“Wolverine and the X-Men” Season 1 – A Solid X-Men Series That Should Have Got a Season 2

Wolverine and the x-men

   “Wolverine and the X-Men” was an animated series created in 2009 by Marvel Animation and is one of the best Marvel Animated projects I have watched since the older “X-Men: The Animated Series” and “X-Men Evolution.” Animation has usually been the strength of DC, except when it comes to the X-Men, where Marvel has managed to capture everything that made these characters great and brought us to them in the first place.

    The series was created by Craig Kyle and Greg Johnson.

     The story involves the mysterious disappearance of Professor X and Jean Grey after a psychic explosion, leading Wolverine to return and reunite the X-Men as elsewhere Magneto plots from Genosha against humanity and Senator Kelly starts the Sentinel Program to capture and register all mutants.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The World of X-Men is strange and fascinating. In this we have characters from the weird alien Mojo, to the Brotherhood of Mutants, the future X-Men and a Sentinel run universe, Weapon X, The X-Men and Mr. Sinister.

The Brotherhood of Mutants – The Brotherhood are the main enemies until we learn that Magneto is the one controlling them, but even then they later change sides when Magneto disowns Quicksilver, leading to them helping the X-Men.

Avalanche – Avalanche is one of the most powerful members of the Brotherhood and seems to be a chill guy. I wish we could have got more time with him.

Domino – Domino is awesome and exists as both a Future X-Men and as a member of the Brotherhood who has a friendship with Rogue. She is the most receptive of the team to helping the X-Men as she is a true believer and just wants to protect the Mutants from humanity.

Quicksilver – Quicksilver is the leader of the Brotherhood and everything he does is to please Magneto and get into his good graces, that is until Magneto disowns him and he doesn’t care anymore…leading to him helping the X-Men until he later rejoins Magneto in exile after Scarlet Witch kicks Magneto off the Island for his crimes.

Future X-Men – The Future X-Men exist in the Sentinel run future that Professor X wakes up too and from where he communicates from to Wolverine in order to prevent the Future he exists in from happening as in the present he is still in a coma. It is a fascinating world.

Professor X – Professor X has to earn the trust of the Future X-Men and help them fight the Sentinels who now run the future. So much of what he is doing is trying to prevent the future he woke up from from happening and through that he works with Bishop and his Team to try and defeat the Sentinels and in the future present and the past. He provides a good mentor role.

Rover – Rover was created by Polaris and is a good Sentinel who Marrow befriends. In the end Rover gives his life for the Team when the Sentinels are taking them out. He was a great small character.

Polaris – Polaris is Magneto’s daughter who is overprotected in the past and in the future is the leader of a destroyed Genosha who has gone crazy. In the end she saves Professor X and helps defeat the Sentinels and rejecting her father’s philosophy to work with her sister Scarlet Witch and humanity for peace in the present.

Bishop – Bishop is awesome! He was raised in a Sentinel camp and is trained by Wolverine. He is a pretty great character and my favorite future character. He is a natural leader and knows the stakes and believes in Professor X.

Scarlet Witch – Scarlet Witch is the future leader of Genosha as she believes in mutant freedom but not when it means hurting them and causing conflict when there is peace (unlike Magneto). She is also Nightcrawler’s lover and they influence one another’s mindsets on things as her experience has made her distrustful of humanity where Nightcrawler still has hope.

The X-Men – The X-Men are fantastic! The only ones who didn’t get as much exploration where Iceman and Storm, but the rest managed to have some great shining moments or were given and interesting enough backstory to makeup for how much of a messup they are.

Storm – Storm deserved more of a story, she is a powerhouse and worshiped in Africa and manages to save the Continent from a force that is trying to use her, and we learn she used be a thief before meeting Professor X. After he introduction episode not much is done with her minus a somewhat romance with Angel.

Cyclops – Cyclops is obsessed with Jean Grey and we learn his issues tie back to her disappearance in the Phoenix Force and that it was that power and her that helped him become the leader he once was. Sadly we never get to see that leader as everything he does is in relation to Jean…but he was still a pro in this series.

Iceman – Iceman has a somewhat romance with Kitty and is the confident rookie in it all. He also sticks up to his family and leaves, coming out as a mutant. So that was cool, but we don’t get anything else like that after he rejoins the X-Men.

Kitty Pryde – Kitty is awesome! She saves the Team on multiple occasions and shows that she is a leader within her own right. I wish we’d gotten more time with her too as she is leaving to Genosha when the X-Men pick her up.

Rogue – Rogue is well, a rogue. She works with the Brotherhood for a while before leaving them and has to reestablish trust with the X-Men. She is a great character though and extremely powerful as we see her shut down the Brotherhood and any powerful mutant by touching them and taking their powers.

