Gillian. She continues on trying her best. You can just see that sadness sitting right below her skin. In other news, everyone in Kettering is out to the bar, drinking. In mourning collectively. Liza and her mother Sharon sit together, even her ex Craig (Ben Oxenbould) shows up for a moment. A really awkward one. At the bar, Renae worries for Barb; now we know this is her sister, that’s their connection. Wow. Two kids that went missing in the same family tree. Sad. Tragic. However, I feel that Renae has a much different perspective, as we’ve already seen her interest in… otherworldly ideas.
Fergus goes over to talk with Dane. He wants to figure out more about Chloe, the drugs, and obviously this is the young man with whom he needs a chat. Eventually, Dane lets a bit slip. Yet the big fish is still swimming around. That’ll be a tougher bit of information to figure out for Constable McFadden.
Chloe has broken bones, a burn, possibly poisoned or completely blitzed on drugs. She died just after the witching hour. Some blunt force. Then Fergus notices the strange marks on her arm. The same type Anna had seen on the little boy at the hospital. Hmm. Curiouser and curiouser, down the rabbit hole.
The Holloway family is a fractured one. “Do you want a hug?” Max asks his son Adam (Brad Kannegiesser) out of the blue, feeling inadequate as a father because of his own boy finding solace in Craig’s arms after the body of Chloe was discovered. There’s a lot more to the family. Hopefully we’ll see more about Max come out in the coming episodes, maybe it’ll unravel some much needed backstory.
When Liza goes to see her father, Craig is surprisingly tender. At first, anyway. She needs a place to stay after Chloe’s death. Unfortunately, she’s on her own. And sadly it’s as if Craig actually cares more about her than Sharon does. Afterwards, Liza tries to go to her mother’s and only gets driven away into the darkening, ready-to-rain sky. So she only has sleeping in a car to which she can look forward. Hers is one of the more sad character arcs in the series, as she literally has no one else except for Chloe, and now she’s gone.


Renae goes to help and be with her sister Barb. They talk of death, grief, the “vampires” who feed off that sort of thing. “Theres nothing, theres just shit,” Barb explains to her sister. Like the fact Chloe is dead, headed for the grave is worse than never knowing where she is really. Not sure if that’s true, but she does make a good case.
When Anna listens to an old tape of her and Gillian singing, she finds her mother yelling, kicking her friend out. At this point we all know exactly why. That’s a heartbreaking kind of thing.
Simultaneously, Anna finds out more information re: the boy with the strange marks on him at the hospital. This leads her out into the forest to a lot of land where she soon comes across a bit ofa shanty house and its inhabitants. When she meets the boy Anna asks if he ever loses time, if he wakes up in strange places, all those things. The boy even says he wakes up at the Sullivan place, where the lights are. Then he leans in and tells Anna: “Theyre looking for you, you know.” She’s got a blood sample to boot.
Dutch and Fergus try figuring out more with the Holloways, to find out if there were any enemies, any family fights, threats to Max, et cetera. Their son makes a point to mention the “Greenie” group always poised to try making life hell for the mill. Max goes on to reveal the letters he received. Are these really the letters, or did Max replace them with others to suggest the environmentalists have a part in it? I’m inclined to believe there’s a little foul play.
Over the radio, Anna hears strange broadcasts as she gets further to Mother Sullivan’s place. She hears about a “military aircraft” and then other strange readings come up on her odometer. Adam Holloway also sees lights in the sky while he drives someplace else along the road before slamming into a bunch of trees off the side. Anna then hears “Crimson and Clover” hum through the radio. And horror strikes Adam at the same moment – a piece of wood he chainsaws away from his vehicle hits him in the eye, prompting him to slice a part of his thigh open. While he lies there a hooded figure appears above him, obscured slightly. Anna hears Adam’s cries from the trees and soon gets to him, as he bleeds out more onto the road. She strips her shirt to make a tourniquet. The doctor is a great one, that’s for sure. She ties off the wound, washes his eye out, but Adam soon passes out. This will be great, won’t it? Another Holloway in a terrible predicament and here she is, as usual, right in the midst of trouble. Luckily, Jens Jorgensson (Damon Gameau) comes along to help cart them out of the wilderness.

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 9.25.10 PM
In the hospital, Anna gets thanks from Barb. The grieving mother wants to know more, too. She wonders why Anna was curious about Chloe having nosebleeds, and this begins to play on Barb’s imagination. Right now it’s grief. Pretty soon it may be more, as the secrets and lies of Kettering, of which she is a part don’t forget, slowly come out, piece by piece.
Why are we being punished like this?” Barb asks her husband, as they stand over their wounded but alive son. He has no answers. Or does he? I’m starting to believe, more and more, that he has some devious skeletons hiding in his closet. Bigger ones that Barb and her affair with Dutch.
Not long later Max goes to see Roy, saying that somebody “knows what happened,” about what “theyve done.” He believes it’s Craig, though Roy isn’t so sure. What are they hiding together?
And Anna, she goes to see her mother Wendy (Sarah Wood); she’s deaf and blind, hasn’t moved in years sitting in a psychiatric nursing home. Been quite a long time certainly. Even a Mother’s Day card there despite Anna’s insistence she did not make it. Intriguing. Regardless, she talks briefly with her mother, even if the woman can’t hear. A whisper of ANNA comes out; from her mother, or something else we don’t know. Strange noises emanate from the hallway, from out the window. More than that we see Wendy isn’t as catatonic as she lets on. So eerie.
Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 9.29.22 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-24 at 9.30.27 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-24 at 9.34.14 PM
What a fabulous episode! One of my favourites yet, and it continues the deepening mystery with each step of the way. Next episode is titled “The Forest” and I hope we’ll start finding further clues to lead us down the path.

