Weeks XXIV & XXV – Sacrifice

2013-4 Murdoch Mysteries Season7 castMURDOCH MYSTERIES – Season Finale Season 8, Episode 18 (Artful Detective) Well, that was certainly unexpected! Usually, season finale cliffhangers leave a character in mortal peril (although being accused of a capital crime could be considered such), or else someone has departed town for an unknown period of time. Having the comic relief character arrested for murder – that it seems he actually in all likelihood did commit – is quite different. There is little question of him being falsely accused. It gives the audience something to ponder over the summer! The primary mystery of the night turns out to be a Hunger Games-style betting ring, wherein an opportunistic bookmaker takes advantage of several people desperate for money and gives them the offer of $10,000.00 to be the individual who survives everyone else. As a result, Det. Murdoch and his colleagues are faced with several murders within a very short span of time, all of the victims seemingly unrelated at first, all of whom had their thumbs cut off or had dismembered thumbs on their persons, and all killed by different weapons and styles. Partway through the episode, just as Murdoch and the audience have caught on to the scheme, Murdoch finds himself also on the “game’s” kill list. However, he uses this to his advantage to apprehend the killer, or rather, the organizer, who somehow did not realise that conspiracy to commit murder is nearly the same as murder. All the while, Constable Crabtree goes about the investigation quietly and increasingly oddly. Early in the episode, he discovers that Edna’s returned husband has beaten her and her stepson for her “infidelity”. Later, Crabtree acts strangely and seems to a) know more than he lets on about the investigations and b) be saying his farewells to Murdoch and the others. He is not his usual, jolly self. It is also very clear that he is more than simply heartbroken over the loss of Edna. Rather than plead his innocence, all evidence points to his guilt of killing her husband. Did he? It remains to be seen. Somehow, I doubt that he is entirely guilty and heading to the gallows. I have the feeling that the status quo will be restored within a few episodes of next season. How that happens is what will be fun to watch. Crabtree’s arrest ends the season on a bittersweet and bewildering note. Murdoch and Dr. Ogden are relieved that Murdoch did not get killed in the game, but they cannot believe that their erstwhile jovial friend and colleague appears to have murdered a man in cold blood. They have no celebration, but are shown getting into bed in a daze, likely hoping that this has all been a dream. We will find out in the fall. Murdoch once-upon-a-time-season-4ONCE UPON A TIME Season 4, Episode 16 (Best Laid Plans) & Episode 17 (Heart of Gold) LANA PARRILLA, JARED S. GILMORE, JENNIFER MORRISONFurthering the plot from before, the entire Charming clan is involved in the attempt to keep the Author out of the hands of the villains. However, at the episode’s end, everything seems very bleak indeed for all of the characters, heroes and villains alike. The Author is not at all benevolent; Rumpelstiltskin has Regina trapped; Emma no longer trusts her parents; Snow and Charming are beside themselves; and Maleficient has some closure to what happened to her daughter but, like the Charmings, has no way to recover the lost thirty years. -once-upon-a-time---While both brilliant episodes, it is my opinion that Best Laid Plans and Heart of Gold were paced and broken up incorrectly. The former episode revealed how the Charmings stole and corrupted Maleficient’s child (and what subsequently happened to her); revealed said secret to Emma; gave us a chase between Henry and the villains; and finally, released the Author to potentially wreak further havoc on the characters – as if they didn’t already have enough to deal with! The latter episode then backtracks from all of these plotlines to catch up with Robin Hood, give insight into Rumpelstiltskin’s motivations for returning to Storybrooke, and reveal that the Wicked Witch Zelena has been alive all along – disguised as Marian. With the exception of the framing device of having Rumpelstiltskin taunt and blackmail Regina after having knocked her out and hidden her in her vault, the events of Heart of Gold could have been shown prior to Best Laid Plans. At best, these episodes were out of order. maxresdefaultOn the other hand, the revelations of Zelena being alive (and Marian dead) was a certain surprise that caused viewers to react to all the previous plotlines in a new light. While interesting, the search for the Author itself seemed somewhat boring without necessary backstory. All in all, I would rather follow the story of Robin Hood, Regina, and Marian/Zelena than search for the Author and listen to Emma and Snow whine and snipe at each other. Thus I found this episode refreshing, but clearly my opinion was not shared by many. As shown in Heart of Gold, the Author is out of his element in Storybrooke. While I am curious as to why he chose to change and embellish tales to make a better story, his motives are quite self-explanatory. Like Rumpelstiltskin, the Author is a jerk who let power go to his head. The revelation that Zelena is still alive and that Marian is dead is not without controversy. Many viewers seem to consider it a cop-out or lazy writing, or too easily contrived to get Robin and Regina back together without leaving Marian out. I think that these viewers and reviewers are not paying enough attention! Zelena’s life essence was contained in her necklace. It escaped and sought out the portal to the past and went through it at the end of last season with Emma and Hook. As Zelena had no body at that point, she needed someone else to travel through to bring her anywhere. Essentially, she was a ghost. Once in the past, she followed Emma and Hook around, remaining incorporeal until the opportunity presented itself to take over Marian’s body, thanks to the latter woman having a magical necklace also. Zelena simply killed Marian and then reconstituted Marian’s body as her own. Upon her return to Storybrooke, Marian proceeded to be openly hostile to Regina – even moreso than expected. She was caught off-guard by the Snow Queen and her poisoned ice cream. Still using Marian’s body, no one was the wiser when she froze. Regina saved her by taking out her heart. It was not inconsistent with magic that Regina nor the Snow Queen recognised Zelena at this point. Physically, she was Marian at this point. After the spell broke, she caused the freezing spell to appear to reoccur (inexplicably!) so that Robing would do the honourable thing and take her away from the town. It all fits quite perfectly! Even if the writers had not intended this at the end of last season, it was clear that this was their intention by the fall. Zelena was too delicious of a character to dispose of so easily! heart of goldAs an aside about the Charmings (or, as Regina aptly calls them, the “Uncharmings”): like all good parents, Snow and David wanted what was best for their daughter. However, they saved her at the direct expense of another child – simply because said child was not their daughter. In an act much worse than switching babies at birth, they basically condemned Lily to evildom and loss, comparable to a hypothetical situation wherein one could transfer one’s own child’s genetic flaws into another child! Really, if they had decided to give Emma’s nearsightedness or Down syndrome to Lily without her or her mother’s consent, would we not find such an act to be despicable? (I cannot even think of a situation that would be ethical to transfer the genetic flaws of one child to another.) Yes, Snow and David learned from their mistake, but they do not need to prance about like victimized heroes and go about condemning others for their villainy. Nor did they have to keep their actions a shameful secret, as this only makes them worse. What made Emma more deserving than Lily? Snow assumed that Lily would be a dragon, not a human. This is no different than assuming that a child from a different ethnic background or less fortunate economic circumstances is inferior. As a viewer, I cannot help but want Lily to prove Snow wrong. Or at least give Snow a good slap in the face.

