While “Dead Ringer” sadly leaves Apollo and Zeus out of the story, it was another very solid episode of Magnum P.I. season 5. It actually featured one of the more complex cases of the entire season, and also does a great job of evolving the relationships of the cast. And even though it doesn’t tread new ground on the Greene case, it’s very much worth watching.
Now that Rick and T.C. suspect Magnum and Higgins are a couple (which they very much are), Rick is acting a fool. Early in the episode Thomas makes coffee for Higgins and flirts, ready to go in for a deep kiss, when Rick barges in acting weird. Higgy retorts with “Rick, are you having a stroke?”, which was pretty hilarious. He responds saying he’s going to be at work, and conspicuously mentions he’ll be gone all day before heading out. Juliette picks up on the weird vibe but lets it go and spends some quality time with Thomas. Afterwards, she throws some stacks of bills at him, which makes him uncomfortable. Luckily the money isn’t for “services rendered”, but a new case. And it’s a weird one.
For one thing, they don’t know who their new client is. All they know is they’re being paid to investigate a man named Jack Hill, who the client suspects is a murderer. They have no return address either, which makes Higgins all sorts of uncomfortable. She says they need to know more about their client first, but Thomas responds saying the only way to do that is to start gathering evidence. So Juliette tackles the envelope, while Magnum goes to check out Jack Hill’s residence.
Though their research shows Hill is a model citizen, that’s only the surface layer. He’s actually an ex cop. Magnum climbs up the side of his house and leaps in through an ajar window, taking photos as he strolls around. Objects of interest are a photo of a woman, many jars of peanut butter, and appendectomy notes on the fridge. It looks like Magnum hasn’t found much of anything, but then Higgins calls, and they trade notes. Turns out, she tracked the DNA of the person that mailed them the case and can tell it belongs to a red-haired woman. She also found the envelope was mailed from King’s Medical. Given the appendectomy notice, that becomes the next target of their investigation.
At the hospital, they find the client is named Dr. Sally Cates. She overheard something alarming while Jack was under anesthesia. He muttered “they’ll never find her body”. While the doc was afraid she could lose her job over passing along the info, she nevertheless is worried someone is in harm’s way and cooperates with the investigators. They find out that Jack apparently left the HPD before his pension kicked in, which is also pretty shifty. While they don’t have an in at the HPD anymore, Magnum knows just the guy to hassle—Gordon Katsumoto!
Gordie is having a tough episode. He starts out rehearsing for his hearing later that day, and tries in vain to comfort his son. When Thomas and Juliette show up a couple hours before the hearing, he thinks it’s moral support. Magnum assures him it’s about a case, and Gordon indeed remembers Jack Hill. 7 years prior, his wife had died suddenly of an aneurism, and Jack fell apart. Started acting crazy and violent, and it was discovered he was seeing an escort when she complained to HPD about his behavior, which led to his being let go. The pair thank Gordon for his help and go to talk with the escort.
Meanwhile, Rick spends most of “Dead Ringer” being more of a goofball. He floats theories with Kumu and T.C. about how Magnum and Higgins are a couple, but Kumu tells him to let it go. Later he wants to plant a baby monitor on the premises to prove his suspicion, but T.C. and Kumu shoot that down. T.C. tells Rick it’s not about them; his weird behavior is about something personal.
Speaking of our intrepid duo, they meet up with the escort, Amber. And after being eager to join a threesome with them, they indicate they’re not her next client. She wants to clam up, but they ask about Jack. Amber tells them he always had her dress up the same way and wear the same perfume. It wasn’t about sex, but just about her company. They quickly put the pieces together and realize Jack was having Amber dress up as his dead wife. Then when Amber decided to change her hair, Jack went thermal. But the problem is Jack probably didn’t stop with her, since he was muttering about never finding a body under anesthesia. So they do more research on missing women and find a likely woman who also resembled Jack’s wife and worked at a place called Coffee Talk.
At Coffee Talk, Magnum and Juliette start chatting up the owner, a man named Abe. Turns out, the missing woman, Jenny, was his daughter. She closed one day and never showed up the next, and when HPD found her car burnt in the forest, they reached a dead end. Abe strongly suspects his daughter is dead. Even though his life fell apart that day, including his marriage, he wants the investigators to find his daughter so she can be put to rest. Without further leads, that leaves one course of action: talking with Detective Childs.
Katsumoto puts on a brave face in the courthouse, but it’s clear the stoic cop is worried. Then his son Dennis shows up for moral support. Gordon is brought in, and it’s a tough trial. They don’t want to accept that he was doing what he had to do. For his part, Katsumoto is about to read prepared remarks but instead speaks from the heart. He talks duty and family, and he isn’t contrite, but blunt and honest.
At HPD, Childs isn’t eager to help without more proof. But Magnum plays on his past, when he helped put away dirty cops in Oakland. Wouldn’t he want to do so again? So Childs helps out and visits Hill’s house, convincing him to chat at HPD. He gives a master class in manipulation and pushes all the man’s buttons. Hill finally relents and says he’ll tell everything, but asks for protein first. Childs gets him some snacks, and Hill picks a peanut-laden bar and starts chowing down. He talks for a little while, but then starts spasming on the floor.
Turns out, that peanut bar was a suicide attempt, and it worked. Childs is furious about being conned, and Magnum and Higgins are worried they’ll never solve the case. Until Thomas remembers Hill’s house was packed with peanut butter, which doesn’t make sense given his allergy. Which could mean that Jenny is still alive.
Childs and the team rush through the house, at first finding nothing. Then Thomas helps find a hidden door, and thankfully Jenny is alive and well, if traumatized by her situation. The episode ends with Katsumoto getting a call that he’s gonna be a cop again. He celebrates at Rick’s bar with everybody, and Rick and T.C. pull Magnum aside to ask about him and Higgins. He can’t hide his joy any longer and tells his oldest friends. And then it ends with him and Juliette sharing a PDA, and her realizing their secret is out, but being happy about it. Overall a really solid episode, and hopefully a sign of things to come in Magnum P.I.
Well, Carnival Row is over. And it was… a TV show—one made by one of the most financially successful companies ever. Who could’ve done just about anything? But this is how it ends.
It all comes down to a final would-be battle and a showdown with the Sparas. All of which would be great if it… sort of didn’t conveniently wrap in absolutely nothing changes. In fact, I think the reason most people are upset about the series is that we’re meant to accept the status quo, including the treatment of the Fae in Carnival Row…
My answer to that is: WTF. Why?!
After all of this loss and hard-to-watch violence. If we learned nothing and accept our political institutions as… the system. What was the point of everything? That’s my biggest issue. That’s all I have to say… End review.
… Alright, you know what? Let’s just run through it. One last time.
Episode 210 – Carnival Row
Everything has reached its end as the New Dawn intends to destroy Parliament. This is sort of what I think most fans of the series have been hoping for all this time. Of course, it begins with a story about how Darius wants to save Tourmaline. Even though they’re just friends and she apparently wants to be happy with Vignette. I’ve officially hit the give-no-Fs button regarding the romances in the show and this finale. Was easily the worst of it.
Meanwhile, I will say one of the big figures who has taken lead at Parliament since the deaths of its leaders in the mid-season finale… is um. Of course, revealed to be the enemy. Not the institution itself, which would have made for a great finale, but rather, just one of its members manipulating things behind the scenes. How this plays out and ties together is honestly rather unimaginative and reminds me of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Except instead of Emperor Palpatine, we get… a generic baddie who’s been there but we didn’t ever care about?
Seriously, I had to Google who the hell this was to remember why they were important… and I still don’t care.
Positive takeaway? Vignette as a rebel leader is a brilliant tactician with guts. You see it here in her reasons why and how the Black Raven should execute on their plans now, and you can immediately tell that she’s been the leader it’s lacking. Even if their tactics previously were mostly to just bumrush the enemy with knives…
Hey, at least they can fly fast.
It’s really upsetting that they kept forcing Vignette romance arcs because this season could’ve easily just seen her fully embrace her rebel leader side. In fact, that would have been great. Instead… we get a storyline that sees her embrace the anti-hero role one last time before riding off into the sunset… though with whom, I have to omit due to the embargo on spoilers.
The delivery of the end makes for a satisfying conclusion. You see a nice little jump between the rebellion and the inner politicians of Parliament. The New Dawn makes its move. Combined, New Dawn and Black Raven make for a hell of a revolutionary group. And I wonder why we’d spent the season having these two act as separate organizations until now.
I can happily say: they do the things we’ve wanted for so long in presenting a real threat to the status quo that the world has needed for so long. Sure, racists burn the Row in this one, but the rebels then kill them in turn. In the end, it all boils down to a plot with the Sparas. A big bad, that’s I guess acting as the show’s weapon of mass destruction? Which is odd given that it’s a very slayable creature.
Again, I think what the show forgot about is how to escalate tension. It’s well produced and acted best to the extent of the talents of its cast; however, anyone who thinks about the plot can realize that all of these actions could have been executed long ago. Back in Episode 1.
Why? Well, a trap to kill all the racists in the Row is easy. And the show more-or-less went a carrot-on-a-stick approach that felt like lazy writing. The Sparas? Was revealed to be someone who was always in a position to kill all of Parliament. In screenwriting terms, there was a ticking-watch moment that was forced in here because none of this was time-sensitive, which sort of makes this finale have little sense outside of forcing a prophecy Tourmaline had early on: her confrontation with the Sparas.
Honestly, from how it’s executed, I don’t think the series knew it was going to be canceled, as their resolution to everything was just to let the upset and angry fellows attack everything that represents the status quo. It’s something to be foiled due to the actions of our heroes. Toss in a few big speeches by our favorite characters and a lesson about how change is hard, and that’s the ending of Carnival Row…
Except, every reviewer hated it. I might have been the only person to give it an episode-by-episode chance on a weekly basis, only to have my hopes dashed of what the show could have been. The problem with the series is that nothing changes. The journey killed off so many characters. And the love stories felt moot in the end given the outcome.
Truly, the show feels like it was written for Network TV circa 2004. With storylines that meander nowhere and characters that are cool enough with great emotions, and gems of promise… but are forced to rinse and repeat the same plots and romantic will-they/won’t-theys.
So I’m kind of happy to say it’s the end of Carnival Row.
The thing about revolutions is that they begin with the need for something to revolt against. In Star Wars, it’s the Empire. In Quantumania, it was Kang the Conquerer. In the case of Carnival Row, it was very much The Burgue and its Parliament. An emblematic institution meant to represent the figureheads of the UK and its troubling legacy with colonization.
The show’s premise was originally pitched as a tale about the denizens of Carnival Row. All for a tale about xenophobia and how immigrants and refugees fled to The Row, having lost their homes to the very cultures and governments they were retreating from. The investigative murders that the show was meant to revolve around served as a lens into the underground world of the Fae. The fairy creatures, who in early European literature are often depicted as higher-class sort of ethereal beings. A mysterious deity, demon, spirit, or substance beyond the trivialities of human beings.
In Carnival Row, the Fae are meant to be seen as minorities. Their abuse in this world? Very much a device meant to startle audiences into shock to remind us just how terrible we are for treating people so cruelly. The problem therein lies that somewhere along this journey… as somewhere along the way Carnival Row got lost in its romance. The plot repeated itself. And a lot of the show felt like it was pulling repeatedly from the old Game of Thrones playbook of shock horrors. Something meant to define so much television in the last decade.
However, we live in a post-pandemic world now… Nothing’s quite as shocking as having millions of people die and continually seeing long-term effects on the disabled. Worst of all, nobody wants to feel like this shitty anymore. Not even myself.
This is why if you’re going to do this… feature deaths and shocking moments meant to disturb you. As a creator, you have to maintain the intent! You’ve got to show how the Fae minority gains power and wins the audience. As it’s there, you’ll find the heart of intention regarding the messages the show was meant to address.
This… is none of that. At we’re now entering the end.
Episode 9 Review
Remember when Tourmaline’s magical abilities served a purpose? Yeah, we didn’t either. At least, until this episode when we saw her pulling it off again for one last Philo case. For multiple episodes, the gift of foresight stopped being a device to aid in cases, and instead, became a rather poor foreshadowing warning of Tourmaline’s death. An omen that she’s trying to avoid despite the fact that we know it’s likely going to happen. Worse, is that for some reason, the writers thought dragging Vignette along with her was a good idea.
Not only has Vignette completely lost her point in the story, but now, she’s suddenly seeking to care for her best friend completely out of nowhere. As she’d spent the entire series ignoring her boy toy, Philo. Let me be clear: I want to root for these characters to get together. The problem? Is that the development to get us here: near non-existent, as most of the arcs for Vignette had her almost lead a rebellion only to abandon it for the sake of love… again.
If that weren’t enough, the show plays tug-of-war again with Vignette as she’s yet again called by her old friends, The Black Raven, to essentially rejoin and hook up with New Dawn. Whose efforts had recently sunk all the ships meant to ship their units and the Fae back to their homeland.
It’s a storyline that’s taken far too long to develop but that everyone knew was going to happen: a war between Fae and Humans. Even though the series had already done this in the previous war, once we killed off pretty much all of the government leaders in the midseason finale… this was obviously, how it always was going to end.
As for Agreus and Imogen, the two finally contribute to the main storyline’s resolution, serving as indirect but reluctant agents for the New Dawn. The show is breezing past a very troubling issue that I think was written in poor taste: Imogen, empowered, sort of completely does a 180 on her character after the death of her brother, Ezra. It’s something that makes no sense given that… she’s the one who murdered him in the first place? What’s worse is that she blames Agreus for his past despite his having been open about it this entire time. The result of all this B.S. ? Agreus is a slave to Imogen’s whims as he can’t really do anything back home without Imogen (who’s broken up with him), else risk being killed on the spot given how bad things have gotten on Carnival Row for the Fae. For whatever reason Imogen’s last-second empowerment storyline, that strangely, has made her qualified as being a movement leader? Feels about as realistic as Daenerys’ final season story arc… Fans of both, I hope you realize, that all these lame comparisons I’ve made this season between the two? Are because actress Tamzin Merchant, who plays Imogen, was the original Daenerys Targaryen in the pilot before Game of Thrones switched to Emilia Clarke. I say this to stress: the actress can pull off a badass English-sounding aristocrat turned leading lady… it’s just for some reason, the show kind of rushed the arc in this story. Likely, because of the knowledge that this was the final season.
Easily the worst of the lost beats is both Leonora and what’s revealed to be the Sparas. The earlier plays for a kind of racist caricature regarding every Russian communist revolution leader. While the latter? Is such a poor reveal in my opinion given that I literally had to Google search who the hell that was to even feel an impact. Given how big the Sparas is, I actually really wished it were one of the other more well-written characters. In fact, my money was on Mr. Millworthy up until the final reveal.
The best about this episode? Easily the tiny exchanges between Agreus and Vignette, as one is the voice of reason and modern-day capitalism from a perspective that’s very in-tune with most Millennials I know that grew up in the age of the tech boom. While the other alternative? Provided by Vignette, is very much a voice for the Gen-Zer, and the outrage I see.
With only one episode left, I am now starting to partially agree with some of the negative criticisms others have made regarding the series. I think when Carnival Row addresses politics, it works. I’m even a fan of the revolution. But whenever we get back to its main cast? In particular, Philo, Vignette, and dare I now say it, kind of Imogen as well?
