Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Season 1, Episode 14 – “War-Mantle” – Consequences of the Empire

“War-Mantle” is a great episode that feels complete even with it being a cliffhanger. We have fantastic action and the threat of the Empire is more fully realized and what that means for Kamino and the clones. This was episode was a favorite and I highly recommend it.

The episode is directed by Steward Lee and written by Damani Johnson.

Rex sends Clone Force 99 on a secret mission to save a captured Clone as on Kamino the Empire’s plans unfold.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Action – We have the Kaminoans attempting to escape Kamino as the Empire sends all the clones to an unknown location and Clone Force 99 saving a clone from a top secret highly armed facility. We get great gun fights and a fun ship battle in Clone Force 99’s escape.

Rex’s Mission – Rex appears to send them on a secret mission he can’t give intel on that divides Clone Force 99 on with Echo and Omega saying they should go and Tech saying they shouldn’t. Hunter decides to go with the mission for Echo since Echo trusts Rex and it unfolds from there as they must free a clone from a secret Imperial Base in a Mountain.

Gregor – The clone is Gregor from “Rebels!” It is great seeing him again and all his joking around. He quickly understood that he was training his replacements and tried to escape only to be captured. He is wonderfully cynical and I loved his dynamic with Clone Force 99.

Clone Force 99 – Rex and Omega help free Echo, Tech and Gregor as they are at the ship as Echo, Tech and Hunter are the ones saving Gregor. We see all of them in action and great tactics. I was surprised they kept stunning people though given who they were fighting.

Kamino and Consequences – Admiral Rampart orders Crosshair to track the Kaminoans which leads to him discovering their escape. He keeps Nala Se since Rampart needs a scientist but Crosshair’s squad kills the Prime Minister. The Empire is in full control of the planet and clones, which I didn’t expect. I thought the Kaminoans would have a fail safe built into the clones at the very least or experiments they could unleash on the Empire.

Hunter Captured – Hunter is captured and isn’t able to make the escape with the others as the Empire overwhelms Clone Force 99 with the sheer number of troops and ships. It is good at showing how serious things are and of course Crosshair shows up to greet the captured Hunter in the final scene.

The Cons:

Nothing Happened with Nala Se’s Betrayal and the Minister – Nala Se and the Prime Minister act as if nothing happened after all that went down with their bounty hunters facing off. Did Cad Bane not tell the Prime Minister what happened?

This is a fantastic episode that illustrates just what Clone Force 99 and the galaxy are up against and I can’t wait to see how the season ends. This episode had some of the best action and some wonderful character dynamics that were explored. This episode was a favorite and one I highly recommend.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

Doctor Who – The Doctors’ First Adventures from Worst to Best

With the 14th Doctor most likely to be announced in 2022 I thought it was time to update this list as the initial list was created before Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor’s time. I’ll post the original list at the bottom of this review but until then this was fun to come back to. There have been such a variety of introductions and I look forward to doing a list like this for regenerations when it is time for the 13th Doctor’s final episode. Until that time, I hope you enjoy this updated list.

13th Place

Twin Dilemma

The 6th Doctor – “The Twin Dilemma”

This episode is pretty insulting on a lot of levels (The 6th Doctor’s physical abuse of his companion) and there is not really anything good to say about it beyond the fact that it sucks less later on. The villain is also one of the stupidist bad guys in “Doctor Who” and believe me, that is saying something. He doesn’t ever feel threatening and is a complete joke, also we have two Wonder Boy/Wesley Crusher type characters we’re supposed to sympathize with, and who can’t act. Yep…this episode is one of the worst of the worst in “Doctor Who.”

1 / 10

12 Days of Doctors – The 6th Doctor – Season 21, Serial 7 – “The Twin Dilemma” – Everyone is Terrible or Boring

12th Place

doctor-who-96-tv-movie-cast

The 8th Doctor – “Doctor Who the Movie”

So, after the show was off the air, they tried to bring it back with a movie. “Doctor Who the Movie.” It is pretty bad, pretty much the only redeeming qualities of this film are Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor and Sylvester McCoy appearing before he gets killed as the 7th Doctor. The Master is the bad kind of hammy and none of the Doctor’s companions are worth mentioning in this, beyond the fact that they are terrible people. This is a tragedy too given that Paul McGann owns this role and really deserved a series as the Eighth Doctor.

5 / 10. Was a bad action movie elevated by Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy.

12 Days of Doctors – The 8th Doctor – “Doctor Who The Movie” – Paul McGann Should Have Got a Series

11th Place

An Unearthly Child 13

The 1st Doctor – “An Unearthly Child”

Things didn’t start out well for this series, they started out okay, but not great. The “Doctor Who” Pilot begins with two teachers talking their student Susan until they meet her strange Grandfather who kidnaps them because he doesn’t want to be revealed to Earth. He is great as the gruff Professor type but the teachers and Susan aren’t very good and the Doctor played by William Hartnell isn’t given enough to do. This should have been a longer episode.

6 / 10

12 Days of Doctors – The 1st Doctor – Season 1, Serial 1 – “An Unearthly Child” – An Okay Start

10th Place

The 13th Doctor – “The Women Who Fell to Earth”

The 13th Doctor’s introduction is fun but flawed. We get some really interesting characters and the cinematography is great but the pacing is extremely slow and the villain is a joke which hurts this episode from being good. I did enjoy the energy Jodie Whittaker brings as the Doctor though and her companions get some solid introductions in this episode that really could have been shorter.

7.2 / 10

The 13th Doctor – Series 11, Episode 1 – “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” – Strong Character Introductions Brought Down by Pacing and the Villain

9th Place

Robot 4

The 4th Doctor – “The Robot”

Tom Baker is a fantastic Doctor, and Sarah Jane Smith is a great companion…it is a shame the episode they appear in together for the first time doesn’t get to use their talents fully. The episode tries to be a morality play with The Robot of the title but the organization that wants to kill everyone is not fleshed out really well and in the process, the Robot they created isn’t either. There are a lot of good ideas here, they just aren’t fully realized. Seeing the Brigadier in action along with Harry is another plus though.

7.4 / 10

12 Days of Doctors – The 4th Doctor – Season 12, Serial 1 – “The Robot” – An Attempt to Explore the Formation of Morality Through a Robot

8th Place

christmas_invasion-1

The 10th Doctor – “The Christmas Invasion”

David Tennant was my first Doctor and the one who got me into my love of “Doctor Who” as a whole, both the new and the classic. His episode is good but it has a major problem. The companions are useless and the Doctor is a super hero who must save them and the world. I hate this…part of what makes “Doctor Who” so great is the fact that the Doctor needs his companions, if they aren’t used, it would be better if they never appeared in the episode at all. I still recommend this episode though, even with this big problem.