The Kettering Incident – Episode 3: “The Search”

Foxtel’s The Kettering Incident
Episode 3: “The Search”
Directed by Steve Krawitz
Written by Cate Shortland

* For a review of Episode 2, “The Lights” – click here
* For a review of Episode 4, “The Mill” – click here
Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 11.24.28 PM
Out among the forest surrounding Kettering, moths float about, and at home Dr. Anna Macy (Elizabeth Debicki) feels as if she can literally see the air around her. She continues to record everything in her notebook. She’s in the bed of Fergus Mcfadden (Henry Nixon). Meanwhile, Fergus has found the cellphone of missing Chloe (Sianoa Smit-McPhee). He brings it to Max and Barbara Holloway (Damien Garvey/Sacha Horler), the parents, and her brother Adam (Brad Kannegiesser) is there to hear the news, too. They have somewhere to begin now. Although they hvae no idea where the road is headed.
Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 11.25.18 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-18 at 11.26.04 PM
Anna has to contend with Dt. Brian Dutch (Matthew Le Nevez) asking all sorts of questions re: Chloe. We know his intentions. However, even without knowing everything Anna has a sixth sense about guys like him.
On the cell, Fergus listens to the voicemail from Chloe, the terrifying message. He questions Eliza Grayson (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) about whether it’s a joke. She is a good pretender. A faker, really. She doesn’t realise that tihs time, Chloe isn’t faking. What we’re seeing is the hysteria in Kettering: “I guess I just wanted to be a part of it,” says Eliza. All a sham.
Bad boy Dutch is over to see Dane Sullivan (Dylan Young) about the rest of his drugs. Now the young guy is on the hook for $10K, and the dirty cop’s not exactly the forgiving kind. He has jobs to do that need a hand. Just great.
Anna heads back to her father Roy’s (Anthony Phelan) place. She finds a map marked with spots in the Kettering forest. Out there people are searching for Chloe. A base camp is setup, all sorts of operations. When Anna winds up there nobody is exactly welcoming. Not after all that’s happened. Although she manages to muscle her way into Deb Russell’s (Alison Whyte) vehicle for a ride up to where the search parties are moving. On the way they hit a small kangaroo. Deb watches on as Anna puts the creature out of its misery with a rock to the head. Chilling, though only because Deb sees this as creepy herself. We know Anna’s probably the least capable of murder in ole Kettering.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 11.36.16 PM
Nobody at the search is pleased to have Anna there, not even Papa Roy. Doesn’t help she has blood all over her hands, literally. She gets the cold welcome from Craig Grayson (Ben Oxenbould) and others, as well as the semi-longing star of activist Jens Jorgensson (Damon Gameau). Nevertheless, everyone heads into the woods, protective gear on, police with their dogs alongside.
Between the trees Anna sees something red. She starts hearing noises, seeing lights in the woods. She gets stuck in the mud, calling out for “Gillian” but it’s only Adam there to comfort her surprisingly.
Dutch is at the Holloway place. Of all people to be leading that side of the investigation. Not only is he dirty, he and Barbara have an affair going on. He gathers up a piece of clothing, talks about combing through Chloe’s social media accounts. Then once he gets a moment to himself in her room he finds the package for which he’s looking so frantically. All the while Eliza has her eye on Barb and Dutch.
Husband Max is just numb. And perhaps there’s a bigger worry behind all that. We know there is a lot more to Max. Likely something sinister down the pipes.
When Adam takes Anna back to the search site, Roy shoos his daughter away. Typical. There’s only more suspicion and paranoia for Ms. Macy. Even her own father doesn’t know what to think of her innocence, or guilt. The whole town is leaning her way mostly. In some way. For Roy’s part he seems to have something to hide, too. He was a cop, sure. There are further skeletons, though.


Anna secretly discovers Deb’s cancer, seeing the chemo implant on her chest. She also suggests Anna’s attitude “sucks” and that changing it may help her fit in. But further than that Anna finds out more about the Dr. Fiona McKenzie (Kris McQuade) with whom she was trying to speak at the hospital recently. Turns out she works as a tour guide at a prison nearby.
Over at the mill, Roy lets Max know the search is over for the day. He also talks about the Sullivan place. There’s more to that land than just the UFO sightings. Something else happened out there.
Dutch goes through Chloe’s computer. He finds videos on the presence of alien life, et cetera. Also there are pictures of him, all over Kettering. She kept a nice visual log of his comings and goings. At least for a little while. Smart girl. Now, the detective heads things off with his access to her things. Sketchy, dude.
Finally, Anna goes to see Dr. McKenzie and finds out lots more. “Things started happening,” she tells Anna. “Strange cancers” and all sorts of other things. One of those cases includes Deb. All of Kettering both threatened Dr. McKenzie, plus labelled her crazy. She knew Chloe had nosebleeds. She knows more than she even lets on to Anna, only warning she ought to leave. Now. Afterwards, Anna winds up talking with Fergus across the bar, as Dutch keeps his eagle eye trained on them. She tries getting to Gillian’s files, to dive deeper into the investigation herself. Sadly, Fergus can’t understand the greater significance of what’s been happening in their quaint town all these years.
Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 11.48.35 PM
Renae Baxter (Suzi Dougherty) continues believing her daughter Gillian is out there. Her man Travis (Kevin MacIsaac) is not at all interested in entertaining those thoughts, to the detriment of their relationship. When she calls him “simple minded” and a “leech” this is more than his fragile masculinity can take. He beats her. A real piece of shit. We see a better side to Dutch, as he responds to a call that brings him to Renae’s place. His mother was a battered woman. Well, Renae is tragically typical, not wanting anyone to know. Especially not the police. Travis doesn’t respond too kind to Dutch, as he knows about the detective and his drug dealing. But Dutch isn’t a pushover. He threatens the guy, fatally, if there are any more domestic abuse calls.
To the Holloways goes Anna. She brings a bottle of wine, looking to know if Chloe had any strange marks on her skin anywhere. Barb doesn’t remember anything specific, eventually wanting her out. Although Max is a little more reasonable, it’s probably best for them all. Upstairs, Eliza is dressed in Chloe’s pyjamas, and there’s an odd moment between her and Max. An almost eerie look from him, though that could just be my eye.
Then Anna makes a big mistake. She has sex with Dutch. Or at least begins the lead into it before getting a nosebleed. In the couch, Anna finds a necklace; you know which one. This gets her quite suspicious. Immediately that puts Dutch in aggressive mode, defensive. The questions from Anna start to shed light on his shady behaviour. Glad she didn’t fall into bed with this guy.


