How ‘The 100’ Mistreated Madi in Its Penultimate Episode

– Photo by the CW

Let’s start with a fact: I expected there to be death in the final season of The 100. After all, this show has killed many of its main characters off. Finn, Kane, Abby, Jasper, Lincoln, Lexa — and those are just the first ones that come to mind. There were many more major and minor characters that have lost their lives in this series, and even more in the wars and Mount Weather of it all. So I expected this season to be a bloodbath.

The problem I’m seeing with this season is that the deaths and destruction that’s happening are being shoved in an overcomplicated plot and they’re simply not done well. I’ve already made the case why Bellamy’s death was a problem. Last week, we lost Gabriel. (His death, fighting to save Madi, would normally have been fine until the last moments where he refused medical help, claiming it was his time. Ok, it might have been his time, but maybe let the doctor examine you first, just in case he can stitch you up and you’d be fine, rather than choosing to bleed out.)

And now, let’s look at Madi. Technically, Madi isn’t dead…yet? She’s still alive, but essentially living in a shell of herself, unable to move. Her consciousness is there — she can see, she can hear — but she can’t do anything else. It’s horrific. But is it…necessary?

Let’s take a look at this. We certainly can’t say that this is unfair because she’s a child. After all, this is the show that, in its first season, had a child kill Wells and then throw herself off a cliff to avoid being killed by an angry mob. Even children aren’t safe in the world(s) of The 100. So putting Madi in peril is only fair game. Even adding her name to the list as a loss. It’s heartbreaking, but in this show, you can’t be entirely surprised.

And having Clarke walk into that room, being too late, and seeing that Madi had lost her life fighting Cadogan would have been an enormous loss for Clarke, the team, and the viewers. It’d be even more upsetting to realize after the fact that Cadogan had gotten what he wanted and killed her in the process. Whatever they’re aiming to do with Clarke in this final season would have easily been pushed forward having walked in on Madi in that state.

But the events that actually unfolded were much worse. Madi was alive and conscious, but her mind was essentially cut off from her body. She couldn’t function. And upon hearing that it couldn’t be fixed, Clarke immediately felt that she needed to put Madi out of her misery — at which point, Octavia took the weapon to do the job. It was a mercy kill. They were only stopped when they realized that Cadogan got what he wanted and they needed to turn their attention to the Final War.

So not only was this turn unnecessary (see above: Clarke would’ve had just as much heartbreak if she found her dead), but it was completely cruel. It was added in simply for shock value: Imagine the worst thing you could imagine Clarke had to do, something worse than killing her own mother or Bellamy. Yep, you’ve got it. Shoot her own daughter.

The other thing here is that the reaction was completely out of character. Yes, Clarke is familiar with the mercy kill, all the way back to season one. But this is her daughter. You expect me to believe that she’d just be like, “Ok, can’t be fixed, gotta die now.” She’d be screaming, desperately trying to find a way to put Madi back together (so to speak). She’d be going through screen after screen to find a way to scientifically connect Madi’s brain back to her body. There’d be nothing stopping Clarke from trying. In fact, I could almost see her pulling a gun on poor Levitt in a desperate attempt to have him fix her before turning it on Madi as a mercy kill.

And even after all that, they just leave her with a  quick “I’ll be back.” You’ll be back? For what? You were just about to kill her, so either now she’s still in the personal hell you were trying to save her from through a mercy kill until you return, or she’s waiting for you to come back to kill her. Either way, it’s no surprise we saw a tear falling down Madi’s face.

Overall, it was just a distasteful choice, especially for a young character — a child— on the show. Of course, we won’t know for sure what her fate is until next week (since she’s still alive, I can only hope this means they’ll save her somehow, but who knows). Sure, children are just as at risk in the world(s) of The 100. But to put them through situations like that, simply for a bigger reaction from the viewers, just to say that they did something big near the finale? Well, that’s just an ugly mistreatment of a character.

‘The 100’ Made a Bold Choice in ‘Blood Giant.’ Was It the Right One?

Photo by the CW

I’ve been thinking a lot about The 100. Which is no surprise. It’s the final season, and after last Wednesday’s episode, I was left reeling. (SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers from the episode “Blood Giant.”)

If I’m being honest, this season has been more than a little hard to follow. There’s been so much going on: Sheidheda, The Shepard and his disciples, the last war, civil war on Sanctum… It’s a lot to take in, and with every episode skipping around to different people, planets, and moons, keeping track of the intricacies of the plot is difficult.

Possibly the most intricate is that of Bill Cadogan (“The Shepard”) and his last war. It’s a war with some sort of…being? Disease? Alien? We’re not quite sure, but it turns your body into crystals. But looking more closely, it may not be a war at all but a test. Either way, it’s very unclear what the event is, what needs to be done, and whether it is actually good or bad. All we know is that the Flame is the key to help them start this war, and whatever they are doing is “for all mankind.”

