Archive | December, 2011

Dexter: “Talk to the Hand” episode review

26 Dec

I think this Dexter episode might be my favorite this season. It has just the right mix of perverted sex, death and a bit of suspense. And I like the title.  This show was originally going about going to dark places and sometimes, over the last few seasons, I felt like it didn’t always go dark enough; however, with this episode, I can see we are back on track.  You can’t get much darker, really.

SPOILER ALERT:

Dexter (Michael C. Hall) gets called to his own crime scene, something I always find amusing. By the time he arrives, the police have fished Holly’s body out of the water.  Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) recognizes Dexter’s victim, Steve Dorsey (Kyle Davis) and Louis (Josh Cooke) informs Deb that he told Batista (David Zayas) about his lead last episode (regarding Steve Dorsey and his address), which leads Deb to ask where Batista is and Quinn (Desmond Harrington) rushes there just in time to disrupt Travis’s (Colin Hanks) plans to shoot Batista.  But Beth (Jordana Spiro) has already left to create Wormwood at the Miami Metro PD building in Deb’s office.

Beth makes it into the office with Batista’s ID/key card and waits to talk to Deb.  Dexter passes her on his way in and once he starts looking up Steve Dorsey, he notices a picture of Beth and makes the connection.  He rushes out just in time to see Beth following Deb into her office pushing the button to discharge the poison gas.  Dexter pushes Beth into an interrogation room and we get to see her gas herself.  It’s a gross but fitting death for a nutter.

Deb’s doctor sees the siblings together recovering from the Wormwood aftermath and brings up Deb’s feelings for Dexter in their session.  And yes, she says what you never think you will hear broadcast on American television, that Deb has incestuous feelings for Dexter.  Of course, Deb blows a gasket and denies it but later, she has a very vivid dream that lets us know that yes, she does indeed harbor romantic feelings for her brother.  The big question now is:  what is Deb gonna do about it?

Louis, aka Creepy Man, has also lost the plot.  It looks like perhaps he is going to try to be his own serial killer, or at least a demented stalker and he starts his real life game by sending Dexter the Ice Truck Killer’s hand in the mail.  It looks like we will be seeing more of Louis next season.

In the meantime, Dexter’s been slightly poisoned by the Wormwood gas but still goes after Travis.  First by getting his attention, defacing an Angel in the museum courtyard where Travis works, then by sending him a taunting video.  Travis obviously takes the bait but when Dexter tries to attack, he has a dizzy spell and a bloody nose and Travis injects Dexter with his tranquilizer.  Dexter wakes up on a boat, tied up and surround by gas canisters.  Travis plans on creating his own burning lake of fire, which he does.  Dexter narrowly escapes and knows he must hunt down and kill Travis before the DDK deadline…

Dexter: “Ricochet Rabbit” episode review

26 Dec

As we near the end of this season, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) closes in on Travis (Colin Hanks) – almost  – while Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) seems to slowly realizes that Dexter is the number one man, as well as person, in her life.  What exactly does that mean?  I think we all know what that means.  Yes, I’m going there because that is exactly the path the writers are leading us.

SPOILER ALERT:

Dexter tracks down Holly, the victim Travis previously freed, but not in time to save her from Travis’s new found followers, the crazy loser couple, Steve (Kyle Davis) and Beth Dorsey (Jordana Spiro), who believe in “Gellar’s” prophecies.  Holly, who ironically is a whore, and it appears disliked, gets herself murdered on her lover’s yacht, the Ricochet Rabbit.  Because going on a boat alone is the smartest thing to do after a homicidal maniac almost put you in a death tableau once.  Fortunately, for Travis and company, her stupidity makes their successful murder of her go as easy as pie.  She also managed to give them the privacy they needed to cook up.  Smooth move, Holly.

In the meantime, Deb has more moments with her therapist realizing how important Dexter is to her.  She also does some quick detective work and discovers who was with Jessica, the murdered prostitute.  She turns to Dexter for advice.

