Tag Archives: Sci. Fi. Shows

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 5 – “Oxygen” – A Heavy Handed Enjoyable Space Thriller

   “Oxygen” is a flawed and amazing episode that is heavy handed with it’s message but is powerful in how it tells it’s story. This is one of my favorite episodes of the new series, even with all of the flaws. It changes things in a way that looks like it may last and we get to see more of the negative in humanity which we largely only got with the 9th and 10th Doctor. Suffice to say, before I get into spoilers…I recommend this episode.

  The episode was directed by Charles Palmer and directed by Jamie Mathieson.

   The story involves the Doctor, Bill and Nardole becoming trapped on a mining space station where they have limited oxygen and are being hunted by A.I. suits as they rush to save the survivors and themselves.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Premise -The idea of a space station run off oxygen workers by is so wonderfully dsytopian I can’t help but appreciate it. It also gives tension and consequence immediately as the limited oxygen creates a ticking clock.

The Tension – The station expels all excess oxygen added to the station, which forces our heroes to get the suits where they only have a certain amount of breaths, on top of this the suits are controlling the dead who died from lack of oxygen and the survivors are fearful and angry. If any one of these goes over the edge, everything is over for our heroes.

The Miners – The miners are great, we get to see the politics and relationships between them and how they are survivors. They are the characters ready to do anything to get off the station which adds another level of tension to our main characters predicament.

The Doctor, Nardole and Bill – The dynamic between these 3 is wonderful. Nardole is the responsible worry wort holding the Doctor to his promise that he made Nardole make of keeping an eye of the Vault, Bill is the new adventurer who doesn’t have the Doctor’s recklessness the Doctor is the wizard, manipulating and planning his way through every situation even when it looks like he’s lost his mind and lost everything.

Consequences – The Doctor saves Bill but goes blind in the process from the vacuum of space. This is still true at the end of the episode and we see how powerless he feels as so much of what he does it tied to his ability to read what something by seeing it. I hope we have him this way for a while as even TARDIS tech could not heal his eyes.

Okay/Con – Execution of the Message – The message of the episode is that capitalism is bad and eventually people will be exploited for the very oxygen they breathe. I put this as okay because “Doctor Who” has always been a message show, the problem was this wasn’t done with enough “show” there was a good amount of “tell” even though we were witnessing the very premise and didn’t need to be told it. I won’t put it as a complete con but it was the weakest part of the episode.

  This is a flawed and amazing episode that is worth checking out. The tension is strong throughout the entire episode, Nardole and Bill clash with the Doctor while the Doctor has moments where even he loses hope. We also have minor characters we care about and perfect tension through the entire episode. This is an episode that I highly recommend. Can’t wait to see how the consequences of the Doctor’s blindness unfold.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

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The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 3 – “Thin Ice” – Bland Villain and Monster Bring Down Good Character Moments

   “Thin Ice” is the first mediocre episode this series. This is an episode that has great character moments with Bill and the Doctor but the support characters, villain and the creature are so boring and unfleshed out that it brings down the entire peace. It isn’t a bad episode, as the characters stuff was strong enough to keep me engaged, but it isn’t good by any stretch of the imagination.

    The episode was directed by Bill Anderson and written by Sarah Dollard.

   The story involves the TARDIS transporting the Doctor and Bill to the Thames Frost Fair of 1814. It is here they must unravel the mystery of the creature underneath the Thames as Bill is confronted with a choice that will define her and humanity.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros; The Doctor and Bill’s Relationship – This is an episode where Bill debates with the Doctor his role. She asks if he’s killed and it takes him a long time to say that only when it is one of the last options available…and in it we see the Doctor as a soldier and veteran, while for Bill this is all so new to her as she is faced with these choices for the first time and better understands the danger in the adventure.

The Doctor – The Doctor is great in this in how he expresses that he does what he does to help and safeguard life because he is called to it…by his companion, the TARDIS, or the people they are helping. I saw it as partially him pushing responsibility off himself, but it also helped illustrate how he’s been learning. So much of 10’s trauma was because he got involved and didn’t listen. I think 12 has learned from the past in that way…now lets just see if the writers will keep it consistent.

Bill – Bill is faced with the darkness in humanity in this one…from there hanging out with pickpocketing children, to a racist landowner who is controlling the monster for money. In the end she does what she can to save as many people as possible and trick the villain…and from here we see how the Doctor and the TARDIS make the companions more like them.

