“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

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“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

“The Expanse” Season 1 – An Amazing Sci. Fi. Thriller That Covers Politics, Identity and New Life

The Expanse

   “The Expanse” is the best show to come from the SyFy Channel since “Battlestar Galactica” and “Caprica.” Part of it is due to the rich political material they are pulling from the novels of the same name by James S. A. Corey. Also like “Battlestar” this is  a show that follows many different character perspective to unfold the political drama and mystery of what is going on, and manages to do a great job, while still leaving things open in regards to other mysteries that need to be solved. I seriously recommend this show if you are a science fiction fan.

   The series was created by Hawk Ostby and Mark Fergus and based off the novels by James S. A. Corey.

    The story involves the mystery of the missing Julie Mao (Florence Faivre) as detective Joe Miller is seeking her out in a missing persons case and finds himself pulled into a bigger conspiracy. Elsewhere the crew of the Canterbury are drawn to a ship that Julie was last reported on and find themselves pulled into a much greater conspiracy going on between the OPA (Outer Planets Alliance), Earth and Mars.

The Pros: The Soundtrack – Clinton Shorter is a great composer and the soundtrack manages to be one of the strongest parts of the series as it illustrates the mystery, the tension and the rising threat that pervades the show.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful and reminded me a lot of “Battlestar Galactica.” So much was put into making this world feel lived and making sure the Belters, Mars and Earth each look distinct in the environments in which they live.

The World – The world of this universe is fascinating. We have the OPA who is fighting for Belter independence and goes to extremes to do so, we have the U.N. which appears benevolent but tortures is corrupt and is planning to go to war and Mars is a warrior people who protect our heroes even though they come off as fascists. No one is simple in this and all the factions and people get complexity.

The Mystery – The mystery of Julie Mao is really fascinating as through her we see how strong the OPA is and that Belter Independence will happen over the course of this show, the corruption of Earth and the power brokers like Anderson and Fred Johnson and the complexity and agendas they bring to the table as well as the new life form that Julie Mao is consumed by.

The Factions and Characters – The factions and the characters are the strongest parts of this show and really drive the action as everything is tied back to Julie Mao and through her eyes we see the good and bad of the factions and people within the galaxy fighting for freedom, power or control.

Belters and OPA – The Belters are a faction that is oppressed by Mars and Earth who take their resources and give them water and air in return. They are desperate and from the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA) arose as an Independence movement. You get the motivations of them and see the complexity of Belter identity too.

Anderson Dawes – Anderson Dawes is the OPA representative on Ceres Station and shows us he is both noble and villain in how he interacts with Joe Miller. He is a true nationalist and I’m really curious to see what is going to happen with his character as he has a grudging respect for Miller and lets him go after he tries to kill him. He’s one of the few who knew Julie Mao. Jared Harris does a fantastic job.

Fred Johnson – Fred Johnson is a character drive by guilt as he ordered the destruction of a ship a bunch of miners took over after they were abused. This has lead him to become OPA and it is that which drives him and his actions as he knows Earth and Mars going to war will give his people freedom. Chad Coleman does a great job.

Dmitri Havlock – Dmitri is Joe Miller’s partner and is lovers with a Belter prostitute and is from Earth. He nearly gets killed by Belters but still is the idealist who think connection and talking can fix things. He’s a great contrast to the bitter Miller.

Detective Joe Miller – Thomas Jane is fantastic as Joe Miller! He feels like he’s out of a noir and it is his obsession and belief in Julie Mao that helps us learn about the OPA conspiracy and from that the Earth conspiracy and expansion plan as he is fired when he solves the case of what happened with Julie Mao and his boss is revealed to be OPA.

Mars -We see Mars through the eyes of Alex who used to be a pilot in the Mars military and the military vessel that captures the survivors of the Canterbury and protect them when the mystery vessel and faction attacks. In Mars we see honor and a people who maybe military but do not want war and dream of a planet that will be green and full of water.

Earth – Earth is the corrupt faction we see outside of the OPA as it is Earth factions that are creating the alien life form and it is the leader of the U.N. who is going to war. It is in Earth we see a past Empire trying to capture it’s former glory.

Chrisjen Avasarala – Chrisjen is great as a hardened diplomat who knows how to get into people’s mind. She isn’t an idealist but realizes that the future she has been trying to prevent is out of her control as it looks like Earth is going to go to war and has wanted to go to war. She stays to be an agent in the trenches to resist in her own way, though she does send her husband away for his safety. Shohreh did a great job.

The Crew of the Canterbury – The crew is the strongest part as each them compliment one another in different ways and we see how they act under pressure. They are one of the best parts of this film and truly drive everything that happens outside of Joe Miller’s investigation.

