Friday, April 30, 2021

Resident Alien Season 1, Episode 3: Secrets

This week on Resident Alien (man, I keep wanting to type "Resident Evil"), we get yet another well-written and very busy episode. Harry's faced with the fallout from his human disguise, Asta learns a shocking but predictable secret about her intern Jay, and a new threat looms on the horizon for our favorite extraterrestrial doctor.

As its title suggests, the theme of this week's episode is the various secrets the characters are keeping from one another— and in some cases themselves. It also focuses a bit more on the supporting cast, giving them a chance to shine as it fills in their backgrounds and gives them a bit more depth.

This week's episode focuses more on the supporting cast than Harry, filling in their backgrounds and giving them a bit more depth.

As with last week, this episode was directed by Robert Duncan McNeill, who played Tom Paris on Star Trek: Voyager. McNeill helmed four episodes of Voyager, and apparently liked life in the director's chair. He's become quite a prolific director since, working on dozens of TV series over the years. 

It occurred to me this week that this is a very odd series. The protagonist is basically a murderer, who alternates his time between looking for his doomsday device and actively trying to kill a child. And if that wasn't enough, this week he finds the body of the man he murdered and does his best to hide it from the authorities. 

Yet despite all that, Harry's somehow likeable and even charming. Even more puzzling, the audience is actually pulling for him here, hoping he's not caught and gets away with his crime. Offhand I can't think of another series with such a twisted moral code.

I'm also enjoying the interactions between Max & Harry. Max was initially terrified of the bizarre alien who's invaded his town, but as time goes by he's beginning to realize Harry isn't the threat he thought he was, which gives him the upper hand. It's a fun relationship.

This is also the funniest episode of the series so far. I laughed out loud numerous times while watching, which is something I've not done in a long time. You haven't lived till you've heard a disguised alien talk about his "rear iris," call a ten year old child a dickhead or ask a couple if they want to risk their newborn baby getting an STD.

Lastly, this week introduces us to another new threat to Harry, in the form of two government agents who are tracking him down. I'm assuming this is the start of a "Harry Hides From The Government" plotline.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
A man's fishing on the lake in front of Harry's house. He reels in his line, and sees to his horror he's hooked a severed foot!

That night Harry lies in bed and stares at his alarm clock. As an alien he doesn't need to sleep, but goes through the motions anyway to appear more human. Eventually his mind wanders as he thinks about all the stuff he needs to do: find his doomsday device, find the missing pieces of his ship, exterminate the human race, kill his archenemy Max and find the body of the real Harry Vanderspeigle, who he killed after assuming his form. It's a full schedule. Oh, and he needs to pick up some milk. 

The next morning, Harry searches the mountain and finds another piece of his ship. Nearby, two members of the Snow Patrol set off explosive charges to start a small avalanche (in order to prevent a bigger, more destructive one from hitting the town below). Harry hears the charges, sees the approaching wall of snow and dives for cover just in time. Once it's over, he sees the piece of his ship has been buried again.

Back at his cabin, Harry looks at a map of the mountain and realizes the avalanche has set him back at least a week. Just then Kate Hawthorne (the Mayor's wife) shows up and asks to talk with him. Harry reluctantly lets her in.

Kate's worried about her son Max, who's convinced that Harry's an alien. She says he's obsessed with the idea, and even claims that Harry broke into his bedroom and tried to kill him (which is actually true!). Alarmed, Harry secretly grabs a knife, figuring he'll have to kill Kate.

He raises the knife, but lowers it when he realizes that Kate doesn't believe Max. She asks what's wrong with Max and how to help him. Harry earnestly suggests the Hawthornes move— far away. She assumes he's joking, and Harry awkwardly laughs.

Displaying a rare moment of insight, Harry suggests Max is just looking for attention. Kate's impressed by this, as she's been neglecting him lately. Harry agrees that it's all her fault (!), and literally pushes her out the door.

Later in downtown Patience, Harry waits for Max to pass by on his way to school. He tells Max that no one believes his claim that he's an alien. The two trade insults for a while, as Max has lost his initial fear of Harry.

At the clinic, Asta opens Harry's desk drawer and discovers a prescription pad's missing (which is a big deal). She looks for Harry to tell him about it, and finds him in the lounge, watching Jay The Intern sleeping. When Asta asks what the hell he's doing, he says he can't sleep, so he's watching Jay to learn how. Asta shoos Harry out of the room, then wakes Jay and asks if she knows anything about the missing pad. She says she hasn't seen it (hmm...).

Just then Deputy Liv enters and tells Harry they need him down at the Town Hall. When he asks why, she says there's a dead body in the lake.

Harry & Asta arrive at the Town Hall, where Sheriff Mike announces that a local fisherman found a foot in the lake. Sheriff Mike says this incident, along with Sam Hodges' death, means they're dealing with a serial killer. 

Harry fears it belongs to the real Harry, who he "killed in self defense." The Sheriff wants to send the foot off for a DNA test. Harry realizes he can't let that happen, as they'll discover it belongs to the real Harry, and then everyone will know he's an alien.

Cut to Max walking down a hall at school. He drops his backpack, causing his tinfoil hat (first seen last episode) to spill out— to the amusement of a nearby bully. He then sees the bully knock a book out of the hands of Sahar, a young Muslim girl. Max picks up the book and hands it back to her. Sahar watches in admiration as he walks away.

After the meeting, Harry stares at the severed foot, which is sitting in a bucket of ice. Deputy Liv enters and gives a surprisingly detailed and accurate description of who the foot likely belonged to, including the suspect's age, height and weight. Alarmed, Harry waits for her to leave, then grabs the bucket and steals the foot.

Back at his office, he compares it to his own foot, and determines it did indeed belong to the real Harry Vanderspeigle. Sheriff Mike enters and accuses Harry of stealing the foot. He calms him down by saying he's a pathologist, and was simply trying to get a DNA sample.

Harry enters his exam room, where a young couple's brought their newborn baby in for a checkup. Harry says the child's healthy, then blatantly asks if it's been circumcised. Cut to Harry giving the baby's foreskin to Sheriff Mike, claiming it's a tissue sample from the severed foot (!).