aa171d8d8c3a4e2dce2cf832c1c33915

tumblr_n0jgddouMc1rtrs3mo1_500hCASTLE Season 7, Episode 19 (Habeas Corpse)

best--castle--quotesThis was a stereotypical Castle episode wherein we were presented with an interesting mystery to solve, but the intention was to entertain us more with the sideplot involving our main characters. Yes, we did wonder who killed the personal injury lawyer, whose demise proved to be unfortunate, but we really were more interested in the police talent competition. This episode gave Ryan & Esposito a chance to show off their dancing and singing skills (or at least their lip-synching skills – I was not sure which) and for Castle and Beckett to regale us with a sexy shadow shower number. Even the personal injury lawyers involved in the case seemed to be as much about entertainment and having a memorable gimmick as they were about arguing for and protecting the unfortunate! Much like in life, we were easily distracted by that which was sexy, funny, irrelevant, and entertaining. The dark side of news – murder, injury, competitive ruthlessness, and various other vagaries were swept aside. The competition between the police officers over singing and dancing seemed fun and innocent, but it could not be helped but be compared and contrasted to the deadly competition that the victim of the week was involved in. It is, after all, very easy to carry a gimmick too far. Castle is not often a serious crime drama. I would not expect it to break our hearts or make our blood race in suspense every week. This episode was good for a laugh, same with videos of cute kittens. Joy gets us through life. No one wants to be constantly reminded that we could easily find ourselves gravely injured or gunned down in an alley – least of all police officers themselves! It was nice to see the cops on the show relax and have fun. With all they see, they deserve it, fictional or otherwise. maxresdefault

Posted in Castle, Katy Pontificates, Katy Rants, Murdoch Mysteries, Once Upon a Time, Reviews, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big Hero 6 (2014)

big hero 6 poster

What Frozen did for sisters, Big Hero 6 does for brothers. While not being a fairy tale and instead being based on an obscure comic book series, this film tells a fantastic story and gives us quirky but still relatable characters. One feels enriched by the viewing experience as the credits roll.