7.8 / 10

12 Days of Doctors – The 10th Doctor – Christmas Special 2005 – “The Christmas Invasion” – The Doctor as a Super Hero

7th Place

Castrovalva

The 5th Doctor – “Castrovalva”

This is an episode where the biggest issues are too many companions (Mostly Adric) and the fact that the Doctor is out of it for most of it. The Master is great though with his two plots to try and destroy the Doctor, especially in how his creations are actually interesting compelling beings who are related to the world that is the title. Nyssa and Tegan are great companions too. Could do without Adric though, even though he isn’t as bad as he is in later episodes. Kids who can fly the TARDIS and know everything don’t lend themselves well to good stories…

8.5 / 10

12 Days of Doctors – The 5th Doctor – Season 19, Serial 1 – “Castrovalva” – The Manipulations of the Master

6th Place

Dr Who: Spearhead From Space

The 3rd Doctor – “The Spearhead From Space”

This episode for me, had the same score has “Castrovalva.” What makes it better slightly and why it rated higher on this list is the lack of Adric and a slightly more coherent plot. In this episode we see the Doctor with UNIT face off against the Autons sent by the Nesetene Consciousness to take over the world. It is here we see him with the Brig and Liz having to invent things to stop the Nestene and to investigate to find out that the Nestene is behind all the issues in the first place. It is a lot of fun and well worth a watch. Jon Pertwee is amazing.

8.5 / 10

12 Days of Doctors – The 3rd Doctor – Season 7, Serial 1 – “The Spearhead From Space” – The Beginning of an Exile

5th Place

doctor-rose1280

The 9th Doctor – “Rose”

Christopher Eccleston is fantastic and Rose is a great companion on her first outing. She works with the Doctor and we get to see a great Doctor and companion dynamic. This is also the first Post-Time War Doctor, and it shows. Eccleston does the PTSD Doctor so well that you can see how driven he is to save lives. He gives the Nestene Consciousness a chance and he has some great strategies for trying to stop the Auton invasion from the Nestene. Also Rose is a great character and very worthy of the companion role. She embraces the adventure, even with having a life and reasons to stay. I highly recommend this episode.

9 / 10

12 Days of Doctors – The 9th Doctor – Series 1, Episode 1 – “Rose” – The Consequences of the Time War

4th Place

time_and_the_rani

The 7th Doctor – “Time and the Rani”

This was an episode that nearly made the Top 3. There is only one factor that keeps it from being there, and that is the consequences the Rani forcing a regeneration into the 7th aren’t fully explored. It is a great episode, and one of my all time favorite “Doctor Who” episodes…both because of the Rani played by Kate O’Mara and Sylvester McCoy owning the role as the more wizard like Doctor (and the costume designs and alien civilizations are fantastic). Her plan is pretty cool and it takes a lot to defeat her in the episode. The thing that doesn’t really help it though is the fact that Mel isn’t all that memorable as companion. She is okay and has personality but isn’t as memorable as some of the ones before. Still a favorite that I very much recommend.

9.2 / 10

12 Days of Doctors – The 7th Doctor – Season 24, Serial 1 – “Time and the Rani” – The Rani is Awesome

3rd Place

Deep Breath

The 12th Doctor – “Deep Breath”

This story makes the top 3 for a few reasons. The biggest being Clara is finally a human being and an interesting companion (we see her trials as a teacher and trials with the Doctor), the Paternoster Gang (Vastra, Strax and Jenny) are great and we get to see more of their dynamic and how they grow with Clara and the Doctor, the villain of The Half-Face Man and Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor. There is a lot to love, the only issue is how everyone keeps bringing up Clara and having a romantic partner. How many times does she have to say she wasn’t and isn’t interested? Can’t that be respected and why was that written in? Besides that, great story and one of the Top 3 First Adventures of the Doctors.

9.3 / 10

12 Days of Doctors – The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 1 – “Deep Breath” – Finding the Doctor

2nd Place

Power_of_the_Daleks

The 2nd Doctor – “The Power of the Daleks”

This is one of my favorite episodes for a reason, and it’s one that you can only watch via audio, pictures and what little film remains…it is worth it though. In the link I post you can see some of the recreations that fans did. This episode is great because it shows the Daleks manipulating humans against each other and only arriving when they’ve pretty much won anyway…Polly and Ben each help the Doctor in their own ways and the Patrick Troughton is a great Loki like Doctor. He is the trickster who manages to manipulate his way in a position to help by playing the buffoon. This is one of the best “Doctor Who” episodes and one of the best Dalek Episodes as well. This episode really establishes why they are so dangerous. I highly recommend watching the footage and audio of the full episode to really get apprecation for this Doctor, the Daleks, Polly and Ben and this story.

9.5 / 10

12 Days of Doctors – The 2nd Doctor – Season 4, Serial 3 – “The Power of the Daleks” – The Daleks’ Manipulation

1st Place

Doctor and Amy

The 11th Doctor – “The Eleventh Hour”

This is the episode that is the best of the First Adventures. The reasons for this are it establishes the Doctor as a Time Lord and time traveler (visiting Amy as a child and an adult and not being aware of the time change) a great baddie who plays with your mind (Prisoner Zero in the corner of your eye…the boogey man of childhood) and continuity (when facing the Atraxi they can the Doctor and find all his past numbered incarnations in their data bank as defenders of the Earth). It is wonderful and Rory and Amy are great companions. The Doctor isn’t a super hero and actually needs their help since it is only together they win. For people new to “Doctor Who” this is generally the episode I recommend. It is also visually amazing. This Doctor, is pretty cool.

10 / 10

12 Days of Doctors – The 11th Doctor – Series 5, Episode 1 – “The Eleventh Hour” – The Time Traveler

Here is the original list I made back when it was the lead up to Peter Capaldi’s first adventure as the 12th Doctor.:

The Doctors’ First Adventures – Worst to Best

The 13th Doctor – Series 11, Episode 1 – “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” – Strong Character Introductions Brought Down by Pacing and the Villain

With the recent announcement of both Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall leaving “Doctor Who” after this next series and specials I wanted to go back and review the first 13th Doctor episode in preparation for the eventual first episode that the 14th Doctor will have. I also wanted to compare it to the other Doctors and their first stories, which I’ll be posting next with the updated list. This was enjoyable to go back to and has a lot going for it but it is sadly brought down by pacing and the villain. Still, this is a fun introduction to the Doctor and her companions and I do recommend checking it out.

The episode was directed by Jamie Childs and written by Chris Chibnall.

The story follows the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) when she falls into the city of Sheffield and must uncover the mystery of two alien threats without her TARDIS.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Cinematography – This is a beautifully filmed episode and the show is the best it as ever looked. You have wide shots of landscapes and shots that capture how trapped characters feel. It helps capture the mystery of the episode really well.

