The Vampire Diaries: Did That Really Happen?

Image

Season 5 for The Vampire Diaries was a bit of a whirlwind. In case you haven’t been keeping track, let’s look at all the major things that happened: Silas threw Stefan into a watery grave and took over his identity, causing a killing spree around town. Damon and Elena has a fun summer of love. Bonnie dies. The girls go to college. The team tracks down Silas’ long lost love. Stefan is found and loses his memory. Bonnie comes back to life and becomes the anchor. Katherine becomes human, finds her daughter (or her daughter finds her), and grows old. Travelers are explained. Katherine takes over Elena’s body. Katherine dies. Damon is kidnapped, and his history of torture in the 1950s is revealed. Damon and Elena both get a disease where they want to kill other vampires. Damon and Elena break up. Major baddie traveler escapes the Other Side. Travelers take over Mystic Falls. Caroline sleeps with Klaus. Tyler comes back. Tyler become Julian. The Other Side starts to unravel and sucks people into oblivion. Witch baddies get involved. A lot of people died. And some people were brought back to life.

Of course, that’s in no particular order. And if you need visuals, this can help you out. But that’s a lot, is it not?

But who really cares, at this point, what happened earlier this season. Because the season finale was just…killer.

I have to admit, I was handling this episode pretty well. I’ve watched enough supernatural story arcs to discover when someone seems just a little too happy or might’ve gone full circle. Because supernatural TV hates happiness. Happiness must die, and those who are happy must die, too.

So it crossed my mind that TVD might do something ballsy like kill off one of the major characters. In fact, I had heard from a little bird that three people were going to die for good by the end of the season. So basically, I was watching, desperately trying to figure out which three people that would be. Sadly, it wasn’t Tyler (boo). And really, we saw more than three people kick the bucket, supposedly for good. Besides the many travelers, we’ve said good-bye to Silas and Markos as baddies, and supposedly Grams and Lexie, too.

And then, there’s Bonnie and Damon. Bonnie, we’ve been leading up to for a while. Damon, well, he was more of a surprise. But like I said, the supernatural stories hate happy characters, and Damon seemed to have come full circle, finally becoming a good guy and finding his love in Elena. See, I was handling this remarkably well.

But I did start to get anxious, knowing something bad was going to happen. Damon didn’t make it out, and Elena had that horribly heartbreaking scene, sobbing and ugly crying while Damon professed his final good-byes and loving messages to her, while stroking her hair. We can see his studying expressions and broke looks, while Elena is blind and unseeing to the ghost in front of her.

And then we have Jeremy, running, desperately calling out Bonnie’s name before her final moments.

Ok, it was getting rougher. I don’t know what I thought we’d see next. Them being sucked into oblivion? The group just standing in front of Bonnie and watch her disappear?

Nope, we saw something that launched me over the edge. Just…white. We had at least 10 minutes of the episode to realize what was happening and to really say good-bye to both of these characters. But then, what happens? “Do you think it’ll hurt?” “I don’t kno—“

They get cut off. We didn’t even get to see them finish. It was just…white.

Well done, TVD. Sure, I’m wrecked. Having just seen that and saying good-bye to two of my favorite characters from the show. And while I thought it was a neat little spoiler to know that three characters would be gone for good at the end of the episode, I’m now left at the end of the season wondering if these two people are now gone for good or if there will be some magical loophole that brings the two back to us next season. And are we going to see where that white light takes them? And what did Grams mean about helping Bonnie find her peace? Does that mean that they both found peace, and they’re going to a good place? But if it’s a good place, they probably are gone! Does this mean I really want them to be in oblivion for the small chance that they’ll come back?!

Ok, I might still be a bit emotional from this episode. And I might not me making too much sense. Perhaps I need a little more distance. So for now, I’m clinging to whatever good might be in store for next season: Alaric is back (and his real life doppelganger is officially a season regular next season). Tyler isn’t a hybrid anymore, so hopefully he’ll be less obnoxious. And I guess there’s a chance for a Stefan/Caroline story, as if you didn’t see that one coming a mile away. So there is something ahead, I suppose.

