A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 3×06 (Humanity are the pawns in a war between the gods)

Vikings 06

For every new arrival joining the cause of Ragnar’s raids, there’s another who fatefully departs into worlds beyond. The second half of season 3 begins by building more walls around Ragnar who must now journey to Paris without the aid of his most trusted ally.

The passage of time is sometimes a little staggering to get used to, but 9 months have presumably past with the birth of two children. Siggy, a daughter born to Bjorn and Thorunn, and Alfred, named by King Ecbert son of Athelstan and Judith. For her transgressions, Judith is punished until she reveals Athelstan’s name as the father. Ecbert uses this as a sign and tells Aethelwulf that the child was meant to be and Judith is spared from anymore pain. It’s a disturbingly quick segment that places Judith in a screaming frenzy, unable to cope with the pain she was forced to endure. Realizing how the episode ends only makes her suffering that much more potent and unyielding for she’ll never see Athelstan and his smile ever again.

In Kattegat, Kalf and his allies arrive to aid and prepare the raid in Paris. Athelstan shows Ragnar how impossible it will be to penetrate the island and Flocki grows ever more agitated at Athelstan’s presence. In a serene moment of solitude, Athelstan feels the presence of his god and undergoes an effect of being blinded before he realizes the sign he received. After disposing Ragnar’s wrist band, Flocki recovers it and has Bjorn inform the populace of Athelstan’s soft betrayal. Ragnar pays no mind of it and reveals help in an ally that knows how to breach Paris. Afterward, Flocki receives a sign himself in the form of a bleeding carving and returns to Kattegat to murder Athelstan. And murder he did as Athelstan looked on in a praying position ready to be sent to his god. By the end, Ragnar buries Athelstan far from home and with new determination, dawns the Christian cross around his neck.

Back in season 1, I had a lot of reservation when it came to pass that Athelstan might be sacrificed and taken out of the series that quick. He seemed to have a bigger role to play and it turned out he did. Though that role has now come to an end. Even though Flocki is at times a closer nemesis than Ragnar will ever see, his killing blow to Athelstan wasn’t painted in such devastation. In fact, Athelstan was prepared for whatever awaited him. It was a peaceful departure, one that he was comfortable knowing he still served his true god. If anything, Flocki will be left with more anguish because his surface level dementia will not be so easily satiated no matter what he does for his gods of the north. Flocki is always and forever conflicted about the path of others and the uncertainty of his own. Whether his sign was genuine or not, to him, it was the excuse he needed to vanquish those from his land that weren’t really born of it.

Does Flocki in fact disappear, far from Ragnar’s wrath? Will Athelstan’s murder be so easily discerned that Flocki won’t have a place with the Vikings anymore? And even if he doesn’t leave, how will he treat Ragnar who may be wearing the cross wherever he treads. It’s a golden bullseye and many of the Kattegat won’t understand the meaning behind it, but Flocki will, and he certainly won’t like it one bit.

There’s a smaller piece of subplot pertaining to Thorunn convincing Bjorn to partake in bedding Torvi, who easily gives in. It’s an interesting sentiment given a man like Bjorn wouldn’t normally partake in such acts, yet Thorunn’s permission absolves any guilt in the matter. Like Ragnar, this could have stunning repercussions with a pregnant Torvi coming into play while the raid in Paris commences. Though, it’s good to see Thorunn is still able to manage without suffering any extreme depression from her looks. That could easily be her deception but we won’t know until she plays her next hand.

The dynamic of the episode shows a few paired events, namely the birth of two children and two signs from opposite gods. There’s a mirror of violence in that Judith’s birth results in her disfigurement, much like Thorunn’s prior to her birth. After Athelstan’s sign, he discards the wrist band, and in Flocki’s vision, he sees blood which generally signifies the need to spill it. In both acts, they fall victim to what they must do to bring them closer to their faith even if one of them has to die. A certain die has now been cast, but will revenge be taken, or will things simply move on to bigger issues namely, the sacking of Paris?

FAVORITE MOMENT

The final scene with Ragnar was highly reflective and very well thought out. There’s a simplicity built in Ragnar that gives him a lot of freedom to be expressive even if his mannerisms and tone seems to suggest otherwise. Alone, he can vent and be truthful about what stirs within him and what he feels he must do for the good of his people and essentially himself. He let go of Athelstan, a character he had grown to love as he freely admitted. Now Ragnar wears Athelstan’s cross much as Athelstan had worn Ragnar’s wrist band. The sentiment will be shared alone, but how far will he go to prove his friendship to Athelstan was true?

CHARACTER MVP

Ragnar dips ahead with his solemn dialogue and his pension for generally stealing the spotlight when the time calls. Flocki was close this time around, but he ultimately gave in to a desire he already had been building up. It’s less development and more self-destructive since his nature is to defy change while Ragnar is more open to absorbing it.

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

I almost didn’t recognize Kalf. Hair has a way of growing fast in a years worth of time. Soon Ragnar’s other kids will be as big as Bjorn, or even bigger and then their story will have to be told.

At last appearance, Lagertha left Kattegat as if she were on a new quest to reclaim her land and title. Now she’s back and little to nothing has changed except the conversation with Bjorn about the need to get back land and title. I felt something was missing here or maybe she rode off with little more than the time needed to figure out her next move against Kalf, which we’re still not sure yet.

With Ecbert embracing the baby Alfred as a sign from god, how will he use this to his advantage and is it more toward manipulating Aethelwulf, or the people of Wessex? He always has something brewing, but Aethelwulf was in on it the last time. What’s changed now?