The Initial Mystery – Why are two aliens in Sheffield attacking or killing people? This is a good set-up and gives a reason for all the companions something to do in both solving the mystery and fighting the threats. The premise keeps the story moving too.

Yaz – We meet Yasmin Khan who is a police officer in training who was high school friends wtih Ryan. They stumble upon the enemy transportation ship and get called to the train where the Doctor is when Ryan’s Grandma Grace calls him where she and Graham are. Yaz is the one keeping the peace between characters and she is introduced solving a parking dispute. She is quick to action as well in helping the Doctor. All in all a great introduction to her character and Mandip Gill is good in the role.

Graham – Graham and Ryan have a rough relationship at first as Graham is his step-Grandpa though their love of Grace and the Doctor’s adventure brings them together. Graham is a cancer survivor and the reluctant hero of the story as Grace is first to act and he follows her lead. In the end he and Ryan’s relationship begins to heal after Grace dies stopping the villain’s biotechnological weapon. Bradley Walsh is great.

Ryan – Tosin Cole’s Ryan frames the story as he talks about his inspiration who we learn is his Nan Grace who raised him after his dad left. He has dyspraxia so is challenging himself to ride a bike. It is doing this he discovers the signal that calls the villain to Earth to hunt. Throughout the story we see him facing his fears and he gives the eulogy for Grace for her sacrifice online in his video and at her memorial. He is good in the role and I liked how his perspective frames the story.

Grace – Sharon D Clarke’s Grace is the heart of the episode as she is first to take action and her courage saves Ryan and Yaz when she stops the biotechnological weapon. We see how she supported Ryan growing up and her love for Graham. She is a great character and hero and her death matters as her impact is felt in the series long after this episode.

The Doctor – Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor has the energy of Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor as we see her attach to Grace, Graham, Yaz and Ryan quick as she sets out to solve the mystery of the attacks and who she is. We see her invent her own screwdriver after the past one was likely destroyed and reason with the villain as she tries to send him home. She is driven by her connection to people and learning about who she is now as well as her connection to the past as at Grace’s memorial she mentions how her past family is who she carries within her now that they are long gone. It is a solid performance and a good introduction to this Doctor.

The Cons:

Pacing – This episode is slow and you feel it. It takes a long time before we even see the villain and some of that time is just showing us characters who the villain kills the moment they are shown. This episode did not need to be an hour long and would have worked better as a standard 40-45 minute episode.

The Villain Reveal – The villain has an awful name and is not good at it’s mission. His is named Tzim-Shaw and called “Tim Shaw” and is hunting a target to be the leader of the Stenza. The Stenza hunting culture sounds horrifying but Tzim-Shaw is just a cheater using advanced technology and doesn’t even neutralize the Doctor and her companions when he knows they are trying to stop him. He’s dumb and for the creepy deal of wearing teeth on his face as trophy he stops being scary the moment he says his name and does nothing to stop the heroes from stopping him. He’s a terrible and wasted villain as the Stenza sound like a potentially interesting threat. We just needed a better version of them for this story.

In the end this was an enjoyable episode that is a solid introduction to the Doctor and her companions that is brought down by the pacing and the villain. If either had been fixed this episode could have been good or great. Still, I do recommend checking out the introduction to Jodie Whittaker’s first outing as the 13th Doctor. There is a lot that makes this episode fun and enjoyable.

Final Score: 7.2 / 10

Top 5 Favorite “Star Trek” Villains

It has been a while since I’ve done anything “Star Trek” related on the blog. So this was fun to return to as the villains are part of what helps make so many of the stories of the “Star Trek Franchise” memorable and have brought about so many compelling stories both in the show and films. Some of these villains were so memorable future writers would attempt to create that same magic in other films and largely be unsuccessful with it. I’m considering all the shows and films for when I made the list and these were the 5 favorite that have always stayed with me when considering the “Star Trek Universe.” Also there will be story SPOILERS for all the characters on this list.

5) General Chang

Christopher Plummer’s is a warrior driven by a fear of change as war is always known and what it means for what it means to be Klingon. He frames Kirk and McCoy for the death of Chancellor Gorkon and nearly succeeds in stopping the peace process of the Khitomer Accords as the only reason he loses is he didn’t bring backup and his Federation conspirators were discovered before they could assassinate the Federation President. Chang is ruthless but also has a respect for Kirk as a soldier as he is clearly enjoying the final battle against Kirk and Captain Sulu as he quotes Shakespeare and pummels them both from his cloaked ship. Like most of the adversaries on this list his cleverness is part of what makes him stand out as well as his ideology built on war that he is unable to grow past. To him there could be no Klingon Empire without war and it blinded him to the suffering of his people. He was powerful both at getting under the Federation’s skin with words and in battle. R.I.P. Christopher Plummer for playing one of the best villains in “Star Trek” and made the film “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” so memorable.

4) Gowron

Gowron is a character who is driven by personal ego and honor versus the societal honor that guided the ideology of General Chang. When we first meet Gowron he shows how crafty he is as he is willing to trade a seat on the High Council to become Chancellor and his working with the Federation against the Duras family in the Klingon Civil War. Robert O’Reilly captured the joy this character has in both the political and personal battles. He loves combat and all moves he does are to build himself up and diminish potential threats. We see this in his doing away with the Khitomer Accords to go to war with Cardassia, believing they were taken over by Changelings and his taking all of Worf’s families money and land when he refused to support the Klingon Empire in their war. He later does this again when General Martok’s star is rising and so he takes control of the Dominion War to send Martok on impossible missions. This leads to his undoing as Worf who is now of House Martok challenges and kills him. Gowron own personal honor and ego are what make him so compelling and crafty are also what end up being his undoing as it was putting himself before his people that lead to Worf’s challenge, that was tactically backed by the Federation. O’Reilly created a memorable character and he is probably my favorite Klingon besides General Chang lasting through “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

3) Weyoun

Jeffrey Combs’s amazing Weyoun (all the ones we meet) is a character driven by ideology like General Chang. Though Weyoun’s is religious as it is his worship of the fascist Founders that drive his diplomatic and military actions in the Alpha Quadrant. He is the face of the Dominion and the enforcer of their will and Combs does it beautifully. He can act kind and is curious about the worlds the Dominion is to conquer. He is limited in what he can see and taste but can hear extremely well and navigates the Alpha Quadrant politics extremely well. He really only loses when the Female Changeling’s hate for solids overrides her tactics when combined with the deadly virus against the Founders. Weyoun brings in the Breen and the Cardassians and if his cautiousness had been bettered adhered to by egos like Dukat and the Founders the Dominion probably would have won the war. In the end the line of Weyoun is ended after Damar destroys his cloning facility and Garak kills the last Weyoun. He was a memorable villain who truly captured the complexity and threat of the Dominion throughout “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