Angel – Angel is the son of one of the men behind the Sentinel program and a “Cure” for being a mutant. In the end his wings are taken away leading him to make a deal with Mr. Sinister, where he becomes unstoppable and archangel, but also no longer the calm man living the double life he was before. His story is a tragedy as he is with Mr. Sinister still at the end.

Nightcrawler – Nightcrawler is amazing and one of my favorite X-Men! In this he protects refugees from pirates, discovers Magneto’s fascist state is a ruse and that he is planning war with humanity and convinces Scarlet Witch to help him and the X-Men.

Emma Frost – Emma Frost works for Hellfire Club and is a double agent through most of the series as she helps the X-Men but also triggered the explosion in the first place since she wanted Jean Grey for the Hellfire Club so they could control the Phoenix. She has a change of heart at the end due to her love of Cyclops and sacrifices herself in the final.

Jean Grey – Jean Grey has no memory of her prior self and events that transpired until she is back with the X-Men and captured by the Hellfire Club. We see her past self though and that was always someone with strength and confidence as she defeated Magneto as a child when he was attempting to capture her to use her powers.

Beast – Beast is the mentor and Wolverine’s second-in-command. We see him protecting others and figuring out mysteries for much of the series. I like him a lot as he’s easily the calmest and most mature member of the Team.

Wolverine – Wolverine drives the story and from it we see his attraction to Jean Grey, his connection to Weapon X and his attempt to stop them, becoming leader of the X-Men when Professor X finds him to be the only one who can to stop the Sentinels and his past relationship with Mystique. He is really cool in this and was a smart choice to lead to the story.

The Antagonists – The antagonists outside of Mojo, are really fascinating and part of what makes this story so great. Each of them have distinct motivations and ways of going about their goals.

The Sentinels – Master Mold controls them and we see how highly adaptive they are as they are becoming more like X-Men in the future. They are only stopped by Peace and the Future X-Men destroying Master Mold.

Senator Kelly – Kelly is a warmonger who lives by fear until he sees that the Sentinels will destroy everything, when Wolverine has Professor X show him and Magneto the future. In this moment he shows he is racist  and fascist(has his own paramilitary force) but can accept reason.

Trask – Trask is the scientist who creates the Sentinels but also shows he can see reason when he tries to stop Mystique from using them to attack Genosha. I wish we could have gotten more of his motivations though.

Mr. Sinister – Mr. Sinister is seeking the perfect Mutant and those he can use. This leads to him transforming Angel into Archangel and collecting samples everywhere. We see he serves Apocalypse at the end as well.

Mystique – Mystique works with Magneto but also does her own things too as her taking out Weapon X was for personal revenge and love of Wolverine. She is a great character and manages to succeed at most of her missions.

Magneto – Magneto is an outright villain in this and even after Professor X shows him the future where they all lose…starts the war anyway. Luckily he loses thanks to the Phoenix Force from the Hellfire Club, Scarlet Witch and his people turning against him and the X-Men. He goes into exile with Quicksilver after. He was a good villain but I like Magneto best when he’s an anti-hero, not someone hurting his own people.

Days of Future Past – Professor X works with Bishop to communicate with Wolverine in the past to prevent the Sentinel run future while fighting the Sentinels in that future. This was this show’s take on the arc and it is awesome!

The Phoenix Arc – The Phoenix knocks out Professor X and causes Jean to lose her memory. When the Hellfire Club releases it Emma Frost captures it and dies versus in the comics where it is usually always Jean who dies.

Okay: The Hellfire Club – They appeared at the end and should have got more setup, especially since Emma Frost caused the explosion of the Phoenix in the first place.

Weapon X – Weapon X was an okay storyline. i didn’t care about the mad scientist or Sabretooth and the only interesting thing was Mystique was going to be an experiment until Wolverine saved her in the past…and we learn they were lovers but he has no memory because of what Weapon X did to him.

The Cons: Age of Apocalypse and Cancellation – Mr. Sinister was working with Apocalypse and in the end we see Apocalypse being worshiped. This was the setup for Season 2 and since there wasn’t a Season 2 became a con.

Mojo and his Pirates – Mojo is obsessed with his hunting show where mutants are hunted…and that is it. The guy makes no sense and clashes with the main stories that were going on in the show.

   This was a series that was solidly good and shouldn’t have been canceled. The fact that they were setting up “Age of Apocalypse,” hurt the final product in the end. It is smart for shows to have a good ending to a season and only set things up if they know they have a future. I still recommend this show though. It manages to cover at leas 2 major comic arcs (Phoenix arc and Days of Future Past, as well as Weapon X) and does it really well. What helps is the characters and the villains are complex and I cared about their choices and struggles. This is a solid series I’d highly recommend.

