Black Sails S4E04

XXXII

Now that Nassau is taken, it has to be held. Easier said than done when pirates are involved.

Silver and Flint start off standing together, the decision makers of the pirates as some of the English (and quick thinking Eleanor) made it into the fortress. There’s a lot of moving pieces in the eye of this storm.

The English men in their stuffy suits want to fight back immediately and Eleanor manages to persuade them to wait for Rogers to come back to Nassau. They need the man and firepower that he’s going to come back with. When she finds out that Max wasn’t taken in, she’s worried.

Madi goes off further into the island to check on the settlements to see if she can salvage the growing slave rebellion that was harmed by Bones actions of pushing to take Nassau and going off on his own. She finds out that a new threat has emerged from the penance the slave owners brought down from Bones’ actions: a leader has emerged. He has rallied a large swath of men by overthrowing a settlement and he intends on taking Nassau in the names of the slaves. Pirates be damned.

While working together to keep Nassau from eating itself alive in all the turmoil, Silver and Flint are working well with each other. Until Bones gets into his ear. Bones has been busy. He’s been cutting off possible trouble makers and he also managed to get Max. Using the leverage of Max, he forces Silver into a talk without Flint. He thinks he knows why Eleanor wants her so badly (she’s the one that sold them out at the beginning) and that trusting Flint is and always has been a mistake. He’s left a trail of bodies as far as the eye can see to get his way and any idea he comes up with to keep Nassau is just another terrible event waiting to happen. He suggests to Silver that now that he has something worth living for (Madi) he needs to be the sole shot caller. Then, Silver finds out from Max that someone very important in Flint’s life may still be alive, hidden away many years ago.

Back at sea, Rogers splits his group into two when he rescues a fleeing boat from Nassau and that Eleanor is still there. He’s going back to Nassau and he appoints one of his most trusted men to take the pirates they’ve caught to another friendly port. The guy wants to stick with Rogers and go to war, but Rogers makes him go. Now, Jack and Anne are part of those few dozen prisoners. This guy and those that are taking the to the authorities are pissed. All alone they decide to slowly take their revenge. The rest of what happens at sea fills the action quota for the week. A brutal fight for survival, it’s Anne who gives them the chance they need. Riveting scene.

Max gets reunited with Eleanor and as the crocodile tears start building, Max isn’t hearing it. She constantly told Eleanor and Rogers what was going to happen if they kept pushing and it did. Ignored through it all, Max has nothing left and cares little for how Eleanor feels. Flint and Eleanor are two peas in a pod, everyone close to them gets dashed on the rocks while they get to move on and destroy more.

Finally, Rogers floats up to Nassau and the pirates are in trouble. It’s a Man O’War so it’s got serious firepower so they’ll be able to get to the beach with little problem. When discussing tactics, Flint gets a message from Eleanor. He and Silver go to meet her in secret where she lays out an offer. In exchange for their buried treasure and safe passage for everyone, she’ll leave Nassau and the fortress (and its guns) to them.

This is a last ditch effort if there ever was one. Eleanor wants to bail out. All the work she’s put into Nassau in her adult life is gone and she sees nothing to salvage. If she can get this deal it gives her two options. Clear of the pending doom she can move on with Max. Or she can hang back, scoop up Rogers and use the money to pay off his debt and move on with him.

Silver rightfully says no. The treasure is the pirates future. If they live through this, they need the money to do anything. That bounty is the holy grail for basically everyone standing behind Flint and Silver. If they lose that, it will be full on mutiny. Flint on the other hand…no idea what he thinks there is to gain for himself by saying yes. Tunnel vision perhaps? He weighs his entire life, failure or success, on him taking back Nassau.

Eleanor getting her way seems far fetched. Rogers and her handmaiden are her only true allies she has left and the talk Bones gave to Silver already tilted his view on Flint. Flint telling her yes has to cement Silver on ditching Flint. I can only hope that Jack can get back to Nassau and crosses paths with Eleanor. That’ll be a wrap on her backstabbing.

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Legion on FX

I’ve never heard of Legion until the show was announced way back when. Looking him up you can see his rather important lineage to the X-Men universe. With the knowledge that he is the son of Charles Xavier, I’ve gone into Legion with little expectations. The last month or so they advertised this short season like it was the second coming.

Two episodes in, Legion feels like it’s in the X-Men world (it shares a certain production design aesthetic) but feels very unique. David is an incredibly powerful telepath but doesn’t really know. He was diagnosed as schizophrenic. He sees and hears things all the time and has no control over it. Sometimes people have gotten hurt. He’s been in and out of mental institutions for at least a decade and he considers himself with no silver lining: lost, depressed, sick, crazy. His sister, Amy, is probably his only tether to happiness.

In one facility he meets another patient Syd and their relationship changes everything. It leads to a road of enlightenment and danger where he comes to turn that he isn’t sick, he has powers. The voices and the visions are real. With a haunted childhood and an adulthood of doctors, isolation, and medication David has a lot to work through as he’s hunted once he goes into hiding with Syd and an organization of like-minded individuals committed to helping him.

