Star Wars Rebels – Season 1, Episode 5 – “Out of Darkness” – A Matter of Trust

Out of Darkness

“Out of Darkness” is a Sabine and Hera episode, though primarily a Sabine episode. In this we get some of her backstory and why she has trouble trusting Hera and the crew. It’s a good but not great episode as the main threat doesn’t feel like that much of a threat and doesn’t look threatening. The story is good though.

The episode was directed by Steward Lee and written by Kevin Hopps.

The story begins with the crew being pursued by Tie Fighters who they escape but the ship is injured in the process. After Chopper causes problems the repairs are never complete and when Phantom lands at the meeting place that the mysterious Fulcrum gives them Sabine and Hera find themselves trapped on in the fort with alien creatures closing in on them.

The Pros: Fulcrum – The mysterious informant who passes along missions, I like the idea as it leaves no trace for the Empire with only Hera and Kanan knowing the missions. The idea is very well executed and I hope we meet Fulcrum.

Infighting – Zeb, Ezra and Chopper clash a lot this episode, largely because Chopper continues to harass them which leads to Phantom not being repaired.

Sabine – Sabine was a stormtrooper on Mandalore and she trusted the Empire. She was ordered to do some pretty horrible things to her home and this is the reason she has trouble trusting. Hera understands this but she also is trying to protect them by only getting them information they need to know. They resolve things at the end but I expect Sabine’s trust issues will play a part again, the rebels aren’t perfect.

Hera – Hera is very guarded in this and this is partially due to her being the leader, but I wonder if she lost people too because information was too widespread and the Empire used it against her. Still she is a good mentor to Sabine this episode.

The Cons: The Creatures on the Base – They were meant to look scary but they just look like adorable zerglings…which misses the point of them being a threat. Their fear of light also made it so I could not take them seriously.

This was a good filler episode. Some great character moments with Sabine and Hera and even the humor moments where wonderful. This was definitely an episode that showed that even the lesser episodes in this series still have quality.

Final Score: 8 / 10.

Reservoir Dogs (1992): A Job Gone Wrong

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        “Reservoir Dogs” is a movie that for me has gotten better with time. When I first saw it, it was so depressing it was hard to be invested in any of the characters. They were all extremely flawed and I saw no reason to care about them. This second time watching this film gave me a new perspective though. I’ll get into what changed my perspective about the film in the assessment.

      “Reservoir Dogs” was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and produced by Lawrence Bender.

      The premise of the film is that a bunch of strangers are called on to do a diamond heist by the Mob Boss Joe Cabot. They are each given names tied to colors except for Joe’s son Eddie “Nice Guy” Cabot but things soon unravel as they discover they were set up and a mole is among them leading to the death of two of the group in the initial heist. From here the story unfolds in the warehouse while giving us the survivor’s backstory.

Here is the assessment of the film

The Pros: The Soundtrack – The use of 70’s music like “Stuck in the Middle with You,” gives a light feel to the heavy scenes and silence that unfolds through a lot of the production. It gives the thrill of the heist and the idea of the heist which makes the traumatic events afterward (Mr. Orange has a bullet to the gut, a cop gets tortured, multiple standoffs) and adds dimensions to the scenes. The collection of artists added a lot to the film.

The Structure – Tarantino has always been known for his breaking of linear story structure and this film does it really well. We get the survivor’s backstory…from Mr. White being the reluctant thief, to Mr. Blonde getting out of prison and his relationship with Eddie, Joe’s son…to Mr. Pink surviving the robbery and getting the jewels and Mr. Orange’s backstory as an undercover cop trying to bring down the Cabot family leading to the final conclusion of events and the finale scene.

Cinematography – Most of the film is filmed in a warehouse but how it is filmed makes it appear like a prison cell or an open battlefield…Andrzej Sekula did an amazing job with showing the scenery as a reflection of the characters’ mindsets. From seeing Mr. Blonde leaving to get the gasoline and being the only one we see perspectivewise leave the warehouse…to Mr. Orange and White as always being presented closer, like they are trapped.