Back at the school, Max is eating lunch by himself. His mom Kate, who's a teacher, picks this moment to give him more attention and sits with him. Horrified, he tells her to get lost before someone sees her— even offering to pay her to leave. She does so, but not before giving him a kiss first— which of course causes the other kids to snicker & laugh.

Sahar comes over and sits with Max. When he asks if she's going to make fun of him too, she tells him she believes his claim that Harry's an alien.

Harry returns home to his cabin, where Sheriff Mike is organizing a large and overly-complicated search for the body in the lake. Deputy Liv and Mayor Hawthorne are there as well. Harry's terrified they'll find out the truth, but is unsure what to do.

He flashes back to four months ago, when he first crash-landed on Earth and somehow wandered into New Mexico. A cowboy named Roy rids by on horseback and sees him in his true alien form. Terrified, Roy jumps off his horse and runs away screaming. Harry picks up the his hat, mounts his horse and rides it back to Colorado.

At the clinic, D'Arcy comes by to see Asta. She says she looks depressed, and knows just the thing to cheer her up. Cut to the two women as they weirdly sit on the beach, watching the Sheriff drag the lake for the dead body (???). They quickly become bored, and D'Arcy says she heard a mutual friend named JT is having a party. The two decide to go.

Meanwhile, Harry frets in front of his cabin. He's horrified when he sees the real Harry's body (minus a foot!) has washed up on shore. Sheriff Mike's dog Cletus sees it as well and starts sniffing around the body. Harry shoos the dog away, and drags the body into his cabin before anyone else spots it.

Cut to the party, as Asta and D'Arcy enter. They're mortified when they realize it's a teen party, thrown by the son of their friend JT— who apparently named his son after himself. A stoner kid approaches Asta, asking if she wants some pills. She looks at the pill bottle and sees the prescription was written by Sam Hodges— after his death— and realizes it was written with the missing pad. She confiscates the pills and tells D'Arcy they're leaving. As they head for the door, Asta spots Jay, passed out in a chair. They wake her and drag her out of the party.

They drive Jay to her house, and Asta watches as she goes inside. This triggers a flashback, as she and Sam Hodges pull up to the exact same house. She tearfully gives Sam her newborn baby, and he takes it to a couple standing on the porch. Back in the present D'Arcy asks Asta if she's OK. She says she wants to go home.

At the lake, Sheriff Mike & Liv knock on Harry's door to tell him they're knocking off for the night. Suddenly Cletus bursts in and makes a beeline for Harry's basement. He heads for the freezer and starts barking at it. Mike opens the freezer, and sees it contains wrapped packages of bison meat. He picks up Cletus and leaves, as we see the body lying just below the meat packets. Whew!

The next morning, Dan fixes breakfast for Asta. She tearfully tells him that her baby was a girl, and she thought it would be better off without her. Dan says the connection between mother & daughter can never be broken, and fate will eventually bring them back together. That's a setup for a future plotline if I ever heard one!

Later in town, Asta runs into Harry at the diner. He shows her he bought a bag full of padlocks, and she says she bought one as well. Harry then sits down to eat. Max & Sahar come in, and he points out Harry to her. Just like Max, she can can somehow see his true alien form. She nonchalantly walks by and "accidentally" knocks his water glass into his lap. He chases the two kids outside, but they get away.

At the clinic, Asta puts a padlock on the drawer containing the prescription pads. We then see Harry lock up his freezer, as well as the door to the basement. Satisfied, he lies down, puts on Roy's cowboy hat, and finally falls asleep for the first time in his life.

In New Mexico, Roy sits in a bar, talking to a man and a woman who claim to be UFO fanatics. He tells them a fictitious tale of how he encountered a horrifying alien and kicked its ass. The woman asks where he saw the alien, and Roy says she can find out in the new book he's writing about his experience.

Later, Roy heads out to his truck. Suddenly the woman jumps out of nowhere, grabs him and breaks his neck. She then takes the notes for his book. Her partner's aghast, saying their orders aren't to kill anyone. She hisses that she has different orders.

Thoughts:
• As is typical for the series, the episode begins with a voiceover by Harry:

"One mistake. Just one mistake made out of necessity for survival. I had no choice but to kill the human known as Harry Vanderspeigle. I was just defending myself. How was I supposed to know when I threw him on top of the ice he would disappear into the lake? I am an alien. I don’t know every little detail about how Earth works."

I love that last line! It makes pefect sense that he's probably never seen ice before and wouldn't understand its properties. That doesn't change the fact that he's a killer though. I guess technically one could argue he's guilty of manslaughter though, rather than full-on murder.

• In the opening shot we see a horrified fisherman pull a severed foot out of the lake. He then turns and looks nervously back toward the shore. 

This scene perfectly mirrors the beginning of the very first episode, in which Harry's fishing on the same lake and turns toward the camera as well.

• That D'Arcy seems to be quite the busy gal. In addition to her bartending job, apparently she's also a member of the Snow Patrol, helping to prevent major avalanches.

• While searching the mountain for pieces of his ship, Harry's nearly killed by an avalanche. He narrates: "This is bad. I just felt my rear iris pucker and my testicles tighten. My taint remains unchanged."

Oh my god! The term "rear iris" made me laugh uproariously for a good five minutes!

As I said in the intro, my favorite thing on the show right now is Harry's relationship with Max. Even though Harry's presumably an adult— possibly even centuries old— he's brand new at being human. Which means he now has all the emotional maturity of a child. That puts him on a level playing field with Max when they spar. 

I love it when Max taunts him for being stupid, and Harry has no idea how to handle his frustration or respond. His only recourse is to basically say, "Oh yeah?" or "Same to you!"

• Harry & Max's confrontation takes place near this row of colorful buildings in downtown Patience.

As I've pointed out before, Resident Alien's exterior shots are filmed in the small town of Ladysmith, British Columbia. The scene in question was filmed on 1st Avenue, which appears to be the town's main drag.

As you can see here, the smaller orange building is now gray on the show— along with various other changes. That's because these Google Maps street views of the town are from 2014! Jaysis Google, update your images once in a while, why dontcha?

• Now that Max is over his initial fear of Harry, his interactions with him are confident and self-assured. That's why it was surprising to see he's actually a loner at school, and is regularly bullied.

Luckily for him he found an ally this week in Sahar. They're both unpopular and considered outsiders by all the other kids, so they make a perfect team.