We hope you’re not tired of symbiotes yet, because Marvel’s “Summer of Symbiotes” is far from over! This June, Taran Killam and Rod Reis team up for Extreme Venomverse #3. Think a multiverse, but full of symbiote fun, and you’re on the right track. The Extreme Venomverse event will last 5 issues, and feature several talented authors and artists.
Speaking about Extreme Venomverse #3 specifically, it’ll take fans to the Old West where they meet Madame Venom; we’ll meet a prehistoric Venom; there’s also a Venom Spaceknight; and a dark take on the Daily Bugle funnies written by Ty Templeton.
Want more? It’s not an Extreme Venomverse without Eddie Brock and his son Dylan, and the series will feature some dramatic arcs for the villain turned hero turned symbiote god. It’ll all culminate in an event called Death of the Venomverse, which I’m sure will turn out great for Eddie.
Be sure and check out the full cover for Extreme Venomverse #3 below. And stay tuned to The Workprint for more mesmerizing Marvel stories!
EXTREME VENOMVERSE #3 (OF 5)
Written by TARAN KILLAM, JED MACKAY, TY TEMPLETON & MORE!
Art by ROD REIS, DANNY EARLS, NELSON DANIEL & TY TEMPLETON
Cover by LEINIL FRANCIS YU
On Sale 6/14
Diversity is always important, but especially in an era where sinister forces are trying to wind back women’s rights, attacking trans individuals and ruthlessly trying to turn back the clock on advances we’ve made in social justice over the past 50+ years. So it’s great to see that DC isn’t just determined to embrace the entire LGBTQIA+ rainbow with upcoming content, but also they’ve supported a whole gamut of characters for a long while.
Starting this month and continuing all year long, DC is going to produce a ton of content highlighting LGBTQIA+ stories and heroes. One noteworthy example is DC Pride 2023, a massive anthology coming on May 30th. It’s 104 pages, a glorious prestige comic full of fan favorite characters and exciting team-ups. That will include an introduction by Phil Jimenez, a main cover by Mateus Manhanini and ready to order variant covers by the following artists – Gabriel Picolo, Jen Bartel and Oscar Vega.
As for some of the DC Pride stories, those include Tim Drake and Connor Hawke; Midnighter, Apollo and Alan Scott; Jon Kent and John Constantine; Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and Crush, and many other exciting encounters. But that’s far from everything DC has planned to celebrate this year.
There’s also The DC Book of Pride, written by Jadzia Axelrod with cover by Paulina Ganucheau. This gorgeous hardcover will feature in-depth profiles on 50+ characters, sandwiched by wonderful interior artwork. Best of all, it’ll arrive just in time for Pride month, coming on May 16th.
Not enough pride for you? How about another epic comic book collection? DC Pride: Through the Years features 3 out-of-print stories collected in an oversized format. Those stories include The Flash #53. Written by William Messner-Loebs and Greg LaRocque, it covers the story of when Pied Piper comes out to his friend the Flash and helps thwart a dastardly villain. There’s also Detective Comics #854 by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III. This highlights the beginning of Batwoman’s first solo series. Then there’s Supergirl #19, by Steve Orlando, Vita Ayala and Jamal Campbell. We learn of Lee Serrano, a nonbinary teen that befriends the one and only Girl of Steel! There’s also a brand new story written by Tim Sheridan and Cian Tormey about Alan Scott, which teases future adventures.
Not to be outdone, DC will also feature Pride-focused stories all year long, including some of the following:
DC Pride: The New Generation hardcover (5/23)
Doom Patrol by Rachel Pollack Omnibus hardcover (3/14)—second printing
Harley Quinn Vol. 3: Verdict hardcover (3/21)
Multiversity: Teen Justice trade paperback (3/21)
Poison Ivy Vol. 1: The Virtuous Cycle hardcover (5/16)
The Authority Book One trade paperback (4/25)—2023 edition
Superman: Son of Kal-El Vol. 3: Battle for Gamorra hardcover (5/9)
Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons hardcover (6/6)
In conclusion, there’s a ton of reasons to be happy about diversity courtesy of DC comics. If you want one more way you can check out upcoming stories through this lens, there’s also the DC Universe Pride hub page, where new stories are added every month, and free titles will be added during Pride month. So get ready to embrace a multiverse of compelling stories all year long!
Vita Ayala and Nikolas Draper-Ivey, helming fan-favorite Static: Season One and critically lauded Static: Shadows of Dakota, know a little something at making Milestone’s return a must-see event, with each issue harkening back to the beloved Static Shock! animated series.
Fans of Static and Static Shock! are about to lose their collective minds this June when Static and Anansi have their first-ever comic book team-up! Written by Evan Narcisse (DC Power: A Celebration, Batman: Gotham Knights – Gilded City, Milestone 30th Anniversary Special), Static: Team-Up: Anansi #1 will feature art by Charles Stewart III, in his DC debut from The Milestone Initiative Talent Development program. The main cover for this one-shot is brought to you by Static: Shadows of Dakota co-writer and artist Nikolas Draper-Ivey, with an open to buy variant cover byNatacha Bustos (DC Power: A Celebration), plus a 1:25 ratio variant cover by Cyborg cover artist Edwin Galmon.
Taking place between Static: Season One and Static: Shadows of Dakota, Static Team-Up: Anansi follows the popular African superhero as he takes a trip to Dakota on the hunt for a supernatural issue. The occult face of the Milestone Universe turns out to be a two-man job as Anansi realizes he’ll need Static’s help!
Static: Shadows of Dakota will pick up on July 4 with issue #5, followed by issue #6 August 1, with the series concluding on September 5 with issue #7.
Keep your eyes peeled on your local comic book shops and participating retailers for Tuesday, June 6th, 2023, when Static Team-Up: Anansi #1 drops. Static: Season One will be available as a six-issue collection as well.
The ‘X-Men 60 Uncanny Years’ Anniversary event pulled out all of the stops this year with multiple major unveils for the company. Hosted by This Week in Marvel host Ryan Penagos, major guests at the event broke down some of their experiences creating some of the greatest moments in the X-Men’s 60-year history with appearances by Chris Claremont, Walter and Louise Simonson, Gerry Duggan, Jonathan Hickman, and Grant Morrison (who did a very funny and embarrassing dance impersonation of cyclops tonight just for kicks).
An event that was exclusive to subscribers of Marvel Unlimited and Marvel Insiders, giveaway winners for ‘X-Men 60 Uncanny Years’ will receive email confirmations tomorrow regarding who won several Hasbro Legends figurines collectibles and an ultra-rare digital Veve NFT exclusive to Marvel Unlimited annual plus fans. Marvel insiders, could also claim the event’s attendance for 30,000 marvel insider points.
Overall, it was a fantastic event for any Marvel fan and we summarized some of the event’s big reveals below. With some added details from Marvel’s Fall of X press release.
X-Men 97 Details Revealed
Creators of the X-Men animated series Eric and Julia Lewald, director Larry Houston, and head writer Beau DeMayo (of the upcoming X-Men 97) talked about the legacy of the 90s animated series and even, shared with us the premise of the upcoming story.
DeMayo described the new season as picking up a little bit after Xavier was shot by Henry Peter Gyrich. An event that lead to increased sympathy for mutants all across the world. As a result, the X-Men lineup undergoes a bit of a shake-up, as things finally are starting to look good for Mutants, and even Morph and Bishop officially join the team.
In the wake of mutant acceptance, X-Men such as Jean Grey, Gambit, and Rogue, start to question if it’s time to call it quits as X-Men. Even Magneto finds Charles’ situation honorable and is willing to even try walking in his footsteps and be a force for good for mutant kind. But just when all seems perfect in the world: Mr. Sinister returns. And he’s got a plan to destroy the X-Men once and for all.
Marvel’s Voices: Negasonic Teenage Warhead Gets Her First-Ever Solo Story
1 of 3
Available on Marvel Unlimited right now, in the latest installment of Marvel’s Voices, Negasonic Teenage Warhead is set to inherit her first ever solo story. In this one, the beloved character, popularized in the movie Deadpool, has used her power of clairvoyance see the upcoming world ending.
Yet, with doom soon to come, humanity’s only hope seems to be if she can find and kiss the right girl before that fateful moment. Because in doing so… maybe she can save the world? Check it out to learn more.
D23 is Hosting An Actual Hellfire Gala at San Diego Comic-Con 2023
The Hellfire Gala has become the ultimate event in comic book fashion featuring yearly collectible variants with some of the most stunning hero costumes and collectibles in Marvel comics. It’s also, proven to be a major launching point in the X-Men lore. The first event, announcing the terraforming of Mars. The second, revealing to the world the true nature of Mutant immortality.
It comes as a surprise then, that Marvel Comics has announced that D23, The Official Disney Fan Club, will be hosting the first-ever REAL-LIFE Hellfire Gala during this year’s San Diego Comic-Con in July! More details coming soon at D23.com/HellfireGala.
The Actual Hellfire Gala
The Hellfire Gala is always the biggest event of the season…but this year’s will upend Krakoa as we know it. What is meant to be mutantkind’s greatest night becomes their worst nightmare as the FALL OF X begins! Written by Gerry Duggan alongside an all-star lineup of artists including Kris Anka, Joshua Cassara, Russell Dauterman, Adam Kubert, Pepe Larraz, R.B. Silva, and Luciano Vecchio, X-MEN: HELLFIRE GALA #1 will be a giant-sized one-shot that propels mutantkind into an unpredictable future.
All your favorite X-Men are going to be left reeling after a series of shocking revelations, stunning betrayals, horrifying tragedies, impossible deaths…and more. Fans will also see their favorite heroes from throughout the Marvel Universe turn out in the most glamorous looks of the year and witness the reveal of the all-new X-Men lineup, including the winner of this year’s X-Men Fan Vote! Page after page of jaw-dropping moments that no one will seeing coming, all in one CANNOT-MISS package!
Announced by X-Men architect Gerry Duggan in a special video message, an all-new run of UNCANNY AVENGERS will kick off this August, spinning out July’s X-MEN: HELLFIRE GALA one-shot where FALL OF X, the X-Men’s upcoming era, will officially begin!
THE FALL OF X will be a major turning point for the X-Men franchise that will see huge changes in current ongoing X-titles and the launch of multiple exciting new series! The devastating events of the Hellfire Gala and the tragic circumstances of FALL OF X calls for the return of the Avengers Unity Squad in a new run of UNCANNY AVENGERS written by Gerry Duggan and drawn by Javier Garrón! Innocent people and world leaders are dead after simultaneous attacks on the U.S. and Krakoan governments, and that means one thing: it’s time for a new squad of Avengers. False flag attacks meant to whip up anti-mutant hysteria are unfolding and hey, some of Steve Rogers’ best friends are mutants. Marvel’s new unity squad will include Captain America, Rogue, Deadpool, Quicksilver, Psylocke, and Penance. This powerhouse new team must solve the mystery of who the new, murderous Captain Krakoa is — and stop his team of killers from igniting the fires of a new world war.
“Everything we’ve been working towards in our third act is coming to a head this summer,” Duggan told fans in a video message. “The Uncanny Avengers have existed to provide an example of unity between humanity and mutantdom, and they will need to work extra hard at that now as relationships and friendships have frayed in the events of FALL OF X.”
X-MEN UNLIMITED #80
1 of 3
Launching on Monday, March 27th, the new 6-issue arc written by Grace Freud with art by Alberto Alburquerque and colorist Yen Nitro, is a doozy. Featuring Mutants introduced in her “LGBT-D” story in MARVEL’S VOICES: PRIDE, we see this new group deal with the likes of the disgusting, entertainment-obsessed Mojo!
Calling for the aid of Jubilee, hopefully, this intrepid group can keep themselves alive long enough to escape and prove themselves capable of being the heroes they aspire to be.
HERE WE GO! After spinning its wheels with some inane “twists” and overwritten dialogue in the last few episodes, Star Trek: Picard finally boldly goes into a daring and gasp-worthy plot with its fifth episode, “Imposters”.
After spending far too long stuck in a weird nebula creature thing, the USS Titan is heading back to Federation space. The crew seems to think it’s home free, but Beverly doesn’t seem so sure… she’s still worried about Jack. And with good reason—the super-special offspring of super-special characters has been getting disturbing visions of a red door and weird growths that look like blood vessels crossed with dead vines… and of himself as a deadly efficient killer. Of course, he doesn’t tell anyone about these hallucinations. Question is, is he hiding something, or just unsure of what’s happening to him? Whatever it is, the Changelings are awfully hell-bent on getting their grubby hands on him. (I swear, if it turns out he’s some kind of Changeling and all that development they did with his and Picard’s relationship turns out to be moot, I’m snatching back every star I ever gave this show).
The Titan goes to rendezvous with the Federation ship Intrepid, and a gleeful Shaw can’t wait to send those troublesome pirates Picard and Riker, plus the mutinous Seven, over to face the music. I actually loved his jerkitude in this scene. I mean, poor guy started his day thinking he just had some routine Starfleet stuff to do and ended up getting swallowed by a nebula creature over some arrogant bigwig’s love child. I’d be eager to kick those responsible off too. Shaw’s irreverence for our classic heroes provides a much-needed grounding presence for the show, and he is quickly becoming my favorite character (who knew I’d be rooting for the cantankerous old white dude?)
The Intrepid sends over a contingent to question the troublemakers, and something seems off… they’re insisting on a shuttle, not transporters. After the whole fiasco last week with the Changeling on board, I’m sure everyone’s ears perked up at that. After all, this Changeling hid in plain sight among the Titan’s crew for who-knows-how-long, despite extra precautions Starfleet put in place following the Dominion War. There’s no way the Intrepid‘s bunch is all what they seem.
Their arrival brings back another familiar face: Ro Laren. Picard’s wayward mentee from the Enterprise, who ended her run on the series by betraying Starfleet and joining the Maquis freedom fighters. Which Picard is still sore about 30 years later. He’s immediately suspicious that this former terrorist is now a Starfleet commander, and Ro nicks her hand to prove she’s not a Changeling. She doesn’t seem any happier to see him and tries to stick with a “just business” approach.
But wait! The blood test doesn’t work anymore… Beverly’s examinations of the dead Changeling infiltrator reveals that they can now imitate internal organs, only revealing their true nature under intense dissection. And she surreptitiously tells Picard as much during his talk with Ro. Changeling alert… right???
I was a bit skeptical about Ro’s return at first—I’m still traumatized by how they brought back Icheb and Hugh in Season 1 just to have them die horribly for no reason—but my fears turned out to be unfounded. Michelle Forbes turns out another powerhouse performance (she was always one of the best actresses on The Next Generation, and she’s lost none of that shine)—understated yet intense, subtle yet brimming with unspoken thoughts. Her scenes with Picard were *chef’s kiss*. And her purpose on the show too—her scenes, in the grand scheme of the show, are few, but the impact is far-reaching. Now this is how beloved past guest stars should be treated.
Oh, and we get to see Worf and Raffi again this week! The two of them are still searching for answers regarding who robbed Daystrom and why, and their investigation takes them back to the criminal underworld. Worf dominates in every scene he’s in, though Raffi more than holds her own. The two play off each other wonderfully, and I wouldn’t mind an entire Worf-and-Raffi show where it’s the two of them leading whatever space adventures come next.
All in all, “Imposters” raises more questions than it answers, but in the best possible way. Conspiracies abound, with the bad guys having infiltrated the deepest reaches of Starfleet, and our heroes are thrown into a tense, high-stakes situation that promises more twists, action, and reveals to come. Now that we know that the whole Federation is at stake (and not just one famous guy’s secret son), the show feels like it’s really taking off. Oh, and as a bonus, the Worf/Raffi side quest finally ties back to Picard’s main storyline with a neat little bow.