Humanity’s Choice – Save the creature and risk human lives…or keep things the way they are and live the guilt of enslaving another being. This was the core dilemma at the end of the episode that turns Bill more into the Doctor as she chooses the second choice and larger moral implications that come with it. All life matters…be it alien or human.

The Cons: The Villain – The villain is a racist landowner exploiting the creature for resources as it has been in his family for generations. He is so bland and uninteresting and easily one of the worst villains to come out of Doctor Who. There was no motivation beyond greed.

The Supporting Cast – There are a bunch of child actors and none of them can act. This usually isn’t smart to do in any film medium and Doctor Who isn’t known for it’s great writing…and young actors usually don’t have the charisma to carry a scene the way an older more experienced actor could have…to make up for the pitfalls in the writing and dialogue.

The Monster – The monster is a giant fish that sounds like a a whale that we never get to fully see. It eats people, so we know it is dangerous…and apparently it’s a native to Earth, but that is all we know. It is there to be rescued and that is it.

   This is a film that is only worth your time if you are a major fan of the show and a completionist. There are way too many 2 Dimensional characters in this episode and even the core concept of the companion being the stand in for humanity could have been explored a lot better. There are some great dialogue and character moments between Bill and the Doctor, but this is a time where that wasn’t enough to bring the episode to good or great.

Final Score: 7 / 10

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” Season 2 – A Jumbled But Decent Season That Explores Letting Go and Grief

    “Legends of Tomorrow” is an interesting show to write about. This is a show that tries to do a lot and is dealing with an ensemble cast (both Legends and Villains this time) so because of that some characters don’t get the exploration they deserve or are as powerful as they could be. I still enjoyed this season and watched it all the way through, but it is debatable whether it’s quality beats Season 1 as Season 1 was so much more focused and had an overarching narrative that didn’t get distracted as much as this season did. If you like the CW DC Cinematic Universe you will probably enjoy this season though.

    The story involves the Legends working to stop the Legion of Doom, lead by Thawne (Reverse-Flash) from getting the Spear of Destiny, which can rewrite time and reality itself. They find allies in the Justice Society of America as people from their past are manipulated by the Legion and Reverse-Flash’s plans unfold.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – I really enjoy the universe of “Legends of Tomorrow.” This is a time travel show that has so much fun with the concept, with this time us visiting the Apollo mission, World War 1 and Cold War as some of the stand out episodes. This season really had a lot of fun with the premise.

The Legends – The Legends receive more development this season, to varying degrees of success, that I’ll get into later. I enjoyed them all though, even with the writing for all not always being good.

Stein – Stein changes the past in this! When he changes how he gets together with his wife they end up having a child together, which he didn’t in the other timeline. She becomes one of the allies of the Legends and we also learn that Stein knows that due to how old he is, he won’t be around as long. I suspect he will be the next to die among the Legends.

Jefferson – Jefferson goes through a lot of great development and comes the closest to being second-in-command as he is the one who outsmarts evil rip and is closest to Gideon after Rip’s departure. I’m looking forward to seeing how his leadership role further develops.

Rip Hunter – Rip is sadly missing through most of this season. When he does show up he’s wiped his memory to keep people from finding the Spear of Destiny but the Legends find his memories and the Legion of Doom gets a hold of them and makes him evil for a while until Gideon and the Legends restore him. They really should have done more with him, more Darvill is better.

Vixen – Vixen ends up joining the Legends when she sneaks onto their ship after a time traveler kills one of the Justice Society of America (who she is a part of). I really liked her character, she has a cool ability where she takes on different animal powers and her being the woman out of time gives her a great perspective in episodes.

Steel – Steel is the Time Detective who works with Rory to find the other members of the Legends when they are scattered through time at the outset of the Season. His arc is resolving things with his family and standing up for himself. He annoyed me a lot at first, but grew on me. I like that he is among the Legends.

Snart / Captain Cold – The Legion of Doom takes Snart out of the past and uses him against the Legends. He kills Vixen (she is brought back when Doomworld is rewritten) and helps Thawne win everything. He is evil through and through but Rory lets him know that he will change and that it is Snart’s action that turn Rory into a good man.

Rory – Rory has the loyalty arc again as he joins Snart when the Legion recruits Snart. This leads to Thawne and the Legion winning as they capture the Spear and create “Doomworld” a world where the Legends serve the Legion. Rory helps the Legends remember who they were and stops the Legion. His arc wasn’t needed and I wish he could have taken more of a Leadership role that Jefferson and Sarah take up…he is an underutilized character at this point, at least in regards to writing. His arc that is done well is when he has to let go of Snart and accept that he is dead.