Louis (Josh Cooke) tries to show Dexter his homicide game which is about becoming serial killers.  One of the characters the player can be is The Bay Harbor Butcher, in other words, Dexter.  He gets offended and tells Louis to find another idea.  Louis gets upset but still manages to work through his disappointment and ID Travis’s accomplices.  Or at least the husband.  Batista (David Zayas) goes to follow up the lead on his own since Quinn (Desmond Harrington) is MIA.  Most likely, hung over.  Probably not the best idea…

By the time Dexter discovers the boat, it’s too late.  Holly is dead.  Dexter spots someone on the boat in a hazmat suit and knows something bad is going down.  He mistakes Steve for Travis, attacks and kills him, only to discover it’s not Travis in the suit.  And while Dexter makes an anonymous call to 911 about poison gas because this is too big for him to handle, Batista finishes questionning Beth Dorsey and realizes she’s lying and working with Travis, just in time to be hit over the head by Travis and become his next prisoner and potential victim…

Dexter: “Get Gellar” episode review

23 Dec

This might be my shortest Dexter review to date, most likely because it feels more like there are highlights in this episode rather than a story, which, sometimes is not a bad thing… especially since I am not loving Dexter’s redemption storyline this season or the DDK fiasco.  Yes, there are some great sick tableaus, however, that doesn’t make up for the subject matter, religion, which I find overused.  How many times can an idiot decide they are going to help bring on the end of the world?  According to Hollywood, thousands of times.

SPOILER ALERT.

We experience a great therapy moment as the therapist explains to Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) that Dexter (Michael C. Hall) is a chair, not a table.  He’s been a chair all his life and now Deb expects him to act like a table.  Now if Deb had realized this back when Dexter was 17 or 18, maybe he could have become a table-chair hybrid but now, he is simply a chair.  And she tells him he’s a chair, which baffles him to no end.  I think that it’s the best part of the entire episode.  In fact, this particular episode does an excellent job with the characters.

In other news, Travis (Colin Hanks) agrees to help Dexter track down Gellar (Edward James Olmos).  Dexter puts him up in a motel to keep him safe.  That doesn’t seem to stop Gellar from leaving bloody messages on the wall later in the episode.

Quinn (Desmond Harrington) continues imploding.  He ends up losing his gun in the back seat of a stripper’s mother’s car.  And no he didn’t sleep with the stripper but her mother.  And he took photos.  Maybe the best and most comedic humiliating moment for Quinn in the history of the series.

Deb decides to pursue Jessica Morris’ death much to La Guerta’s (Lauren Velez) displeasure.

Louis (Josh Cooke) gets advice from Masuka (C.S. Lee):  when it comes to matters of the heart, always follow your dick.  Louis ends up taking home Batista’s sister, Jamie (Aimee Garcia), and they sleep together.

The next DDK victim is an arrogant professor who ends up laid out dead with the bowls of wrath.  Fairly disgusting but par for the course for DDK.  If you liked Carrie, you will enjoy the body discovery scene.

Later, Gellar seems to have knocked out Travis in the church while Dexter prepared to capture him.  Dexter discovers a trap door to a basement, then a freezer.  Inside the freezer is something Dexter was not expecting:  Gellar’s frozen dead body.  Oops.  I guess it was Travis after all.  And that means, sadly, that they made Gellar like Harry (James Remar), which I think essentially is a sort of cop out.  It’s just a bit too convenient.  I was truly hoping that wasn’t going to happen.

Revenge: “Loyalty” episode review

21 Dec

Loyalty and betrayal.  You can’t have one without the other.  Well, maybe some lucky person can have only loyalty but usually betrayal rears its ugly head at some point in a relationship.  Unfortunately, that is human nature.  And in this episode of Revenge, we get to watch as Emily (Emily VanCamp) loses the loyalty of two allies while simultaneously betraying her own loyalty to one of them.  And yes, obviously we get to see other examples of loyalty and betrayal:  poor Jack (Nick Wechsler) — he, like Sammy the Dog, is probably the most loyal character on the show, believing that he is finally with his true love, Amanda, when it is really Faux Amanda (Margarita Levieva).  So poor Jack is not only betrayed by Faux Amanda by playing a con game of love on him, he is betrayed by Emily, the real Amanda, who secretly loves him, yet can’t bring herself to reveal the truth to him, allowing him to be a pawn in her game, rather than a real player.