Ragnar murdered the old man who told him that the Viking farmers had been slain. It’s obvious he doesn’t want this information to go public which could be as simple reasoning as Ragnar doesn’t want revenge to distract his people while they prepare to raid Paris. There could be deeper reasons involved, but I’m fine with the simplicity of it.

Now that Kalf has joined the raid, will he see it through, or find a golden moment to strike against Ragnar when he least suspects it? This show is all about betrayals and cheap alliances, making Kalf no easier to trust than the last several who once allied with the king of Kattegat. I expect the alliance to hold until the bombshell in Paris drops, and it’s bound to be crazy for certain.

OVERALL SCORE

Strong 8 out of 10. I wasn’t expecting Athelstan to depart so soon given his importance and relevant screen time on the show. Vikings is keeping a morbid pace with slaying it’s prime cast every few episodes and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. If Rollo ever get’s taken out, that’s where I may draw the line, but knowing him he’ll find a way to survive or at the least die with his brother in glorious battle. The epic undertaking of Paris is soon to be unveiled, and hopefully there won’t be any more prominent sacrifices before then.

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Supernatural – Season 10×16 (The Red Violin meets that one scene from Titanic)

SN 2x16

A ghost story can have different layers of storytelling ranging from the psycho-vengeful to the forgetful-longing, though all are usually met with gruesome killings and always something burning at the end. Our filler tale takes us into a realm where a 16th century ghost exported to America begins murdering catholic men who confess their infidelity. The Winchesters investigate leading Dean to confess to a priest that he’s essentially afraid of dying. Meanwhile, after more ridicule, Crowley captures the leader of the grand coven for Rowena, who tortures her leading to the discovery that the coven isn’t the powerhouse it used to be. The Men of Letters have decimated their power leaving Rowena to once more deal with the Winchesters as enemies.

The ghost in question is Isabella, who befriends a local nun who learns of her tragic love regarding a young male artist who is dedicated to his craft so much that he denies Isabella true love even after she sacrifice a piece of her finger so he might draw her the perfect portrait. Her journal entries reveal that the man had given himself to another woman leading Isabella to murder him and be tried and burned as a witch. At first I thought the tale was a little out of left field considering the tone of cultural romance in a supernatural setting. Though as the story unfolded I rather liked the morbid fascination Isabella possessed even though her efforts to keep Piero close were rather overzealous. It was a simple story of mixed up love versus the pursuit of art which can be the one-off this show provides. I imagine if Dean read Isabella’s journal he’d have more colorful commentary on the subject.

This plot was also a classic case that virtually all of the ghost stories in Supernatural are geared toward two kinds of twists, the nature of the ghost and what ties it to the world of the living. Without a pension for switching that up, the ghost story becomes super bland and pales in comparison to a good old-fashioned creature hunt which has a much broader scope of possibilities. In this case, the portrait served as a clever change to Dean’s obvious “burn the journal” approach, only though Sam was the one who questioned if that was the right call. These stories aren’t made for the audience to figure it out before hand. Clues just don’t work like that in this show a lot.

Rowena’s fiesty personality cuts loose again as she dispenses with torturing Olivette, the leader of the coven. What seemed strange was just how much physical effort she exerted to beat down on Olivette. For a witch, it seemed odd she’d place so much force from her fists. The thing about witches is they can possess sadistic natures that can manifest many different worlds of hurt and Rowena chose the masculine approach. I get that she’s angry and has a lot of frustration built up, but still, seemed like an odd choice. Beyond that, there wasn’t very much interest in watching Olivette’s fate play out. I was hoping for more of an epic encounter with the grand coven, but maybe that wasn’t meant to be.

Regarding Dean’s confession to the priest. It was an honest approach but I think at this stage in the game his attitude may be futile. We’ve seen this side of Dean before, too ashamed to admit he might be weak against what’s inevitably coming. This echoes his run in season 3 when his time to pay up the cross-roads demon was nearing its conclusion. The dilemma is that he won’t tell Sam which easily boggles Sam because he knows his brother well enough to see that he’s holding back some emotional pouring. After all they’ve been through, the tough act between brothers isn’t the greatest sell anymore and in a tragic way stunts Dean’s growth as a character. That’s why after ten seasons the brothers still wear the same clothes, act the same way (what are they in their mid 30’s now) and even keep their hair the same style, give or take Sam’s narrow states of length. Watching Dean keep his fear close to heart is the aspect any lone hero walking the earth has to shoulder, but as brothers, he shouldn’t be acting like that anymore even at the cost of worrying his little brother.

FAVORITE MOMENT

When Isabella cut part of her finger off, I was surprised. That’s not an easy thing to do but it really settled on that exclamation point between his love for art and her love for him. Why Piero decided to make it with another woman seemed off but then again, maybe the whole “finger-cutting” segment was his idea of a red flag and decided that was too much crazy to contend with.

CHARACTER MVP

What did work for Dean was that at least the audience got to hear about his honest fear of death. And it likely isn’t some cheap death he’s been through before but the real long haul that comes with finality. Dean gave us the insight we already figured on and finished it with a belief that god doesn’t believe in them anymore, humanity being the focus group I imagine.

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

How will Rowena convince Crowley to go on the offensive against Sam and Dean? Or will she work behind his back to get her revenge and all the witch trinkets locked up in their vault?

This is off topic, but I wonder if they’ll be making a trip back to Chicago any time soon and if they did what that would mean for the unresolved blood feud that was the horrible back-door spinoff attempt.

I wonder why Dean didn’t mention during his confession the fear that he might end up killing his brother. That was clearly insinuated before Cain was put down and more than anything I have to believe Dean would be more fearful of that than his own demise.