Dutch: “Why did you come back?
Anna: “Its my home
Dutch: “You dont have a home


The reoccurring “Crimson and Clover” interest comes from Anna and Gillian having loved the song, recording their own version on a tape she carries with her. Roy isn’t pleased with his daughter’s attitude or behaviour. He doesn’t like that Anna went to talk to Dr. McKenzie. You just know there is something more to it all, that Roy knows more than he leads on. He tries to push his daughter away from home, but she is not leaving. We discover more about how Renae and Roy had an affair, which is a sore spot for him. He drives Anna out his house after she brings it up.
Next day the search continues on. Roy finds Anna gone, elsewhere. Anywhere. Barb and Max spend their days apart staring out separate windows; her at home, him busy over at the mill trying to keep his mind occupied. In a pile of logs, the body of Chloe is found. Right under the nose of her father. So god damn sad.
Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 12.17.00 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-19 at 12.17.21 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-19 at 12.17.54 AM
One truly intense episode. A great chapter in this mini-series. Love this show! Great drama, lots of mystery. I dig when a show can draw things out properly, and the writers are doing a fantastic job. Next episode is titled “The Mill” and it looks extremely intense.

The Kettering Incident – Episode 1: “Anna”

Foxtel’s The Kettering Incident
Episode 1: “Anna”
Directed by Rowan Woods
Written by Victoria Madden

* For a review of Episode 2, “The Lights”, click here.
Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 10.55.05 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-09 at 10.56.46 AM
In August of 2000 we find ourselves in Tasmania, in the midst of the Kettering Forest. Young anna (Maddison Brown) rides a bike with her friend Gillian into the trees, down a quiet path. Soon the forest emanates odd sounds, not quite human or animal. Followed by lights flickering around the woods. When Jillian disappears, Anna is left alone and calling out into the darkness.
Cut to the present day and things have changed a good deal. Dr. Anna Macy (Elizabeth Debicki) is drunk and laying against a dumpster in London. Whatever happened sixteen years previous obviously shattered her proper.
Love the opener, as well as the title sequence and theme. Excellently eerie, subtle. Excited to see what’s in store.


Anna’s life isn’t too organised. Someone named Tim Edwards (Nathan Lovejoy) calls, leaving messages and waiting for her to show up at some meal that likely won’t be happening. She writes in her journal about all sorts of details. I assume those are related to maybe losing time, or something similar, all tying into that event back in 2000. Either way, Anna is an interesting character. She struggles privately with what appears as addiction, though she’s also the type to ride a bike to work. And then she spends her day trying to help others instead of helping herself. There’s a patient in treatment to whom Anna feels especially drawn, a little blond girl; she buys her things, reads her books.
We watch Anna suffer a nosebleed out of nowhere. She gets her head checked then reveals she’s lost 7 hours. Ah, yes, the lost time. This starts to bring us back to 2000, the last time she lost any time that way. Later, she meets with Tim and gets some bad news, on several fronts. Especially when he produces some security footage; the kind she ought to watch privately.
Then Anna sees herself, walking into the hospital, tap dancing in the hallway. It shocks her. Everything is disoriented and she flashes back and forth to various events of her life.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 11.23.53 AM
When Anna comes to again, she’s back in Tasmania. She has her passport, a board pass for a flight. A terrifying loss of time. All the way back home she is now lost in her own head and the place of all her old fears.
Out in a boat, Chloe Holloway (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) and Dane Sullivan (Dylan Young) are out meeting another boat crew for some drugs. They see lights on the horizon, curious ones. Then after they get the drugs, Chloe starts having a nosebleed.
Cut quick back to poor Anna. A man finds her stalled out in the middle of the road, acting strangely. He helps get her into the town of Kettering, the old stomping ground. As she stands in front of a place called the FOUR LEAF CLOVER, only the letters OVER blink on and off. Also, we begin to discover there’s lots of stuff going on concerning the Greenies, those dedicated to environmentalism, so that’s likely to play into the story and various plots in some way. Furthermore, Anna runs into people that know her, and the mood changes swiftly. She’s uncomfortable, thrown off. Some people are less than welcoming while others try their best to be nice, such as Chloe. “You got a bloody nerve cominback here,” one man says ominously before Anna runs out of the diner.
We find that her father Roy (Anthony Phelan) is retiring. Anna goes back to the home of her father where relics of her old life sit around every room. Roy’s surprised to see her. Not exactly thrilled, but not altogether unhappy, at all. They embrace, albeit awkwardly. There’s so much history in their family and I’m looking forward to seeing all those little secrets and dark nooks to come to light.
Barbara Holloway (Sacha Horler) and her husband Max (Damien Garvey) have their own troubles. Mostly him. He receives a troubling letter suggesting he’s done something awful. Of course his wife has no idea.
Roy goes to see Renae Baxter (Suzi Dougherty) to tell her about Anna coming home, apologising for the sudden arrival. For her part, Renae says she’s happy for him. Is the mother of Gillian, the one who went missing nearly two decades ago? If so, there’s more to rear its head yet.


Anna begins trying to piece together bits of the past, in order to help her present unify and become more stable. In the garage of her father’s place she looks through Missing Persons cases, some of which involve strange lights. We also see a newspaper clipping that possibly relates to her own incident – a man arrested over a missing teenager in Kettering, is this perhaps some of what makes the town feel strangely about Anna? Well, she has another fit of sorts, flashes of events and weird images.
She loses more time, waking up in bed. Chloe’s there to pick her up. Again we hear “Crimson and Clover” playing, which Anna says reminds her of her mother. Moreover, she also doesn’t like to have her picture taken. We’ll see more of that, no doubt. For now Anna finds that her car is no longer where she left it. Chloe soon reveals she’s also seen the lights around their town. She has a tattoo of a moth because they go towards the light; similar to a moth Anna recently envisioned during one of her episodes. Such intriguing little threads all setup to pull apart and together eventually.
Now we meet Dt. Brian Dutch (Matthew Le Nevez). He receives Anna about the stolen car. She then comes across another familiar face, Fergus McFadden (Henry Nixon). They’ve not seen each other in many, many years. Simultaneously, the car turns up. Except not in the way Anna may have hoped. The Greenies are out protesting and her car’s ended up in the midst of it all, burning to bits. Max Holloway is out there – I expect he’s a logger, or something similar. The police are trying to get things under control, though the whole thing is gone pretty wild.
There’s a dark side to Mr. Holloway. He’s gotten more letters than just that one. For some reason, he keeps them. Although they’re hidden away nicely. What lurks in his closet with all the skeletons? Bits and pieces of the story come together in nice, slow burning methods. The exposition doesn’t slap us in the face, and in this way keeps things interesting. Many are comparing this to Twin Peaks, but it isn’t at all. Maybe echoes at times, but overall completely different. Though honestly, the level of storytelling so far is on par.
Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 11.30.23 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-09 at 11.30.27 AM
Max and Roy are close friends. The former acts strangely like a creep around his buddy’s daughter: “Remember me?” he asks eerily. But Anna’s off with a bottle of liquor, staring up into the sky. She meets up with Chloe afterwards, asking to be taken to where she those lights. Meanwhile, a man named Dominic Harrold (Neil Pigot) is tuning into radio frequencies, headphones on listening in the darkness. What’s he up to? Oh, and Dt. Dutch, he’s banging Mrs. Holloway. All those small town lives are heading for collision.
And Anna, she’s out with Chloe, taking drugs – not the smartest thing in her condition – and heading to where the lights were, supposedly. It mostly turns into a rave, which is what the place is anyway: a massive rave in the woods around a fire. Until Anna and Chloe wander out into the forest. Is this the beginning of an unfortunate event just like that one 16 years ago? The lights in the woods come out again. Anna watches as Chloe heads towards them. Just like Gillian. Just like before.
Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 11.37.13 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-09 at 11.46.42 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-09 at 11.52.39 AM
Wow. What an intense opening episode. This one aired together, so I’m finishing the recap/review here. I’ll continue Episode 2 shortly, so stay tund with me. I’m loving the show already, even in the first hour. What great suspense, mystery, tension. All the ingredients for a great 8-episode series.