Tyler (Ashton Holmes) is betrayed a few times, first by Nolan (Gabriel Mann), although Nolan does try and protect him since he definitely has a…. um…. soft spot for him, but then by Emily when she reveals to Daniel  that Tyler is blackmailing Nolan with a sex tape, and finally, by his friend Daniel (Joshua Bowman) when Daniel reveals to his father the whole sexual blackmail angle.  But really, not only does he deserve it, he thrives on bad turns of events.  We get to see why… he’s psychotic and he’s just run out of his anti-psychotics so things should get very interesting.  Who would have thought that Mr. Ripley’s TV double would be Emily’s biggest problem yet?  But as Tyler gets threatened, he fights back and chooses his weapons carefully.  It should be noted all his ammunition is in the form or information, the same information that Emily received from Nolan.   I guess we will see in the coming episodes who uses the information for a better advantage.

Finally, Daniel, being the mama’s boy that he is, runs home to protect his Mommy, Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) from Tyler.  Because she is such a defenseless woman.  He’s actually done Emily a favor by choosing his mother first.  Her mentor, Satoshi (Hiroyuki Sanada), is correct about him.  He is so disgusted with her lack of focus that he leaves, telling her he can no longer help her.  Yes, Emily, now is probably a smart time to start thinking about your recent choices… If things weren’t bad enough for Emily, first deserted by her boyfriend, then deserted by her mentor, she gets royally dumped by her one ally, Nolan, for betraying his confidence about the sex tape to Daniel.  Because she used a secret of Nolan’s and lied about it to Daniel (how could Tyler be blackmailing him really?  the recording was on Nolan’s portable Dolphin drive, not anything of Tyler’s), so Daniel could take that information and hurt Tyler.  Yes, part of that move was also to punish Nolan for not being completely loyal to Emily, and to get rid of Tyler in her own way, but it was also to help Daniel.  And she just did something anyone in warfare shouldn’t do:  take her eyes off the ball.

In the coming episodes, it seems Emily will have to refocus her efforts.  And get to see her next mark will be Victoria’s new divorce attorney, the man dropped her father’s appeal case.  I am wondering whose help she will employ because right now, she doesn’t even have Sammy, her dog.

Revenge “Suspicion” episode review: when Emily loses control of her game…

21 Dec

When you make friends but use them as strategic alliances, it is sometimes difficult to remember that you must act as if you are their friend. That you actually care about them and their feelings. Because they are under the mistaken impression you actually like them and want them as your friend. What Emily (Emily VanCamp) begins to see clearly in this episode of Revenge is that at some point, those strategic alliances will break down. Because honestly, you don’t give a rat’s ass about that person. Not really. You only care if they can help you with your endgame. If they can’t, why keep them around? But like some communicable diseases, Emily is learning that Faux Amanda (Margarita Levieva) will not go away, no matter what she tries.

The most interesting thing that happens in this episode is the beginning breakdown of friendship between Faux Amanda and Emily.  SPOILER ALERT:  What’s worse is that Faux Amanda reveals herself to Jack (Nick Wechsler) as the Real Amanda.  He believes her and thinks he has found his lost love.  This seems to deeply infuriate Emily but she doesn’t want to consciously admit it.  While she continues her relationship with Daniel (Joshua Bowman), she does watch as the Faux Relationship blossoms and I’m sure if Emily has anything to do with it, Faux Amanda, with the secret continuing label of frenemy, will become Emily’s full-fledged enemy.

Nolan (Gabriel Mann) begins to lose his grip on Tyler (Ashton Holmes), who stole his credit card for a shopping spree.  He does gather some intel on him:  he discovers Tyler found Lydia’s (Amber Valletta) speech and that Lydia actually was going to reveal that Conrad (Henry Czerny) and Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) were responsible for the downed airline flight David Grayson went to prison for.  Nolan also manages to cause Ashley (Ashley Madekwe) to see him in a lip lock with Tyler.  Unfortunately, Ashley forgives Tyler.  I can’t wait to see Tyler go down.  I will say this about him: it is fun to hate him.

