23 December 2010

The Watcher: 12/10 - 12/23

Oh yes - I know I have been a horrible, horrible blogger the past week and a half. Where other blogs are updating on a daily basis, this baby has sort of been on the back burner. Sadly, I sort of expected it with the lack of easy internet access my way during winter break, but the horrible rate I'm going at - it's a disaster. My excuses are as follows: as anticipated, my hours at work have increased (which results in a bigger paycheck, so that makes me quite with the pleased); I haven't been able to see nearly any movies in a long, long time [the last theatrical movie I saw was DEATHLY HALLOWS, which is unheard of from me], thus unable to review anything; I've also been writing a novella at nighttime, titled A CHRISTMAS STORY (points for unoriginality), and I'm quite pleased with the results; and I've spent most of my free time being consumed by catching up on TV shows, notably a STARGATE: ATLANTIS binge and some other 2009-2010 programs I failed to watch (e.g., HUMAN TARGET), so expect reviews of those in the soon future. But once this week concludes, I'll have more time to devote to the blog. For those who do make this a usual stop, I have a planet-full of gratitude to you, and I promise content will be up and running smoothly quite soon.

As for The Watcher, it's going to be facing a difficult time: there's nearly nothing to watch. Most if not all of my shows are in their mid-season finale, ended, or canceled. I got a DOCTOR WHO episode for the next Watcher, but nothing else after that. Blimey. What to do. Until then, enjoy the super late reviews for the following.

S05E12 - "The Big One" (13 December 2010) - And it all comes down to this. Lumen has been kidnapped by Jordan Chase, Liddy is dead at Dexter's hands, Deb is getting closer to tracking down the vigilante couple, and Quinn is finding himself in some serious shit in connection to Dexter's latest victim. Gloom and doom was destined for Dexter, and was that what we got? No, satisfyingly enough. "The Big One" is appropriately titled, for it was Dexter's 'big con', in a way. He had to save Lumen, decide on what to do with Quinn, cover up Liddy's death, and prepare for Harrison's birthday party; quite a lot on our favorite serial killer's plate. First, I'd like to give major kudos for the very nice portrayal of Jordan Chase. I'm not going to make comparisons between Chase and Arthur Mitchell, as that would be unfair. I will say that Chase and his rapist friends were the exact type of evil Dexter needed right now: just the right amount, but not too much. Rather, season five was all about emotion, moreso than the evil man(s) that need to be put down by the finale. Dexter and Lumen in various forms of grief and anger, and channeling that (and in Lumen's case, finding justice and satisfaction) through the carnage. It appears the overall theme of the season was Dexter finally and firmly accepting who he was: his life, his responsibilities, and (of course) his Dark Passenger. I was hoping for a greater progression of the Dexter character - for more emphasis, I guess, of Dexter's humanity that is slowly but surely shinning through [but not nearly as profound as "My Bad"] - but I can happily take what we got.

Lumen and Dexter reunite to take down Chase, and it's a sweet moment. Lumen makes her second and final kill, and watches as Chase dies in front of her. The last villain has been vanquished, and by the morning, Lumen has felt a release of her hatred and desire to kill; she is, for all intents and purposes, a free individual, unburdened. Sensing that Dexter isn't capable of giving up that type of life, sensing that she is, in a sense, reborn, Lumen makes the choice of leaving Dexter, pretty much pronto. Although I'm glad Lumen wasn't killed off, for I would have vehemently been in the group outraged at her demise and the redundancy of the plot device, I still have issue with this final story beat. Nonetheless, I do hope Julia Stiles returns to DEXTER again, and makes just a prominent affect to his life like he did this year.

The scene when Deb tracks down her vigilantes and makes the decision to let them go - well, that was just some outstanding acting on Jennifer Carpenter's part, and I quite like this sort of morally shattered, broken down woman we've got. Her life has been messed up since the end of season one, and it just increases with craziness. Current boyfriend was accused of murdering Liddy, last boyfriend murdered by the Trinity Killer, and her ex-fiancee tried to murder her. The Morgans are possibly one of the most interesting families on television right now, and I'm anxious for the day when Deb finally does find out about Dexter, because if this scene in "The Big One" is any indication, it will be...um, a big one.