While I enjoyed this film, however, I do have to ask – why is a movie about sisters a twist on a classic magical tale, complete with music, songs, princesses, dancing, and gorgeous dresses, while Disney’s follow-up film about brothers is based on a comic series, complete with scientific gadgets, robots, high-speed chases, and a distinct lack of songs? I can’t help but think of the unfortunate implications – namely, “girls = magic and sparkles” while “boys = science and technology”. Of course, both Frozen and Big Hero 6 are very good films in their own right. However, the stark difference (akin to walking down the pink “girls’ aisle” and the multicoloured “boys’ aisle” in the toy store) did impact my enjoyment of them. It isn’t enough to say that “Frozen was about sisterly love and female empowerment” and “Big Hero 6 featured strong female characters”. The very fact that they have been separated out is the problem.

Back off my soapbox and on with the actual review!

The main characters in Big Hero 6 are not normal by any stretch of the imagination. While not royalty or magical, Hiro is a teen genius, while his older brother Tadashi is an engineer of advanced intelligence himself. Tadashi’s (and later Hiro’s) friends are also likewise scientific geniuses and/or wealthy. Baymax, our beloved sidekick, is a robot – loveable like Winnie-the-Pooh, but able to learn and adeptly diagnose and treat medical issues. The most “normal” character is Hiro’s aunt, who seems to be relatively average in her smarts and exists in the film mostly to offer food. And yet, we can relate to all of these assorted characters because they seem realistic up to a point. Even Baymax does not seem out of the realm of possibility, technologically-speaking. Science, unlike magic, seems real and obtainable to us.

Big Hero 6’s plot is a blend of whimsical adventure, wherein magic has been turned into technology without losing its sense of wonder, and classic revenge tale. Hiro deals with the loss of his brother surprisingly realistically. He embarks on a quest to stop whomever has stolen and started abusing his invention of mind-linked nanobots. Later, this quest grows to encompass defeating the one responsible for Tadashi’s death. Throughout the adventure, Baymax provides aid, support, and lots of humour as he adapts his programming to help Hiro, even including becoming a karate master. Baymax is truly willing to go to the ends of the Earth and beyond to treat and save his young patient.

The world of San Fransokyo is a blend of North American and Asian cultures. Because of this, the city seems familiar and yet otherworldly, utopian and yet believable. Also, for the first time, Disney has the technological capability to minutely animate each face in a crowd and each leaf on a tree. The realism of the animation is incredible. Every background character has a distinct face, and with it, the possibility of a distinct personality and story. The setting is all the richer for that possibility.

Most importantly, the main theme of this film is to not give up on others and not to give in to despair. No matter how many prototypes or tests it takes, no matter how many hard and devastating blows life throws at you, no matter how obstinate another person is, do not give up. Tadashi does not give up on Baymax or Hiro. Baymax does not give up on being able to treat Hiro (or any human in need, for that matter). Hiro’s friends do not give up on him. His aunt does not give in to despair despite the loss of her sibling, their spouse, and her nephew. Hiro does not give up on Baymax. Fred, the friend with the least amount of scientific abilities, never gives up on being a part of the gang and providing them with all of the skills and knowledge that he does possess. The one character who does give in to despair and revenge gets their comeuppance in defeat, but even their dedication to their revenge ends up leading directly to the salvation of at least one lost soul.

Sometimes, it seems like one is indeed giving up. Letting go of revenge leads us to personal growth, love, acceptance, peace, and salvation. Giving up on one thing can let us embrace another. But giving up on a person can only lead to loss. Giving up on one’s humanity (or a robot’s nearness to humanity) leads to death and destruction. Giving in to despair leads only to defeat and loneliness.

Like all Disney films, this story reminds us that family and friends are important. However, it does so by showing us how one teenager reacts to losing nearly his entire family and creating a new one. The robotics, technology, and action only serve to bring a new, realistic spin on the classic formula. It brings the magic closer to Earth, but it also is wonderful, awe-inspiring, and just one step farther than reality. It is still magical, but it is about us.

That’s isn’t to say that it couldn’t have used a good song. It just didn’t need one.

