So originally this was supposed to be a big 3 show post of Justified Arrow and Americans. But time being what it is saw me finish these and then get side tracked and what not. Americans "In Control" review recap thingy should be up by midnight PST. In the future I'll probably try combining Arrow and Americans into one post the night they air. Justified stuff might be posted around 12 Wednesday since I've got class early in the morning and need my beauty sleep. You should go read Stacey's stuff if for some reason you crave Justified talk and I have yet to cook the metaphorical meal (that's not creepy sounding at all is it?)
Arrow S1 Ep15 "Dodger" Directed By Eagle Egilsson Written By Beth Schwartz
It’s a light week for Ollie and his hood. “Dodger” is a fairly generic episode in terms of superheroics. A high priced jewel thief comes to town and starts stealing jewels. Well, he doesn't really steal them. He gets other people to do that for him. By strapping a bomb to their neck. That makes it sound a lot more exciting than it was in this episode.
The time crunch was really felt this episode. Having a bomb strapped to your neck or someone you knows neck would be a stressful experience. Except none of the sequences where the Dodger plays mad bomber are tension inducing. They attempt light melodrama with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards now a series regular) being all “Guys we have a problem”, as she shows off her new explosive necklace, which doesn't match the dress. After that beat everything else just moved very fast, too fast. Ollie steals a motorcycle slings some arrows and confronts the man. After some perfunctory dialog Ollie does his whole arrow thing and that is that. For his part James Callis manages to stand out a little as the Dodger. British accents and cattle prods aren’t exactly normal.
No, the real meat of this episode is in all the little subplots, something I normally abhorred. The Queen women were kept busy. Moria has a meeting with family friend Frank, someone her husband turned to when he wanted to get out of their little Secret Society of Supervillains. It isn’t out right said but it seemed like Frank turned Robert into Malcolm, thus starting all this Hood buisness off. Frank isn’t exactly a fan of Malcolm either but he knows to speak about leaving their little group is a one way ticket to the bottom of the ocean. He got into the group after something happened to his daughter, they all came together to “save the Glades”. Saving the Glades to Malcolm Merlyn probably means nothing but it’s utter destruction. Frank, like a good friend, sets Moria up with a person who is good at taking care of messes. Seeing China White AND Deadshot gunning for Malcolm Merlyn sounds like a fun times for next week. Thea’s part in this episode while not as interesting is important for who she meets: Roy Harper aka Speedy aka Red Arrow aka Arsenal ( O man if the show turns Roy into Arsenal proper I’ll mark out).
Like I said this Ollie hardly dons the Hood this week. He is otherwise occupied trying to date and otherwise be a functioning member of society. Trying to function is something he has in common with Mr. Diggle who finds himself trying to stop thinking and actually feel for a change...by dating your former sister in-law. Both guys are clearly out of practice but it’s a chance to see these two cartoonish characters try and act normal for a change. Stephen Amell as Oliver post-Island is a bit wooden outside of the Hood, there is a certain aloofness to him. Him on a date with Detective Hall though pushed that aloofness aside force him to converse with someone. All the while having a mad cap of flashbacks to all the craziness of the Island.
It was good seeing the majority of the cast outside of hunting down people on a list or trying to capture a major thief. Television is about characters and Arrow has a couple that could be pretty good. They definitely have the talent to pull it off.
C - China White AND Deadshot next week and if only Ollie knew it would be best for them to win this time around.
Justified S4 Ep07 "Money Trap" Directed By Don Kurt Story by: Elmore Leonard & Chris Provenzano Teleplay by: Chris Provenzano
It’s always kind of weird seeing the amount of time that has passed in a given show spelled out. “Money Trap” is the seventh episode of the fourth season of Justified. It never crossed my mind that episodes 1-6 all happened in under a week. I had it figured that it was more like two or three weeks. Nope it has all happened over 6 days, starting just about where "Hole in the Wall" ended.
The ever resourceful Jody brutally escapes Raylan’s Bounty Hunter-ex Sharon Edmunds’ custody. Strangling her partner before getting off a luck shot off on her. All of this happening in the backwoods of Kentucky. No one the wiser. Least of all Raylan who has been hell bent on ruining the deal between the state and his father. With a deadend on the hunt for Drew Thompson it seems like a real possibility that Raylan and Arlo are going to have themselves a family reunion. He really doesn't want to see Arlo . So when the police call up telling him Sharon has been fished out of a lake with he lets himself get a little sidetracked in the hunt for the inept but deadly Jody.