So outside of all this rambling, what did I think? A overall enjoyable episode and decent conclusion to another far-too-short 12-episode season; it had a very good book-quality to it, with a beginning, middle and end. The final scene at the park for Harrison's birthday was tremendous, with the conversation between Dexter and Astor (one of the few moments where I genuinely didn't mind her) and the final, sweet image.

Season Review: Season 4 had its faults - it wasn't nearly the seemingly flawless batch of episodes many reviews make it out to be - but it finished in such a strong, profound episode that redefined the entire season, in a way. Season 5 is nothing spectacular in its own right; in fact, I would probably rate this as one of its less successful seasons. Asinine subplots 97% of the time involving the side characters that have no relation to the main story [which is all I'm going to say about the Angel/Maria junk, the Latino Bros. junk, etc.] or, for that matter, any interest from this viewer, a overall lack of coherency to the story, and - among many other things I'll inevitably fail to mention - not accomplishing enough with its twelve episodes of story. This tale could easily have been told in about six or seven episodes, allowing much, much more plot and character growth to be included and emphasized on. Give Batista, Maria, and the other dudes more material to work with, and actually integrate them into the main plot in some way; make them be continuous foils for Dexter and Lumen, have them work a case that ties into Boyd and Chase, have more fallout from the Latino Brothers ordeal than just Deb, etc. Basically, season 5 just felt half-assed. In the contents of these twelve episodes are the ingredients of something majorly fantastic, and what we got here was little more than half of its potential. I don't mean to rag on DEXTER or say that I dislike/hate the show. Quite the contrary: it's one of my favorite television shows, and have been a loyal follower for several years, and I'll keep on being so until the end. Just, right now, the writers don't seem to have a clear destination for Dexter. It's as if he's weaving through several different plots until the series is canceled and the show doesn't receive the necessary closure. We've had four seasons of the same-like Dexter character and story beats, I just expected season five to completely change not only the game, but Dexter.

The strongest aspect of the season was entirely Lumen and Julia Stiles' strength in her portrayal. The chaos and fear in her eyes when Dexter first finds her, the gain of trust and comradery between the two, the unforgettable moment where Lumen makes her first kill and the adrenaline and passion that followed afterward, the way a part of Dexter's "soul" was stirred because of her, and the strongish, mostly confidant woman she became by the finale. Normally I give massive amounts of kudos to the writers, but in this specific instance, I think full credit needs to be attributed to Julia Stiles, who became through the course of the season one of my more respected actors in the showbiz today. Her expressions and ability to tap into not only hers but the audiences' emotions is amazing.

Frankly, there's not much to be said about season 5. Season 4 ended with a tragedy, and 5 shows Dexter coming to terms with that, and helps Lumen in a way to make right a wrong, ending with Dex alone, even when surrounded by 'family' and 'friends'. I really, disparately hope Dex undergoes a greater transformation with season six, or we gain some sort of clearer understanding of the characters overall arc (if there is one). In the end, season 5 was a good but not great installment of the DEXTER mythology, and will be remembered for the powerhouse performance of Julia Stiles, the consummation of the Deb/Quinn romance, and really shitty subplots. Okay, perhaps that last point wasn't the best note to end on. So here's a optimistic one: looking forward to the future, and am eagerly excited to see what season 6 will hold!

S01E11 - "All the Way" (09 December 2010) - Way to close the series at the halfway point, "All the Way" was the most splendid, most awesome episode NIKITA has produced yet. I'm not lying when I say I was glued to the screen the entire time. The stakes were the highest they ever have been, the characters had to make some tough decisions, and the story and script had more twists and turns in this singular episode than the ten preceding it. Although the final result with Alex and Thorn was inevitable and predictable, the emotional impact of the moment was not lessened. Hell, let me just say this: every scene, every beat, every awesome punch and kick was pretty much perfect. For example, the scene where the elevator doors in Division open and Nikita is greeted by all the trainees and she subsequently kicks each and everyone of their asses was frakkin' gold. Definitely one of the television highlights of the year! Lyndsey Fonseca and Maggie Q deliver their finest performances of the season, the episode is jam-packed with twists and turns, action and thrills. There's nothing left to say than it was stellar, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

