Friday, November 30, 2007

The Mist - mini-review

Frank Darabont gets my vote for most successful adaptions of Stephen King's works - which are notoriously difficult to adapt (Sometimes They Come Back, anyone?). Sure, I thought DePalma's Carrie was a bucketful of fun, Kubrick's The Shining gave me nightmares (creepy little twin girls in creepy giant hotels) and Rob Reiner's Stand By Me (from King's novella The Body) is lovely. But those were one-shots by accomplished directors. Darabont has come up with a solid trifecta: The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and now The Mist, which makes him plenty accomplished in my book.

The Mist, set in a small town in Maine (surprise), is the story of what happens to people placed in extreme circumstances. In this case, the circumstances are getting trapped in a grocery store when a strange fog rolls into town ... and horrific beasties roll right in with it. The CGI beasties are okay but not great - I've read that there wasn't a very big budget for this movie and that's where it comes out. There's violence and blood (although torture-porn fans won't be impressed) and some icktastic deaths.

Darabont's cast is, for the most part, right on the money. Ollie, the assistant store manager, is a great character, forthright, brave and a surprisingly good shot. Thomas Jane's tragic hero is wonderful: he's human, he gets tired and terrified and is slightly confused when the others start looking to him for leadership. (Plus he drives a damn cool old Toyota Landcruiser - I covet that truck.) Marcia Gay Harden's character, Mrs. Carmody, is by far the most terrifying thing in the whole movie. A religious fanatic, she whips most of the store refugees into a frightened mob. (SPOILER - when Ollie finally shoots her, someone in the back of the theater shouted "Yes!" END SPOILER) The reason you want to see this movie is for the people - how they deal with terror, how they interact, what they change into under duress. What would you - or I - do in this situation? Try to fight no matter what? Hunker down and hope for rescue? Place faith in a higher power? Fall in with the panic and persecute a scapegoat? It's really scary stuff.

The ending has been changed from King's original story and man, is it bleak. Some purists will, of course, take issue with the change but I, a huge Stephen King fan, did not. Darabont's ending is ghastly (in a good way) and haunting. Nothing jumps, nothing gushes or oozes or rips. It's just harsh.

Finally, I'd like to report that seeing The Mist has gotten me a new little crush on Thomas Jane. The man is very pretty. He and Nathan Fillion should be put in a movie together. With puppies and a lot of chocolate. I'd pay good money to see that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Heroes recap: “Truth and Consequences” – airdate 11/26/07 (S2E10)

The dropping: Everyone’s travelling this week. Easily leading Peter astray, Adam racks up the frequent flyer miles, going from Montreal to Maine to Texas, in search of the Shanti virus. Hiro, not needing frequent flyer miles, jumps from present day Japan to somewhere in 1977 to present day Texas, in search of Adam and the virus. Mohinder takes some of the anti-virus in his carry-on bag from New York to New Orleans, hoping to cure Niki. And Sylar and Maya, this year’s sketchiest couple, finally make it to New York, dumping some excess baggage along the way.

I can’t believe this boring and annoying episode is the follow-up to last week’s great one. Sigh. Peter for some reason is obsessed with saving that annoying Irish chick (about whom I’ve already forgotten) but Adam wants to “save the world,” not just one girl. They track down Victoria Pratt, who developed the Shanti virus, to make her tell them everything she knows about the virus. Bob delivers Bennett’s supposed ashes to the remaining Bennett family members and promises to leave them alone. Then he goes out to his car and tells Elle that it was her fault everything went wrong. She is ordered to follow Claire and keep an eye on her. Mr. Bennett awakens in the Company’s hospital cell and finds Mohinder there. “Didn’t you shoot me?” Bennett asks. Mohinder insists that he didn’t have a choice and has subsequently saved Bennett with Claire’s blood. Mohinder goes on to whine about all the good the Company is doing. Mohinder sucks.

Niki has come to New Orleans to tell Micah that she’s sick with the virus … but don’t worry, Mohinder is working on a cure. Meanwhile, Micah’s moronic cousin Damon takes Micah’s backpack containing his collection of rare comic books (and the medal D.L. received for firefighting valor) and gets the pack stolen by a bunch of thugs. Micah is pretty upset about this and wants Niki and Monica to use their powers and help him get the medal back. Niki refuses but Monica looks like she’s considering it.

EEEEEUUUUUWWWW and, also, boring: Sylar and Maya are drinking wine together in a park. He manipulates her into controlling her own power, thus obviating the need for Alejandro. Maya is annoying and Sylar is creepy. Hiro and Ando are going through Kaito’s belongings, looking for a clue as to where Kensei might be hiding these days. They find a photo of him from 1977 and, luckily, it has his new, non-1671 Japanese name written on the back. Hiro time-travels back to 1977 to learn more. He watches his ‘70s-era father lock Adam up for trying to spread the pandemic virus; then he watches ‘70s-era Victoria Pratt try to convince Kaito to shut down the Company’s virus program. Hiro totally misses the point that his father was promoting the production of these viruses and therefore was not entirely a good guy.

Adam and Peter have found Victoria Pratt in “Searsmont, Maine” – I don’t think it looks much like Maine, actually. Victoria tries shooting them both but she misses their heads so they just heal. Peter uses his stolen Parkman-power to pull the location of the mutated virus out of her head and then Adam kills her. Peter is stupid enough not to get worried about his new partner’s itchy trigger finger. Also, Milo Ventimiglia is making some weird acting choices here. Maya tells Alejandro that she can now control her own power and isn’t it wonderful! Ever the buzzkill, he shows her an article he’s found saying that Sylar is wanted for the murder of his own mother. Sylar talks his way out of that one, even tearing up a little. Stupid Maya argues with Alejandro, saying that she too is a murderer and she chooses to stick with Sylar. Soon afterwards Alejandro confronts Sylar alone and Sylar quickly stabs him in the chest, killing him. Maya knocks on Sylar’s door to thank him for all he’s done for her and they totally start contrivedly making out. Maya and Peter could start their own “I’m stupid” club.