Animal Kingdom – Season 1, Episode 4: “Dead to Me”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 4: “Dead to Me”
Directed by Regina King
Written by Etan Frankel

* For a review of the previous episode, “Stay Close, Stick Together” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Flesh is Weak” – click here
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 12.13.09 PM
An episode directed by TNT’s Southland alumni Regina motherfuckin’ King! Yeah, baby. Go on and get it. Let’s do this already.
Uncle Deran (Jake Weary) wakes up his nephew Josh (Finn Cole). He offers a free swing, apologising for the pool incident. J’s fine with things being smooth from here on in, though Deran is still a bit edgy. He’s only worried if Smurf (Ellen Barkin) knows everything is fine again. Downstairs, Baz (Scott Speedman) pulls in and helps poor, helpless Pope (Shawn Hatosy) make coffee. The Cody Boys discover there’s no breakfast. Smurf has been doing her own thing during the night, she had a man over. Nobody is surprised, but Pope doesn’t like the look of it. In other news, it’s his birthday. Everybody has big plans from sky diving to paintball. Pope’s not into any of it. All the while, Deran, Baz, they’re all hiding the fact they’ve made some of their own money since they were supposed to be keeping things on the down low. Upstairs, Josh finds himself in another awkward naked encounter with grandma Smurf; she gives him cash, unaware he also has more of it himself. She tries to get info, but Josh is solid. Probably more concerned his uncles would kill him if he blabbed. Still, Smurf knows there’s something up. She is not at all stupid.
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 12.16.17 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-05 at 12.17.09 PM
So the boys are all having a fun time. Deran and Baz get the paintball kicking off, as a reluctant Pope gets pulled into it before smashing up the new gun. No fun, dude. All of a sudden Baz gets a text from Smurf: CUTBACK. He takes all the cellphones, switching out SIM cards. There’s something shitty about to happen. Emergency measures are taken. Everyone’s leaving town, or at least hiding out. Cash and anything else necessary is being packed, ready to ship off. Baz wants Pope to stay, but you know that ain’t sitting with the man himself. The Cody Boys and Baz all head to a safe house with food and supplies to wait on a call from their lawyer. As it turns out there’s no emergency. All Smurf. She knows there’s “bullshit jobs” going on without her involvement. Mama offers her boys once chance to come out with the truth. Then she shuts down her sons, telling them no more jobs, no more money. They’re cut off on their own now, so she says.
Josh is having a hard time adjusting to his family. Especially when you consider the fact he’s got school, a normal life, Nicky (Molly Gordon), and that’s tough to juggle. He gets caught smoking a joint at school, by a teacher who’s interest in him is not positively all teacher-like, in my opinion. That could end up going somewhere further. She isn’t exactly professional, smoking the joint and asking him to go to a photographer’s surf exhibit.


The Cody Boys and Big Baz are up in the air, getting ready to skydive. At that very same time, they argue about the side jobs they’ve been doing. Not a nice place to be arguing and pushing each other around like a bunch of animals. Sure enough, one of them gets tossed from the plane and then they all head for the air. This is an awesome sequence involving some GREAT stunts mid-air. These guys are lunatics. Whoever did the stunt work here are a bunch of wild dudes. Makes the whole thing plenty fun.
Catherine (Daniella Alonso) finds Josh coming to check on her, bringing mac and cheese. He’s such a good kid amongst a family of maniacs. In the meantime, Baz is over at his dad’s trailer again. Only dear ole dad is nowhere to be found. And Craig (Ben Robson), he finds his girlfriend Renn (Christina Ochoa) overdosed in her bathroom, dead. So he takes advantage, great guy he is, taking any jewellery and pills and whatever else he can find. What a man.
Josh is having a bit of a rough day, being his mother’s birthday and all. The Codys don’t talk of her “like she never existed” and Catherine knows this all too well. We find out more about Josh’s mother; Baz tried to get her help, but that didn’t work. She stole a lot of money from them, it seems. But mainly I’m sure Smurf couldn’t control her daughter, and lack of control is a problem for Mama Smurf when it comes to her brood. Speaking of her, she’s trying to keep Nicky close, digging her claws in.
And boy, does Craig have big trouble. His painkiller supply is in danger of drying up. At least he’s got plenty of other drugs kicking around. Well, that isn’t exactly good. There’s a chance he could burn out quick. Especially because he’s got addiction and guilt all rolled into one, all the while keeping secrets from mommy. Tsk, tsk.
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 12.32.27 PM