It seemed rather strange that Olivette knew about the Winchesters and their status as Men of Letters. You’d think with that kind of intel she might have used the rest of her resources to deal with them.

I also found it humorous that Rowena had time to change outfits before resuming her act of face-punching Olivette. What she wore at the end was hardly befitting of someone who wanted to strange, punch, kick, and maim her old enemy. But she wanted to look her best, so there’s that.

OVERALL SCORE

I always tend to compare all ghost stories with my favorite (Season 02×16) starring Tricia Helfer. This one had a nice ring, but was too love sappy during an age that Supernatural doesn’t normally step into. It was a little more unique and for that I’m giving it a 7 out of 10. Dean’s confession was a small step toward character development, but he still refuses to talk to his brother about it, so in a way he’s still stalemating himself. With Crowley’s hesitance to acquiesce to Rowena’s demands regarding the brothers, I expect Rowena to further manipulate him into the act or to go behind his back and handle it herself. Perhaps soon hell won’t be big enough for the both of them.

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 3×05 (Nobody ever suspects the kind and gentle king)

Vikings 05

If a king is too nice and lenient, surely he must be a scheming tyrant. Ecbert reveals his true agenda as his son Aethelwulf carries out a plan to massacre the northmen who stayed behind to grow crops in Wessex. With it’s conclusion, Ecbert determines which nobles were planning the attack against his elusive wishes and likely will be disposing of them. In Kattegat, Flocki discovers the strange truth between Harbard and Aslaug relationship that puts Ragnar on a path straight for Paris.

With the season half done, Vikings rallies the cry of a siege larger than any they’ve undertaken before. If such a raid is to succeed, Ragnar will need everyone on his side and already he’s lost Lagertha due to Kalf assuming rule over her land. And news of Siggy’s death puts Rollo further into a pit of anger and despair over his place in life. All this and an eerie telling by the Seer that the bear will marry the princess which won’t spell good fortune for Ragnar and his people.

As the homecoming drums signal the return of Ragnar back home, All isn’t well with the northern folk. Porunn is distant and sullen putting Bjorn in a state of uncertainty over their union. At the same time Rollo is heckled by other warriors over Siggy’s death prompting Bjorn to stop Rollo from fighting and getting himself killed. It’s easy to say Rollo is quickly becoming the most conflicted character on the show. He’s lasted as long as Ragnar and lost everything he’d hope to gain. His kinship with Ragnar could be next if he’s truly snapped.

Ragnar encourages Kalf to join his raid of Paris even though it may be a lost cause. He isn’t winning the support of Lagertha in doing so and now he has to deal with Flocki’s belief that the man who slept with Aslaug was Odin in disguise. The look in his eyes suggests he finds Flocki’s conclusion trite at best. How does one confront the possibility that a king’s wife was seduced by the father of all their gods? In a way, one could view this scenario as a test set up by Flocki. Out of all the Vikings who worship the gods of old, Flocki is the only one that determines the real identity of Harbard. His greatest fear as of late is that the Christian faith will do away with the gods and he ridicules anyone who associates with the Christian god including Rollo and Aethelstan. His fear that Odin came to Kattegat to seduce Aslaug could mean many things, but more so than most, Flocki thinks his own faith is being tested. Will he use that for or against Ragnar?

To what end will Ecbert’s plan take him? If earning his trust with Ragnar is no longer the issue, then the only conclusion is he intends to destroy the Vikings completely when they return to Wessex. This could mean an alliance with Paris that will result in Ragnar’s worst defeat in history. To ignore a laughing seer’s prophecy could spell disaster for everyone in Kattegat, yet it’s clear some union will take place between a bear and a princess we don’t know the identities of yet.

Kalf’s profile led to the possibility that he was planning something quite more violent in nature when Lagertha returned home. Yet, all he did was summarize his rightful place as ruler and even mildly offered Lagertha and he join. If he’s playing at a longer game, it could mean he doesn’t intend to stop at just ruling at his current stead. Now that he knows Ragnar’s plan to raid Paris, he could easily use that time to conduct his own raid of Kattegat, something that’s been done at least once.

The episode ends with Ecbert playing at his charade that he didn’t approve of the northmen’s massacre in Wessex. He did so to discover his enemies and his son played the role to Ecbert’s satisfaction. Does this mean he’ll continue to play at ignorance when Ragnar returns or is that long past and now the only thing left is war? It will be a time before they meet again and meet they shall.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

There were a few to choose from, but my favorite scene was when Bjorn and Rollo fought in the rain. There’s something about the end of a man’s rope that he begins questioning his own way of life and the inevitable fate that will be declared on him. He wanted a fight, though more so he wanted to be beaten, to feel something other than the loss of Siggy. Until now he had her support no matter where he stood, but it’s gone now, swallowed by the cold ice and water of the lake. Rollo is on the verge of becoming a broken man again, and he’s at his best when he doesn’t know what to do. Conflicted natures go a long way to discovering what one must do to survive.

 

CHARACTER MVP

I want to give this one to Rollo even though he hasn’t been displayed as much. In the last few episodes, he was simply there to fill in a moment here or a segment there, never really adding to the plot but just to be one of the many Vikings doing what they do. Now he’s back to sharing a pain that we’ve recognized since day one. He’s lost a lot and it’s time to understand where his future lies. He knows he’ll attend some joining, but the seer won’t translate beyond that. His answers will have to come from elsewhere.