But I’m still stuck on a blank white screen, waiting to hear Damon’s final syllable. Did that happen? Did we just say good-bye? Jesus, TVD, you do this to us every year — killer finales that break us to pieces and leave us hanging. When will we ever learn?

To read more of my thoughts about the episode — with comments based on an EW interview with EP Julie Plec — go here.

Tonight: Emily Osment and Paul Johansson in ‘A Daughter’s Nightmare’

Image

Well, you One Tree Hill fans can rejoice. One of our favorite people we love to hate is back on the small screen. Paul Johansson is starring alongside Hannah Montana alum Emily Osment in Lifetime’s newest movie, A Daughter’s Nightmare, premiering tonight at 8 pm.

Soon after her father’s death, college freshman Ariel (Osment) meets Adam (Johansson) and his step-son Ben (Gregg Sulkin, Wizards of Waverly Place). Having recently dealt with their death in the family, Adam and Ben naturally feel like a good pair to confide in. But when Adam starts spending an unusual amount of time with Ariel’s mother and her health begins to suffer, Ariel needs to discover the truth about Adam’s past.

So does this mean Dan Scott is up to his old tricks?

Well, you’ll have to watch to find out. I had the opportunity to check out the movie early, and like most Lifetime movies, it has just the right amount of compelling plot points to keep you watching to see how it all unfolds. Sure, some of the events may be a bit predictable. But they do a good job keeping you guessing who is who (and who is not what they seem) at the start. Here are a few things that grabbed me:

  • I’m familiar with most of the cast, which I like. It’s even got Al from Home Improvement. Talk about a blast from the past.
  • It’s got a perfect Lifetime movie title.
  • They reference the South, which always gets my vote. Too bad most of it is when discussing grits.
  • Osment’s eye makeup is fabulous.
  • You’re left spending most of the movie trying to answer one question: Does Sulkin have an accent, or not?
  • They have a suspenseful finish — a necessity for any Lifetime movie, from what I can tell.
  • It contains what I’d define as a perfect “Soup-worthy moment” — my own necessity for any Lifetime movie.

Sure, it’s not going to be on any nomination ballots, but as a fan of the cast, it’s entertaining. If you find yourself looking for something to watch tonight — particularly if you’re an OTH fan — flip it on. Then come back here and let me know what you think about Dan Scott, er, Adam in the end.

*image courtesy of Lifetime

Game of Thrones: Oathkeeper

GAME OF THRONES: 4.4 “Oathkeeper”

When considering this episode of Game of Thrones, I think I’ll start at the end. As I said in my preview to this season, I was very excited about the possibility of the writers adding in some more complicated non-book material, and… wow, we sure got some changes in this episode. Bran and his little party have been kidnapped by the fallen Night’s Watch brothers brutally occupying Craster’s keep, while at the same time Jon Snow leads a party north to eliminate the traitors before Mance Rayder’s army catches them. None of this happened in the books, and it seems likely Jon (and the under-cover Locke, hunting down Starks on behalf of the Boltons) will encounter his brother at some point, which is something I’ve hoped for in the books but have yet to see. A brief reunion between brothers would bring some light to what has been a very dark show, so I hope to see it. Either way, this new material is exciting, and I can’t wait to see more. We also got to see another new thing: the fate of Craster’s sons, all of whom were apparently carried off to some snowy Stonehenge and converted into monsters. It was a horrific scene, something very difficult for me, as a relatively new father, to watch. But it was really interesting because we get a bit of lore that hasn’t been revealed in the books. I’m fairly certain I’ve said it before, but I’m not bothered by the changes. I welcome them, in fact. Novels and television are two different mediums. Stuff that works on the page doesn’t work on the screen. As long as the show sticks to the general structure and theme of the books, I say bring on more changes, more new stuff.

As for the rest of the episode, there was a good bit of tablesetting. Things are still very cold between Cersei and Jaime, even though what happened in the sept last week isn’t explicitly mentioned, but it seems clear that their relationship is probably over. Later, in an almost touching scene, Jaime gifts his new sword to Brienne, charging her with finding and protecting Sansa from Cersei. I was very pleased to see Pod, the greatest squire ever, tagging along; he looked quite pleased to be of use again. I see a knighthood in that boy’s future.