Sarah Lance – Sarah Lance is made Captain by Rip when he leaves and her arc is accepting that role as well as giving up revenge against Dark and letting go of her sister and moving on. This arc is handled well, and her leadership grew on me. The only downside was Dark kept popping up so it was mercy again and again. It took away from her arc when it was done and showed initially the writers might not have known what to do with her role.

Thawne / Reverse-Flash – I really like Thawne / Reverse-Flash. He is a smart and ambitious character who actually wins for a while! Sadly Black Flash wipes him out of time again, but he will come back I hope. Flashpoint in “Flash” brought him back and I hope we will see it again. He is one of the best villains in the CW DC Cinematic Universe and in this he is humanized a lot, while still remaining a villain. I loved his conversations with Captain Atom and other members of the Legends…

The Crossover Event – The Legends, The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl all teamed up fighting the Dominators! This was an amazing event and I wanted more of it. This was the closest we have to a CW DC Justice League and I cared about all the characters, and felt the alien threat was great. Here is to more events like this.

Grief and Letting Go – The major theme this season was letting go and moving through grief. Rory and Sarah’s arcs were only completed after they said good-bye to those they loved and accepted how that person had changed them. This was powerful but felt weaker because Rip did this last Season with his wife and kid…It was still one of the better parts of the season though.

Okay: The Ending – The ending is alright. I enjoyed Rory saying good by to Snart and Sarah saying good by the Laurel but wasn’t a fan of Rip going off an adventure again and though the breaking time is intriguing (maybe Thawne will be back!) and I liked that Vixen and Steel are the new members of the Legends…it still felt unfinished and that it was more concerned with setting up Season 3 than having a final Season 2.

The Cons: Dark – Dark is also from “Arrow” and also a waste. Seriously the “Arrow” villains are just the most boring characters in the CW DC Cinematic Universe. He is smarmy and smug and loses every fight he gets into. It takes the Reverse-Flash rewriting reality to give him his only real win. If the Legion even comes back I hope he and Merlyn aren’t a part of it.

Merlyn – Merlyn is back from “Arrow” and doesn’t really do much. He loses every fight he gets into and his whole wanting his wife and son back is never explored. He really wasn’t needed for the Legion of Doom.

The Justice Society of America – These guys show up in World War 2 and hide parts of the Spear of Destiny throughout time with Rip Hunter. They are extremely underdeveloped though and I never got attached. They really should have been core to the season, as besides Vixen, none of them are needed for the plot at all. They aren’t the answer to the Legion of Doom and they seem to only exist this season because they exist in the DC universe.

   This season was stronger in many ways, but weaker in others. I felt Dark and Merlyn never went anywhere as villains. I also felt the Justice Society could have been explored more. Besides Vixen I didn’t feel like I really got to know any of them. They played a big role in separating the Spear but outside of that they weren’t needed for the story at all. I enjoyed Sarah letting go of her sister and Rory having to let go of Snart, the good-byes were the best part of the finale…and I’m hoping Thawne comes back, given he’s been erased from reality twice now…Thawne is one of the best villains to come out of the CW DC Cinematic Universe and he’s been the best antagonist the Flash has, so I really hope we haven’t seen the last of him. For overall thoughts, this is a good season that kept me interested in seeing where the story goes from here.

Final Score: 7.7 / 10

“Dark Matter” Season 2 – Better Characters and Great Character Development But Ending Has Problems

dark-matter-season-2

    The fact that “Dark Matter” is based off a comic book really showed this season. From a few plots that didn’t end up going anywhere to the cliffhanger ending, and how each character gets an episode where they are explored. Essentially it captured the pros and cons of any comic that is an ongoing series. This series is still great, but before I get into spoiler thoughts on this season this was something that stood out to me.

   This season kicks off with Two, Three and Four trapped in a prison after Six’s betrayal. While One and Five are on the outside. They soon realize they aren’t safe as the Multi-Corps target them, forcing Six to make a choice as the crew find allies to help escape the Prison.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The world is once again amazing and we get introduced to more factions and other factions get more depth and exploration.

The Action – The action is better than last season, with the Prison Break being one of the best scenes from the show thus far as it had so many elements and characters in play and pulled it all off.

The Factions – The factions are wonderful in this and I can’t wait to see where they go next season. We have more enemies and frenemies primarily and no allies for the crew.