 

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

The seer’s prophecy is always dancing between the literal and the metaphor. Obviously he isn’t referring to a real bear, maybe. Perhaps there’s a man in Paris that dawns the symbol of one or perhaps it could refer to someone even closer to Kattegat. My first thought was Aethelwulf and Kwenthrith would be married, but that doesn’t really fit considering Judith’s situation and whatnot. There’s a lot of theories to pass around on the subject, but one thing we know, the seer is never wrong.

I think Bjorn will support Thorunn long enough to help her return to the way she was. Her injuries are permanent and the scars will be forever linked to reality that maybe she wasn’t as prepare as she thought. Still, I have positive thoughts that the two will eventually be fine.

Ragnar has the most peculiar reactions that always make me think he’s never taking any situation seriously. Flocki’s tale of Odin, his attitude toward Kalf, and even his reaction when his son cried after he picked him up. He’s always so preoccupied with the chance at raiding that everything else just has to fall in place or he won’t deal with it the way he’s supposed to as a king and father. Aslaug thinks Ragnar was sleeping with a number of women in Wessex which wasn’t true, yet Ragnar doesn’t dignify the accusation with a response because he wants to be back at what he does best, raiding.

It appears as Lagertha is heading out on her own, but to what end? Will she take Kalf up on his offer or plan an attack that may not see the side of victory? It doesn’t seem likely that she’ll be joining Ragnar on that path to Paris although it seems prevalent that she confront Ecbert when his betrayal is revealed.

This episode also dealt with both sides of unfaithfulness and how it’s viewed. Aethelwulf was raging in anger only to be quelled by the massacre of the country northmen. On the other side, Ragnar dealt with his news of his wife with silence and a look of passive annoyance even when he ignored Aslaug’s accusation. As different as cultures can be, there’s still the threat of miscommunication and a reluctance to deal with issues at heart. Looking for others to embrace when problems need to be sorted out is the culmination of any couple’s life struggles regardless of country or worship.

 

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. “The Usurper” dealt with the aftermath of Harbard’s time in Kattegat and Ecbert’s true motives were known in cunning fashion. Some characters were given more opportunity to explore their anguish and for once, nobody notable died. As always with Vikings, alliances are formed and shattered in the blink of an eye making friends into enemies in as easy as a breath or a trip to and from home. I don’t expect Ecbert to maintain a relationship with Ragnar for long and expect a huge problem when they set their sails toward Paris. Ragnar will do what he has to, for his family and his people.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: The Vampire Diaries – Season 6×17 (What if the kid wants to stay at home till he/she’s 25?)

TVD-06-17

While Caroline should be awarded points for trying, her attempt to maintain normalcy in her new world of emotion-free college was shattered by evil Stefan’s age-old mantra “Stop caring about anything for any reason.” Pranks and stabbings ensue until she finally succumbs, more or less to Stefan’s way of thinking and they share in the blood and lust of true vampire freedom. In the worst ways, their relationship has plummeted into a pool of guiltless anarchy and the only solution to returning them back lies in Stefan’s mother, Lily, who may or may not be entirely up for the challenge.

Tonight’s episode “A Bird in a Gilded Cage” brings Damon in touch with his vampire mother in the second dimensional prison, with the help of Bonnie and Kai. Elena accompanies them where in a snowy 1903, they encounter Lily and a group of desicated vampires who apparently taught Lily to manage her bloodlust. The trip has a dual purpose as Bonnie injures and leaves Kai stranded in the prison, left to deal with the desicated group, one of which had been reawakened. Damon’s mother is calm, respectful and appears to have mended her evil ways. There’s a lot to question, but at the same time her attitude toward reuniting with her children versus saving the ones she called family leaves her nature to be rather dubious. She’s grown to take in others as her family and if she finds out Damon has no intention of returning tot he prison, she may be forced to refuse help to Stefan.

I’m also convinced that Stefan won’t be very swayed by Lily’s appearance. His relentless acts in turning Caroline completely against humanity all but succeeded and I don’t see a spark of humanity igniting if Lily’s heart just isn’t in it. In fact, it’s entirely possible that Stefan may move on from Caroline now that he’s won her over to the real dark side. I originally thought the blood and mayhem would be immediate, but Caroline still wants to keep a low profile, and that’s completely alien to Stefan. There’s no telling how the two will react next, but you can rest assured their body count will only increase as time goes on.

In one of the more disimpassioned sub-plots, Enzo comes to realize that without a humane Stefan running around, there’s no game in forcing Sara to play at wanting to become a vampire. Don’t mistake his sentimental attitude toward the end, he’d snatch up the call in a heartbeat if he knew Stefan was capable of suffering again, but as it stands, Enzo’s revealed to Sara her lineage, albeit in name only. Where will that lead this unexciting pair? Not sure. There was never a grand Stefan versus Enzo climax, or at least it’s been delayed for the time being. This wasn’t a catchy part of the plot, and for Enzo’s sake, he better step up his gameplan or he’ll be completely left out in the dust of Noone-cares-about-you-land.

I would expect Kai to become food for the desicated group left behind. Whether he survives or not may depend on his magical abilities and the group’s rationing of the only human left in that world. And unless Damon is forced to return with Lily, there won’t be much reason to venture this story any longer. It will happen and it does raise plenty of open-ended questions about who they are, how powerful are they. Are they in fact good or evil characters and why teach Lily to control her bloodlust?

I’d almost forgotten about Alaric and Jo. She makes a compelling argument to Alaric about staying out of harm’s way until their child moves away, and that’s pretty much it. Alaric got in some random danger when Enzo tried for two seconds to find Stefan and Caroline to capture them. Once interest was lost, Jo nursed his wounds and chastised him for doing what he did. It’s a fair argument and also a way to write Alaric out of the show if need be. I don’t believe the show would do something so cruel as kill Jo, so I imagine the pair will find a way to weave themselves out of the big vampire plots unless the invisible Gemini coven require Jo for some reason.