Final Score: 9 / 10

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) – An Alright Made for Television Film

X-Men Apocalypse

  There is a comment that Jean Grey makes after her and the other X-Men leave the school to go see “Return of the Jedi.” She says, “We all can agree, the third film is always the worst.” Meant as a jab against “X-Men 3” by Bryan Singer, the same rule also applies to the new Trilogy that began with “First Class,” as this film is clearly the weakest in the new Trilogy. It isn’t a bad film, “Return of the Jedi” isn’t a bad film…but a lot of it doesn’t work and in the end it feels like an okay, made for tv movie in both production quality and filming.

       “X-Men: Apocalypse” was directed by Bryan Singer who was one of the producers and creators of the story. The screenplay was by Simon Kinberg who was also one of the producers and the other producers are Lauren Shuler Donner and Hutch Parker.

SPOILERS ahead

    The story involves the awakening of the first mutant, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaacs) after he is trapped underneath a pyramid when his people rebel against him. From here it is up to the X-Men to stop him after Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) is kidnapped by Apocalypse and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is made into one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The Pros: The World – The world of X-Men is a wonderful world. There are so many factions and characters. This is a world that is always in flux and that a single X-Men can often change the shape of that world.

The Characters – The characters are fantastic and the strongest part of this series. Each of them is flawed and an outcast and it helps define their struggle, making them compelling.

Cyclops – Cyclops demonstrates why he will later become group leader in this, as we see him demonstrate courage after he makes friends with Nightcrawler and Jean Grey and mounts a rescue with them to save Mystique, Beast and Quicksilver from Striker.

Beast – Beast is back and is the adviser and friend to Xavier. His arc is making peace with how he looks and through it he helps Mystique do the same.

Nightcrawler – Nightcrawler is one of my favorite X-Men and it is awesome to see him here again! We are introduced to him in the Mutant Fighting Pits that Human supremacists run and later at Professor X’s school after Mystique rescues him. He shows courage on countless occasions.

Quicksilver – Evan Peters is a great Quicksilver and he is one of the best parts of this film. His relationship to Mystique and Magneto are fascinating and we see that he admires his dad but is ashamed of him too as he chooses not to tell him that he is Magneto’s son…He knows his dad turning on the villain at the end doesn’t rewrite all his past murders.

Mystique – Jennifer Lawrence is good as Mystique and her arc is making peace with herself again as we see her embrace her natural look by the end and become a member of the X-Men, helping to found the newest generation of them. She is a Mutant revolutionary in this as after the events of last film she represents mutant power to others and she continues to be the one who rescues them from harm.

Magneto – Fassbender is awesome as Magneto! In this we see him have a family in Poland only to lose it all when the locals panic, causing him to be manipulated by Apocalypse into one of his Horsemen. His arc is realizing that his friends are his family and that he isn’t alone. He still doesn’t trust people, and he has a lot of bad stuff he’s done…but by the end there is the man who will act for good for Mutants and all.

Professor X – Professor X’s arc involves him realizing how he is like Apocalypse (Apocalypse influences people to do his will) which leads to Xavier giving Moira back her memories as she is an ally (she sadly is just kind of there in regards to the script though…). Apocalypse captures him and wants to use his body as his next vessel so he can control everyone’s mind and see into everyone’s mind. Professor X fights it and with Jean Grey’s help is able to get Apocalypse out of his mind.

Jean Grey – Sophie Turner is a great Jean Grey and she actually has a decent arc! Her arc is releasing her full powers and in the process defeating Apocalypse. We see her afraid of what she sees and it mirrors Professor X’s journey. She is the best hero in this. Only complain is her American accent doesn’t always work.

Okay: Wolverine – Wolverine has a Cameo at Striker’s base and we see that he just got his claws. He reeks tons of havoc upon Striker’s forces and is only brought out of his feral state by Jean Grey, establishing why he’ll be attracted to her later. It wasn’t needed, but it wasn’t bad. Jackman continues to dominate this role.

The Other Horsemen – The other Horsemen are just kind of there and aren’t given much to do. Storm is a thief who later joins the X-Men, Angel is a fighter in a mutant fighter arena . Psylocke is an enforcer who turns against Apocalypse with Storm and Magneto at the end too. Though she might be possessed by Apocalypse’s spirit at the end, so I guess that is something that was done with her character at least.

Okay/Con: Apocalypse – Apocalypse seems bored most of the time.

The Cons: Direction and Cinematography – The direction looks like television…whether is the cheaper looking costumes or the cinematography that makes me appreciate the cinematography in “The Flash” more. When you are less than the CW, you are television level directing.

Stan Lee Cameo – The cameo happens when Apocalypse gets rid of the World’s nukes. It makes the scene funny when it should have been dramatic and serious.

Unfocused Narrative – The narrative felt unfocused at times, especially after we visit Striker’s base…

Costumes – The costumers look bad. The leather makes everything look big and it has none of the realism from the Marvel films or even the decent looking costumers the DC films.