The Seers – The Seers are a group of cultists who use people to see and predict the future and events. They are sick and twisted and who Nyx escaped from. In the end her brother kills himself rather than by used by them and Zairon turns on them (after they had an alliance) when Ryo takes control.

The Multi-Corps – The Multi-Corps are more allies in this as they have worked with the crew before and want to keep the status quo going and aren’t driven by a fanatic like the Galactic Authority. The Mikkei Combine helps rescue them from prison though and is the closest thing the crew has to an ally.

The Galactic Authority – The Authority is given a face in an agent named Kyle Kierken. He nearly captures them all on quite a few occasions and his obsession leads to his possible death at the end with the Zairon takeover.

Zairon – Zairon goes from being a Nation in a civil war being played by factions, to one allied with the Seers to a nation that wipes out the Multi-Corps. Ryo is more dangerous than any who have come before and his Empire is going to be the main threat this season.

The Crew – The crew is the strongest as always, though two new additions are completely wasted.

The Android – The Android has the chance to better become human when a group of rebel androids give her an emotion chip. It is really cool seeing her undercover and in action and we see her love for the crew drives all her actions.

Two – Two is one of the best characters in the show and is the core. She is the captain and she seeks out revenge for the death of One and is the final say on whether one of the new characters becomes a member of the crew fully. She’s my favorite character on the show at this point.

Three – Marcus grows a lot this season as we learn his tragic backstory and see him rise to the challenge, from protecting Five and becoming a source of stablity for the crew. It takes a lot for him to accept Five back into the crew, but he does come around and to him the crew aren’t a means to an, unlike Four and some others.

Four / Ryo Tetsuda – Ryo becomes the main threat and in a way ceases to be Four. This happens when he integrates his memories from before he was Four and this makes him the sociopathic warlord. He is willing to kill his old shipmates for the glory of the Zairon, this after he killed his brother who wanted him to be rule and the loss of all his forces. He truly is a great threat.

Five – Five has more backstory revealed in this and is the moral of the crew. She keeps the crew empathetic with one another and is the reason Six rejoins the crew and sees their rebellion as just. She’s super perspective too and helps an Android really not all humans are bad and saves the Station from a bomb, though Zairon’s plan ruins that saving.

Six – Six’s arc is realizing that the Galactic Authority is bad and upholds a corrupt system and rejoining the crew. He is seeking redemption and nearly dies multiple times because of it. He grew from his past (though he never integrates the old memories) so he still has Six dominating, unlike Four who becomes Ryo.

Nyx – Nyx is the strongest new addition to the crew. She is a strong fighter, survivor and is able to heal from it and to help others heal as well. She’s drawn to survivors like her too and Ryo and her are in a relationship at one point until his betrayal, which is where she chooses the crew. She is a true member of the crew, I can’t wait to see more of her character.

Dimension Hopping – The crew get a Drive that make it possible to jump anywhere nearly instantly. This starts out with them jumping through dimensions and times. It is really cool seeing their hardened selves and the original crew of “The Raza.” Each new area has changed characters we know and it lead to some great character moments when they met their past selves or seeing them interact with characters who they are close with in their own reality.

Okay: The Ending – The ending is another cliffhanger as Zairon destroys the Station the crew and the Multi-corps are gone or nearly gone. I hope we don’t lose a lot of the main characters…I really hope the writers know what they are doing. This is ending was okay but the writers can’t keep doing this. A show needs a concrete end, a complete season is a story…if it become all about the cliffhanger, it just becomes repetitive.

The Cons: One’s Death – One could have been explored so much more, instead he is never allowed to grow or resist, he just dies. It was a wasted opportunity.

Devon – Druggie doctor full of regret. This character annoyed me a lot more than Arax, and the best thing that happened to him was him being killed by the Seers. His character served no purpose.

Arax – Arax is serving one of the Multi-Corps and never stops being a villain towards the crew. He had so much potential to be more but is nothing more than someone only out for himself.

    This season was great for developing characters but also introduced a lot of dead weight. Arax and Devon were wasted cliche characters but thakfully they don’t hang around too long. It is the death of One that is really wasted, though I like that it motivated the crew for revenge and helped them come together. The core cast still carries the show though and making Ryo / Four into the main villain was smart too as even as a villain he never stops being someone you can respect, which makes him all the more frightening as an antagonist. Hated the cliffhanger but can’t wait to see where they take the story from here!