• I brought this up in Pilot, but it's worth a repeat— the show can't seen to decide how Harry's human disguise works. In this episode, he holds the real Harry Vanderspeigle's foot up to his own, and says, "It's amazing how my people have developed the ability to mimic other life forms on a cellular level." 

To me that "on a cellular level" line is proof positive that Harry physically transformed his body to resemble a human. There's no other way to interpret it.

But then somehow Max & Sahar both see his true alien form when they look at him, which implies he's using some sort of illusion, like a hologram or perception filter.

Note to the writers— both those scenarios can't be right! They're complete opposites, and you need to pick one and go with it.

• I feel bad for Deputy Liv. In this episode she extrapolates an amazingly accurate portrait of the Lake Victim simply by examining the severed foot! She's clearly far more intelligent and competent than anyone in town realizes. Mike in particular is constantly dismissive of her, despite the fact she's probably more qualified to be the Sheriff than he is!

So why does everyone regularly underestimate her? It could be because she's a woman in a traditionally male occupation, but I think there's more to it than that. I'm betting it's because she's very meek and timid, which makes her seem inexperienced and hesitant. Speak up for yourself, girl!

And yes, I understand that her "Under The Radar Competence" is the joke here— I just thought it was worth noting.

• As Sheriff Mike drags the lake for the missing body, Harry has a flashback to when he first landed on Earth.

I'm confused by his claim about wandering around in New Mexico for two weeks. How the hell did he get there? I thought his ship crashed on a mountaintop in Colorado— the place where he's been searching for his ship for the past four months. So how the hell did he end up in the desert? Did his ship crash so hard in Colorado it threw him several hundred miles into the next state?

Or did he crash in Colorado, wander into neighboring New Mexico for a while, encounter a cowboy & scare him off, then ride his horse back to where he started?

I don't get it. It's almost like this entire interlude was included just to introduce the cowboy character and to give us the admittedly absurd image of an alien riding a horse.

• Naturally the body of the real Harry Vanderspeigle washes up on shore while Sheriff Mike's dragging the lake for it. What are the odds? That's The Force Awakens-level coincidence right there!

• Cletus wears a vest that reads "DEPUTY." That had to be Sheriff Mike's idea.

• Harry panics when he sees the body, so he drags it into his house, and hides in in a freezer in the basement of his cabin. Wait, the what? A basement. In a cabin. That's literally fifty feet away from a huge body of water. 

Is that really a thing? Do lakeside cabins typically have basements? Seems like a bad idea to me. Wouldn't flooding be a constant problem?

• Asta & D'Arcy mistakenly show up at a teen party. As they hurriedly leave, Asta spots a drunken Jay passed out in a chair and takes her home.

Back in my review of the first episode I said: 

Asta infodumps her backstory to Harry, saying she married Jimmy and became pregnant when she was sixteen, and he forced her to give up the baby for adoption. Because of that, she tries to help kids like Jay stay off the streets so they don't make the same mistakes she did.

I wonder... is Jay gonna turn out to be the baby that Asta gave up?

Welp, it turns out I was right! After the party Asta drives Jay to her home, and watches her stagger up to the porch.

She then has a flashback to the night she gave up her baby. We see her friend and mentor, the late Sam Hodges, as he hands the baby over to its adoptive parents— who're standing in front of the exact same house!

That pretty much confirms that Asta is Jay's mom. 

To be fair it's not like I'm some kind of genius for predicting this storyline, as it's just basic writing and a pretty standard plot element. I just didn't expect it to happen this quickly.

Now that Asta knows the truth, I'm betting we'll get an episode in which Jay finds out that Asta's really her mom, will resent her decision to give her up for adoption and won't want anything to do with her.

• Near the end of the episode, Harry has an encounter with Sahar inside Joe's Diner.

Last week I tried to find the location they used for the diner in Ladysmith. I managed to track down the street, but there's no diner in the background (it should be between the utility pole and the large reddish building in the image above).

Google Maps hasn't updated this particular street view since 2012, so I said it's possible the diner was built sometime after that. The only trouble with that theory is I can't find any evidence of a diner anywhere in the town.

I then inexplicably posited that the diner probably doesn't exist and was CGIed into the background (!). Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking either.

In this episode we see the diner is most definitely not CGI, but in fact an actual real-world structure. You can even see that same reddish building behind it! I've scoured the internet for recent pics of the diner, but unfortunately I came up empty. Not surprisingly, there's just not a lot of info out there about a tiny, obscure town like Ladysmith.

If anyone out there lives in or around Ladysmith, BC, take a pic of this diner and send it to me so I can prove it really exists!

• In the first act, Asta discovers someone's stolen one of Sam's prescription pads out of his desk drawer. Later at the teen party, a stoner offers her pills that were written with a prescription from the missing pad.

So who stole the pad? The most likely suspect is Jay, as she works in the clinic and was at the party. She's a little TOO obvious though, and I'll be really disappointed in the writers if it turns out to be her. I can't think of anyone else it could be though.

Anyway, at the end of the episode Asta buys a lock for the desk drawer, to keep the prescription pads safe. Nothing like closing the barn door after the horse is loose and in the next county! 

In reality, there's no way in hell even a small town doctor like Sam would have ever left his prescription pads unlocked, where anyone could get to them. No medical professional would be that stupid.

• In the tag scene, two alleged UFOgists speak with the Cowboy who encountered Harry in his true form. A few seconds later the female kills the Cowboy and steals the info he's gathered on Harry (!). Da-yum!

Obviously this scene's setting up a new storyline, as these two are clearly government agents trying to track down Harry. Looks like he may have to kill again!

This Week's Best Lines (most of which were spoken by Harry, of course):
(Kate Hawthorne pays Harry a visit, and tells him that her son Max thinks he's an alien.)
Harry: "Well, you don’t have anything to worry about. I’m not an alien. Unfortunately. I hear they’re pretty cool."

Kate: "I just don’t know what to do. Max won’t sleep, he won’t eat, and frankly, he is driving me crazy. You’re a doctor. Is there anything that we can do?"
Harry: "Move."
Kate: "What?"
Harry: "Far away from here. A new school, a new life. If Max knows that he is never setting a foot in Colorado or the Western United States again, I think that he will be a happy kid."
Kate: "Uh, we have jobs. My husband is the mayor."
Harry: "Scotland needs mayors. I read it in a book."