Striker and his Base –  This whole side quest felt like a callback to X-2 as we are back at Striker’s base with a young Striker (didn’t Mystique replace him last film?) and he’s just there so we can have a human baddie to counter Apocalypse. More time could have been spent to develop Apocalypse and his motivations rather than this crap. Good action but pointless.

   As stated at the beginning this is the weakest in the New X-Men Trilogy that began with “First Class.” The production value doesn’t help, though the actors and characters add a lot to it and help elevate it beyond the cons making it a flawed but fun film that I wouldn’t watch again, but enjoyed while watching. This film is okay. If you are a fan of X-Men you will probably like it. Apocalypse could have been a much more interesting character and threat and his presentation just doesn’t work. The drama that works is when we are with the characters and their individual relationships trying to make their way in the world…and that is what made the film worth seeing.

Final Score: 6.4 / 10

Sleepy Hollow – Season 2, Episode 11 – “The Akeda” – Where Will It Go From Here?

Sleepy Hollow The Akeda

“Sleepy Hollow” has just put itself into a bit of a predicament after this episode. Without giving away spoilers (That’s for the assessment) they just changed things drastically and shook up the game. Where this goes remains to be seen but I’m a bit worried. Much of what gave “Sleepy Hollow” strength was it’s Myth arc and unless another Myth arc comes in to continue down the path of the Apocalypse (and are we going to be preventing them every half season now?) I’m not sure what this show can do, or if the writers know what they’re doing given the choices they made this episode.

“The Akeda” was written by Mark Goffman and directed by Dwight Little.

The premise is Moloch has risen and it’s up to the Team (Abbie, Jenny, Ichabod, Katrina and Nick) to stop him after Abbie and Ichabod save Katrina from the Headless Horseman who tells them Moloch’s plot as he expects victory. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Jenny – Jenny gets Nick to help and we see her as a major fighter when War and Moloch’s demons arrive. I really like her character and hope we see more of her later. She’s tough.

Ichabod – Ichabod rides a motorcycle with Abbie and wants one after. This was a fun comedic moment at the beginning and we see him willing to lay down his life for everyone but accept their sacrifice too since they choose to fight and die to stop Moloch. This was a huge growth moment for him as it happened after Irving had died defeating War’s Avatar. We also see him call out Katrina on her lies and their relationship ends. Curious to see where this will go as their identities have been so tightly wound in this series. Ichabod also stands strong against Henry which leads to Henry killing Moloch because he is unable to kill Ichabod.

Abraham / The Horseman of Death / The Headless Horseman – He is still very close to Katrina and takes responsibility for trying to take away her free will in the ritual. You can tell that he still cares greatly for her though is super dark and a bad guy (reason Moloch was able to convert him). With Moloch dead I wonder what he will do, especially if he can be with Katrina and not have to worry about Ichabod.

Abbie – Abbie is the one who calls Ichabod out on his martyr complex and says that this is tied to all of them. This leads to her being the first to carry the sword and also she ends up being right about Katrina and Ichabod was too trusting.

Detective Irving – Orlando Jones…you will be missed. His character escaped from the asylum and is able to carry the sword of Methusela since Henry has his soul. This leads to him defeating Henry’s Avatar of War but dying in the process. I wish he could have stuck around, at least he makes Jenny promise to look over his family. Why couldn’t it have been Katrina or Nick? Irving was one of the most active characters an Orlando Jones was one of the best parts of the show. RIP Irving.

Henry / Horseman of War – Henry realizes in this that he meant nothing and is expendable according to Moloch. This leads to him capturing his parents and Team Abbie and Ichabod but not killing them as no matter how much he hates them, Moloch’s words make him hate Moloch more. With the sword he kills Moloch and the episode ends. I don’t think Henry is good (most folks aren’t on this show) and I hope he still remains a threat since hate for Moloch does not mean love for his parents or humanity…and besides Abraham they are the best antagonists on the show and a big reason I watch. He’ll just need to rethink his plans. Still don’t want a redemption though, it would be far too contrived.

The Cons: Nick and Katrina – These characters are useless. Nick doesn’t care until his life is on the line and Katrina is loyal to the Horseman of Death and her marriage with Ichabod is dead. I could still see her do some interesting things with Abraham but with Ichabod, for all intents and purposes their story is dead. I get why Katrina’s alive, but Nick is unnecessary and shouldn’t be around. Wish he had made the heroic sacrifice instead of Irving. RIP Irving…Orlando Jones will be missed greatly.

Moloch – We finally see his face and he isn’t scary at all. He was much better with the flesh color and mask. Now he loos like a lesser Pied Piper. His raising his army was cool, bu he wasn’t very bright and got killed by Henry because he said Henry was nothing…dude you are a Demon Lord, feed others egos since that’s how you got them in your pocket in the first place. He was not very smart. So his death felt pointless as he did as a threat. War and Death are much more threatening this season.