The pilot is packed with info and characters to take in. Getting to know David is tough (as it should be) and it’s a constant question of what is real and who is a friend. Aubrey Plaza as his not so good of an influence friend Shannon is the fastest highlight to come for. The  end of the pilot puts it’s full X-Men brand shoes on for you to check out.

I’ve found episode 2 to be really impressive. Shocking, actually. With the introduction of David done, we go into (literally) his head for the dirt. Presenting his past the way they do gives the direct line to discover who this guy is. What made him this bundle of nervous power. I dig the supporting characters (especially Wallace) and every scene felt important. Whatever that fat man/demon thing is is super disturbing. The ultimate boogyman of what that creature is, where it’s from, what it wants and holy animal, is it real, has me hooked.

Major shout out to the crew on this show. It starts on the page and comes to life in some amazing direction and editing. There are too many incredible moments to mention but basically anytime Wallace and Dr. Bird are working with David is nuts. Whatever the budget is for this show, every dime is seen on screen. Seamless visual effects to display morphing time, space, and locations. They visually jump around in David’s memories so much that it shouldn’t work but it does. The sense of being in the narrative perspective of the main character, even when he isn’t “there”, is masterful work. Everything with the MRI machine is brilliant. The lighting cues, the blocking, the incredible editing. This episode needs to be put up for awards.

I can only hope that after seeing this that the best is yet to come.

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Black Sails S4E03

XXXI

This might end up being in the top 5 episodes of the series. There is some intense moments, to say the least. There’s a lot to unpack here.

I’ll start with Max. In the last episode, she made her own moves in the dead of night to end the battle for Nassau with Long John Silver. It didn’t work out and she was ratted out. That put Max firmly on Berringer’s bad side and he had enough of her, putting her up for treason. Berringer is throwing his full weight around as the only authority in town, and Eleanor is the only one who could help her. With a trip to the gallows in her future, Max has very few avenues of rescue available. Her two main helpers try their best but fail. The good news for Max is that getting into trouble kept Eleanor on the island, dashing Rogers plan for Eleanor to get help. That’s bad news for Rogers.

With Billy Bones gone rogue with a large swath of the pirates, Silver and Flint work in their smaller group to take back Nassau. The Long John Silver boogeyman has been working well in town and Flint is still confident that they can take their home back with enough slave resistance. John coming back from the dead brings renewed faith in Madi. This group has a bit of an advantage- Rogers took off with quite a few men so Nassau isn’t as well guarded as it could be.

On the ocean, Blackbeard, Anne, and Jack catch up to Rogers. It does not go well. They lose the battle and get taken prisoner. Charging forward to get even for Vane’s death has delivered them to death’s door. A major win for Rogers, he makes an example out of the notorious Blackbeard. I did not know what keelhauling meant until now. Seeing Teach strung up like that, I thought they were just going to dunk him head first into the ocean repeatedly, an advanced water boarding if you will. He disappears into the water, some strange noises from the boat are heard and he comes back up head first and with cuts all over him. He is messed up. Teach lived through it and Rogers orders another round and they show it all. His body is literally scraped along the bottom of the boat. Absolutely horrific.

In a moment that rivals the badassery of Captain Vane spitting in the face of the crown by walking off to his hanging to kick off the resistance, Blackbeard manages to thumb his nose at  Rogers authority. and clips his power move by surviving three rounds of keelhauling, forcing Rogers to shoot him. Absolutely nuts.

This whole segment was brilliantly put together, it might be my favorite scene in the series. We don’t see what happens to Teach the first time. All the pirates are shaken, their Captain taking a brutal punishment from their sworn enemy. The shock when they see him alive and Rogers’ complete annoyance that this bastard is still fighting him. The second time around and we are shown exactly what Teach is going through. He comes back up and it’s gross. Rogers feels vindicated and gears up to send Jack up for his turn. But Teach sputters to life and everyone is shocked. His men are in disbelief, their leader, their tough bastard of a leader is still with them. Rogers orders Teach around again and we only hear the horror. We wait on the boat with everyone to see what comes back up. Teach is dumped onto the deck again and he looks like ground beef. His people look at him, their spirit taken with their captain. And he comes back again! The pirates swell with pride with this unheard of level of defiance. Blackbeard will never be forgotten. With no way out he still managed to defy his enemy. While Rogers does get to kill him, his triumphant moment is ruined and he’s so flustered that he does nothing to Jack.

Back at Nassau, Berringer starts the public hangings after ignoring some spy info Eleanor passed him from Max. She wanted him to silence the resistance away from the people. With three hung and the next set coming up, Berringer is riding the power wave, ready for Silver to show up right there so he can show everyone he means business. Eleanor knows what’s about to pop off and she’s petrified–she takes off to hide with Max and a few others.

Enter Long John Silver into Nassau. Him in front with his one leg and the others behind him (even Flint!). It’s a huge moment for Silver, a legend come to take back the power. All out war breaks out right there in the center of town and just when it looks like Berringer has the advantage, Bones shows up with his crew and they overwhelm the crown. In another nod to Silver’s ascent to leadership, it is he who gives Hands the go ahead to kill Berringer.