West finds Claire searching through the moving boxes, looking for the wind chimes that will summon the Haitian: she wants him to delete all her memories of her dad because it hurts so much. West comforts her as best he can, telling her that forgetting her father is not the way to go. She realizes he’s right. Mohinder has put together a cure for Niki’s virus using a combination of his and Claire’s blood. He’s going to take it to Niki in New Orleans. But before he does that, he gets all manly and tells Bob that he wants to hunt down and destroy all the remaining viral strains. Like Bob’s going to take orders from you, you hack. In New Orleans, Monica and Micah sneak out to get the comics and the medal back. Monica downloads some sweet climbing moves from her video iPod and infiltrates the thugs’ house. Unfortunately, they come back while she’s in there. They grab her, knock her unconscious and throw her in the back of their van. Why doesn’t her fancy muscle memory kick in from all she’s learned before – she doesn’t even fight back! Unseen and in way over his head, Micah runs for help.

Claire spreads what she thinks are her dad’s ashes by the ocean and sniffles that she’s sorry. As she’s saying goodbye to West, she sees Elle who is not so stealthily drinking a supergiant Slurpee in her car. Elle drops her drink because she’s clumsy with her arm in the sling. There’s an odd editing jump and then she gets out of the car to confront Claire. I don’t know why she doesn’t just zap Claire – maybe she can’t spark so well if she’s wounded – instead letting the younger girl get all up in her face. Veronica Mars would never have put up with that from a cheerleader. Punching in the car window for effect, Claire says she’s going to go public with her abilities and tell the world what the Company did to her father. Mohinder, in a New Orleans cab, gets a phone call: it’s Sylar and Maya, calling from Mohinder and Parkman’s apartment in NYC. Mohinder wigs, understandably. I don’t know why little Molly is alone there in the apartment – where is Parkman? He wouldn’t leave her there by herself.

Peter and Adam have gotten to the Primatech Paper Co. in Odessa, Texas, and are heading to the labs in the lower levels. Suddenly, everything freezes but Peter: it’s Hiro, stopping time, but since Peter can do that too, he is apparently immune to the effect. Brandishing his sword, Hiro says that he’s here to avenge his father’s murder. Peter says he can’t let Hiro hurt Adam. Um, hello? He’s, like, invincible, you incredible dumbass. Hiro says he’s got to try anyway and rushes at Peter, sword raised. Peter starts to spark up and prepares to fight.

Next week: Mr. Bennet comes back (thank god!). And it looks that that fool Mohinder has dropped the syringe with the magic Claire+Mohinder blood cocktail so that Sylar can find it, inject himself and get back to being a bad guy.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fall television report card update

I should probably wait to do this post until the networks completely run out of new episodes due to the Writers' strike but since they're going to run out any minute now, I figure what the heck. Way back in the beginning of September I outlined my hopes and dreams for the fall 2007 television season. In this post, a little bit later, I gave Pushing Daisies an A, Chuck a B+, Reaper a B-, Bionic Woman a C and Moonlight a D+. Now it's three months later, the end of new television episodes is looming large and I'm superthankful that I have a Blockbuster Online queue with 300+ DVDs in it.

Shows that I have long since broken up with: Reaper - even the great Ray Wise cannot overcome a boring relationship storyline that insists on pushing itself to the forefront. Moonlight - I tried one more ep recently and yup, it's still awful. Bionic Woman - Katee Sackhoff left BSG for this dreck? Her agent should be beaten. Desperate Housewives - there's not nearly enough Nathan Fillion to make me want to suffer through Susan and Gabi's bullshit.

Shows that are in the doghouse: CSI/Las Vegas - we're still (stubbornly) watching and are hoping that dreary Sarah Sidle's departure will put the spring back in their step. More Warrick! More Brass! Better crimes!

Shows that I am faithful to: Chuck - it's continuing to get better but there should be even more Adam Baldwin. Friday Night Lights - I think they made a mistake in cutting most of the football and replacing it with that stupid Landry-kills-a-guy-for-Tyra storyline; on the plus side, I can't decide if I want Coach Taylor to be my father or my husband (thanks to Anna B. for the paraphrase there). The Office - I prefer the half-hours to the full-hours and the last new episode was depressing as hell (Michael Scott getting grilled by the Dunder Mifflin lawyers about his relationship with Jan) but this show continues to be generally brilliant and so, so funny.

I heart these shows: Heroes - I know, this sophomore season limped along early on but I think Tim Kring has listened to the ranting of the fans and is (or was or will be when the strike is resolved) changing things ... the episode last week was as good as anything last season. [Note: we've had houseguests tonight so I haven't seen tonight's episode yet; recap will be up tomorrow night - sorry!]. Dexter - again, this season lagged a bit at the start but has been building steam nicely. Plus, Dexter's sister is sleeping with Wild Bill Hickok! Torchwood - a couple of the episodes were just cheesy beyond belief, even for a Dr. Who spin-off, but this is generally good sci-fi stuff, including better sex than on most American shows and what was the scariest television episode I've seen since "Home" (X-Files). Pushing Daisies - this has got to be the darling of the fall. Vivid, funny, twisted and clever, it just keeps getting better and better. I love Kristin Chenoweth!