2) Khan Noonien Singh

Ricardo Montalban’s Khan Noonien Singh is an icon of “Star Trek.” Appearing first in “Space Seed” in “Star Trek: The Original Series” he bested Captain Kirk and his crew and won enough to the point that he was given his own planet with his augments as Kirk thought Federation rehabilitation of this past Earth tyrant impossible. The augments of which Khan is one of caused World War 3 and you feel their influence through “Trek.” Sadly, this comes back to bite Kirk as the planet Seti Alpha VI shifted orbit leading to much of Khan’s crew and family dying. He succeeds in revenge to as even though he doesn’t defeat Kirk it is only through Spock’s death he failed. This is the best revenge story in “Star Trek” and we see all the failed attempts to replicate it in Shinzon, Nero, Alternate Khan, Krall, etc. Most films tried to create this same magic but none are as personal as the losses Khan faced and his ego and rage are incomparable. All he does is to hurt Kirk and the Federation, even to his dying breath. Khan is a Shakespearean tragic figure and I can’t wait to review “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” He is easily one of the best and compelling characters to come out of “Star Trek.”

1) Gul Dukat

Mark Alaimo’s Gul Dukat is the most compelling villain to come out of “Star Trek.” This former Prefect of Bajor is responsible for the occupation that killed millions but fails ever to see how he is responsible. Dukat’s ego is what drives him and his need to impress those he respects (as a way to show he is right to himself). This is most apparent in his relationship with Captain Sisko and Major Kira as he sees their validation of him what he needs to be right and understood. This villain is wonderfully complicated to as he takes in his half-Bajoran daughter Zyal leading to his family and the Cardassian Government exiling him to him becoming a rogue fighter against the Klingons in the Klingon-Cardassian War. It is in this war he finds his out by negotiating with the Dominion to rule Cardassia after which he retook Deep Space Nine, from where he had ruled Bajor prior. Eventually it all comes crashing down when the Federation retakes the station and his second-in-command Damar kills his daughter. He breaks with reality at this point and after escaping Federation captivity starts a Pah-Wraith cult as he attempts to destroy Bajor once and for all. He nearly succeeds again but Kai Winn’s change of heart and Captain Sisko’s arrival stop him as he is trapped forever with the Pah-Wraiths as his final fate. This villain had so many rises and falls and never stops being interesting, charming and narcissistic. He is an intelligent villain even after he psychologically breaks and is set-up as a threat from the very first season of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” He had a great arc and Marc Alaimo gives such an amazing performance as the best villain in all of “Star Trek.”

I’m curious who your favorite villains in “Star Trek” are too. This was a fun list to make.

“Masters of the Universe: Revelation” Part 1 – Solid Characters, Comedy and Animation Made This Memorable

“Masters of the Universe: Revelation” Part 1 is a sequel series to the classic 80s “Masters of the Universe.” The 80s show is a show I know mostly through cultural osmosis as it is before my time. I was drawn in though due to the voice cast and how neat the premise looked. This is a beautifully animated show that Netflix did good work on.

The show was created by Kevin Smith.

The story takes place after a final showdown at Castle Grayskull that leaves magic sapped from the world and our heroes exiled from the Royal Family as Leeta (Sarah Michelle Geller) must uncover the reasons why magic is disappearing as she finds herself in unlikely alliances after Adam / He-Man (Chris Wood) and Skeletor (Mark Hamill) and the Sword of Power are gone after that final battle.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – The idea of magic leaving a magic filled world and technology rising to fill that hole is compelling. The world feels broken after the final battle which sets the stakes really well and gives a reason for Leeta to work with Skeletor’s former allies.

The Animation – The animation is beautiful and brings the world to life. I loved how it illustrated the darkness of the underworld Subternia and the vibrant colors of the paradise of Preternia. All the people of Eternia feel distinct too and I loved the classic designs from the buildings and ships from the 80s.

The Characters – Most of the characters work, especially those core relationships to Teela. I liked how nearly all the supporting cast had their moment to shine and got some good character development.

Duncan / Man-At-Arms – Liam Cunningham is wonderful as Duncan, Teela’s father who is exiled after Adam’s death in the final battle. He lives with that guilt until Teela and his creation with his personality Roboto remind him of his responsbility as he protects his wife the Sorceress from the Techno Cult that is trying to destroy all magic in Eternia.

Teela / Man-At-Arms – Teela’s arc is becoming a hero again after she is living a life as a mercenary with her friend Andra until Evil-Lyn pulls her back into the quest to restore magic as she shows her people can change. Eventually she confronts Adam in Preternia after facing her fear of power in Subternia and they resolve things as he leaves Heaven to join her in the fight to restore magic in the world once more. Teela didn’t know Adam was He-Man and that secret hurt their relationship and her relationship with all their friends (Duncan, Cringer, Orko) who knew and never said. Sarah Michelle Geller was so good I didn’t even recognize her voice for the character.

Adam / He-Man – Chris Wood’s Adam’s arc is choosing to return to the world and risk permanent death as he’s been granted a reprieve in Preternia for saving the universe. It is a good and small arc that ends with him mortally wounded when Skeletor’s trap is revealed. I doubt he will die and will probably become He-Man or be healed by magic now that it is back in the world.

Skeletor – Mark Hamill is great as Skeletor. He is in the beginning as he destroys the source of magic that causes the conflict and later mortally wounds Adam and takes the Sword of Power as he had been hiding in Evil-Lyn’s staff. I liked the flashbacks where he clearly just loved being evil and I wonder what he’ll do now that he is a Master of the Universe and won at the end of Part 1.

Orko – Orko is the heart of show as he is dying from the lack of magic and we learn he might be the last Trollen. He grows to form a friendship with Evil-Lyn as she helps him overcome his parents lack of faith in him as he holds off Scare Glow in Subternia giving time for the heroes to escape to Preternia. I loved this character and he was my favorite besides Evil-Lyn. Griffin Newman did a great job.

Evil-Lyn – Lena Headey gives us the most compelling character in the show as Evil-Lyn is left to question her assumptions as she sees the selflessness of heroes and realizes that Skeletor caused the problem of magic dying in the first place. In the end she does rejoin Skeletor but I suspect she will betray him. She left her crown at Orkos tombstone so she’s been changed by all that she’s experienced. She and Orko were my favorite characters.

Okay:

Tri-Klops – Tri-Klops has a techno cult and has taken over Snake Mountain and believes technology will fix people and the world. He is the primary antagonist and I wish we’d seen more of the influence of the cult. I’m also curious how the Royal family and their forces interacted with his.

Andra – Andra is Leeta’s engineer friend who wants to be a hero which in turn inspires Leeta to be a hero. She has a lot of moments she helps but we never learn her backstory, which was a shame.

