Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Things That Happened On Earth This Week (12/5/16)

This week, Glorious Leader Trumpy once again tweeted his butthurt feelings about Saturday Night Live...

I was just thinking to myself, "Jesus, doesn't this thin-skinned, rotted pumpkin of a man-baby that we're unbelievably stuck with for the next four years have anything better to do than watch a sketch comedy show and then whine about it on social media? Shouldn't he be, oh, I don't know, BE DOING EVERYTHING IN HIS POWER TO PREPARE FOR THE JOB OF RUNNING THE GODDAMNED COUNTRY?

Then I saw this. A woman named Danielle Muscato replied to Trumpy and tore him five or six new assholes.

Her anger and bile perfectly illustrated what the majority of the country is thinkiing. I have to believe that even some of Trumpy's most ardent supporters are having second thoughts now that they've seen some of his plans (shutting down Medicare?) and have joined the ranks of the rational. 

Danielle's tirade couldn't be contained in a mere 140 characters, and she wrote another 10,000 or so more. I agree with most everything she said, but I'd just like to point out that she fell for his trick. 

See, the stupid-ass, unbelievable things Trumpy says on social media are all part of his grand plan. He's like a magician. His right hand distracts the audience by making a coin disappear, while his left hand does something truly horrifying, like gutting Social Security.

I learned how to do magic tricks as a kid, Trumpy, so I know what you're doing. 

Don't fall for his tricks. Whenever he posts something ridiculous on Twitter, take a second, roll your eyes and then find out what he's really doing.

This week KFC announced they're releasing a scented candle that smells just like their original recipe chicken.

Because who wouldn't want their home to smell like a poorly-ventilated, grease-filled fast food restaurant?

Oddly enough this is part of a promotion cooked up by KFC of New Zealand, in which they're giving away exactly ONE chicken-scented candle.

Seriously, one? That's it? They probably spent tens of thousands of dollars hiring a lab to replicate the odor of their food, and they're going to use it to make one lousy candle?

This week on the Homeschool Base website, which is apparently a thing, a woman who identified herself only as "Sarah" was horrified when her six year old son Mark accidentally viewed a Covergirl TV commercial. The commercial in question featured seventeen year old James Charles, the first ever male Covergirl model.

When her son Mark expressed confusion at the sight of a young man wearing makeup, Sarah immediately took to her fainting couch. Upon awakening, she shakily got to her feet, clutched her fragile son to her chest and lamented the fact that a brief glimpse of the outside world was able to penetrate her highly guarded and strictly regulated fortress of a home.

Said Sarah, it's "a shame that she and her husband can't take their eyes off their son for a single second. Thank god we homeschool." 

Yes, because god forbid your fragile child be exposed to new and upsetting ideas about diversity and tolerance.

Sara says she refuses to buy CoverGirl products anymore because of the commercial. Fair enough. But she also said she's hesitant to let her visit his friends' homes, because she can't control what he sees there (!).

Maybe she should just blind him while she's at it, and cut off his feet like a deranged Annie Wilkes to prevent him from ever leaving his bedroom.

I honestly feel sorry for this kid, as he's gonna have a tough row to hoe later in life. Can you imagine how the way he'll roll up into a ball when he gets his first job and his boss yells at him for making a mistake?

This week Southern Ohio evangelist Jim Brown and his associate Greg Hudson, whoever the hell they are, claim they've discovered the Mr. Ed theme song contains backward Satanic messages.

According to Brown, the song contains the lines, "The source is Satan," and "Someone heard this song for Satan." Gasp! The horror! The horror!

This is indeed alarming news for our troubled times. And it comes not a moment too soon, as the Mr. Ed program premiered in 1961. Timely!

Just think of all the innocents whose minds have been corrupted by the Prince Of Darkness over the past fifty five years, even though the technology to actually play the song backwards was far out of the reach of the average person for most of that time, and even today would be an involved process. I bet the number who've been indoctrinated into Old Scratch's army numbers in the single digits!

And lastly, a few days ago a series of tragic wildfires devastated the Gatlinburg, Tennessee area destroying hundreds of homes and businesses, and killing at least fourteen. 

During the fire, WVLT TV reporter Kelsey Leyrer captured startling footage of a concrete statue of Jesus amid the burned ruins of a Sevier County home. The statue was covered with soot, but was the only thing still standing. WVLT called the amazing statue "something of a miracle amid the destruction." 

The image of the statue swept across the internet like, er, wildfire, as millions praised it as a sign from God. 

Jesus wept.

We all know that concrete doesn't burn, right? There's nothing "miraculous" about that at all. It's just basic chemistry. Have they stopped teaching science in schools altogether? It's the American Educational System at work, ladies and gentlemen!

And what about the cinderblocks behind the statue? They didn't burn either. Are they covered under the statue miracle, or are they a separate? Praise be, it's two miracles for the price of one!

Even if I accepted that this occurrence was a bona fide miracle, I'm struggling to understand its message. How the hell can this possibly be seen as a good thing? The owners of this house lost everything they own. What good is a ferkakte statue going to do them?