(Harry confronts Max on his way to school.)
Harry: "Good morning, dickhead."
Max: "Can’t call me that. That’s a nasty word."
Harry: "Oh, I’m sorry, Shit‐For‐Brains."
Max: "You’re inappropriate and you stole my flyers!"
Harry: "Do you wanna put them back up? Go ahead. No one believes you, anyway. Not even your parent. Tell people I am an alien. Climb to the highest tower in town and shout it to everyone!"
Max: "We don’t have towers, you dumb alien."
Harry: "No, I... I know that; it was a figure of speech."
Max: "No, it wasn’t. Oh my God, you actually thought we had towers."
Harry: "I did not!"
Max: "You’re so stupid! 'Hi, I’m an alien and I think it’s castle times and there are towers.”
Harry: "I was testing to see if you thought there were towers, and you’re lucky you passed."
Max: "Well, I’m gonna go to school now. Wait. I hope a tower doesn’t fall on me because we live in make‐believe times."
Harry: "You’re the one who thinks there’s towers!"
(He looks around to see if anyone witnessed their exchange.)
Harry: "Dickhead. Ass... asshole."

(Deputy Liv sees Harry staring at the severed foot.)
Liv: "Poor guy. My guess is a boat propeller probably hit the dead body and just chopped the foot right off."
Harry: "Mm."
Liv: "White male. I’m thinking late 40s, 180 pounds, over six feet tall. That’s a size twelve shoe. Heck, if you didn’t have two feet, I’d think this thing was yours!"
Harry: (laughing nervously) "You are a funny, hilarious person!"

(Harry tries to steal the foot, but is caught by Sheriff Mike.)
Sheriff Mike: "Where’s my goddamn foot? You stole my five dead little piggies, not to mention Liv’s favorite bucket. She puts her soda pop in there!"
Harry: "I can help. I am a pathologist. You don’t need to send the whole foot to Denver."
Mike: "Well, then pathologize the damn thing and get me a DNA sample. We got some Ted Bundy shit going on around here, and I need to put a stop to it before he strikes again."
Harry: "Or she. The killer could be a woman. That’s sexist. You’re sexist."
Mike: "Let me tell you something. When I say he, I mean he or she. You know, between you and me, what is this PC bullshit anyway now where you gotta say 'he/she' for 'he' when 'he' already mean 'he/she,' you know what I mean?"
Harry: "I just think it’ll be more respectful if you think of the killer as a woman."
Mike: "Okay. Well, let me tell you what I think would be respectful, is if you got me a skin sample off this foot before I start needing dick pills. Now, I’ma be in the waiting room waiting!"

Harry: (narrating again) "No one knows where great ideas come from. But you always remember where you were when they came. There. And in this case, my great idea came the moment I entered the exam room and realized I was going to cut the foreskin off this baby’s dick and hand it to the sheriff."

(Harry examines a baby and gets a "brilliant" idea.)
Harry: "His chest is clear. Is he circumcised?"
Mrs. Briscoe: "What?
Asta: "What?"
Harry: "Right, how dumb of me to ask. I’m right here. I can just check myself. Let’s see what you’re packin’ down there, champ."
Asta: "Harry... Dr. Vanderspeigle, you don’t need to do that."
Mrs. Briscoe: "He’s not circumcised. Not yet, anyway. We were thinking about it but hadn’t made a decision."
Asta: "And you don’t need to make a decision right now."
Harry: "The sooner the better. Removing the foreskin reduces the risk of urinary tract infection. Also STDs."
Mrs. Briscoe: "STDs?"
Harry: "Do you want your baby getting gonorrhea?"
Mrs. Briscoe: "Is that a real question?"
Asta: "No, it’s not!"
Harry: "You should consider it. It’s a very simple procedure. All I do is surgically remove the skin which covers the tip of your baby’s prick."

It's The Most Logical Meal Of The Day

Check out this vintage advertisement! Spock seems uncharacteristically surprised to find out his agent's roped him into this publicity stunt featuring "Breakfast With Eight Lucky Ladies."

According to the ad, this festive occasion took place at the Three Crowns Restaurant in the Hilton Hotel, which is presumably in New York City. Here's what the Three Crowns looked like— we;;, decades ago, at least. Tres chic! Or is it? It just looks like a crowded, noisy cafeteria to me. 

I wonder if Nimoy wore his Spock makeup to this shindig? After all, that's what the Eight Lucky Ladies fell in love with, right? They'd likely have been disappointed if plain old round-eared, horizontal-eyebrowed Leonard Nimoy strolled in.

I can only imagine how awkward this breakfast must have been. Poor Nimoy had to sit there and try to think of something to talk about with eight strangers for an entire breakfast. Sounds like he— and the bevy of ladies— had to ride in a parade float as well.

The ad says the big day was on February 1, 1969. That was the final year of the series! The last episode aired just a few months later, on June 3. I wonder if the cast had gotten the cancelation notice yet? If so, that would have made this get-together DOUBLY awkward!

The Asylum Does It Again: Ape Vs Monster

Welp, this is apparently a thing. Seems oddly familiar somehow. 

As you've probably guessed, this cinematic opus is from our old friends at The Asylum— purveyors of low budget, hastily-produced "mockbusters." 

They're a little late here though. The whole point of a mockbuster is for it to come out BEFORE the film it's aping (no pun intended), in order to benefit from the buzz surrounding the actual movie.

Ape Vs Monster came out almost a full month AFTER Godzilla Vs. Kong, which kind of defeats its purpose. Ah well, no matter. It's here now, in all its terrible glory. I knew The Asylum wouldn't let us down!

Now the question is: Does this version make any more sense than the real one?

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Dammit, Jerry!

You should know that Jim O'Heir, aka Garry/Jerry/Larry/Terry of Parks & Rec fame...

Once played a bumpy-foreheaded alien over on Star Trek: Voyager! 

I was never as big a fan of Voyager as I was TNG, so I must have missed this episode. Or maybe I saw it and had no idea who O'Heir was at the time. This was probably a good ten years before Park & Rec after all.

Ironically, his Voyage character didn't have a name! I guess that made up for the plethora he had on P&R. He played a very Jerry-like character though, who was being preyed upon by a con artist.

Dammit, Jerry!