Posted in Films, Katy Pontificates, Katy Rants, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week XXIII – In the Midst of the Depths

once-upon-a-time-season-4ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 4, Episode 15 (Poor Unfortunate Soul)

ouat-4x16-Poor-Unfortunate-Soul-785x505_cThree villains are a lot to take on – and that’s not counting Rumplestiltskin or reformed villains such as Regina and Hook. It was inevitable that at least one of the three Queens of Darkness would be dispatched with sooner rather than later. Luckily, in this case, “dispatched with” only meant “given her happy ending.” The heroes gained an ally in Ursula, inasmuch as she told Hook what she knew of Rumplestiltskin’s plan and what she understood to be the part that he wanted Emma to play in it. We also learned about her backstory (she was a young girl who rebelled against her father, got punished by him, and then ran away from him). Is Ursula “gone” for good now? Or will she be back for the finale? Her story was a great chance to explore the world of mermaids, sailors, and ships again, but otherwise felt as though it was a break from the main plot of the season. We got a refreshing episode wherein Snow and Charming stayed in the background. Hook was given the chance to shine as the “hero” of both the past and present storylines as he attempted to help Ursula and figure out what Rumplestiltskin’s plan was. We got to see that even at his bloodthirsty pirate best, Hook did not want to corrupt a young girl. He was always a lost soul at heart.

As for the season’s arc, this episode was crucial to learn that August/Pinocchio had figured out that the Author was actually trapped inside the book, so the villains were looking in the wrong place to find him. Now both our villains and heroes are catching up to each other in terms of their mutual plans. Really, the present-day storyline moved the plot along slowly but significantly. I much preferred the search for the Jolly Roger.

Ariel made a quick appearance (barely more than a cameo), but she did deliver one of the most important lines of the episode that reinforces the theme of the show: taking your own happy ending is possible, but what seems to create a stumbling block for villains is that they go about it the wrong way. (I am paraphrasing, of course.) It comes down to choices: how far is one willing to go? What gets sacrificed along the way? Who gets hurt? At whose expense does one try to get one’s happy ending?

image188

2013-4 Murdoch Mysteries Season7 castMURDOCH MYSTERIES
Season 8, Episode 17 (Election Day)

MMEp817Promo_DatedIn this episode, we are treated to the seriousness of the early women’s suffrage movement combined with the whimsical case involving Detective Murdoch’s favourite Canadian spy (Terrence Myers). As the plot progresses and they further investigate the case, it becomes stranger and stranger until they realise that there just may be no conspiracy at all!

Meanwhile, Drs. Ogden and Grace are on the front lines of trying to prove the point that women belong in politics as much as men. The fact that they are deliberately excluded and then dismissed as jokes is troubling. From over a hundred years in the future, it seems incredible that women could be excluded from voting at all, and we have been raised on images of women valiantly fighting for the cause (thank you, Mary Poppins) such that we forget that they were indeed treated like jokes and laughingstocks. Women who wanted to make the point that their voices ought to be heard faced the same looks of frustrated pity and amusement that children receive when they get upset over unfair treatment by their parents or peers. Indeed, the women were seen as children – children who were being uppity and spoiled brats, as the suffrage movement was primarily the domain of elite and upper middleclass women who had the finances, education, and time to be fighting. The view of the men of the time was that they had let such women play at being doctors and lawyers, but actually having them involved in the goings-on of the state was going too far. Education was primarily seen as a way to occupy women and prove how wealthy a man was that he could spend money to educate his daughters.

The general view toward women’s suffrage of the women of the Edwardian era themselves is exemplified in Mrs. Brackenreid’s character. She is indeed very involved and interested in politics: she reads newspapers, studies up on candidates, and educates herself on the issues of the election. Her husband could not care less, but still exercises his civic duty because he trusts that his wife will inform him of who to vote for. Women found many ways to express themselves while still maintaining the status quo. Influencing the political choices of their husbands was indeed popular. Such was one of the arguments against women’s suffrage – namely that they would just vote the same as their husband (either by influencing him or by having him tell her how to vote, depending on how one viewed women’s intellectual capacity). Mrs. Brackenreid is lucky in that her husband listens to her and lets her educate herself politically. Despite his bravado about being bossed around by her in public, he trusts her opinion and values her. If all marriages worked so well, couples casting one vote would be potentially feasible.