Now if their house had remained completely untouched while the entire area burned to a crips around it— THAT would be a miracle, and something worth celebrating.

Apparently God's message is: "Hey, guys, sorry about your house. And your cars. And all your stuff. And your mom who was trapped in the house when the fires went through. And your pets. But hey, I saved your statue of me, so we're cool, right?"

Thw Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 7: Sing Me A Song

This week The Walking Dead continues its slow, lumbering shuffle toward the mid-season finale.

This week's episode had to be the most comic book-accrurate one yet. The show's recreated scenes from the comic before, but never to this extent. Most of the plot, nearly all the dialogue and even the stage directions in this episode were ripped straight off the page.

While it was definitely cool to see the comic come to life, it was a little too accurate. I read all this stuff a couple years ago, so I knew every line Negan and Carl were going to say, which honestly made it a little… dull. I know, I know, there's no satisfying me. It's just that I tend to enjoy the show more when I don't always know what's about to happen.

This episode also laid the foundation for the strange Negan/Carl relationship, which will become very important later on (if the show continues to follow the comic). There've been rumors that actor Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl, may be leaving the show soon to attend college. I hope not, as that would severely screw with future storylines.

For weeks now I've been whining and complaining that The Walking Dead has been devoting entire episodes to minor subplots, which detracts from the main storyline (I'm lookin' at you, The Well and Swear!). I kept saying all they had to do was cross cut— show a little bit of Plot A, then spend a few minutes on Plot B, then Plot C and back to A. It's not rocket science.

This week the show FINALLY remembered how to cross cut, as it gives us several different stories, all in the same episode. See, The Walking Dead? that wasn't so hard now, was it? 

Although I'm glad to finally see this, I think the writers went a little overboard this week. There are at least SEVEN different subplots in this episode: Negan & Carl, Rick & Aaron, Michonne & Random Savior, Spencer & Gabriel, Rosita & Eugene, Dwight & Sherry and Daryl & the key. Jesus, any minute I expected Oprah to show up and start shouting, "You get a subplot, and YOU get a subplot!"

There was just way too much going on in this episode. In fact there were so many storylines this week they had to supersize the episode (again!) just to stuff everything in. Again, I get that they're trying to set up the pieces on the game board, but it's all about timing. Several of these subplots could have easily been incorporated into the previous two or three episodes.


The Plot:
Michonne walks down a deserted road, whistling Farmer In The Dell to attract walkers. A few begin following, and she sets down her bag, which CLEARLY contains a two-way radio. DID YOU SEE THE ESTABLISHING SHOT OF THE RADIO? ARE YOU SURE YOU SAW IT? IT'S GOING TO BECOME REALLY IMPORTANT SOMEHOW NEXT WEEK, SO BE SURE TO NOTICE IT NOW! She kills the walkers and drags them offscreen, making us wonder what the hell she's up to.

Cut to Rick & Aaron waking up in the back of a truck. Rick turns on his radio, which is obviously the mate of Michonne's, but there's no sound. Aaron looks offscreen, points at something and says, "That wasn't there last night."

Cut to Carl & Jesus riding in the back of the Savior truck that took the Hilltop's supplies in Go Getters. Jesus senses they're getting close to the Sanctuary, and says they should hop out before they enter the gates. He leaps out and does a pretty good Shatner roll, but Carl stays in the truck.

Carl grabs a machine gun as the truck rolls through the gates and stops. He hears Negan telling his men to unload the truck. As the door opens, Carl opens fire, killing two random Saviors. Dwight drags him out and throws him to the ground. Negan walks up to Carl and instead of bashing in his head with Lucille, he says, "You are adorable!" He offers Carl his hand and helps him up. The camera pulls back, and we finally get a good look at the massive Sanctuary. 

Negan leads Carl inside, and stands on a platform overlooking hundreds of Saviors. They all take a knee as they see him. He tells them it's a special day, and everyone will receive fresh vegetables for free— no points needed. He brags to Carl about how the Saviors all respect him. Does he really need the approval of this kid?

Negan takes Carl to his "harem" and introduces him to all his sister wives. He secretly talks to Sherry, who tells him that Amber (another of his wives) cheated on him with someone named Mark. Negan tells Amber he'd never hurt any of his wives, but cheating absolutely cannot be allowed, so Mark must be punished. 

Dwight enters with Daryl, who's carrying a tray. Daryl's shocked to see Carl, and tries to speak to him. Negan shuts him down.

Cut to Rick and Aaron approaching a gate with a stern warning painted on it. I guess this is what they were looking at in their first scene?

Cut to Spencer and Father Gabriel out on a supply run, as the writers remind us these two characters exist before one or both is killed in the mid-season finale next week. Spencer is still going on about how much he hates Rick and how much he wants him to die. Gabriel tells him to stop the car, gets out and walks back home (!). Wow, you know you're an asshole when someone would rather walk through zombie country instead of ride with you.

Spencer exits the car too, and runs into the woods for some reason I don't quite understand. He finds a walker on a deer stand high in a tree. He knocks its bow to the ground and takes it for the Saviors. The walker falls off the stand, which "kills" it, I guess. 
Spencer searches its body and finds a note written in Latin. 