The episode ends on a similar thread from a while ago. Bonnie found the vampire cure from her prison and returns it to Damon, presumably as a means to cure Elena. Damon predictably voiced his concern that he may not want her to have it and Bonnie shrugs it off as it’s his choice regardless. There’s an easy decision to be made here and that’s Elena won’t become human again. To return her to that state would erase a lot of character development and risk returning her into a fragile state that Damon won’t be able to love forever. No, someone else is going to get it. Damon’s mother perhaps? Certainly not the Salvatore brothers and likely not Enzo. Caroline is a possibility. I think the answers may with whomever can’t be returned to their humanity. The cure would easily solve that dilemma.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

The last scene. Nothing about Damon meeting his mother impressed me since they decided she wasn’t going to be stark raving mad and ravenous. At first, the idea of returning the cure plot to the show seemed ill-thought out, but it does have an uncanny ability to keep everyone on their toes with who’s going to get it. Katherine had hers, now it’s time for someone else.

 

CHARACTER MVP

I think I’m giving it to Stefan this time. It’s been a while since he’s shown the evil side and there’s an interesting dynamic to play with now that Caroline’s fallen through that way as well. Stefan finds ways to prove a point whether good or bad as he convinces Caroline to give up the act of staying humane.

 

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

If Caroline can get annoyed/angry with Stefan for ruining her chance at keeping a low profile, shouldn’t it be possible that negative emotions still be a key to finding that spark of humanity? Does it only have to be love and caring that solves the case every time?

With humanity now available to Lily for consumption, will she maintain her strict diet or go full furious ripper again without the aid of her desicated family? Will this prompt Damon to return and save them for the sake of helping his mother?

Now that Bonnie’s played her part and vanquished Kai, for lack of a better word, what are her plans now? She’s not senile and her voicemail to Jeremy really doesn’t hold up now that she seems back to normal. Maybe a road trip is in order, an off screen road trip to her ex-boyfriend and handle matters the way they should be.

I guess it’s a good thing Lily’s vampire tree didn’t lead back to Finn or Kol from The Originals or else she would have never survived. Or maybe being in a dimensional prison negates that as an issue.

Since Kai is stuck in another prison and his life is very much in jeopardy, how will this affect the Gemini Coven as their leader is not on their plane? Does he need to be? Will they survive without him?

 

OVERALL SCORE

6 out of 10. At time, this episode flirted with a few fun moments between Caroline and Stefan. It didn’t capsulate Damon’s reunion with Lily in a way that felt memorable or unique. Her attitude was very run of the mill until she confessed about needing the group to help her. It wasn’t a disappointing episode, but there wasn’t enough to keep me interested the whole way. Enzo’s showing a lack of enthusiasm with his plan making anything he does from here on out likely very bland. The set up at the end adds a new element of intrigue, but like all cliffhangers, they project awesome things to come and not a strong resolution of what actually transpired.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Supernatural – Season 10×15 (And Dean-O was his name-O)

SN 2x15

When the metaphor and supernatural bug in question strike the right chord, it can make for a very compelling one-shot which the Winchesters handled with sincere cunning and bravado. Cole returns, this time as an ally while a pair of infected military officers perform unthinkable acts due to a parasite causing them to drink anything from vase water to human blood for satiation. With no interference from angel or demon, Sam and Dean embark on this mission as hunters doing what they do, saving people and stomping things.

One-shots are always iffy for me, especially when bug-like elements are involved. I haven’t been much a fan in those cases because they always felt very run-of-the-mill. “The Things They Carried” plays that premise a bit smarter this time around and incorporates a very serious tone, which really sold the series back when season one first aired. If the brothers are unquestionably worried, the stakes always seem higher. In this instance, Cole, who’s knew to the idea of the supernatural becomes infected while trying to save a friend, Kit. The bug parasite causing the agony and pain of a human isn’t anything new, but it ties very closely to the affects officers sometimes endure when returning from deployment or a specific mission. While Dean professed that their job is to eliminate creatures and any humans embedded in those dark acts, Cole stresses the need to save the man he knows. Where the story takes a predictable turn is when the brothers split up. At that point it was fairly obvious which infected person was going to make it out alive.

The opportunity to put Cole’s life on the line meant placing Dean in a position of serious contemplation. If it weren’t for the connection to him and the events surrounding Cole’s father, I imagine the scene at the cabin would have played out quite differently. What wasn’t capitalized was Cole facing anything from his past he couldn’t deal with, not withstanding the murder of his father, which to this day still hasn’t been explained with what kind of monster he was. In fact, how they glossed over it suggests there’s still room to pursue that storyline if they chose to. Cole’s father became something monstrous which means Cole’s completely human. That may never have been in question, but now we’re sure.

The situation with the bugs does bring up a few points I’m not certain were fully fleshed out. The bug required water or virtually any liquid to sustain itself in a host, which suggests that it’s natural habitat should be either in a body of water or where there’s heavy condensation, neither of which were present during the military operation. If it’s only way to ingest liquid is through the body of a host then that does make sense, such as the bugs being in an area where sweltering heat and dust would killing them or making them weak. But then there’s the problem with infecting human hosts to begin with. It’s clear that over time, their consumption of water increases to the point where blood becomes an optional source. It doesn’t really specify that blood nourishes the bug, if anything the first victim proved he had the capacity to end his existence through fire because of what happened.