If the show can keep up this momentum through the finale, then perhaps we can forgive the lackluster opening.
Featuring the introduction of Spider-Killer, this upcoming Edge of Spider-Verse promises to get a little weird. First, with the introduction of a dark and brooding story in the introduction of the Spider-Killer! In a horrifying new spider story with a, dare I say, killer sort of character.
Even funnier, will be that EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE #1 will also feature the roaring return of SPIDER-REX and the daring debut of VENOMSAURUS in a story by writer Karla Pacheco and Pere Pérez. You can check out the artwork below.
In issue one, readers will take a dark turn down in the seediest part of town to meet SPIDER-KILLER! Protecting a world filled with tragic versions of your favorite Spider-Man characters and villains, SPIDER-KILLER will debut in a moody tale written by Zander Cannon and drawn by Guillermo Sanna. Lurking in the shadows and oozing with mystery, this strange Spider hero brings a new level of fear to the Spider-Verse. If they dare, fans can gaze into the eyes of SPIDER-KILLER on a newly revealed variant cover for EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE #1 by artist Josemaria Casanovas. Casanovas’ connecting cover will adorn all four issues of the series and spotlight a variety of new EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE characters.
EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE #1 (OF 4) – 75960620643800111
Written by KARLA PACHECO, ZANDER CANNON & MORE
Art by PERE PÉREZ, GUILLERMO SANNA & MORE
Cover by PATRICK BROWN
Connecting Variant Cover by JOSEMARIA CASANOVAS – 75960620643800121
The teams behind Team17 and Stormwind Games have announced just now, that Batora: Lost Haven will launch on April 6th for the Nintendo Switch. Originally released on Playstation and Xbox, along with the beloved Steam bundle in 2022, this action-RPG hack-and-slash is not only physically fun in terms of gameplay with its twin-stick shooting capabilities, but also, features a surprisingly intricate puzzle system. A fun combat adventure perfect for a Switch console release.
Batroa: Lost Haven sees Avril on an interstellar adventure across the galaxy while wielding her dual powers of Sun and Moon. Set across a galaxy of alien planets, witness the power of Avril as she’s challenged both mind and spirit. In a story that branches into multiple narratives, each with its own different ending. A tale of figuring out how much we’re willing to sacrifice for the ones we love.
Batora: Lost Haven Key Features
Answer destiny’s call: Join Avril as she journeys across the universe, uncovering ancient secrets, wielding unimaginable power, and making life altering decisions
Fast-paced, multi-layered combat: Harness the powers of the Sun and Moon, leveraging the power of the mind and body in frenetic battles against unearthly enemies
Choose you path: Consider your actions and forge your path in an epic, interplanetary tale, ultimately deciding just how much you’re willing to sacrifice for love
Intricate puzzle solving: Solve intricate puzzles and otherworldly challenges, putting Avril’s mind and body to the ultimate test
It would appear that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni got tired of hearing everyone rave about Andor and its look at bureaucracy that kept the Empire running and how this was the Star wars they’d been waiting for. So they made their own version and put it into the Mandalorian. (“Oh, you like Andor, huh? Well how about an Andor with Grogu? Huh? How about that!”)
After a quick visit with Grogu, Mando, and Bo Katan – who narrowly escape a fleet of TIE Interceptors after leaving Mandalore and then flee to the secret Mandalorian convent after TIE Bombers destroy Bo Katan’s castle – the bulk of the episode is spent on Coruscant. I think this is the first time the series has visited the galactic capital.
The focus of the episode is Dr. Penn Pershing. You remember him? He’s the one who was going to cut up little Grogu way back in episode 3 in order to harvest his midichlorians. He also got captured by Din and Boba Fett and Bo Katan back in episode 16 and they used him to help get onto Moff Gideon’s ship.
Pershing was a clone engineer for the Empire. He’s giving a TED talk when we see him, explaining his situation. He’s grateful to have been admitted into the Amnesty Program. This is a program where the New Republic deprograms Imperial soldiers and reintegrates them into society. (Which sounds great! Undoubtedly, a lot of the Empires troops were drafted into it when their worlds were conquered and they had little say in the matter.) He says he wanted to be a scientist ever since his mother died. She had a bad heart, and if there had only been simple organ cloning on his remote world she might have lived. He is sorry for all the work he had to do for the Empire, but now hopes that his research can be put to good use for the New Republic. (Sure, sounds great! No unforeseen side effects could happen if allow evil scientists to work for us. Operation Paperclip? Never heard of it!)
Among his fellow amnesty candidates, he’s only known by his code number – L52. Pershing, excuse me, L52, is surprised to see a familiar face at his dorm. Namely, G68. In the Empire, G68 was a comms officer on Moff Gideon’s ship. (If you go back and watch episode 16, you’ll see she’s the one telling the incoming shuttle to back off as it zooms toward the flagship while being chased by Boba Fett.) She’s very welcoming to Pershing, although he’s a bit uneasy. (Also, there are rumors that Gideon escaped his transport to the war tribunal…though G68 says that’s just a cover story.)
It certainly is odd to hear the New Republic refer to these reformed Imperials by numbers and not names, since dehumanizing others was long a trademark of the Empire. You’d think that the Republic would encourage some individuality as a way to combat the crushing conformity of the Imperials? Apparently not!
That’s a theme throughout this part of “The Convert”. Pershing is confronted with the conformity of his new life. He and his fellow amnesty recruits wear the same uniforms, live in dormitory housing, and work at gray, dull, scutwork jobs. You’d almost expect the weaslely Syril Karn from Andor to be sitting at the desk next to Pershing, cataloguing weights and measures while Pershing archives the contents of Imperial starships set for destruction.
It certainly appears that the Republic has taken the architecture of the Empire and given it a fresh coat of paint, rather than strip it down and rebuild. And it’s unsettling to see our noble Republic get bogged down in the nuts and bolts of the realities of government.
Pershing yearns to be useful and help the New Republic, but as his amnesty droid tells him genetic research like he used to do is strictly forbidden. But, ever helpful G68 has a solution. Why don’t you just start your own mobile lab to do research? After all, you’re archiving all those ships that are set to be destroyed, who’s going to miss anything from there? Reluctantly, he agrees.
G68, who tells Pershing that her real name is Elia Kane, takes him to the shipyards where a gleeful Pershing starts to pack up his gear. He’s so excited! Once the Republic sees what he can do for them, they’re sure to let him continue his work! But, as they leave the ship, they are surrounded by Republic guards who immediately arrest him.
But not G68.
No, Kane was working for the police to show how loyal an amnesty convert she is. She’s silent as Pershing gets dragged away. And she remains silent when they strap him into a mind flayer for reconditioning. No, no! Not a mind flayer, says the Calimari operating the machine. It’s a 602 Mitigator! It’s similar, but totally different! We aren’t the empire! We’re here to help! And at low levels, the mind flay- uh…Mitigator can pleasantly erase traumatic memories. And maybe he’s right, only we won’t know. G68/Kane turns the dial up to eleven as soon as her handler leaves the room and watches Pershing writhe in pain.
So that was deeply disturbing, seeing the cheerful attendant strap Pershing to the board and happily using the tools of the oppressors to “heal, not harm.” And what was Kane’s endgame? Is she merely getting revenge for his part in Gideon’s (and her) capture? Is there more at play? Did Moff Gideon escape? Kane was the one saying that was just a rumor, so perhaps she knows more than she lets on?
The episode ends with Din reuniting with the rest of his clan. His vial of water proves he has been to the mines of Mandalore and is apostate no more. And, wouldn’t you know it, because Bo Katan also submerged herself (to save Din, but it still counts) and hasn’t removed her helmet since, whaddaya know she’s redeemed as well! She protests that she doesn’t walk the path, but the Armorer says it doesn’t matter. She can leave any time, but as long as she keeps her helmet on, she’s part of the clan.
Which is convenient! Bo Katan now has the dark saber and is part of the Children of the Watch. And she saw the mythosaur! So it seems she has many of the tools she needs to reclaim her homeworld. It remains to be seen what obstacles might stand in her way. Is Moff Gideon still out there? I’m sure he’ll have some revenge in mind for her helping in the attack on his ship.
Overall, “The Convert” was a very intriguing episode. It’s an interesting change of pace, but I’m not sure how much of that is going to be incorporated in the episodes to come. Are we going to spend a lot more time with the political skullduggery on Coruscant? Or are we going back to the stars and the retaking of Mandalore? It remains to be seen. Still, I’m giving this a good grade this week, mainly for the novelty of the story.
Grogu Cuteness Meter: Hardly any Grogu content this week!!! You know why I’m tuning in, right?
June is bringing Loki back to the Marvel Universe to make mischief in a brand-new solo series! As stated earlier in the year, Loki, written by Dan Watters (Sword of Azrael, Arkham City) making his Marvel Comics debut with art by the esteemed Germán Peralta (Black Panther, Maestro), is a four-issue limited series. Today, fans can get an idea of what they’re in for with the reveal of Loki’s main cover drawn by Dustin Nguyen!
Loki’s status as the “nice” God of Stories might be in trouble when powerful, ancient weapons he forged as the God of Lies wind up strewn across the Ten Realms! If these weapons are used by the wrong people they could bring about Ragnarok, so it’s up to Loki to track them down one by one. As he travels to Nidavellir, Kree space, and Earth, Loki’s journey will encompass surprise guest stars, fantastic new characters, and bold twists that have the God of Mischief facing off against heroes, villains, and of course, himself!
“It’s hard to say what a delight it is to be making my Marvel debut, even more so to be doing it with the God of Stories himself- taking him all the way around the Marvel Universe and back again,” Watters shared. “I can’t wait for all to see the beauty Germán’s art is breathing into this tale we have to tell you: full of magic, danger – and if Loki can’t help himself (he can’t) – quite a smidge of mischief.”
“Loki is one of the most interesting characters, not only in comics, but also in mythology, and his ambiguity in all aspects of his life makes him a very interesting character for an artist,” Peralta said. “I always say that I really enjoy drawing villains, but Loki has everything. It was ‘love at first sight’ when I read the script. Dan is amazing, and I’m sure he’s having a lot of fun with it too. I can’t wait to draw Loki’s expressions, since there are always double intentions with him, and it’s going to be very entertaining to play with that, as well as everything related to his universe. Having the opportunity to draw Loki is undoubtedly a beautiful way to start the year. It’s going to be a road full of challenges, but I’m sure it’s going to be a great journey.”
Will Loki save the Marvel Universe from his past mistakes? Find out when LOKI #1 hits shelves this June!
LOKI #1 (OF 4)
Written by DAN WATTERS
Art by GERMÁN PERALTA
Cover by DUSTIN NGUYEN
On Sale 6/7
The original Quantum Leap was essentially a 2-man show—Sam Beckett as leaper, Al Calavicci as hologram—with a revolving door of guest stars from week to week. While adhering to the classic formula for the leap portions—Ben Song as leaper, Addison Augustine as hologram—the new show has much more of an ensemble feel, with Magic, Ian, and Jenn all helping behind the scenes. With four characters (including Addison) “behind the scenes” at Quantum Leap headquarters and only Ben working the actual leap, it can be hard for anyone other than the classic leaper-hologram pair to get much screen time. Which is a shame, since they’re great characters, but also understandable, since spending too much time in the present short-changes the leap.
Lately, the show has been playing with its formula to bring some of these behind-the-scene characters more to light. A few weeks ago, Ian took a break to go soul searching after a shocking revelation. And this week, Addison stepped away (literally) to give Jenn a chance to shine.
Poor Ben is a public defender in the 1980s this time around, and like all public defenders, he quickly finds himself overwhelmed with the sheer number of clients he has to deal with. But he’s here for one specific case: That of 18-year-old Camilo, who was charged with murdering a gang member after he was seen threatening the latter. Even Camilo seems to have given up… he claims he didn’t do it (he just wanted the gang to stay away from his baby brother, who they were trying to force into their fold), but that it doesn’t matter, and he’s ready to take whatever deal he can get. So it’s up to Ben to get justice for the kid… in between dealing with a hodgepodge of other clients.
Jenn steps in to the imaging chamber for the (somewhat dubious) reason that she’s a legal expert. The super-hacker was arrested for, well, super hacking, and stood trial. She also apparently got bored in jail and obtained a law degree for funsies (like I said, dubious… but then again, Sam Beckett had, like, a million PhDs in every imaginable field and was a concert pianist and physical specimen to boot, so it’s all in keeping with the tradition of Quantum Leap prodigies).
I gotta say, Jenn has so far been the most understated of the Quantum Leap regulars, both because of her standoffish personality and her role. Her official place in the Quantum Leap fam is as head of security or something, but so far, that has translated to a lot of tough-gal-ing around and a few references to her having been a hacker in the past. So it was fun getting to see her take center stage and bumble her way through the emotional pep-talk-y moments with Ben that Addison usually takes care of. As you’d expect, she is terrible at it, and it’s an absolute delight to watch. More Jenn-in-awkward-situation moments, please!
In fact, I’d love it if Quantum Leap rotated its holograms from week to week depending on who’s best suited for the current adventure. Addison has grown on me quite a bit, and of course her star-crossed romance with Ben is always poignant, but having Jenn or Ian or even Magic step into the role now and then would be a great way to showcase those characters and give the show something new to work with every so often.
As for the courtroom drama that this week’s leap revolves around? It’s a decent story, with the classic Quantum Leap conundrum of “How do I save the innocent person from a doomed future?” The matter of proving Camilo’s innocence is standard lawyer-show fare, well executed enough that you don’t mind that it’s somewhat bland. Perhaps the most notable part is that Ben is shown struggling with multiple cases as a public defender, unlike a lot of courtroom tales where it feels like the central lawyer has one single case. Oh, and she’s a lesbian of color, though her identity doesn’t come up (which is both a relief, in that they didn’t try to shoehorn in some after-school special moral, but also odd considering it’s the 1980s?).
And the sci-fi mystery around why Ben leaped, the mystery second leaper, Janis Calavicci, and all that good stuff? It’s still on ice. Which I don’t mind. A season arc is allowed to be shown in little trickles of information from week to week, something that a lot of shows have forgotten in the age of binge watching.
All in all, “Ben Song for the Defense” was a perfectly adequate mid-season episode, with the special touch of seeing Jenn play hologram.
The Last of Us season one finale has fans divided as I don’t think newcomers to the series expected that ending. People were genuinely surprised about the turn, with Ben Travers from Indie Wire even going so far as calling it an inversion of expectations.
The show has differed in ways to make it more realistically grounded. With HBO’s The Last of Us focused less on the violent ways we survive, and more so, depending on the bonds established and the emotional laurels of its series protagonists.
In that regard, the show’s ending stayed surprisingly faithful to the video game. Given the lighter and likable version of Joel that the show has portrayed so far (much in due thanks to the charisma of Pedro Pascal), I genuinely thought they would change this ending.
My honest expectations were that they’d just skip to the operating room scene where Joel would shoot the doctor with a last-second hesitation and then escape with Ellie. The fireflies and Marlene? Left up in the air. But I was wrong. And I am happy I was wrong.
In the end, Joel proved to be exactly who this character always has been – someone hardened by the brutal realities of what it takes to survive, whose personal trauma became what defined him. From a games industry perspective, Joel as a protagonist is sort of the aftermath of a series of decisions in having Naughty Dog’s Uncharted-styled action hero, often a good boy and good-humored survivalist we’ve thrown into every impossible situation, and have it suddenly turn on its head.