Negan takes Carl to his opulent bedroom (uh-oh…). He says he wants to get to know Carl better (Shields up! Red alert!). He says he's impressed that Carl killed two of his men, but can't let the matter slide. He demands Carl remove the bandage from his face as "punishment." Carl does so, and Negan reacts in horror at Carl's missing eye, saying it's "gross as hell." For some unfathomable reason this actually makes Carl cry (!), and Negan even apologizes (!!). He tries to make up by saying he was just "breaking his balls" and that's how guys joke around.

Negan then tells Carl to sing a song, which is pretty freakin' weird. Carl says he doesn't know any, and Negan points Lucille at his head, demanding he sing. Carl nervously croaks out You Are My Sunshine, while Negan practices swinging Lucille in the background. Well, at least he didn't sing Easy Street.

Negan and Carl enter the main hall of the Sanctuary, which is filled with hundreds of Saviors. Dwight stands to the side, grimly staring at an iron in a forge. Negan starts speechifying, reminding everyone that he brought civilization back to their world, and there are consequences to breaking the rules. 

We see Mark tied to a chair in the center of the room. Negan puts on a heavy glove, and picks up the red hot iron. He tells Mark he's sorry, but rules are rules and presses the glowing hot iron to the side of his face. The pain's so intense that Mark wets himself and passes out. Now that's entertainment! He tells the crowd that everything is square with Mark now, and to let his face be a reminder of what happens when the rules are broken. He hands the iron back to Dwight, whose face bears the mark of the iron as well.

Cut to Rosita and Eugene, as they enter the foundry he discovered last season in Twice As Far. Rosita bullies him into making her a single bullet.

Back at the Sanctuary, Negan tells Carl he can't just let him go, and asks what he thinks he should do. Carl says he should jump out the window to save him the trouble of killing him. Negan tells Carl he's taking him for a ride. Daryl sees them walk by, and tells Negan he'd better not hurt Carl. Negan tells Dwight to lock Daryl back in his cell. Jesus sneaks into the Sanctuary.

Cut to a female Savior driving down the road. She stops when she sees a pile of walkers blocking her way. She gets out, and Michonne comes up behind her with her sword. She disarms the woman, and demands she take her to Negan.

Cut to Daryl in his cell. There's no Easy Street playing, so that's a plus. He sees a note slide under the door. One side says, "Go Now," while the other side has a match and a key taped to it.

Negan and Carl arrive in Alexandria. He barges into Rick's house and demands to see him. Olivia (who I guess was there babysitting Baby Judith?) tells Negan that Rick's out scavenging for him, and won't be back for a couple of days. Negan says he'll wait, as he wants to present the unscathed Carl to him (Jesus, must this guy be validated by others twenty four hours a day?). He tells Olivia to make some lemonade, and has Carl take him on a tour. Negan barges into Judith's room and is surprised to see Carl has a baby sister. He picks her up and coos to her.

Cut to Rick and Aaron as they continue trespassing on the sign-painter's property. They find a zombie-filled lake with a house boat in the middle. Since the man hasn't shot them yet, they assume he's dead and his supplies are up for grabs.

Cut to Rosita admiring the bullet Eugene made for her. They return to Alexandria, just as Spencer pulls up. Turns out he reads Latin, and the note he found lead to a large cache of supplies. They open the gate and see Negan and the Saviors are there.

Negan sits on the front porch of Rick's house, holding Judith on his lap. He tells Carl he likes it here, and says he might have to kill them and take their house as he kisses Judith on the cheek. Creepy!

• At long, long last, this week we finally get to see Negan's Sanctuary. The slow tracking shot was impressive and well worth the wait, even though we should have seen it a few episodes ago, in The Cell.

Visually the Sanctuary is absolutely perfect. It looks exactly like it does in the comic, right down to the prominent fire escape, smoke stacks and the protective fence of walkers out front. They even added the heads on pikes!

I assume the entire building's a CGI creation, as I doubt they were able to find such a perfect match in the real world (unless artist Charlie Adlard based it on a real location?).

• Wow, Spencer & Father Gabriel must be the series' oddest pairing yet. During their supply run, Spencer asks Gabriel if hating someone is a sin. Gabriel says, "
No. Well, not necessarily. Thoughts are just thoughts. It's our actions that matter in the end."

WRONG! I'm no Bible thumper, but even I know that ain't true! The Bible most definitely says that thoughts can be sins. In Matthew 5:27-28 is says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." 

In other words, thinking about cheating is the same as doing it. I would imagine the same goes for hating as well. I guess it's been a while since Father Gabriel cracked open his Bible and studied it, what with all the zombie killing and such going on.

• This week Spencer continues to rant about Rick. He blames him for the death of his entire family, says it was a mistake to attack the Savior outpost, and believes there's no future with him in charge. He feels the best thing for all of them is if Rick dies in the wild on his supply run.