The other subplot in this episode involved Constable Crabtree proposing to Edna, seeing as he was in line for a promotion and a raise. She accepted and all seemed well…until her dead husband showed up in the dining room, very much alive indeed. Suddenly, what had been a lighthearted, joyful, and socially positive episode took a dark turn, setting up for a grim season finale.

tumblr_n0jgddouMc1rtrs3mo1_500hCASTLE
Season 7, Episode 18 (At Close Range)

SEAMUS DEVERDetective Ryan gets his moment in the spotlight in this episode, having been working security at a high-profile charity event when the murder of the week occurs right before him. His despair and helplessness at being unable to prevent the incident is only amplified by the fact that his brother-in-law seems to be involved in the crime. The rest of our main cast helps him to uncover the truth. Ryan’s close affiliation with Castle becomes apparent when he phones him in the middle of the night to test a theory. They both exclude Beckett because “when you have a crazy theory, you don’t call the voice of reason.” Nonetheless, the team works well together to deliver an emotional episode that retains just enough comedy to keep the tone of the series consistently upbeat.

What is special about this episode is that the murder occurs onscreen. The audience watches along with Det. Ryan. We are not sure who will be killed and we are looking for threats in the crowd just as he is. We are shown many potential candidates. Also, thanks to the occasional first-person camera angles, we get increasingly confused and frantic about the situation and we are privy to Ryan’s trauma. I cannot imagine being a security guard at a high-profile event. You certainly don’t get to enjoy yourself, but you also have no time to relax. Everything and everyone is a potential threat. People are constantly moving. Weapons are easily concealed, or created out of non-threatening devices such as a cream pie. Situations that seem safe, such as backstage in a relatively enclosed space, end up being highly deadly due to lots of corners and curtains.

Nonetheless, the story was engaging and unusual. We were kept guessing as to who the killer was, and even afterward, we were more concerned about Ryan’s family situation than that of the victim. Sadly, I predict that family gatherings are going to be a bit awkward for the next few years. The only grievance I had with this episode was that we did not get to see much of Ryan’s sister’s relationship with her husband, nor did we get to see Ryan’s wife and daughter. One would think that there would be reason enough to have Det. Ryan discuss his sister with his wife, even just to contrast their own marriage with hers.

Overall, this was an excellent dramatic storyline and character study, all the while keeping a hint of typical Castle fun.

Posted in Castle, Katy Pontificates, Murdoch Mysteries, Once Upon a Time, Reviews, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week XXII – Descending Into the Bowels of Hell

once-upon-a-time-season-4ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 4, Episode 14 (Enter the Dragon)

once-upon-time-enterthedragonThis was one of those episodes that launches a thousand plotlines and resolves none of them, other than a tightly woven tale as to how Regina and Maleficent met in the past.

In the present, Regina finds herself in the dangerous situation of being undercover as a villain. Much as former drug addicts do not make the best narcotics cops, this operation does not go over well. She is successful in her deception only in that she does not get killed. Only in the final scene does she realise that Rumplestiltskin is back…and she has to deal with a much bigger problem than she realised. Furthermore, her actions lead directly to Pinocchio being turned back into August. The ramifications of that will only be revealed in later episodes.

The other major plotline is that Hook tries to convince Belle to trust him to hide the Dark One’s dagger. Foolishly, Belle goes along with the plan. They are really making her character out to be silly and gullible – beyond book-smart and street-dumb to being just plain stupid. Is she so relieved to have Rumplestiltskin out of her life that she refuses to believe that he could ever come back? She was married to the man! She banished him, but I don’t remember the part where they got divorced. I do not understand why she would ever trust anyone with the dagger. Especially pirates acting suspiciously and using vocabulary much more reminiscent of Rumplestiltskin than Hook.

Finally, Emma is going crazy with the feeling that everyone is lying to her – which is entirely justified. This will likely come back to haunt our heroes, for when you feel that everyone is lying to you, you trust no one, and you begin to question everything and everyone – and most importantly, yourself.

I do not think that this was a weak episode, rather that it was necessary as part of the whole season. On its own, however, it is dismal and unfinished. Descending into Hell is never a happy ending.414Transformation

2013-4 Murdoch Mysteries Season7 castMURDOCH MYSTERIES
Season 8, Episode 16 (Crabtree Mania)

images8Rather upbeat and overall positive, this episode saw Constable Crabtree take the reins of an investigation into the murder of a professional wrestler. At the same time, we got to see his relationship with Edna continue (I really like their pairing) and see him take on a paternal role for Simon. In this, the writers are significantly maturing the character of Crabtree in a way that is realistic and reflective of the character that they have created. At the end of the episode, he is offered a promotion and from his expression, it is unclear whether or not he will take it. Yes, the convention of television dramas would suggest that he would not want to leave Stationhouse No. 4, but we are only two episodes away from the season finale. Anything is possible! Besides which, in keeping with realism, anyone offered a promotion would undoubtedly be thrilled, excited, and sad to leave colleagues behind.