Back then, the “What If?” idea was what if Naughty Dogg’s new IP character wasn’t a hero? In fact, what differentiates the label when it comes to matters of how far we go to protect your family? Less right and wrong and more about, as the show’s theme, provides in those easter egg Savage Starlight comics: Endure and Survive. Yet at what cost to our own humanity?
Yes, this is a popular trope in the survival horror genre. One that a decade later, feels exhaustive, as we’ve had so many post-apocalypse genre adaptations and are currently even living one out in real life. But where the Last of Us differed was that it was a series built in a way to get you to root for Joel. Not realizing, whom you were playing as, bonding with, and were experiencing this journey with all along?
He was actually, the bad guy.
Did Joel Make The Right Decision
Whether or not Joel made the right decision was one of the hottest topics of debate since 2013. In an era where Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead dominated the air, moral ambiguity and the purpose of right versus wrong were very popular themes to explore. Especially, in a Pre-Pandemic, and more importantly, a pre-politically charged world, where things like QAnon and the very nature of truth… didn’t feels as shockingly ungrounded as it does today.
By all means, weighted on a Thanos-level scale of saving lives versus losing them, then yes, Joel is absolutely the bad guy as there are now millions of deaths on his hands by destroying humanity’s final hope. Mind you, it isn’t just killing the doctor. Joel goes out of his way to murder multiple fireflies including killing its leader. Coldblooded and calculating, but also, seeing Joel as the monster we kept saying he was the entire time. In something that I think the TV version was afraid of depicting… until now.
If you weigh the decision by how far will people go to save their family, earned-step-daughter title or otherwise, then yes. Joel here is also the enemy. Because he’s really not doing any of this for Ellie, as they confirm in the HBO aftermath show and podcast. He’s doing it for how Ellie makes him feel again: like a father. Someone who didn’t fail at protecting his daughter. This has less to do about Ellie for Joel and more to do with Joel being a selfish asshole. Not really any different than any of the other villainous characters you’ve met in the last decade of television, antagonists like Breaking Bad’s Walter White. The understandable bad guys.
Worse, is that taking away that choice to make was always a selfish act. It’s obvious Ellie would have wanted to make that decision herself. And Joel? His reaction is to outright lie about it preserving the thing that makes him happy. Having a daughter again.
The Last of Us Problems in the Game versus TV Show
There are actually a lot of differences between the two, which is why I didn’t cover the season. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it until now and there was a lot about the TV show decisions I’d disagreed with.
Much like The Sandman, I’m one of the largest critics of The Last of Us given that it’s my favorite video game of all-time. I’ve even written essays about how The Last of Us 2 was about letting go and even reviewed the sequel for the website, HeyPoorPlayer which is also up on Metacritic. I’ve platinumed the games, read the comics, and beaten the original over a dozen times. In just so many ways, The Last of Us was one of those IP’s that changed my life and helped inspire so much of my own writing. Like its characters, I’m someone who’s been through a lot of trauma as well. To the point where I can depressingly relate to Ellie.
If there was one thing that had to be stressed regarding the adaptation is that you had to experience it first through Joel’s eyes. You needed to build that trust because if you couldn’t land that emotional bond between Joel and audience: you’d lose the purpose of the series. In the game, you’re forced to make violent decisions as Joel, killing infected, but also, a plethora of humans. It’s the philosophy behind endure and survive. Keep Ellie safe as she may be humanity’s last hope.
This is why that ending does in fact hurt so much: it breaks our trust in Joel and all of that violence really does prove to be for nothing. While the TV iteration focuses on the bonding moments of dad/daughter, the important thing audiences need to take away from it is that by the story’s turn, where Joel is out of commission, Ellie is in fact handed the narrative torch. You just don’t realize it at the time. It’s then that the story becomes about her. As who she is now as a person having gone through this journey.
Personally, I think this is where the TV show sort of failed, as the pivot away from the violence (for the sake of TV as it’s easier to do this type of brutality in a game) on Ellie’s end, makes her a bit more responsible when she acts out on it. Where the game has Joel teach Ellie on the horrors of surviving against other humans, with so many close calls, we’re accepting of the idea of this little kid being violent. Especially, considering that it’s Joel teaching her (whom at this point, we don’t fully realize, isn’t a good person).
The TV show doesn’t do that. And this is why I avoided reviewing it. For production’s sake, sure, this is good decision as it saves on budget. But for the series’ longterm themes? Cutting away from Ellie and Joel survival moments kind of ruins how this works. We should stress that this journey has imparted a lot of skills that make Ellie a mini-Joel. It’s seen in her actions, not her cutaways that she show is more focused in on. Which is overall, pretty fucked up and why The Last of Us can be seen as a tale about bad parenting.
HBO Joel hasn’t taught Ellie much regarding the series’ harder themes of violent survival. The part of him we do not see until the finale. This will be concerning for me in The Last of Us Part 2… Which goes full-on Count of Monte Cristo in theme and gets even more violent.
If Joel is the Bad Guy. Ellie is The Hero
For those who know what’s to come, Joel’s actions do have consequences. They always have since its beginning. As I’ve outlined in most of my Last of Us 2 Reviews: The Games are really about a history of violence. That the violent legacies we bequeath to our children for the sake of preserving love and family, carries on in inherited trauma and PTSD.
What I love about the games then, are not in its violence, but what it finds in the hope getting out of it. It’s the most prominent themes of finding a reason to live. To not just survive, as violent legacies imply, but to find a life of your own to build and thrive.
Thus, Joel is sort of the series antagonist because his philosophy about life sort of leads to a legacy of violence. It’s in turn then, Ellie, where we find hope. Her journey is an adventure of self-discovery taking what Joel taught her, and compartmentalizing a place for it, but more importantly, finding a place for herself. Thus leaving behind this legacy after so much death…
I think these themes were very important for today’s world. Especially, right now given the state of the everything between a pandemic, a Ukraine War, and a nuclear global conflict that feels all-too-real. See, in the end, we’re all just like Ellie. We’re children responsible in saving the planet, inheriting a violent world. Just looking for ways to make the most of it.
As someone who went to the drive-in many times during the pandemic when movie theaters were either closed or potentially unsafe, I was the target audience for Back to the Drive-In, writer-director April Wright’s loving tribute to the many family-owned drive-ins that found booming business in the year or so when people had no other option for the theatrical experience, but then found themselves struggling as so many other businesses have in the last couple years. Wright’s no stranger to this subject, having already released Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-In Movie in 2013, and the film doesn’t hide its agenda, ending with a plea to Support Your Local Drive-In.
It takes nearly half an hour to introduce all eleven (!!!) drive-ins Wright highlights in this documentary, but even though the established thesis in the beginning is that they are all different but share similar struggles, Wright—who also acts as cinematographer and editor—doesn’t structure her film around these struggles, specifically bringing these disparate drive-ins together in solidarity. Rather, she continues to hop from drive-in to drive-in—thankfully bringing up the onscreen graphic for the location and identifying the owners every time because it’s hard to keep track of eleven (!!!) different stories—as we progress from day to night. It took a while for that structure to become clear to me, and while I did find it frustratingly unfocused with regards to delivering information or messaging, the gradual build-up to actually getting to see a bunch of people watching movies at all these drive-ins made it immensely satisfying, as even though Wright filmed on eleven separate days, editing the movie to make it feel like it’s all happening on the same day and we’re watching all of these people across the country seeing movies at the same time does make for movie magic. Despite that, on a macro level, this 105-minute film feels loooooooooong because there’s no real flow from segment to segment, and the constant fades to black exacerbate the disjointed nature.
Which is a shame because on a micro level, it’s quite charming and enjoyable! I would watch a whole proper documentary about any of these drive-ins because Wright’s identified so many fascinating families, whether they’re people who have inherited a long-running drive-in, renovated an old drive-in, or built their own new drive-in. One guy built a drive-in IN HIS BACKYARD. One guy BOUGHT A BUNCH OF SEGWAYS WHEN HE SHOWED PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2 AND COSPLAYED AS PAUL BLART. One lady TOOK PICTURES OF FIFTY DRIVE-INS ACROSS THE COUNTRY SO SHE COULD DESIGN THEIRS THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE.
A few locations have some continuity to provide some sense of narrative, like the drive-in that’s hosting a couple bands as an experiment—which, sadly, we don’t get to see—and the drive-in that’s worried about the fog rolling in. Amusingly, the owner of that Cape Cod location calls fog “the F-word” that no one’s allowed to say and has hope that Space Jam: A New Legacy will be bright and colorful enough to withstand it if it does come. Mostly, however, it’s all about the little things with this movie, like getting a look at the projector, hearing about what goes into concessions choices, listening to these drive-in proprietors reminisce about their own experiences at drive-ins. One of them now runs the very drive-in he went to growing up!
It’s not all nostalgia and love for this unique theatrical experience and the sense of community, however. Supply chain issues, staffing difficulties, aggressive customers, and other pitfalls get mentioned, and although Wright doesn’t specifically group these discussions together, the fact that multiple people mention them does stand out.
Throughout the film, I found myself wanting to see more or hear more about things the owners were bringing up, and I understand that there must have been many limitations that kept it from being as in-depth and impactful as it could be given the very low budget. While it’s shot on 4K, it’s cinéma vérité 4K, so as the natural light decreases over the course of the film, the high resolution remains but the visual quality of the film declines. And the ambient sound can be distracting, especially in places with high wind. Wright was particularly excited about the use of drones for her second drive-in doc, and the drone shots are definitely some of the more beautiful images in the film, as they allow you to see the full scope of these massive spaces and giant screens.
I wish the film had more interviews with fans and patrons explaining why they loved coming to the drive-in. I wish the film had more discussion of what the drive-in experience offers that a traditional indoor theater experience doesn’t. I wish the film had more to say beyond what it literally says in the text at the very beginning. But there’s no question this film is a labor of love about a labor of love, and I enjoyed hanging out at eleven (!!!) different drive-ins for a while and getting to know the lovely people keeping them running.
Welcome to the season finale of The Last of Us. It’s been quite a journey, starting with the collapse of humanity and taking Joel and Ellie across the country in the hopes of saving it. Despite some complaints about the repetitive trauma the show wants to inflict on me each week, I think this show is great. Let’s get into the final episode.
The episode starts off with an extremely pregnant woman running through the woods, I assume because fungus zombies are after her. She makes it into an abandoned house, bars the bedroom door, and bears down as she goes into labor.
As she’s giving birth, an infected burst through the door. The woman tries to fend it off and stabs it with her switchblade. After finally dispatching it, she hears a baby’s cry. Her baby came out in the middle of the fight.
(Wow, HBO sure does love its traumatic birth scenes, huh? I recapped House of the Dragon last year, and I thought I was done with messy labor scenes. Nope! Thanks, guys. Super cool of you to just throw that in here.)
A few hours later, Marlene (remember Marlene? Boston Firefly Marlene?) and her Firefly crew finds the woman in the house. The baby is crying, because Anna (the mom) hasn’t fed her. Why? Well, turns out the infected bit her before she could kill it, and she didn’t want to pass it along to her baby, who she has named Ellie. She says the baby was born before she was bitten, but that seems unlikely.
So this is the birth of Ellie. Is this a clue as to why she’s immune? Is it because her mom got bitten during birth, and the umbilical cord filtered enough out? Hard to say, but it seems like that’s what is being implied here.
Anna makes Marlene promise to take care of Ellie. She gives Marlene her trusty switchblade to pass along to Ellie (knives are a great baby shower gift), and then implores Marlene to kill her before the infection takes hold. Marlene doesn’t want to do either. She can’t take care of a baby as a Firefly freedom fighter (which is probably why Ellie wound up in the FEDRA school), and she doesn’t want to kill her friend either. But after a moment, she does both.
Joel and Ellie make it to Salt Lake City. Ellie seems very withdrawn, probably because her encounters with the cannibal rapist religious community have left her more shaken than she wants to admit. Joel is being chattier than usual, trying to buoy her spirits. While scouting around for the Firefly hospital, they stumble across a herd of giraffes who are apparently living in an old football stadium.
Ellie is delighted and amazed, and Joel shows her how to feed them by holding out branches. While walking through an old army camp, Joel admits that the scar he got from the “person who missed” was from himself. He didn’t want to go on after his daughter, Sam, died, and he flinched as he pulled the trigger. This is a big admission from Joel, usually so reticent to share anything, but obviously, he has grown to care about Ellie. Ellie guesses that time heals all wounds, and Joel tells her it wasn’t time that cured him. Oh man, TLOU is making me feel things again.
Joel lightens the tone by saying he’s the mood for some really shitty puns. Ellie is only too happy to oblige. (“Why do moon rocks taste better than earth rocks? Because they’re meteor!” I agree, Joel, that’s a zero out of ten.) This whole section is lovely and sweet, but this is The Last of Us, and we aren’t allowed to have nice things, so their chat is interrupted by a flash-bang grenade.
Joel wakes up in a hospital bed, and, surprise! Marlene is there. She apparently survived the shootout at the end of episode one and also made her way out to Salt Lake City. Joel immediately asks where Ellie is and is told that she’s fine. She’s being prepped for surgery.
See, their doctor thinks that the cordyceps has been growing inside her since birth, and they’re sending out chemical messengers that tell the outside cordyceps that the host is already infected, so no need to come in. So, they’re going to take a sample of the cordyceps in Ellie and see if they can replicate those messengers.
Joel asks, “But… isn’t cordyceps in the brain?”
Yes, says Marlene. It sure is.
Joel has spent all this time protecting and caring for Ellie to get her to the Fireflies, assuming they were just going to draw her blood. Oh no! The friendly Fireflies are going to carve up her brain! And while maybe medical technology in our 2023 can easily take a brain sample with lasers and whatnot, I doubt that the medical standards of the post-apocalypse would be able to find a lot more than some whiskey and a rusty saw blade. But it’s cool! Ellie won’t feel a thing! Somehow sensing that Joel might not be happy about this, Marlene asks her security to escort him out of town, and once he’s there, to give him Ellie’s switchblade. You know, to remember all the good times.
As he’s being escorted out, Joel goes on a John Wick-style rampage, leaving a trail of dead Fireflies in his wake. This sequence is impeccably filmed, with the sorrowful music drowning out most of the dialogue and sound. Joel goes floor by floor, killing everyone he comes across, even the ones who throw down their arms and surrender. And when he finally gets to the doctor, who is starting up the ol’ bone saw as Joel bursts in, he’s got no time for his explanations. He shoots him as well and carries Ellie down to the garage.
Marlene is there, trying to stop him. She knows what he’s going through. (She really does, as we saw in the opening scene, killing her friend before she could turn into an infected.) She knows he wants to protect Ellie, but she’s going to grow up and move on, and what then? She tries to reason with Joel, telling her that Ellie would agree with her. That’s a bridge too far for Joel. He shoots her, and then double taps her and drives away.
As they drive off, Ellie wakes up. Joel tells her that they couldn’t find a cure from her blood. There were others who were immune, and they’ve been trying for a while, and they just couldn’t make it work, so now they’ve stopped trying. And they had to rush out because the hospital was being attacked by raiders. They head back to Wyoming to stay with Tommy. As they approach the compound, Ellie tells Joel her big emotional trauma. Joel had asked her in Kansas City if that had been the first time she had to kill someone. It wasn’t, The person she had to kill before was Riley. When they got bitten at the mall, they decided to lose their minds together and enjoy the time they had left. Of course, only Riley turned, so Ellie had to kill her. Everyone she has loved and trusted has died, and sometimes by her own hand. Joel tries to reassure her, but she demands that Joel swear that everything he told her about the Fireflies was true. (Which, of course, it wasn’t.) He swears, and after a moment, Ellie nods and says OK.