The writers love to paint Spencer as a royal asshole, but the problem is… he's not wrong. Everything he said about Rick is true. Alexandria was getting along just fine until Rick, aka the Specter Of Death, came to town. The second he arrived, the bodies began hitting the floor.

• How the holy hell did the walker end up on that deer stand, fifty feet in the air? 

The only explanation I can come up with is a hunter was being chased by a herd of walkers and fled up onto the stand for safety. He then strapped himself in and waited for them to disperse. Then he either died of a bite or from exposure, the herd wandered away, and there he was.

• As I said earlier, Negan's meeting with Carl is probably the most comic-accurate sequence of the series yet. Every scene between them unfolds virtually word for word as it did in Issue #105 of the comic. The only real difference is Negan's colorful expletives, which have been scrubbed for TV.

Unfortunately, this scene doesn't work quite as well in live action as it did on the printed page. 

See, in the comic, Carl is about ten years old when he goes on his mission to kill Negan. Here on the show looks like he's sixteen if he's a day (actor Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl, is currently seventeen). I have no problem imagining Negan being bemused by a small, but brave child killing his men. A teenager though? Not so much.

Same goes for the scene in which Negan taunts Carl about his mutilated face. That would cause any kid to cry. It's a bit harder to accept Teen Carl breaking down in tears over it though. Remember, this is the same kid who shot his own mother, and a few weeks ago he was willing to sacrifice his left arm to save his crew.

Same goes for the singing. I could see Negan asking a small child to sing to him, but why would he want to hear Teen Carl's cracking voice?

By the way, the singing scene was very faithful to the comic as well, as Negan gets in some ominous batting practice in the background.

And Mark's punishment was recreated in all its horrific detail too, right down to the stray strand of melted skin stuck to the iron! 

• Why does Rosita suddenly start speaking all "barrio" in this episode? She mocks Negan by saying, "No, we're not doing sh*t for that cabron (aka "asshole"), and calls Eugene a pendejo (aka "dumbass"). 

I don't remember he ever doing that before. Does she slip into "Rosita From The Block" mode when she's really angry?

• Negan has a short conversation with Fat Joseph, who brings him his baseball bat Lucille.

Negan: "Did you treat her like a lady?"
Fat Joseph: "Mm, yes. Yes, sir." 
Negan: "Did you pet her little pussy like a lady? I'm just screwing around, man. A baseball bat doesn't have a pussy."

Jesus, who wrote this scene? President Trumpy?
• Near the end of the episode, someone slips a note with a key attached under the door of Daryl's cell, allowing him to escape. 

So who passed him the note? The writers would obviously like us to believe it's Jesus, since the episode very deliberately showed him sneaking around the Sanctuary. I doubt it was him though, since he'd have just opened the door and been done with it.

My money's on Dwight, who's probably decided he's had enough of Negan's "good life" after witnessing Mark's mutilation, which reminded him of his own. It may also have been Sherry, Dwight's ex-wife, who seems to have a soft spot for Daryl.

Another reason I think it's either Dwight or Sherry— the note also had a match attached to it. That's presumably so Daryl could burn the note and destroy any incriminating evidence. Jesus wouldn't care if Negan found his note, but Dwight and Sherry most definitely would.

• Next week: The mid-season finale. I'm sure it'll be supersized, and lots of actors will be selling their homes in Georgia shortly after it airs.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Anyone Got A Spare Time Machine?

Does anyone out there have a time machine I could borrow for a little bit? Last night I watched The Neon Demon, and I'd really, really like to un-watch it somehow.

By the way, don't let this cryptic post pique your curiosity and make you seek it out. Trust me on this one— you don't want to see it. 

It's a slow-moving, symbolic, artsy bit of indulgent filmmaking by Nicolas Winding Refn, director of Only God Forgives and Drive. It defies categorization, but it's kind of a horror film about a young girl who's chewed up and spit out  (heh) by the unforgiving world of fashion modeling.

Wait, did I say it was slow-moving? I meant glacial. There are dozens of moody scenes in which absolutely nothing moves. Not the camera, not the actors, and definitely not the plot. It's like staring at a still photo for five minutes. I've seen drying paint that was more exciting.

But hey, it looks amazing, and the soundtrack is awesome, so there's that.

It's not just me, either. The film was booed when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and many audience members walked out on it.

So you've been warned. Don't seek out The Neon Demon. Sit on the edge of your bed and stare at the floor for two hours instead. You'll get just as much out of it.

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 2, Episode 7: Invasion!

Welp, The CW's big Invasion! Four Part Crossover Event is now history.

Overall the Crossover was a lot of fun, although not quite as epic as it could have been. I'm betting a lot of that was due to that ol' debil the TV budget.

The Crossover allegedly began in Supergirl, even though no one actually crossed over until literally the final thirty seconds of the episode. The Flash chapter was a big improvement, as it was fun seeing the various heroes meet and interact. Unfortunately The CW couldn't afford to show us any hero-on-alien action, and we had to settle for the Flash and Arrow fighting a group of their mind-controlled Super Friends.

The Arrow chapter was the worst of all, as ninety five percent of the episode consisted of Oliver & Company living in an alien-induced dream world. What the hell?