MMS5_WhoIsCrabtree

The world of early twentieth-century professional wrestling is not much different than the present. It was all about the show. Brackenreid and Crabtree bemoan the fact that so much of it is fake; however, like all sports, professionalism wrecks the integrity of the sportsmanship. Once someone is getting a paycheque, it becomes about the money and the show, particularly for individual sports. Sport (or art, for that matter) becomes entertainment. Audiences love the athletes who are charismatic and play to the crowd, whether or not they are the best. It becomes only another facet of the entertainment business – and a dangerous one at that! Athletes can easily fall into drug use (as shown in this episode with the wrestlers chugging back morphine like water) and their entire careers hedge on not getting injured. When they do get injured, the rest of their lives are permanently affected.

And yet, we are willing to pay to be entertained. Despite everything, it is all in good fun…or it should be.

tumblr_n0jgddouMc1rtrs3mo1_500hCASTLE
Season 7, Episode 17 (Hong Kong Hustle)

For once, Castle is on the sidelines as Beckett suffers an emotional crisis. In her mid-thirties, she is at a crossroads in life where she is evaluating her career against others of her age and feeling as though she is coming up short. It is truly a credit to the character, the actress who portrays her, and the writers that we viewers can sympathize with her, despite her being beautiful, financially secure, married to a famous novelist, and a successful police officer.

Her feelings are only aggravated by the consultant on their current case, a Chinese policewoman who seems to have everything together…until it is revealed that she has sacrificed her time with her family for her work and that she has been rushing her work for more accolades. She failed her friend. She is highly unstable. Yes, she is a great cop and very successful on paper, but that is all. On paper.

This was still a highly entertaining episode, albeit somewhat predictable. Of course, the highly successful woman could not have both the career and the family. Of course, Beckett would come to realise that her own life is wonderful. What was fun was to watch the two women unconsciously compete with each other as they tried to solve the case. The show treated this competition respectfully. Castle respected his wife’s fears and insecurities; he did not dismiss them or joke about them. There was little room for jokes about ‘cat fights’ or such. Yet the show maintained its sense of comedy. Go figure!

It is easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to others. Nowadays, it is merely a matter of going onto a Facebook profile – rampant with photos of success (and the occasional heartbreak, usually so dramatic that it does not reflect on one’s life nearly as much as the success). We can easily compare careers, families, relationships, homes, holidays, cars, etc. We know how we fall on the line that we expected or have had expected of us. Not measuring up is a personal Hell, no matter how well our lives may seem on paper.

castle-hongkonghustle

Posted in Castle, Katy Pontificates, Katy Rants, Murdoch Mysteries, Once Upon a Time, Reviews, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week XXI – Forgiving Vs. Forgetting

once-upon-a-time-season-4ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 4, Episode 13 (Unforgiven)

queens-of-darkness-once-upon-a-timeAs the plot for the second act thickens, Maleficient is resurrected in the present and we learn about how in the past, Snow White and Prince Charming used (and were used by) the three Queens of Darkness. Some viewers seemed upset that the writers are elaborating on events from the first season and changing them. Rather, I think that the writers are trying to tell a complex and intriguing story and, in so doing, they are giving their characters layers of motivation. They are explaining why or how characters acted in the earlier episodes, not changing what they did. So far, nothing has been introduced that is wildly inconsistent with what has already been shown. The more episodes they have, the more details they can add to the story. When you meet someone for the first time, they tell you a bit about who they are. As you get more acquainted with them, they tell you more about their past, their family, their interests, etc. Sometimes, new stories cast new light on the brief biographical statements you got earlier in the relationship. It is no different with television characters!