The Characters – I didn’t like the character the first time I saw it. They were racist criminals who were impossible to root for. This time my perspective changed in that you see how each of them besides Mr. Blonde had a life beyond the work. This adds stakes and adds sympathy even if the characters aren’t wholly sympathetic…which is a Tarantino thing since in most of this films the characters are flawed to the point of almost being unsympathetic a lot of the time.

Mr. Pink – Steve Buscemi is one of the common actors in Tarantino or Rodriguez films and here does a great job as the cowardly survivor. He is the one who doesn’t have an ego in the battle between folks and because of this only has a gun pulled on him once. He also makes the getaway with the diamonds showing that he never lost site of the mission. His dynamic is fascinating as he is the most submissive of the characters but also fights back when threatened. He certainly isn’t good, but he is an intriguing character.

Mr. Orange  – Tim Roth (another common Tarantino actor) does a great job as the undercover cop. We see him remind the cop who was tortured by Mr. Blonde that he’s dying and help is on the way so to stop panicking and also how he takes on the role of the character that eventually Mr. White feels drawn to. He plays the rookie criminal real well and his biggest tragedy is when he confesses his identity to Mr. White which leads to Mr. White killing him in the end.

Mr. White – Harvey Keitel plays the reluctant thief as we see he’d had a falling out with an ex-partner and was set moving on before Joe’s pulls him back in. His character is a character of regret as he learns Joe was right about Mr. Orange and that his defense of Mr. Orange ruined any chance he had of getting out of the business. I didn’t feel bad for the guy the first time I saw this film, but did this time as he is a person acting from what he knows…even as he tries to get beyond it.

Mr. Blonde – This guy is a psycho and an interesting one at that. From torturing a cop to 70’s hits and killing civilians in the bank…this guy doesn’t care at all about anything except his loyalty to the Cabot family. When he got killed it was rewarding as he is the closest thing there is to an antagonist in this film. He’s an unrepentant crook who just enjoys hurting people.

The Themes – The Themes are great. Trust is key and all the interesting characters are conflicted and just trying to survive. No one knows anyone’s identity and they are dependent on the mob boss for an out but soon find he doesn’t have all the answers and things have gotten too deep. It’s only the character who trusts no one…Mr. Pink, who survives.

Okay/Con: The Cabots – I didn’t really care about Eddie or Joe. They basically function as standard mob bosses and there wasn’t anything complex about them. They were loyal to those who were loyal to them and Blonde and Eddie were like brothers…but it never got deeper than that. I never cared about these characters.

Mr. Blue and Mr. Brown – Tarantino plays Mr. Brown but is a one note character. Neither of them is really memorable so their deaths mean nothing beyond a statistic. Tarantino usually plays more interesting characters so it was a shame.

   “Reservoir Dogs” is by no means my favorite Tarantino film, though at this point I feel comfortable calling it a favorite. It is really good, even if it isn’t great and the non-linear story structure really serves the drama and raises the stakes. The music is also a great addition like most Tarantino films, and of course the cinematography is beautiful. If you haven’t seen it and like Tarantino, check it out. At the very least check out some of the character names and themes that would inspire Vince Gillian in “Breaking Bad.”

Final Score: 8.6 / 10. A very good favorite.

Sleepy Hollow – Season 2, Episode 5 – “The Weeping Lady” – A Matter of Trust

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“Sleepy Hollow” has some of the best monsters and this episode kept up that theme of great enemies such as the Pied Piper with bringing us the The Weeping Lady of this episode. The theme of this episode is also trust and how it is gained and lost in regards to the major players of the series.

The episode was directed by Larry Teng and written by M. Raven Metzner.

The premise is that the Weeping Lady, a ghost legend has been summoned to Sleepy Hollow. Things get more complicated in stopping her as she targets the women closest to Ichabod Crane and may be tied to Ichabod’s past as well as the sins of his wife Katrina. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Caroline – Caroline is a character who appears briefly but very powerfully in a scene where we find she has been making Ichabod’s era clothes as she has a love for colonial times. Ichabod lets her down as a friend and she accepts but she is shortly killed afterward. The thing that is powerful though is you get how powerful their brief friendship was given that was one of the few people who got Ichabod on some level because of his being out of time…which makes her death tragic. It is for this reason I’m glad she got a funeral at the end.