Roboto – Roboto is Duncan’s creaion and the being who reforges the Sword of Power and gains a soul in the process as feels the fear of death. I wish we’d had more time with him. The arc is interesting but we needed more time and backstory like Andra.

Beast-Man – Like Andra and Roboto I wanted to know why Beast-Man was still loyal to Evil-Lyn and Skeletor as all the other minions went rogue. Kevin Michael Richardson is great but I wish he’d gotten some development.

The Cons:

More Skeletor Set-up Needed – Skeletor hiding in Evil-Lyn’s staff needed more set-up. I had no idea what is overall plan was and not one of his former minions says what his plans were before his “death.” Given how key he is to the plot this story development was needed.

The Missing Royal Family and Their Power – King Randor exiles Duncan for failing to protect Adam and outlaws people from Castle Grayskull. Given Leeta and her group were going against the Royal Family I’d like to have seen their power. They are shown to be so core at the beginning but never come up again beyond being referenced.

Part 1 is promising and I like how it ended in tragedy as Part 2 has Skeletor with his ultimate power as the main threat. I do think Skeletor’s plan and agenda needed more set-up but the core character relationships are what made this show good and I’m looking forward to Part 2 of the series. Kevin Smith has done a good job on the show so far.

Final Score: 8.3 / 10

Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Season 1, Episode 13 – “Infested” – Underworld Mission

“Infested” is another solid addition to “The Bad Batch.” It doesn’t ever reach the level of great but it does a good job of using all the members of Clone Force 99 and giving us more development of the world that Cid inhabits and why where she is is so important. I definitely recommend checking it out if you’ve been enjoying the show so far.

The episode was directed by Saul Ruiz and written by Amanda Rose Muñoz.

When a new gang takes over Cid’s operation, Clone Force 99 must do a mission to help her reclaim her place.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – The premise of needing to help Cid and deal with the underworld gangs is compelling and where the mercenary stories feel strongest. I’m glad we got that here.

Roland Durand – We learn Roland is from a crime family his mother runs and is trying to make a name for himself. He fails but keeps his life and seems to be the wiser for his experience. I’m curious if we will see him again.

The Pyke Syndicate – The Pykes are a fantastic threat and wipe out Roland’s troops when he fails to get them the spice. They let him live but take a horn for not watching over the Spice. They never don’t feel like a threat in the episode and even Cid talks Clone Force 99 down as negotiation is the only way she sees as the out with them. I’m curious what part they will play as they are part of Maul’s Shadow Collective.

Cid and Clone Force 99 – Seeing Cid work with the squad and her using the underground tunnels that are infested was great. She risks her life to get the Spice to save Omega from the Pykes and shows why The Bad Batch trusts her. I loved seeing Tech’s invention put to use, Wrecker’s strength, Echo’s hacking and Hunter’s awareness. It is a good team episode. We learn that her power comes from the planet being a major hyperlane route which is how she gets all the jobs.

The Cons:

Cid’s Escape – There needed to be more with this given the amount of soldiers we see Roland has. Did he just let her go? This was never explained.

Roland’s Family Development – So he has a powerful family but we never see them talking to him. Given his working with the Pykes and how powerful they are, this was a missed opportunity.

The Swarm – They get no development beyond being nocturnal and fearing night so they never felt like a threat. There is just a bunch of them.

It was great seeing the Pykes again as they are such an intriguing threat and I’m always down for more Cid. It was also good to see all of Clone Force 99 using their skills to succeed in the mission. What would have made this episode great would have been developing Roland’s family more or having a greater threat than the Swarm for where the Spice is needed to be recovered from. Still, this was good and worth watching.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

“Doctor Who” Doctors Tier List

This is my first Tier List for the blog and it was fun to make. The list originally included the War Doctor, Jo Martin Doctor and the Valeyard but I just want to count the numbered Doctors since they are the Doctors whose episodes I review. It also keeps things less complicated as including the Valeyard opens up including the Dream Lord. The numbered Doctors who have series and films are more likely to be known by people and the numbered Doctors are the Doctors who have complete arcs for the most part that we see. I’ll get into the reasons for why I did the ratings below and also share the Tier maker.

Here is the Tier Maker:

https://tiermaker.com/categories/tv-and-movies/doctor-who-4810

Here are the Doctors and the reason I have them on the list as I do. Also Jodi Whittaker’s 13th Doctor isn’t done yet and there is still more of Classic Doctor Who I will be watching that could change this rating. This has been pretty solid so far though and I’l include my “Top 5 Favorite Doctors in “Doctor Who”” below. I also don’t hate any of the Doctors, some I just like more than others.

C Tier:

Sixth Doctor / 6th Doctor – Colin Baker’s 6th Doctor made a bad first impression. He was easily the cruelest of the Doctors and that caused me to initially dislike him. He did grow on me over time though as it was shown that regenerating had caused him to be unstable. I still dislike his mismatched outfit and he is my least favorite of the Doctors. Colin Baker’s later episode do give him the complexity of the Doctor though and I wish he’d gotten better stories.

Fifth Doctor / 5th Doctor – Where Colin Baker’s 6th Doctor could be cruel and active Peter Davison’s Doctor was kind and passive. He also suffered from an issue another Doctor on this list has. He has too many companions so it was hard to get to know what drove him or for the companions themselves to be fully developed. He was easily the most human of the Doctors and still captures the Doctor as always running away as at one point he is once again made President of Gallifrey and promptly runs away. His passivity and companion cluttering made it difficult to know or appreciate this Doctor fully.

B Tier:

Eleventh Doctor / 11th Doctor – Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor could be the kindest and the cruelest of the Doctors and was always very attached to humanity. My problem on why he isn’t higher is his treatment of Clara where he fetishizes her as “The Impossible Girl” and hits on her and his refusal to open up fully with his companions given how much he asked of them. Smith was good but he was all of Moffat’s worst tropes in how he treated Clara and some companions and his need to be portrayed as untouchable superhero, even when he was wrong. If you can win a fight just by saying who you are multiple times, it takes away the flaws and relatability of the character and keeps him from being rated higher.

Thirteenth Doctor / 13th Doctor – Jodi Whittaker’s 13th Doctor has some of the problems of the 5th and 11th Doctor. She’s got too many companions like the 5th Doctor and is super special and wins because of it like the 11th Doctor. She also goes between kind and cruel similar to Matt Smith’s Doctor. For me the reason I rated her higher is she does open up eventually and she never objectifies her companions. I’m curious to see where the rest of her story goes as before the last plot reveal in the last season final it felt like Chibnall had finally found the flow and voice for the character.