The pirates have planted their flag back on their home turf while Rogers had his own win at sea. But Rogers has a real problem on his hands. He’s lost home base and thus, any kind of leverage. There’s really no negotiating chips he holds aside from Jack and Anne. He’s out numbered with no place to land. Eleanor is also trapped on Nassau, she never made it to her uncle for help. Rogers is on his own along with that boat anchor of debt still tied around his neck.

I don’t think they’ll be able to match the action and insanity of this episode next week but I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Oh, that’s good

The short burst of Gotham episodes was very good. Arguably the strongest set of episodes of the series and this week’s “winter finale” was without the doubt the best episode of the series. A lot came together with all the major plotlines coming to major milestones. The end of Riddler and Penguin’s arc turned out great, Barbara’s got a new position in town with her girl and Butch, Celina got let down with an ultimate bummer and leave it to Jerome to whip everything into a frenzy. Cameron Monaghan really hit it out of the park and the last 10 minutes or so of the episode was the most Batman thing they’ve ever captured to date. A major pillar of Bruce Wayne becoming The Batman is now built and was awesome to watch. They wrote in a ton of moving pieces to get to here but the payoff was worth it to me, the show just needs more moments like that. The best part of the show since the start has been the killer casting and it looks like Cory Michael Smith is going to get the lions share of the spotlight starting in April.

The Expanse has come back strong! I think there’s a real drought of super high-quality sci-fi on TV and this one checks the boxes for me. I like the cast a lot (and their characters) and while there is a fair share of tropes (namely Thomas Jane’s character) I like the dynamic of the main cast. Plus, the high-quality special effects sell the world to me. Original SyFy shows are more or less condemned to a certain low budget looking affair, but they get every dime on screen. Sets look great, space scenes look believable. It’s impressive work that doesn’t pull me out of what’s going on. Nice plot advancement in the premiere with getting a much clearer idea of what the blue stuff is and the growing politics of Earth, Mars and the Belters was weaved in and around the central crew plot really well. Impressive stuff.

Taboo. Still on the fence. I want to like it more than I do, there’s just something about it that doesn’t engage me all the way. There’s a lot more going on now with James showing everyone who thinks he’s a dumb animal to come at him at their own risk…it really is the Tom Hardy show. I checked it out because of him and he’s why I’m sticking with it.

Season 2 of Voltron on Netflix was way better than the first! With all the introductions and basic lore out of the way, this story arc is way more complete and fun to watch. The animation is great, action variety is great and there’s way more actual Voltron. The last 2 episodes are wild.

Black Sails is off to what I think is a slow start but it’s good to be back in this world. The ship battle was nuts (as usual) while the central idea of this season seems rather in the air right now. Obviously, England is going to come hard at the pirates the whole time. Long John and the rest of the pirates at sea are at a loss without Vane and getting revenge for him is the main driving force for many. Good ol’ Flint keeps flexing every chance he gets but Billy Bones is more than happy to check him. Eleanore and Max are in muddy waters back on Nassau. Both are trying to keep their heads above water with Max clawing harder considering her status as little more than a replaceable madame. Eleanore is replaceable too but I think she’s got more room to work in considering her current station.

Homeland is Homeland. I like the setting change a lot and Quinn is a mess! Still very early to say yay or nay on the season but I think major stuff is about to happen this week. One to keep an eye on.

Justice League Dark is the best DC animated work in awhile. Especially after the disappointing The Killing Joke last year. Brings in same rarely used characters along with Batman as a skeptical anchor. I like John Constantine a lot and I’m thrilled to see that Matt Ryan gets to move from his short live action job to voicing him. At about 70 minutes long, Dark doesn’t take long to get going with the general population being afflicted by violent visions of those around them turning into demons. With magic clearly at work, the Justice league turns to their more mysterious contacts (Zatanna) for help. Overall great animation and the magic motif opens up to some crazy action. A lot of fun to watch, highly recommended.

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Get the stent out of here

The Kidney Stone event is finally over. I’m more or less writing this to simply mark the moment of feeling like myself again. Finished the antibiotics yesterday and the pain from the procedure is basically gone. Waking up I immediately felt better. The proverbial monkey on my back that had been punching, biting and scratching for 2 1/2 months is gone. While it went on for far too long with the complication of c.diff infection, it’s a relief to say the least.

Onward and upward.

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It’s been awhile

Time for some TV catch up!

A Series of Unfortunate Events is by far the best show I’ve watched this month. Based closely on the book series (that I have not read) it’s much like a Roald Dahl story come to life. This story of three siblings who lose their parents and get hounded by a dreadful man named Count Olaf for their inheritance has hints of Tim Burton at the helm. It’s actually Barry Sonnenfeld behind he camera (which you will be quick to notice if you’re familiar with his work. Also, no swirly fences so that gives it away that Burton didn’t touch this). Great cast, music and the makeup on Neil Patrick Harris (Olaf) is phenomenal. I was legitimately bummed when I ran out of episodes. They better get season 2 going quick or the kids are going to look too old.

Taboo is the latest big show on FX.  Led by Tom Hardy (and the main reason why I checked it out) it’s a grimy show to be sure. I’m not sure how much I like it two episodes in. Considering I’m still engaged, that gives it an edge over Kurt Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy follow up. Hardy plays John Delaney, an adventurer in the 1800’s who comes home from Africa when his father dies. He inherits some land, snatching it away from a deal his sister made and her husband made to sell it to the Crown. John is an intimidating man, to say the least, and has quite a few rumors following him from Africa. An assassination attempt already happened so I’m going to stick around to see how things play out.

Gotham is back for a brief time and it looks like Jerome’s cult has been growing in the darkness of the city. Riddler’s plan to get revenge on Penguin is full steam ahead too. This show is so weird I love it.

The Mick can be quickly boiled down to Kaitlin Olsen’s Always Sunny character, Dee Reynolds, getting her own show away from the brothers. The kids make this show (the youngest is hilarious). It’s a perfect fit for Fox, I like what I’ve seen so far and hope it keeps up.

Workaholics burns into its final season! If you’ve ever seen it, you know what to expect and it delivers. These three shmucks are so stupid. I’m really curious to see how they finish the show.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has hit some rough patches but this season has started strong. A rather daring musical episode to start, the water park episode was great and last week had a great take on reality TV. It was a smart choice they made years ago to make short seasons, gives them more chances to make killer instead of filler.

Man Seeking Woman- I don’t know how many people watch this show but I hope it’s a lot. I love the creativity of how they present the world of dating. This season picks right up with Josh’s new relationship with Lucy and even though on the surface that’s well-worn territory the writers always find that next layer of awkwardness to explore.

Baskets needs awards just for giving Louie Anderson a killer job to do. This show is so oddly wholesome (?) and weird you need to watch it to understand. I have no idea where the (very talented) creators got the idea for Chip Baskets. I mean, they guy went to France to become a clown. Aside from Anderson as Mrs. Baskets, Martha Kelly as Martha is the breakout actor and character for me. I hope this show hooks her up career wise. The start of the season has been really good with Chip on the run, him in a road movie scenario opens him up to all sorts of scenarios and characters. Love this show with its careful tightrope act of pratfalls, awkwardness, dysfunction, and family heart.

Another one of my shows is on its last season, Grimm, I think they’re doing it at the right time too. With all the escalation that’s been going on and all the discoveries, it’s nice to know a conclusion is coming. Two episodes in, I think they’re off to a good start. The Captain going full villain and how they have to deal with him while dealing with the growing threat of the Black Claw making moves worldwide. Part cop show, spy show, and creature feature, this show has a lot to give.

Sleepy Hollow had a serious season finale last year. With a major character killed off, there was a lot to question about where this show could go. Did it lose too much? With the new location of D.C. and the new characters, this season is really a reboot of the show. It’s easy to see the explanations put in for new viewers, but they keep that stuff pretty quick for old fans of the show. It’s not bogged down and all the elements that made the show popular are still there. I like the new characters so far and the search for the new Witness and the rise of new (and old) threats are as fun as ever. So far, so good.

Coming Soon

Legion kicks off on FX on Feb. 8th. It’s their big dive into the superhero pool bringing live action Xmen to the small screen. Xmen has been on some uneven footing over the years but this project looks really promising as they’re focusing on a character that’s never really been in the mainstream spotlight before.

Black Sails kicks off in a week! It being the final season is a bummer. After such an awesome season last year, I have really high hopes for this last arc. I’m a huge fan of this show and want it to end as well as it possibly can. The show runners and writers are awesome so I’m sure it will.

Face Off is finally back this week! One of two reality shows I watch, I’m stoked to see this year’s All-Star cast compete.

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2016 ~Fin~

2016 is now behind us and I think we’re all ready to get things going in a positive direction. I ended the year being sick for more than a month, first with kidney stones and then a stomach virus that set up camp with no intent of leaving without some serious antibiotics. I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for both (still have a stent in my kidney which is GTFO ASAP. Embrace every day you are healthy, getting knocked out of commission for any amount of time is a serious bummer.

My movie reviews took a back seat to TV as just about all of my favorite content was coming on strong for the medium until the holiday break. I peppered some movies in here and there in the past 2 weeks. And of course there is a ton of stuff on Netflix to check out (just started S3 of the Dusk Til Dawn series and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown with plans to start The OA soon,)

Some TV highlights outside of watching the NY Rangers put on a clinic, hit a rut and now hopefully pulling the A team back together. Got into Vice News Tonight on HBO and I watch The Late Show with Stephen Colbert religiously. Ink Master had a quality season Obviously, I was on Shameless like a frog on a Junebug. The comedy shows I watch (Bob’s Burgers, Modern Family, Brooklyn 99) have remained strong. My extremely brief take on The Walking Dead is ‘serious pacing issues.’ When you have a cast that large and only care for maybe half of them, any diversion away from those key people (neutering Carol again and beating us over the head that yes, Negan is a bad guy) it more often feels like meandering than entertainment. The ex-Top Gear boys rode back with The Grand Tour and it’s often a treat to see them at it again.

The standard cable shows are returning shortly and a few hard hitters are coming back for new seasons. Homeland sounds like they’re shifting gears which is much needed and Black Sails is ending with Season 4. Last year was brilliant and I’m both happy and sad to see the end of one of my favorite shows. FaceOff took a big break and is returning at the end of the month.

Korn put out a killer album that made me very happy (gushing review is here) and Run the Jewels snuck out RTJ3 just before the new year and it’s also great.

Movie wise, some quick hits:

Yoga Hosers– The best way I’ve seen this Kevin Smith movie described is: it’s like watching someone’s home movie that had a great budget. It’s super stupid (it knows it) and is a project for Smith’s daughter Harley and her friend Rose (Depp) to have fun. Kevin says he made it for tween girls and I think that’s a fair assessment. Spawned from a goofy idea on a stoner podcast, Kevin did all the ground work to get this little picture made. Even if you hate it, you have to recognize and respect the indie spirit.

Point Break (2015)- Yeah, watch the original. This remake does nothing better. While competent (by modern cinema standards) I couldn’t help but shrug this entire movie off. Maybe if the changed the name and tried to make it more original it would stand up better, but there is very little fun and exhilaration here that the original did so well. Sure the landscapes and real stuntwork are good (far expanding the ‘extreme sport’ umbrella the first did) but it’s coated in so much CG it gets numbing.

Spectral– A surprise treat from Netflix. Sci-fi action (with many nods to Aliens) done well. It’s about the US military calling for extra brains to help out with a new threat on the battlefield somewhere in Europe. Well written, paced and acted. Looks like they got the entire budget on screen because it looks really good.

Finally, I started writing my book 4 years ago. I’m really close to the end. I’m thinking 5 chapters close. Being sick derailed me for a while and I’m now burning to get this last bit out of me and onto the page. I think I have a legit sellable story here and I just got to get it done. Even when I write “the end” in the coming weeks, I have to go back to the beginning and fine tune work I haven’t touched in a long time. While I have much more work to do with it, I’ve never been closer to such a huge personal accomplishment. Still need to think up a good title.

Posts in 2016: 126

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Shameless <> S7E12

Requiem for a Slut

It’s been awhile since the whole family was together (Kev and V included) so this season finale felt like a major culmination.

This episode balanced the black comedy with the drama and traumatic dysfunction of Shameless exceptionally well. If I didn’t know any better going into it, I’d say it felt like I was watching a series finale.

Let’s check in with everyone for the last time until next year:

Kevin and V’s battle with Svet was put firmly on the backburner for next year. Kevin is working at the Fairytale (tail?) and are weighing their options on going after Svetlana to get The Alibi back (something Fiona is all for).

Carl is doing well and comes home for a short time to everyone’s delight. Frank looking at him funny in his uniform and asking what it was for was a brilliant and effective bit of writing. It’s complex dysfunction and series history boiled down to two lines of dialog that says so much about Frank.

Ian takes a bus back from the border and only tells Trevor the truth that he was “with Mickey” during the few days no one could find him. He spiked Trevor’s trust into the dirt and they’re on the outs. Trevor does attend Monica’s funeral, so all might not be lost.

Lip is putting his best foot forward. He’s sober, going to meetings and keeping busy in positive ways. It looks like his relationship with Sierra has some light left in it.

Deb is moving forward too. Having lost her job at the laundromat, she’s taking welding classes and catches the eye of her instructor.

Fiona keeps it together, balancing her workload and the family crisis with Monica. In the end, she moves forward in obtaining the apartment complex.

Monica brings everyone together (her father shows up!) and gives Frank one last adventure to chase. Distraught and in mourning, he perks up when he realizes a key she left behind is for a self-storage facility. There, he finds Monica’s final dangerous move to secure the kids a parting gift. Her “legacy.” Of course, that brings up some dangerous possibilities, one Fiona fights and Frank champions.

Tons of great moments. Kevin is really funny through the whole episode. Lip talking to Sierra about the future. Ian facing the mistake he had to make for closure and continuing to help others at work. Deb being proactive to make a life for her daughter. Grandpa whupping Frank’s ass. The crazy fight with Frank and the whole family and Fiona going off on Frank in the backyard. His absolute heartbreak as his damaged muse’s memory is crushed by the truth Fiona forces him to listen to.

Fiona had a hell of an episode. Burning the candle at both ends, she went through the ringer until the very end. You could taste the built up rage and resentment she had for Monica with each passing scene. Talking about funeral arrangements with the funeral director, then the scene with Monica in the casket. The all-out brawl with Frank and the admonishment of how awful Monica was to them all. Her solution to Monica’s “legacy” was pretty brilliant and I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone hit a body in a casket before. Shameless to the letter. It all came around at the memorial service which was a terrific send off followed by a party at the Gallagher home. A classic staple of Shameless.

Seven seasons in and it was one of the best of the series. We don’t get that kind of goodness a lot. A whole lot of closure came this year and Season 8 is set up to take off from a new starting point. Can’t wait for my favorite show to come back.

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Shameless S7E11

Happily Ever After

This was a hell of an episode.

I’ll start outside of the circle with Kev and V. Svet is in exile (I assume she’s living at the bar) as Kev and V work to excise her from their lives. With her owning the bar, they need a new source of income for their family so Kevin hits the payment to find work. After seeing that his lack of education is going to be a major problem, V sends him out to a bartending job. He arrives to find that it’s a gay bar and when he makes a case for himself, he gets a shot to work that night to see if he can pull it off. He’s a hit! But he could do some side activities for extra money that he passes by V. We’ll see how that goes.

Deb takes a back seat this episode as her drama has more or less evened out. Fiona

Fiona gets her check for 160k for selling the laundromat. After expenses, she’s set to clear just under 80k. It’s a huge windfall for her, one she’s excited about but good ole Lip sneers at every bit of her progress: making a ton of money, buying a new car, and an eye on buying an apartment building nearby from a new contact (with benefits). With her new found experience of owning property, she’s more confident than ever that she can make this work again. The downside is Etta. With the building sold, Etta loses her home of 50 years. Fiona brings her in until she can secure a room at a nursing home for her. Etta settles in pretty quickly…

Ian is on the run with Mickey and it becomes clear in short order that life with Mickey is not going to be an easy one. Their love and lust is very real. As are Mickey’s issues. They have a dangerous hanger on that they have to ditch and then Mickey’s plan to get into Mexico collapses. In Texas with few options and no money, the two go to a bank to make a withdrawal. Mickey, ski mask, and gun in tow, goes for the only option he has gets stopped by Ian who calmly withdraws all the money he’s earned from working for the past year. They get to the border and it’s do or die time.

Lip is wallowing in his own self-pity. He’s lost just about everything and it seems like everyone is either yelling at him or telling him what to do. Deb wisely tells him that if he would get his shit together, no one would be telling him what to do. He goes to AA meetings but hates it. Outside of one, he talks to a fellow addict and they end up hanging out. They share war stories and generally talk about life. At the end of the day, the guy tells Lip that he has to decide for himself to make the changes. The time you’d turn to the bottle must be filled with something else. He actually knits. After shrugging off all the advice from everyone else, this guy who doesn’t seem to care much about Lip either way seems to have made an impression.

Frank and Monica wake up in a room with naked strangers after another night of partying. They steal everything that’s valuable and continue to have a blast together. At home, Frank proposes to her. Yes, they never got a divorce so it’s more like they’re going to renew their vows. Planning a quick ceremony of some sort, they go around to the kids to try and get them to show up for it. Deb is the only one who commits and it’s she and Liam who witness Frank and Monica get into a fist fight over some years ago transgressions. In typical dysfunctional fashion, they quickly make up. As Fiona says later that night as she toasts her awful parents, “You two deserve each other.” Watching the others dance in merriment (after spiking their drinks) Monica looks at her family (minus Ian and Carl) and remarks how proud she is of them. It’s one of the best family moments in awhile actually. She’s got one more plan,  a DEA dangerous plan to leave something for the kids. Frank is, of course, game for anything the love of his life wants to do.

I’ve glossed over a ton of details in this episode mostly because you need to see these long-time-coming scenes for yourself. For the fans (and if you are reading this, you are one of them) there’s some intense, beautiful, family changing  stuff. In the last 6 minutes, a lot of Shameless threads come to an end.

At the little party, Lip apologizes to Fiona. He’s doubted her for so long thinking she couldn’t do anything she said she could do. He was wrong. They bury the hatchet.

Fiona brings Etta to a assisted living facility and walks out with Etta in utter confusion and herself in tears. She bought the woman’s home and business, made a profit from selling it and essentially made her homeless. Not a family member and unable (and unwilling) to solely take care of Etta anymore, Fiona sets her up as best as she can. The girl who always put Southies first, the downtrodden over everyone else, has turned a major corner. The whole season we’ve watched her put her own needs first for once. With success, she has changed. Fiona is now a business woman.

Ian and Mickey’s relationship has been a favorite storyline for many Shameless fans. In this episode, they get the best scenes together. We watch as they reconnect, but we also watch as Ian comes to the final realization that their lives and their paths are different now. Ian needs stability and has started to do well for himself in Mikey’s absence. Mickey is a lifetime criminal. A fugitive that offers no stability. At the border, Ian confesses that he can’t continue any longer and while Mickey is hurt, he ultimately understands and lets go. Ian hangs around to see that Mickey makes it into Mexico.

Morning comes and the Gallagher home is a mess after the parental celebration. Etta is teaching Lip how to knit and Fiona then takes Etta to the nursing home. Frank wakes next to Monica on the floor and goes to wake her up to start another day of scheming, drugs, sex and laughter. Frank becomes frantic when Monica doesn’t wake up. The off again on again Gallagher matriarch is dead.

Next week, the season finale.

 

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Shameless S7E10

Ride or Die

With Monica back, Frank rolls with his long time partner in crime. They spend most of the show together trying various illegal ideas to score cash (and drugs if possible). Monica got the idea in her head that she wants to make amends to the kids by leaving them all $5,000. Despite flaming out every time, they neither get killed or arrested so that’s something. They had a good time together until they come home late with Neil and Deb kicks them out of the apartment for good.

Fiona debates selling the lease of the laundromat to her boss who intends to redo the entire street. She paid 80k and put another 8k into repairs and the laundromat starts to come back to life. Her boss low balls her at 80k and then goes to 90. Barely a profit so Fiona easily turns it down. She owns her own business, it’s great for the community, her sister works there (they are getting along great), and she’s able to keep Etta happy. When she runs the numbers, she figures it’ll be at least 3 years until the laundromat gets into the black. The final offer of 160k comes after some more talk. That’s an 80 grand profit in about a month. Fiona is tested.

V is furious at Svetlana. The adoption papers they signed was actually the paperwork for V and Kevin to sign The Alibi over to Svet. They’re betrayed and feel like fools for being so trusting and gullible. V wants Svet gone and Kevin goes to talk to her. Svet doesn’t see the problem. V and Kev didn’t know what they were doing, they would have gone bankrupt in 6 months without her and they all have a great deal with the thruple relationship. She loves V and has fun with Kevin. She calls him stupid, which is probably the worst thing she could have said to him. Kevin updates Fiona on what’s happening and she gives him her lawyer’s info. Svet can’t wave this one away, V and Kev are firm and getting back what’s theirs and want to send her packing.

The discussion sends Fiona to V and we finally get their reunion. They make up on V and Kevin’s stoop as they recount their stupid mistakes. It’s here that we find out Fiona made her decision. She’s selling out. The plan that I thought was going to ruin her, made her a small fortune.

Lip is a mess. Blackout drunk, he stumbles through the entire episode. Monica and Frank are always happy to see him but that’s about it. Once he breaks into an old flame’s home, he makes his way to an AA meeting.

Ian, who has been flying high for awhile now is put to the test. Mickey has broken out of prison and is on the lamb. Mickey reaches out to Ian almost immediately and when they meet, they have quite the reunion. Mickey can’t stick around the old stomping grounds and asks Ian to leave with him. With this maelstrom back in his lap, Ian is faced with up ending what is a good life. He tries to talk to Trevor but chickens out. In my favorite scene, he talks to Fiona about Mickey and she reassures him that he’s without a doubt better off without him. I think Fiona is in just about all my favorite scenes this year. Fantastic dialog in this scene with expert delivery from Emmy Rossum and Cameron Monaghan. Striking direction and lighting decisions too. It’s hard to describe how smart and meaningful this scene is.

We come to the last scene where Ian is waiting for Mickey in the middle of nowhere. A new Jeep rumbles up and stops in front of Ian. Mickey poses the question, “Is this goodbye?”

Ian gets in. “Let’s ride.” Mickey hits the gas and the take off together. Oh man.

Next week: !?

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Suicide Squad

suicidesquad

With a lot of general negativity surrounding Suicide Squad, I was worried coming into this. As disappointed as I am, I did like it. But it is…off. Not in the quirky movie way like Swiss Army Man but in the “something happened in the making of this” way.

Suicide Squad is an easy premise to describe. A task force (literally Task Force X) is put together by a secret government agency led by Amanda Waller. This team made up of criminals is an expendable one. They are meant to go on the most dangerous covert operations, stop things the general public may or may not know about. A team of lethal people to take on any kind of threat, foreign, domestic or meta-human (like Superman). Anyone on the team disobeys they are killed with a neck bomb on the spot. They die on a mission, oh well. They get caught, all knowledge of them is disavowed. They pull through and the award is some time shaved off of their prison sentence and it’s back into the hole until the next shady mission.

In an attempt to get some rather serious magical muscle, Waller discovers that Dr. June Moon has been possessed by an ancient and powerful being known as The Enchantress. Using the threat of death over Enchantress and a loving aid assigned to Moon, Waller thinks she has her ace in the hole. It doesn’t take long for the confident mortal to be proven painfully wrong. Enchantress revolts and Task Force X is given their first job.

Looking to Suicide Squad’s comic book roots, the cast of characters is mostly from its current iteration. Harley Quinn and Deadshot are the headliners with June Moone and Rick Flag being more or less the hub of the main plot and Diablo being the B plot.

The best part of the movie is easily the casting.  Will Smith holds it down as Will Smith as Deadshot. He’s likable and knows how to work it in an action movie. He’s given the most robust background story. Margot Robbie gives a great live action take on one of DC’s biggest characters, Harley Quinn. Coming out of this movie, she probably has the best chance in appearing in the most sequels/spin-offs. Viola Davis is perfectly cast as Amanda Waller, a staple of many stories in the DC Universe.

The problem is, it’s all diluted. There are too many characters. The first 20 or so minutes is a “here are the characters” get to know you montage. Once the intros are done, we do get some great interactions and lines throughout. But Katana, Captain Boomerang, Slipknot (for obvious reasons), Killer Croc and Diablo are given very little to do. For as big of a push Diablo ultimately gets in the end, he more or less walks around in the background for the entire movie. So all these characters aren’t used well and they eat up valuable time that takes away from fan favorites Harley and Joker. I really like what I saw of Jared Leto’s Joker and he looks fantastic standing next to Harley on screen. That’s a major comic book moment for a lot of people.

I think it’s all too much for one film. With half of the movie being the creation of the team, establishing what WB wants to be a franchise, there needed to be more focus. Ditch the Enchantress and run with Joker trying to get Harley away from Waller’s grasp. The parts with Harley and Joker are great, but it’s all chopped up and feels rushed (they go more their Animated Series love relationship to make it easier to stomach since J is often so horrific to her in the books). Give us more of them! The Enchantress angle is basic, cliched, and the mission ends up being pretty lame. It all makes the decision to shy away from Harley and Joker that much more disappointing.

The action is shockingly sparse too. Very few actions scenes, what’s there is rather short with very few stand out moments. You don’t get to see half of the cast do much of anything. Why is Captain Boomerang in this if we barely see him throw a damn boomerang? If they spent half as much on the set pieces as they did for the soundtrack, we could have seen some really wild stuff. For an ensemble comic book movie where The Avengers set the action bar so many years ago, Suicide Squad is oddly devoid of highlights.  The Squad is full of degenerates and psychos but we never get a real sense of that. It’s so weird, the people we watch come off more or less as nice guys. Again, less would have been more.

Despite all of the above poo-pooing, I think the movie looks fantastic. Spot on costumes and a lot of the VFX look awesome. I love how they made Enchantress look (the hand roll over in the bunker is so cool) and there are some striking visuals with her at the end. Killer Croc is one of my favorite characters and he looks awesome. Fantastic makeup on him even though he just looks oddly scrawny when he comes out of costume (the dude should be thick has a brick house from head to toe). Diablo’s fire abilities rock and the direction is overall solid.

I think Suicide Squad started out being too ambitious. No solid foundation with too many additions weighing it down. This should have been a wild and crazy movie that sits outside of DC’s superhero mold. I’m curious to see the shooting script to see how much was changed in post-production. Is this one that got worse because of studio intervention or was it simply rushed? With some of the wildest villains in the industry on screen, it’s a shame that most of Suicide Squad comes off as disposable.

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Shameless S7E09

Ouroboros

Look out! Monica is back! Like any good haunting, she’s back with an agenda and she sends everyone she knows into a tizzy.

All of the kids shut her down the second they see her. Fiona blows her off, Lip yells at her, Ian ignores her, Liam doesn’t know who she is. Debbie tries to send her packing but once she tells Monica that her kid was stolen by Derek’s family, Monica has her in. She rolls up with Deb to demand Frannie back and they actually manage to get her. I thought there would be a lot more fallout from smashing the joint up, but child services take Deb’s side.

The kidnapping was a wake up call for Deb. Her parenthood was threatened and the fear of losing her little one is now very real. She goes to Fiona to seriously ask for a job and Fiona gives her one. Deb is elated to have Frannie back and contributes it to Monica helping her. Fiona becomes furious that Monica found a way in and takes it out on a girl who gave the laundromat a bad Yelp review. Not sure if assault with a hamburger is a thing but it might be now.

Fiona is managing with Etta and the laundromat. Since Etta can’t remember anything she buys new washers with Etta’s credit card and with the place looking better than it ever has, Etta doesn’t seem to mind (nor will she come to any retaliation on her own).

Frank has more or less moved in with Etta. Taking care of her is an easy task to get food and shelter. He gets a chance to rip her off when she bolts out of lunch (her dementia is getting bad) and it looks like he doesn’t take advantage of her unattended purse. I guess we’ll see if he did take anything next week.  Frank has been on a good guy roll for 3 episodes now. Monica being back throws him into a tizzy (as is the norm) and this time she comes back with a new reason for her visit: she’s dying. To fans of the show the first question that comes to mind: Is she telling the truth?

Ian is still the best off. Monica stirs up some drama, Trevor is there for it and it makes them fight. They work it out in the end.

Lip is scraping the bottom of the barrel. He’s drinking all the time. He dodges help from Professor and when he tries to get back in with Sierra (who has been pushed around by Deb an alarming amount) she calls him out for wanting her as a crutch. She’s got her own problems to deal with and can’t handle him anymore. Lip is lost without a paddle.

The throuple gets counseling. It goes surprisingly well and their relationship looks to be on the rebound. Kevin is downright jovial. That is until Svet undermines them again when they find out that she’s legally taken over the bar when a new alcohol distributor shows up with a delivery. She’s literally taking over behind their backs.

The other monster M is poised to return next week…Mickey Milkovich!

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