We find Baz being a dick now to Josh. He doesn’t want the kid poking around. But it’s only because Baz is paranoid. About the Codys, about what Josh might want to know concerning his mother. About everything. He’s letting that tear his own family apart, as Catherine hates that Smurf controls him the way she does. Because that’s the bottom line, he’s worried about being “iced out” by the matriarch of the gang.
The birthday celebrations are still going hard. And the boys are all fretting over what their mom knows, even while sitting in a strip club. Deran is fronting hard trying to convince everyone, mostly his nephew, that he’s straight. Pope hooks Josh up with a lap dance while Baz tries to give Pope a nice time with a lady of his own. Except Pope has some issues – what exactly, I’m still not sure, though I have my guesses. Alone with the stripper, Pope reveals: “I cant remember the last time I had an erection.” Not just that, he seems so unbelievably wound up inside that it’s scary. Then he makes the woman say “we cant, Andrew” – and now I’m sure he’s had intimate contact with his mother. He and Smurf have had sex at some point. There is no doubt. Good fucking lord. I expected the incest, but still a shock.
Most interesting? Craig gets a call from Renn, alive and in the ER. Whoa, this could be a devastating turn.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 12.49.04 PM
Later on, Pope takes Josh out with him into the woods somewhere. He talks about the Seven Seals, the Horsemen, et cetera. He thinks maybe the Cody Boys and Baz are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. An eerie conversation. Just goes to show his warped, strange way of thinking. Then Uncle Pope takes his nephew over a fence to a graveyard. They’re headed for Josh’s mom, to pay respects to her grave on her and Pope’s birthday. There’s a side to Pope that is also gentle. It rarely comes out. More now I begin to think he’s so messed up because of things that have happened in his life. Things that could have, and should have, been prevented. The root of all the evil might just lie in Smurf. For the time being, Pope reminisces about his and his sister’s birthday, how they made wishes and told each other, keeping their secrets; the whole Cody family’s foundation is built purely on secrets, lies, hidden truths. Josh comes out and asks Pope about Baz and his mother. “Baz has a way of getting what he wants,” replies the uncle with an acidic tone. Moreover, we see that Pope has lingering feelings about what happened to his sister, and that he knows more than he lets on. No telling what happened to Julia for her to fall into such despair. Just being part of that family is enough to make a person an addict, as we can also see by looking at Craig.
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 12.53.10 PM
At home, Smurf kicks everybody out. She is really putting that foot down. And then Baz snitches to Smurf, about Pope. He reveals the job Deran and Josh did with Pope. Ah, more ammo to fuel the fire between the brothers, between Pope and Baz, between Baz and the Cody Brothers. So many things coming together, pulling apart. There’s only so long this can last. I wonder how Smurf’s going to react to all this going forward. You can never tell with her devious behaviour.
In the hospital Craig finds Renn. She’s okay, though took a hard overdose. She also thinks there was a robbery. No idea that it was her supposedly sweet manfriend. Renn wants Craig to take care of who stole from her: “You hurt him and Ill make it worth your while.” He is a piece of shit for letting this happen.
Once Josh gets back home Smurf is waiting with a cupcake, a candle in it. She also wants to know the truth about her boys and what they’re doing behind her back. Further than that she makes clear that Josh needs to do right by her. Or else.
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 1.01.11 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-05 at 1.02.09 PM
Everything is so intense and suspenseful within the wild Cody family. I love seeing Finn Cole in the midst of it, he does well with the character. I can’t wait for the next episode “Flesh is Weak” because there’ll be plenty more intrigue, excitement, and disturbing shit. Stay with me, fellow fans!

Animal Kingdom – Season 1, Episode 3: “Stay Close, Stick Together”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 3: “Stay Close, Stick Together”
Directed by Christopher Chulack
Written by Eliza Clark

* For a review of the previous episode, “We Don’t Hurt People” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Dead to Me” – click here
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 10.59.05 AM
With all the lies, all the secrets floating around, can Josh Cody (Finn Cole) manage to keep his head above water? Can he survive his own family?
Pope (Shawn Hatosy) is out fishing, gutting and skinning some sharks. He receives a visit from an old friend wanting to a do a job. Then we find out that this guy thinks Pope is with Catherine (Daniella Alonso), and that they have a baby together. So, could the baby actually be Pope’s child, or is that merely his ego, telling people this or that, lying? Hard to tell. Either way, it weighs heavy on Pope.
Then there’s Josh who seems constantly plagued by the strain of his family. He even has to steal back the gold watch he gave Nicky (Molly Gordon). Heading out from her place he runs into Nicky’s father, Navy Lieutenant Commander Paul Belmont (C. Thomas Howell). Not good. Yet the father doesn’t go too hard. He’s fairly lenient, most of all concerned about how his daughter’s doing.
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 11.02.19 AM
Baz (Scott Speedman) and his Mexican girlfriend bang while Craig (Ben Robson) is being fixed up. This is not a good side to Baz. I hoped there was an inherently good part of him compared to the others. Not quite.
Back at home, in America, Smurf (Ellen Barkin) is looking after Catherine’s daughter and asking Josh whether he’s having sex with Nicky. “Does she satisfy you?” asks grandma. The closeness of the Cody family is wonderfully creepy. You sense that Smurf loves her boys, but there’s an overprotective quality that borders on inappropriate. This was always alluded to in the original film, as Smurf had a penchant for kissing her boys right on the mouth, even as grown men. Here, Barkin’s crack at the character goes deeper into that element, and we start to see how she’s the criminal glue holding these boys together. As well as tearing them apart at times.
Pope isn’t feeling well lately. Probably because mom is slipping him anti-depressants or something else into the food he’s eating. Moreover, he also doesn’t like what has been happening at home. He does not like his nephew, him being around and possibly being a liability, nor does he like how Baz is the big king in the Cody Gang anymore. His mother’s trying to turn him around. But will that put her boys at odds? There’s a good chance.
Speaking of the boys, Baz and Craig are on a Mexican beach enjoying themselves. At least for a while. Craig’s wanting to do more jobs, as Baz tries to keep him from doing anything stupid.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 11.13.03 AM
Out collecting rent, Deran (Jake Weary) runs into Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark) – not only is he the one who owes money for the surf shop, he’s also the guy who was going down on Deran. His face is a mess. He dropped tons of cash on an MRI to make sure there were no internal injuries. Now, he doesn’t want to pay rent. It’s all on Deran, or else Smurf finds out her boy was sucking dick then decided to sucker punch the guy whose dick he sucked. Nasty stuff for ole Deran, he’s in quite the position.
Pope picks up Josh. As advised by his mother, the uncle plans on bringing his nephew into the fold. Just not Baz’s fold. He wants to exert some of his influence on the kid and get him on the perceived ‘right’ side of the family. This will only mean more and more of the brothers being at odds with one another. Not to mention Pope also ropes Deran into the mix. But though Smurf suggested Pope ought to include Josh in things, she knows nothing of the job the boys are about to do. Plus, Smurf is too busy trying to make sure she gets to spend time with Catherine and Baz’s daughter. Even if that means being greasy.
You ready to have some fun?” Pope asks his nephew, as they haul on some uniforms, throw decals on their truck, and prepare to get busy. Inside their target building, the boys break through a wall and look for a safe. They find it, though they’re interrupted, and the pace quickens for them. Josh ends up doing Pope right when Deran refuses. At the very same time, coming back across the border, Craig lets Baz know there are drugs on board. Right as the police dogs come closer. It goes smoothly, but god damn – these guys play fast and loose. The only sensible one criminally is Baz. Just an all around shitshow at both ends.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 11.31.46 AM
The safe gets opened. Pope doesn’t want to give Deran any, as Josh did the work needed to be done: “He has more balls than you do,” Pope berates his brother. There is plenty of aggression and tension between these two now. Josh agrees to split things three ways, but Uncle Deran doesn’t want to admit he was scared, and walks off. There’s more tension elsewhere. Smurf and Catherine are at odds, too. Mama Smurf doesn’t like that Catherine has been getting money, et cetera, from the Cody Gang while thinking she’s above it. That is a slight bit of hypocrisy. All the same, Catherine doesn’t want her daughter around that viciousness. And I agree.
Craig’s drug plan pays off for him and Baz, even if the latter wasn’t too pleased with how things played out. At least they’re home in one piece. At home, Pope won’t take the watch back from his nephew, he tells him to keep it; all in the name of rebelling against mother. Man, these are a bunch of dudes with a terrible load of mommy issues all over the place. Aside from everyone else, Josh tells Deran he didn’t see anything down at the beach. Although the uncle plays it dumb. He shouldn’t. Because eventually Josh is going to find himself in a place where he’s going to drop that secret out in the open.
Around the couches, the Cody Gang talk about their father(s). One was a seagull. The other a one-eyed dolphin. Regardless of what or who he was, this is all about resentment. Pope pulls out more of it for Deran before leaving. It’s all too clear this situation will come to a head sooner rather than later. But Pope, he’s pushing hard against other issues. He keeps creeping around Catherine. Yet part of him is only concerned for her, the baby. He offers money to get a good babysitter. For all his weirdness and his temper, Pope seems to have a good heart. It’s just buried far beneath the issues with Smurf, his troubled life of crime, and a ton of bravado.