But making this “war” so mysterious is problematic. We’re just to assume that Cadogan is the bad guy—and he very well might be. But when Bellamy has a vision quest and moves to his side, it doesn’t make much sense.

I believe that Bellamy was convinced. He saw the beings of light in the cave and was able to speak to his dead mother. But we also know how easily Bellamy is swayed. Think of his siding with Pike in season three (ugh). Without a fuller idea of the goodness behind the plan, it leads me to question his alliances, which is exactly what Clarke and the rest of the team do.

What The 100 has always done well are moral dilemmas. What made Clarke and Bellamy’s decision to kill everyone in Mount Weather so indescribably heart wrenching was they understood everything they were fighting against and what they were ultimately doing. They knew Mount Weather was full of good people, but their leader was threatening their people, so they made that choice. Similarly, when Clarke pulled everyone out of the AI afterlife of sorts, she understood what she was doing. Her people could live a life of happiness in this digital universe—heck, she walked past Jasper happy with ice cream. They’d never die. But she decided right and wrong with that knowledge and pulled them out.

But here, she doesn’t know what this war/test/whatever it is will really mean. Instead, she’d protecting Madi. Ok, I get that. But they’ve essentially made Madi into what Dawn was to season 5 of Buffy: She’s a mythical “key,” now that the Flame is gone, that can cause the last war. Clarke, in essence, became the person who will do anything to protect Madi, without considering anything else. Yes, we’ve seen her like this before, but when Bellamy’s at the other end of the gun, it suddenly makes you realize that this isn’t quite as considered as seasons past.

For those who are watching, you know what happens. Clarke kills Bellamy, and she’s still unable to get her hands on the sketchbook that caused the conflict in the first place. (Jason Rothenberg, the show’s creator, of course choose that twist for a reason.)

It was a poor ending, in my view, for Bellamy. Bellamy had already been in very little of the season (from what I read, that was a choice by Bob Morley, the actor who plays Bellamy), and without fully understanding Cadogan’s plan, it just felt wrong for the character. You could essentially put any of our well-loved characters in Bellamy’s shoes, and it still would’ve worked for the plot. Instead, we chose Bellamy, in part because he’s such a favorite of the fans and the team. It felt like a poor choice. Bellamy could have died in many ways in the final season of the show, but this didn’t seem in line with the characters, nor did the stakes feel quite high enough. If Bellamy had Madi in his grasp or had ordered the soldiers to get her, maybe. But with only the sketchbook? I’m not sure.

What this does do, though, is cause much tension in the next three episodes. The team we’ve followed all these years will never be the same. I found it interesting that they put the absolutely beautiful scene where Clarke, Murphy, and Emori comfort a crying Raven in the same episode that Clarke killed Bellamy. It’s a strong reminder of who all these people are to each other—and they never will be again. There’s no way anyone will look at Clarke the same way, and I certainly envision Echo going off the rails in murderous rage after finding out. The rest of the group, I’m sure, will break apart, and Octavia (an underutilized actor this season, by the way), I don’t know, but it can’t be good.

And while that does raise the stakes and conflict for the final three episodes, it also adds a lot to close up in the final three episodes. And I suppose Bellamy’s death felt less about Bellamy and his character’s development—or even Clarke’s—and more about adding a device to splinter the group. And that just doesn’t feel fair to someone who has been such a strong presence in the show since episode one.

‘Supergirl’ Gets a New Nemesis — and a New Super Suit


SUPERGIRL: 5.01 “Event Horizon”

Supergirl is back. And while this season’s opening episode featured a new villain that truly tested Supergirl and her team, it wasn’t really the big bad that had me drawn in. (In fact, if I’m being honest, I was a little lost as to what the alien was doing and how it was stopped.)

Instead, it was the more interpersonal stuff that grabbed my attention. Still scorned from discovering Supergirl’s true identity, Lena decided that she wanted revenge. First, she sold the paper—the paper that Kara adores—to someone who basically wants to bring down its sophistication into clickbait nonsense. Then she was going to expose her secret on said site.

Meanwhile, Kara was feeling terrible that Lena didn’t know her secret yet (for the life of me, I can’t recall if anything in the finale made her realize she should tell her or if this was just a convenient plot to counter Lena’s), so she was desperate to find a time to tell her. Of course, this came right before Kara was supposed to accept a Pulitzer (I won’t even go into how that would never happen), bringing both Lena and Kara to tears.

It appeared that Lena had forgiven her, but no. As she told her Alexa-like robo-friend, she wants to hurt Kara as much as she was hurt.