In the least compelling part of the storyline, young Declan (Connor Paolo) only manages to faux blackmail Victoria for $25,000.  I don’t know if Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) should be more insulted that her mother got off at Walmart blackmail prices or her boyfriend is so daft he didn’t start the bargaining at $1,000,000.  If I was worth that much and my boyfriend was willing to sell me out for $25,000, I would be having second thoughts.

Finally, Emily decides to call in reinforcements in the form of Satoshi Takeda (Hiroyuki Sanada), an ally of her father’s, who thinks Daniel’s an idiot and Emily is off her game.  She is off her game.  Nolan is focusing more on sex with a bi- conman and Faux Amanda has officially gone out of control.  And…. Emily hasn’t even taken anybody down for more than two weeks.  She needs to refocus her efforts or she will end up becoming a pawn in her own game.  Of course, that could be more interesting than what’s been going on the last couple of weeks so I say bring it on…

Young Adult: When women refuse to grow up

19 Dec

Charlize Theron in "Young Adult."

Most of my friends are married with children. And I am happy for them.  I prefer not to be married with children.  At least so far.  And as I sat watching Young Adult, I couldn’t help but sickly identify with and enjoy the anti-heroine, Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), who lived in her own narcissistic slightly delusional world and decided that to be happy, she would go back to her hometown and win back her old boyfriend who has just become a new father.  Diablo Cody who has written both Juno and Jennifer’s Body expertly creates a female character who is searching for happiness in all the wrong places, which is something most women tend to do, expertly.  Jason Reitman brings her words onto the screen seamlessly.  Perhaps that is because he directed Juno and produced Jennifer’s Body.  The previous collaboration illustrates what happens when writers and directors understand each other’s goals and intentions with films.

What is so appealing about this film is that Mavis Gary is unapologetically selfish, something women are never allowed to be.  She is saying and doing things most women fantasize about doing when they hit a point in their lives, usually between about 35-40 when they realize they haven’t ever been happy and they have no idea what happiness constitutes for them.  This is the story about a woman who has settled, even though she believed she had evaded settling.  The only difference between Mavis and the women from her hometown, besides her extraordinary drinking abilities, is that she settled in Minneapolis instead of her small town.  It takes  her experience in the small town to realize what she won’t settle for by the end of the film.

One of the most compelling aspects of Mavis’ character  is that she sees absolutely nothing wrong with destroying a happy marriage for her own pleasure.  Now yes, on the surface that sounds despicable and completely irredeemable, but there is something fascinating about watching a character do things most of us would find so wrong we could only fantasize about doing them.  And that is what Mavis is all about – living out her fantasy.  And that is a dangerous game to play.  Because she has done everything else she has wanted to do, had a successful career, that is now not so successful, had a marriage that was no so successful, and had her first romance that was not so successful.  Mavis wants to do something spectacular, and, honestly, to just keep herself busy and there is one way to keep yourself busy and put off your life and that is to create great drama in it.  The more drama you create, the less you have to actually live a purposeful life.  But sometimes, actually most times, to a character like Mavis, a purposeful life, one as a wife and a mother (which is how a purposeful life is illustrated in this film), seems like it would be no more fun than prison.

While there are many types of women in the world, there is one line that is silently drawn and that is the line between women who want children and women who don’t want children.  And it seems that there is always a question about what is wrong with these women, who go against nature and do not have children.  Who decide they prefer to live a life without caring for babies and that choice, first and foremost, it appears, makes these women seem selfish.  Is that my assessment of these women?  No.  Because loads of horrible selfish women become mothers.  Are these women more evolved than the women who still feel the need to breed?  Who knows.  But what I find compelling is that in this film, Mavis Gary is a neurotic, narcissist who has no problem attempting to destroy a happy home for her own selfishness.  What I find even more disturbing, however, is that her romantic rival invites her into her home, feeling that she is far superior as she is stable and evolved and really all Mavis needs is kindness and compassion – at least that’s her attitude on the surface.  She almost flaunts her condescending attitude toward Mavis who actually doesn’t really need or what kindness and compassion.  She just wants happiness but doesn’t know or understand what it is.