This was an amazing ending, full of the emotional connections between Ellie and Joel. And it is also an incredibly morally ambiguous conclusion, because sooner or later, Ellie will find out that Joel is lying. And what then?
The big question here—and one that my friend Christian Angeles has written about as well—is: Was Joel right? Or is he the villain?
The Previously On intro this week was a lot longer than usual and made a big deal of showing how the relationship between Joel and Ellie has evolved, from being reluctant companions (Joel telling Ellie that she’s “cargo” at one point) to genuinely trusting and caring about each other. Which seemed excessive. I’ve been watching the show. I have eyes. The theme of the show has not been subtle. Joel and Ellie have both suffered traumatic losses and are looking for reasons to keep on going. The message of the show has been—constantly—to hold on to what it is that keeps us human. Whether that is the romance of Bill and Frank, or Henry doing whatever he can to keep his little brother safe, or Joel risking his life to keep Ellie safe. So, narratively, the show is on Joel’s side. Protect your family above all.
But, Marlene has a point. If they can save humanity using Ellie’s brain tissue, isn’t that worth it? It’s the classic Vulcan principle—the lives of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. But it’s different when it’s Spock choosing to sacrifice himself. This is more like Kirk ordering Spock to his death without telling him why or that he’d even be in danger. And the Fireflies have proven themselves to be untrustworthy so far. Every promise of support and equipment has fallen through. In the one town that overthrew FEDRA (back in KC), the resistance proved to be just as brutal as the oppressors. And maybe their doctor can synthesize a vaccine in the filthy pediatric wing of a rundown hospital, but I wouldn’t bet my FEDRA ration cards on it.
So sure, in theory, Joel has made a bad decision for potentially extremely selfish reasons. (I’d love to see someone do a mashup of Vertigo and The Last of Us, where Jimmy Stewart is talking about his late wife and Joel is talking about his late daughter.) His dad-ness has trumped his rationality. It remains to be seen if his love for his surrogate daughter will cause the fall of mankind.
And I am excited to watch next season and find out.
Episode Rating 5 out of 5
Season Rating 4 out of 5
Line of the Week:
Ellie: People are making apocalypse jokes like there’s no tomorrow. Too soon?
While on paper the latest episode of Magnum P.I., “Welcome to Paradise, Now Die!”, isn’t that much more complex than last week’s, I still had a better time watching it. In large part, that’s because of the return of some of the show’s best characters—Apollo and Zeus, Higgins’ giant and fierce yet somehow lovable Doberman Pinschers.
“Welcome to Paradise, Now Die!” starts with a rare nighttime shot. We see a family enjoying their vacation to the fullest. Their young daughter is making sandcastles, they’re enjoying the fireworks, and dad goes to get a drink. He just doesn’t come back. Somehow, he disappears during the firework presentation, and his wife cannot figure out where he went. All she knows is he left his phone behind. Luckily for her, the man who runs security for their hotel is friends with Gordon Katsumoto, and she calls him in for advice.
Magnum is still poring over evidence about Greene’s murder, and is irritated there’s no fingerprints left on his body whatsoever. All they know is a black sedan had been following Greene before his death. When Higgins suggests they look into the shady harbormaster that T.C. encountered in the first episode of the season, it’s revealed he’s gone suspiciously missing as well. All they have going for them is that Higgy put in a request to MI6 to see what they can find, but that might be a bit of a wait. So they’re looking at a lot of dead ends for now.
A good chunk of the episode revolves around Rick being a complete goofball. He’s still staying at Robin’s guest house, but he’s not doing it like an adult. He’s built a full pillow fort to shield his eyes from the sun, and since it’s his first free day in a while, he’s lounging and more than a bit disheveled. Gordon gives him all the stink eye when he arrives, but that’s not why he’s there. He wants Magnum’s help with the case of the missing husband, though he’s very reluctant to play P.I. himself. Since there’s another client on their docket, Higgins and Magnum split up on different missions. While Magnum and Gordon investigate David’s disappearance, Higgins goes on a very different, canine-focused adventure.
Magnum and Gordie at first are perplexed by why David disappeared. According to his wife, Dana Carter, he was afraid of travel and possibly agoraphobic. Yet they find footage of him wandering through the hotel lobby, seemingly unafraid of contact with tons of people. They also quickly discover David had no credit history prior to 2010. Even more strangely, turns out the real David Carter died years ago, so the missing husband is actually someone else entirely. When they manage to get a print from his phone, turns out his real name is Cliff Bennet, and his old job was as a mob accountant. Which might explain why he’s suddenly on the run.
At first, Higgins feels her mission is somewhat lacking. She’s at a memorial for a dog named Hank, whose owner thinks he was murdered. It’s easy to dismiss Patty’s opinion, since she’s very full of herself and a bit of an emotional vampire. But she’s not far off the mark, and with the help of a dog autopsy (called a necropsy, apparently) found the cause of death for Hank were chemical burns, possibly from a concentrated toxin. Which leads to Kumu and Higgins taking Apollo and Zeus (referred to as “the lads”) and walking through a dog park Patty and Hank frequented for answers.
Many people point to the fact that Hank was a horny little monster, and Patty was annoying to almost everyone. Though none of the facts indicate any of the dog owners that frequent the park hated them enough to poison the poor pooch. Then Higgins hears from Patty, and it turns out Hank ate a lemon bar laced with poison. Which might mean the target of the poisoning was Patty. Some more sleuthing reveals Patty made the bars herself, though she recently had sugar delivered to her house. This means someone laced her sugar with rat poison. The question is, who? Their first suspect is her ex-fiancé, Owen.
As for Rick, he’s a space case. He’s making pancakes for himself, and sets aside some tiny ones for Magnum’s mouse friend, Roberto. Rick just makes the dumb mistake of opening his cage to get the pancakes inside. Which of course leads to Roberto escaping and Rick calling T.C. for help finding him. In their search, they find a golden necklace underneath Magnum’s bed and start speculating about him having a new girlfriend. What they’re not able to find is Roberto, who leads them on a merry chase.
Gordon and Magnum find David / Cliff staying at a seedy motel. When Magnum tries picking the lock, he’s answered by gunshots from inside. Turns out, David is terrified of being caught by his old mob boss, a man named Wells. He’s been hunting David since the previous night, and Magnum and Gordon barely avoid getting riddled with bullets. David escapes before they can catch him but calls the motel phone to warn them to stay away from his family, suspecting they work for Wells.
Higgy and Kumu talk with Owen, and level suspicions that he tried to kill Patty for her money. He says if he cared about money he never would have tried to marry Patty, since she’s getting hefty alimony checks from another ex named Patrick.
Thomas and Gordon try to talk with David’s family for answers, and find a crime scene instead. The couple’s little girl is hiding in a closet. Her mommy was packing luggage to leave after David called her on a burner phone, but Wells broke in first. Dana was able to hide her daughter for protection, but she wound up as a hostage in the bargain.
“Welcome to Paradise, Now Die!” ends with a couple of dramatic encounters. When Higgins and Kumu interrogate Patrick, they bring the cops along with them. Turns out, he wanted to stop paying alimony, so he tried to poison his ex. As for Magnum and Gordon, they find where Dana is being held, but David gets there first. Wells wants his money back, so David is setting up a transfer, asking only that Wells let his wife live. Lucky for him, Gordon serves as a distraction while Magnum sneaks up the rear door, and they get David and Dana rescued in one piece. When they’re leaving the scene, Gordon asks why Magnum wanted his help, and realizes it was to distract him from his upcoming hearing.
My favorite part of the episode are the last few moments. Kumu is surprised to find that Apollo and Zeus suddenly seem to like Magnum. In the past, Higgins took great joy in having them chase Magnum for fun. Now, they treat him like anybody else. When the team is all relaxing at the end, Rick is bereft about losing Roberto, until Magnum, smirking, points out he’s on top of his cage, eating a miniature stack of pancakes. And Higgins exclaims happily when she finds her necklace. Which leads to Rick and T.C. taking a sidebar to talk about how that means Magnum and Higgins are finally a couple.
The secret is finally out! A fun episode of Magnum P.I., and hopefully a sign of better things to come in Season 5.
Greetings fellow oscar-philes! It’s time for HOLLYWOOD’S BIGGEST NIGHT!!! ™
I have been an Oscar junkie since I was a teen. When I was a budding young film snob, I looked to the Oscars as a guide to “good” movies. Of course, as soon as I started watching the actual best pictures, I realized just how middlebrow and dull a lot of Oscar fare was. Still, things have gotten better as the academy membership has gotten younger and more diverse. Films like Parasite, Nomadland, and Shape of Water would never have won 50 years ago. Of course, things like Green Book still sneak in there…
I am a big fan of Everything Everywhere All At Once. Will it keep its streak of wins alive, or will more traditional Oscar fare like The Fabelmans pull an upset?
Let’s find out!
7:57 pm Early Oscar odds:
Over/under on awards for EEAAO: 6 (Over)
Over/under on Movies are Magic montages: 1.5 (Over)
Over/under on Mentions of THE SLAP: 8 (WAY OVER)
8:01 pm Oh joy. Jimmy Kimmel has inserted himself into the Oscar montage. This was hacky when Billy Crystal was doing it over a decade ago.
8:05 pm Good Nicole Kidman line: “Thank you for convincing people already at the movies to go to the movies.”
8:08 pm Kimmel’s doing fine with the monologue, but it reminds me of how much I didn’t miss a host in the years they went without one. Nothing of value was lost.
8:11 pm First reference to the Slap! Drink! (A joke about the irish cast of Banshees getting into a fight onstage)
Of course, last year’s awards were most notable for Will Smith’s slap of Chris Rock after Rock made jokes about his wife’s alopecia. The reaction on twitter was fascinating.
White film twitter: “They should arrest that brute Will Smith!”
Black twitter: “Chris Rock’s mouth wrote a check his ass couldn’t cash.”
8:15 pm: Oh, here we go, heavy Slap joke time. I think we just passed the over already. Maybe not drink after each one, since you’ll be dead if you do.
8:18 pm: After the slap, the most jokes are about how long the oscars are. Hey, I know how we can cut it down…
I do like the idea that we’ll have the Naatu Naatu dancers usher you off stage if you go long.
8:20 Our first award goes to… Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. I love that we have to add the GDT qualifier so we don’t confuse it with the horrible Disney remake.
8:26 pm: Our first Best Picture nominee is Avatar: The Way of Water. It looks great, but I’ve felt no real compulsion to go see it. I’ll probably catch it at home on Disney+, just the way James Cameron intended
8:28 pm: Troy Kotsur and Ariana DeBose present the Supporting Actor awards. And no jokes about her BAFTA rapping! Amazing!
8:30 pm: I am pulling hard for Ke Huy Kwan to win. He was the heart of the movie, and his “laundry and taxes” speech breaks me every time.
And he does! I do not have to burn Hollywood down! Hooray!
His speech is wonderful. And his role in the movie is a beautiful reminder that positivity will trump nihlism. Which is a needed message
8:35 pm: Supporting Actress has no clear favorite. While all are great, I am rooting for Angela Bassett because, come on, it’s Angela Bassett.
8:37 pm: Jamie Lee Curtis wins in a minor upset! She hadn’t won any of the precursor awards. Even though I thought her role in EEAAO was pretty broad compared to the others, I’m fine with her winning. This was her first nomination after an impressive career and it’s as much a lifetime award as anything else.
And if EEAAO is winning here, it could be an 11-for-11 kind of night.
8:40 pm: Our first Best Song entry is from a film I guarantee you’ve never heard of. It’s Applause from Tell it Like a Woman. This is perfectly ok, generic pop song. It’s aggressively fine. It was only nominated because it was written by 14 time nominee Diane Warren. It’s annoying because it kept the far better boy band pastiches from Turning Red off the ballot. I mean, they’re all going to lose to Naatu Naatu anyway, but still…
8:48 pm: Our next nominee is Tar! This looks great and I’ve been meaning to watch this. Probably the only nominee that has had more memes about it than tickets sold.
8:50 pm: Best documentary time, which was the award Rock was presenting when Will Smith, well, you know. So of course, more Will Smith jokes! (Seriously, stop drinking. You’ll hurt yourself.)
I’ve seen none of these nominees, so I hope that the winner – Navalny – is good. I hear good things! It’s on HBO!
8:54 pm: They better not play off the wife of the political prisoner…
8:55 pm: I haven’t seen the live action shorts, and neither have you. Make an effort to seek them out! La pupile is on Disney+! The winner is An Irish Goodbye. So at least some Irish people will get an award tonight if Banshees gets shut out.
The directors using their time to sing Happy Birthday to one of their team is the most Irish thing that could happen.
8:58 pm: So Disney is really going to use the Oscars to promote their Little Mermaid remake, huh? Tacky.
And I can’t be the only one who thinks of Halle Berry every time they introduce Hallie Berry, right?
9:02 pm: All Quiet on the Western Front is nominee #3. I loved the book when I read it in high school, not sure if I need to see yet another War is Hell movie.
9:04 pm: Jonathan Majors is rocking the tailcoat and I am here for it.
9:05 pm: Cinematography has a couple Oscar-baity films that did not get any other nominations – Bardo and Empire of Light. Sorry, but they don’t win here. All Quiet picks up the award here.
9:08 pm: The next song is from EEAAO, This is a Life, by David Byrne. And I love that they have David Byrne wearing the hot dog fingers. I don’t love how bad he and Stephanie sound together though.
9:15 pm: The next nominee is Women Talking, about a colony of Mennonite women who are debating whether or not to leave the abusive men in their community. I’ve been a fan of Sarah Polley since I saw The Adventures of Baron Munchausen years ago, so I hope she wins a screenplay award.
9:17 pm: Time for hair and make up. I hope Elvis wins, but the Academy loves it some fat suits, so the Whale probably wins.
And the Whale wins. Ugh. “It was so hard to dehumanize this guy! Thank you!”
9:21 pm: Wow, it must grind Disney’s gears to a Warner Brothers 100th anniversary feature on the Oscars! Don’ t they know it’s Disney’s centennial! How dare they!
Anyway, here’s our first Movies Are Magic montage.
9:23 pm: I haven’t commented much on the clothes the presenters are wearing. That’s because they’ve mostly been.. fine. People are too afraid of being made fun of on E! and Twitter to revive Bjork’s Swan Dress.
9:25 pm: The next nominee is The Banshees of Inisherin, and I have heard that it is both a funny black comedy and extremely depressing. So, very Irish.
9:27: Costumes are next. For once, we don’t have a ton of period dramas in here, which usually win because they look complicated. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever wins here, just like the first Black Panther did.
9:31 pm: It’s Naatu Naatu time! I loved RRR, and this song is the only one nominated to take place in the movie as part of the plot. (If you haven’t yet, go watch it NOW.)
9:33 pm: New rule: If your song doesn’t have suspender-based choreography, what are you even doing?
9:35 pm: My wife: “Look at the cameras panning around trying to find Asian people in the audience.”