Once-Upon-a-Time-Unforgiven2Forgiveness was the big theme of the episode, and not just pertaining to redemption for villains. In this episode, Emma has finally forgiven her parents for what happened to her in her past and thus her parents feel that they could never let her know what awful things they had done in the past – or even in the present. They keep secrets from her ostensibly to protect her. However, such secrets seldom end well. It is one thing to not bring up someone’s past sins in front of their children, particularly in order to shame or insult them, and quite another to purposely lie or hide the truth from one’s children. Snow equates her situation with that of Regina not wanting Henry to find out about all the evil acts that she committed in the Enchanted Forest (apparently forgetting that he has read the book), but it is not the same at all. Emma is an adult while Henry is still a teenager. Henry knows that Regina did evil things in the past, albeit not their full extent; Emma believes that her parents are heroes who always act selflessly and in the best interest of the kingdom.

Speaking of forgiveness, Maleficient is unforgiving of Snow and Charming’s past actions as they resulted in the loss of her child. Maternal love is fierce and strong, but taken to its extreme, it is no longer a virtue but a curse in of itself. Putting your child above all else ultimately destroys you and the child. In this case, I highly doubt Maleficient’s child wants to be avenged. However, I am very much looking forward to finding out more of this storyline. Is Lily, Emma’s supposed non-magical friend, really Maleficient’s long-lost daughter?

I really appreciated this quote from Snow: “Because when you betray the people you love, when you make them see the worst parts of you, what you’ve done changes everything. There’s no going back. You’ve shattered the bonds you worked so hard to forge. And the stronger those bonds once were, the more difficult they are to put back together… If they can be repaired at all.”

Being family means being able to put aside wrongdoing and forgive, but it does not mean to forget. Forgiveness is merely the first step in a long road.LANA PARRILLA

Posted in Katy Pontificates, Once Upon a Time, Reviews, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week XX – The Curtain Rises Again

once-upon-a-time-season-4ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 4, Episode 12 (Darkness On the Edge of Town)

While I am in the mood to rip someone’s heart out and crush it, or have my own ripped out and buried in the dirt so that wild animals could eat it up…(No points for figuring out which character I identify a lot with!)

once-upon-a-time-4x12-sneak-peek-4-'darkness-on-the-edge-of-town'So the opening episode of Season 4, Act Two does a very good job of showing how the characters have adapted since the events of the midseason finale and setting up the new plots points. We are given further background into the new villains for this story arc, we have some interesting drama with a dark creature (Fantasia’s chernabog, to be precise), and Rumplestiltskin weasels his way back into Storybrooke despite being banished. The episode sets up interesting storylines for the future – namely, that the Charmings seem to have a dark secret that overrides their heroic personas and that Maleficient is not quite dead. Also, Regina’s question for the Author takes a new turn when the newly-freed Blue Fairy tells her that the Sorcerer and the Author are not the same individual.

This last point was quite intriguing from the point of view that the “quest for the Author” is an allegory for a quest for God. Really, how many of us have thought of God (or the concept of him, for non-believers) as a punishing, finicky tyrant to decides willy-nilly who is bad or good or who gets a good life and who gets a bad one? The Blue Fairy, as a representative of good magic and church allegory, reminds Regina that looking for the Author is a dangerous path. Why is she looking for him? What is she going to ask him? How is she going to approach him (or her)? For her part, Regina actually hesitates. Earlier in the season, she was much more determined – she wanted him to write her a happy ending. But now she realises that her traditional method of walking in and demanding a happy ending (or even simply asking for one) is not necessarily going to work. Why does she want it, and what does she really think her happy ending is?

once-upon-a-time-episode-12-7-1000x600By contrast, Rumplestiltskin tells Cruella de Vil and Ursula that they are going to demand that the Author write them new endings. He insists that they are not responsible for their own decisions, but the Author is the one controlling everything. All of their bad decisions and bad lots in life are results of the Author’s wishes and writing. He has decided that they are villains and so they cannot make good decisions if their life depended on it. As Cruella herself puts it: “Well, I guess that is better than bad judgement and gin.”