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

“Dark Matter” Season 1 – Amazing World and Premise, Just Needs More Fleshing Out

Dark Matter - Season 1

   “Dark Matter” is an amazing show…easily the best science fiction show since “Continuum” (which this show has a lot of similar themes to). The fact that the creators of the comic book that the show comes from wrote for “Stargate” is probably one reason it is so good. At the end of the day it is a character driven show with the mystery at the core driving the plot. Before I get into spoilers I seriously recommend this show. If you like science fiction, you’ll enjoy Season 1.

    The show was created by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie.

  The premise involves the crew of the the “Raza” waking up with no memory of who they are. Each of them takes a number identity as their pasts unfold over the course of the show and deal with the threats of the Galactic Authority, criminals and competing Multi-Corps.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The universe is fantastic! We have the Galactic Authority, governments and nations and Multi-Corps all in a dance for power and influence with our crew of the “Raza” caught in the middle of it all.

The Premise – The premise takes a deep high concept premise of starting over with no memory and gives us the crew of “Farscape,” or “Firefly,” a group of outcasts who clash but have good hearts at the end of the day.

The Characters – The main characters are the strongest part of this show and it is great seeing Roger Cross again, as he was fantastic in “Continuum.”

The Android – Zoie Palmer is a wonderful Android! She’s easily the best version of this type of characters since Brent Spiner’s Data and it is great seeing her choose to become more human over time. She is the one most looking out for the crew through Season 1.

One – One learns he is Derrick Moss who took the face of a criminal named Jace Corso in order to find the person who killed his family. His drive to find his past is a major part of his identity as he nearly kills Three when he suspects Three of being the one responsible. He is the idealist of the bunch too, where Three is the cynic and he at one point has a relationship with Two as the reveal of her secrets don’t change how he sees her.

Two – Two is the captain of the “Raza” and is a designed organism. She has super strength and can survive almost anything. The organization that created her made her a slave and when the crew rescues her near the end of the season it is great seeing her and the crew get revenge. Melissa O’Neil is fantastic. Her other names are Portia Lin when she became the Mercenary captain and Rebecca when she was first created.

Three – Three is the cynic who was one of the biggest criminals and murders, who also had a past too as he meets his lover early on and loses her. He has a good heart at the end of the day though and even saves One a few times, even though he hates him. Anthony Lemke has great charisma in this role.

Four – Four learns he is a fallen prince who was framed by his Step-Mother. His real name is Ryo Tetsuda and he is the most hardened of all of them besides Two. He even kills his mentor after after his mentor attempts to bring him in but lets him go after all his men have been killed by the crew of the “Raza.” His story still has a long way to go but I like the pieces in play. Alex Mallari jr. did a wonderful job of speaking with his eyes as he is the least outspoken of the crew.

Five – Five is the hacker and the glue of the crew as it her core desire for them to be family that really makes it so they all work. She is the least trusted and the youngest but is a survivor as much as any of them…She is also the one who helps them find the good in themselves and holds one of the plot “Mcguffins” that drives the narrative. Jodelle Ferland does a good job in the role.

Six – Roger Cross is an actor I want to see more of, he was one of the best parts of “Continuum” and here he is the betrayer and also one of the core members of the crew as he is the steady presence the way Five’s kindness is. His reveal is learning that he is an agent of the Galactic Authority that changes everything leads to the end of the season (this reveal is hidden until the end).

Fighting Corruption and Finding Redemption – One of the major themes of the series is the fighting of corruption and seeking of redemption. When our characters learn about who they are they usually go against it as they were pawns of the Multi-Corps who cared nothing for life. This leads to them being idealistic thieves who do their small part against it all.

The Nature of Self and Identity – The nature of self and identity is a major theme. From the Android exploring what it means to feel and have emotions, to our characters who are seeking out their past so they choose what to do in the present. In all of that choices are made and even though our characters aren’t who they were before, they are still themselves.

What if You Had  Second Chance? – Our characters start out with no knowledge of who they were and as they learn who they once were they are given the choice to become someone different. Their self without what hardened them into criminals are the idealistic ones who are fighting the good fight and it is when one chooses their past life that they lose everything.

Okay: The Minor Characters – A lot of the minor characters are pretty forgettable. They aren’t bad but none of them made the list of pros for a reason.

 The Ending and Reveal – The ending involves the crew turning on one another as it is revealed one of them is knocking out members of the crew. In the end it is revealed Six was an agent for the Galactic Authority and is taking them away to prison at the end of the episode.