9:39 pm: Time for AMAPS to pat themselves on the back. Oh, and hype the museum. Slightly less tacky than Disney hijacking the telecast for their trailer, but still. Does this count as a Movies are Magic montage? Sure, why not.
9:42 pm: Hey let’s get two international actors to present best international film! That’s not tokenism at all! All Quiet picks up the award as expected.
9:45 pm: So far, the ceremony has been fine. No huge surprises, but no train wrecks either. Last year was horrid, even before The Slap. The academy was trying desperately to be “hip” and “edgy,” presenting the minor awards before the telecast, having dumb internet polls that got manipulated by Zach Snyder fans (The Flash Enters The Speed Force should be a phrase that lives in infamy in the halls of AMPAS), and presenters like famous movie stars Shaun White and Tony Hawk. So competent and fine is a huge step up from all that nonsense.
9:50 pm: The Fabelmans is the next nominee, Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film about a young Jewish boy who wants to be a director. It’s funny, I’m old enough to remember when people were asking “why is the Academy constantly snubbing Spielberg?” And now, he’s essentially Oscar royalty.
9:52 pm Documentary short! The Elephant Whisperers wins. I wish they could do a little bit more involved introduction to each of these nominees since 99% of the audience has not seen any of them.
9:54 pm: Animated short! My Year of Dicks and An Ostrich Told Me The World is Fake and I Think I Believe Him are the two best titles of the year. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse wins. Wow, super long titles in this category.
9:58 pm: Lady Gaga performs her song from Top Gun: Maverick. Shallow was legitimately one of the best Best Song winners ever, so this might be the only real competition RRR has in the category.
10:06 pm: Up next, the satiric black comedy Triangle of Sadness. It’s on Hulu now, and I’m excited to watch some rich people get eaten.
10:07 pm: It’s Four Weddings reunion with Andie McDowell and Hugh Grant! Hugh is as fumblingly charming as ever.
Production Design is next, and All Quiet wins its third award of the night. Hmm, this won big at the BAFTAs, is this the movie that takes down EEAAO? I’m skeptical, but a little surprised it’s won as many as it has so far.
10:11 pm: Best Score! If All Quiet wins here, there could be a real upset brewing…
And it does! Will this portend some major awards later in the evening, or is it this year’s Dune, cleaning up in the technical awards?
10:21 pm: The next Best Picture nominee is Elvis. I am a big fan of Baz Luhrman’s wild aethsetic, and I was thrilled to let it wash over me in theatres.
10:23 pm: Elizabeth Banks and Cocaine Bear come out to present Best Special Effects. And, gotta say, the effect-free Cocaine Bear is not without its charms. Avatar wins here, stopping the All Quiet train, at least momentarily.
10:27 pm: Oh joy. Crowd work. Top notch comedy, Jimmy.
10:29 pm: The final song nominee is Lift Me Up, by Rihanna, from Wakanda Forever. I know this is a tribute to Chadwick, but it’s kind of a dirge.
10:37 pm: Everything Everywhere All At Once is the next BP nominee. And I really love this movie. It’s my favorite film of the year and I am frankly amazed that the Academy gave 11 nominations to this weird, SF action-comedy. And not only that, it’s favored!
10:39 pm: Screenplays! EEAAO could win here, but both Tar and Banshees have strong supporters.
And EEAAO wins! I am feeling better about their chances and less worried about yet another war movie winning. And Daniel Kwan’s jacket is awesome! (See? A rare fashion post from me!)
Adapted screenplay is next, and I am really hoping Sarah Polley wins. She probably won’t but, hope springs eternal.
And Women Talking wins! Hooray! And her tux looks great! I thought writers were supposed to be schlubby. I mean, that’s always been my excuse.
10:46 pm: Ok, we’re down to the last 6 awards and the In Memoriam montage. Hopefully we get done before 11:30 because I still have to watch The Last of Us and do a recap. (Uh, by the way, editors, that TLOU recap’s gonna be a lilttle late…)
10:50 pm: The last BP nominee is Top Gun: Maverick, aka The Film That Saved The Movies. Ok, if we’re giving this sequel a nomination for Best Pic because it made a lot of money, they why didn’t Spider-Man: No Way Home get a nomination last year? If you suggested that, you were utterly unserious, but Tom Cruise saved movies, everyone.
10:53 pm: Best Costume was just taken back from Black Panther and given to the designer who kept Janelle Monae’s boobs in her dress.
10: 54 pm: Best sound goes to Top Gun, and that movie lives or dies on the jet engines so I am not surprised.
10:56 pm: Best song! RRR! Really, the only logical choice. This is the first Indian song to win and it’s well deserved. Go watch that video again! The songwriter says he grew up listening to the Carpenters and sings a delightful acceptance speech.
10:59 pm: It’s time for the In Memoriam section. Which name will be left out and cause an uproar on twitter? John Travolta does a nice intro, working in a shout out to his late co-star, Olivia Newton-John.
The shocking part of this montage is always seeing someone that I had forgotten had passed away. (Irene Cara? Wolfgang Petersen? Oh right…)
In past years, they’ve done some silly camera work, panning around the stage with the names on a screen in the background. Thankfully, they just show the names without distractions.
11:06 pm: Editing! EEAAO deservedly wins, which means it has now tied All Quiet for most overall. Just the big four left!
11:11 PM: Idris Elba and Nicle Kidman come out to present Best Director. Man, Elba looks so dapper. It’s a crime he didn’t get to play James Bond yet. (New Luther movie on Netflix, though!)
The Daniels win for EEAAO! Hooray for weird SF movies getting their day! (If you haven’t, be sure to check out Swiss Army Man. It’s the previous film these guys made and features Harry Potter’s farting corpse being ridden like a jet ski by Paul Dano. No I will not explain.)
11:20 pm: Lead Actors! Usually the past year’s winners present these awards, yet Will Smith isn’t here… Strange. I wonder what happened…
People really want Brendan Fraser to win an award, but it’d be a shame to give it to him for such a maudlin and fatphobic movie. He’s in a Scorsese film this summer! Why not wait till then?
Ugh, the Academy cannot resist “brave” performances and fat suit acting.
“Bold movie.” Yes, fat suit acting is very bold in Hollywood. Eye roll.
11:25 pm: Best actress has been a two person contest between Cate Blanchett for Tar and Michelle Yeoh for EEAAO. Although it would be hilarious if Andrea Riseborough won after her nomination came out of absolutely nowhere powered by a social media campaign of actors.
Michelle Yeoh wins! Which means that EEAAO has won three of the four acting nominations it received, only losing to itself in Supporting Actress. What was the last movie to win three acting oscars? Google tells me that it was Network, and the only other one was Streetcar Named Desire. That’s pretty illustrious company!
Yeoh’s speech is as inspiring as you’d hope it to be. In fact, all the speeches tonight have been pretty good. It’s nice to see a good solid B ceremony after the psat couple of years.
11:30 PM: Time for Best Picture! I’m a little nervous. EEAAO is the favorite, but All Quiet has won enough that an upset isn’t out of the question. But Han Solo is presenting the award, and Han Solo wouldn’t let me down right?
He does not! Everything Everywhere All At Once is your Best Picture for 2022!
This is honestly such a pleasant surprise for me. I grew up watching one bloated historical epic after another win Best Picture – Gandhi! Out of Africa! Chariots of Fire! It’s honestly amazing that something with world-destroying bagels and butt-plug karate won. Heck, it wasn’t that long ago that a film like this would’ve had to be content with a Best Screenplay nomination and nothing else (like another weird SF comedy romance that was my favorite film the year it came out, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.) So congratulations to this wonderful movie!
11:37 pm: And that’s it for the 95th Academy Awards! Thanks for hanging out!
Overall, this was a vast improvement over the chaos of last year. Even without the Slap, last year’s broadcast was full of stupid gimmicks and stunts that only alienated the core viewership in order to chase a larger audience of mythical cool kids. This year, they kept the schtick to a minimum and instead focused on the awards. (Shocking I know.)
For the most part, Kimmel kept it moving. The show never dragged, there weren’t any truly bad jokes or cringey moments. A very competent effort, and after last year’s F I will happily take a solid B.
I’m starting to lose faith in Carnival Row. Not because of the acting, mind you, as the performances (especially, from the extended supporting cast) have been rather solid. But rather, because almost every episode seems to be repeating its own plot points lately: Cops and Black Ravens fight, the Sparas go on to murder someone, and then a romance gets teased.
Whereas last week saw the introduction of the Sparas, probably what bothers me about that aftermath was Philo’s punishment from the police. His sentence? To solve the murders in Carnival Row… Essentially, exactly what he’s been doing this entire time.
How this plays out is rather silly in episode 7, as detective Legolas chooses to walk the fence of who am I? Human or Fae? Yet again, effectively making a call but then reneging on it out of uncertainty about what to do…
We break it down in our review.
Episode 7 Review
In what seems like a promising Agreus and Imogen episode, the family begins with a jig and a beer… along with executing their plan to escape Ragusa, though their efforts go in vain. Whether it’s a bunch of Black Raven Faeries disrupting Philo’s grand announcement to Parliament about his status as the Chancellor’s other son, or last week when we decided England didn’t need a government… a common recurrence of this series are plans never going accordingly. This week, is no exception.
Philo, meanwhile, spends much of his time this week regretting his decision to support the humans, pretending to us the audience, that he’s actually made a choice to begin with. Spanked into sensibility, he’s bailed out by Darius a few times in this episode while losing himself on a bender.
Meanwhile, Darius is strangely becoming the show’s most realistically portrayed character outside of Millworthy. Because yes, Darius acknowledges how Carnival Row is garbage and knows that just about everyone is kind of trash. Especially, the government. This shows growth. Something Philo’s character is really struggling with this season.
In fact, of everyone in the series, Philo’s arguably the worst given that he’s still choosing to stay middle ground. No matter how much hate he’s experienced or the beatings he’s taken. The Detective still chooses to do his duty, and broker peace, for literally no reward. In fact, in this one, Philo’s detective story of the week seeks out a now-powerful Mr. Millworthy at Parliament, all for a major request for safe passage to Tirnanoc. Not just for his friends… but all the fae. It’s a little disturbing the level of white savior complex this entails until we remember that Millworthy, sort of knows Philo’s a thankless hero-of-sorts looking out for everyone for the sake of… actually, we don’t know anymore.
Maybe he’s just a good guy? The show has sort of lost Philo’s motivation in doing the right thing as he’s lost everything by now. Both his cop status and girlfriend defined his very, somewhat shallow, depth of character. Still, Philo refuses to go with the Fae back to their homeland.
Vignette meanwhile, spends much of this one finding ways to smuggle Tourmaline out of The Row (which is sad, because I’m at this point, team Darius+Tourmaline). I’m not fully buying their romance and I will say at this point, Vignette’s character arc has gotten rather terrible. She’s only helping her best friend and one-time lover’s salvation as a last-second redemption story for her own mistakes. She’s trying to sell to us that she’s a decent person. She kind of isn’t though. And a lot of her failures leading the Black Raven have led to most of the terrible atrocities we’ve seen these past few episodes. Likewise, I’m also not buying the chemistry between Vignette and Tourmaline.
In fact, there’s this scene in the middle of the episode where the characters ask themselves how did we get here? Get where, exactly, because we… didn’t really go anywhere. If anything, issues have only gotten worse regarding hate crimes in the city.
On the positive, what I really like about this episode is the focus on the people during the second half. I think the series works best examining class and political intrigue. With the best moments of this episode being the hatred of humans on the Row against the Fae. Especially, given the assassination of the chancellor (and also, just general racism).
The show works best when it actually addresses its townfolks and politics, compared to, the irritating-by-now love story that often moves in circles. Effectively wasting all of our time.
In fact, there’s a scene where Vignette talks to someone who’s been at the Row her entire life, realizing, that there’s a charm to being a first-wave immigrant in a new world. Sure, it’s a shanty, rundown sort of living… but it’s THEIR rundown sort of living. Something we see Darius later confirm regarding the city’s charm.
Honestly, this is what I think audiences like about the show. Though what happens by this episode’s conclusion? Well… it’s not that.
That ending is sort of the last two episodes on repeat. Which has me worried.
Mother of Dragons. Daughter of Aristocrats. Tamzin Merchant absolutely delivers in this episode with a subtle yet riveting performance. A character who’s had to adapt to her situation, I love how much the character has grown this season. As Imogen Spurnrose has become the most changed person in the series, gone from spoiled aristocrat to a woman who has found her independence… and is willing to do anything to keep it.
Now, I was told not to spoil a lot about what happens in parts of this episode. So I’m restricted to only a few somethings that I can say regarding what’s impressive about it. Which is the levels of stops they pull out in this one. In fact, I’ll just share it: there’s a freakin’ active flamethrower they use in this episode! And not the special effects kind either.
Why this is happening and under what context, I cannot share for embargo purposes, but I will say, that this one is a very Agreus-and-Imogen-focused episode, with so much of it focused on their survival and how they maneuver through what is essentially a revolution.
Episode 8 Review
It’s fair to say Carnival Row has entered Game of Thrones levels of shock value. The ravages of war, and what it means to fight for your rights in a world that won’t acknowledge it, showcases much of the coming conflict in just how much our characters strive to escape the inevitable: Humans vs. Fae war that feels on the horizon.
What’s interesting is in seeing how much of that puts these characters into the light. Where Agreus shares a heartbreaking origin story that fans really cannot miss. How his history of escaping indentured servitude, and working his way out of his chains by bounty hunting and selling his fellow Fae, details a dark history. All for the sake of building a reputation. Which… is something we’ve sort of known about. Just never the level of detail.
Comparing it to Imogen’s origins of her wild spinster days (whatever that means to an aristocrat, though I’m assuming she was more or less the Paris Hilton of her generation), a big theme of this episode is how the two deserved one another… and not in a good way. Though how this plays out and what happens within the story, I’m not a big fan about, as it’s pretty evident that the show is doing the one thing I’ve been complaining about for two weeks again: playing off the will-they/won’t-they romances I’ve come to grow to hate in the series. The fact that we’re starting to pull that card with the show’s most healthiest and emblematic of peace couple? Is a big no in my book.
As for Ezra, he proves to be a sniveling douche-hat, much like how he’s been portrayed as most of this season. Seeing him go along for the journey is a bit of a mess. As this is someone ill-suited for conflict, let alone warfare. Meanwhile, Leonora, the New Dawn leader Satyr, does something unprecedented.
For the first time in the season… we finally start to see the storylines cross regarding Imogen and Agreus’ story, finally intermixing with Philo and Vignette’s. Given the outcome of the last episode, things are a mess, and a large secret is revealed regarding yet another betrayal. I think this might have worked earlier in the season. Now? It sort of restarts the storyline yet again. Tipping the scales again regarding who’s evil. And who’s morally right?
The best things about this episode were its performances. It’s also nice to see the Imogen and Agreus story finally resolved because I think any longer along their side story, it might have gotten stale. As for New Dawn and what’s happening… I can’t say that it’s all that surprising. Especially, as the series reaches its natural conclusion with the final two episodes.
Last year, Steve and Sam became separate Captain Americas leading to two branching storylines in Marvel comics with Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty and Captain America: Symbol of Truth. Finally, we’ll see the two reunite in a crossover that puts everything in the Captain modern lore at their ends. All for a story that sees the return of Ian Rogers, the White Wolf, and more.
In the new trailer that just debuted fans can spot Bucky and White Wolf making their deadly alliance. Surprising betrayals happen as the battle lines are drawn, the massive armies of Dimension Z, and more!