Indiana Jones And The Dubious Co-Star

This week in Things No One Wanted Nor Asked For, Disney announced they're moving forward with an as-yet untitled fifth Indiana Jones movie. As if that wasn't bad enough, they revealed they've cast British actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge to appear alongside series star Harrison Ford.

If you'll recall, Waller-Bridge starred in Solo: A Star Wars Story as L3-37, the delightfully arrogant and amusingly smug droid that captured the hearts and souls of the nation. I'm sorry, that should read the asshole character that everyone hated and cheered when she died.

So that should be fun! I can't wait for this sequel, so I can see Waller-Bridge's character constantly outdo the rapidly aging Indiana Jones as she continuously points out his antiquated attitudes and toxic masculinity. Delectable!

Please, Disney, I'm begging you— for the love of God end this franchise now, before you taint it even more than Crystal Skull did. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Out Of Context Star Trek Moment: Ice, Ice, Baby

I've been an avid Star Trek fan for many decades. I've seen every episode countless times, I've got tons of reference and behind-the-scenes books, action figures, model ships, trading cards-- you name it, I've got it. With that said, even I have to admit that certain episodes could get a little silly now and then, especially when viewed out of context.

So sit back and enjoy this totally Out Of Context Star Trek Moment.

I knew Tasha Yar was something of an Ice Queen, but this is ridiculous!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Remington Who

Remember that weird season of Doctor Who where the Fourth Doctor's companion was Marie Barone, from Everybody Loves Raymond? What an odd creative decision that was!

Actually it's a scene from an episode of 1980's crime series Remington Steele, in which Tom Baker (aka the Fourth Doctor) guest starred as a Scotland Yard detective named Anatole Blaylock. Gosh, with a name like that, I wonder if he turned out to be the villain of the week? 

Doris Roberts, who would eventually go on to play Marie Barone, was a series regular on Remington Steele. She played Mildred Krebs, the receptionist of the title character's detective agency.

I like to imagine the first meeting between Tom Baker and Doris Roberts went something like this:

Doris Roberts: "Oh, and who are you, dear?"
Tom Baker: (smiling his toothy grin) "My name is Tom Baker. I'm on one of the most popular series in all of Great Britain, about an alien with a time machine that's bigger on the inside than the outside."
Doris Roberts: (in Marie Barone's condescending tone) "Ohhh... that's nice. Well, I'm sure things will pick up for you soon, dear."

Chilly Reception

Saw these lawn gnomes at my local Schnucks grocery store today. Yard ornaments after my own heart!

SPOILER ALERT: I couldn't resist, and bought one.

Q-ed Up

For reasons known only to them, CBS All Access, er, I mean Paramount+ decided to renew their miserable and disastrous Star Trek: Picard series for a second season.

Not only did the series completely miss the point of Star Trek: The Next Generation, it gave us horribly off-model versions of the characters of Picard, Riker, Troi, Seven Of Nine, Icheb and Hugh as well, thoroughly ruining them for all time.

Recently Akiva Goldsman, the producer of Picard, unveiled a huge announcement regarding the show. Season 2 of the dreary series will feature the return of actor John De Lancie as fan-favorite character Q, the mischievous, superpowerful demigod who vexed Jean-Luc Picard throughout TNG.

Well that'll be fun! I can't wait to see Q return and go on a violent, murderous kill-spree just like Seven of Nine did in Picard Season 1. It'll be really cool to see him snap his fingers and made someone explode in a massive shower of blood and entrails, give an antagonist the side eye and boil them alive from the inside or make that Kids In The Hall "I'm Crushing Your Head" gesture and obliterate an entire planet!

Maybe he'll take the current version of Picard and change him from an android back into a human while he's at it! It'll be kewl! This ain't your grandpa's Star Trek, laws no!

Pray In One Hand...

A while back I saw this sticker slapped on the side of a dumpster in a downtown downtown alleyway. Its message puzzles me, as I'm still not quite sure what it's demanding of me.

Is it saying I should pray for the souls of wanton women who've lost their way? Or is it suggesting I beseech the heavens to provide me with a multitude of sex workers? Inquiring minds want— make that NEED— to know!

And psst! Just a friendly note to whoever made this sticker— Whores, hookers and prostitutes are all the same thing. 

Superman & Lois Season 1, Episode 5: The Best Of Smallville

This week on Superman & Lois, we get what may be the first filler episode of the series.

That's not necessarily a bad thing though! There's plenty going on in The Best Of Smallville, but the most of it is quiet, character-driven stuff rather than flashy, action-packed plot points. If this is what passes for filler on this show, I'll gladly take it!

Much of the episode features flashbacks to Clark's youth, where we see he was a typical teen asshole. I guess even Kryptonians aren't immune to that sort of behavior!

This week gives us a much needed glimpse into Captain Luthor's background, as we not only find out yet another reason why he hates Superman so much. We also learn more about his personal wife, including the surprising identity of his late wife.

Last week I said I felt bad for Jonathan, as his life has become notably worse since moving to Smallville. I predicted it was only a matter of time before he exploded. Welp, this week it happened! And much sooner than I was expecting.

That's all I've got in the way of introductions (ironically, the better the episode, the less there is to say about it). Let's get to the episode!

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
At the Kent farm, Clark's excited for the upcoming Harvest Festival, and desperately tries to get his family to share his enthusiasm. They're all pretty meh about it— especially the boys— but Clark insists they'll love it. Jonathan says his girlfriend Eliza is coming to visit from Metropolis, and he might bring her.

Later at school, Sarah asks Jordan to take her to the Festival. Just then Jonathan gets a call from Eliza, who dumps him long-distance. Bummer.

Meanwhile, Chrissy Beppo calls Lois and says to get to the Smallville Gazette pronto. Lois arrives and sees Sharon Powell there with her son Derek— who she reported missing a couple weeks ago. When Lois asks the very squirrelly-acting Derek what happened, he says he was injured on the job and blacked out. The next thing he remembered was waking in a church in Stanton County.

Sharon seems to buy Derek's flimsy story, but Lois reminds her that a superpowered goon tried to kill her in a motel room a couple weeks ago. Sharon says the important thing is she got her son back, and the two make a hasty retreat. Chrissy tells Lois that the Powell's story is full of holes, and Lois agrees. She says they'll figure out what's going on together.