There is a certain novelty to watching Justified, because Raylan normally ends an episode by getting in a fight and gunning some felon down. Season 4 has actually been very light on Raylan going all cowboy. Which makes his comments in earlier episodes about it being a while and the revelation this has all happened in under a week, a mixture of comedy and darkness. Dose Raylan really shoot someone on average every two days? Drake might have some competition for the title of "most lovable mass murder".The passage of time within the Justified universe aside it really has been awhile since Raylan went all cowboy. So when he guns Jordy down it felt like Raylan finally had some of his swagger back.
Gun violence and cowboy antics might be the draw but it is the dialog that makes you stay. The banter between Raylan and Jackie Nevada (The Secret Circle’s Shelley Hennig) this episode was just great. Jackie reading Raylan so easily and pushing the dry Marshal around. Musing over the differences in their upbringing. Raylan’s admission that he probably can’t read her as well as he thinks he can. Timothy Olyphant can be a charming man just as easily an asshole.
Raylan isn’t the only one who has a way with words. Boyd is quiet the wordsmith himself. A skill that comes in handy when hanging around ex-Sheriff Napier’s swingers party. Boyd Crowder dreams of bigger and better things for himself, future family, and Crowder name. Hoping to finance that better tomorrow with the drug trade. Boyd considers himself to be getting pretty big in Harlan. The world of Justified is built on the idea of people trying to escape their past and be seen as more then just their last name. Boyd appears to be on the right (well morally wrong) track. Invited in to the back room where the real business is handled Boyd meets some proper, white collar, entrenched criminal interests: Lee Paxton, Gerald Johnson and Arnold. The trio are at first very interested in getting to know Mr. Crowder, in his Sunday best pocket watch and all. He learns a game is being played but fails to complete the question is he a “player” or the one being “played”. These wealthy white men quickly strike him down to size. Sure Boyd is doing well but they claim it is all because of them. They haven’t made the couple of calls necessary to bring his burgeoning empire down around him. In their minds a Crowder will always do what they want and they want Boyd to kill one of their former table mates so they can get that sweet Federal money. Boyd is nothing more than a slave trying to play master to them. Making Boyd such an upwardly minded person when mixed with Walton Goggins performance is probably the reason why I enjoy him the most. How can you rally against a man trying to better his socioeconomic standing?
Jody is dealt with in the way only Raylan knows how to. Freeing him up to finally go talk to dear old Arlo and do the one thing he doesn't want to do....other then speak to his father. Offer him a deal. Their scene is rife with the kind of energy that only comes from a father and son who have nothing but contempt for one another. Providing some more quotable moments. Arlo refuses to play ball and Rayaln didn’t want to in the first place anyway. So, he leaves, he has another meeting in the room down the way. Maybe Harlan’s other ex-Sheriff will be more cooperative. Raylan also just likes. The father son meeting ends on a cold note as Rayaln tells his Dad he will be happy when the phone rings and they tell him Arlo Givens has died. Sharon Edmunds rightly points out that Raylan is “an emotional disaster” one can only wonder what emotions will be brought up once Arlo dose die.
B+ Man the dialog in this show is just so fun to listen to
The Following S1 Ep05 “The Siege" Directed By Phil Abraham Written By Rebecca Dameron
So far The Following hasn’t been spectacular or even constant. It doesn't have the characters or plot to carry 15 episodes of television. Generally shows can make boring plot points more entertaining with interesting characters. The Following does not have any interesting characters. Bad flashbacks that over expositionize (yes I think that’s a word) someone doesn't make that character interesting. All it does is make viewers mind numbingly aware of his/her’s life prior to the show. It had a chance with the murderous threesome on the farm to make some mildly interesting characters but has dropped them by the wayside for a mechanical plot driven episode. “The Siege” is more worried about moving the pieces around for Joe Carroll’s next master plan then explaining anything about Jacob. This plot centric approach is probably for the best in the long run, “The Siege” managed to be engaging enough. For once the FBI kind of do something right.
Things go to their natural conclusion after inviting Jacob in to their shower. The murderous threesom finally seem to be one cohesive unit, all centered around their love for Jacob. The “why” these lost souls have come together under Carroll and then come together again, making this quasi family unit on it’s surface seems a little interesting. Why people come together in fiction and reality is something that always interests me. Things appear to be actually looking up for them. And then Jacob pulls out and gets all angsty for some reason. Acting in the same fashion Paul did when they first reached the farm. Only Jacob has even less characterization than Paul. So in the end we are left with a drama for the sake of drama. Yep the show really does work better when it is coldly moving characters around to set up the next chapter.