I’m personally glad that Lena is still on this vendetta. At first, I thought she really had forgiven Kara, which would have made last season’s cliffhanger rather useless. At the same time, though, I would’ve like to see more of how Lena was so hurt. Sure, I get that she felt betrayed, but I feel like Lena would have understood why keeping her identity a secret was important. Really digging into why would’ve helped here. Was it because she looked like a fool—just as her mother had made her feel like a fool her entire life? Was it because she was a Luthor and it was signalling that Kara never really trusted her because of her name? Was it because she felt left out since everyone else seemed to know but she didn’t? Is it simply that Lena struggles with emotion and rather than letting herself experience hurt, she’s going with anger?

Going into any of this into more detail would be great, and it would have also offered an opportunity to spiral Lena a little more. Make her look more like a Luthor, rather than simply leaning on “she’s a Luthor” as an excuse for why she’s take the crueler way out. Right now, she’s becoming Supergirl and  Kara’s secret nemesis, but I want to see a bit more evil.

Beyond Lena’s turn, there was another significan reveal in the episode–and no, I’m not talking about J’onn’s brother. It was the new super suit!

Supergirl’s new suit had been announced over the summer, so I wasn’t surprised to see it in this episode. But I was curious to see how they’d introduce it. For The Flash, they make brief comments about improvements, but that’s about it. This would be the first change in five years, so there must be a reason.

And to be honest: It was a pretty lame reason. Her cape got ripped in a fight. Now, personally, with all the hype that the skirt was gone, I would’ve thought that her skirt would have been messed up in the fight. Or maybe her shoulder would get ripped. Something that would indicate that she needed a different suite. But instead, they chose her cape. Why is this a problem? Well, the cape was the only thing that Kara wore that was from Krypton. If I recall, Clark gave it to her, indicating that it was special material. And yet, that’s the piece that ripped and needed replacing—not the rest of it, which was manmade by Winn in the first season.

So wouldn’t Kara have been more than a little upset that this piece of Krypton was ruined and that it needed to be replaced? And while, sure, Brainy could argue that once he did the cape, he wanted to redesign the whole thing, that just didn’t make much sense, no matter how neat the effect was of it covering her body after whipping off her glasses.

What’s more, her suit wasn’t even all that distinctive. It looked a lot like Superman’s—so much so that it seemed like just another version of that, rather than something that would distinguish her from him. (Note: I’m specifically pointing to the Superman as he has appeared in this iteration of Supergirl, not comics, movies, or other TV shows.) I’m not saying that she should wear a skirt; I’m sure there are all kinds of debates all over the internet about whether Supergirl should’ve kept the skirt or whether pants are a refreshing change. But other than a gold belt, there’s very little difference between her suit and Superman’s, right down to how the cape is attached to her shoulders. There’s a lot more that could’ve been done to her suit to make it feel unique to her.

(Also, just as a side note, had Kara never thought to ask for a new suit in the past? The way she said, “Pants,” like it was a brilliant discovery—I mean, she could’ve easily asked for a new suit with pants long ago. And remember, this is a girl who just won a Pulitzer.)

Anyway, I suppose it was a solid season opener. Nothing much to write home about. Except, apparently, her new nemesis and super suit.

A few other thoughts:

  • Alex’s comment, “How do you guys get changed so fast?” had me laughing out loud. That was great. Best line in five seasons.
  • Why did Kara wear a pink cocktail dress to the office, but a more casual (and work-appropriate) blue dress to get her award? I honestly thought she was dressed for the ceremony and was headed there from the office until I saw she had a different dress and hair at the event.
  • I wonder what speed she has to take her glasses off to trigger the super suit, since we saw her take her glasses off with no effect once and with full effect another time. Brainy didn’t specify.
  • I assume this is not the last we’re seeing of James—at least not yet. I know that Mehcad Brooks is leaving the show sometime in the first half of the season, but given how long he’s been on, I imagine he will get a little more of a send-off.

Photo by Dean Buscher/The CW


‘Perfect Harmony’ Hits Typical Second-Episode Snags

E72ACF3A-A0A4-47A9-8DC6-7E318B29AF91PERFECT HARMONY: 1.02 “Fork Fest

There’s something unfortunate about the second episode of new shows. Unless you’re something like a thriller with supernatural elements that is dependent on pushing forward an ongoing storyline (like, say, Emergence), you tend to fall victim of some standard second-episode traps, especially if you’re a comedy: trying to be something for everyone, so people will keep watching and you’ll bring in some folks who missed the first episode; being funny enough but not too far in one direction (too crass, too elite, too specific); not spending any time on character development (might takeaway from the plot or humor) while still trying to establish who everyone is.

Most of all, you just haven’t figured out what the show is yet, and you’re forced to move forward with a stand-alone episode of television that’s just…weak.

I mean, think about it. Community had that terrible second episode where Jeff was still trying to get together with Britta, and they had the silent protest (and Annie and Shirley had their own not-so-silent protest). If you watch a mid-series episode and go back to that one, it’d be almost unrecognizable in its ill-suited humor and vague character entities. No crazy antics. Nothing to really put its stake in the ground as a fresh new comedy. And unfortunately, Perfect Harmony is basically repeating those mistakes.