Poolside, Deran challenges nephew Josh to a competition: who can hold their breath longest in the pool. They stare one another down, as Josh clearly has more trouble than his uncle. When he tries to go back up, Deran stops him. He tries to drown his own nephew. All in good fun, right? Josh continues to figure out how dangerous it is being a Cody, and that being born into that blood is more like being birthed into Sparta than a Californian family.
Josh goes to see Nicky – he gives her back the watch. Certainly Mr. Belmont isn’t all that happy, but he’s still not an outright dick. I want to see more of his involvement with Josh. That makes me worry slightly for him because a man of the law involved with the Cody Gang is a recipe for disaster. At the house, Smurf bitches out Deran for Josh being gone with all his things. Where’s the boy headed?
Baz keeps money at his father’s place, stashed below the cupboards. Once more, he contemplates shooting his father, who for his part eggs him on. There’s a deep pain in Baz that stems from his family, his father in particular it seems, so there was likely abuse of some form in his past.


Smurf finds her grandson ready to head out of town. She’s sad to see him running. We find out more about Smurf’s own history, that her mother was also a junkie, which clearly passed down to her daughter, Josh’s mother. For his part, the kid wants to know who his father was, for sure. Smurf doesn’t know, only the one that she loved and that she tried to bring into the fold – Baz. They were in love. Whoa. That’s a ton of intrigue thrown into the batter right there. Well, Smurf takes Josh back home. We can see there’s something in Deran’s eyes; is it worry? He doesn’t want his secret gay life to get exposed, and also doesn’t want to be thrown from the family, for any reason.
Baz and Josh end up chatting briefly. The latter reveals he shot his mother up that day she died. That’s heavy. His semi-uncle assuages his guilt, saying that his mother did that to all of them and it was the family burden, essentially. I want to see more of this relationship between Baz and Josh. At least now we know why Baz is more gentle than any of the rest with Josh, as he has a personal connection to the kid.
Trying to sleep, Smurf feels the eyes of her crazy son Pope on her. He stands watching her for a while before coming to her bedside and crawling in next to her for a cuddle. I keep wondering if there’s something sordid to do with Smurf and Pope specifically. He seems to have the most issues. We’ll find out soon, I’m sure.
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 11.52.54 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-05 at 11.53.38 AM
Another solid episode. Next up is “Dead to Me” and with a title like that, YOU KNOW something is going down. Stick with me, and with the series. Digging these episodes a ton. I hope some of you are, too.

Animal Kingdom – Season 1, Episode 2: “We Don’t Hurt People”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 2: “We Don’t Hurt People”
Directed by John Wells
Written by Jonathan Lisco