The revolution begins in CAPTAIN AMERICA: COLD WAR ALPHA #1 on April 12!
CAPTAIN AMERICA: SENTINEL OF LIBERTY #11 – Cold War Prelude – 75960620168601111
Written by COLLIN KELLY & JACKSON LANZING
Art and Cover by CARMEN CARNERO
On Sale 4/5
CAPTAIN AMERICA: COLD WAR ALPHA #1– Cold War Part 1 – 75960620603200111
Written by COLLIN KELLY, JACKSON LANZING & TOCHI ONYEBUCHI
Art by CARLOS MAGNO
Cover by PATRICK GLEASON
On Sale 4/12
CAPTAIN AMERICA: SYMBOL OF TRUTH #12 – Cold War Part 2 – 75960620279901211
Written by TOCHI ONYEBUCHI
Art and Cover by R.B. SILVA
On Sale 4/26
CAPTAIN AMERICA: SENTINEL OF LIBERTY #12 – Cold War Part 3- 75960620168601211
Written by COLLIN KELLY & JACKSON LANZING
Art by ALINA EROFEEVA
Cover by CARMEN CARNERO
On Sale 5/17
CAPTAIN AMERICA: SYMBOL OF TRUTH #13 – Cold War Part 4 – 75960620279901311
Written by TOCHI ONYEBUCHI
Art and Cover by R.B. SILVA
On Sale 5/31
CAPTAIN AMERICA: SENTINEL OF LIBERTY #13– Cold War Part 5
Written by COLLIN KELLY & JACKSON LANZING
Art by ALINA EROFEEVA
Cover by CARMEN CARNERO
On Sale 6/7
CAPTAIN AMERICA: COLD WAR OMEGA #1 – Cold War Finale
Written by COLLIN KELLY, JACKSON LANZING & TOCHI ONYEBUCHI
Art by CARLOS MAGNO
Cover by PATRICK GLEASON
On Sale 6/14
CAPTAIN AMERICA: SYMBOL OF TRUTH #14– Cold War Aftermath
Not too long ago, we covered a new take on the Hulk in Hulk Annual #1 by David Pepose and Caio Majado. Now courtesy of horror scribe Phillip Kennedy Johnson (Alien, Marvel Zombies: Resurrection) and artist Nic Klein, we’ll be treated to a Hulk unlike any we’ve seen on June 21 of this year.
Incredible Hulk #1 begins the Age of Monsters, and infuses the series with horror of many varieties, as can be seen below:
“Phillip and I put a big serving of monsters, a bit of eldritch gods, a good dash of suspense, and some cool new characters into the cauldron,” Klein added. “We’re trying to serve up a Hulk the readers haven’t seen before. And if they like it half as much as I’m enjoying drawing it, they’re gonna love it.”
This series will also see Hulk at war with himself, as the furious green monster tries to take control of Banner’s body permanently. Meanwhile a sinister immortal turns every monster in the Marvel universe against Banner and Hulk. It’ll all culminate in the attempted release of the Mother of Horrors. Can Hulk and an unlikely new ally stop this threat to existence itself?
Those unwilling to wait a few more months can get a preview of Incredible Hulk #1 in the Hulk Annual #1 this May 17th. For everybody else, check your comic book stands in June to read this intense sounding story arc!
Written by PHILLIP KENNEDY JOHNSON
Art and Cover by NIC KLEIN
While Scream VI may not have wowed me as much as Scream or Scream did—or even as much as Scream 4 did—screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick and directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett deliver a solid requel sequel to continue this franchise’s legacy as being possibly the most consistently strong horror movie franchise ever.
Sam, Tara, Mindy, and Chad—I admit I completely forgot Chad existed in the year since watching and loving the last Scream movie, but now this movie really wants me to care about him and his cute romance with Tara, so…I did, mostly because of the cute romance with Tara and because of his dorky insistence on dubbing themselves the Core Four—have all fled Woodsboro for New York City. Tara, Mindy, and Chad all chose to go to college together, which makes sense, but Sam…chose to follow her sister to protect her. Which also makes sense since that was what she did in the last movie. While they’ve become a little trauma-bonded family, Sam’s dealing with the additional trauma of fearing she might become a killer like her father.
Melissa Barrera inhabits the role of Final Girl well, really grounding the film as Neve Campbell did in her years leading the franchise. (While Campbell is naturally missed and I give her props for knowing her worth, I think it’s good that the film focuses more on the new characters as they forge their own paths. Courtney Cox is still here, though, and I feel like Gale Weathers may be her true legacy. Monica who?) I love that Barrera and Jenna Ortega are the new faces of this franchise, as the sisterly relationship between Sam and Tara provides compelling and emotional material for both of them. I don’t think horror movies (or movies in general) explore sisters enough, and the evolution of their relationship in this film feels authentic. These films have always been so character-centric, and they allow their characters to respond to trauma in different ways, so the fact that Sam chooses to dwell on it and Tara chooses to ignore it causes a rift between them. But they actually have mature conversations about it! And it gets to the point where they can communicate the strength of their connection with a single look.
As for Mindy and Chad, they…also exist. Mindy’s certainly fun as the new Randy, and Chad, as I noted, is named Chad. Jasmin Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding do endearing work, though. But wait, what’s this? Is that…is that KIRBY REED getting an audience cheer like she was a fucking MCU cameo? Hayden Panettierre’s having fun in her first time onscreen since 2016, and Kirby adds a fun energy to this installment as a kind of bridge between the two eras, not one of the OG legacy characters but introduced in the middle. And then there’s a whole host of new characters to be suspects/victims played by the likes of Dermot Mulroney (or Dylan McDermott, who can tell), Liana Liberato (better here than she was in The Beach House), Jack Champion (less good here than he was in Avatar: The Way of Water), Josh Segarra (about as good here as he was on She-Hulk: Attorney at Law), Henry Czerny, Devyn Nekoda, and…an actor or two I won’t name because they were delightful surprises in the fantastic opening scene, so tense and surprising the rest of the film failed to match its inventiveness.
With Scream, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett channeled Wes Craven with their viscerally tense sequences of almost unbearable suspense, and while I was certainly clutching my hands together tightly at times, I didn’t feel that sense of bravura filmmaking this time around. It’s missing a lot of the slow burn misdirection I enjoy so much in these films, opting instead for a Ghostface that reveals himself with a flash and then stalks his prey in a confined space. Roger L. Jackson, whose voice acting is as essential to the success of this series as Brad Dourif’s is to Child’s Play, never fails to chill, however. The filmmakers promised a more aggressive Ghostface, and goddamn, Ghostface be stabbing. Stab stab stabbity stab, that’s what Ghostface does in this movie a LOT, and it really gets across the sense of a human being turned into meat. The kills hurt, the sheer brutality of the violence leaping off the screen even if you’re not seeing the movie in 3D. A sequence where Sam and Tara must evade Ghostface in a bodega is particularly terrifying, as is the lengthy build-up to an inevitable attack on the subway. Look, when Ghostface takes Manhattan, you’re gonna get all the New York hits. I can’t believe no one’s killed while eating a bagel.
As far as the meta angle of this installment, the word of the day is franchise, so Mindy gets to explain what the rules of franchises are, which is weird because this series has been a franchise for a while and also because pretty much every “rule” she mentions, the film just tosses them out the window. Except for the one about beheading. It’s also frustrating that everyone refers to Ghostface as “he” even though Ghostface has been a single man once ever, and the movie even points it out! Hell, the movie points out every single Ghostface that has ever been, so it’s clear that it’s usually a pair of killers and also usually one male and one female, so you’d think by this point, they would be suspecting people in pairs. Of course, this slasher whodunnit has you suspecting basically every character, so of course if you suspect every character, you will be right some of the time. And yet the Ghostface reveal still manages to surprise!
Unfortunately, the Ghostface motivation is super weak. The primary motivation makes sense but has been done before, and the social commentary in the obligatory monologue feels like an afterthought, a real letdown after the previous film managed to be so smart and incisive in this format. That being said, I still enjoyed the hell out of the wild fuckin’ third act because of its constant twists and the sheer force of Our Heroes fighting back. They have really just had it with these motherfucking Ghostfaces in this motherfucking franchise. It’s extremely satisfying and crowd-pleasing from both a character standpoint and a deliriously gory violence standpoint.
It sounds like they want to keep on cranking out more Scream movies, and I don’t know how much more internal bleeding these characters can sustain, but if they keep making them with as much care and craft as this, I’ll keep watching them.
Artist Bryan Hitch teased the upcoming Contest of Chaos last week with a promotional image, but this summer the new Marvel Comics saga is live and ready to start trouble! Agatha Harkness, following her thrilling part in Midnight Suns, is hellbent on making a new Darkhold and if that means using chaos magic, then so be it. With lead writer Stephanie Phillips (Rogue & Gambit, Cosmic Ghost Rider) at the helm, Contest of Chaos will span multiple annuals over the summer bringing along a host of all-star creators, starting with Scarlet Witch Annual #1.
A spin-off from Steve Orlando and Sara Pichelli’s hit, ongoing series, Scarlet Witch, Scarlet Witch Annual #1 will see Orlando back in the writer’s seat with art by Carlos Nieto—known most recently for his debut Murderworld: Wolverine. The prelude centers around Agatha, back from rejuvenation with bold new ideas for the Marvel Universe, as she reunites with her former pupil Scarlet Witch after her long absence. Wanda has recently absorbed Chthon, and Agatha’s got some words of warning for her. But Wanda’s grown up a lot since they last met, and Agatha’s motives aren’t what they seem. The collision of these massive magical powers will have far-reaching consequences that stretch across special annual editions of Marvel’s trendiest ongoing titles.
The Contest of Chaos annuals will be battle royales orchestrated by Agatha in an effort to harness Chaos magic so she can finally sit on the throne among the universe’s greatest sorcerers. These mystically-charged challenges will see some of your favorite heroes fighting for her twisted cause. Wolverine, Spider-Man, Venom, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Cyclops, Storm, Moon Knight, Ghost Rider, Human Torch, Taegukgi, Ghost-Spider, White Fox, and Deadpool will be corrupted by chaos then made to fight each other in a bloody tournament! With each annual comes a new matchup that promises to be more thrilling than the one before it, building to an epic finale care of Agatha’s master plan to turn Marvel magic on its head!
“CONTEST OF CHAOS is the kind of story I would absolutely sprint to the comic store to buy as a reader,” Phillips said. “There’s action, mystery, magic, and my favorite characters from all over the Marvel Universe. To be spearheading the storyline is just incredibly cool for me as a creator. It’s going to be big with ramifications for the larger universe… See you this summer – THWIP!”
Check out Russell Dauterman’s SCARLET WITCH ANNUAL #1 cover below and stay tuned for more news about CONTEST OF CHAOS!
SCARLET WITCH ANNUAL #1 – “Contest of Chaos” Prelude
Last week, the Titan was left hurtling into the abyss, and a Changeling saboteur was revealed. This week’s episode, “No Win Scenario”, picks up right where we left off. The ship is draining power and doesn’t have the juice to get out, and with certain death on the horizon, Picard attempts to connect with his son while Riker and Shaw confront past demons. Meanwhile, Seven of Nine searches for the saboteur, and Beverly holds down the fort in sick bay. And…
… that’s it. That’s the whole episode. Oh, and of course, all the dimly lit close-ups of character confessions are interspersed with “Aha!” moments in the effort to get out of this space anomaly. Because this is only the fourth episode, and there’s no way Picard is going down just yet when the whole show is named after him. (Side note: Can’t help noticing that it’s the badass ladies who’re still looking for ways to survive while the menfolk argue and mope).
And if you were hoping for more Worf quips and Raffi adventures, you’re out of luck. Nary a frame so much as acknowledges their existence.
Look, I get that the point of this episode was to quiet down the plot so the show could explore the characters a bit more. Picard trying to connect with Jack, how Picard’s past informs him (through some flashbacks to the admiral getting ambushed by young fans at a restaurant, and stories about his past misadventures), why Shaw has a problem with Picard, what went wrong between Riker and Troi… I like a good “get ’em in the feels” moment as much as anyone, but this week’s episode went a bit overboard, without much plot in between (despite there still being enormous mystery boxes left to open). There were a few moments where it felt like the editing department was desperately stretching out the runtime by cutting to various reaction shots.
Seven of Nine’s efforts to find the changeling saboteur, and the crew’s eleventh-hour attempts to find a way out of the anomaly, all felt like afterthoughts. Nearly nothing was revealed about the overarching plot that’s been hinted at. We get a moment where Vadic is ordered to continue pursuing Jack, and a teaser at the end of the episode that Jack might be harboring a dangerous secret, though they didn’t feel surprising or interesting (I mean, we knew from the start that there was something up with Jack, and that Vadic was hell-bent on getting her hands on him).
I was surprised by how flat the dialogue between Picard and Jack felt, save for a brief moment where Jack tries to break the ice by asking about the hair situation. The two retire to a holodeck version of Ten Forward (kept running on a separate battery from the rest of the dying ship because, according to dubious show logic, the crew needs some place to escape in dire moments). Maybe it’s because this reunion has been agonizingly dragged out over four entire episodes. There’s nothing new to be said.
The resolution to the episode did feel very classic Next Generation, which was a nice throwback. And Shaw really steals the show, despite (or because of) being given the asshole cut. In contrast to the lofty Next Generation legends, his down-to-earth jerkitude makes him oddly relatable. He doesn’t pretend to be anything he isn’t; he knows he’s a jerk. One of my favorite moments in this episode was seeing him and Seven interact. Neither is a fan of the other, but they’ll deal with each other to get the job done.
Really, the four episodes of Picard that have aired so far could have been a two-parter, and would have been better off for it. Here’s hoping next week’s episode picks up the pace, and moves the story forward instead of repeatedly rehashing the past in a way that even Picard seems weary of.
Publisher Wired Productions and Australian Game Development Studio, Epiphany Games, today launch Tiny Troopers: Global Ops on PC, PlayStation 5, the Xbox family of devices, Nintendo Switch and Utomik.
Woohoo! The team’s back together! In this multi-million selling game, players can battle alone or team-up in couch & online co-op with friends on ANY (!!!) available platform to climb the worldwide leaderboards. Ushering through the doors to cross-play co-op action, the twin-stick shooter is launching today from £15.99 / €19.99 / $19.99.
Tiny Troopers: Global Ops presents the same explosive, itty-bitty action fans of the iconic line have come to enjoy, but now there’s a host of brand new features and a stupendous campaign with over 50 international missions. Fight enemies with a lethal arsenal of weapons including machine guns, rocket launchers, even flamethrowers or giddy up for vehicular combat.
To mark the release of Tiny Troopers: Global Ops, Black Razor Records has teamed up with War Child on a brand-new track from Ivar & The Horde that will release on March 24th. The song, titled “Broken Walls”, is an incredibly powerful call to action that stirs up rebellion and hope, inspired by the game. All proceeds will be gifted to War Child in their efforts to support children affected by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. For more information please visit: www.BlackRazorRecords.com
Tiny Troopers: Global Ops is available on PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Utomik in both a standard edition for £15.99 / €19.99 / $19.99 and digital deluxe edition available for PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S which includes Tiny Troopers: Global Ops, Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops, the Official Soundtrack and the ‘Tiny Tales’ comic book, which you can purchase for £19.99 / €24.99 / $24.99. PlayStation 4 will be announced at a later date.