Fortunately they saved the best for last, and this final chapter managed to redeem the Crossover, finally giving us near-movie quality scenes of the Super Friends battling the Dominators. It was just like reading a Silver Age comic!

This isn't the first time characters from one series have crossed over into another. The first example of this I can think of is The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres in the 1960s & 1970s. All three sitcoms were produced by Paul Henning, and were part of the same universe (the "Hooterverse, as I like to call it). Characters from one series would occasionally pop up on another late in the various shows' runs.

In the 1980s, a few characters from St. Elsewhere appeared on Cheers, and in the 1990s, NBC aired their "Hurricane Saturday" event, in which a single storyline ran through The Golden Girls, Empty Nest and Nurses.

None of these instances were anywhere near as epic as what The CW attempted here though.

In terms of spectacle and character interaction, this episode was easily the best of the Crossover chapters. That said, it wasn't really a very good episode of Legends Of Tomorrow. Most of the cast was shunted to the B and C storylines, while the Flash and Arrow hogged the A plot. Unfortunate, but probably par for the course. Legends is an ensemble show, made up of lesser-known (at least to the general public) characters. There's no actual "star" of the show, like there is on The Flash and Arrow. So it's not really surprising that they were shoved aside.

A few weeks ago on The Flash, Cisco found out his brother Dante's death was a direct result of Barry's altering of the timeline. This drove a huge wedge between the two, as Cisco said they could never be friends again. Oddly enough the matter's resolved in this episode of Legends Of Tomorrow.

It seems a bit odd to me for a major plot point on The Flash to be resolved on someone else's show. Flash viewers who didn't catch this episode are gonna be mighty confused when they tune in next week and Barry and Cisco are bros again.

Lastly, the Flash, Arrow and Legends Of Tomorrow chapters of this Crossover were ALL titled Invasion! That's gonna make it tough to figure out what order to watch them in years from now when you're binging the shows. Would it have killed them to have labeled them Invasion! Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3?


The Plot:
Picking up right after the disppointing non-events of Arrow, the Waverider, carrying Arrow, White Canary, Spartan, Steel and Vixen, returns to Central City (I guess they tossed Speedy out the airlock along the way?). The heroes decide that since the Dominators abducted humans to study, they should return the favor and interrogate one of them. Unfortunately the aliens are in short supply, and they don't know where to find one.

Just then Steel remembers the Redmon, Oregon Incident of 1951 (wrong!), in which the Dominators first attacked Earth. Steel, Vixen, Heat Wave, and for some reason Cisco and Felicity, take the Waverider back to 1951 (wrong!) to kidnap an alien.

Meanwhile, Professor Stein is at STAR Labs, working on a way to destroy the Dominators, Caitlin invites his daughter Lily, who has a PhD in nanotechnology (who doesn't?) to help. As we all know, Stein accidentally altered his timeline a few weeks ago, resulting in a daughter who never existed before (dontcha hate it when that happens?). He's visibly unnerved by her existence, as one is when one discovers they've inadvertently created an adult daughter. He secretly tells Caitlin that Lily is a time aberration, and once the crisis is over he plans to erase her. Dayum, Stein! That's pretty cold!

The Waverider arrives in 1951 (wrong!). Steel wears his new costume for the first time, which Heat Wave finds hilarious (he's not the only one!). They see the Dominators defeat a squad of soldiers and drag them into their ship. They spot an alien who wanders away from the others, and they knock it out. As they're about to take the Dominator back to the Waverider, a group of, well, Men In Black arrive. The leader of these men, King Faraday Agent Smith, tranquilizes the Legends.

Heat Wave, Vixen and Steel wake up some time later in a locked room. They've been drugged so they can't use their powers. The Dominator they were trying to abduct is in the room with them, strapped to a table. They figure they might as well go ahead and question it. The Dominator tells them there's been a recent uptick in metahumans on Earth, and they're trying to determine if they pose a threat to their planet (?). Suddenly the Men In Black burst into the room. Agent Smith orders his men to take the alien away and begin torturing it.

Meanwhile, back in 2016, the heroes get a call that the new President (the old one was vaporized in Invasion! Part 1) wants to meet with them. Flash, Arrow, Atom and White Canary go to a deserted airport for the meeting. They're surrounded by government vehicles. Agent Smith, now sixty five years older (!), steps out of the lead vehicle. He orders his men to fire on the heroes.

The Flash catches all the bullets at superspeed, and the other heroes knock out the government goons, leaving only Agent Smith standing. Flash questions him, and Smith says the aliens consider metahumans to be a threat, and so does he.

Agent Smith somehow knows the Flash is really Barry Allen, and that he created the Flashpoint timeline. He says this violated a truce humanity's had with the aliens since 1951 (wrong!). He says he made a deal with the Dominators— they'll leave Earth alone if Barry turns himself over to them.

Back in 1951 (wrong!), Cisco and Felicity use blasters from the Waverider's armory to bust the heroes out of their cell. They hear the Dominator being tortured, and Steel says they have to save it, to show the aliens that all humans aren't bad. They rescue the alien, give it the Dominator ship the Waverider captured in Arrow, and send it on its way. Cisco says he stole a transponder from the ship before it left, so they can communicate with the alien. They return to 2016.