First Doctor / 1st Doctor – William Hartnell is the classic and I loved that unlike his later incarnations he had to win through brains and intelligence and couldn’t sonic screwdriver himself out of situations. He was distant from humanity (a trope in Doctors I like) but became attached over time and never stopped being the rebel calling out Gallifrey and people they run into on organizations for their flaws. His biggest flaw is a lot of what came out of the era as he abandons his granddaughter Susan at one point and there is some sexism that comes out in some of the text of some episodes (a fact the 12th Doctor calls out). I rate him higher than 11 and 13 because his flaws are more apparent and the fact that this Doctor couldn’t depend on magical plot devices to solve problems unlike 11 and 13 who can sometimes solve problems just by saying their name. The 1st Doctor never got that luxury.

Eighth Doctor / 8th Doctor – Paul McGann has one of the worst Doctor stories (The Film he was introduced in) and “The Night of the Doctor” a short episode of how he regenerates into the War Doctor. He is the most human of the Doctors, at one point expressing he is half-human. I loved the vulnerability Paul McGann gives the character and his desire to save people. He really deserves a mini-series and I hope one can be made someday as that could probably put him higher on the list.

Seventh Doctor / 7th Doctor – Sylvester McCoy is amazing as the detached Sherlockesque Doctor. Most of the stories I’ve watched weren’t bad but he was the strongest part in them. Like the 1st Doctor he had to think his way out of situations and outsmart his enemies. He is often described as the chess master and it is fitting. He is also more guarded about his identity and keeps who he is from Ace. I hope he is brought back in a special at some point as I’m curious how this Doctor who is the most alien in a lot of ways would interact with the others. He is by far the most mysterious and I like how intelligence is how he solves his problems.

A Tier:

Second Doctor / 2nd Doctor – Patrick Troughton’s 2nd Doctor is probably tied with 9th Doctor at this point if I were to re-do my “Top 5 Favorite Doctors in “Doctor Who.”” Troughton has the cleverness of the 7th Doctor but is still very human as he plays the clown to trick his enemies. He also clashed with the 3rd Doctor and being around himself brought out the grumpy side of his personality. He was also one of the Doctor’s who was very attached to his companions and I loved how his time with them shapes him as they reveal his courage, empathy and rebelliousness. His story also ends in tragedy too as his regeneration into the 3rd Doctor is forced upon him by the Time Lords. The more stories I watch from this Doctor the more I appreciate Troughton and what he brought to this fantastic character.

Ninth Doctor / 9th Doctor – Christopher Eccleston is wonderful as the first Doctor who was “Last of the Time Lords.” He is the Doctor facing his trauma and PTSD and he has an amazing arc as he goes from someone full of rage ready to kill, to a person who will refuse to kill the Dalek Emperor. The Time War and the consequences of that war shaped him and out of it he is trying to find hope again. He lives for the adventure as all Doctors do, but being with Rose forces him to confront himself and his pain and rage and it gives us one of the best arcs in the entire series.

S Tier:

Fourth Doctor / 4th Doctor – Tom Baker is a classic and the reason for it is he captures both the Doctor’s detachment from humanity but also his willingness to confront the big questions. He has the chance to end the Daleks for good and chooses life and we see him constantly forced by the Time Lords to solve the problems they want him to. His protesting of this but also willingness to embrace his role as a leader in Gallifrey sets him apart from other Doctors. I think this comes out of his time in exile as the 3rd Doctor. He is cautious and doesn’t push the Time Lords the way other Doctors do. He is also Sherlockesque as Baker captures his love of a good puzzle to solve and of course his standing for life in the universe against the Cybermen and Daleks.

Third Doctor / 3rd Doctor – I love Jon Pertwee’s 3rd Doctor. He is the Doctor forced to stay on Earth in exile until the Time Lords change things and this time brings out the Doctor’s humanity in his empathy but alienness as he calls out the problems humans cause. I liked how he helped the Brig but that they clashed as he takes his exile in stride and hates authority. Seeing the Doctor forced to be in one place and the limitations that come with that made Pertwee all the more memorable as his brains and intelligence and depending on his human allies showed a vulnerability many of the Doctors were missing. There was a sadness and tragedy I loved about this Doctor from his leaving Jo when she gets married and him not saying a word to him being confined to Earth when all he wants is to travel all of space and time. Pertwee gives this Doctor so much dimension, making him a favorite.

Tenth Doctor / 10th Doctor – David Tennant’s 10th Doctor is the Doctor who got me into “Doctor Who” as a whole. I loved his cleverness, anger, sadness and relationship to the universe and his companions. He had the arrogance of the 1st and 11th Doctor but had consequences for that arrogance as when he tried to shape time and space to his will he would lose people and companions. He was defined by the Time War and his inability to save Gallifrey made him reckless at time as he was very much a Doctor who lived in the moment or got so connected to companions he would form relationships to new companions as a rebound. The 10th Doctor is always running and it is that running from is regret that makes him so vulnerable and interesting. He also isn’t as forgiving as some of the other versions of the Doctor as he will give a warning but will go to death or worse as other options as a reaction to those warnings being ignored. In this way the 10th Doctor is terrifying as his own vulnerability and loneliness made him reactive compared to his past and future selves. The 10th is so attached to being alive regeneration scares him and him finally making peace with that fear once again defined what made him so human, interesting and one of my favorite Doctors.

Twelfth Doctor / 12th Doctor – Peter Capaldi is my favorite of all the Doctors. I loved how he called out his past self for his sexism and his grappling with the mistakes of the Time War, 10th and 11th Doctors. The 12th Doctor strives above all to be good and to save everyone. He is the Doctor who has grappled with what he’s done during the Time War and grown from it, rather than reacting to it like the 10th and 11th Doctor. He is full of regret and the desire to not make the mistakes of the past. We see this in his detachment from Clara and putting down firm boundaries to not make past companion mistakes and just how much he believes in the good in others as he gives both Davros and Missy (his version of the Master) a chance for redemption and to grow and Missy unlike Davros takes that chance and puts in the work of growth, redemption and healing. I loved how this Doctor would risk it all because it is good and right and how is detachment came from a place of learning and not ego, unlike his past versions. Capaldi’s 12th is my favorite Doctor and everything I think the Doctor strives to be. Flawed, an idiot with a Box and doing good because it is right and that people are worth fighting for.

This was a fun Tier List to make and unpack and I’m curious what yours is if you are a “Doctor Who” fan as well.

Here is my “Top 5 Favorite Doctors in “Doctor Who” as well.

Top 5 Favorite Doctors in “Doctor Who”

Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Season 1, Episode 12 – “Rescue on Ryloth” – Seeds of the Clone Rebellion

“Rescue on Ryloth” is an episode that does a lot with the little time it has. Really the only problem I had with it was I wanted more time for the mission and B Plot as each were so well written and I wanted to see them expanded. Suffice, to say this is one of the best episodes this season and I highly recommend it.