* For a review of the pilot episode, click here.
* For a review of the next episode, “Stay Close, Stick Together” – click here
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 9.50.17 AM
After a wild pilot, things continue on for the Cody Gang.
Well they’re certainly a good lot for hedonism. Smurf Cody (Ellen Barkin) hangs poolside with her boys, Andrew a.k.a Pope (Shawn Hatosy), Craig (Ben Robson), Deran (Jake Weary), the new addition Josh (Finn Cole), and their close man Baz (Scott Speedman). Pope gets a bit too heavy, not playing nice with their nephew Josh. At the same time, he’s not exactly playing nice with anyone else either. Inside Smurf asks J’s girl Nicky (Molly Gordon) if she were shipwrecked and could only pick one Cody, aside from Josh, who would it be? She replies Baz is “pretty cool” and it’s easy to see that Mama Smurf is testing this young woman to see if she’s got what it takes to hang with the rough crew. Even Josh is finding it hard keeping up with his uncles and big Baz.
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 9.50.25 AM
Speaking of Baz, his significant other Catherine (Daniella Alonso) is pissed. Rightfully so. There’s a casualty from the job the Cody Gang pulled recently. Furthermore, we see how Baz considers Smurf’s place “home” as opposed to their own place. I can see all types of trouble from a mile away.
When Smurf gets wind of the death due to the robbery you can be sure nothing’s going to go too smooth. In other news, Craig’s wound is festering and he is getting pretty hooked on painkillers. He says it’s because he’s a big dude, but you can clearly tell he is falling down the rabbit hole. Not a good thing with the dead cop on their hands.
Smurf lets Josh know there’s a bit of serious business about to come up. He’s being slowly brought into the fold. “There are no secrets in this family. Not from one another. Especially not from me,” says Grandma Smurf. We also see the strange, quasi-incestuous relationship she has with her men, making Josh strip down his dirty clothes right in front of her. Awkward, and telling.
Then Josh witnesses an incredible moment that nobody can know about – his uncle Deran is getting a blowjob from another man. When he sees his nephew, Deran beats the man down claiming he was trying to steal a wallet. Whoa. Just… whoa. No family secrets? Yeah, okay, Smurf. Deran has his nephew join in on the beating, though you can see the young guy is apprehensive. Poor Josh, he just gets deeper and deeper in every way. And worst of all it’s as if there’s danger from some of his uncles at every corner. First Pope and his machismo, now Deran and his closeted secret. There’s a lot of danger being a Cody.


Smurf and the boys are having a meeting about what to do next. Of course Pope is not happy with any of them. Baz tries to quell Smurf’s worries about any witnesses. Then she finds out the boys took off their masks when dealing with the tweakers for the robbery. Uh oh. Well, that’s not too big of a deal, seeing as how those were addicts and they probably don’t remember much. Not well enough to rat. Meanwhile, everything else is going to shit – their vehicle is still out there, cop’s bullets in it along with Craig’s blood. Moreover, there’s dissent between Smurf and her boys. She doesn’t blame Baz, but rather her own blood, and they don’t like that. Also you have the fact Deran is now quietly pissed with nephew J for finding out his secret, so he tries to pile the grunt work on him. Afterwards, J reveals to Baz what Pope lied to Smurf about, and they start forming a subtle bond. Because let’s face it, the uncles are aggressive with their nephew, whereas Baz is more welcoming and gentle despite being a hardened criminal himself. Still, Baz lies about what “kind of family” the Cody Gang is truly.
We see how everybody is weary of Pope and exactly how his mental health is doing. Particularly Baz and Smurf, as they have a little conference together on his well-being. It’ll be interesting to watch this play out further.
Deran and Craig start tearing apart the vehicle from their robbery. The former rages against his mother and how the split goes for them economically. Craig agrees, mostly. Neither of them are too happy with Baz or Pope, either. But what’s most intriguing is seeing how Craig hides his pill intake from even Deran, as he doesn’t want anybody questioning his state of mind. None of these guys are open in the family. Secrets are everywhere.


When Josh finds his room torn apart he also finds Pope. Looking for the watch he gave his nephew. They’ve got to clean up loose ends. The uncle is convinced his nephew is hiding things; secrets, who knows what else. Then he goes on a brief nostalgia train about his days, hiding things from Smurf. Not much has changed. I like the relationship between Pope and Josh in the series. In the film, it was great, as well. Here, we’re able to get more of a look at the antagonistic behaviour of Pope towards his nephew and that is more fleshed out with an extended series, as opposed to a film under two hours.
Even worse, there’s Pope influencing Nicky. I’m afraid for her. Those who’ve seen the movie know there’s danger for her involved with the family. So it’s only a matter of time before there’s a serious threat to her safety. The more we see of Pope, the more I worry about what he’ll soon do.
Baz and Smurf are so much like actual mother and son. We hear more talk about Pope, that he’s off medication and that it might be worth trying to get him back on some soon. Although neither of them are too optimistic about that. And then they burn up the watches, so that’s a loose end cauterised, literally in fire. More worry about Pope when he shows up suddenly at Catherine’s, playing with her daughter, and no sign of Baz. Yikes. He’s a creepy bastard.
Now we start to hear about Pope sending letters to Catherine. There’s a love for her that Pope has held since they were young. She apparently got drunk and something happened between them. Baz knows nothing of it, and Pope wonders if maybe he should tell him about it. Oh, man. There are so many nasty things going on within the walls of the Cody Gang and the family itself. Only so much can build up before it breaks. Is Catherine’s little girl of Baz, or of Pope? That’s one to think about.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 10.23.26 AM
Mama Smurf is up to a few tricks. She smashes a heel of her shoes, scratches up her hand until it’s bloody. She lies to a guy so she can get into an apartment, then into a bathroom. She steals pills. Are those for Pope? We get a quick flash of what looks like Smurf as a little girl, doing the same thing with her own mother. A very great moment. In the meantime, Craig is strung out on pills and not getting any work done. Deran notices. He notices the wound in Craig’s shoulder is getting hideous. Then they decide just to burn the rest of the vehicle. Bad move? Sure is, at least for the fact Smurf won’t be too happy about it. Josh arrives just as they’re doing the dirty. More secrets for him to keep.
Baz is cleaning up after someone, an older man. Likely his father. For a moment, he contemplates shooting him in the head. There’s lots more to why Baz is a member of the Cody Gang, and the family as it stands. I want to see more about that, so I look forward to exploring his backstory throughout the series. I was always curious about that in the film, as he seemed like such an integral part of the gang. He is even more so here. Later we see Mama Smurf is crushing up pills to sneak into Pope’s food. Real good idea there. Also, we hear more about Baz being taken into the house. Smurf talks about when he first came to them. He hid food, not sure he’d be fed there. Terrible parents at home. “I dont how you survived,” Smurf laments.