Unknown to Lois, Captain Luthor watches her from across the street. He tells his AI that wherever Lois is, Superman's never far behind.

At the Community Center, Lana's taking donations from townspeople for the Festival. Sharon & Derek enter and donate some men's clothing. Derek complains of a headache and excuses himself. He enters a back room, where he calls Leslie Larr, Morgan Edge's personal assistant. He says he desperately needs to see her.

Just then Derek's eyes glow red, as we realize he has heat vision. He runs around in pain, inadvertently incinerating the ceiling of the room.

Elsewhere, Clark goes through his mother's old things. He finds a small wooden box, which triggers a flashback to his teen years. Teen Clark is getting dressed for the Harvest Festival, as his mother Martha ("WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME?") enters and asks him if Lana Lang is still seeing "that Kyle boy." Suddenly Teen Clark hears a burglar alarm and speeds off.

Teen Clark— wearing a ski mask as a disguise— confronts two men loading a truck with electronics. A third robber with a shotgun approaches from behind, but Clark easily disarms him. Another shoots at Clark, but he slaps the bullet away. Realizing they're in way over their heads, the robbers put their stolen goods back.

In the present, Clark hears a fire alarm and speeds to Community Center, which is now blazing away. He uses his x-ray vision and sees Kyle inside with another firefighter. Just as the two men are about to be crushed by burning debris, Clark sneaks in and uses his super-breath to put out the fire. Kyle looks around in confusion, unsure what just happened. As Clark leaves, he sees Sharon Powell standing outside the Center, looking for someone.

Back at the farm, Clark tells Lois the fire destroyed all the donations. He also says he saw Sharon at the Center, and Lois figures she was looking for Derek. The boys come home from school, and Jordan tells them that Jonathan got dumped.

Lois drives to the Center, where Kyle's cleaning up. He tells her his fellow firefighter Mitch was severely injured in the blaze. She shows him a photo of Derek, and he vaguely remembers seeing him exit the rear of the Center. Suspecting Derek had something to do with the fire, she calls Chrissy and tells her to find Sharon for questioning. Just then Luthor approaches Lois and introduces himself.

Cut to the two of them at the diner. Luthor, who claims his name is Marcus Bridgewater, tells Lois he's a big fan of her work. He says he was impressed with her piece on Morgan Edge (?), and may have a way to get into his newly revamped Shuster Mine in Smallville. Unimpressed, Lois gives him her card and says to call her if he finds any concrete info.

At the Gazette, Chrissy's rounded up Sharon— who's upset that Derek left so soon after she finally got him back. She says he sent her a text saying "he needed some space." Chrissy asks to see the text, and slyly uses the phone to pinpoint Derek's location.

Jordan tells Clark he's leaving to take Sarah to the Festival. Jonathan's still smarting from his dumping, and tells Clark he hates Smallville. Clark asks him to give it time, as he's sure things will work out. Jonathan says he wants to move in with friends in Metropolis and storms out.

This triggers another flashback, as Martha tells Teen Clark it's too dangerous for him to play vigilante. He says that was his father's rule, and it's been a year since he died. He says he's here for a reason, and it's to be more than just Clark Kent. He then storms out of the house.

Back in the present, Kyle comes home late and tells Lana about Mitch. She hugs him and realizes he's been drinking. He wants her to stay home, but she says she has to get to the Festival. Sarah offers to fix him dinner before she leaves. She hands him a plate, and he starts creepily singing her favorite childhood song. Clearly uncomfortable, Sarah tells him to stop and leaves.

Elsewhere, Jordan's at the Festival, waiting for Sarah. Jonathan joins him, but ditches him when a couple of his friends approach. They share some alcohol, and Jordan asks if that's a good idea. Jonathan laughs and goes off with his drinking buddies.

Meanwhile, Chrissy drives to the location she got from Sharon's phone. There she spots Derek nervously waiting for someone. As she watches from the shadows, Leslie arrives and she and Derek kiss. He tells her he started the fire, and she says she can fix him.

At the farm, Clark stares out the window and has another flashback. Martha enters Teen Clark's room and says she knows he's meant for bigger things. She gives him a wooden box (the same one Adult Clark still has) and tells him to open it. Inside is a red crystal his father found in Clark's spaceship. She says she doesn't know what it does, but it might be the key to him finding his purpose.

Sarah meets up with Jordan at the Festival and apologizes for being late. When he asks if something's wrong, she says she's having a rough night and doesn't want to discuss it. They go off to consume mass quantities of unhealthy Festival food.

Chrissy follows Leslie & Derek to an abandoned building. Inside, Leslie puts him into a large cylindrical contraption, which bathes Derek in yellowish energy.

Jordan & Sarah sit on a hay bale eating. He says he's starting to like Smallville, but Sarah says it's not as nice as he thinks. She's just about to open up to him when Jonathan comes by with his asshole friends. He makes fun of Jordan because he's on a date. This angers Sarah, and she tells off Jonathan and his pals to piss off before storming away.

Jonathan snaps out of his alcoholic haze, realizes what he's don and apologizes for wrecking Jordan's date. Jordan says it's OK as he takes his brother to get some water. Unfortunately they run into their parents, who see Jonathan's clearly drunk.

Just then Lois gets a call from Chrissy, who fills her in about Derek. Clark overhears and zooms away.

Leslie pulls Derek out of the machine and asks if he feels better. Suddenly Superman crashes through the ceiling and confronts the two. Derek inexplicably tells Leslie to protect the "asset," and flies out of the building. Superman chases after him.

Elsewhere, Luthor's in a ratty RV, monitoring the town. His AI says she's detected Kryptonian flight patterns, and he takes off to intercept them.

We then get a big action setpiece as Superman chases Derek through Smallville's farmlands. Derek tries to distract Superman by igniting barns and silos with his heat vision. Derek then tries to lose him by flying low through a cornfield. Derek turns and tells Clark that Leslie resurrected him. He then calls him by his Kryptonian name of Kal-El, and says he's no longer alone.

Just then Luthor arrives, pulls out a large, high tech gun and fires a missile at the two men. It detonates, causing Superman & Derek to crash to the ground far below. Superman tells Derek he can help him. Derek says he's already dead, then grimaces in pain as he's consumed by flame and turns to ash.