Cisco calls the Dominator they just left in the past. Amazingly it answers, and says it will spare their lives for helping it, but the Invasion will go on as scheduled. It then launches a gigantic bomb from the Dominator mothership. When detonated, this bomb will kill every metahuman on Earth, as well as millions of normal humans.

Cisco realizes that by saving this alien in the past, he's doomed the present. He's now guilty of making the same mistake his pal Barry did.

Back at the STAR Labs hangar, Barry says goodbye to everyone and prepares to turn himself in to the Dominators. The other heroes refuse to let him do so, and say they're willing to fight to protect him. Professor Stein enters, and says he and his daughter have come up with devices that will inflict excruciating pain on the aliens— but the catch is they have to be placed on ALL of them before they can be activated. Cisco and Canary take off in the Waverider and use the tractor beam to stop the bomb. Unfortunately the weapon is too large, and they only manage to slow it down a bit.

The heroes then make a final stand, battling an army of Dominators. The Flash and Supergirl race around at superspeed, placing Stein's devices on every alien across the entire country (!!!!!). Firestorm flies up to the bomb and attempts to transmute it. Sadly it's just too big.

The Flash and Supergirl finish planting the devices, and Felicity activates them. Every Dominator nationwide doubles over in pain. Firestorm gives it the old college try, and finally transmutes the bomb into water at the last second. The Dominators all beam up to their ship and hightail it out of our solar system.

The new President (who's a woman-- if only!) holds a ceremony in the hangar to honor the heroes for their help. They all have a party afterwards
. Agent Smith crashes the party. Supergirl tells him that on her world she works for the DEO (Department of Extra-normal Operations) and she spoke to the new President about starting up something similar on Earth-1. Oh, and also he's being transferred to Antarctica. 

Supergirl prepares to return to Earth-38. Cisco gives her a device that will allow her to generate a breach and visit anytime she wants. Stein tells Jackson he's decided not to erase his new daughter. Everyone forgives Barry for changing the timeline— even Cisco. The End.

• There's no opening narration this week, but Professor Stein does do the "Previously on..." announcement.

• The title screen in this episode incorporates the icons of The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl into the Legends Of Tomorrow logo. As each icon appears and slams into place, we hear a brief snippet of that show's theme. Because the sequence is so short, all four themes end up playing at virtually the same time, which sounds every bit as lovely as you'd think it would (that was, I say that was sarcasm, son!).

• Despite a few glitches, I'd just like to point out how much I actually enjoyed this episode. We got a much closer look at the Dominators here, and the final battle between them and the Super Friends was absolutely glorious

Seeing Vixen channel the powers of an elephant, Heat Wave and Arrow fighting side-by-side and Firestorm using his transmuting powers while Professor Stein chatters away in his head perfectly captured the spirit of the comics. I think I may have even squealed like a little girl while watching.

• Early in the episode, Arrow tells Supergirl to sit out the battle, because he's having trouble dealing with the reality of superpowered Kryptonians or some bullsh*t like that. His exact words are:

Arrow: "Can I talk to you for a second?"
Supergirl: "I don't know." 

Arrow: "I would like to minimize your involvement in this." 
Supergirl: "Why? Because I'm an alien? I also happen to be your biggest weapon." 
Arrow: "You are an unknown quantity, and this is not personal."
Supergirl: "Except that's exactly how this feels."
Arrow: "Kara, when I started living this life, it was just me. I was going up against human threats. That I could handle. Then it was meta-humans, and I can handle that. Now I learn that there are multiple Earths, and I was brainwashed aboard an alien spacecraft."
Supergirl: "I am sure that was unnerving, but I don't…"
Arrow: "I don't get unnerved. But when I go up against something new, I push back. Right or wrong, it is who I am, and it is what I do, so I'm asking for a little bit of space because I have to draw the line somewhere. I need to claw back a sense of normalcy. Please stay here."

Like I said, complete bullsh*t. As a fighter and a strategist, it makes absolutely zero sense for Arrow to want to sideline Supergirl, ESPECIALLY for the new age, wishy-washy reasons he tries to articulate.

I can think of several possibilities for this clumsy bit of writing. It could be yet another example of this Crossover's increasingly obvious budgetary limits. Those flying Supergirl effects probably ain't cheap!

It might have also been a case of power overkill. Supergirl could have dealt with most of the threats in this episode single-handedly, without even breaking a sweat. This would have given the other characters nothing to do but stand around and watch. It would have also wrapped up the storyline twenty minutes too soon.

Or it could have just been a case of availability. Melissa Benoist, who plays Supergirl, may have been busy filming her own series, and there just may not have been time for her to appear in more than a couple of brief scenes here.

Whatever the reason was for sidelining her, it was poorly written and executed.

• In The Flash chapter, Lyla mentions the Redmond, Oregon incident of 1951. The heroes reference it again in this episode.

The Redmond Incident is a real thing, and pertains to a famous UFO sighting in that area. Unfortunately the actual incident happened in 1959, not 1951 as everyone keeps saying here. Sloppy!

By the way, I'm not some conspiracy theory nut or UFO expert who lives and breathes this stuff. I found out the year of the incident with about thirty seconds of googling.
• When the Waverider arrives in 1951 (wrong!), Felicity reacts badly to traveling through time. She vomits on the floor and suffers from "linguistic disorientation," as she begins spouting gibberish. At one point she blurts out, "Darmokandjaladattenagra!"

This is a reference to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Darmok, in which Captain Picard is abducted by the Tarmarians, a race with a complicated and indecipherable language. The Tamarian Captain keeps saying, "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra," to Picard, which makes no sense to him. He eventually realizes that the Tamarians speak in metaphors, and Darmok and Jalad were ancient warriors who became friends after overcoming a common ordeal.

Yes, I'm a big nerd, and knew all this without having to look it up.

* A few weeks ago in Compromised, Professor Stein accidentally altered his past, resulting in him now having an adult daughter named Lily. In this altered timeline Lily has always existed, but Stein has absolutely no memories of her. You're probably asking how the hell that's possible. Good question!

Legends Of Tomorrow has always played fast and loose with causality, but occasionally they do try to explain their time-travel inconsistencies. Last season Rip Hunter said that time is like cement, and any changes made to it in the past will take a while to "harden." This would explain why Stein doesn't remember his daughter, because his altered imeline hasn't  yet "set."

Does this make any sense? Or course not. But it shows me that the writers KNOW it's silly, and they're at least made an attempt at explaining it. So I'm willing to give them a pass on this one.

• Steel's new costume makes its debut this week (OK, we saw it in Outlaw Country, but this is the first time he's actually worn it), complete with be-finned helmet. Note that Steel's sporting some very extensive black makeup around the eye-holes of his helmet.

Note that Michael Keaton did the same thing in his two Batman films. Actually EVERY big screen Batman has done this, from Keaton all the way up to Ben Affleck. I guess this is done to help his skin blend in with the rubber mask? Or to make him look more mysterious or menacing? Honestly I don't know why they do it.

The makeup really a problem until Batman decides to remove his mask. As you can see in this scene from Batman Returns, he's wearing the black makeup around his eyes.

We cut away from him for a second, and when we cut back— suddenly no makeup!

He then rips the top of his mask off, revealing his secret identity. You can see why they removed the black makeup right before he took off the mask. If they hadn't, when he tore off his cowl, he'd have had two comical raccoon spots around his eyes.

I GUARANTEE this same thing is going to happen at some point with Steel and his helmet. He's going to have black makeup on his face, then suddenly it's gonna disappear right before he whips the helmet off his head.

I honestly don't know why they bother with the whole makeup thing anyway. I performed a quick makeup-ectomy in Photoshop, and honestly Steel doesn't look that bad without it.

• After being drugged by the Men In Black, Heat Wave, Vixen and Steel wake up in a locked room. Heat Wave tells the others to use their abilities to escape, but Steel says, "Whatever they tranqed us with is screwin' with our powers."

Hey, wait a minute. Steel's powers come from within him, but Vixen gets hers from her mystical amulet. Which she's still wearing! Whoops! Would a drug really stop her magical necklace from working? I don't see how.

• It's pretty obvious to any comic fans out there that Agent Smith is supposed to be King Faraday.

He was a secret agent character who first appeared in DC Comics in 1950. in 2004, he played a big role in the New Frontier miniseries, in which he lead the government effort to control the large amount of metahumans that began appearing throughout the world. 

Which is pretty much the exact same thing "Agent Smith" did here. I don't know why they didn't just call him King Faraday in this Crossover event. Maybe it was some sort of rights issue with the creators of the character?

• When Felicity sees the Dominator bomb enter our atmosphere, she utters, "Oh, frak!"

That's a Battlestar Galactica reference. In the original show, "frak" was a mild expletive, roughly akin to "darn." In the revamped series from the early 2000s, it unmistakably became an otherworldly substitute for "f*ck."

Coincidentally, actor Donnelly Rhodes, who plays Agent Smith in this episode, starred in the new Battlestar Galactica as Doc Cottle, the chain-smoking chief surgeon of the fleet.

• At the end of the episode, Agent Smith gets his comeuppance by being exiled to Antarctica. Oddly enough this is played for laughs, despite the fact that the man has to be at least ninety by now, and a week in such a climate would surely kill him. HAW HAW HAW!

• At the after-party, Supergirl walks past Atom. He takes a long look at her and says,"You know what's funny? She really kinda looks like my cousin." Get it? Actor Brandon Routh, who plays Atom, was also the Man Of Steel in 2006's Superman Returns. Get it? Eh? EH?

• Before she leaves for her world, Supergirl tells the Flash and Arrow that they're "Earth's Mightiest Heroes." Hey, HEY! Be careful what you say there, Supergirl! 
Marvel's got Disney's highly litigious army of attorneys on their side now!