Here we have a new episode where, if you missed the pilot, you wouldn’t miss much. Arthur is out of place in an old Kentucky town, and they’ve doubled-down on the country vibe by introducing Fork Fest, where pie-eating contests, tractor pulls, and pig-catching competitions reign supreme. Our wee choir is excited to perform, only to have Arthur insult the man who makes scheduling decisions for the festival and they’re given a terrible time slot, all because (gasp) he honked at his truck. To make matters worse, when he apologizes, the man sees Arthur use hand sanitizer after a handshake. (To be fair, I could see how someone would see that as insulting.)

It’s a…fine premise. But that’s about it: fine. The problem here is that it’s nothing special. The jokes aren’t that great–oh, look! Arthur is wrestling a pig in mud and getting dirty! Ginny has to navigate rumors that she was cheating on her ex, all so her son doesn’t have the festival ruined by her divorce. Again, fine.

Meanwhile, we have a lot of other characters that we have to fit into the episode plus new townspeople and gossips we need them to play off of.

I can’t say that’s really a lot for one episode–it’s your standard A and B plot. But it doesn’t really give me a good idea of what the show has in store. It doesn’t really make me grow attached to any of the characters. In fact, it doesn’t really grow my understanding of the characters–or show–at all. It’s just…there.

For instance, why does the choir choose to sing “Glorious” at the end? Sure, I liked it, but it really seemed like it was just so that they had a somewhat pop song to use in the episode promo and to draw in people who may have missed the first episode. But is the choir trying to use pop songs, like Sister Act? Is that how they want to set themselves apart? If so, why were they singing something more traditional in the first episode opener? And would Arthur really be up for those kinds of songs, considering that he listens to classical music on his drives around town? If he’s guiding them, wouldn’t he be more of a traditionalist?

And how did they get so good anyway? We barely saw Arthur working with them. They were “most improved” the week before, and they supposedly sounded so terrible to begin with that it made Arthur hop out of his car, drunk, and go on a tirade.

What is this show about? A Princeton professor whipping these people into shape? His struggle getting used to a small town, like a city boy in a Hallmark movie? Something else?

I’m not surprised. Like I said, this is common for second episodes. They try to meet all of their potential watchers in the middle, only to become nothing special. The problem with this approach is that they don’t always get to grow into what they want the show to be, since weakness can easily mean cancellation is around the corner.

Let’s just hope Arthur and his choir can prove themselves in some way that doesn’t require a baby pig in order to stay on NBC’s schedule.

‘Perfect Harmony’ May Have Been Imperfect, But There’s Room to Grow



I watched this episode twice. For some reason, after I watched it last night, I felt like I  had missed something. It’s not that I didn’t understand what I saw: professor comes to Kentucky town, helps a choral group with a competition, and then they compete in said competition. That’s all pretty straightforward. But I felt like I missed when the choral group actually rehearsed, got better, suddenly became this group who could truly compete in this intense competition and pull off “Eye of the Tiger.”

So I rewatched it. And to be honest, I did miss something. It turns out that when you already know the key plot points, you notice things like the humorous one-liners and running gags (like Reverent Jax’s movie titles) and, oh yeah, why the ending was so important and sentimental for Arthur.

But let’s backtrack. What all happened in this episode? Well, after his wife’s death, Arther parks himself outside a church looking for a sign, while drinking and deliberating suicide. The less-than-perfect sounds of a chorus singing brings him into the church, where he tells everyone what they’re doing wrong and passes out. (Now, personally, I didn’t think they sounded all that bad—at least not so bad that you’d need to go in and fix the issue—but perhaps as a musician, this wasn’t the case.)

Upon waking, we find out a little about Arthur’s backstory and the group tells him about a choral competition they need his help with. (We’ll start fast forwarding now to hit the highlights.) Then, Arthur realizes that the reverend from a neighboring mega church that wouldn’t let his wife be buried in their cemetery is also in the competition, so he agrees to help out of spite. We discover that Ginny was married to Wayne, who still loves her, but so does his friend Dwayne (really just realized their names are Wayne and Dwayne as I write this). Arthur convinces Dwayne to let his feelings be known to Ginny, which he does that afternoon. (Apparently, all it takes is one person to tell him to go for it and he does. Who knew?) Arthur causes all kinds of tension with the group, and they all get angry. Ginny’s son runs away to Arthur’s boat, where Arthur realizes he’s dyslexic, therefore indicating that Ginny’s divorce is not to blame for his fighting at school.

Then, they get to the competition, sing, release butterflies, and win “most improved.”

Whew. That’s a lot for 22 minutes. I mean, even Sister Act needed an hour and 40 minutes to whip the nuns into shape. No wonder I missed some of the details. They shoved so much plot into one episode that the character development and elements of subtle humor were glossed over just so you could follow the action.