The Following doesn't deserve much credit, but credit where credit is do: making Joey kind of smart and not part of the dumb kid cliche, was good. Now is Joey being smart born more out of a plot need? Yes, but they slowly built up the idea that the kid was starting to see through the lies. Joey grows a brain and calls Mom, which sends Ryan and Mike (The Iceman) off to Dutchess County to find him.
The search for Joey in Dutchess County is handled well. What starts out as a North to South hunt slowly tightens in on the murderous threesome as Ryan continues to be in the right place at the wrong time. It isn’t that the FBI are shown to be “winning” or “being one step ahead” for once they are finally made to look competent for a change. These are very plot driven moments, it’s kind of hard to screw them up. Still these scenes manage to have a real hint of momentum, that something big is about to happen. The Following actually felt kind of alive for a change.
All of this movement is for one shot at the very end. Just a shot of Ryan, having finally found Joey, with a Paul pushing a gun against his head. What he doesn't realize is that while he has been playing hero over here, Joe has drawn Claire into his little game over there.
One of the bigger complaints has been the lack of explanation for how Carroll is able to maneuver these people around. James Purefoy isn’t exactly oozing charisma. The Following dose explain how Carroll has been able to retain the services of the same lawyer over these long years. When we first meet his lawyer Olivia, she is noticeably frightened by him. He is blackmailing her into working for him, holding something over her head that just shakes her to the bones. For once a flashback is used for something other than exposition and a second later she reaches for a legal pad, with two fingers obviously missing from her hand. It’s a chilling moment that isn’t overplayed but for once you get a bit of an idea that Carroll might actually be a bit of a cult leader.
C “The Siege” was all set up, all bark and no bite. It’s not a good sign when the setup is the single most compelling episode the series has aired.
The bit about spine cracking and shooting needs to be a infinite gif.
The Americans S1 Ep03 "Gregory" Directed By Thomas Schlamme Written By Joel Fields
“Gregory” gives the usual quality spy antics but it is the realness of the fakery that comes with the spy game that carries this episode.
Elizabeth has been getting the majority of character work so far. In the pilot she was an annoyed ice queen who didn’t seem to particularly care about her family.. She ends another episode explaining to her husband her past life. You probably heard it in a couple of commercials. She joined the KGB at 17, never had a boyfriend, then all of a sudden she is 22 in a strange land with a strange man, and they are supposed to just play house together. This isn’t the kind of situation that engenders functional much less a loving relationship between to people.
This kind of hardships makes it understandable, that when she met the titular Gregory she would fall for him. Gregory is an American communist had the same kind of passion for “the cause” that she has. Gregory seemed like someone she could actually talk to. She would at least get to know the real Gregory. She lets him know the real Elizabeth by revealing her cover, something that is just shocking given how The Americans has shown Elizabeth.. Gregory isn’t dumb he realizes she is recruiting him to work for the KGB, which he happily joins and dosen’t even ask for anything. Even with all this spying he still believes that he is in love with the “real” Elizabeth. All he can do is trust that she hasn’t been using him all these years. So you can imagine his displeasure when Elizabeth says, for the first time, that she actually wants to try and make things work with Phillip.
What isn’t shocking is Phillip’s reaction to all of this once they have a moment alone after being humiliated by Gregory. Just watch Matthew Rhys face as Gregory taunts him with all this hidden knowledge from his own wife. They may have to seduce marks to do their job but that’s the job, Elizabeth cheated on Philip even if their marriage is just cover it still hurts. Especially after both of them are coming to the realization that there might actually be an emotional foundation to this sham of a marriage.
All this Elizabeth talk paints Phillip into two possible extremes. On one hand he could be possibly the most boring, mild mannered Russian spy ever. On the other he could have an equally repressed and terrible upbringing. The show has clearly painted him as the moderate but with little justification as to why he is that way. Being in love with the idea of a family isn’t much, especially when your wife is opening up.
The constant theme so far has been you just don’t really know anyone. Case and point: Joyce the secret wife of Robert, the third agent from the pilot. Elizabeth needs Gregory and his team, all of whom think he is just a simple drug dealer, to surveil her after she sends a message to Philip via the news paper. The FBI and Stan are on to Joyce as well making Gregory’s job just a little bit harder.