Amos – Amos is the unhinged member of the crew who is okay killing and will do whatever Naomi wants. He has the biggest kill count of the survivors and has an aura of dangerous about him so much so that even Naomi fears him. He is a good guy though and Wes Chatham does a great job portraying him.

Alex – Alex is the pilot and is one of my favorite characters as he is former Mars military and can be a coward sometimes. He brings a great perspective to things and his love of flying is always fun to see. Cas Anvar does a great job with this character.

Jim Holden – Holden is the main character who kicks off the conflict when he blames Mars for teh destruction of the Canterbury which triggers the OPA fight, Earth expansion and the creation of the new life form . Sadly he is the least interesting person on the crew as he is a Paladin type even when it puts people in danger.

Naomi – Naomi is awesome! By the end we learn she probably was or is OPA as she knows about the OPA tunnels in the station that the life form is consuming and she is the one who keeps a clear head and save the crews head on multiple occasions. Dominique Tipper is fantastic in the role!

The Finale – The final is powerful as the survivors of the Canterbury manage to get off the station before the alien life form consumes them all and we see that Holden and Miller are able to get their radiation treated. We are left with a sense of hope because they lived but powerlessness as we see this new life form growing and know that war is on the horizon.

Revolution – OPA’s revolution is going on as scheduled as we see it triggered by the framing of Mars and Earth beginning to overreach and expand. We see the reasons revolution happens to as the Belters are an oppressed faction that is barely surviving most of the time and lives by the whims of Mars and Earth.

New Life – The station that is being used for the experiment has the sentient bioweapon thing that inhabited Julie Mao and we see it kill the Earth Agent at the end…it’s cool that this is our introduction to a true alien life form and it is one that humanity created.

The Cons: Sometimes Wooden Acting – There are times when characters act (none of the ones listed above) and it comes off as wooden and artificial. In that way it does feel a little like a Sy Fy Channel show and that does bring it down.

The Motivation of the Scientists – Why are they creating new life and why is Julie’ Mao’s father find sacrificing her to create it? This was really unclear, especially as we see how many people they are willing to sacrifice to create this new life. Motivations of these guys are unclear.

   This was a great series that I highly recommend. The politics between Mars, Earth and the OPA are fascinating as heroes and villains are revealed on all sides and the overall mystery of the life that has consumed Julie Mao and consumes the agent at the end. This sets up a 4th Faction that isn’t aligned to any of the human ones as far as we know. What will come out of this, especially since it looks like Earth is going to be conquering sets the stage for the war that is to come. So much of the stage is set for wider conflicts and the main characters who drive the story have been explored in regards to their pasts and motivations which makes me curious how circumstances will change them further. This is one of the greats, now lets see if SyFy can keep it that way, rather than ruin it like the last chance I gave them with “Helix.”

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 6 – “The Woman Who Lived” – The Cost of Immortality

The Woman Who Lived Doctor Who

    “The Woman Who Lived” is my favorite episode this season. It blends humor and message together beautifully and manages to explore immortality in way that we see the consequences of it rather than being told the consequences of it like with Harkness earlier in the series. This is easily one of the best episodes of “Doctor Who” and there are many reasons why.

    The episode was directed by Ed Bazalgette and written by Catherine Tregenna.

     The story involves The Doctor running into Ashildr as they seek the same item, the Eyes of Hades as the Doctor is forced to deal with what happens when he leaves people behind. From here Ashildr and the Doctor are at odds as a 3rd Faction manipulates them both.

The Pros: The Time Period – The episode takes place in the 1600s, which is smart as it gives us an idea of how much time has past since the Doctor saved Ashildr and granted her immortality. It’s also a good use of the period too since it’s not quite our period but not Medieval either.

Leandro – Is a lion-like alien who manipulates Ashildr into opening the Portal so his species can invade. He was pretending to be the last of his kind but it was all a ruse as he was scouting ahead for the Leonine. I liked his design and I wouldn’t mind seeing his people again.

Sam Swift – This guy is a thief who loves puns, so I enjoyed the character a lot as I also greatly enjoy the use of puns and the character was someone who was a crook but had a heart and quite a good memory. His life is used to open the portal and he is later saved when Ashildr gives him the final Pill to reverse it.