The episode actually began far to the East, when Dany sends Grey Worm and some of his soldiers, laden with weapons, into Meereen where they convince the oppressed slaves of that city to rise up and rebel against their masters. The plan works, the slaves open the gates, and Dany marches her army in, adding a third city to her list of conquests. Ser Barristan councils mercy, but Dany demands justice by crucifying one slave master for every dead child she found on her march to the city. She watches from atop the tallest pyramid in the city, a huge black and red Targaryen banner flapping in the breeze behind her. It’s a bit of a chilling scene; we’re supposed to be pleased with her freeing slaves, but to me, her brand of justice seemed pretty harsh, and potentially foreshadowing of how bad things could get if she keeps demanding an eye for an eye. Sure, the slave masters were awful people, but as we’ve learned from experience a cycle of constant violence can quickly spin out of control.

Game of Thrones: Two Swords and Lion and the Rose

GOT_purple-wedding

GAME OF THRONES: 4.1 “Two Swords”
GAME OF THRONES: 4.2 “The Lion and the Rose”

Game of Thrones came back with a bang, didn’t it? Personal life has forced me to consider both of the first two episodes back to back, and they were mighty entertaining. Between the two, we’ve caught up with pretty much everyone, and there were plenty of great scenes, but I keep thinking about the Arya/Hound scene that closed out the first episode. It’s always fun when the show decides to linger a bit longer on one particular event, and Arya and the Hound arriving at the inn begins as buddy comedy, moves into an exquisitely tense standoff, and ends in an abrupt spasm of violence. As satisfying as it was to see her reclaim her sword, and by extension her connection with her lost family, I felt a little sad that it was only earned back through the loss of her innocence as she killed Polliver in cold blood. And from the look of contentment on her face as she rode away from the inn with the Hound, it’s easy to surmise that she enjoyed the experience. Arya’s road ahead will be dark, I suspect, and likely littered with more of her “victims;” I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before she takes out someone who doesn’t deserve it.

And speaking of extended scenes, the wedding we’ve all been waiting for wrapped up episode two. It was a great example of slowly building tension. Joffrey was at his most petulant, evil, cruel, hurtful worst, so it was perhaps a bit of a relief to see him finally taken down by an anonymous poisoner in such a painful fashion. But like Arya, I wonder if we as an audience shouldn’t celebrate his demise with such gusto. Yes, Joffrey was a monstrously cruel sociopath who was a horrible ruler and only would have become worse as he grew in age and power, but if there’s one thing that Game of Thrones has taught us, it’s that violence begets revenge and greater violence in an ever widening, destructive cyclone that eventually spins out of control. Jaime’s simple yet careless act of pushing Bran out the window of a tower spawned a brutally destructive civil war, leading to countless deaths and, on a more personal level for the Kingslayer, the loss of his son and his sword arm. As we can tell from Cersei’s look at the end of the episode, Joffrey’s demise is likely to cause a great deal of trouble for Tyrion, whether he was involved in it or not. And what greater chaos will erupt now that another king is dead? How will the ripples that spread out from Arya’s quest for revenge affect the world? Will she leave behind a traumatized child who turns into a killer, or something worse?

A Bittersweet End to ‘Being Human’

Image

This has been a rough week for me. Last Monday, HIMYM ended (and not particularly in the way I would have hoped). Friday, a recent favorite of mine, Raising Hope, signed off as well. And last night we said good-bye to Being Human.

I have to give some mad props to the series. The cast and crew knew for a year that the show was going to end, even though we fans just found out a couple months ago. In fact, based on this interview with Sam Witwer (Aidan), the team behind Being Human actually requested the season four end date, knowing that the show would face some obstacles that could reduce the quality of the series. This all means they’ve been panning this ending for a while. Maybe not for nine years, but for a while.