Director Thomas Schlamme, best known for his work with Aaron Sorkin, uses the basic idea of “walk and talk”, long tracking shots, to great effect in these surveillances sequences. Schlamme sets up the geography of Philadelphia quickly and smoothly so when it goes down there is no reason why audiences would be confused as to what just happened. This isn't a flashy chase sequence like in the pilot it was just a well laid trap that was sprung like a great heist film.
“Gregory” introduces another person that fans of Justified have been waiting for, Margo Martindale appears out of nowhere as “Granny” (she is listed as Claudia on wiki). “Granny” is the Jenning’s new handler, their previous one “Gabriel” has gone back to the motherland. She plans on taking a more hands on approach. One only needs to look back at Justified season 2 to see how Margo Martindale sells herself as a KGB handler. When she tells Philip to never put a hand on her again you buy it.
It turns out a secrete wife and child wasn’t the only reason Robert had for being in the city of brotherly love. There is a mole in the FBI who was about to sell Robert documents concerning Reagan's “Star Wars” program. This episode didn’t really end in a mission of the week, it tied up two threads and has pushed the show along it’s “harder and more dangerous” spy story.
B+ Solid work nearly on par with the Pilot episode, not enough 80’s music.
Arrow S1 Ep14 "The Odyssey" Directed By John BehringStory by: Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg Teleplay by: Andrew Kreisberg & Marc Guggenheim
“The Odyssey” rightly picks up right where "Betrayal" left off, with Oliver Queen yelling at his mother how she has failed this city while pointing an arrow directly at her heart. If this encounter had happened in the first 5 episodes, Oliver wouldn’t have been as gun (or would that be bow) shy about shooting his mother. His timidity around Moira makes his time as The Hood rather difficult. Oliver has never been bullet proof, but getting shot by a scared women blindly firing isn’t something that would normally happen.
This wound forces Oliver to accelerate his own plans, which include Felicity Smoak. Coming out to Felicity while bleeding in her car probably wasn’t part of the plan, but desperate times. Oliver’s twosome becomes a threesomem, for the time beign. He doesn't make her first night as part of the club. Felicity and Diggle spend the majority of the episode making sure Oliver doesn't die and she proves to be a useful addition to the team. “The Odyssey” might be the most shirtless Stephen Amell the Arrow has ever given, complete with tight leather pants that really make no sense tactically. At least this time his exposed abs make sense within the situation.
In between shocking Oliver back to life Mr. Diggle gets a little much needed character work. While serving in Afghanistan, Diggle’s unit, was tasked with guarding a local warlord who was a scumbag. That experience left Diggle feeling dirty and thanks to Oliver and his hood he is beginning to feel cleaner. This scene also brings up the fact that not all of Oliver’s victims haven’t made it, he is still not truly a hero.
Oliver spends the majority of “The Odyssey” in dreamland, though there is only one surrealist dream sequence. Back on the island Oliver continues to go through “Slade Wilson’s Training Camp for NOT dieing” and is still pretty useless. They have 10 days to get Ollie in shape and take the airfield.
To the shows credit, the night raid on the field is actually rather tense and probably some of the best action the show has done. Adding Manu Bennett to the mix and showing him take out 10 guys effortlessly makes things just look better. Smooth camera movements at about a medium-long shots distance also helps. Having Oliver marooned on the island for 5 years gives them plenty of time show Oliver’s growth, a major bit occurs this episode. It also makes these little missions kind of tense. Sure we know that Oliver makes it out mostly unscathed, but that doesn't mean Slade or Yao-Fei can’t die or be gravely injured. One bit of the action that made this show look very much like a TV show was the muzzle flash from the guns. It was just poorly integrated and looked cheap. Also some shots of Oliver vs Bill Wintergreen round 2 were just badly chosen.
In the 6 months that Oliver has been on the island, he has been mostly useless. Surviving more out of dumb luck then actual skill. That starts to end in “The Odyssey”, at the start he couldn’t disarm or really effectively fight another man. In the end he is able to do some of the stuff Slade has been drilling him with. He also manages to save the day by correctly remembering a quote from The Odyssey.
Does “The Odyssey” sidestep the larger question of Moria Queen’s loyalties and Malcolm Merlyn’s plan for Starling City? Yes. Is it a totally cheap move. No, Diggle is still around ready to report anything mysterious and they are now more concerned with a larger plan. Besides character exploration for me is always more interesting then plot movement. Arrow did the character bit rather well this week.
B+ Good fight scenes and Felicity Smoak is the kinda sorta Oracle fo the group now YAY!