09 December 2010

The Watcher: 12/2 - 12/9

S04E11 - "Hop a Freighter" (5 December 2010) - A lot is happening in a short amount of time for Dexter, as he adequately says, Quinn/Liddy is closing in on him, and Deb is narrowing in on Lumen, so time is of the essence. Luckily, we got one hell of a fast paced episode that's leading us to what will inevitably be one interesting of a finale. There's plenty of threads left up in the air, and although I'm not about to make judgments of what's going to happen, I do hope that Julia Stiles continues her role in DEXTER for quite some time, and preferably not as a Harry-esque aberration. Anyway, it's not worth speculating just yet. What this episode is is intense. The last thirteen minutes with Dexter and Liddy was quite stellar. The personal way Liddy was dispatched, the way I felt, for the first time since the character's appearance, that he was something of a dimensional individual instead of a cardboard cutout waiting to be taken out, and the anxiety of whether Quinn was going to break into the van. A overall great sequence that will, judging by the commercial for the next episode, lead into something big. As mentioned in the last DEXTER review, I quite like and find interest in the Lumen/Dexter relationship, so their continuous hand holding and touching was appreciated and, dare I say, cute. Now all they need to do is survive. No big deal, right?

S01E10 - "Dark Matter" (2 December 2010) - For some reason or another, I refrained from writing this review until after the following episode, "All the Way", premiered, and in light of that amazingly fantastic experience, I can't say I recall too much from "Dark Mater" and had to look up a guide to remind me of some of the details. Perhaps that indicates the episode wasn't entirely memorable or all that engaging, "Dark Matter" was nonetheless a well put together episode. It featured some very nice spying and action sequences as Nikita and Owen formed an alliance and performed one helluva MISSION: IMPOSSIBLEesqe stunt to get out of a jam. The subplot involving the Engineer was interesting until Percy re-entered the picture and murdered the Engineer. Frankly, I'm a bit tired of Percy. It's been firmly established he's a evil rat bastard of near Vic Mackey proportions, and although I heart Xander Berkley, I just don't find myself drawn to this guy and his wicked dealings. On the interesting category of things, Alex is having a even more difficult time keeping her cover intact, so I'm anxious to see how that evolves.

S10E10 - "Luthor" (3 December 2010) - Parallel realities/universes isn't particularly a new idea in the Superman/SMALLVILLE realm of storytelling, but the beautiful way it was written and directed in this episode, it's entirely forgivable [although there are some issues I find myself having that I won't hold against it too much: Clark Luthor should not be named Clark; Clark's seeming hatred towards Lionel in particular is confusing, given the comradeship established between them the last two and a half seasons before Lionel's death). It's great to see Lionel Luthor again, even though John Glover did ham up the performance a tad. I also found myself surprisingly rooting for the Tess/Clark romance/kiss. Yeah, I know it's all Lois and Clark, but there's undeniably something there between these two characters, as evidenced in the final scene. The direction, with heavy emphasis on dark lighting and hand held cinematography, was appropriate and, dare I say, near perfect. The writing was also top notch, as it remarkably has been all season long. And the performances - can't say enough good things about 'em. "Luthor" is truly a episode worth writing a entirely separate glowing blog post about, but I won't bore everyone with the details here. This episode excelled on multiple levels, although it did feature some faults they weren't of such a magnitude it interrupted the enjoyment aspect, and I am entirely too eager to see how Lionel's reappearance in the real world will disrupt the natural order of things.

S06E10 - "Caged Heat" (3 December 2010) - Wow. What a spectacularly fantastic episode of SUPERNATURAL. As mentioned in prior reviews, this season has been a bit uneven, but since Castiel entered the picture and Sam has been front and center, every episode (save "All Dogs Go to Heaven") has been a goldmine. "Caged Heat" was amazing on so many levels, and accomplished so much: 1) the wonderful character of Crowley found himself a amazing departure, and the way he was eviscerated from existence by Castiel was brutal and straight-to-the-point. 2) Everything about Sam's soul. Frankly, I don't blame the guy. If I was in his shoes, I would do whatever I can to ensure that fractured, mutilated thing doesn't get back in my body. Besides, I love the hell out of this take action Sam. His aggression, his resourcefulness, even his sense of humor. Kickass Sam, and it's amazing. But this stuff about Sam's soul being a punching bag for Lucifer and could quite damage Sam beyond repair - some amazing and unexpected stuff. Damn. 3) Samuel intent on getting Mary back. Not too interested in this subplot, taking into consideration my general disinterest in the Samuel character, but major kudos for the emotion stemmed from Samuel's plight. 4) Meg was fantastic, hot and seductive, and just the right amount of manipulative. First time I've liked the character in awhile. 5) Castiel and his porno experience. A perfect episode if ever I've encountered one. Awesome.