And finally, there’s the subject of two parasites inside of Kit. There’s no way to know how many are in what bodies, but the standard parasite rule is one bug per human. How Kit ended up with two kind of confuses the scenario. If he had two, he should have likely succumbed to the cravings of the parasite much sooner than the first guy, unless the creature reproduced asexually and then the rule is out the window. Usually creatures of that sort don’t though as standard practice. I think having Kit have to was necessary for plot purposes because Kit needed to be away so Sam could be away so Dean and Cole could have their moment of car-battery torture and sweating. And I don’t want to go too into detail on why the concept of a sweat lodge in a log cabin doesn’t work in the way it was portrayed, but suffice it to say, the position of the fire was wrong, and there was too much space to truly get the effect Dean was aiming for.

The episode ends with Cole saved, Kit unfortunately terminated, and Dean nonchalantly explaining to Sam that doing everything right can still result in a person’s death. Although I think Captain Picard said it best: “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life.” Although the context was slightly different. Ok, moving on.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

Sam and Cole inside the cabin dealing with purging the parasite was the focal point of this episode. It marked the last bits of blame and understanding from Cole in absolving Dean of what he did to Cole’s father. And to prove his worthiness as an endearing character, Cole toughed it out and made it out whole.

 

CHARACTER MVP

And because Cole toughed it out and made it out whole, he gets the MVP. Other characters have folded under less pressure, but his training and will to live pulled him through even though it also took Dean’s reluctance to end Cole’s life even when pushed to the brink. They demonstrated camaraderie an maybe even an alliance in the future.

 

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

Now that Cole has met his nickname quota, I imagine he’ll be set for at least another episode or two down the road. Especially when he say things like “I still hope I don’t see the two of you anymore.” That’s just a trigger for more guest appearances under obnoxious circumstances.

It really wasn’t until now that I fully realized Dean’s extreme gluttonous nature. Yes he chows down on burgers, brats, beer, and bacon like there’s no tomorrow, but they’re always fixated points when eating usually occurs. Now he’s swiping frosting off a cake as if the idea of not eating what was in front of him was an absurd concept. I know it was a moment that was meant to be funny, but to me it was a plant to show that he’s still completely falling for his vices which means his ability to swear off killing from the mark isn’t going to be effective much at all.

This also marks one of those few episodes where as agents they don’t give a pair of names meant to resemble something culturally exclusive to nerds and band-know-it-alls. It’s as if not doing so means the episode is encased in a more serious tone. I should research this.

One other note is that the episode didn’t bookend like it usually does. It started off with Dean declaring to Sam that they’ve researched everything they could about the mark of Cain and what Dean really needs is Sam’s support during this crucial time. The ep ends more on Sam’s concern that he was forced to kill Kit even though Dean practically shrugged it off. I want to say it’s a portent because Sam’s the likely candidate to stop Dean should the mark of Cain engulf him completely, but I just didn’t get enough of that vibe.

And speaking of researching, Sam has to be desperate for information on the mark if he’s searching Google through his phone. He’s persistent I’ll give him that, but seriously, the internet? Hasn’t this show become meta enough that it should more than make fun of itself for using methods like that? Just a thought.

 

OVERALL SCORE

Though a bit cliché at times, this episode was a very well done stand-alone piece. The tone was dark and layered and the third wheel didn’t feel like a third wheel. Cole brought his A game and performed solidly. 8 out of 10. The mark of Cain is nowhere near resolved, but Dean is determined to stave off anything that prevents him from doing the day to day with his brother. Though the time will come when Sam may be forced to do unthinkable acts, or perhaps Dean will do something to ensure he doesn’t hurt anyone again. We’ll see who finds their version of the resolution first. Thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: The Originals – Season 2×16 (Is Eva secretly working for Dalia? Would explain the power consumption)

originals-2x16

The countdown to the arrival of the most notable off-screen villain has begun for our resident Originals of New Orleans. With enough mistrust boiling in the cityscape, and the threat of alliances being severed before they’ve truly formed, a looming shadow forms on the horizon and promises to deliver a magical deluge against those who would try and stop it. The only question left to ask is, who will Klaus piss off next to ruin his chance at protecting his daughter?

“Save My Soul” takes a look at the present and post effect of being possessed while the backdrop of Dalia’s foreboding arrival prompts Klaus to quickly judge if Freya is a trustworthy sibling. Aiden sows the seeds of doubt in Jackson’s position as Alpha while he and Haley train with the other wolves and their new gifted abilities. And Vincent is placed in the care of Marcel while he is rehabilitated with the help of Camille. As one of the least violent episodes I’ve seen this season, I can say that this calm before the storm carried a sense of honest fear that quelled in most of our prominent characters.

To start with the biggest troublemaker of the bunch, Klaus presents a fitting argument to Elijah and Rebekah regarding whether to trust Freya or not based on her past tales which we’re given plenty of flashbacks on. This plot device should settle any nerves the audience may have for Freya since we’re given the inside scoop on how she grew to loathe Dalia. Unfortunately, Klaus is not so easily convinced and thus a cavalcade of at best, neutral intentions have spun the hybrid in circles, making him embrace one person and practically expel another. Haley once more tries to be a supporting yet firm ally and Klaus can do nothing but embed her with threats of using and eliminating Jackson should the time come. It’s safe to say nothing he does is healthy in the least and he won’t accept any decision to protect Hope unless it came directly from him. This will of course lead to the potential of a very drastic decision and likely a bad one down the road.

One aspect that I wasn’t expecting was a look into Vincent’s character now that he’s free from Finn. No doubt he’s not as pathologically corrupt as his wife Eva (Not the best of twists, but I get it) and even though he admitted to the relationship, he seems in fact rather infatuated with Camille. I’m sending a rerun here, but we’ll see how Camille takes this. I’m not entirely sold that he won’t do something sinister to help himself or Eva considering most witch characters have agendas that are equally as self-serving as Klaus.

The friendly sparring in the bayou with Jackson, Haley, and Aiden was just to let us know that the wolves are still around and somewhat about of this bigger plot coming our way. Aiden seems conflicted but able to push Klaus’s plan toward Jackson who admits he’s unsure how to handle the position with Hayley. Since there’s very little for Hayley to develop now that she’s in the best position of her character in quite sometime, she’ll be able to lend Jackson the strength he needs, even if it means defying Klaus. That will likely get him killed as Klaus predicts, but to be an Alpha you have to take risks and show the kind of consistent leadership needed to own that pack.

Much of our show’s longevity lies in the realm of flashbacks and tonight we were given a moment very far back when Freya was initially taken. Her tale describes how her power connects with Dalia and makes her immortal while they exist a year for every hundred. The crux of her hatred came when Dalia killed a man Freya loved and even when she tried to end her life, all she did was end the unborn child she carried. There could be more beyond this flashback but we understand Freya’s world a bit better now and can easily sympathize with what happened to her. Is Dalia truly a cruel person? Considering her plan is to build a coven of her own she can siphon power off of forever, I’d say that’s a probably a given.

The episode ends with a chilling moment as from a distance, Dalia commands the toy in Hope’s room to play while she hums in the solitude of night. Will she appear in the next episode, or is there more delay to be had? All I know is she better bring enough of her magic to handle a town who are very much against her.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

Freya’s convincing story that was abruptly ended when Klaus snapped her neck. I had to do a double-take because I forgot Freya was immortal, but the scene played out as one could expect. Elijah considers trusting her sibling, but Klaus is 110% dismayed by a provocative tale that he himself admitted he’d spin to gain their trust if he were Freya. Still, it was a moment with more revelation and insight into Freya’s existence and the pain she endured whilst living with Dalia.

 

CHARACTER MVP

I liked the attempt in making Vincent more departed from Finn, personality wise. He wasn’t chaotically evil or tried to be as dismissive and insincere as a man like Finn would have been which allowed me to be intrigued enough to see what would take place rather than dismiss the character outright. Will be he any kind of force for good or will he be taken back and forgotten once the witches have their way in retrieving him?

 

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

With no Gia in this episode, I wonder if that means they’re going to let us forget her moment with Elijah or if they’re just putting it on hold until he gets another chance to address it? I don’t believe there is anything there to build except for the fact she has one skill-set that he greatly admires as a classy and well-dressed vampire does. But I don’t think that’s enough to go on.

I can also imagine Dalia playing a smaller role in a much bigger plot. It’s entirely plausible that he lust for power is really a smokescreen because there’s something even more sinister out there she’s guarding against and she thinks she can stop it by usurping the power she is getting from the Mikaelsons. Then again, she could be as top of the villain food chain as there could be.

As awesome as the actress who is playing Rebekah is, I want the real Rebekah back. It’s almost sinister how often they hop her around in this series only to keep her away once more with a body possessing plot that is as old as TVD season two. I think we’ve waited long enough, right?

I was a bit surprised that Hayley didn’t try and stand her ground against Klaus considering his line about being the only one who can make decisions when it comes to protecting Hope. She seemed too easily distracted over the possibility that Klaus will ruin and/or kill Jackson if he forces the situation. Hayley isn’t showing the best consistency here and will need to be more compelled to voice her side of this power struggle, at the very least to establish herself as an equal with protecting her daughter.

I’m not sure I believe for one second that Dalia didn’t do something to save Freya’s unborn son after she collapsed from the poison. It’s easy to tell a story that a baby didn’t survive while hiding him to use for more power consumption of the course of many years. I’m convinced he’s out there somewhere, possibly as Dalia’s second, after all. Dalia is one against many in New Orleans. She can’t be alone in this fight.

 

OVERALL SCORE

6 out of 10. I liked the episode, but I felt it was still too much of a broad stroke in the ever-lengthy story of Dalia and her impending arrival. We don’t know much about what she’s like in the present and whether she’s been amassing her own subjects or if she’s going to be attacking alone. Eva and Vincent’s subplot isn’t entirely wasteful but I still think it’s too much filler unless there’s a bigger payoff still on the way from it. Klaus was cautiously dancing on the edge of becoming a super-jerk, but we were given a healthy glimpse into Freya’s past which helped offset any of the slowness the rest of the episode kept going with. I’m hopeful for a grand entrance, though newcomers to the city are unique every time. Let’s see what Dalia will do.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 3×04 (Well that’s one way to handle a flesh wound)

Vikings 04

In the midst of the snowy ice and ghostly fog, the wanderer comes and goes leaving those in Kattegat wondering of the man who entered their lives and left all the same. Was he a seer onto himself, or in fact a god hidden in the guise of dramatic storyteller? One result is known and that’s the grim fate of Siggy, wife of Haraldson. As for those in Wessex, Ragnar and his Vikings return to Ecbert where Kwenthrith declares herself the sole ruler of Mercia by way of poisoning her brother, Burgred.

Sometimes murder is a very passive device and can happen in the blink of an eye. This episode came to be one of the most introverted and complex forms of stories in all three seasons. You believe what you will with your own eyes, but logical courses dictates that those who see beyond the normal are irrevocably cursed in one form or another. Those left behind have to choose one way or another what will engrave their lives with truth and fate.