There seems to be a theme going on now in televisions dramas where mid-season finals have to be big. This revealed how this can be bad as it leaves things pretty much done unless another big bad comes out of the already established bads or a new baddies comes along. The other problem is apathy as characters get killed for no reason since the end game of the Apocalypse hasn’t even arrived yet. Detective Irving defeated War’s Avatar but War still lives. Moloch is dead but the 4 Horsemen weren’t even present, only one was. What now? How they handle things going forward will be a big deal and the fact that they killed off one of the strongest characters on the show (while letting the weakest characters of Katrina and Nick live) doesn’t give me much hope in regards to that. Still, Season 1 was fantastic and so far this season is good but not great. Even this mid-season final could be described that way.

Final Score: 8 / 10. Was good because there was cost but now things are up in the air and the writers might not know what they’re doing…which means this could end up being the last good score for the series.

Sleepy Hollow – Season 2, Episode 9 – “Mama” – Jenny and Abbie

Sleepy Hollow Mama

This was a really good episode. It had some great character moments with Jenny, Abbie and Detective Irving and even gave us some time with Reyes. The only characters that really brought it down were again…Hawley and Katrina. I’ll get into what I mean in the assessment.

“Mama” was directed by Wendey Stanzler and written by Damian Kindler.

The story involves Abbie being haunted by dreams of her mother in Purgatory. She soon learns why when she is called on to deal with suicides happening at Terrytown Psych…were her mother killed herself. Calling Jenny on the case after Reyes gives her full control she attempts to find out if her Mom is the one causing people to kill themselves, or some other force. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Ichabod Crane – Ichabod is a side character and this is good. He is there supporting Jenny and Abbie which is just what he needed to do this episode and he’s always a pleasure to see on screen. Why bring Nick Hawley in when we have Ichabod? His character is largely pointless or contrived. We also see him defend Katrina’s lack of communication and action showing how she and Henry are still very much his blind spot.

Jenny Mills – Jenny is a major player in this and we see her dealing with the trauma from her Mom given how haunted her Mom was all the time and how she remembered almost being killed by her in the car. Her views change when she learns the truth that her mother saved her life and fought the demons till the end. It’s a touching scene as Jenny had the most trauma related to her Mom as we learn she had tried visiting her only to see her be dragged off my doctors. We also see her use a West African Hex to get rid of the evil spirit that was causing people to kill themselves and caused their mother to kill herself.

Detective Irving – Irving doesn’t sit down in this one and takes a very active role after the spirit targets him and causes him to nearly take his life (saved only by the group at the last minute). This causes him to rethink things as he wants to escape the control War has over his soul. We see hear how he has noticed people improving which points to supernatural involvement given many of the people were getting better. His scenes with Abbie are great too and I’m glad he’s finally out even if that makes him a fugitive.

Abbie Mills – Abbie is fantastic in this too as she helps Jenny face her fears and hurt caused by their mother and facilitates the healing. She also faces down the evil spirit that believes it is killing people to end their suffering. She is in charge throughout the episode and seeing her moments with Jenny, their mother and Detective Irving really make this episode great. I hope we get more Abbie or Jenny focused episodes. They have fascinating pasts that we only ever really get glimpses of.

Okay: War and Baby Moloch – Not much here but creepy watching of Katrina when she holds the baby she believes is an actual child for sometime and War trying to guilt her for abandoning him as a child. These scenes didn’t really add much except to show that Baby Moloch is growing quickly.

Mama – Mama like Katrina functions more as a motivation, we still don’t really know her character except she knows that Abbie was a Witness and she loves her daughters. Beyond that she is only in this to bring about the mystery and to motivate Jenny and Abbie sadly.

Cons: Katrina – Katrina acts at the end but her character seems dominated by a total lack of agency. This is sad given all the agency that Abbie, Jenny and her mother received and hows that I don’t think the writers know what to do with her. At this point the only thing I could see them doing to advance the plot is killing her character given she was a motivation throughout season 1 but they never got beyond making her more than that.

Nick Hawley – Contrived motivation is the definition of this character. Most plots he’s been in he hasn’t been needed and he doesn’t do anything except function as a somewhat love interest for Abbie or Jenny or for a character for Ichabod to mock. I’m hoping he doesn’t survive this season (and that could just mean him leaving) as he gives absolutely nothing to the show.

This could have been a great episode, just ended up being really good because of the Katrina and Hawley problems. Besides that I would definitely recommend it. It gives us some much needed exploration of the pasts of Abbie and Jenny and gives a pretty good mystery to solve as well.