Shows I am waiting (and waiting and waiting) for: Battlestar Galactica - I've got the recent Razor miniseries sitting in the DVR but I don't understand why the third season isn't out on DVD yet. Very frustrating. Lost - I am continuing to be hopeful here but Mr. Mouse is on the verge of giving up (he wants some answers). Plus, more Sayid/Hurley/Jin and less (much less) whiny Jack and Kate, please.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Death Proof - mini-review

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I misssed the Grindhouse double feature when it was in the theaters and am only now catching up. I really enjoyed Robert Rodriguez's goofy, gory movie and was very excited to see Tarantino's offering. Unfortunately, I think Planet Terror wins the competition - I was underwhelmed* by Death Proof.

It's too frickin' long is the main complaint. I know Tarantino has a gift for rapid-fire, glib dialogue, but enough already! The story is simple: the bad guy, Stuntman Mike (played by an over-the-top but still excellent Kurt Russell) preys on young women. He picks them out, picks them up and kills them with his muscle car which has been tricked out to be "death proof" for the driver. Now I didn't time it, but it took FOREVER for the first group of girls to get killed, albeit in an impressively and horrifically creative way when it finally happened. Blah, blah, blah - they're young, sassy and sexy and Stuntman Mike likes to take their girl power away from them. Well, fine, but hurry it up. Then fourteen months later, he tries it again but this time the girls he picks are stuntwomen themselves and they fight back, eventually kicking Mike's ass in a big way. The car chase at the end is amazing (no CGI, from what I understand - all old school stunts) but again, by the time it happened, I was pretty bored from all the blah blah blah.

I still wish I'd seen the double feature in the theater - particularly since the DVDs I rented did not have all the fake trailers which were supposed to be outstanding (guess I'll go troll YouTube for them). But I think it would have been tough to sit through what with Death Proof being (or at least seeming) so long.

* Except for the soundtrack which was incredible - as all Tarantino's movie soundtracks seem to be. I especially liked "Chick Habit" by April March.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Mouse Family Thanksgiving 2007

I love Thanksgiving but - oof - I sure do eat a lot! We had another epic dinner at my parents' house: nineteen people, including Mr. Mouse and me, the Mouse-in-laws, my brother, my Maine uncle, aunt and cousins, and two sets of good family friends. The food was just outstanding as it always is. Cheese, crackers, crudites and raw oysters to start: if you've never tried raw oysters with a dab of wasabi and splashed with saki, you're missing a treat - briny and sweet and with a bit of a bite from the wasabi.

My folks make the two turkeys, the mashed potatoes, gravy (my dad makes great gravy - full o' giblets) and the dressing. Usually we have two different kinds of dressings, one that's my grandma's recipe (heavy on the sage - mmmmmm) and one that's got tinned oysters, but this year the tinned oysters were way off so we went with shellfish-free dressing instead. Everyone else brings the sides. We had roasted root veggies (carrots, parsnips, yams and potatoes - maybe salsify?) with a cream sauce, green beans, sweet potato casserole, a great green salad with apples and bleu cheese, cranberry-orange relish and cheesy-onion bread. The recipes for the green beans and the sweet potatoes are below; I'll post the roasted root vegetables as soon as I get the recipe from my aunt/mom.

And finally, pies, spectacular pies, my favorite part of the meal. I'll take pie over cake any day of the week. It's no wonder that I'm loving Pushing Daisies where pie plays a starring role! We had two pumpkins, two pecans, one blue-blackberry, one pumpkin ice cream, one banana cream, one mincemeat (with REAL mincemeat - venison and all!), one five-layer coconut cake (okay, not technically a pie, but still dang tasty and so moist) and twenty-four of those little pumpkin-coconut tartlets, which no one even bothered with because there was so much else to indulge in. Just amazing. I haven't had banana cream pie for years and I can't even tell you when (if ever) I've had real mincemeat. So, so good. And since Mr. Mouse doesn't like pie (blasphemy!), I get to eat all the leftovers we brought home. Guess I shouldn't stop trotting on the treadmill quite yet.

Here are the two recipes I promised. Enjoy them. The beans are wicked easy (you can do them ahead of time which is great) and the sweet potatoes are the best you'll ever taste. If I'm wrong, let me know; if I'm right, let me know too. In fact, I'd love to hear your T'giving stories/favorite pies/any of it.

Green Beans with Tapenade Dressing (from Martha Stewart Living, June 2000).

Coarse salt; freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. green beans
1/4 cup black olive tapenade
1 clove garlic, minced (or more to taste)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Bringa medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Plunge trimmed beans into boiling water and cook until bright green and tender, 2-3 minutes. Drain, and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Transfer beans to a serving bowl and toss well with tapenade, garlic, parsley and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Maryann A's Sweet Potato Casserole (usually doubled for a Thanksgiving crowd)

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (4 large)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 beaten eggs
1/2 stick margarine, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine all the ingredients and spoon into a buttered shallow casserole dish.

For the topping, combine another 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1 cup chopped pecans and 1/3 stick margarine into a crumble. Spread over the sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. (Serves eight and can be made ahead and frozen, then thawed and baked before serving.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Heroes recap: “Cautionary Tales” – airdate 11/19/07 (S2E9)

The dropping: The episode title is “Cautionary Tales” but it should be “Mr. Bennett is all kinds of bad ass.” Elle gets a wake-up call. Hiro grows up a little. Parkman begins to be seduced by his powers. Mohinder completely goes over to the dark side.