Okay/Con: Early Season Dialogue – Early season dialogue is choppy and a bit to tell rather than show. It gets better about halfway but it is something to keep in mind. This was a major thing that kept the show from being great.

 Lack of Clear Antagonist – There are a lot of antagonists in this show when what really could have helped focus the early moments where it lagged could have been countered with a strong villain. This show has “Farscape” tendencies and really needed a Scorpius. Maybe they’ll be one further down the line but everyone being an antagonist in some way can only sustain a show for so long.

    This was a show that clearly has so much more potential and I’m glad that it has a Season 3 coming. The characters change and each episode we learn more about the world and mystery of it all. It isn’t as great as the graphic novel series “Saga” but it is cut from the same cloth and could even surpass “Continuum” in regards to this type of show, it really all depends on how the writers choose to handle the characters and world they’ve been given. I hope the show doesn’t go on forever, but it deserves a great end.

Final Score: 8 / 10

“Stranger Things” Season 1 – A Powerful Sci. Fi. Coming of Age Story Reminiscent of the Best of the 80’s Sci. Fi. Films

Stranger Things Poster

   “Stranger Things” is a show born out of love and appreciation for so many great films during the 80’s. You can see elements of Stephen King, “John Carpenter’s The Thing,” “E.T.” “Goonies” and countless others that were clearly inspiration for a show that in the end isn’t any of them and clearly stands on it’s own as a drama and show. Non-spoiler thoughts, if you like any of the things I listed above you should watch this show. Netflix has once again created gold and if you are looking for a timeless and classic story, this is the show for you.

Their will be some SPOILERS coming up.

     The series was created by the Duffer Brothers for Netflix and produced by Shawn Levy.

     The story involves the mysterious disappearance of Will Byers in a small town in Indiana and what his family (his mother and brother) and friends do to find him as a mysterious entity is on the lose and government agents hunt a young girl with superpowers named Eleven, who joins Will’s friends Mike, Lucas and Dustin to find and rescue Will.

The Pros: The World – The world has the small town feel with the greater mystery as we have a small town where everyone knows everyone yet the threat from both El, the State and the alien entity making the small town threatening beyond the bullies who already inhabit the town.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful and captures both the fun of Dungeons and Dragons when the boys are playing it, to the alien nature of the Upside Down where the alien entity comes from and is breaking through into our world.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack is awesome and has wonderful 80’s songs littered through the entire show with a haunting 80’s synth for the opening. It is a film level soundtrack. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein did a great job on it.

The Writing – The writing feels real…the characters don’t speak contrived dialogue and the kids sounds like kids, teens like teens and adults sound like adults. It is surprising how rare this is in shows and films but this series doesn’t have that problem.

The Alien – The alien looks like a misshapen grey human from the back with long arms and am mouth like a Venus fly trip. It is terrifying in that you hardly ever see it fully. It is also deadly too as it kills Nancy’s friend Barb and has pumped Will full of it’s possible young even after he is rescued and it is defeated.

The Characters – The characters drive the story and each of them are more compelling than their stereotype or trope they represent in 80’s film.

Nancy Wheeler – Nancy is the nerd who joins the popular kids but after sees they are bullies leaves them. This is her trope that she goes beyond by building a relationship with Jonathan after both of them lose people to the alien and they take the fight to it. She becomes a leader and shows that she is awesome with a gun.

Jonathan Byers – Jonathan is the awkward creeper outsider who we learn is actually sensitive and respectful. That is his trope and how he goes beyond it is building a relationship with his mom when he learns she was telling the truth of talking to Will through the lights and seeing the alien. He’s also a cool older brother to Will and introduces him to great rock.

Chief Jim Hopper – Jim Hopper is the alcoholic divorced Police Chief who lost his daughter and never recovered from it. He changes in that he is the first to back Joyce when he discovers the State base and the area where the alien has made it’s home and the government wipes his memory. He is a dealmaker who doesn’t want to lose people and makes a deal for the State to get El back if he can save Will since he doesn’t want Joyce to lose a child too. For the bitter Police Chief he has a lot of compassion and empathy, and is quite good at his job.

Joyce Byers – Joyce is the main character besides Will’s friends. She is the one who is seen as crazy and in many ways did crack after Will went missing. She is also the one who sees the unknown and takes the risks and discovers the alien entity first. She is great in that she is someone who is doing the best she can with so much working against her. When she helps rescue Will we also see her begin to heal from her past abusive relationship and now having good relationships with her sons. Winona Ryder is wonderful in this role.