Which is disappointing. Because if you had slowed down, you would’ve heard (and remembered) that Arthur’s wife collected butterfly figurines and that they’d whistle “Eye of the Tiger” to each other when they were trying to find each other in a crowd. I heard both of these in my original watch, but they didn’t register. Once the competition came, I just thought the chorus was quirky for singing “Eye of the Tiger.” I forgot that he mentioned that title earlier at the cemetery; I only remembered the “Rocky” joke. I had no idea why there were butterflies. I forgot his wife collected figurines, so I didn’t make the connection. And I didn’t even notice Arthur getting misty-eyed.

It was actually a great moment—if only it had been given its due. Slow down, take a beat. This could’ve been better executed in at least two episodes, if not played out over an entire season. The first episode should’ve just ended with his agreeing to help, with the line about how he was helping out of spite and “God works in mysterious ways.” That would give a little more space for the jokes, like the fact that Wayne lost all of Ginny’s money and left nine snakes in her garage (which makes the snake he brought over to Arthur’s boat make much more sense).

All that said, I do think there’s room to grow. Bradley Whitford is an incredible actor, and I would follow in him to any TV show. Anything he’s in ends up being excellent, and I do think he’s very careful about the projects he signs on to. Once we get to know the characters more—and their quirks—there’s a lot of material there. We just haven’t had the opportunity to see that yet. Only drips and drabs that got shoved into a too-full pilot.

So, sure, I’ll keep watching. But I do hope they take a slower tempo. A little less presto, a little more adagio.

‘Emergence’ Hits the Air with Lots of Questions, Few Answers


EMERGENCE: 1.01 “The Pilot”

Emergence premiered last night, starting with Revolution-style electricity outages and glowing lights in the sky. In the vein of LostThe Event, and Manifest, it’s another show that begins with some sort of airplane tragedy or shocking event, coupled with a sea of mysteries. While, no, I suppose this isn’t a major airline crash on an island with a smoke monster, a flight that disappears into a flash of light, or a plane that goes missing and reappears five years later, this particular voyage brought with it its own perplexing forces—and a young girl who appears unharmed and has no memory of who she is or how she got there.

On the scene is Jo Evans, police chief, played by Allison Tolman. While I know little about Tolman beyond what I’ve seen of her in I’m Sorry (and if you haven’t watched I’m Sorry, watch it. It’s hilarious), I thought she did a pretty good job of balancing authoritative with shocked and confused throughout the episode. Her dynamic with Alexa Swinton, who plays Piper, was also interesting to watch. And hey, I can never argue with giving Donald Faison (who I’ve never seen in a dramatic role) and Clancy Brown more work. So overall, the cast is compelling enough to make me want to keep watching.

Which is good, because a lot happened in this episode—perhaps a little too much. We start with finding the accident and Piper, then move on to Piper in the hospital and a close call with Mystery Bad Guys (MBGs) there, then there’s the discovery that the original investigators were imposters… We return to the beach to find the plane gone and the crime scene cleaned up and meet an investigative reporter… Then there’s discoveries at the police station which leads Jo to hide the family at a cabin or lake house, only to be found and have to run from MBGs, who knock poor Faison over the head to steal Piper… Who later get in a supernatural car accident and are killed, while Piper remains unscathed. And then we’re back to the police station where we discuss a coverup and then at a coffee shop where our police chief wants to partner with a reporter (of all the crazy, unbelievable things that happen in this episode, this is probably the most so—that or the other cop who’s like, uh, sure, I’ll keep this knowledge to myself, Chief). All the while, we have scenes to get to know Jo’s family, choose Piper’s name, get her acclimated to her home, show how attached she is to Jo, and, oh yeah, give her the opportunity to see crazy messages in the TV, use electromagnetic telekinesis when she’s scared, and finally carve a crazy tech marble out of her neck.

Oh, and Jo’s dad has cancer and was a former fire fighter. Did I miss anything?

Now, I understand series pilots have to stuff in a lot of stuff: exposition, so you understand background, along with enough plot to be compelling. And for shows in the thriller genre, which you could argue this falls, you need enough mystery and action to leave your audience enticed and excited throughout the episode.

But all of these twists and turns just left me scratching my head. For instance, while I love having Faison on my screen, I’m not quite sure why he needed to take the family to the safe house. And how many scrapes has he been in with Jo, given how calm he was the moment that she whipped out her gun and was signaling when it was clear? And while I’m curious to know what Piper knows, I’m not sure we had to know in this episode that Jo’s father has cancer and that his meds aren’t working (I’m predicting his death already. I was actually surprised it didn’t happen the minute he said he’d stay in the basement when they were running from the MBGs).