Final Score: 8.7 / 10

Sleepy Hollow – Season 2, Episode 7 – “Deliverance” – A Lack of Creativity

Sleepy Hollow Deliverance

 

At one point in this episode Ichabod and Abbie have broken into the Hellfire Club to get a Mcguffin Ben Franklin created to stop War and Moloch’s latest plan. Ichabod is trying passwords and Abbie yells at him to use 666 (Since the Hellfire Club is an Apocalyptic organization). It works and Ichabod calls it a lack of creativity. That pretty much sums up this episode. Contrived, lacking creativity and shoe-horning in the Redemption theme when it should not apply to Abraham or Henry at this point. I’ll get into what I mean in the assessment, but this is my least favorite episode so far this season.

The episode was written by Sam Chalsen and Nelson Greaves and directed by Nick Copus.

The episode picks up where were left off with the poison spider  going inside of Katrina and impregnating her. War arrives with the Hellfire Club on orders of Moloch and Abarham the Headless Horseman fights him to protect her. She escapes and meets up with Abbie and Ichabod who rescue her from the hospital and the story unfolds from there as we learn she’s been impregnated with Moloch.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Henry Parish / Horseman of War – He always wins, even when he loses and they better not redeem this character. He chooses Moloch again and again. He impregnated his Mom with Moloch knowing she’d die, he set the Weeping Lady on her and he buried his father alive. This character doesn’t care about redemption, so let him be a villain. We see his power in action as when the pregnancy is stopped by the plot Mcguffin he gets red mist that might be Moloch’s essence. He also has a good moment tormenting Ichabod where he tells him chooses Moloch and care nothing for his parents.

Detective Irving – Small role but he asks to talk to Henry so that Ichabod can talk to him.

Ichabod in the Modern World – Ichabod in the modern world is great…from his anger at low voter turnout to “Wanting to Internet.” His modern antics and phrases make this episode enjoyable, as the character was hit with the stupid stick.

Abbie Mills – Abbie is the one character who gets it and I hope she kills Henry since Katrina and Ichabod are holding out for his redemption. They are so blinded by their love they ignore all the ways he has harmed them and others. Abbie is the only one who gets it because of how Moloch hurt her and Jenny…and Henry serves Moloch. Sadly she is a support character in this episode and Ichabod is the the one who does all the saving. We see her use the Police Force though to take out the Hellfire Club and helps Crane get an identity as as a Criminal Profiler as well as earning Reyes respect for taking out the Hellfire Club.

The Headless Horseman / Horseman of Death / Abraham – This guy is a great villain. He loves Katrina and he fights for her against Henry and the Hellfire Club before Henry finally defeats him with sunlight a few times. He isn’t loyal to Moloch as an end all be all, he cares much more about being with Katrina. This makes him compelling and I’d like to see him more an an enemy and complex antagonist.

The Cons: Moloch the Demon Baby – Really? His plan was to impregnate Katrina to get into the world? What a silly idea. Way to turn Katrina into a plot device (Though she’s been that quite a bit already). Also Ben Franklin defeats him using a device he created that Ichabod uses that recreates the Northern Lights. Yup, what a stupid contrived plot.

Ben Franklin Has All the Answers – This needs to stop. Franklin is all powerful at this point at giving our heroes out against Moloch’s and Henry’s plots. The fact that it was predicted that when he was brought up the baddies would be stopped shows how overused this plot device is now. Purgatory Key, Kindred and now this…Did not like.

No Jenny – Abbie was going to raise an army to fight the Hellfire club and didn’t bring her sister. She should have been around, at least as backup in case Henry pulled something.

Katrina and Ichabod – This episode was all about them, and worse for it. Katrina was in a permanent place of needing to be rescued, Ichabod was angry and jealous of Abraham and they both insist that Henry can be saved, where if he is this season it would kill the show for me. He has no desire to be saved and loves being inhuman. They need to face that given all the crap he’s pulled on them. Both of these two are destroying the plot in their need to redeem Henry and denial of who and what he is.

Final Score: 4 / 10. Looked good but plot issues brought it down a lot. Worst episode of “Sleepy Hollow” so far this season and maybe overall after I rewatch Season 1.

Carnivale – Season 2, Episode 8 – “Outskirts of Damascus, NE” – Management’s Legacy

Carnivale Outskirts of Damascus NE

“Outskirts of Damascus, NE” had a lot of good ideas, but they were not fully executed. The good news is this is made up at least partially by some great character moments…largely with Samson and Ben. For this reason alone, it was still a good episode.

The episode was written by Daniel Knauf, the show’s creator and directed by Tim Hunter.

The premise picks up where the last episode ended with Management granting Ben his powers and from that we learned he’d set it all up in the first place to grant Ben the knowledge and power he would need to take on the Usher, Justin. Management it turns out was a bigger deal to Samson than we knew as their friendship is revealed and Ben must deal with Samson before they can move forward. Jonesy and Libby also get married and that is dealt with in the episode too.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Samson – Samson is one of my favorite characters who is still living and in this episode shows more of why. We see him mourn the loss of his friend and how even if he didn’t trust Management there was still so much history there between them. This leads to it taking a while for him to see that Ben isn’t management and can’t lie. This leads to them forming a new partnership to save Scudder and stop the Usher.