The Bennetts are packing up their house and getting ready to leave Costa Verde but Claire refuses to go. She announces that her father is a bad man for what he did to West. Bennett threatens to tie her up to get her to behave but Mrs. Bennett intercedes, sending her daughter off to school. “I hate you,” Claire tells her father through gritted teeth. We cut to Japan, present day, at Hiro’s father’s funeral. Hiro is supposed to eulogize Kaito but he won’t do it, saying he is going back in time to rescue his father. Over Ando’s protests, Hiro blinks out of time and back one week ago to the NYC rooftop as Kaito speaks with Angela Petrelli.

Matt Parkman and Molly are having breakfast together and Molly offers to locate some of the people in the Company group photo. Parkman doesn’t want her to do that and discovers that he get her to do what he wants by thinking the suggestion at her. He no longer just reads peoples’ minds; he gets them to do what he wants. Bob and Mohinder have arrived in Costa Verde. Bob tells Mohinder that they’re there to snatch Claire and “take out” Mr. Bennett. Mohinder is uneasy about the murdering bit so Bob introduces him to Elle, who has been working on her sharp shooting. She looks sassily at Mohinder’s bandaged nose and chirps, “Hey, Fight Club, check this out!” She points her finger at her rum punch and delicately shatters the glass. That’s some fine motor control there! Plus, calling him “Fight Club” is funny.

Claire flags West down on his way to school. She promises him that she wasn’t spying on him for her father and tells him that although her family is leaving town, she’s staying because of West. West wants to believe her but can’t quite, and flies away to figure things out. Who’s she going to stay with if she stays behind? Teenagers never think things through. Parkman’s boss wants him to stop wasting his time with the Kaito Nakamura case. Annoyed, Parkman telepaths forth a suggestion, and the boss suddenly says Parkman has 24 hours and can interview Angela Petrelli again. “Good idea,” smugs Parkman. Ooh, I can see this going to a dark place – Parkman’s going to have a tough time withstanding temptation.

Mr. Bennett shows his wife the other Isaac paintings, including the one where he gets shot in the eye. “It’s all falling apart,” he says. Bennett then calls Mohinder on his cell to ask Molly to locate West, not realizing that Mohinder is in Costa Verde and looking for him. Mohinder reports in to Bob and Elle and suggests setting up a trap for Bennett. Bob reluctantly agrees to try Mohinder’s plan and Elle gropes Mohinder, in a sociopathic way, as she straps him into his shoulder holster. Back in the one-week ago past, Hiro confronts his father after Angela leaves the rooftop and tells Kaito that this night is the night he is killed. Kaito is willing to accept his fate but Hiro won’t and blinks them out of time. Yes, Hiro, apparently you have learned nothing about messing up the space-time continuum from your sojourn in 1671. Back in California, Mr. Bennett stomps out of the house to look for West. Just as he gets out the door, however, West swoops down, grabs him and flies off.

Way up in the sky, West reminds Bennett that he can only fly – he doesn’t have super strength and can’t hold onto him much longer. Bennett reassures West that Claire protected him: “You must be pretty important to her.” West brings them both back to earth. As soon as they touch down, Bennett slams the boy into the ground, growling that West is going to use his influence over Claire to get her to leave town tonight with her family. Bennett’s cell phone rings: it’s Mohinder, who lies that West can be found at the corner of A and B Streets. Bennett, who is kneeling on West’s back, looks up at the conveniently nearby X and Y Street signs and figures that Mohinder is up to no good. He promises to be right over anyway. West wants to know what’s going on. Bennett says Claire’s in trouble and he needs West’s help.

At school, the cheerleaders are practicing to some APPALLINGLY cheesy music when Bob, posing as a school administrator, tries to speak with Claire alone, presumably about the drunken cheerleader incident. He blows it, however, calling her by her real last name and she runs out of there. When Bennett arrives at the corner of A and B Streets, Mohinder jumps into the car and says that the Company just wants to borrow Claire for her blood, to save lives. “You’ve gone native,” marvels Bennett, “you sound like me ten years ago.” He tries to reason with Mohinder but that stupid git just pulls his gun out and tells Bennett to start driving. When Claire gets back to her house, her mom is there … and so is Bob with his own gun.

Bennett and Mohinder drive off to somewhere and get out of the car. Bennett wants to know who Mohinder’s partner is, seeing how it’s “Company policy: one of them, one of us.” Then he sees Elle – they know each other. Mohinder, still holding the gun on Bennett as Elle approaches, looks as though he’s in way over his head. Uh, yeah. Elle starts charging up the blue blazes but before she can deliver, West flies in, grabs her and rams her into the top of a car, knocking her unconscious. Mohinder starts to panic, raising the gun. Bennett takes the gun away and after Mohinder gets in one decent right hook, punches the good doctor right in his broken nose. Yikes - and also, serves him right. Mohinder falls to his knees, cradling his nose in both hands so that it looks like he’s praying. Bennett cocks the gun and holds it to his head: “You lie to me, betray me, you come after my daughter – how’d you think it was going to end?” He is SO fucking scary right now. But a nervous West interrupts, “Mr. Butler, what are you doing?” and Bennett unfortunately does not shoot the annoying, weak-minded and traitorous Mohinder, instead kicking him, quite possibly in the nuts, and slamming his head into the side of the car.

Bennett rushes home to find Mrs. Bennett duct-taped to a chair. Bob has Claire! But Bennett has “collateral,” and West walks in with the still-unconscious Elle slung over his shoulder. Bennett very seriously asks his wife, “Did you pack Mr. Muggles’s doggy bath?” She looks at him as though he’s lost his mind. He hasn’t, though: he chains Elle to a chair and puts her bare feet in the galvanized dog bath, filling it with water. Then he hoses her down to wake her up. “I need to get in touch with your father,” Bennett says conversationally. Elle is furious, “What, do you think this is my first day?” and fires up the charge. She must have missed that day in ninth grade science class because the electrical charge swirls around the chains on her wrists and the galvanized tub and flows back into her. She screams and screams. It’s pretty awful; West and Mrs. Bennett are slightly horrified. “Stings like a bitch, doesn’t it?” notes Bennett.