I am looking forward to where the writers of the show take this storyline. From the story so far, I am guessing that they believe that everyone is responsible for their own choices and that whether or not someone is a villain or a hero depends on those choices, not on their circumstances in the story. Also, it seems that they are exploring the fluidity between heroism and villainy. In the realm of fairy tales, it is easy to believe that heroes are always good and they always win, and that villains are always evil and always lose. But whether or not one is a hero depends on one’s point of view and depends on the story itself. It also depends on how you deal with a situation. A hero may not always win, but a hero loses gracefully. Or at least, without senselessly killing anybody.queens-of-darkness-once-upon-a-time

Posted in Katy Pontificates, Once Upon a Time, Reviews, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week XIX – What Seems Impossible

2013-4 Murdoch Mysteries Season7 castMURDOCH MYSTERIES
Season 8, Episode 15 (Shipwreck)

MurdochEp815MainEvery so often, Murdoch Mysteries addresses a controversial topic in a pointed way. This week, the topic of choice was the Catholic priesthood. While Murdoch is quite a modern man, it was refreshing to see him espouse conservative and historically accurate viewpoints. He offered canonically correct answers and sounded very much like the 1902 visionary that he is. His religion is very important to him and is a sticking point in many of his cases. While I have decided to withhold spoilers, what I can say is that this episode addresses the issue of what exactly a priest does. A priest is not a job: it is not about the skills or the devotion to God or the ability to preach. The sacraments are not just rituals – the way they are administered matters because of legalities and spiritual salvation. Also, priests have to be able to be trusted by their parish. All of these things, Murdoch points out, are different than being a doctor or a police officer.

We are treated to insight into Murdoch’s childhood in this episode, which is adapted from a novella by the creator of the book series, Maureen Jennings. In this episode, we meet Fr. Keegan, a priest who once served as the priest at the country parish in coastal Nova Scotia where Murdoch grew up. Fr. Keegan returns in 1902 as a church administrator who consults on the investigation. Murdoch trusts him because of how he handled an investigation thirty years earlier when a ship was wrecked off the coast of the town. At that time, Fr. Keegan taught Murdoch how to investigate and put together clues.

The overall theme of the story is that crime, done for the right reasons, is still crime, and yet sometimes, doing the right thing is more important than doing the legally right thing.

It gives us pause: if a man is beating his wife and another man attacks him to save her, is the second man wrong, even if the first man ends up dead? If a mother kills to protect her child, is she right? Is someone who commits fraud in the name of following God’s will blameless?

This is what Murdoch has to determine…and sometimes, it is not so simple as it seems.

Murdoch_Mysteries_S08E15_2015-02-23_960x540_2500kbps_620x350_2655421407

tumblr_n0jgddouMc1rtrs3mo1_500hCASTLE
Season 7, Episode 16 (The Wrong Stuff)

In contrast, Castle is light-hearted and intriguing – a tribute to hard science fiction and existential space horror films, but fun and filled with comedy. It also centres on a case premise that at the beginning of the show’s run would have seemed very far-fetched, but what seems quite within the realm of possibility now. Namely, private companies are competing to be able to send a viable mission to Mars, and one company has proceeded to the phase of putting astronauts in a simulator. One of the astronauts is killed, and the only suspects initially seem to be the remaining four in the simulator…but are they really alone?

This type of case is right up Castle’s alley, and he is like a little boy in a toy store as he dons a spacesuit and roams the simulated Martian landscape. Castle is at his funniest and most adorable in these moments, so having an episode where he was excited and truly enjoying himself was refreshing after several weeks. After all, he and Beckett are back to solving crimes together (as evidenced by his awesome Star Trek parody quote) and that is the world as it should be. Add being on the cutting edge of technology and you have a happy Castle – and even a happy Beckett.

There were lots of twists and red herrings in this episode, which made for an even more enjoyable viewing experience for the viewers. Just when they thought they had the right suspect for sure, it would turn out that said person would have an alibi…and a couple of those alibis were that the suspects were committing illegal acts at the time. One tends to believe those people!

It is exciting to consider that expeditions to Mars are no longer in the realm of pure science fiction. Thanks to innovation and competition, there are multiple companies and governments who are considering viable Mars expeditions and who are designing and testing prototypes. This episode was entirely believable. Within twenty years, it is quite possible that a mission to Mars may be launched. Still, it would be a one-way ticket and not the most pleasurable way to spend the rest of one’s life. One does have to consider that before long, most of the astronauts would be elderly and require care. I would prefer not to think that a crew would jettison an elderly comrade rather than look after them. That is somewhat scary. While this episode did not directly address that, it did address the fact that small groups of people would be spending the remainder of their lives together. Group dynamics are the most difficult aspect of a mission to Mars. Several experiments in reality have derailed because test crews have been unable to function. Ethnicity, gender, and plain old personality have all caused these crews to fail. Humans were not made to live in tiny capsules.NATHAN FILLION, STANA KATIC

Posted in Castle, Katy Pontificates, Murdoch Mysteries, Reviews, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment