Shameless S08E03

God Bless Her Rotting Soul

There was a few confrontations and eye opening moments this week.

It looks like Deb got her legs taken out by Lakisha. Having largely ignored Neil for some time now, Lakisha got her her in last week by asking Deb if she wanted her care taking duties taken over. Deb said yes not realizing that she’d let her relationship with Neil fall by the wayside, and even worse made it blatant that she was only using him as a means for extra money and shelter. Neil quickly fell in love with Lakisha and has no problems giving Deb the boot. Being called “a terrible person” seems to have struck a cord with Deb. Neil breaking up with her puts her whole life plan in jeopardy so I don’t think she’s going to let it slide and move back home.

Frank is holding it together and even has a moment of greatness at the end!

Fiona evicts the mother of 5 kids but she destroys the apartment leaving a mess behind for Fiona to clean up. In finding new tenants, Nessa’s girlfriend Mel decides to try and throw her weight around. She wants her friends to move in and Fiona tells her they can apply. When a guy comes in ready to pay the $1000 a month, Mel sabotages it and again pushes Fiona to let her friends have it. It’s an obvious powerplay that Fiona sniffs out right away and she lets Mel know exactly where she stands in the pecking order of the apartment building: below her. She tells Mel to knock the ghetto posturing off or she’s going to bring out the real Fiona on her. Infest her apartment with bedbugs, burn all her stuff and then evict her. Mel gets the message.

Lip’s mentor, Professor Youens, falls off the wagon and barrels through someone’s house. It’s really bad, his 5th DUI. Youens has given up and Lip struggles all episode to help his friend. It’s the strongest story this season with Lip crushed that the person who helped him get sober has lost himself and Lip doesn’t know what to do. Thankfully Brad is a phenomenal sponsor and is able to give great advice to Lip. Brad is a positive male influence on Lip, something he’s needed his entire life. It’s an exasperating time for Lip but he’s able to stay on his own two feet. Thank God.

Kev is worried about everyone’s breasts. His cancer scare has sent him into overprotection and he’s ready to give health advice to anyone who will or will not listen. In looking into his genetics (he’s worried about diseases he may have passed to his kids) he finds out he’s from an inbred community from Kentucky. Abandoned at a very young age, Kev has never known where he’s from and resents the people who let him go. V urges him to see if he can find his family to get some kind of closure and find his roots. When he reaches out to his possible biological parents, we find out Kevin’s birth name is Bart. This opens all sorts of doors as we know (as does Kevin) very little about his past and it puts us on the doorstep of a whole new set of wild characters and stories.

On the business front, Kev and V are up to their eyeballs in problems. They’re scraping by on money, The Alibi is getting few customers…the opposite of when Svetlana was running the place. Plus, Svet legally owns the bar, so from jail, she gets a realtor in there to sell the place. V can’t take it any longer and makes a B line to put things right. She goes to see Svet and they work out a new relationship. They won’t be a thruple again but it’s time they all get back to business together with Svet leading the charge and teaching V what she needs to know to provide for her own family no matter what happens. It’s a workable deal (Svet’s future was looking pretty crap, to be honest) and Svet leaves lock up, 3″ pumps back on her feet.

That leaves us with the Gallagher’s need to pay the piper. Frank first tells them that they just need to lay low to let this storm go by them, the guy doesn’t know where they live. And then he does. The left him with way too many leads to follow up on and Ian finds Carl being drowned in his own hot tub. Ian does his best to stop it and they’re given the ultimatum of paying him back what they stole are they’re all dead. The kids pull together as much as they can and it’s about 10k short. With no other choice, they have to go to Fiona. As mad as she is, Fiona is also a little happy about being right. She told them to leave the stolen drugs alone, that any plan that Monica and Frank is a good idea is a terrible one. After they all apologize to her (except Carl) she tells them what she did with the two bags of meth that Monica left her and Liam. It’s a trip to the graveyard for the Gallagher clan. In one of the more awful scenes in Shameless history, they dig Monica up and get the drugs out of the casket. Combined they have around 30k to give him, 40k short. The guy is not happy and guess who stands up and makes it work? Frank! With his newfound confidence and zen, Frank explains that if those drugs were Monica’s and his, that meant they were partners. They are giving back his share to him, what they can’t get back was Monica’s. Considering there’s nothing left to squeeze out of them, he takes it (and Carl’s hot tub).

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Mr. Robot S3E05

Kill Process

The hits just keep coming. It’s been one riveting episode after the next and I’m still buzzing from how intense this one was.

The show opens with a flashback. Young Angela is watching a Back to the Future cartoon while guests to her home mingle about. Her mother has decided to forgo any more cancer treatment so this is more like a goodbye party. Angela is understandably not happy and Elliot’s father sits down to talk to her. Going over to Angela’s mother (which I think is the first time we’ve seen her) she’s talking to her lawyer, Antara (who we’ve met before through Angela continuing the fight with E Corp at the beginning of the show). Antara asks if she’s really sure she wants to stop, as an anonymous benefactor would pay for her continued treatments. She’s so far gone that she’d rather enjoy what time she has with her family than drag out the pain more. Upon mention of the benefactor, Angela’s father leaves the room and Antara pauses, asking if she said something. Angela’s mother waves it off but there’s something hidden in that moment that I think we’ll see revealed soon. Angela talks to her mother about how upset she is and her mother reassures her that she’ll always be with her, they won’t be apart forever. It’s hard to tell if young Angela really believes her.

Back to the present, we’re back to where episode 4 left off. Elliot is staring down Angela, confronting her about working with The Dark Army. She’s all in with The Dark Army and it stuns Elliot. He’s shocked when she says she met Whiterose and that this is all for the revolution they wanted to start, they just need to see this to the end. Elliot calls Whiterose a terrorist, a lot of people are going to die from this. Angela has taken Irving’s word as gospel, assured that the building is being evacuated. She’s straight up cold blooded corporate mouthpiece. When she tells Elliot no one will be hurt, she says it with this:

including your father and my mother.

After weeks of watching Angela breakdown, she’s gone off the deep end and she even digs into Elliot with this line telling him how involved she’s been:

I heard you were let go this morning.

And the race is on! Elliot is frantic to stop Stage 2 and rushes to the building to stop The Dark Army’s plan at the source. This caper is cut back and forth with Dom working her end of trying to stop The Dark Army. Darlene manages to pass her info of where Tyrell is but her superior, Santiago, isn’t so sure about its credibility and doesn’t act on it. Dom takes matters into her own hands and goes out with her partner to scope out the Red Wheelbarrow restaurant.

After Elliot gets into the building, he manages to get his laptop onto the network and gets to typing. Mr. Robot fights back by taking over. Elliot regains consciousness 15 minutes later in a cab leaving the area. Elliot runs back in and it’s an all out war between the personalities. Mr. Robot resorts to physically throwing Elliot around to stop him while Dom sniffs around the Red Wheelbarrow and Darlene confronts Angela about exploiting Elliot’s condition in Angela’s apartment.

Cue insanity. Angela is defiant and cold to Darlene’s anger. Santiago is The Dark Army’s mole. Tyrell gets the truth about his family (about his wife at least, I think) from Irving. He’s furious he’s been lied to again and in a surprise move to I think everyone, Irving doesn’t kill him. Instead, he gives Tyrell what looks like instructions and leaves him in the basement of the Red Wheelbarrow. Tyrell starts drinking like a maniac, handcuffs himself to a cot and starts a fire. The smoke tips off Dom upstairs and she tries to get through the locked back door but can’t.

Elliot makes it into the room with all of the power supplies that will explode when the area floods with hydrogen. But he can’t get to the emergency fire suppression system (that will suck all of the oxygen out of the room) because of a locked door. Then he notices it: none of the records are here. They’ve “both” been played. He pleads with Mr. Robot to help him get in there by typing messages into Notepad on a computer terminal and blinks back and forth into conciousness. After 4 or 5 desperate messages, Elliot comes too with the electric lock on the door broken and the door swinging shut. He races into the room and pulls the emergency alarm, saving the building.

Tyrell freed himself and ran hysterically out through the door Irving used to get to the street. He’s screaming about stopping the attack where he’s apprehended by the NYPD and Dom, who’s in shock that she found the guy she’s been looking for for months and he’s a mess and can’t figure out what he’s babbling about.

Angela and Darlene’s argument is halted by an emergency alert on their phones.

Elliot emerges from the building happy he stopped the attack when he notices everyone around him is solemn and distracted. He joins a group of people on the street looking at TVs in a store window and sees it: 71 E Corp buildings “exploded or caught fire.” Thousands thought dead.

A slap in the face of gargantuan proportions. The ultimate chess move by Whiterose to subvert Elliot and use Mr. Robot and Tyrell’s work.  Fine, if we can’t destroy the physical records in one fell swoop with a single fault line, we’ll just exploit 71 fault lines. Elliot never saw it coming. He had tunnel vision on the initial plan he discovered (came up with, really) and never considered the plans would be altered.

Absolutely nuts. Stage 2 happened and Tyrell is caught. What was on the paper Tyrell was given? Is the final play by Whiterose to ultimately to pin this all on Elliot? The full frame up that he started and executed this whole thing? Angela just got body slammed back to Earth, I don’t know how she’s going to function knowing she aided in the death of thousands.

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Shameless S08E02

Where’s My Meth?

Frank manages to be good for the entire episode. Not only that, but he’s a productive human being. He’s motivated to get on with his life, blaming Monica for turning him into an addict and cheat. He tells the truth in his job interview and the guy sees himself in Frank so he gives him the job. Frank flourishes, turning his typical nonsensical rantings into positive motivation for others and actually working while on the job. It’s a Frank we’ve never seen before: positive about life and not working a scam. All the kids know it won’t last and so does the audience, the only question is what’s going to flip him back.

Ian is wrestling with his feelings for Monica. He goes to a gay bar with his ex for a quick “comfort” hook up and it doesn’t work. He misses his mother while the rest of his siblings have seemingly moved on without a second thought. Carl sells his portion of the meth and Ian gets a terrible tattoo and demands that Carl stop selling Monica’s stuff from her place/actually a storage unit. He got oddly attached to the bag of meth as it was the “last thing of Monica’s” before handing it over for Carl to sell so he figures maybe he can find a keepsake in the storage unit.

Lip hates Charlie’s guts (jealous) and thinks he’s nothing but trouble for Sierra so he puts a plan into motion to sabotage Charlie’s sobriety. He gets a bag of cocaine delivered to his house with a pizza thinking that’ll be enough to ruin him. It works as Charlie stands up Sierra for their date (Lip agreed to babysit again so she could go out) but he sees Charlie at the next meeting he goes to. Charlie didn’t use but it’s still in his apartments. This puts a major guilt trip on Lip who dashes from the meeting to dump the coke. He climbs through an open window, dumps the drugs down the sink and gets bit by Charlie’s dog on the way out. It all works out when Charlie confronts Lip at the diner a little later. He thinks Lip just went in there to help him after hearing his story at the meeting. He has no inclination that Lip set him up to fail.

Fiona gets her first rough taste of dead beat tenants as a landlord. She’s completely open to giving them chances, after all she’s missed more than her fair share of due dates for rent over the years. She tries to work with the mother of five kids but the woman turns nasty on her so Fiona gets fed up and starts the eviction process. Fair but tough Fiona is in the building.

Liam goes to a friends’ house for the first time and the place is a mansion. His friend then comes over to the Gallagher house and while the kid has a blast (jumping on the couch while eating whatever they want, no one there to tell them when to go to bed) the mother is mortified when she comes to pick him up. It’s a big class divide.

With Svetlana locked up, V swoops back in to restore The Alibi. Kev is petrified about his biopsy surgery. He’s trying his best to fight off the fear of death from the surgery or having cancer so he acts like he’s seeing everyone for the last time. In great news and a funny moment when he can’t remember what “benign” means, he doesn’t have cancer. Cue party at The Alibi.

Deb is going out more and more leaving Neil with Frankie. Neil barely sees her and it’s causing growing resentment from him. She clearly doesn’t think they are a couple and he does (she’s got her eye on a new guy who she’s been meeting for drinks with when she goes out with her group). She’s using Neil and has tunnel vision in her own life (things are going well) so she’s oblivious to what she’s doing.

And then the worm turns. Carl and Ian go to Monica’s storage unit to pick through what’s left and are greeted by a guy living in there. A guy who demands his 8 pounds of meth back. They are screwed. That free money is no longer free. Next week we’ll see how the kids decide to deal with this very bad problem.

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Mr. Robot S3E04

Runtime Error

Production went nuts for this episode, delivering a single long take journey through anarchy at E Corp! With some “stitching” to make the episode look like it was done in one take, we are now witnesses to one of the most riveting episodes of the series!

To start, whatever Angela injected Elliot with last week was some potent stuff as he seemingly comes to in the elevator at work. He’s having trouble remembering things. He feels off and his hearing is strange. Angela is standing next to him and it surprises him, he wasn’t expecting her there. Darlene calls him and demands that he meets her outside in 10 minutes.

When Elliot gets to his desk, he suffers through his neighbor’s obnoxious bragging about his weekend. In a message meant for us, Elliot says his real feeling known out loud. Elliot is really feeling off. The guy is at first offended but he turns it around to some self-reflection. Elliot tries to log into his computer and he can’t. He calls the help desk and while he waits, he comes to realize he’s not sure what day it is. What happened to his weekend…what’s the last thing he remembers doing? He starts to panic thinking Mr. Robot must have taken over…for days. He jumps on his neighbor’s PC to check his protections against Stage 2. His work has been found and pushed back.

Then he notices that the HR crew to give employees the boot is on the floor and the help desk says they can’t reinstate his access. He’s been made. We then follow Elliot from room to room, floor to floor as he tries to avoid capture. The only way he can fight back The Dark Army is if he stays in the building. He does his best but ends up pushed out the front door where Darlene is waiting for him.

He anxiously tells her they have to get back in to stop the attack and she blurts out that she’s been informing the FBI since Cisco was killed. He’s stunned into his isolation, the whole world goes on mute. When he gets angry with Darlene for her betrayal she tells him about seeing “him” leave the apartment at 2 am with Angela. It’s Angela who’s been betraying him. The memory of seeing Angela and Tyrell together rushes back to him.

We then zoom around the front of E Corp and go crashing into the building as rioters rush the building leaving Elliot behind. Following a group up, we’re brought to Angela who’s on the phone with her handler Irving.

He tells her to get a package at the front desk of her floor and she doesn’t need to worry much about the anarchy. With package in hand, Irving tells her that the plan has changed and she needs to get Elliot to use its contents to get some work done in the building. I found it weird that he thought she’d be near Elliot at that moment and she seems pretty incredulous about it too. She takes matters into her own hands and in some harrowing navigation and hacking, she does the work herself.

Angela makes a successful drop of the stolen material and Elliot meets her near her office. Standing opposed like two guns slingers Elliot says, “Do you have something you want to tell me?”

This episode was nuts. More great moments than I can write about, they all need to be experienced first hand. It was an amazing storytelling experience with such care put into each scene and transition. A lot happens with secrets coming out and machinations of The Dark Army on display. China annexes the Congo and the man Whiterose told to support Donald Trump for president a few weeks ago is on cable news doing just that.

While Angela has been in with The Dark Army for a while now, she really stuck her neck out for them here. She almost gets hurt in a riot The DA put together but can’t actually control and she was seen by a woman who will probably be killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. How she’s going to handle the confrontation with Elliot is anyone’s guess. I don’t even know what he’s going to do. Major turning point and the clock is ticking for the backup building from being blown up. Angela made a naive attempt to get the target building evacuated beforehand but I think she’s about to get the horrible reality check that she’s complicit in killing a lot of people. She’s going to become the exact person she hates and swore to stop.

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Shameless S08E01

We Become What We…Frank!

Welcome to season 8! It’s time to catch up with the Gallaghers. Monica’s inheritance left the family with some decisions and we come back to the family not too long after last year’s finale.

All that meth meant a lot of potential money. While Fiona ditched her share in Monica’s casket, the others kept theirs and Carl is using his old connections to unload each bag one at a time (from what I could tell each is worth around $10,000).

Carl, out of boot camp for the summer, sells his first and buys some toys with it, the largest being a hot tub for the backyard. He’s thriving in the military and is sticking to the daily regiment to keep his newfound focus.

Debbie is hustling like only a single mother can. She’s working as a fee collector at a parking garage while going to school to get her welding certification. Using Gallagher resources, she uses a dog crate for Frannie while she works and leaves her with Neil when she goes to class. She’s still got a crush on her instructor and it’d be shocking if she didn’t try to get to know him. In another instance of that Gallagher grit, she handles an aggro customer at work like a pro. When Carl gets her money, she spends it on her own welding gear so she can practice whenever she wants. She’s committed!

Ian is pining for his ex something fierce. I guess it’s progress that the guy is willing to talk to him still, but Ian’s got his work cut out for him.

Lip is sober and the struggle is real. He’s got a great sponsor that looks out for him and gives him great advice which he desperately needs. And he’s more or less listening. In the same boat that Ian is in, Lip is pining for his ex just as hard. He’s doing his best to give Sierra her space and kind of ease his way to her again (going as far as paying an outstanding bill of hers on the sly) but her trash baby daddy has come back around and it makes that effort hit the skids. That’s a massive trigger for his drinking and he fights it off, which was amazing. I thought for sure that would make him relapse and in another major move, he gives the rest of his Monica money to Professor Youens to pay him back for footing his rehab. “Thanks for the rehab” indeed!

They’ve finally decided to make Liam a functioning character now. He’s aged up and given lines with his own plotline now. Frank got him into that private school last year and they’re using him as the token black kid to boost their diversity image to prospective parents checking the school out. He might be young but he knows exactly what they’re doing.

Fiona has reached the point for another quality of life change. She’s off Tinder and coming back around to being ready for a relationship. She’s laser focused on keeping all the plates she has spinning and turning a profit. A lot of work keeping the diner going (heads up, ICE is here!) and fixing up the apartment building she bought last year. Looks like she’s good at being a good landlord as she makes quick friends with one of her tenants (hello new character) and she gets a hell of a price for the first apartment she fixed. Sounds like there are some real characters in the building so I’m sure we’ll get a wealth of stories out of them this year.

Frank. Does exactly what you think he did. While in mourning for Monica, he used all of his meth (he says he shared it if you believe that). And now that he’s come back to Earth from his high sabbatical (“Where the hell have you been?” ask all his kids) he’s re-evaluated his life. He’s wronged a lot of people so it’s time for an Apology Tour of the neighborhood. Yeah, Frank’s going to be busy.

V and Kev are struggling to make ends meet after Svetlana successfully snaked them out of The Alibi. Svetlana had great reason to (she did save them from themselves in a business sense) but V is furious. Svetlana has turned The Alibi into a Russian bar and V ain’t having it. Svet tells her it’ll all work out if they become a thrupple again and V says no with her fists. Kev is still working at the gay bar and doing some sanctioned (with V’s very clear guidelines) side work, he finds out he has breast cancer. Only Shameless can come up with that way to get an initial diagnosis. While Kev privately gets checked out by a doctor, V makes the move of the episode: she gets ICE to raid Svetlana’s bar.

It’s good to be back! Great start, let’s see how dysfuntional we get.


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Stranger Things <> Season 2

I don’t think expectations for a series can get any higher than they do for Stranger Things. Last year the show came out of nowhere and swept people up into its 1980s mythos. Netflix has had some popular shows but nothing to the level of this. It’s become part of American pop culture.

I adored the first season. It was made for me and I ate it up. A time period I grew up in and remember well. An awesome adventure that stars kids that harkens back to the best stuff that Stephen Spielberg has done. The cast of kids is awesome, the story was cool with a fantastic mix of horror, suspense, and laughs.

Now a year and a half later, The Duffer Brothers and crew have delivered Season 2.

I’m going to talk about everything, so spoilers ahoy.

It’s an expansive season in terms of the main kids. They are apart for quite a bit of the runtime, trying to figure things out largely on their own until things blow up so much they come together to survive. By breaking the group up, more personal stories come out.

Eleven and Mike are largely pushed out of the spotlight. Mike is pretty much in mourning over the missing Eleven and is very protective of keeping the status quo of his crew. Eleven doesn’t reunite with the boys until the very end which was really surprising. Hopper keeps her hidden (rightfully so) until he’s swept away and she breaks out on her own.

Will remains window dressing, which is disappointing. The kid is the resident of The Upside Down and everyone more or less worries about him for the entire show. He’s the McGuffin again and while the kid is fantastic at selling torment, they can’t waste his talents as the We Have To Figure Out How To Help Him Kid again.

Dustin and Lucas get pushed forward with much more screen time and all for the better. They’ve both hit the “notice girls” phase and jockey for attention from the new girl. We get to meet Lucas’ family (his little sister is fantastic) and he gets much more fleshed out as a character. Dustin gets himself in trouble by breaking group rules and he scrambles for awhile to fix things on his own.

Speaking fo the new girl, Max is a good fit for the cast. She’s rather guarded and it takes far too long to find out why, but she’s an interesting added dynamic that has a lot of room to grow. Her stepbrother Billy is a ponderous character though. His dynamic with Lucas is super weird and he’s a rather tacked on bully that doesn’t do much. He’s a half-baked character compared to the rest.  His quick scene with Mike’s mother was a great payoff though.

Steve is probably the biggest standout this season, pretty much everything he’s in is fantastic. By breaking up the kids more, they got to do different character pairings that worked really well. Steve and Dustin are the greatest together as it turns out Steve is a great mentor and he’s awesome to have in a clutch situation.

After Nancy chose Steve last year, I think we were all bummed for Jonathan. One of my favorite arcs this season was the love triangle shift. The dynamic between Nancy and Steve quickly soured and the mission with Nancy and Jonathan brought the real couple together. And hey, Justice for Barb is real!

Sean Astin as Bob! I love Sean Astin, so I love Bob. They managed to keep Joyce from being ultra weepy so, so that’s a bonus. Bob was good for her. For as little time as Bob got, he was established well and he made for a great hero. I’m also happy with Paul Reiser’s character, Dr. Sam Owens. I thought they’d follow his Aliens roll but they kept him solid guy which I was happy to see.

Hopper remained great and his surrogate father role worked well and felt believable to me. As much as Eleven pouted and complained, he was right in everything he did. When you find out The Upsidedown is spreading under your town, that can be a distraction from your parenting duties. That leads to the most controversial part of the season: episode 7. Eleven’s Solo Adventure.

I liked it. It was good to get out of the town and see something else. Eleven desperately needed something new to do. It’s very easy for her character to stay trapped in Will territory, the same stresses and scenes replaying over and over again. She has far and away the most interesting backstory to explore too. She learns her mother isn’t dead and manages to communicate with her when no one has in years. It’s such a tragic story but it’s great to see Eleven meet her roots. That leads her to Eight, who is essentially her sister. The only person (right now) that knows exactly what Eleven has gone through.

The criticism for this stretch seems to be that it’s too much of a show deviation. It’s only Eleven, so everything stops for her to take a short road trip. I don’t agree with that. I’ve seen people go as far to say it was “pointless” which is completely wrong. It’s world-building for a show that really needs it. Eleven is integral to everything and she has to make moves on her own. She’s been basically a lab rat for her entire life so she’s naive and it’s often like following a preschooler around. How many times can we see her wiggle her hands around to use her power and make her nose bleed? You gotta move past those clichés as fast as you can.

The girl has the guts to go hitchhiking and she finds her family! She decides to put in some of her detective skills to good use after everyone has been sheltering her (something Will can relate to). I think Eight is cool and watching Eleven basically meet her sister was huge.  They both got away from the lab and they both found their own crews. Eight has been consumed by anger and found friends to enable her. Her whole motivation is revenge and that’s something Eleven can (and has) fallen easily into. It’s not that difficult to manipulate Eleven but in this episode, Eleven stands up for herself. She’s uncomfortable with Eight’s techniques and realizes her place isn’t next to her sister. Her crew that she left behind (and that includes her “father” Hopper) is where she needs to be. It’s major growth for her and I was stoked to see it. Plus, she gets a bad ass entrance when she comes back. Our telekinetic is done hiding!

The build-up is slow this season. It takes awhile for the pieces to be put in place and the mayhem to kick in. I found the build up to be fun, if predictable. What happens with Dustin’s pet, Dart, is obvious as anything and the show asks you to just roll with things a lot (what are they injecting Will with? No one’s putting a single second thought into jacking him up like that) about the dosage? Characters figure out/realize things at just the right time). The climax is rather blasé too. We never truly meet the monster and never get any kind of motivation or goal from it. Something besides “thing that’s trying to get here to do bad things” would be appreciated.

I had fun the whole way through. I get a kick out of the little things like how they show what a pain in the ass it was to find a friend if he wasn’t home when you called. The chemistry with the kids is great, and the balance of comedy and suspense is spot on. Killer soundtrack and solid special effects, too.  I think the end sets up the possibility for the best season yet because of where everyone is left to move on from. It’ll take the show to new areas which I think will ultimately pay off. I’d like to see Eleven find more kids and I hope someday Eight comes back. A monster that can communicate would be nice. Now that Eleven is back and Will is fine (he better be) the crew will be whole right from the start so there are no limits to how they can kick season 3 off. After the initial cold shoulder Eleven gave Max, it’ll be something to see them become friends.

Let’s blow this adventure up to new heights, I’m excited for more.


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Mr. Robot S3E04


There is a lot of division going on in Mr. Robot.

Let’s start with the family. Elliot confronts his sister about hacking him. In a clever move to keep her role with the FBI a secret, she tells him she had to because Mr. Robot has hurt her and she’s afraid of what he’s up to. Elliot at this point thinks Mr. Robot is gone (or dormant) so this new rattles him. With this knowledge, he invites Darlene into what he’s been doing.

This gives Darlene a new perspective. The FBI knows that Elliot has been working with Tyrell and now she knows that Elliot doesn’t know he’s been in contact with Tyrell. Elliot shows her the work he’s been doing to keep Stage 2 from happening and that prompts the question: If you have all this info, why haven’t you made an anonymous tip to the Feds? You can stop this and keep your hands clean. Elliot’s thoughts: I can’t leave behind what we’ve started. He feels responsible for what’s happened and wants to stop it himself. Privately, he’s still fascinated with the idea of the revolution.

Knowing that Mr. Robot is active makes Elliot’s life more complicated. There’s a whole countermeasure to what he’s been doing that he can’t account for. That’s a problem. He deduces that since he isn’t missing out on any time in the day, it Mr. Robot must be active when he sleeps. He wants Darlene to keep watch at night and follow him. He stations Darlene next door in Shayla’s still empty apartment (which could have some terrible foreshadowing meaning behind it).

So, this plan of espionage is how Darlene finds out Angela is involved with Mr. Robot.

Tyrell is beside himself in anger. Angela and Mr. Robot meet him in a secret location and they discuss how Irving, on behalf of Whiterose has made them commit to a time to destroy the E Corp records: September 29th. Oh, and Elliot has been thwarting the records being moved to the New York location, ruining their plan. Angela is confident they can get it all moved in time and Tyrell isn’t having it. He’s over his infatuation with Elliot, he’s nuts and is nothing but a problem now.

Mr. Robot throws his weight around at the effort does something to him. He loses control to Elliot and he now sees Angela and Tyrell together in the same room. Angela knocks out Elliot with an injection to buy some time.

Always the professional, Irving manages to calm Tyrell down and speak directly to his ego: Stick with us Tyrell, you were born to do this. Tyrell likes what he hears but has some new conditions in order to do the work. My kid, my wife and I are on a plane to the Ukraine the moment stage 2 is done. Tell my wife we’re leaving together soon. Irving, knowing that Joanna is dead, says sure thing.

Angela talks to Price about getting Elliot fired from his E Corp job in order to contain his anti-Stage 2 work. Angela and Price’s conversations have always been strange and this one is no exception. Angela wants to hide who Elliot is, so she tells him she needs Elliot gone for important reasons she doesn’t want to talk about. Through some awkward back and forth he agrees.

Angela returns to her kitchen with Mr. Robot in her kitchen. He’s panicking but she bets that she can explain away any concerns Elliot has when he comes back. Angela is doing her best to keep calm and forge ahead but a lot seems to be going wrong for her. Elliot might just go along with what Angela says just to appease her and then flee to Darlene.

Out of everyone, I’m worried about Darlene the most. Losing Cisco traumatized her in ways that can’t be fixed. She’s caught in the middle of her brother and the feds with no good way out. The walls have been closing in on her and there are few moves left for her to make. At best she can keep tabs on Elliot and try to steer him from doing anything worse (or getting killed). She straight up confesses to the hack on the subway to the girl that pickpockets her and the only thing she wants back is an old picture of her family. She regrets everything she’s done and wishes to go back in time to a simpler time. A sliver of time, no matter how brief, where she had a family that was intact. She leaves the picture in Elliot’s apartment.

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Lights Out

Lights Out is a decent ghost story. With a PG-13 rating, it goes for jump scares above all else. The age-old ‘afraid of the dark’ motif gets put to use here.

Rebecca’s little brother, Martin, is having trouble sleeping. Rebecca left home long years ago as she doesn’t get along with her mother after her father walked out on them. Martin calls Rebecca from school and she comes to pick him up, a child service worker says he keeps falling asleep in class. His behavior mimics problems Rebecca had in her childhood and she’s immediately suspicious of mom. It turns out their mother has a rather disturbing friend following her around, one that gets very angry when she doesn’t get her way.

At 80 minutes long, Lights Out zips along. We meet the ghost in the first scene and get a sense of her powers. From there we meet Rebecca and Martin and their mother’s problems become known. Due to the short run time, Rebecca puts things together fast. She finds background info in the first place she looks, she finds a way to harm the ghost more or less by accident and then it’s a matter of protecting her brother.

It’s all a little convenient but it works well enough. The special effects are really good and using darkness as a scare tactic is always effective. The threat of the ghost comes with a flicker. Lights on she can’t do anything, but in the dark, she’s free to move about quickly (she might have had ninja training when she was alive) and do harm. Neat monster design (even if it is too close to the witch in the Left 4 Dead games) that has a great silhouette. The old technique of hiding the monster until the final act is done to great effect.

Good cast and a solid ending, even if it is predictable. Good character building, the script hits all the checkpoints at the typical page count. A good scary movie for those new to the genre as there is not much here for the vets.

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Channel Zero: No-End House

Channel Zero is an anthology horror series in its second season on SYFY. I haven’t watched the first (Candle Cove) as No-End House was the first promo I’ve seen for the series.

No-End House is a creative take on haunted houses that pop up all over the country for Halloween. This particular house has a viral internet following as it seems to get only advertising online. Short teaser clips sent to people that are shared around until someone sees the house (an on the small side two story home painted matte black). When people congregate at night, the front door unlocks, allowing groups of people. Inside are six rooms, each scarier than the last. Most people bail out of the experience before they get to the end. There are all sorts of rumors about the house that draws people in, that the rooms are different for everyone, and making it through will change your life.

Main characters, Margot and Jules decide to check out the house together with their friend JD. They meet another guy, Seth, shortly after they find out about the house and he tags along with them.

Margot and Jules had been close childhood friends until Margot’s father died from a prescription drug reaction. After the tragedy, Jules left town for school, essentially leaving Margot behind. Jules comes home from break and she tries to reconnect with Margot. What better way than a haunted house?

Once in the house, Margot and Jules traverse the increasingly intense rooms with JD and Seth and two others until they are separated. They come out of the back the house to discover…they are still inside the house and it wants something from them.

Through the six episodes, the rules and secrets of the house become exposed. The secrets of the people also trickle out. It’s a cerebral trip through a dangerous and surreal world.

No-End House is a really creepy show. The set up with the house is cool and there are some amazing visuals once things going. Like any good horror/mystery story, subtle foreshadowing is all over the place and not everything is answered. You constantly question the motives of the house and the people. Each person has their own story, one that the house seemingly knows and exploits.

I think six episodes is the sweet spot for a show like this. Enough room to get a complete and complex story out without any wheel spinning. It’s constantly moving and delivering, there’s time for characters to grow (and die) but not waste time. The end is satisfying yet open-ended enough to create good discussions on what happened.

Season 3, Butcher’s Block, is coming up next year and I’m looking forward to it if this is the kind of quality I can expect. I’m going to check out Season 1 as soon as I can.

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I am ready

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Mr. Robot S3E03


All about that Tyrell. The long gap of time where Tyrell was missing has been filled in. Turns out he really. really, missed Elliot.

So the Dark Army found Elliot and Tyrell back at the original f society HQ just after the five/nine hack. And Irving was managing that pick up team, so Whiterose has had him in his employ for some time. He separated the two and hid Tyrell from the feds while Elliot went on to commit himself.

It was a rough go for Tyrell, looking at video of his son while he was secluded in a cabin in the woods in New York.  Coding and chopping wood seemed to be his only two pastimes while he was there. Being so pull out of society damaged his psyche. Reading that your wife has filed for divorce will do that to a man. And as Tyrell said, if she saw him the way he was there, she never would have taken him back.

We got a sizable nugget from this separation: Tyrell didn’t know Elliot had a split personality. Every time he was with Elliot, it was Mr. Robot. When he talks to Elliot on the phone when he’s locked up (season 2), Tyrell gets upset that Elliot didn’t recognize his voice. Tyrell holds Elliot (the version he knows anyway) in high esteem. He tells everyone that will listen he has to be working with Elliot on Stage 2. It’s not until Elliot is recovering from surgery that Angela tells him about the two personalities. It’s Mr. Robot who wakes up first.

We get another glance of the machinations of Whiterose. The complications of Elliot breaking and committing himself brings us to Whiterose’s right-hand man first expressing his displeasure of the continued insistence on not cutting Elliot loose and moving on without him. Whiterose is none too pleased about what happened but he’s confident in his decisions. Keep an eye on Elliot while he’s there and pull the strings to get him out (which they do). And then comes Donald Trump on TV at the start of his campaigning to become president of the United States. Whiterose found another wildcard to bet on.

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Cult of Chucky

I admire writer/director Don Mancini for keeping his horror franchise going for this long. Seven movies in about 30 years, Chucky manages to keep coming back every few years with his trademark bad attitude. Figuring out how to get a two-foot tall doll to murder people is quite an achievement.

The last movie, Curse, was surprisingly good. Really creative, got every dime of the budget on screen, and they managed to make Chucky a real threat and the end was solid.

Cult follows Nica, the main survivor of the last film and Chucky’s main obsession (aside from Tiff), to a new psychiatric facility. Once again, no one believes Chucky is real, the murders from the last ordeal were done by Nica. She’s mentally ill and isn’t criminally responsible for the murders. After the trauma and intense (shock) therapy she believes Chucky isn’t real either. And then the doctor brings a Good Guy doll to the facility and people start dying again. Andy (the longest running human character in the series) finds out what’s going and rushes to help Nica.

Much like Curse, Cult is pretty much locked into one location. It offers a sense of claustrophobia and the foreboding sense that there is no way to escape. Only one person knows of the threat in the building and Chucky is free to sneak around causing mayhem and confusion. It’s classic 80’s horror set up (like Nightmare on Elm Steet, the parents don’t listen to the kids until it’s too late). Mancini has a knack for coming up with new scenarios to make his little monster work. And he has to because if Chucky doesn’t get the jump on people, a swift kick is going to hinder his plans. The doubt, the questions of sanity, the snowballing of events with Chucky’s new trick, the great special effects work to make Chucky a menace all come together well. It’s not a scary movie, but twisted and fun. It fits the franchise. There are quite a few deaths and there’s a good amount of blood, but nothing terribly creative or memorable (Chucky has always been a fan simplicity, stabbing usually gets the job done).

There’s a significant time jump between movies so there is some confusion at the start about how this is all came together. Most of it is answered though. Fiona Dourif is once again fantastic as Nica, she carries the movie. Her work in the final scenes is fantastic stuff.

Child’s Play is an easy horror movie franchise to forget but every time it comes around I’m happy to give it another go. After a super wacky mid-section (Bride and Seed) I like the path Mancini has found now. The doors are wide open for a sequel and I’ll be there for part 8.

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