Silk returns with an all-new series this May marking a beloved return for this Spider-Verse icon. To celebrate, Marvel has commissioned their beloved and best-selling cover artist, Derrick Chew, to craft a custom variant cover in celebration, which you can see below.
Announced last month, Silk’s next adventure will be written by Emily Kim, known for her recent run on last year’s Silk solo series. She will be joined by artist, Ig Guara whose most recent works on Ghost-Spider and Edge of Spider-Verse were artistically sublime. With a story set in a series of several different Spider-Worlds, the story will see Cindy Moon inhabit new character roles in this run including as a noir detective in Los Angeles, a train-robbing outlaw, a swashbuckling pirate, and more.
“I’m thrilled to be able to continue writing for Cindy,” Kim told ComicBook.com. “It felt like I spent the first run getting to know her and now that I do, I can use the second run to explore how she’d change when thrown into wildly different worlds. But the true fun will be to see the ways in which she stays the same Cindy we’ve known and loved for many years even when in brand new environments.”
Derrick Chew’s variant cover will also be available as a virgin variant cover! Check it out now and pick it up at your local comic shop this May!
SILK #1 (OF 5) – 75960620510300111
Written by EMILY KIM
Art by IG GUARA
Variant Cover by DERRICK CHEW – 75960620510300161
Virgin Variant Cover by DERRICK CHEW – 75960620510300118
After twenty-five gloriously controversial years, POSTAL 4: No Regerts will finally debut on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 on March 21, 2023. Millions have enjoyed this cathartic first person-shooter to the great distaste and uptight scorn of the Media, governments, and courts. And now, Sony heads can find out the Running With Scissors’ insane version of the American Dream.
You can choose your clothes, identity, and voice ranging from the iconic, original Rick Hunter to Zack Ward, Corey Cruise, or Jon St. John. Witness the amazing escalations into haphazard yet hilarious disasters as your POSTAL dude acclimate to the open world sandbox of the city of Edensin.
This journey lasts for a week, all in the name of the American Dream. Traverse through surreal and ironic environments while wielding a boomerang machete, fire, shovel, and ooh yes—urine, and so much more. In the realm of Edensin, anything can absolutely go down. You can install bidets, help American citizens escape into Mexico for work (what a twist!), participate in scooter drive-bys, crazy Catnip reloads, a wide range of missions, and a TON of unlockables. Whee!
This on purpose typo was ranked one of 2022’s Worst Games by Metacritic. Yet this PlayStation debut arrives with a load of improvements in performance, upgraded content from the PC version, and updates made specifically for the new DualSense wireless controller. Pull down your zipper by swiping down on the trackpad, witness your taser turn your controller blue, listen to your bodily relief through the speaker of the controller, and feel the thrust of your weapons with the haptic feedback plus the adaptive triggers custom made for every single weapon.
As noted by Running With Scissors’ press release, their founder Vince Desi says “POSTAL 4: No Regerts represents everything we love about the American Dream. I feel like a proud parent seeing the POSTAL Dude coming into the hands and sticky fingers of PlayStation players. More than ever before we give everyone a chance to identify and play as they want. POSTAL is anonymous and ready to share its glory with society on PlayStation 5 and 4 on Tuesday, March 21!”
We begin at the beginning with Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) giving returning Vietnam vet John Winchester a mysterious letter. But, we get some new information – Dean isn’t here alone, Bobby (Jim Beaver) is with him, and isn’t thrilled with Dean’s “meddling”.
Cut to the present where Samuel has found a lead on someone who might know their mystery man. Meanwhile, after learning what’s needed to power Ada’s crystal, Carlos says to save it as a last resort. Unfortunately, the contact Samuel, John, and Mary go to meet is none other than the Akrida Queen. She’s lured them out to take over the clubhouse (bad news for Lata who was still in there), but also gives them a gift, some information on herself, and her terms: Join her or die.
Obviously, not joining, but what to do? A plan is made, as is a failed rescue attempt that reveals an Akrida-possessed Lata who explains the Queen’s intentions – wipe humanity from this and every other world. Before “Lata” can kill herself, Ada plays the crystal card to save her. It works, and Lata’s inside information along with Carlos’ nutty idea comes together for a battle final. The good guys win, Dean Winchester explains all, and John and Mary ride off into the future together.
Back when this spinoff began, I had some reservations about the altering of our core lore with respect to John Winchester and Mary Campbell’s love story, but I can happily report that all deviations have explanations. Simply put: Our Dean Winchester died and went to Heaven, then decided to take a cosmic joyride in his beloved Chevy Impala, “Baby”, in hopes of finding a version of his family that got a happy ending. Along the way he learned of the Akrida – Chuck’s fail-safe in the event he lost the war against “Team Free Will”. Dean knew he couldn’t meddle, but he also realized the Akrida would eventually reach our world and Sam (meaning this series takes place after Dean died but before Sam died, which is a convenient way to explain why there’s no Jared Padalecki cameo), and he couldn’t have that. So, he gave the letter to John in hopes of putting together a kick-ass monster-hunting gang capable of defeating the Akrida. In conclusion: this was never our John and Mary, or Samuel for that matter – Bobby’s reaction to seeing Samuel with a full head of hair is pretty good. Canon is safe! Not too shabby.
As a season finale, the episode not only wraps up the larger, loyal fan questions but gives a promising conclusion to the team as well. Lata pulls double duty, finding her and Carlos new digs, and figuring out a way to save Ada’s injured soul. Samuel is on the road again with the pledge to check in, Millie will likely get back to her garage work, but most important are John and Mary.
Throughout the episode, the question of what killing the Akrida means for John and Mary’s relationship is brought up repeatedly. Both Samuel and Millie poke at their respective children for some insight, while John confronts Mary directly before and after the big fight. John is hopeful, while Mary isn’t sure but has more hope by the episode’s end. So much so that she invites John on her journey of self-discovery with the condition that he can still hunt at night.
Another thing that got my attention was how many Easter eggs loom large in this episode. Like the pilot, the finale calls back to many classic Supernatural moments including season 6 where Eve, the Mother of All Monsters, confronts our heroes in a bar much in the same way the Akrida Queen lures out John, Mary, and Samuel. “Baby” gets her due, not only making an appearance but saving the day! There’s the end where Mary, after reading “James Hetfield”’s journal brings back the trusty driving rule of “Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts their cakehole”. Hell, we’ve even got Dean and his silly aliases, and my personal favorite thing I noticed for the first time ever – which might be kind of sad considering I wrote reviews for the final season of the mothership – but, Jack and Bobby!? Really!? Jack and motherfucking Bobby!?
But yeah, overall I really enjoyed this episode. That’s not to say there aren’t some issues with it. On the lighter side of complaints would be no Castiel (Misha Collins) cameo, however, Collins is lined up to appear in the Gotham Knights series which will be taking over The Winchesters’ slot next week.
On the larger side of complaints is that Joan Hopkins’ (Kelly Sullivan) master plan seems kind of stupid if you stand back and take it at its word: kill the people who need saving. Ok…but then the Akrida say they are being used to kill humanity, and…last I checked, Hunters are humans. Hunters, also need saving from time to time – many a storyline from Supernatural involved this exact setup – which means Joan would have to kill hunters too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always pro the eradication of the human race, but her logic here isn’t that she wants to save the planet it’s that she wants to stop hunters from having to hunt. Now, I will respect the very carefully added line that the “monster essence” which took over Joan drove her insane, because, not only is her plan cray-cray but she gives the Monster Hunters the silver bullet they need to stop her: Dean’s journal! The fuck!? I suppose she may not have realized Carlos would come up with the idea to reverse the polarity of the Ostium and use it to pull Dean (Baby, actually) from its origin world, but still. Though, it could have just been an olive branch in her mind.
Another interesting plot hole is that the Akrida were created by Chuck as a fail-safe to destroy all his other worlds in case he was ever defeated, but there’s two problems with this. One – in the mothership there’s a whole episode dedicated to Chuck’s very thorough decimation of his other worlds leaving ours for last. Two – assuming One didn’t happen for some reason…Dean finds out about the Akrida while he’s on joyride post death, which was several years after they defeated Chuck, so what were the Akrida waiting for? Also, also, if I’m poking holes in this finale, why didn’t Jack (Alexander Calvert) bother getting involved? Ah, actually, Jack half-assedly explains that one – he says his rule of “no interference” meant absolutely none. That’s great and grand and all, but this was a time bomb left by your predecessor designed to destroy what he left behind, you really thought it was a good idea to let it play out!? Blech…stupid, shitty Jack.
Anyway, plot holes aside, this episode had a kind of convoluted story so the performances were really important here. While Drake and Donnelly do their usual fantastic jobs, I was especially impressed with Khurshid! Man, she should have been evil this whole time! I believe her and find her having way more fun playing a villainous version of Lata than she’s ever shown playing good Lata. Fleites, aside from one truly amusing scene, is markedly subdued this episode, holding it back to let the story shine. Kajilich, and Welling play the part of concerned and meddling parents but not much else, while McKinney’s Ada, though an important player, doesn’t hold much gravitas unfortunately, but again, I think the story and cameos are hard to fight.
Speaking of cameos…My heart damn near stopped when I saw Jim Beaver as Bobby Singer again. Granted, the episode where he died came on the other day and it’s one of the most powerful hours of the mothership I think I’ve ever seen, which made seeing him again all the more fantastic. Jack, we all know how I feel about Jack. He’s the Lata of the mothership, I only really loved him when he was playing evil, otherwise, I could give two shits about him (which isn’t fair to Lata, I like her a lot more than him). Still, those two were bonuses compared to the main man we had been teased about all season: the executive producer himself, Jensen Ackles!
Here’s a fun thing to notice – when Dean first appears to John he has longer hair and a beard, I’m guessing because Ackles was still in Soldier Boy mode from The Boys, but by the end of the episode he’s got his usual look back. Keeping Dean till the finale was a bit of a gamble though I have to say it paid off. Having him tell his side of the story helped to clear up some of the questions that had been building all season to a satisfying end. Not to mention seeing just how much fun Ackles has inhabiting the role that ultimately made him a star.
Do I think we’re in for a second season? Only the TV gods can tell. The CW itself is up for grabs, which means all of its shows are too. If anything, I can see The Winchesters perhaps finding a home on HBO Max where Jeremy Carver’s Doom Patrol lives, or Amazon Prime to join Eric Kripke’s The Boys. Considering Carver has no direct involvement with The Winchesters, Amazon Prime might be the better bet. Whatever happens, this finale did the right thing and set itself perfectly as a series finale if need be – not a huge surprise when the series didn’t get a full-season pick-up, but again, CW problems, am I right?
The title this week basically says it all. Din is off to find the living waters under the mines of Mandalore so he may be redeemed for removing his helmet in front of others. And it’s very exciting! Unlike last week, the action scenes feel like they have some weight and stakes to them.
We start off with a trip to Tatooine’s sassiest mechanic, Peli. It’s always a joy to see Amy Sedaris in the Star Wars universe. (I would very much like them to work in her character from Strangers with Candy. Maybe an aside about her sister who flunked out of school and became a dancer at Jabba’s Palace?) She’s keeping busy by having her Jawa buddies strip parts off of speeders, which she then sells back to unsuspecting suckers—after repainting them to look different, of course! Unfortunately, neither she nor the Jawas have an IG memory chip. Luckily, she’s got a brand new R5 model Din can take! (By “brand new,” I mean literally the same R5-D4 droid that was almost purchased instead of R2-D2 but broke down, meaning R2 would go off with Luke instead. There are literally 3 droids in the Star Wars galaxy. Oh, and the official canon backstory of the R5 droid is WILD.)
I’ve said it before, but the AI in Star Wars is crazy. R5 is a coward, but robots aren’t supposed to have emotions, so it’s programmed to shake and quiver when presented with a scary task. R5 shakes when told it’s going spelunking in the mines, shakes when it gets off the ship, shakes when it goes into the mine…
And then he disappears off the scopes. Din is sure the droid will be right back, but Grogu insists he go after it.
Mandalore looks great here, by the way. The planet is bombed out and desolate, with cities buried underground. It looks starkly beautiful. Din enters the mines, and after dispatching a bevy of cave-dwelling wild men with his blaster and the Darksaber (he looks so awkward fighting with the Darksaber, I swear), he props up R5 who had toppled over. The air is breathable, so Din and Grogu go looking for the waters.
Everything is going smoothly. Too smoothly. So smoothly that it’s really not a huge surprise when a giant droid monster pops out of the ground and captures Din. It’s piloted by a smaller, insect-looking droid, who clamps Din in some kind of rotisserie device. (And kudos on this droid design. It looks very frightening and imposing.) Grogu tries to use force to free Din, but Din tells him to get away and get Bo-Katan on her nearby moon.
Back at her castle, Katan is angered by the sight of Din’s fighter. She storms to the landing pad, ready to kick him out, but when she sees it’s Grogu by himself, she immediately jumps into action. She flies back to Mandalore and asks Grogu to lead her to Din. Grogu is scared, but presses on. They come across the insect droid in the process of draining Din’s blood, and Katan blasts it. They fight, and she notices that Din has dropped the Darksaber under his cage. She grabs it and makes short work of the droid. However, the head of the droid separates and scuttles back into the bigger droid, and Katan has to destroy that as well.
So, can Bo-Katan now claim the Darksaber as her own? It was a whole thing in Season 2 that Mando couldn’t just give it to her, she had to win it in order to wield it. Does picking it up count as a “win?” I hope so, because she handles it way more gracefully than Din who acts like it weighs 500 pounds when trying to swing it.
She offers to take Din back to her moon, but he refuses. He has to cleanse himself in the waters. She sighs. Fine, she’ll show him the way, even though she thinks all that stuff is fairy tale nonsense.
They get to the waters, where legend has it that the first Mandalorian fought the giant mythosaur. Din takes off his jet pack and walks down the steps into the waters, reciting the creed, when Whoops! A step is missing and he sinks like a stone.
Bo-Katan dives in after him, using her jet pack to propel her through the water. She dives deeper and deeper, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. (I guess Manadalore doesn’t do shallow ends, huh?) Din should’ve sunk straight down, but Katan is searching all over for him. Finally, she sees him lying on the bottom of the pool, and struggles to get him up. As they zip back to the surface, zooming over the rocky seascape, an eye pops open. Bo-Katan gasps as the horns of the giant creature come into view. It appears to be the mythosaur of legend, surely an omen for the Manadalorian who wants to lead her people.
Now, this was a step up from the muddled story of last week. Still, I think it would have been much more interesting for Din to get to the mines and find that the Living Waters were gone, or toxic, or dried up. It would have been a more satisfying conclusion if Din had arrived, seen the waters gone, and had to come to grips with that. The better impulse is to say “I’m a Mandalorian. I don’t need the Living Waters to make me one. I live my life by my creed.”
But, then we wouldn’t have gotten the mythosaur… And the mythosaur was pretty rad.
I’m also glad that Bo-Katan got to do more this week than just pout. As soon as Grogu came for help, she leapt into action and showed exactly why she might be considered a worthy leader for her scattered people.
So now that Din has been “redeemed” and Bo-Katan has claimed the Darksaber, it’ll be interesting to see where this goes. Is Din going back to see the Armorer? Is Bo-Katan going to rally her followers? None of these storylines are as interesting to me as the stuff from the first two seasons, but they might get there. We’ll see!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Grogu Cuteness Meter: Our little Jedi was all Zen as he force-pushed a caveman out of his way to get back to the ship. No time for snacks, though! He had to save Dad.