Ashildr/The Knightmare/Me – Ashildr has grown bitter and no longer remembers who she was as she can’t remember her past so she writes it down. She no longer goes by Ashildr and just calls herself Me and is the thief known as the “Knightmare” in her current time period. Her story is a tragedy as she has lost husbands and children throughout time and is forever alone. This is how Leandro is able to take advantage of her and her perspective and distance from everyone is why the Doctor can’t have her as a companion. We learn this is the reason he’s never gone back for Harkness. Their perspectives are to similar so they’d bring out the worst in one another. In the end she decides become the Patron Saint of the Doctor for those who are left behind so she can heal the damage he causes from saving the world. It’s powerful and we see her core good again as much of the episode showed how detached she was from humanity and life as a whole. Maisie Williams put in an amazing performance again. Her character has been through so much, but endures it all and even finds hope again.

The Doctor – The Doctor shows us just how deeply he cares about humanity in this. “The Mayflies remind us of how important life is.” In that quote we see why he has companions and why he fights for humanity. They give a perspective his people lacked and a mentality he knows that he can fall into…he is so much like Ashildr when he’s detached and it scares him. She reveals his darker side as well as that he does forget about those he leaves behind because he is the man who always runs away. He owns up to that though and we see his sadness at not being able to take Ashildr with him. Capaldi’s performance is utterly amazing, especially his mayfly monologue on why humans and life matters.

  This was the perfect episode of the season and I’ll be surprised if there is one that tops it. It stands alone like the let episode and there is no Clara until the end so we get to fully know Ashildr and see how her relationship develops with the Doctor, as well as their clashing of philosophies initially. I have a feeling we will see her again in the future and I hope we will see  Harkness too as the Doctor talks about he was the other Immortal he traveled with at one point and that Ashildr is bound to meet him at some point. Suffice to say, this is one of the best stories to come out of “Doctor Who.”

Final Score: 10 / 10

“Rick and Morty” Finale – Season 2, Episode 10 – “The Wedding Squanchers” – A Funny, Powerful Ending…Free Rick

rick-morty-season-2-finale

   “The Wedding Squanchers” is a powerful ending to a good season. In this we get to know a lot of the characters and have one of the most powerful endings to any animated show. Next season feels so far away. I also finished watching this on the same date in the future that The Doc and Marty traveled to in “Back to the Future Part 2” it just took a while for me to have the time to update the reviews. “Back to Future” inspired this show as Morty is like a younger and less innocent Marty and Rick is very much a more unhinged sociopathic Doc Brown.

       The story involves the wedding of Bird Person and Tammy and all that comes out of it when it is revealed that Tammy is an agent sent to bring down Bird Person, Rick and all his friend’s the Federation considers terrorists. The Smiths must make their escape.

The Pros: The Wedding – The Wedding is wonderful and all of Bird Person’s colorful friends are present. The wedding ends in tragedy though revealing Rick once again being right on Weddings being just like a funeral.

Tammy – Tammy reveals she’s been an undercover agent the entire time and even manages to nearly capture Rick. It is only Squanchy getting Squanched that manages to defeat her but we still don’t know if she’s dead or not. Honestly wouldn’t be surprised if she is still alive.

Bird Person – Bird Person has been through some heavy stuff and was a pretty lonely guy. I think that is how Tammy was able to take advantage of him in the first place as it was at a party where everyone was getting drunk and Bird Person was probably dealing with some major PTSD from all he’d been through. R.I.P. Bird Person. You will be missed.

Squanchy – Squanchy rocks! In this we see him get Squanched and help save the Smith’s. The Wedding takes place on his world too. The guy is a major stand up guy. I hope he survived Tammy’s betrayal.

Beth – Beth is going through a lot of  loss in this as we see how Rick leaving her has left her broken and selfish to the point that she isn’t able to listen to Bird Person sharing some pretty traumatic stuff. By the end of the episode she is broken as Rick is gone from her life again.

Morty – Morty is pretty aware in this as we see him reach out for Rick to stay since he knows how it will affect Beth as well as himself. He is really great in this even though he isn’t core except for the end.

Rick – Rick is a good guy in this…he goes to his friend’s wedding and loses him and we see why is so detached and bitter…and in the end he turns himself in to save his family…showing that at the end of the day Rick has good. Free Rick!

The Ending – Nine Inch Nails’s song “Hurt” plays over Rick turning himself in and being put in a high security cell. It is so sad as Morty and Beth are especially feeling the pain of Rick being gone while Jerry is happy to be given a government issued job and Summer is numb.

Jerry and Summer – These two are just victims and don’t really do anything to help or hinder Rick’s choices as in the end we see that his decision came from love and not guilt.

   This was a great episode and easily the best episode of the season. Rick turning himself in and the death of Bird Person were actually sad events…our time with these characters has made us care about them and we still get wonderful dark comedy and action inbetween. This is part of why this show is so great.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10