But probably most of all, I’m left wondering about Piper. Is she good? Is she bad? Does she actually remember things? How else would she know about the tech marble and specifically where it was located in her body? Why wouldn’t she tell Jo about the tech marble? Why is she trying to hide it? Who is trying to get to her, and how are they communicating to her through technology? Is she even human? And will the tech marble cause plumbing issues?

I’m sure these are all the questions the writers want us to ask, but with all that happened, I was hoping I’d have some general idea of a direction. Should I distrust her, since she took out the tech marble and covered it up? Or is she just frightened? We’re we supposed to see that as sinister? It’s walking a fine line, and I can’t quite tell how to interpret it. I’m all for mystery and questions, but I also want to play the game where I’m guessing along. Without breadcrumbs, I have no idea what to think. Give me the opportunity to guess, so I can later see if I’m right, wrong, or way off base.

I know what you’re thinking: You’re not supposed to know the answers yet. That’s the point. And I suppose it is. But if the action is moving that fast, so are my expectations. Give me something to cling onto, so I can start making some hypotheses.

I guess I’ll just have to wait, like everyone else, ‘til next week.

‘The Magicians’ Ends Its Season on a Beautiful, Shocking, and Heartbreaking Note

Last night, The Magicians signed off its fourth season on an incredible note. All day, I’ve been hopping on Twitter, hoping to read more, find out more, see what others are saying. It was a fantastic hour of television, topping off with the unexpected to one of the key players of the season.

[SPOILERS AHEAD. Do not read if you haven’t watched “The Seam.”]


Quentin Coldwater has passed on. After spending a season trying to free Eliot from the Monster (or more accurately, trying to get the Monster out of Eliot’s body), Quentin sacrificed himself to not only throw the Monster into the Seam, but also rid the world of the Monster’s sister and bring down the wannabe-god Everett.

For anyone who has watched The Magicians, this came as a shocking twist. Quentin has easily been the center of the show, the one who first brought us to Brakebills and introduced us to Fillory. It was his belief that pulled us through the story of The Magicians, and to see him gone, well…

To say it was surprising is an understatement. For one, people don’t tend to stay dead in The Magicians. Alice is the perfect example. Second, he’s Quentin Coldwater. Even as the story was developing, my husband and I were asking, “Do you think he’s leaving the show?” in disbelief. What is The Magicians without the person who started it all?

While we have few answers (some hints, though: Margot and Eliot visiting an overthrown Fillory, Alice as a potential head librarian, Julia with power again), we have to wait until 2020 to see what the show will really look like without Q. Until then, let’s take a moment and look back at this season to see what really led to this development.

I want to start with the brilliance that is the Underworld. Imagine how much thought went into creating this world, so Quentin could naturally pass through it with no question or exposition. We first saw Penny-40 observe the room where Quentin would later share the secrets that he took to the grave. We saw him as he learned about and passed on the metro pass for someone to move on to their afterlife. We had an episode dedicated to side characters that ended with Penny-40 getting promoted to his position in the Underworld, all so that when Quentin shows up in the elevator, we could naturally take Quentin to the doorway that took him away. It was so subtly done that, despite the complexity of the supernatural, it was easy and understandable. It was very smartly put together.

And Quentin himself was one to watch. As he questioned if he was really heroic or if he had just found a way to kill himself, it was heartbreaking—and yet so true to him. We began this journey with Q as he dealt with suicidal thoughts. He found an out with magic, but somehow those thoughts still haunted him. It was only natural that he’d wonder if his heroism was real.

But seeing the memorial at the bonfire… my heart! He could truly see what he meant to these people and who he saved through his final act. The song was beautiful. The symbolism of each gift tossed into the fire was beautiful. His reaction was priceless. Overall, such a wonderful tribute to the character.

But I wouldn’t be Raked if I didn’t bring up a few nitpicks. While this episode in and of itself was amazing, I do wish we’d had a little bit more of a buildup for certain elements. For instance, the Monster’s sister had barely possessed Julia by the time they released her. And Everett, he was barely a threat. His “power” had barely been shown, so much so that I was even left wondering why not give him the bottle to handle? Could he really be as bad as the Monster and his sister, even as a god? What was the real threat here?

I would’ve liked to have seen some of the front end of this season condensed, just so we could have spent more time with these threats, so we could have emphasized how much a shitshow the world would have been with them and Everett in them. It just wasn’t quite all there for me.

But the way they were taken down, using Q’s gift of mending small objects—perfection. It was heartbreaking, shocking—and while I’m going to miss Quentin—a perfect ending to the character. While I know the show will never be the same, I like the idea of Quentin at peace, to know that he’s finally ok and the weight of he world can finally be taken off his shoulders.

Photo by SYFY/Eike Schroter

The ‘Charmed’ Reboot: Are the New Charmed Ones Strong Enough to Survive?