S10E11 - "Icarus" (10 December 2010) - A strong batch of episodes, "Icarus" disappoints in some ways and succeeds in others. First, I need to say that the episode ends on one hell of a stupid cliffhanger until over a month away. A pyramid of white light emerges from the sand and knocks them unconscious? Really? That's just lazy. And the previews seem to indicate Clark will have lost his powers again. Unless there's a really good frakkin' reason why, I can't see myself particularly pleased with that storyline. Anyway, back to the episode at hand. The teaser with Lois and Clark getting engaged was as corny and romantic as expected, with Tom Welling and Erica Durance giving us as strong performances as they've given all year. STARGATE alumni Michael Shanks returns as Hawkman, in addition to Michael Hogan as Slade Wilson (once again sporting a dead right eye, this time taking a metallic insertion over a eye patch) and both actors bring their A games. Shanks excels as Hawkman, giving his best, personable performance yet, and makes the duel at the end all the more tragic and sad. Hogan is just fun as Slade, although I think it's more out of hearing that fantastic gravelly voice again I've missed since Colonial Tigh left the screen over a year ago.

Unfortunately, "Icarus" just wasn't a outstanding episode. Rather, it's function, I believe, is transitional. Now we're going to be entering the final eleven episodes of the season, which means the stakes need to be higher, the relationships reaching their final resting place, and the plots need to converge, split, re-emerge, and converge again in a inevitably stellar finale. One interesting bit: Clark chose to deal with Slade by zapping the man into the Phantom Zone. Hmm. Clark's darkness or a showcase of his affirmative action? Consider me intrigued.

S06E11 - "Appointment in Samara" (10 December 2010) - Since the appearance of Death in "Two Minutes to Midnight", the return of Julian Richings to the role in SUPERNATURAL has been eagerly anticipated by many, including myself. His return did not disappoint. "Appointment in Samarra" is yet another superb episode, tackling so many bits of the shows mythology, reflecting on things past, hinting towards the future, and showcasing the characters in such contrasting lights. Plus, we've got a cameo by Robert Englund (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) as a doctor who 'kills' Dean. In order to arrange a meeting with Death, Dean 'dies' to negotiate getting Sam's soul out of Hell, since he figures Death just might be the only entity in the universe who'd be willing to help him. But it comes at a stake: Dean must wear the horseman ring for twenty-four hours and literally becomes Death for a day, executing Death's duties and attempting to answer some of the popular questions from the recently deceased ('What does it all mean?'). The end result of this heavily used plot ['main character becomes [insert] for a day to gain greater understanding and appreciation for another'], but necessary to have Dean grow a little bit more, as he begins to understand and appreciate the role of Death in the universe, how there is a interconnected web that must be maintained or it will created irregularities.

And that's where some juicy stuff comes in. At the end, Death makes some startling and exciting remarks: first, the humorous jab at Sam and Dean and their constant resurrections and defiance of not only Death, but destiny throughout the seasons. Nice moment. And second, Death wants Dean to keep on digging, cos he's close to finding out something monumental about the soul business. Consider me friggin' excited. As expected, Julian Richings was stellar as Death, and his creepy, intelligent, refined, and powerful portrayal remains just as impressive as it was the first time 'round.

My love for Jensen Ackles isn't as high as it used to be, cos Jared Padalecki is just shinning this season. It's with great sadness that Sam gets his soul back - but I gotta give the writers credit, it's one hell of a cliffhanger - because I feel Padalecki has done his absolute best work this year. Taking away all the angst, fear, and brooding visage of the soulful Sam, this ambiguous kill first ask questions later type of Sam is amazing. It will be sad to see him go. That being said, this whole deal with the mental wall is quite the interesting notion, and the long term story potential can be...well, something far beyond amazing. Of course, as a writer seeking to accomplish creating drama, having Sam's wall break down would be the inevitable course, but what would happen then? Will Sams entire body burn into nothingness? How is Lucifer handling this? (it'd be nice to get a little side cartoon showing Luci's pissed offness) The ideas are limitless, and I can't help but find myself floored and impressed by the brilliance of this storyline.

"Appointment in Samarra" was fantastic, bringing a end to the whole Crowley/Purgatory/Sam's soul storylines, and entering a whole new canvas of ideas and directions. Is Purgatory still a important part of the mythology? What's up with the monsters? How is Sam gonna deal with Balthazar? Is the war between Heaven and Hell going to spill onto earth? Will God ever play a major physical role in events? What direction will the Grandpa Campbell storyline go? I'm just so giddy!!!

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