Sometime later, Jonathan apologizes to his parents. Clark says it's OK this once, as he understands what he's going through. He says when he was a teen he also realized he needed to leave Smallville in order to become someone. He regrets leaving though, as he missed a lot of time with his mother. He asks Jonathan to give the place a little more time.

Clark then gives Jonathan the wooden box. He's puzzled though when he opens it and finds it's empty. Clark says the box is the gift, as his father gave it to his mother, and she gave it to him.

After the boys go to bed, Clark tells Lois about Derek. He says his situation seems similar to that of Tag, who inadvertently gained superpowers when Jordan's heat vision manifested itself.

The next morning, Clark & Lois return for the second day of the Festival. Lana excitedly tells them that Morgan Edge wrote a huge check to replace the donated goods that were destroyed— and then some. She then unveils a bench that's been dedicated to Clark's mother Martha Kent.

This triggers one last flashback, as Teen Clark sits on a bench with Martha, waiting for the train. She watches sadly as he boards it and leaves to find his purpose.

Back in the present, Clark tells Lois he was incredibly selfish to leave his mother when he did. Unknown to either of them, Luthor watches from a distance, then returns to his RV. His AI reminds him that the Lois from this world is NOT the one he married (!). He angrily hurls the device across the room.

Jordan meets up with Sarah again. She apologizes for her outburst the night before, and tells him she wants to take things slowly.

Later that night, Jordan walks home in the dark. Suddenly Tag appears, wearing some sort of uniform. He demands to know what Jordan did to him, and begins savagely beating him with superpowered blows.

Thoughts: 
• At the beginning of the episode, Lois fixes breakfast while Jonathan & Jordan watch a news report featuring their Dad. Note that the report mentions a recent increase in Superman activity.

In the previous episode, General Lane complained that Superman wasn't spending enough time in Metropolis lately, which was emboldening the criminal element. He begged him to make an occasional appearance over the city, to give the impression he was still around and on patrol.

Could the "uptick" this week be a response to Lane's plea?

• Clark tells Lois and the boys that the Harvest Festival's a tradition that goes back to 1949— the year Smallville was founded. 

Wait, what? The town's only seventy two years old? That seems reeeeeeally new. I'd have thought it came into being much earlier than that, like in the 1800s. If it really was founded in 1949, that was probably AFTER Clark's adoptive parents were born! I guess it was all just unincorporated farmland before that.

• At the Community Center, Derek's newly acquired powers begin causing him intense pain. He calls Leslie Larr (Morgan Edge's right hand woman) for help. Oddly enough, when he phones he says, "Miss Larr, there's something wrong."

That's strange, because in the third act we see Derek and Leslie snogging away like there's no tomorrow! It looks for all the world like they've known each other long enough to start a relationship. So why the hell's he still calling her MISS Larr?

• Not a nitpick, just an observation: This week the title screen doesn't appear until the NINE minute mark!

• Nice Attention To Detail: Clark has a flashback to his teen years, when he foiled a burglary at a local electronics store. When he confronts the crooks, we see they're loading a truck with bulky, picture tube TVs— which they describe as "real high-end equipment!" How times & technology have changed.

As fun as this detail was, I'm not sure the timeline adds up though. Back in Pilot, I did some simple deduction and math and decided that Clark is most likely 39. That means he was born (or I guess arrived on Earth) in 1982. Based on dialogue in this episode, it appears he's 16 in these flashbacks. That would mean they take place in 1998.

The first large flat screen TV debuted in 1997. It cost $15,000 though (!), so it was likely out of the reach of most Americans, and probably not widely available in stores. So there's a little wiggle room here for picture tube TVs to still be considered "high-end." Not much though!

• It's interesting that Clark wore a better disguise as a teen than he does as an adult.

• Teen Clark's played by Dylan Kingwell, who's made appearances on other The CW shows such as Supernatural and The 100. He does a pretty good job here, and actually looks a bit like a younger Tyler Hoechlin.

• A couple weeks ago Jordan made an El Debarge reference, while Jonathan mentioned Morrissey. I was impressed that two teens in 2021 would have even heard of such singers from the 1980s.

This week Clark mentions 1970s power band REO Speedwagon, a reference which flies completely over Jordan's head. So which is it, writers? Are the kids familiar with 20th Century music or aren't they?

• Kyle rushes into the burning Community Center to save his fellow firefighter Mitch. Just when it looks like the two men are gonna perish in the blaze, Clark zips in, puts out the fire with his super-breath and zooms back out before anyone can see him. Kyle's gobsmacked, as he sees the rubble's inexplicably covered with frost.

Could this be the beginnings of a "Kyle Suspects Clark Has Powers" storyline?

• In the aftermath of the Community Center fire, Lois is approached by Captain Luthor, who pretends to be a fellow reporter. We then immediately cut to the two of them getting coffee in the diner.

Seriously? A couple episodes back, Lois' car was blown up by one of Morgan Edge's goons. Clearly someone out there is gunning for her. So why's she so nonchalant about this total stranger who showed up out of nowhere?

• At the diner, Lois & Luthor chat:

Lois: "So you’re a reporter?"
Luthor: "That’s right. Marcus Bridgewater."
Lois: "Sounds vaguely familiar. Politico?"
Luthor: Reuters. Mainly do business coverage, focusing on big tech. I have a background in engineering. I used to work at LutherCorp."
Lois: "Lex Luthor, the only human being worse than Morgan Edge."

A couple things here:

First of all, this episode finally confirms there is an actual LEX Luthor here on whatever Earth the show's set. If this really is Earth-Prime (and I'm still not 100% convinced it is), then they're talking about the Lex Luthor seen over on Supergirl.

Secondly, Captain Luthor blatantly lies to Lois' face, giving her a fake name and claiming to be a reporter from Reuters— among many other falsehoods. Surely he knows she could easily fact check any one of these fibs in five minutes or less?

Now that I think about it, maybe Luthor's AI did a quick search for black Reuters reporters, found one named Marcus Bridgewater, and he assumed his identity in case Lois decides to check?

• Luthor/Bridgewater says he was impressed with Lois' piece on Morgan Edge (?) Wait, is he talking about the one she wrote for The Daily Planet? The one that was heavily edited and redacted by Edge himself? Why would he be impressed with that puff piece?