Ben – From one of my least favorite characters last season to one of my favorite this season…Ben Hawkins is worth caring about finally. We see his making sense of his new powers and trying figure out his role and try and save Scudder. We also see him bring back the memory vault so Samson can say good-bye to Management. For this reason he starts out things solidly with Samson and we see them as partners, which Samson and Ben have never really had before. We see his embracing of his role as Avatar in a clear way that wins Samson over too when a mother begs for her life to be given for her dead child’s and Ben grants her wish to bring her child back.

Jonesy and Libby – Jonesy and Libby marry and we see the conflict with Libby’s parents because of Jonesy sleeping with her Mom, though surprisingly Stumpy is okay with it, it’s Rita who has most of the baggage. This comes to a head when Libby says she will dance until her father’s debts are paid off, but no more than dance. It’s a great character moment that showed her being active to Jonesy’s passiveness through the episode. We also have a death at the Ferris-Wheel which is powerful as the mob blames Jonesy because Stumpy shared a drink with him.

Sofie – Sofie is Justin’s maid! A sign of things to come I think.

The Cons: The Tone – I didn’t know what to make of this episodes tone. At times it’s supernatural at times it’s real but it’s hard to get to invested in invents because it doesn’t have a feel that flows through it. For this reason I have to dock it down some points.

This was a good but not great episode, which is a shame since the showrunner and creator was the one wrote it. It still does what it needs to do, so it isn’t bad. It just isn’t great. I would recommend it though if only for the moments with Ben and Samson. The silence of Samson morning management and Ben lost in his new role. These moments helped define it and made it “Carnivale.”

Final Score: 8 / 10

Carnivale – Season 1, Episode 12 – “The Day That Was The Day” – A Matter of Choice and Destiny

Carnivale The Day that was the Day

“The Day That Was The Day” is the excellent finale to season 1 of “Carnivale.” Characters are forced to make choices that sets up the struggle of things to come and before making the choices they try to get out of making the choices, to skirt destiny. This episode also ties up the character dramas and answers one of the biggest questions about the nature of Scudder and the powers behind Ben and Justin.

“The Day That Was The Day” was directed by Rodrigo Garcia and written by Ronald Moore.

The story picks up where the last episode left off, with Stumpy confronting Rita about the affair, Sofie setting up a situation to get back at Jonesy and Libby for cheating, Ben approaching Lodz on how to bring back Ruthie who then brings him to management and Brother Justin talks to his adoptive father and shows his father his greatest sin leading him to ask him to prevent his destiny.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Sofie Drama – Sofie sets up a situation where she kisses and sleeps with Libby because she’s found feelings for her but she also has feelings for Jonesy so she bring Jonesy to the same place to get back at them both. Libby for knowing about Jonesy cheating with Rita and Jonesy for the act of cheating. Later Sofie’s mother tries to kill them both in a fire and Jonesy rushes into to save her for the final scene. We are left questioning what will come.

Brother Justin and his Adoptive Father and his Role – His adoptive father raised him as a Christian and after talking to Iris began researching into excorcism to help his son since his son’s power scared him so much. Later when they talk Justin transports him to the past to reveal his sin and the sin of his father was saving Justin. This leads to Justin begging to be killed by him, but when he can’t Justin’s eyes go black showing the full embracing of power and his role as the Avatar of destruction, Left Hand of God and Harbinger of the Apocalypse. The final scene after he makes a deal with Dolan to get his word out into the world is him doing an end times sermon.

Samson’s Warning – Samson warns Ben not to trust Management and Lodz and he’s right on both counts. He also cares about the carnival and tells Ben if he’s going to kill someone to help someone, it won’t be one of the Carnies. Samson is human and showed why he is one of my favorite characters in that scene. He was also right about Management since Management betrayed Lodz to make Ben use his power.

The Choice of Ben Hawkins – Ben continues to resist up until the end, he even gives his own life in the graveyard to bring back Ruthie, but Scudder who is a part of Ben (Ben is the Avatar) is not allowed to die. He almost kills a drunk but decides against it. Thinking he’s one and that he is not like Lodz and management he confronts Management only to have management reveal Lodz as the killer of Ruthie leading to Ben killing Lodz, which brings back Ruthie and solidifies Ben as the same as Management.

This was a great end to the series! It ties us back into the fight against the Avatars of Good and Evil, Light and Darkness and we see Ben and Justin becoming their roles in the fight to come. It is powerful but still leaves more open. I’m excited to see where season 2 takes everything, especially in regards to Justin. Lodz deserved to die but I’m still going to miss the bastard, he was a great character.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10. Ronald Moore has once again written gold.