The episode was directed by Nathaniel Villanueva and written by Jennifer Corbett.

The story follows Clone Force 99 when they are hired for a rescue mission on Ryloth.

The Pros:

The Syndulla Family – Hera and Chopper are the heart of the episode and Omega and Hera have a grat friendship and I love Chopper’s chaos. Her parents are great too with her mother denouncing Rampart (“I have seen how you treat your allies, Admiral. I prefer to be your enemy.”) Hera’s father also appeals to Captain Howzer’s humanity and their history leading to Howzer’s turning against the Empire. In the end Clone Force 99 lets them keep the payment as they see the stakes the Syndulla family is up against.

Clone Force 99 – We get to see them be effective as a squad with Hera, Omega and Chopper working with Tech and Wrecker to cause a distraction at the Imperial mine and Hunter and Echo rescuing the Syndulla family members. They all are shown to be great but still would have lost if Howzer hadn’t given the Syndulla’s, Hunter and Echo an out when Crosshair called out the plan and set a trap at the entrance. They have some great action and I like that they only take up the mission once Hera has a plan.

Crosshair – Crosshair is a great antagonist. In this we see him callout the plan of Clone Force 99 and nearly beat them if weren’t for Howzer warning the squad. He is driven too and in the end Admiral Rampart grants him his request to hunt Clone Force 99.

Captain Howzer – Captain Howzer is the best character in the episode as we witness his regret and questioning of Rampart. In the end he helps Clone Force 99 free Hera’s family and even convinces some of his squad to turn against the Empire. So curious to see

Rebellions – We got the Syndulla’s leading the rebellion to free Ryloth at the end of the episode and Captain Howzer and his men openly going against the Empire. I bet we’ll see more of this too, especially if Captain Howzer is freed or his actions spread among the clones. In the end I bet it will all come down to the final rebellion on Kamino.

Okay:

Length – This episode should have been longer to explore Howzer an Cham Syndulla’s relationship more as well as referencing if Order 66 ever reached Ryloth. Still, for a 20 minute episode the storytelling was efficient.

The Cons:

Failed Assassination – The senator was shot in the head. There should have at least been a small explanation of how that didn’t kill him.

We got Bounty Hunters and the Empire and Crosshair all hunting Clone Force 99 now. Can’t wait to see where this goes and how the actions of Howzer playout among the other clones. The seeds of rebellion are happening and it among both the populaces of Imperial occupied worlds and the clones. This was a great episode and easily one of the best this season.

Final Score: 9 / 10

“Loki” Season 1 – Time, Destiny and Choice Explored But Lacks Impact

“Loki” was a good show that had the potential to be great, and still does depending on how next season goes. This is a fun series that explores ideas of time, choice and destiny and has some great leads. I wish certain characters had been explored better though and the ending needed to do a lot more than it did. Still, Marvel did it again and this show is worth your time.

Michael Waldron is the creator of the show.

The story follows a Loki Variant from “Endgame” (Tom Hiddleston) who is recruited by the Time Variance Authority (TVA) by Mobius (Owen Wilson) to hunt another Loki Variant who is trying to take down the TVA.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – The premise is cool as we mess with timelines, time travel and the corruption of the Terry Gilliamesque organization of the TVA. Who is in charge of them and what the Lokis will do is compelling. You have a recipe for lots of drama and chaos.

The Time Variance Authority (TVA) – The TVA is a fascinating organization as they prune variants to keep the timeline as one “Sacred timeline” and we don’t learn why until the end. We learn all of the people are variants with their memories wiped and the truth of why they exist and the complete chaos they truly do hold at bay. Hunter B-15 and Renslayer are alright characters as B-15 rebels while Renslayer believes even after learning the truth but both needed more exploration.

Miss Minutes – Tara Strong is amazing as the A.I. Miss Minutes who knows the truth of the TVA and keeps it from all members. She idealizes her creator and has a kind but threatening demeanor in how she acts around others. I’m curious to see how season 2 uses her given the information she gives Renslayer at the end.

Mobius – Owen Wilson is fantastic as Mobius, he is the handler of the Variant Loki who later becomes his friend. He goes from a believer to rebel against the TVA but loses his memory of his time with the Lokis after Renslayer goes back in time. So I’m curious to see what next season brings. He has yet to ride the jetski like he always wanted. So hoping that still happens.

The Loki Variants – The Lokis are the best part of “Loki.” The least explored are Boastful Loki who betrays Kid, Alligator, Classic and Endgame Loki. Kid Loki killed Thor and that was why he was pruned from his timeline but we never learn why. I’ll list the best Loki’s below. Also President Loki was a lot of fun. They are all in the Void after being pruned by the TVA and facing off against the treats of the Void and the beast Alioth.

Alligator Loki – Alligator Loki is best Loki. He’s an alligator with Loki’s helmet and he is sassy to the other Loki Variants. He also bites off President Loki’s hand. I hope we see him again and get his story. He was so much fun.

Classic Loki – Richard E. Grant plays Classic Loki who is in his classic comic yellow garb. He is an old and sad Loki who finds his reason to be to help Endgame Loki and Sylvie enchant Alioth to reach what it is beyond the void. He does this by recreating an illusion of Asgard. It is a powerful scene and awesome death.

Sylvie – Sophia Di Martino is great as Sylvie. She is the female Loki who has been on the run since escaping the TVA as a kid. She doesn’t trust anyone but comes to love Endgame Loki. She kills “He Who Remains” in the end as revenge wins out over her love of Endgame Loki so curious where her story will go now that she is now the only one at the castle.

Endgame / Variant Loki – Endgame Loki’s arc is learning how to love and trust as Sylvie and Mobius become his friends. He has truly become the closest he can be to a hero by the end and when Sylvie pushes him back into the TVA them not knowing who he is sad. Tom Hiddleston is again amazing as the main Loki and plays the complex protagonist extremely well. I loved seeing his arc over the course of the show.

Destiny and Choice – A major theme is destiny versus choice. The TVA exists to enforce destiny while the Loki’s represent choice and this clash happens throughout the show with “He Who Remains” and the Lokis as that final exploration of it. Now to see where full reign of choice leads after Sylvie killed “He Who Remains.”

Okay:

Lamentis – For Sylvie and Loki having a lot of time together we don’t get much about what she’s learned or how Endgame Loki has changed. The world looked cool but there was no depth or exploration of it. Like the Lokis it felt like it was just existing.

He Who Remains / Kang – “He Who Remains” is Kang and we learn that he founded the TVA to stop other versions of himself from making war. Jonathan Majors does a good job but it was hard to take him seriously with how jokey he was. I also would have liked him to reveal more knowledge about the Lokis but he doesn’t beyond what they are going to say. Like Lamentis, a missed opportunity to setup a bigger threat. I liked the sadness of the character at least. He saw everything as inevitable and that made him interesting.