Kudos To Dolly!

Kudos to entertainer Dolly Parton for her generosity this week. Her Dollywood Foundation will donate $1,000 a month (for the next six months) to EVERY family that lost their home in the wildfires that devastated the Gatlinburg area last week.

I recently spent time in Gatlinburg, and enjoyed the friendly residents and the spectacular mountain scenery. It's really a tragedy seeing all the death and destruction that's torn through the area.

I was never a big fan of Dolly's music— nothing against it, mind you, it's just not to my taste— but I've always liked her a lot and have been impressed by her many achievements. This donation just makes her that much more awesome. Too bad Dolly didn't run for President!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Arrow Season 5, Episode 8: Invasion!

OK, full disclosure here I don't watch Arrow. I started watching Season 1 a few years ago, but quickly grew bored with the show because I'm not a fan of "powerless" superheroes. You know, the kind who can only punch and kick. Like Batman. Blasphemy, I know, but that's just how it is.

You're probably wondering why I bothered to watch Arrow this week then, since I'm not a fan. Well, that's because I stupidly thought that since it was titled Invasion!, it would actually be part of The CW's Invasion Crossover Event, and not an episode of Dynasty. Silly me!

Instead of an episode in which the cast actually fights the aliens who are invading the planet, we get a slow moving soap opera one that plays out like a love letter to longtime viewers. See, the Dominators just happened to abduct the cast of Arrow and only them from the superhero team the Flash recruited on his show. What a coincidence! And then the aliens put them all in some sort of stasis pods and create a Utopian, wish-fulfillment virtual world for them, in which they all have absolutely perfect lives. 

Most of this shiny, happy world stuff was completely lost on me, since I have no idea who most of the characters are or their relationship to one another. OK, even I figured out that Ollie's reaction to seeing his parents means they must be dead in reality, but that's about it. 

So this is going to be a VERY short review. Maybe the shortest ever. Hey, HEY! Stop cheering!

By the way, the first part of this crossover event started over on The Flash, and was titled Invasion! This second part is called Invasion! as well. And the third part, which continues on Legends Of Tomorrow, is ALSO called Invasion! That's gonna make it tough a few months from now when you're bingeing the shows and trying to figure out what order in which to watch them. Would it have killed them to have labeled them Invasion! Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3?


The Plot:
Picking up where we left off in The Flash, the alien Dominators have abducted Arrow, White Canary, Speedy, Spartan and Atom. They've placed them in stasis pods, and have constructed a virtual paradise for them, in which their lives are all perfect, their fondest wishes have come true, and they've all ended up with the right person.

Eventually they begin to notice cracks in the facade of this perfect world, and realize what's going on. They force themselves to "wake up" from their dream lives, and find they're in a Dominator spaceship orbiting the Earth. 

They run through the corridors of the ship, looking for a way out. They encounter a squad of aliens, and Arrow grabs a powerful blaster that's conveniently hanging on a wall (?) and starts shooting them. They all pile in an escape pod and take off.

They're then pursued by a squad of Dominator space fighters. Unfortunately none of the heroes knows how to operate the alien controls. Just as they're about to be destroyed, the Waverider (the Legends of Tomorrow's timeship) appears and brings them aboard.

Inside the Waverider, Steel and Vixen greet the heroes. Atom remembers a phrase he heard one of the Dominators say back on their ship. Gideon translates the sentence as "We are nearing completion of the weapon." 

We then see a massive Dominator ship heading for Earth.

To be continued on Legends Of Tomorrow...

 I get that this is an episode of a TV show and not a multimillion dollar superhero movie. Naturally there's going to have to be some budget consciousness. But calling the episode Invasion!, implying it's going to feature superhero-on-alien action and then delivering a story that's nothing more than forty minutes of people engaging in polite conversation at a cocktail party is pretty goddamned low. Five minutes in I got bored and started playing with my phone while I waited for something interesting to happen. Pretty frustrating!

 So why did the Dominators just happen to abduct Arrow, White Canary, Speedy, Spartan and Atom? Um... for reasons? Actually, according to Arrow, it's because none of them have any superpowers. I guess they wanted to study ordinary humans to look for weaknesses? Maybe? Honestly I have no idea.

And why would they create an elaborate fantasy world for these humans, instead of just violently probing the sh*t out of them to get the info they wanted? It doesn't make any sense. I think there was a line implying the aliens were distracting their minds while studying them or something, but it seems pretty flimsy to me.

 When the heroes realize they're in a virtual world, they try to escape. Unfortunately the Dominators whip up a team of simulated villains (consisting of Malcom Merlyn, Damien Darhhhhk and Deathstroke) to keep them from leaving. The heroes battle the fake villains, and Spartan is wounded. 

They then wake up in the real world. Oddly enough, we see that Spartan is injured for real!

Were the stasis pods set up so that any injury sustained in the virtual world would be mechanically inflicted on a body in reality? Or is it some sort of psychosomatic deal? Like dying in your dream makes you die in real life? 

Apparently it's none of our business, as it's never explained.

 And that's it! I got nothing else. I told you this would be short!
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