Sleepy Hollow – Season 2, Episode 1 – “This is War” – Coming Together Again and War’s Manipulations

This is War Sleepy Hollow

“Sleepy Hollow,” is one of the better television shows released in recent years. It takes the premise of the horror tale Sleepy Hollow and mixes with Biblical mythology (Demons, the Four Horsemen, etc.) while giving us the man out of time (Ichabod Crane) attempting to fight to prevent the apocalypse with his partner on the police force (Lt. Abbie Mills). Season 1 had amazing character development and exploration of the mythology which lead to “Sleepy Hollow” becoming one of my new favorite shows on television. I’ll do a review of Season 1, later…for now focus will be on Season 2.

“This is War,” was written by Mark Goffman and directed by Ken Olin.

Season 2 picked up where Season 1 ended with Ichabod buried alive, Abbie trapped in purgatory with the Demon who masterminded it all Moloch while Ichabod’s wife Katrina Crane is now prisoner of the Headless Horseman (the Horseman of Death), while War (Abraham, Ichabod’s son) is manipulating them to get the key to open Purgatory to let Moloch’s armies be released upon the world and start the Apocalypse. It is from here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Music – The music has a gothic, 17th Century feel to it intermixed with modern which fits the feel of the show. It also is good at going quiet when it needs to (like in Purgatory) to create tension and raise the stakes.

The Cinematography – Sleepy Hollow the town, and Purgatory are usually always dark and covered in mist creating a feel of the unknown about the place, which is perfect as we have a manipulated situation very early on in the episode showing that the characters and us need to be careful about believing what we see since it might be a lie.

The Characters – The Characters have always been the strongest part of the show, and that stays true in the Season 2 premiere.

Katrina Crane – Prisoner of the Headless Horseman who uses a necklace  he gave her in life when hew as Abraham to give the illusion of a head so he can communicate with her is powerful. He doesn’t love her since he doesn’t respect her love for Ichabod but it is complicated as you can see he has affection for her and she realizes that. She resists at first but in the end realizes just how trapped she is as the Horseman is undead.

The Headless Horseman / Horsemen of Death – We see how complicated and dangerous he is as he is more focused on getting Katrina than fulfilling Moloch’s wishes. I suspect that will cause problems for him later as he sold his soul to Moloch. Fascinated to see what they do with this character and his relationship to Katrina and to War.

Jeremy Crane / Horseman of War – Ichabod’s son who is also the Horseman of War manipulates Abbie and Ichabod to believe a year has passed and he’s a prisoner. He than gets them to reveal a key that Benjamin Franklin tried to destroy that can open Purgatory and that Jenny Mills knows where it is. He seeks her out and finds out where to find it. He nearly succeeds to but doesn’t due to Abbie and Ichabod managing to out maneuver him. The episode ends with him getting a gift from Moloch, a living embodiment of War, armor with a burning sword that he can control with his soul. Leaving his future plans to have more certainty for fulfilling Moloch’s will. He was the best reveal of last season and is still a much more interesting than Moloch. Love John Noble in this role.

Andy Brooks – John Cho’s character is once again seeking redemption as he uses what little of his free will he has to help Abbie contact Ichabod.

Jenny Mills – Is taken prisoner by War but manages to escape. Lyndie Greenwood is great in the role and we see her working with Ichabod to save her sister from Purgatory and stop War and his men from summoning Moloch’s army.

Abbie Mills – Abbie is top of her game in this episode as she finds out from Andy Brooks how to contact Ichabod which in turn leads to him finding her and them getting out of Purgatory, which destroyed the Key that Moloch and War were seeking. We have some great character moments too as she figures out the false Ichabod since he doesn’t say Left Tenant and instead says Lieutenant. It ends with her plotting with Ichabod and Jenny how to bring war to War and Moloch. Nicole Beharie is once again showing us why she she deserves this part and is one of the protagonists in television.

Ichabod Crane – We learn that he was mentored by Benjamin Franklin and despised him and we see him escape from being buried alive when he figures out he’s buried in sulfur and sets it off like a bomb to break out. After we see his loyalty to Abbie as he refuses to leave her in Purgatory as he and Jenny work to save her from Moloch. Tom Mison is once again great and it was wonderful seeing more of Ichabod’s backstory.

The Cons: No Captain Frank Irving – He turned himself in for the killings that the Headless Horseman did to protect his daughter, but we don’t see or hear from him. Given how great Orlando Jones is, I’d have preferred even a small scene with him and what he’s going through.

This was a solid episode and a great start to the new season. It makes me excited for what is to come…especially as I hope this season ends with the reveal of the next Horsemen and that we get 5 seasons so each Horsemen can be accurately explored…and maybe we can find Moloch is smaller compared to who is paying his checks. This show has so much it can do and I can’t wait to see what it does as it explores the mythology and universe that it is a part of.

Final Score: 9 / 10. Solidly great, just missing Orlando Jones.