The Cons:

Cliffhanger Ending – The cliffhanger ending was a bit annoying as we are left with more questions. I mentioned Renslayer changing the past but I could be wrong. This could be a whole new timeline Endgame Loki was thrown into. The cliffhanger ending felt like it was going more for shock than giving a rewarding finale.

“Loki” season 1 is still worth checking out, though I would consider it the weakest MCU show so far. It felt afraid to fully explore Sylvie and her motivations or “He Who Remains” and why he decides what he does. The cast and concepts carry this show though and I can’t wait to see what season 2 explores and what it will bring to the amazing MCU multiverse.

Final Score: 8 / 10 Good but very flawed.

“His Dark Materials” Season 2 – Increasing the Stakes and the Problem of Middle Books in Trilogies

“His Dark Materials” Season 2 continues the great quality from the 1st season and I can’t wait to see how they adapt The Amber Spyglass for season 3. This season adapted The Subtle Knife for the better, fixing one of the events that happens near the end and the only weakness it has comes from the weakness middle books in trilogies face, as it ends up being setup for the final book. So, the action is better, we see more worlds and our characters have arcs. I recommend this season.

Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Will (Amir Wilson) find themselves in crossroads world of Cittàgazze and must work together as forces of he Magisterium are at play and Marisa Coulter (Ruth Wilson) uses all her influence to hunt for Lyra.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Magisterium Threat – The Magisterium is powerful in this as we see them destroy the homes of the Witches, imprison Lee and even send forces through the Portal to hunt for Lyra to stop the prophecy she is key to. Their power increases over the course of the show and we see that in their world their agents are everywhere.

The Spectres – We finally see the spectres and how dangerous they are as we witness them turn many into empty shells as they feed off dust. Mrs. Coulter an control them though and uses them to find capture Lyra, killing the wtiches who were protecting her.

Lord Boreal – We finally get Lord Boreal’s motivation and is to hold knowledge and items and power for himself. He is unable to see beyond himself and this lack of empathy and listening leads to his end as he attempts to court Mrs. Coulter, which she manipulates and poisons him. He was a great threat prior though and nearly outsmarted Will and Lyra at one point. Ariyon Bakare did a good job in the role.

Dr. Mary Malone – Simone Kirby is wonderful as Dr. Mary Malone, the character who trusts Lyra and learns how to communicate with “Dust.” This leads to her leaving her life at Oxford behind as she travels through a tear in dimensions and helps some of the orphans of Cittàgazze after how she had helped Lyra and even helped Marisa Coulter realize her value as a person. She is one of the few truly good people we meet and her inquisitive nature drives her arc which remains open at the end as she has left her own world behind.

John Parry – Andrew Scott is great as John Parry. An explorer filled with regret at the family he left behind who learns as much as he an to help as many as he can. He calls Lee to him and he is the mysterious traveler through most of their interactions as they seek the wielder of the knife. In the end he learns it is his son and is able to save him from Magisterium forces, who kill him as he defends Will.

Lee Scoresby – Lin-Manuel Miranda continues to own this role and I love Lee’s friendship with his daemon. This season we learn about the abusive father he grew up with and how his daemon Hester was his only friend and ally through it all. Lyra is a daughter to him and his motivation is protect her above all else. This motivates his quest where he finds John Parry and his last stand against the Magisterium forces, as he dies defending Lyra.

Marisa Coulter – Marisa Coulter is easily the most compelling character this season as we see her shape who leads the Magisterium before searching for Lyra. This leads her to Will’s world where she sees what life she could have lived (in her world she can never be a doctor or publish papers under her name) and after entering Cittàgazze to find Lyra kills Lord Boreal after taking control of the Spectres. She is a force of nature in this and defeats all her enemies while still having moments of kindness, such as when she frees Lee and we learn about the abuse she grew up with and blames herself for. Her drive above all else is to protect Lyra, and by the end of the season she has captured Lyra once again as she promises to take her somewhere safe from all.

Will – Will’s arc in this is learning to trust in others and himself and this comes through getting and learning to use the subtle knife, his getting to know Lyra and finally meeting his father and learning about what happened. His goal is to protect Lyra and his leaving to find his father and losing them both in the process will no doubt lead to facing that guilt next season. Amir Wilson does a good job as Will is a passive character in the books, especially compared to Lyra but he at least shows him making choices.

Lyra – This season we learn Lyra’s other name is Eve and she is the one who can shape what happens to all universes. She can’t know the prophecy though or else she’ll fail so that adds a dimension to her interactions with Witches especially. She is the driver of the plot like last season and is why Will finds the subtle knife and why they need to use it after Lord Boreal steals her Alethiometer. Her arc is learning how to trust as she and Will need each other to succeed. In the end they find that though but as all forces converge to protect or kill Lyra, Marisa Coulter steals her away. Dafne Keen once again is great as Lyra.

Facing Abuse and Trauma – One of the strongest arcs of this season are characters facing heir abuse and trauma. Lee does and it inspire Mrs. Coulter to save him. Mrs. Coulter faces it leading to some healing with her daemon and Will and Lyra do leading to them becoming best friends.

Okay:

The Witches – The witches lose their home, fail to protect Lyra and stand with Lord Asriel. They spend most of the season losing and I wish we’d seen more of their magic. They felt so under-developed.

Cittàgazze – This city is supposed to have a rich history but we know nothing about it beyond the Guild creating the Subtle Knife. You have orphan kids and spectres as a threat to Will and Lyra but nothing happens beyond getting the Knife. It isn’t until the forces in Lyra’s world enter that this place starts feeling like it matters. I wish it had been developed further and we’d learned more about the guild.

The Cons:

Cliffhangers and the Problem of Middle Books in Trilogies – Lyra is captured by her mother and though her mother says she will be safe, we don’t know how it will be and don’t even know where she is going. Will’s father is killed by a Magisterium soldier (Better than killed by a Witch in the books), Lee is killed by Magisterium forces and Lord Asriel recruits the angels in his war. Will and Lyra’s stories feel open still and that is the problem of cliffhangers as quite a few of these stories are complete but the open ones leave the narrative open and hanging.

Season 2 feels much more focused than season 1, but there aren’t as many compelling characters who have focus. Like in the books Lorek is only around for a cameo and the Gyptians aren’t in it all. I was hoping more could be done with the Witches to make up for that but they just aren’t as compelling sadly. Will’s world and Cittàgazze are also not nearly as intriguing as Lyra’s world and all the different politics and factions. Cittàgazze is especially lackluster in development. Still, this season was great and I can’t wait to see how The Amber Spyglass is adapted.

Final Score: 9 / 10