And while I do have a few issues with how the series ended, overall, I’m pleased with what I saw. It’s funny to think that a series that killed off two of its main characters in the final episode was actually more satisfying — and happier — than a series that killed off only one minor character a week ago, but it’s true. In a way, even though two characters went into the ether, never to be heard from again (except, perhaps, in dreams), it was a happy ending. Norah and Josh got to live out their lives with a family. Sally finally found peace. And Aidan made up for his sins and got his own afterlife. And hey, he even got to be human.

And isn’t that what this whole series was about? It was called Being Human, after all. It was always about a two monsters — Aidan and Josh — trying to fake their way through “life.” I have to add quotation marks, of course, since you could argue that what they were living through wasn’t really a life at all. But in the end, they really became human. Aidan, quite literally, by getting a heartbeat back and a human death. Josh, in getting a wife and a family. (And wasn’t it cute to see little Sally and Aidan running around at the end?)

Of course, there were weaknesses. The “evil of the house” felt a little rushed, and I think there may be some holes — or at least some lack of understanding — where Ramona’s concerned (So wait — why did they sacrifice her? Did the cult get taken over by the evil of the house? Was she an evil figment all along?). Fixing the issue seemed a little too easy (they got out of the house at the start of the episode rather easily, and of course burning the house down would take her down). And Sally’s spell seemed a little convenient (How long did she have that in her back pocket? And how did it work? And did she get her door after that?). But in the end, it all seemed fitting, that we were saying good-bye to the house as we were the rest of the cast, as it could arguably be considered part of the cast itself (and in a more literal sense, became one, because of Ramona).

Plus, we got some light moments. Seeing Aidan eat that cheeseburger was certainly a highlight. Seeing Josh react to Norah’s pregnancy — and finally be happy — was another. And, of course, you can’t deny finally seeing Sally again with Aidan. It might have been over-the-top cheesy, but it still had me crying like a little baby.

So it had all the makings of a great series finale. And I’m certainly going to miss it. This was a great group of people (which you can see on Twitter, by the way. Looking at some of the fun behind-the-scenes pics provided by Kristen Hager last night was wonderful), and they had some great personalities in the series. I’ve grown attached to Norah and Aidan. Sally’s bright smile certainly made me smile back into my TV screen, even if her self-centered actions made me wince from time to time. But most of all, I’m going to miss Josh, a unique, relatable character that lightened a pretty dark series every week.

So long, Being Human. I hope you found your door.

My Thoughts on the ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Finale

Image

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER: 9.23-9.24 “Last Forever”

In my mind, the way HIMYM would have ended would have felt like the picture above. A big group hug. After all, saying good-bye to these characters that we’ve watched grow for nine years should feel as sentimental as it was saying good-bye to Ted when he was supposedly moving to Chicago.

But last night’s finale was not my sentimental good-bye. And while I’d like to spend my time here screaming and ranting about why I wanted something better, I’m going to try to make this as coherent as possible as to why this finale just didn’t work. There are enough people out there telling us how pissed they are. I don’t need to add to it.

I’ll certainly say I’m not pleased with the ending of this series. Sure, it annoyed me that all those theories ended up true (with the exception of my own). That Robin ended up with Ted in the end. But here’s why.

First, the episode just wasn’t funny. And, in fact, it was depressing. Somehow, I didn’t get excited throughout the day, anticipating seeing all my favorite characters’ lives fall apart. I didn’t want to see a marriage — one that began with beautiful wedding where a couple moved past their cold feet to marry the ones they truly love (three deep breaths, right?) — that I’d spent all season waiting for fall apart within three years. Or in the case of this episode, within twenty minutes. I didn’t like seeing that the gang fell apart, even if it was foreshadowed earlier in the season. I didn’t like seeing Lily pregnant and alone in the old apartment. I didn’t like seeing Barney become such a despicable person. There’s a line from The Wedding Singer that I always remember about the Fonz from Happy Days: “No one wanted to see a fifty-year-old guy picking up chicks.” True then. True now. It just got ugly.