CHARMED: 1.01 “Pilot”

I was a fan of the old Charmed. I watched it from the start, stuck through it in the middle years (even years when Cole had long outlived his usefulness), watched the first finale, and then moved on to the next. In fact, Charmed was one of those shows I was writing about before I officially started this blog. So when I heard that they were rebooting it with new characters and a semi-new premise, I wasn’t too excited. Did we really need another version?

To be fair, I ask this about a lot of reboots and revivals (and the Gilmore Girls revival has taught me to be cautious, even if I am excited), but especially for Charmed, I was just left wondering what was left to say, what there was left to do, and why we couldn’t just have an original show about witches with new characters and new plot points. I guess, some would argue, the CW tried that with The Secret Circle, and we live in a nostalgia world. That doesn’t quite convince me, but…

Nonetheless, I wanted to see how this show holds up—not just in comparison to the original, but also on its own merit.

My first thought? The girls are too young. This isn’t just because the original had three witches who were in careers (or in the case of Phoebe, between them) and had to balance witchcraft with their real-world responsibilities. Yes, that appealed to me—and it’s probably why I felt the most interesting character in last night’s premiere was the oldest sister, Macy. But even if you push the original out of view, there’s something trivial about hearing someone dealing with demon dogs and her mother’s death…all while worrying, “What about rush?” I can’t really take her seriously, especially since, really, what was holding her back from accepting her birthright as a witch was…pledging a sorority. (This is not to mean that I’m insulting sororities. But when you look at it in comparison to the dark forces at work, it seems less important.)

What’s more, none of these characters have any personality. Macy is the closest, as she tries to research her past and comes to every witch-related problem with a scientific approach (actually, this one element is what makes the show intriguing to me, as nerdy as it is). But Mel and Maggie are blank slates. Other than her need to be part of the sorority, I know nothing about Maggie. Mel is “angry all the time.” That seems to be her main defining quality, which doesn’t draw you in as a viewer or makes her all that likable. She does take a hard stand on polarizing issues, but that’s about it. There’s really nothing more that can be said about these girls.

And that, to me, is the real weakness of the show on its own. Without strong characters, what is there to watch? A demon dog that we didn’t even see the girl fight (but apparently green slime was involved), demons that take over bodies a la Supernatural, and an ice demon that looks strikingly like the Night King from Game of Thrones. The girls seem to have gotten control of their powers rather quickly, and while I do like that they’ve set up Harry as a questionable character with the cliffhanger, you’re left wondering if he and Giles from Buffy went to the same Watcher/Whitelighter training facility. I’m just struggling to see the originality of the series, even if you ignore that it’s a reboot of another show.

And let’s take a moment to compare it to the original. They’ve made it different by focusing on a mother’s death, rather than a grandmother’s. There’s still a Book of Shadows (that they really don’t use yet). And we have three sisters with the same starting letter: Ms, instead of Ps. But what I miss is the learning curve. Somehow Macy was able to get ahold of her powers rather quickly. So did Mel. Maggie just needs to touch someone to hear their thoughts—a power that I find much less interesting than Phoebe’s vague premonitions. But what’s more, in the original, their powers stemmed from their emotions. Piper’s power (which, truth be told, was always my favorite) started when she’d get scared. But Mel? It’s when she’s…not mad. But we don’t really know what sets it off. Pru was when she was angry, which aligns to some extend with Macy, who seemed to draw power from anger or fear. But then again, she seemed to get a handle on it very quickly, considering it is one of the most active powers of all. I personally liked the link to the emotions in the original since it meant the Charmed Ones not only had to train themselves to learn magic but also to learn a little about themselves. Here, it feels more like convenience.

All to say, I went into the Charmed reboot with a relatively open mind, telling myself not to compare it completely to the original. But even then, I’m struggling to find what will capture my attention week to week. If it doesn’t focus more on character, I think the Power of Three will be defeated pretty quickly.

Image by the CW

Manifest: “Reentry” Takes on Life Five Years Later

MANIFEST: 1.02 “Reentry”

Last week, I lamented that Manifest didn’t spend enough time with its characters adjusting to life that’s been fast-forwarded by five years. This week, we got a glimpse of that. Michaela was working on getting back on the force and dealing with her former best friend. Ben was working out life back with his wife. And his poor son, Cal, seemed to have the hardest adjustment, after realizing that all of his toys, clothes, posters—all things familiar—were gone.

I really felt for Cal in this episode, and it was interesting to see how Grace jumped through hoops trying to make him feel more comfortable. Especially given that he’s going through his treatments, it’s important that he feel like he hasn’t lost everything. After all, he lost his twin sister in a way; she’s now five years older and like an entirely different person (a person, who smartly saved his belongings and brought a smile to his face at the end of the episode).