The Weeping Lady – This monster looks awesome! Summoned by Henry from Katrina’s past she is there to get revenge on all those closest to Ichabod eventually targeting Katrina herself like she did initially before her death. As a monster she is fantastic and she is tragic though not as complex as she could have been. I’ll get into the character of Mary who became the Weeping Lady further down.

Abbie – Abbie continues to rock and is the one doubting that Katrina is entirely honest with Ichabod, which ends up being true. We see her cynicism rub off a bit on Ichabod at the end and their bond grow stronger. It’s a great scene and she really is part of what makes the show so amazing to watch.

The Headless Horseman / Abraham / Horseman of Death – Abraham makes a brief appearance here and is shown to not be an entirely bad guy when he spares Ichabod’s wife after Katrina tells him about Ichabod saving them. He also confesses he never took pleasure from her pain and only ever wanted her happiness. It shows that though he is a damned headless, horseman of death…the guy still has soul on some level and is complicated.

Katrina – Katrina thanks the Headless Horseman for trying to rescue her! Its a touching scene and where you see she does have or had some feelings there for him. I like this given she sees Ichabod mourn a woman who tried to kill her (Mary) and his close connection to Abbie at times being more important than their marriage. She’s got to be conflicted, just like he is over her staying with Abraham. That moment she thanks him was perfect given the episode begins with her sending a letter of her love secretly to Ichabod that leads to the Weeping Lady targeting her in the first place. Curious to see how her arc plays out since Moloch wants her as a vessel.

Ichabod – Ichabod finally has to deal with all the times Katrina has lied to him…from the existence of Henry, to her being a witch and her covering up Mary’s death and claiming Mary went home. He has a speech about trust which is the major theme of the episode and how he feels it has been lost after today. His laying Mary to rest in peace was a touching scene though as well as the funeral for Caroline.

Horesman of War / Henry Parish – Henry takes the initiative and drives a wedge between the couple by summoning the Weeping Lady and he pays a price for it. Moloch gets pissed off since it wasn’t part of the plan and we see victorious Henry weeping at the end. He may have drove a wedge between his parents, but he did between the Headless Horseman and himself and Moloch and himself leaving him isolated and alone…which given that his loneliness was part of the reason he made the deal with Moloch in the first place, must be a living hell. He’s by far one of my favorite characters on the show, though I’d say Abraham is too along with Abbie and Ichabod.

Okay: Mary – Mary’s backstory isn’t great. She was betrothed to Ichabod as a kid, they broke it off but she thought it was for real still and tried to bring him back to England so their families would be happy. When she saw Katrina she got jealous, tried to get Katrina out of the picture and fell to to her death in the process. I hope we meet her parents since she could easily be a victim of of them, hopefully…and not crazy stalker. Her becoming the Weeping Lady is still a tragedy though.

Nick – Why is this guy still around? He saves Abbie from the Weeping Lady when she attacks in the library and gives them a holy weapon to try out but that’s about it. I don’t get why he’s kept around since he is a mercenary and seems to function more as a plot device. I don’t dislike the guy but there are so many more interesting characters to explore.

This was a good but not great episode. It was good in that the Weeping Lady was a great threat and the themes of trust in regards to Ichabod and Katrina were finally brought up as a major issue…and also trust between Moloch and Henry. We saw falling outs this episode and with it the promise for more.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

Gargoyles Pilot – Season 1, Episodes 1-5 – “Awakening” – A Matter of Trust

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“Gargoyles” was a show that I loved when I watched it in College, at least the first 2 seasons. I couldn’t get through season 3 because of the animation but may try again later. For this though, I’m going to be reviewing Season 1 and starting with the 5 Part Pilot of “Awakening.” Suffice to say I was impressed.

Part of the reason I loved this show were all the guest stars from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” that really got a chance to shine. Folks from one of my favorite sci. fi. shows in one of my favorite fantasy shows. It was a win win.

The story was written by Eric Luke and Michael Reaves and directed by Kazuo Terada and Saburo Hashimoto.