Most of the linear plot deals with Ragnar and crew returning to Mercia. Bjorn cares for a severally wounded Porunn (Thorunn), Flocki continues to mock Rollo and the fear of everyone losing their beliefs to the western god, and Kwenthrith almost assures Burgred that they will joint rule Mercia. At another junction in his life, Ragnar continues flirting with Kwenthrith while dealing with his ongoing choice to support Ecbert to gain land, crops, and a healthy alliance. Much of this pace flows decently, but nothing too overtly new. One can argue that Flocki could snap at any moment. But his delirium is much more subtle and passive while he questions his brothers in arms. One of these days I expect Rollo to lash out just to prove a point.

Over in Wessex, Judith and Athelstan seal their love in bed which complicates matters when she wants him to remain instead of returning home with Ragnar. Though their loving embrace is spotted which could prove to be problematic sooner rather than later. The crux of the episode on this side of land deals in Kwenthrith’s rather bold maneuver in killing her brother in front of everyone by way of poison drink. After he falls, everyone accepts her new role, something Ragnar identifies as a name only. He knows Ecbert will always be the true ruler. I can only imagine what kind of thoughts that pile up in the head of the king of the northmen.

And lastly, in Kattegat, Aslaug gives in to Harbard’s convincing advances while Siggy grows weary of the wanderer’s intentions. After a surreal moment of realization, she searches for Ragnar’s sons who venture out onto a frozen lake. They fall in and she dives in to rescue them. When one child is saved, she rises to see a woman greeting her. After the second child is saved the figure is then revealed to be Harbard. Siggy, in a moment of clarity, or possibly unquenchable fear, succumbs to her fate and drowns in the frozen lake. In one aspect, Siggy saw a goddess, someone necessary for her to let go or perhaps even cling to a hope that her future is still bright. Yet, with the appearance of Harbard the true character saving the children, everything changes and she just lets go. In a way it’s beyond surreal how she acted. In the words of the seer, maybe there was nothing for her to do but to relinquish her trust in the gods and be at peace with the fact she couldn’t rise or reclaim what she lost when her husband died.

I’m stricken with a sense of coldness over her departure. While she latched on to any thread that would return her to the graces of rule, she also had her moments of creative goodness that put her in a better light than some other characters. The truth is she was a very inconsistent character, but almost endearing. I’m torn on feeling whether this death was necessary or not, and I’d be amazed if this turned out to be a false portent and somewhere in the snow shores, she’s still alive. In any case, it was a very cold and hypogogic segment that I would expect from a show like this.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

Siggy’s final scene is still a mind screw. Part hallucination, part god-like element all filtering the life and times of surviving in the deep cold and the long term of effects of loneliness and heartache. When it finally gives way and the frozen lake cracks, what else can one do but fall in and be dragged to the depths? Could it be said that Harbard murdered her? Not a lot of evidence there, but that’s what makes the scene so poignant. We not given the true identity of the woman in white, meaning she could be Freya, a mother, or anyone who she needed to see, until the time came to see who it really was.

 

CHARACTER MVP

I think Kwenthrith edges out the top spot tonight. Her nature is more and more sadistic than I initially thought. What passed as sisterly love, turned out to be a sour deception, one she may have orchestrated on the spot, or since the beginning. Knowing what she went through in her younger life, such an act shouldn’t have been surprising, but that’s the complexity of her character is not knowing what she’ll say or do and that’s one key aspect to making interesting characters work.

 

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

Kalf has now allied with Horik’s son and Borg’s wife which means there will be some form of revolt against Lagertha when she returns home. I’m still not convinced this gathering of opposition will pose any true threat. It seems more of a plot to fashion Lagertha back in Kattegat.

It’s only a matter of time now before Athelstan and Aethelwulf clash over the love of Judith. Is there a lasting love between her and Athelstan and is it enough to keep him in Wessex and away from Ragnar and his people? I’m not seeing it quite yet, but at the same time, his longing pulls him in so many directions his choice will always keep him centered on Ragnar unless he convinces her to leave with him.

I’ll admit, I’m actually beginning to like Ecbert a little more as time goes on. He’s the one king who almost understands Ragnar and the way of ruling and keeping alliances that matter. Will it last forever? No, of course not. Everyone Ragnar trusts he eventually has to kill. Still, he’s a likeable villain, more so than people like Kalf or whomever they choose to throw at Ragnar this season.

Helga saw what seemed like Harbard disappear into the snowy backdrop of Kattegat. The mystique is certainly remaining that he was a force of the gods rather than a subtle and crazed wanderer who happen to know the age-old method to stop babies from crying. Will he return in future episodes and will Aslaug be with child before Ragnar comes home?

Were Aethelwulf’s intentions real when he tried to play at Rollo and Flocki with their own words of friendship the need to be allies and win? Seems like a dull move to throw if he wasn’t serious and judging by his actions during the premiere, he had no intention of staying allies with the Vikings. With Judith’s affair on the cusp of being brought to the open, will that be a driving force for him to seal his judgment?

 

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Vikings maintains its core consistency with enriched storytelling and hyper-complex characters that continue to dazzle us with intrigue and risky choices. Episode after episode, they take away familiar characters that seemed to have a foot-hold on the show, and tonight, fair Siggy was on that list. Will there be a defining moment of proof or will she simply fade into the cold darkness never found by a soul? That’s the majesty of a show like Vikings, anyone can fall into obscurity, yet it is Ragnar who endures for his people, because he has to.

 

 

No more words