When Baz goes home he finds Catherine not herself. She worries about the dead cop, all the commotion on television. Baz assures her nothing will come of it for them. Everything’s taken care of, as he says. Don’t be so sure of that. Mostly, Catherine worries for her daughter, and what could happen if the SWAT team bursts in. He promises to lay himself down if that’s the case. Then he discovers the doll Pope brought her and Catherine lies, saying it came from a store somewhere. Ah, the lies are EVERYWHERE!
And Craig, he keeps chopping lines and pushing back the pain. That’s because he’s preparing to do some homemade surgery. Smurf, she’s upstairs watching her insane son Pope outside, naked, staring into the moon. When she hears a bunch of noise downstairs she finds Craig, mutilating himself. So it’s off to Mexico for a bit of low-key surgery. But what else? Baz has a woman down south of the border. Jesus. The lies are seeping out from every crack.
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 10.34.58 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-05 at 10.36.55 AM
A great follow-up of a second episode. Next up is “Stay Close, Stick Together” and it promises plenty. This is an excellent series in addition to the film. I know many, like myself, were wary. But this is proving, with each chapter, that Animal Kingdom has power as a television show. All the acting is so spectacular, loving Ellen Barkin, Shawn Hatosy, and Scott Speedman, but everyone else is just as good, too.

Breaking Bad – Season 2, Episode 8: “Better Call Saul”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 2, Episode 8: “Better Call Saul”
Directed by Terry McDonough
Written by Peter Gould

* For a review of the previous episode, “Negro y Azul” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “4 Days Out” – click here
IMG_3665
Oh, Badger (Matt Jones)! What are we gonna do with you?
Sitting on a bench unsuspectingly – one that has an add stating BETTER CALL SAUL no less – Badger is met randomly by a skinny guy looking for drugs. But smarty pants Badger judges him to be a cop, so he won’t immediately sell him anything. No way. Then as the guy pathetically wears him down Badger slips up, selling some of the good blue stuff.
And then swarm the police. Good job, dummy.
IMG_3666
On a television a commercial from Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) plays while nobody watches. In bed, Jesse (Aaron Paul) and Jane (Krysten Ritter) lay together. What we can already see is how he’s becoming a bad influence on her possibly. She leaves abruptly, though he can tell something’s off. Turns out she’s in Narcotics Anonymous. You can already tell he is very interested in her, attracted and maybe even falling a bit. Or a lot.
At the White household things are still in a bit of disarray. Not as outwardly aggressive, yet still passive-aggressive slightly. Skyler (Anna Gunn) is off to work, and Walter (Bryan Cranston) worries about her being back around Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins). Still, she kisses him and heads out like a normal couple.
Then Walt gets a call from Marie (Betsy Brandt). Seems things with Hank (Dean Norris) since the incident in Juarez have gotten worse. He sits around mostly, by himself, depressed and withdrawn. Naturally, though. I mean, he saw a bunch of guys get blown to bits. Tragic to see a guy like Hank, a tough dude with principals, get so shaken by his work. He tries putting on a good act for Walt, but it’s easy to see through. Perhaps Hank isn’t reacting how he hoped he would when coming up against the big terrifying stuff. Doesn’t help they think it was a little shitty he was the one to make it out of things, getting an evidence bag while the explosion went off. What’s interesting to me here is how Walt is on the opposite side of the law from Hank, yet he sits there caring for his brother-in-law, urging him to push forward. Such a darkly funny thing, and at the same time sort of awful, that Walt is there as a shoulder to lean on while heading out later to do some drug business.


Walt: “Fear is the worst of it. Thats the real enemy.”
IMG_3674
Jesse hasn’t heard from Badger yet, so their cash is light. Well little does he know. When he reaches Combo (Rodney Rush), he finds out what’s actually been going on. And that does nothing at all to ease the tension between him and Mr. White. So with Badger in jail and Walt worried sick, they’ve got to figure out what’s next.
Cut to Hank. He’s close to one of those panic attacks again heading into the DEA office for the first time since getting back. Yet he puts on the tough front and walks through the fire. Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) catches him up, as well as checks in on his old buddy.
In an interrogation room, Badger’s sweated by the young cop (DJ Qualls). Then Saul arrives – his lawyer! Goodman starts running his game, of course, and the tale has begun to weave. He tells Badger exactly how things are about to go; after he’s paid, certainly. He even has cheques made out to “Ice Station Zebra Associates“, which is awesome if you know that movie. Best of all, Saul goes right at the DEA even taunting Hank and his boys right to their faces.
Now we’ve got Jesse and Walt about to meet with Saul for the first time. Walt’s not at all impressed with the look of Saul’s stripmall practice. Although, the younger of the two makes a good case for having a “criminal [who’s a] lawyer” and not a Criminal Lawyer. When Walt heads in he makes the transaction. However, he’s appalled to find out the DEA is involved. Furthermore, Walt now knows the DEA is after Heisenberg. And that Saul plans on having Brandon take a deal involving talking to them about what he knows. Ironic to watch Walt on both sides of a situation once again, as Saul has no idea he’s the Heisenberg the law is after.
IMG_3675IMG_3676IMG_3678
Saul: “My real names McGill. The Jew thing I just do for the homeboys, they all want a pipe hittinmember of the tribe, so to speak.”


What happens next is a step up in the criminal game for Mr. White and his clueless partner. Jesse and Walt kidnap Saul and take him into the desert. They wear masks, of course. Only the cough Saul heard earlier in his office gives Walter away. Then the slippery lawyer greases out a little deal for himself, even making Jesse and Walt his clients in the process.
So Saul cooks up a deal with the DEA for Badger to give up Heisenberg. Really, it’s an old bald dude who gets paid to go to jail. He’s a lifetime ward of the system, so that’s sewed up. They set up a meet between this fake Heisenberg and Badger, on the very same bench where he was pinched at the episode’s start. Yet things get messy, and Walt ends up interjecting himself right in the middle of Hank and the boys staking things out from across the way. This is a tense and also comical moment, written well, played perfectly by both Bryan Cranston and Dean Norris; they have awesome chemistry and work great together. Through everything, the old con Jimmy gets arrested and things work out in the end for everybody. Er- not the DEA, just for Jesse, Walt, Badger, and Saul.
Hank ain’t sold, though. Not on this prison lifer being a mastermind meth cook.


Then Saul tracks Walt down in his classroom after hours. Wow. The Heisenberg persona wears thin, hey? Spells trouble for Mr. White who so relentlessly tries to conceal his true identity. But there’s nothing below board, Saul is merely looking out for his new client. First he confuses Walt with a reference to The Godfather, eventually offering up his silent partner services in their meth industry. Not blackmail. Definitely not ethical.


We’ll see how this new relationship becomes more prominent in the upcoming episodes. Next is “4 Days Out”, so stick with me for another recap and review.