The story of “Gargoyles” begins in the past in Scotland. Gargoyles lead by Goliath protect the Scots from viking attacks, but one day they are betrayed by a man they consider a friend which leads to the vikings exterminating most of the gargoyles and enslaving the Scots. When the survivors free the Scots the Princess goes missing and they are blamed and turned to stone until the castle is above the skies. Goliath decides to join them and 1000 years pass and they brought to the present by Xanatos who puts their castle on top of his building. The story than unfolds as they deal with trusting humans, a reveal from the past and Goliath’s budding relationship with Detective Maza.

Demona

Here is the assessment of the episodes:

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is fantastic! Who would have thought making gargoyles living creatures who experience prejudice in all time periods would work so well. Them being outsiders and outside of time is part of what makes it so strong as they adapt to the future and finding their way. Having magic in this world works too by the very existence of the gargoyles on the scene. It establishes the fantastic early.

The Gargoyles – They can glide, live in clans and turn into stone by the light of the sun. They are powerful but have limitations which make them so amazing! They also have reason to distrust humans which makes for an interesting drama from the get go.

The characters: Goliath – The leader and first named of the gargoyles since the Gargoyles don’t have names except the ones humans give them, and Goliath was named so because of how large he was, and the fear related to him. He is a great character who is moral and fights for his people. He does not believe in killing and only does revenge as a last resort, because of his experience with the Princess and her Sorceress realizing they were wrong, he is able to trust again in the future.

Demona – Marina Sirtis from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is Goliath’s mate and takes the name because of how she hates being betrayed time and again by humans. She is the Magneto to Goliath’s Xavier and you can see where she’s coming from. The only thing I hated was when she targets the Gargoyles when they don’t stay loyal to Xanatos, this struck me as out of character…since she is the one trying to protect them in the long term. That was why she made the deal with the captain in the hopes that Goliath would take all the gargoyles to go and hunt down the Vikings.

Detective Maza – She is the one who shows Goliath that not all people are bad and risks her life countless times for him. She is an awesome protagonist and the main human perspective we get outside of Xanatos. She is the anti-Xanatos as she sees beyond herself and truly cares about the gargoyles. Salli Richardson does a good job.

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The Support Characters – Brooklyn (the beaked gargoyle), Hudson (the oldest and the mentor), Lexington (the techie), Broadway (the biggest one) and Bronx (the dog) are all amazing. You see why they care as they experienced kindness from a child and you see why they are the ones who survived, they were the outcasts of the outcasts and punished because they were strange by gargoyle standards and wanted to interact with people. They are the best support characters.

The Princess and the Sorcerer – These two are selfish distrusting folks who eventually feel guilt after the gargoyles sacrifice to save them and promise to protect the gargoyles hatchlings. Probably the weakest but that isn’t there fault as much as a time issue. The episode could have explored them both more, but they achieve their purpose for future episode arcs and showing Goliath not all humans are bad.

Xanatos

Xanatos – This guy has had a trope named after him because he is so intelligent and manipulative. Everything he does is a gambit and he has plans within plans or something to hold over the gargoyles head so that he’ll survive another day. Jonathan Frakes owned this role and he is one of my favorite complicated villains. His motivations work because he feels human even if he Lex Luthory at times. One of the best animated villains and the ultimate chess master. This episode he still has the gargoyles to manipulate at the end and he has nothing to hold over his head. He loses nothing at the episodes end even with the reveal of him trying to kill the gargoyles and only using them for himself.

The Message – There are reasons to trust and not trust people, but differences should not be a factor as there are good people in any group. It’s very X-Meny, but because their gargoyles it adds even more. The gargoyles look nothing like us and are like aliens and are different and good. It is sad every time people react towards fear towards them and seeing Demona consumed by hatred to the point she is no longer the person she was before.

I got to say I highly recommend this Pilot and can’t wait to review the rest of the season. It’s solid and gives a lot of room to explore all the characters. This episode has a wonderful larger point, tells a beautiful story and creates an interesting species of creatures while keeping a dark tone intermixed with hope. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.

Final Score is 10 / 10. One of the best pilots of any show.