Dustin – Dustin is the guy who perceives a lot. He guessed the lunch lady was hiding the chocolate pudding, he knew when the State was coming and to get away and in the end it hints that he knows greater threats are on the horizon too. He is also the one who helps Lucas and Mike resolve their issues and brings the group back together. He is a pretty awesome kid with a lisp.

Lucas – Lucas is the member of Will’s friends who is the most driven and connected to those in the group. He distrusts El when they meet her partially out of fear of losing Mike but also because he wants to protect his friends. In the end he comes around though and even after he and Mike fight he warns and protects them and Eleven from the State as he sees who the real threat is.

Eleven – El is a character with superpowers who was taken from her mother in a government experiment and was being used to spy on the Russians during the Cold War before she escapes after she ends up opening the portal to the world the alien comes from. She is an amazing character who is learning how to control her powers and discovers what having friends is actually like and what it means. In the end she uses her power to hold away the entity and to keep it from our world after she and Mike basically admit love for one another. It is powerful and sad and we get the idea she is still out there fighting the entity.

Mike Wheeler – Mike is the main character and his arc is healing his relationship with his friends, his love for El and saving Will. He is a cool character and we see him willing to risk his life to protect those he cares about. He is also the DM for the boys’ Dungeons and Dragons game.

Coming of Age and Loss – This is the town’s coming of age and Nancy has sex for the first time and discovers her sexuality, Will discovers attraction, El discovers her own beauty and wants for the first time and Joyce and Jim confront their grief and loss and in it come together to heal as they try to save Will. It is powerful and these themes are always their below the surface in the many events and confrontations that take place through the show.

The Cons: The State and Their Motivations and Execution – I get they are fighting the Russians during the Cold War but beyond a faceless entity there was no depth to them at all. Even El’s “Papa” was just a monster who had no depth. This was a major con as every good show needs a good villain.

Leaving the Ending Open – The series could have ended and even though I want to see more I’m putting it as a con since they could have easily wrapped everything up and had the perfect show.

  This was a series that could have ended amazing with just 1 season and not setting up future seasons. I like that there will be more of this show, but like any story that keeps going, especially with television…I fear how it could bring around the overall quality of the show if it isn’t handled well. After defeating the alien things could have ended and it would have been perfect. Leaving it open brought it down a little for me. This is a world well worth your time though and the acting and writing is absolutely amazing. I have yet to have a bad experience with Netflix shows and this one is easily one of their best.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

“Wayward Pines” Season 1 – A Classic Dystopian Exploration of Humanity With Great Characters

Wayward-Pines-Season-1

    “Wayward Pines” is a fantastic show, and I’m grateful it got renewed. This is a show that is hard to get into without spoiling sine the premise is a mystery so I’ll give you a selling point by a comparison. This show is like “X-Files” meets an episode of “Black Mirror” or “The Twilight Zone.” It really is brilliant. If the show had lesser writers or actors this concept could have fallen apart, but it stayed strong and in that it sold the premise, so in that I highly recommend it.

    The show was produced by M. Night Shyamalan (At this point this maybe the only thing he should be doing, rather than writing and directing), developed for Fox by Chad Hodge and is based on the novels of the same name by Blake Crouch.

SPOILERS ahead

     The story involves Agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) seeking out his ex lover and partner Kate Hewson (Carla Gugino) who has gone missing in Idaho. After investigating he crashes and wakes up in the mysterious of Wayward Pines, ID where everyone is trapped inside and must seek out of the truth of the town.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise works really great as a town that feels off and is full of secrets is such a fun concept to explore. You can do so many things with this sci. fi. concept that you can do so much with as any action taken in the town will affect everyone.

The World – The world is really cool! The world of Wayward Pines takes place far into the future after humanity has been destroyed leading to David Pilcher to wake everyone up to make his ideallic paradise of his chosen in the town of Wayward Pines…the only city that has humanity in a world overrun by Abby (Aberrations, evolved human mutants who only kill and hunt). It is a fascinating world and you can see how it shapes the people in it.

Wayward Pines – The town is Pilcher’s paradise that he is willing to destroy if it won’t let him control it. We see this in the executions for lawbreakers, the fact that there was another Group before who Pilcher may have destroyed (or who might have destroyed themselves). It is really cool as you have a small group that is living Pilcher’s experiment.