S01E04 - "Vatos" (21 November 2010) - Although the two sisters haven't really grown on me and I can't say I've been particularly moved by either of their performances, the opening sequence of this episode - the simplicity of two sisters fishing in some gorgeous surroundings - was pretty awesome in what it set out to do. Each week, THE WALKING DEAD surprises me some way or another, either with its dedication to showing bloodshed stations tend to shy away from or its commitment to emphasizing the human drama moreso than the ever prevalent threat of a zombie attack. Speaking of zombie attack, and foregoing any mention of the convoluted and forced complications that befell Rick and the gang back in Atlanta, the night massacre back at camp was utterly fantastic. The zombies, the body counts, the gore - all the elements lined up just right, and the most surprising aspect was its unexpectedness. Kudos to the writers/directors for not letting it slip. A fantastic finale to a otherwise lackluster episode.

S01E05 - "Wildfire" (28 November 2010) - Built entirely out of emotion and desperation, "Wildfire" was a terrific character oriented episode. Andrea mourning over her deceased sister and being the one to take out Zombie Amy was moving and powerful. The character of Jim is given just as much screentime and profound emotion as he denies what has happened to him, accepts it, and finally makes a choice about his zombie-bitten state. Good stuff, entirely. 30 minutes dedicated entirely to some raw, hard emotion of awesome proportions, the zombie version of THE SHIELD, and we enter the new Situation of the Week. After being unfairly rolled on with the accusation that his presence could have made a difference with the attack, Rick makes another bold stroke: locate the nearby CDC and find out how to beat this thing and get shelter. Although not as powerful as the material before it, the editing, tension, and music all came together in the final minutes to create something riveting. The zombies closing in, the use of John Murphy's mesmerizing SUNSHINE score, and the unexpected and possibly game-changing ending. Overall, a good episode high on emotion and bringing us to our premature season finale..

S01E06 - "TS-19" (5 December 2010) - Nice computer simulation of the brain of a zombie victim. Never saw something like that before, and that sequence was chilling and engrossing all at the same time. It nicely adds a layer of tragedy to the whole thing, which just splendidly ups the horror and doom that awaits the survivors. The question of the hour was in the wake of a hopeless world, why continue to hold onto hope and live day after day, fighting the odds to stay alive? It's true, the world Rick and company inhabit is a shitty one, with virtually no hope and apparently no solution on the horizon, there is a point in just letting go and succumbing to death. A fair quandary, and quite appropriate for the season finale. Instead of a safe haven, instead of a place to live and find the answer to their problems, the group leave the CDC even more broken and morally shattered than before. It offered for some great scenes - specifically the last five minutes as the self destruct clock winds down and it's a question of who lives and dies. As many have commented, the six episode season does feel awfully incomplete, and it leaves you wanting more entirely, but in a way, it does tell one satisfactory complete narrative. The group has a bit more information, they're stronger together now, and they maintain a singular goal now: just stay alive. Things will be harsher and harder from now on with the knowledge they attained at the CDC, but I have a feeling season two will offer some interesting twists and turns.

Now that the season is over, here's a small little retrospect: Although initially unsure about the benefits and parameters of a zombie show on the tele, THE WALKING DEAD has most definitely exceeded my expectations. Anticipating little more than a gore-of-the-week type show, it has instead explored the humanity and tragedy of the situation, and the writing/directing has allowed for the emotional center of the series to breathe and engage the viewer. It's a riveting drama that just happens to have zombies in it. Beautiful decor, a interesting enough cast of characters, the freshman season has most definitely left me satisfied. Now I just hope the boundaries can be pushed further, the emotion reaching unprecedented heights, and that the series ends with a calculated and well thought out conclusion. As it stands, a series that both horror and non-genre fans can enjoy. And great zombie effects. THE WALKING DEAD: SEASON 1 will most definitely be on my list of DVDs to buy.

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