• Unhappy with the way things have turned out in Smallville, Jonathan tells Clark he wants to go back to Metropolis and move in with some friends. It was established in Pilot that Jonathan (and Jordan as well) is only fourteen. Did he REALLY think his parents would let a minor his age move into an apartment full of unsupervised teens?

On the other hand, such a thing isn't unheard of in this family. At the end of the episode we see that Martha Kent let Clark leave Smallville "to become something more" when he was only SIXTEEN! Is that even legal? Can a parent just let an underaged teen go off on their own like that?

• What the hell's going on between Kyle and Sarah? He comes home after boozing it up with his fellow firefighters and collapses on the couch in a drunken stupor. Sarah brings him a sandwich, and as she turns to leave he orders her to stay. He then starts creepily singing a song from her childhood to her. Sarah looks extremely uncomfortable throughout the incident, and finally yells for him to stop as she bolts from the room.

I'm assuming she's so upset here because she hates seeing her Dad getting pass out drunk. This is confirmed later on when she encounters a drunken Jonathan at the Harvest Festival, and really lays into him.

There's a second way to interpret this scene though, one that's far more unpleasant and disturbing. When Kyle's singing to Sarah, there are some subtle but definite signs that hint a little at... molestationWhich would certainly explain why she was so repulsed by him.

I honestly hope that's not the case here, and she's just upset at his drinking.

• During one of Clark's many flashbacks, we see Martha give him a wooden box containing a red crystal.

When he asks what it is, she says, "Your father found it in the pod when you arrived. I don’t know what it does or what it’s for, I just— I just know it belongs to you. And it might be the key to figuring out what your future is." The crystal then glows with a brilliant red light when he picks it up, suggesting he's somehow connected to it.

I'm betting he likely used this crystal to construct his Fortress Of Solitude, ala Superman The Movie. Although in that film, Clark's crystal was green, not red. Not sure why they changed the color here.

We saw this crystal a couple weeks back in Heritage, when Clark brought Jordan to the Fortress. He called it the "Sunstone Crystal," and used it to generate an alien YouTube video on the history of Krypton.

• This week we see Chrissy recklessly risking her life in pursuit of a story. I have a feeling her attempts at emulating her idol Lois are gonna get her into real trouble. Maybe even killed!

In the previous episode, Morgan Edge discovered a vein of X-Kryptonite in the old Shuster Mine. As I stated in that review, X-Kryptonite is from the comics, and has the ability to temporarily give non-Kryptonians powers that are identical to Superman's. 

Obviously it does the same thing here on the show. Edge somehow built an X-Kryptonite-fueled chamber, which gives subjects superpowers. That's definitely what happened to Derek, although it's unclear why his resulting powers were so erratic, and required frequent booster treatments to stabilize them.

• Superhero Landing! OK, this one doesn't appear to be the traditional three point one, but I'm counting it anyway.

• When Superman confronts Leslie & Derek, he inspects the chamber and sees it contains a glowing yellowish-orange power source. Derek tells Leslie to "protect the asset" and then flies off.

I assume the "asset" here is the X-Kryptonite. Note that it apparently doesn't doesn't have any negative affect on Kryptonians, as Superman safely stands right next to it.

• In the third act, Superman chases Derek through the skies of Smallville. At one point Derek uses his heat vision to set a barn on fire as a distraction, so he can get away. Sure enough, Superman stops long enough to put out the blaze with his super-breath.

And then two tenths of a second later he LITERALLY CRASHES THROUGH THE BARN, causing even more damage than the fire did! What the hell? Why put out the fire only to make things ten times worse?

• In the wrap up, Clark tells Jonathan he's not going to punish him for his underage drinking— this one time. Wow. He's MUCH more forgiving that MY Dad would have been in that situation. Maybe that's one of Superman's lesser known powers— super-leniency.

• WHY DID YOU SAY THE NAME OF THAT BENCH!?

• More Nice Attention To Detail: Clark flashes back to the day he left Smallville as an underaged teen. In the background we see a newspaper rack featuring The Smallville Gazette's logo on it. Well done, Prop Department!

• Clark reflects on how he selfishly left his mother all alone when he was sixteen. He then tells Lois, "And now we’re at the point where our own kids are talking about leaving home. It feels like they were just born."

Wait... was that a subtle joke on the part of the producers?

At the beginning of Crisis On Infinite Earths Part One, we see Clark & Lois living in Argo City with their newborn son Jonathan. Emphasis on newborn and son (singular).

Then at the end of Crisis On Infinite Earths Part Five, Lois calls Superman and tells him to get is ass home and deal with his sons— plural. Somehow the events of Crisis retroactively caused Clark & Lois to have twins— fourteen years earlier than they originally did!

So in a sense, Clark's line about it feeling like the boys were just born is true, as the writers made this fundamental change just a year or two ago!

• This week we find out another reason why Luthor hates Superman so much. He was actually married to Lois on whatever Earth he's from. Then at some point Superman killed her, thus fueling Luthor's rage. Interesting.

• In this episode we get our best look yet at Luthor's helpful AI device.

I can't help but notice that it looks a LOT like a modified infrared security camera! Right down to the ring of lights circling the central lens!

• Poor Jordan. His first date with Sarah's interrupted and ended by his muscle-headed brother & his drunken posse. Then later when he tries to get back with her, Sarah tells him, "I think I could really just use a friend more than anything else.

Ouch! That was uncalled for. Cue Rod Serling saying, "Jordan Kent has just entered... The Friend Zone." 

• At the end of the episode, we see Jordan walking home along a dark, deserted country road. Suddenly he's attacked by his former teammate Tag.

First of all, Jordan's grinning like an idiot as he walks. Why the hell's he doing that? As we saw a few seconds earlier, he just got friendzoned hard by Sarah. I don't see anything to smile about here.

Secondly, Tag's wearing a distinctive black & yellow uniform, complete with a crest on the left breast. If you'll recall, in the previous episode General Lane said Tag had been sent to a "special school" for kids with abilities like his.

At the time I said that sounded a LOT like Professor Xavier's School For Gifted Youngers over in the Marvel Universe— an institution whose alumni included the various X-Men.

In fact the uniform Tag's wearing is VERY similar to the one's worn by Xavier's students in X-Men: First Class! Coincidence, homage, or are the producers trolling the fans here?
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