Oh my word, I’m scarcely halfway done with the episode. I gotta get a move on or I’ll be here all night.

Bennett tells Elle that he knows all about her ability, that he was there when her father brought her in for testing. “The human brain isn’t built to take that much electricity. You poor girl.” When she says that her father wouldn’t have let that happen, he says, “Your father was leading the charge.” Get it? “Charge.” She’s hurt but insists that she doesn’t remember anything. Bennett points out that the Haitian stripped her memories and then Elle starts to feel really bad for herself. Bennett calls Bob on Elle’s phone and sets up the meeting. Bob agrees to it and then siphons out at least a pint of Claire’s blood. She allows him to do so, “Just leave my dad alone. No one has to die.” And on her last sentence, the camera zooms in on her magic blood coursing through the tubing.

Boring. Hiro has brought his father seventeen years ago to Hiro’s mother’s funeral. Whatever point Hiro was trying to make gets rendered moot when he realizes that he needs to honor his father’s wish to follow his fate. He brings them back to the night of Kaito’s death. They exchange their goodbyes and Hiro blinks out. Moments later, Kaito’s mystery attacker (who I think is Adam) grabs Kaito and launches them both off the rooftop. Suddenly they freeze in mid-air: Hiro steps out, saying while he can’t save his father, he can discover his murderer. He takes a closer look and yes, it is Kensei/Adam. Hiro is surprised but none of us viewers are. How unsuspenseful was that?

Bennett and West head off to meet Bob for the blonde girl swap. Bennett is starting to like West because the boy clearly cares for his daughter. It’s kind of cute if you can forget about how West stalked her early on. Bennett tries to say goodbye to his wife, just in case, but she won’t hear of it, insisting that he’ll be bringing Claire back. This makes me think that Mohinder really will shoot him and if they kill off Mr. Bennett while allowing that weenie Mohinder to live, I will be SO ANGRY.

Parkman interrogates Angela Petrelli again. She says she is less impressed with him than she was with his father. Parkman tells her that he is able to “push” now as well as “pull” (ooh – using his mind to “push” people to do things is just like those X-Files episodes! Those were good ones). She’s nervous now and asks him not to do this but she can’t withstand the telepathic insistence on her honesty and begins to answer his questions. She’s fighting him, though - she is one tough lady. She tells Parkman a bunch of stuff we already know (Adam is out for revenge, his cellular regeneration has stopped the normal aging process, etc.). When Parkman asks about the last unnamed woman in the photograph, Angela begs him not to do this: if he pulls this secret out of her head, he’ll become his father. He gives the mind-push and her nose starts to bleed.

Bennett, West and Elle stand on one side of the parking lot as Bob, Mohinder and Claire drive up. Bennett instructs West to fly away with Claire as soon as she’s clear, no matter what happens. Claire and Elle cross to their respective fathers, Elle burning through her bonds. West grabs Claire and flies up with her but Elle turns and sends a bolt of electricity at him; they fall, Claire turning mid-air so she can cushion West’s landing. Bennett, not well pleased, shoots Elle in the arm, dropping her with a cry, and Bob runs to her side. Bennett stalks up to them: “No matter what I do, we’ll always be running. But if you die, Bob, the Company dies with you.” He points his gun at Bob’s head, Elle crying in her father’s arms. As Bennett cocks his gun, that motherfucker Mohinder shoots him right through his left eye, just like in Isaac’s painting. Are you kidding me? That weaselly little twit brings down Bennett? Claire screams and tries to run to her father but West takes her away, successfully this time. Bob looks at his fallen adversary and his expression is enigmatic and a little sorrowful.

West brings Claire home and watches as she goes inside to tell her mother what happened. Mrs. Bennett collapses to her knees. It’s sad. We close with a voiceover – not that asshole Mohinder, thankfully – but Hiro’s eulogy for his father. The shots fade from Kaito’s funeral; to Mohinder staring balefully at his gun; to Bob trying to check on Elle’s gunshot wound and Elle shrugging him off, angry that he directed the Company’s testing on her; to Parkman who has dragged the woman’s name, Victoria Pratt, out of Angela’s head; to the Bennetts, mourning their loss; to an IV bag full of Claire’s blood, dripping into Mr. Bennett’s arm. We see his ruined eye regenerate and he gasps for air, alive. Yes! Mohinder is so going to get his ass kicked.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Deadwood recap – “Boy-the-Earth-Talks-To” (S2E12)

The dropping: Alma and Ellsworth get married, Jane gets a pair of clean drawers, George Hearst gets to town, Wu gets his revenge, Cy gets what's coming to him and Al gets in bed with Yankton.

As his hapless guard snoozes, Wu sneaks out of the Gem and back to Celestial Alley. He summons two henchmen who distract and kill one of Li’s men. As they try to run away, Li appears and shoots one of them. Wu confronts Li and, just as things are about to get really ugly, Johnny (who is in the area purchasing meat for the Gem) drags Wu back to the saloon. The morning stage arrives under Al’s watchful eye. Commissioner Jarry excitedly gets a telegraph, presumably from Yankton. Bullock and Martha have their morning coffee, strangely sitting side by each, staring at the wall. These two just need to get over it and act like normal people. Finally, she asks him if it would be okay with him if she continues with her plan to be the camp’s schoolteacher. She’s going to stay! He reaches out and grabs her hand. Cy gets word that Hearst has arrived in the morning’s coach and sends Con Stapleton to get more information.