Grace and Cal was probably the most redeeming part of Grace’s storyline, though, as we waited the entire episode to find out if she was going to come clean to Ben about her relationship. Of course, Ben found out another way, and then she was left to make a choice: a life with her husband or her new love. Now, based on the end, it looks like she’s choosing Ben, but I doubt this tension is over. My guess is that whoever she is seeing will make an appearance and cause more issues and complexity to this marriage.

As for Michaela, well, she’s not only trying to accept what happened to her on Flight 828 but also the death of her friend in the car accident, which apparently happened while she was drinking and driving. She’s also dealing with the reappearance of her best friend Lourdes, who showed up at the police station to reconnect. Now, if I were Lourdes, I would’ve tried calling Michaela at Ben and Grace’s house and asking to meet for coffee, rather than blindsiding her at work unannounced, where, by the way, Michaela’s former boyfriend and Lourdes’ husband works and was present. But that’s just me. Fortunately, that was all cleaned up by episode’s end, when Michaela says that she was planning on turning down Jared’s proposal, even if it was a lie.

So our main characters seemed to smooth over some rough edges in “Reentry,” though all of these bits do seem a little too easy right now. I would’ve expected more struggling—or at least for it to last more than one episode. Who knows? Maybe it will.

The more interesting part of the episode was what was happening with the other passengers of Flight 828. No, I’m not talking about our “case of the week,” which was…fine? It didn’t draw me in that much, not because it was poorly done, but because I’m must more interested in the larger mystery and story arc than individual weekly cases. But I’m starting to see that this is going to be a habit for each episode. Someone hears something mysterious, follows its lead, helps someone out, and tracks down some sort of criminal by episode’s end.

No, more intriguing is the shadow figure that is apparently now killing fellow passengers. Why? We don’t know. Was it because she spoke out on the news? Or something else? And who is the shadow?

Yes, I find this more compelling than the visions and voices. Clearly, whatever happened on that plane wasn’t simply magical. There is some human involvement. But how? And why? And why kill the passengers? And did Cal have some sort of vision, in order to draw the shadow in his family picture?

All good questions with no answers yet. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

‘God Friended Me’ Packs a Lot into Its Pilot, Including Some Flaws


GOD FRIENDED ME: 1.01 “Pilot”

I’ve read a few reviews and tweets about God Friended Me, and they haven’t all been positive. I’ll get to their points, but I’ll go ahead and preface this post: As someone who was a fan of Kevin (Probably) Saves the World and Joan of Arcadia, the idea of someone getting some godly intervention, making them question their beliefs and their own sense of self, appeals to me. So with that in mind, a lot of God Friended Me hit the right notes in my book.

That said, the episode I watched yesterday was in no way what I expected. First of all—and please don’t judge me here—I somehow missed the boat that this was an hourlong show and thought it was supposed to be a half-hour sitcom (maybe it was the 8:30 time slot? Ok, ok, I really have no excuse). So already, the tone and overall feel of the show was very different than what I thought I was tuning into. Would it have worked better as a half-hour sitcom? I don’t know. I liked the show overall and what it tried to do, but it probably would’ve set itself apart from its spiritual predecessors if it was. But it’s not, so let’s move on.

The whole idea is that podcaster Miles is friended on Facebook by an account known as God. While this may seem strange for anyone, it’s especially odd for Miles, who is an atheist, despite his reverend father. Naturally, Miles thinks the God account is a hoax, but when it starts suggesting “friends” who need his help, he starts to realize there’s more to this account than meets the eye—whether it’s a hoax or not.

Now, the biggest complaint I’ve read about this show is in this premise. First and foremost, they argue that Millennials don’t use Facebook anymore. What’s more, the show tossed in so many Millennial key terms to make it seem relevant to the younger audience, it somehow came across forced and out of touch. As someone who is in her mid-30s, that didn’t quite bother me. I was able to gloss over it.

Instead, I focused on the God bit. And overall, it drew me in. Did it take on a lot? Sure. I felt like some of it was a little too easy. He saved the guy from the train. His new friend reunites with her estranged mother and becomes part of her new family—with a sister. He may not have smoothed things over with his father, but at least they’re spending time together again. And even in his podcast, he may not be a believer in a higher power, but he acknowledges that we should at least think about it.

Some of this feels like it should’ve been taken on over the course of the season. Sure, save the guy in one episode. Maybe baby steps with the mom. Maybe show up in the back of the church for the father, but stop once you see Miles walking away and hold the chess scene for a later episode. As for the podcast? I can’t imagine that Miles would have been that easy to admit that you should be asking questions when his entire platform is on atheism—and he’s so strongly confident in that viewpoint that he’s able to take on a rabbi in the opening scene.

But as far as setting up the show, I thought it did a solid job. Like I said, I’m a sucker for this kind of show. Has it been done before? Sure. But I’d still choose it and its attempts at creativity through episodic trials over the overdone procedural and hospital show any day. Plus, it’s got an entertaining cast, so I’d like to see where it goes.

Image by CBS