SPOILER ALERT:

This film illustrates figures of so many women, all not quite satisfied no matter where they are in life.  Mavis, you could argue, represents a composite of all of them.  She is the embodiment of unchecked emotion run amok.  She also represents a complicated figure for women in the movie and in real life:  she serves as both a warning to women who do not choose the traditional route to follow in life and inspiration for those women who are too afraid to choose any path.  In one of the most embarrassing scenes in the film, we watch Mavis as she hears what her old boyfriend really thinks of her and what her former friends think of her.  It’s disheartening enough for her end up in bed, having sex with the physical cripple, Matt (Patton Oswalt), in the film, a mirror to herself as an emotional cripple.  It isn’t the sex that f’ixes Mavis.  She doesn’t get fixed.  She does realize that she is missing something and feels like there is something wrong with her and she needs to change, although I’m hard-pressed to ever see her becoming a happy housewife and mother, she would end up killing herself like poor Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road.  No Mavis was never cut out to live in a small town and be a mom, which is really what she needs to hear from Matt’s sister, Sandra (Collette Wolfe), in one of the most inspiring speeches I’ve heard in a long time.

No.  Mavis is still in her Young Adult phase.  The phase she excels writing about.  The phase she is most comfortable in, when we are at are most selfish in life.  Sandra, too, was also stuck in the same Young Adult phase and it a shining example that you don’t have to be a selfish narcissist to be in a regressive spot.  You just have to be scared of life and taking chances on your own.  What this film illustrates is that all the characters are still in a Young Adult phase and nobody completely grows out of it.  Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson), might enjoy being a new dad but he doesn’t admit he likes all Mavis’ attention and won’t even acknowledge the drunken kiss they share on his doorstep, in front of the babysitter.  Beth (Elizabeth Reaser), his wife, was just as regressive really, playing in her fourth-rate girl band at the local bar/restaurant and dedicating the same high school song that represented love for Mavis, to her husband, which illustrates Buddy doesn’t have much of an imagination and simply substituted one girl for another.  If Mavis hadn’t had her miscarriage early on, she too could be a teacher of emotionally handicapped children and a loser drum player in a band in nowhere town.  Beth is so desperate for fun, she’s willing to let her rival take her husband home in order to party and be away from her marriage.  In some ways, Beth is an even more disturbing figure to me than Mavis, as she has her husband and child and although she claims to love them and be happy, she is letting a malevolent force into her life and throwing caution to the wind.  Any sane woman would not be insisting her husband invite his ex-girlfriend who obviously still loves him to their home, to her mini-concert and to the baby naming.  And to have her husband do it as well is just a little more disturbing.

Each character has visual tells about how they hold on to their young adulthood.  Beth has her drums, Matt has his dolls he creates and Mavis, she surrounds her life with juvenile things.  She writes young adult novels.  Actually ghost writes them which is an even bigger sign she’s not quite ready to put her name on her work and acknowledge herself as a writer, she wears Hello Kitty t-shirts, drives drunk, and toward the end of the film, starts driving her old car from high school.  She hangs out where she can hear teenage girls talk and adds their conversations into her novels.  When she’s upset she eats her ice cream and pigs out at the local KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut (honestly this concept of putting two or more fast food restaurants together at the same place is both appealing and somehow a horrific hybrid to me but I secretly love getting Long John Silvers and drinking A&W root beer) and orders from all menus.  And just when you think she is far too juvenile, she ‘dresses up’ and looks like an adult.  Until we witness her actions.  Mavis’ life to this point is essentially an elaborate masquerade that is starting to come apart at the seams.

All these characters are stuck.  Some think they are happy and other’s know they are miserable.  Only Mavis has a short epiphany that she needs to do something to change, but instead, she listens to Sandra who tells her she must stay greedy and selfish and serve as an inspiration to people like Sandra.  It will probably take Mavis a few more years to figure out that yes, she does have to change, but that would entail learning how to love someone other than herself and as the film ends, she is satisfied with that.

Once Upon a Time: “The Shepherd” episode review

14 Dec

Mary Margaret settling for the Doctor.