I wanted humor. I didn’t get any relief. After the team said good-bye outside the wedding reception, it’s almost like they said good-bye to who they were in the series. Where were the jokes? Marshall slipped into the background, only being useful to point out “big moments.” Lily was sad and lamenting. No one interacted with each other to crack a joke, and it just made the entire thing depressing to watch.

Honestly, at one point, I thought that this was all a trick. That Ted would suddenly reveal that had he walked across that platform to introduce himself in that moment, all of those moments in the future would come to pass. But instead, he waited five more minutes, and suddenly, here’s the happy ending. But as we all know, that didn’t happen. We just kept with the darkest timeline.

Continue reading

My Top 5 ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Episodes Ever

how_i_met_your_mother_table_group_a_l

It’s been years in the making. Tonight, we finally see how Ted met the mother on How I Met Your Mother. I have my own theories on how this happened, and I guess we’ll find out if I’m right, wrong, or just way off. But the heck with what’s going to happen tonight. Let’s take a moment to look back on some of my favorite episode of a show that, while it’s had some rocky times, has had some of the freshest moments in sitcom history in recent years.

I’ve decided to share my top five episodes from HIMYM. I’m not saying these are the best there ever were. I’m sure I’m missing some very iconic moments (like a certain musical number) and very special episodes (like “Bad News”), but these are the five episodes that, when I see them on TV, I will stop what I’m doing and watch — no matter what. Even in the saddest of moments (like the third option below), these episodes make me happy. So here goes.

My top five HIMYM episodes (in no particular order) are…

Slap Bet. You may argue that two beavers are better than one. You may be sitting around building sandcastles in the sand. But this first episode featuring a super special pop icon is the one that I can never forget. Someone give me some Robin Sparkles. To me, this was one of those episodes that really showed what the series was capable of. It gave us a slap bet that carried through the rest of the series, all up until the moment Barney was standing at the alter. But most of all, it gave us this song and music video, which still makes me laugh to this day.

PS – I love you, Robin.

Subway Wars. I’m not what it is about this episode, but for some reason, I find it hilarious. Robin is trying to prove herself as a “real New Yorker.” What ensues is a crazy race, where all five claim they know the fastest way across town: bus, subway, taxi, on foot, or…well…Barney’s solution. Somehow, the combination of an interactive map, music, and comical situations come together for a fantastic episode.

Symphony of Illumination. It is at this moment that I’m realizing that many of my favorite episodes are Robin-centric. That’s not on purpose (and I’d argue that “Subway Wars” focuses on all five characters). Nonetheless, I have to give a major shoutout (MAJOR SHOUTOUT) to “Symphony of Illumination.” While this episode got a lot of mixed reactions, it turned the series on its head by giving us one episode narrated by someone else: Robin. As Robin and Barney work through a pregnancy scare, Robin discovers that she actually can never have children. Keeping it to herself, the episode culminates in a beautiful — and legendary — light show, set up by Ted.

HIMYM-Symph

Three Days of Snow. An epic snowstorm. Three distinct stories. All fantastic. But, of course, what gets me the most in the ending. While I love Barney and Ted going all Cocktail, seeing Marshall show up, listing what he ate for lunch, to prove his love to Lily with a full marching band at the airport is just beautiful. I love it.

Something Borrowed. This episode is officially my favorite episode of the series, so, despite my not being able to find a suitable video, I had to share it. It’s the day of Lily and Marshall’s wedding, and everything is going wrong — not that it was the wedding they planned anyway. But amidst all the chaos is Lily’s ex-boyfriend, a shirtless groomsman, a harp player in labor, and, oh, Marshall’s shaved head. A short walk and a hat later, Lily and Marshall are exchanging vows in a small, intimate ceremony in the park with an acoustic guitar. The wedding they always wanted.

How_I_Met_Your_Mother_-_Matrimonio_Marshall-Lily

Of course, there are so many other episodes and scenes I wish I could mention. Let me know what your favorites have been in the comments. But these are the five episodes I can’t miss whenever I see them, so they top my list.

And tonight? Who knows. Maybe one of these episode will get knocked off for our finale. Either way, I’m going to be sad to say good-bye to this series.