Al is furious with his lackeys for allowing Wu to escape and possibly ruining his plan. He even hits poor Johnny (!) before sending E.B. to fetch Hearst for a meet and greet to discuss the potential Chinese conflagration. Hearst (Gerald McRaney) is breakfasting with Wolcott and catching up on the situation in camp. He seems a fairly decent man at first glance, his particular passion being getting the “color” out of the ground. E.B. eels up to their table and delivers Al’s invitation to Hearst. Muttering and swearing to himself, Ellsworth stomps into the hardware store and Sol shoos out a customer to deal with him: the wedding is today and the groom is all a-twitter about the lavender “mittens” (dress gloves) he has to wear.

Hearst arrives at the Gem and he and Al adjourn upstairs, far from E.B. Al has his roughshod charm cranked up to 11 and shouts to Dan to bring Wu up to the meeting. To sum up: Hearst really doesn’t care which Chinese man runs Celestial Alley just so long as he has Chinese labor for his mines. He gives Al the go-ahead for Wu to take control back from Li. As E.B. escorts Hearst back to the hotel, Hearst offers him $100,000 to buy the place, allowing E.B. to remain on premises as manager. E.B., who is getting increasingly crazy with every episode, thinks that will be a fine price. (Mr. Mouse points out that $100,000 would have been a ridiculously large amount of money for that piece of property back then.)

Jarry brings Yankton’s offer to Al; Al chases him out, needing time to review the document. He and Adams sit down to go over the proposal, “study[ing] for our fuckin’ lives,” sighs Al. At the Chez Amie, Joanie convinces Jane to wear a dress, and also underwear, to the wedding, saying that funeral clothing will doom the newlyweds. Cy, who has been feeling increasingly marginalized of late, finds Hearst and tells him that he expects some recompense for cleaning up after Wolcott’s murder spree at the Chez Amie. Hearst has a momentary pause when Cy tells him what happened, but covers and walks away with a nod.

Oh, whatever. Alma walks the thoroughfare, a worried look on her face, and voiceovers to her dead husband her concerns about her impending nuptials and her impending child. She says, “He is a good man - and he whom I love is here as well.” I will be very cross if she strands poor Ellsworth at the altar. Hearst and Wolcott reconvene in Hearst’s new hotel – he’s going to tear down some walls – and the boss man wastes no time demanding an explanation for his employee’s actions. Wolcott really has no explanation and Hearst, nicely enough given the situation, fires him. Wolcott is pretty upset about it.

Al and Adams make some amendments to Yankton’s proposal: the elections will be held in six weeks; voters must have lived in camp at least two weeks to vote; and, although it pains him to do so, Al refuses the $50,000 payment from Yankton to him, not wanting a record of the bribe. Their machinations complete, Al summons Jarry and sends Adams to fetch “his holiness the sheriff.” Sol and Trixie walk by, heading to the wedding, and Al tosses down an envelope with a gift for the bride. Trixie looks very pretty in her decent pink dress. Hearst’s lackey delivers the $100,000 to E.B. who is beside himself with giddiness. Tom Nuttal stops by the Gem to consult with Al about an offer he’s had on his saloon. Al tells him not to sell and reminds him that it wasn’t his fault William Bullock died, then they giggle over the afternoon’s nuptials. It’s a nice little scene.

The wedding takes place in the hotel foyer. It goes on way too long but thankfully we cut back and forth between the actual wedding and the symbolic wedding between Deadwood and Yankton as Al, Jarry and Bullock seal the deal. After the document is signed, Jarry shakes Bullock’s hand; the sheriff surreptitiously wipes his palm on his coat as the commissioner leaves. Then Al holds out his own hand and Bullock shakes it without hesitation. Alma does not back out of her new marriage at the last minute although she does look as though she might faint. And we get a quick glimpse of Wolcott in his hotel room writing a letter. There is a length of rope coiled on the bed next to him. I think he’s taking his firing very badly. Oh, look, Charlie is back – yay!

The ceremony over and it’s time for the party. Some hooplehead leers at Jane in her dress and she decks him for it. Charlie walks up and gives her a big old grin. “Welcome the fuck back,” she grunts. Dan, Adams and Johnny get dressed in Chinese clothing and masks; Wu puts on a mask too and they head out, hefting axes. In another scene that goes on way too long, Hearst summons Cy to pay him for taking care of Wolcott’s mess. There are two big bags of gold on the table but Cy, the greedy bastard, wants a percentage of Hearst’s gold claims. Hearst does not look as though he likes that idea very much.

The masked gang gets to Celestial Alley and begins systematically hacking Li’s people to bits. Wu himself slits Li’s throat as the “San Francisco cocksucker” is getting stoned on opium. Bullock leaves Al’s office but can’t bring himself to depart the Gem quite yet. He grabs himself a bottle of whiskey, not wanting to join the wedding celebration. Everyone really is having a good time at the party, except for Cy who confronts Andy the preacher, taunting him. Andy snarls, “God is not mocked, you sonofabitch.” He steps up close to Cy and sticks a knife in his gut. Bleeding badly, Cy staggers back to the Bella Union. Joanie, who watched the entire interaction between Andy and Cy, has a bemused expression on her face. Another person not having fun at the party is Wolcott who has just hung himself (unnoticed except by Hearst’s lackey) from a balcony near the Chez Amie.