Two extremely miserable men I know (whose identities shall remain hidden as I’m sure they wouldn’t want the world to know of their emotional ignorance) gave me some of the worst advice I’ve ever heard. Both said, “It’s just as easy to love a rich man as a poor man, so always pick the rich man, Romi.” I just smiled and nodded because sometimes battles are not worth fighting. Sometimes it’s better to let people think you’ve absorbed their ridiculous advice and will file it away for later use. I never thought I’d be applying it to discuss a Once Upon a Time episode, but it has happened. Because I discovered early on it is not just as easy to love a rich man as a poor man. I’ve been out with plenty of rich guys and most of the time, I’d like to throttle them. The same goes for many poor guys as well. What the two misguided men who gave me their advice did not understand is that if you truly love somebody, at the end of the day, rich or poor does not matter. Yes, of course it helps if they are rich. It takes monetary pressure off, but if being rich is that important to the woman, then perhaps she should get her ass out there and make the money she wants and not expect a man to do it for her. I would much rather make my own money and be with a person I truly love than marry someone for security. That is like making a deal with the devil. In fact, making a deal with the devil is probably preferable considering going into a marriage for the wrong reasons can make hell look like a cake walk.

Why am I spending so much time on this? Because this is Prince Charming‘s (Josh Dallas) dilemma in the episode, “The Shepherd.” He begins his story by informing his mother he will only marry for love and she tries to tell him he can’t have everything. By the end of the episode, it is clear, that if he can figure it out, he can have everything, at least in Fairy Tale land. In Storybrooke, he is under the mistaken impression that he must try to love someone he truly doesn’t have actual feelings for. Instead, he has feelings that Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) implanted though false memories from the curse with objects such as the windmill in the antique store. How did Prince Charming screw up in real life? By letting other people influence his feelings and behavior and not listening to his heart but listening to his head. And how does he end up? SPOILER ALERT: At least for now, with a woman he might like but certainly doesn’t love and nearly emotionally destroying his true love and soul mate. And what happens to Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) the true love and soul mate? She ends up having to get drunk with a creepy doctor, compromising her ideals (since we all remember that crap date where he eyed the waitress). Sometimes men need to, well, man up.

This episode is all about Prince Charming, his life in Storybrooke and his life in Fariy Tale Land. We see how he became so famous and that he isn’t actually the original Prince Charming – that was his twin brother who was killed by a warrior. King George (Alan Dale) had made a deal with Rumpelstiltskin (who doesn’t in Fairy Tale Land? that man would probably own me about 100 times over by now if I were there) to get a son. His son was actually the twin brother of a poor couple who needed money to pay for their farm, so they sold one of their babies. King George, apparently, loves to cut deals. So when Prince Charming died he was actually trying to prove to King Midas (Alex Zahara) that he could slay the dragon plaguing Midas’ kingdom so Midas would reward King George’s kingdom with something he sorely needed – gold. Lucky for King George Prince Charming’s twin brother was so good at lamb and sheep wrangling or he would have never been able to save the kingdom by playing the same wrangling trick on the dragon he did so many times on the farm. And what did his cleverness get him? A great reward? Nope. Instead he gets forced into an engagement with King Midas’s annoying daughter whom he knows he will never love. Lucky for him, Mary Margaret/Snow White is on her way to rob the unhappy couple and forever change all their destinies. Of course, in Fairy Tale Land it all almost works out happily ever after, but there is always someone wanting to rain on someone else’s parade and in this case the Evil Queen screwed up everyone’s life. Hopefully she’ll be on the chopping block in the near future. She certainly should be for what she pulls in Storybrooke, sending David Nolan/Prince Charming to Mr. Gold’s antique shop to reprogram him with bad magic and sending him back to his slaggy wife. But true love will prevail. It better…

In other Storybrooke happenings, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) discovers the Sheriff lied to her and is hooking up with Regina (Lana Parrilla). She’s not too happy but none of that will even matter after the next episode, which I’ve got to admit, I’m not looking forward to. Not because it’s about the Sheriff but because of his fate in Storybrooke…

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