The Characters – The characters are the strongest part and what really drive the story. I cared about what happened to them and that is what kept me in the story outside of the unique concept.

Arlene Moran – Moran is the receptionist at the police station and shows how courageous she is on multiple occasions. She is also the nosy member of the town and very loyal, giving her an interesting dynamic to everyone else. I really liked her character.

Harold Ballinger – Ballinger is Burke’s husband and is a stand up guy. We see he’s been fighting David as part of the resistance but is willing to see the truth to what is outside the town, though in the end he doesn’t live as the Pilcher mentality is instilled in the First Generation and a few of them kill him when Ethan Burke is holding them in the prison.

Arnold Pope – Terrance Howard plays a character who manages to be both threatening and empathic as we see he was someone who was a straight A student but was stuck as security guard until David Pilcher offered him an out. He became powerful as the sheriff of Wayward Pines and his loss of control with the arrival of Ethan Burke turns him into an even bigger tyrant as we see him full of regret as he kidnaps people that David Pilcher wanted to live at the end of the world in Wayward Pines. He is killed by Abbys when he tries to stop the Burkes.

Megan Fisher – Fisher is a hypnotherapist who is a true believer in David Pilcher, and in the end she wins. The First Generation survives and she manages to nearly wipe out all those in the generation who rebelled when she lets the Abbys in. She is someone whose perspective you can get (means justify the end) and her way of acting with manipulative empathy makes her compelling. Hope Davis did a great job.

Theresa Burke – Theresa like Ethan is on the path to find the truth and in the end sees that there can only be peace if they hold together. It is when Pam Pilcher reaches out to her that she discovers the truth and she takes it pretty well finding it on her own versus her thinking the town got to Ethan when he first tells her what happened. I liked her character.

Kate Hewson – Kate is Ethan’s ex-partner and former lover and is a great character who we see leading the rebelling against David Pilcher. This gives her power at the end as when she sees the truth she stands with the town together against annihilation. She stays empathetic throughout it and that seeing that her lack of information had made her so driven and willing to kill to free the town or escape. Garla Gugino is good in this role.

Ethan Burke – Matt Dillon is the agent who drives the story as he manages to stop the Sheriff from killing him and his family (and becomes Sheriff in the process), survives for a long time outside the town and discovers that the world is dead, and stops the rebellion and brokers a peace leading to David Pilcher’s attempt to destroy Group B. In the end he dies for the town, completing his arc as the man who didn’t want to be there in the first place.

Pam Pilcher – Pam is shown to be the villain at the beginning as she is the one calling for the killings for those who disobey and is always threatening Ethan. It isn’t until she sees how over the top her brother is getting that she allies with the Burkes and gets the town the truth. In the end she pays the price too as she has to kill David to stop him.

David Pilcher – Toby Jones is amazing! In this he plays the creator of Wayward Pines and we see how in the end was right about humanity and the fact that humanity would kill itself off. This makes him compelling as you see a man who generally cares about his group if only for his ego and it is only when his paranoia wins out with loss of control that he goes full villain. What a fantastic character.

The Nature of Humanity – The nature of humanity is a core part of the show. In it shows how too much information can cause people to destroy themselves (Group A) but also the danger of fascism and group think in the executions and David Pilcher willingness to execute Group B.

The Ending – The ending is really cool! There is the final fight against the Abbys while getting the survivors of Wayward Pines to safety while dealing with the threat of David Pilcher. At this point his sister Pam has turned against David, so it is great seeing her finally make the choice to shoot him as well as Ethan’s final sacrifice for his family.

Okay: The First Generation – The First Generation is the group of kids Megan Fisher their teacher is indoctrinating to follow the ideals of David Pilcher…they are his brown coat fascists…which makes them interesting but none of them have any depth, not even the Burke’s son. He’s okay but he is just there to show openness to accepting the ideas of David Pilcher and to later carry on his Parents’ ideas next season.

  The only real cons are the child actors, but they aren’t bad…I just didn’t care about them all that much. The adult actors added so much more empathy to their roles and their history to Earth’s past made their present situation in the future all the more powerful. The Ending is powerful too as David Pilcher is a hero even though he tried to kill everyone, and David Burke is hung in effigy even though he saved the town. It was powerful in that it showed no matter how much work human’s need for authority still stayed and the hero worship David Pilcher had instilled lived on. I can’t wait to see Season 2 to see the forms of resistance in the new Wayward Pines.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10