Wu and the boys stagger back to the Gem, tired from their murder spree. Wu and Swedgen reconfirm their alliance and then Wu cuts off his pigtail, saying “Wu – America!” Al goes back inside and sees Bullock, still doing shots at the bar. “Don’t you have a fucking home to get to?” Bullock realizes that yes he does, and goes outside. He and Alma look at each other for a moment across the crowd. On his balcony, Al notices this, because he notices everything, and mutters, “I believe [your home] is to your fuckin’ right.” And Bullock turns away from Alma, to his right, and heads home.

Next episode/previous episode

Friday, November 16, 2007

Beowulf - mini-review

For the first time in my life I can honestly say I wish I had read Beowulf in college. It didn't actually appeal to me all that much back then, which is odd given my predilection for myths, legends and fairy tales (I guess it was a poetry issue). But having seen Robert Zemeckis's film version this afternoon, I feel as though I might have gotten more out of the movie if I hadn't had to struggle for the story amid the accents and the motion-capture facial expressions.

I liked this movie - I didn't love it. I had difficulty sympathizing with any of the characters. Beowulf is brave, yes, but he's a liar and a braggart and gets led around by his libido. The old king is just like the hero, only older and fatter and drunker. The young queen has neither power nor personality. Most of the other folks are interchangeable monster-fodder hidden under their helmets. I think the animation kept me from emotionally investing in the characters: unlike traditional animated movies (like Monsters, Inc. or The Incredibles) where it is clearly a cartoon, Beowulf had nearly photo-realistic moments that drew me in, only to be rudely jarred by the next scene that was less real. Also, there were many shots that had obviously been done for the 3D effect - a little more subtlety would have gone a long way.

I very much agree with Harry over at AICN that it is nice to have an adult story told in this format but I was definitely distracted by the actors' animation. (If you click through to Harry's rave review you can get a plot run-down as well.) The monsters were impressive, however. Grendel took turns breaking my heart with his physical torment and revolting me with his tormented physique. I was thankful that he only had a few lines because I couldn't understand word one of them, Crispin Glover's take on an ancient Danish accent, I suppose. And the dragon who fights Beowulf when he is an old king, well, the dragon is just magnificent. I'm a sucker for a good-looking dragon too.

I'm glad I went to see it in the theater - I can't imagine it'll translate to a little television screen all that well - and I am glad I saw it. It just doesn't hold a candle to 300 (which is funny because, according to imdb, Gerard Butler played Beowulf in a 2005 live action version).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Planet Terror - mini-review

I did not get to see the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino Grindhouse doublefeature when it was in theaters this past spring (summer?), in large part because it was in Maine theaters for all of about six minutes. After watching Planet Terror on DVD tonight, I really wish I'd seen these films all together on a big screen, the way they were supposed to be seen - what a frickin' hoot!

Planet Terror was the first movie of the double bill. Loaded to the rafters with cast (Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Bruce Willis, Michael Biehn, Sayid from Lost), it's a horror/action flick complete with zombie-like mutant humans, a corrupt government, the best BBQ in Texas and really, really hot women (Rose = thermonuclear level of hot). You want bloody, oozing, putrescent gore? Got it. Explosions and fireballs and loads of weaponry? Check. Cheating wives, go-go dancers and sibling rivalry? You betcha. And Robert Rodriguez is still a clever enough director to yank you out of the orgy of violence and goo with the unexpected (and mercifully off-camera) death of a child by self-inflicted handgun accident. You think you can't be shocked amid all the carnage but yes, yes, you can, first by the dog and then by the boy. Jeesh. But then, lest things get too somber, they give the one-legged stripper a machine gun prosthetic and all is well in this ridiculous world once more.

I thought this movie was great fun. True, some of the jokes ran a little long (enough with the secret BBQ recipe already - and this coming from a serious BBQ fan). And this is a violent and exploitative movie ... which is exactly what it was supposed to be. Anyone looking for anything more is just being foolish and also a party-pooper. Rodriguez set out to give us a grindhouse experience, complete with schlock, seedy previews, scratchy film - even a "missing reel." He did it and I for one am glad he did. I can't wait to see how Tarantino's Death Proof stacks up.

Mr. Mouse - this movie is not for you. You'd like the girls but little else.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Deadwood recap – “The Whores Can Come” (S2E11)

The dropping: It's pretty much all about William's funeral and how everyone deals with this tragedy in their own way.

Al is out and about, coffee in hand, when he catches a whiff of something especially foul in the air. It’s Li, burning the bodies of the dead Chinese whores. Mr. Wu is so upset about this - must be time to go see Swidgen! Al finds Bullock, as the sheriff is finishing building his stepson’s coffin. Swearengen apologizes for the intrusion (seeming pretty sincere about it too) and tells Bullock that Jarry will probably approach him today: “Even under the circumstances he may try you to confirm that we’re allied.” Bullock tersely agrees to advance Al’s cause. Inside the house, Martha Bullock is washing William’s body as Bullock brings the coffin in. He’s afraid she’s going to leave Deadwood and go back to Michigan.

Back at the Gem, Wu is complaining to Al about that dastardly Li but Al decides he is not going to get involved at this point. Wu is frustrated – more so than usual – and doesn’t understand why Al won’t help him. Al’s position is that if Wu and Li battle it out and Li wins, George Hearst (Li’s backer) will think that Al (Wu’s backer) is weaker than he actually is. Johnny tries to keep up but pretty much everything happening in Al’s office is over his head. I totally know how he feels. Al sends the boys out firstly to bring Li back for a meeting, and then secondly to keep Wu safe.

Blazenoff delivers telegrams at the hotel to both Wolcott and Jarry. As he does this, Trixie stops by to apologize (not in so many words) to Alma for pushing her about answering Ellsworth. Alma appreciates this but looks bemused and then gives a far too long speech to Sophia after Trixie is gone. I’m bored and not paying attention. At the Bullocks’ house, newly preacher-ified Andy Cramed has stopped by to discuss William’s funeral service. Bullock and Martha are struggling to even speak with him - keep the service brief, Reverend – and insist that the burial be private. From the window Bullock sees Jarry heading their way. He meets the commissioner outside, saying yes, yes, Swearengen speaks as one with me, now get the fuck out of my face (again, not in so many words). Jarry gets the picture and skedaddles off to the Bella Union where he convinces Cy to cash a check for $50,000 – the payment to Al for Yankton’s claim on the camp.

Trixie returns to the Gem to find Al in a foul mood because all the Gem whores are weeping and wailing over William’s death. It strikes me as a little odd that everyone should be taking on so about a boy most of them never knew. But the death of any child is horrible and the death of the sheriff’s only son would be a really big deal in a camp this small. Trixie asks if the whores can go to the funeral. Al doesn’t care. Trixie asks if he’s going to go. “What the fuck would I want to go there for?” he snarls. Apparently there are some issues with funerals in his past as well. Calamity Jane is readying herself to take a bath under Joanie’s watchful and insistent eye. When she finally gets in, she jumps back up: “It burns my fuckin’ snatch!” which makes Mr. Mouse and me snicker. Then there’s a hairy armpit shot as she sits down in the tub. Damn you and your historical accuracy, David Milch.

Jarry finds Al and Adams at the Gem, saying that Bullock gave Al his proxy. Al is nominated for an Oscar as he says, “And as his proxy, I don’t do business on the day of my godson’s passing.” Oh dear. Adams scarcely contains a double take on that line. Jarry is a little skeptical and asks if Al is stalling in order to hear a better offer from Montana. “Leave here with your ghoulish fucking thinking,” outrages Al, going on to insinuate that while he won’t take more money from Jarry to favor Yankton, he will consider taking other things (elections, political pull, etc.). Again, Jarry is quick on the upshot. Preacher Andy Cramed swings by the Bella Union and Cy, not believing that Andy is not running a game, gives him a serious front wedgie (ouch!) and tosses him out on the street. I’m bored with Andy and – I can’t believe I’m saying this – I miss the crazy-eyed Preacher from last year.

Dan and Johnny have brought Li to meet with Al. Al proclaims that there will be no more body-burnings and no fighting with Wu on this day of William’s funeral. Li agrees, claiming that he is a civilized man. Al gives the boys permission to go to the service themselves, muttering “what the fuck would I want to go for?” at Dan’s questioning look. Wolcott finds E.B. at the hotel and offers to buy it from him. E.B. flees to the back room and goes a little crazy, paranoid that “the cocksuckers think they can take away everything.” You know, E.B. hasn’t been given very much to do this season, has he? Next, we get some insight into 1860s death superstitions, compliments of Dan, Johnny and Trixie: a dead songbird is a harbinger of more death; wearing new boots to a funeral is bad luck; and pouring liquor at the threshold will keep out evil.

The entire camp has gathered outside the Bullock home for the service, everyone dressed in his or her most-presentable attire. Preacher Andy begins to speak and good grief, is he a terrible public speaker. I really miss the Reverend now. Plus he goes on and on, not keeping it brief. Finally, Martha can’t take it any longer and starts sobbing. She breaks away from Bullock and dashes for the house, tripping on her skirts and falling, getting back up and scrambling inside. It’s awful to watch. She runs to William’s coffin and stares at him for a while. Then, after collecting herself, she goes back outside and takes Bullock’s hand, whispering to her husband that she wants to let the camp folk pay their respects. Slowly, sadly, people file through the house, saying goodbye to sweet William. During all this time, Al has been watching from his balcony. When he sees his flunkies returning, he ducks back inside so they don’t realize that he was watching.

Oh, this is lovely. Alma, Sophia and Ellsworth return to the hotel. As Ellsworth carries Sophia up the stairs (can’t she walk? Jeesh!), she tells him that “me and Trixie” picked flowers for William’s grave. He gently corrects her, saying he thinks “‘Trixie and I’ is how it ought to go.” Alma is behind them and she speaks up, touching his hand, “Yes, Ellsworth. Yes to the question you’ve asked me.” Amazed, he simply looks at her and she smiles at him. Then Ellsworth looks down at Sophia and they stick their tongues out at each other. Dan, Johnny and Adams find Mr. Wu at his pigpen and tell him that Al wants to see him. Wu is still pissed from before and gesticulates that Swidgen’s going to have to come to him instead. But the boys have their orders and hilariously pick him up and carry him back to the Gem for safekeeping.

At the Bella Union, Cy notices that Wolcott is looking a little wild-eyed. Never one to miss an opportunity to stir up trouble, Cy tries to provoke him. Wolcott is holding as tightly as possible to his self-control, however. Jarry pops in and Wolcott relays that Hearst is expected at Deadwood within the week. Is this what’s got him so worked up? From the doorway of the hardware store, Trixie watches Sol drive the Bullocks up to the cemetery. He nods to her and she turns to lock up the store. A-ha! Just when I was worried about the kindler, gentler Al: he gives another monologue while he gets a blowjob from that poor chubby whore. This speech is about his epileptic brother’s horrible death and subsequent funeral. As the whore works away on him, Al pats her head and then, distracted, asks, “Did you dye your hair?” It’s extremely funny that she is able to nod “yes” while her head bobs up and down. It was nice of him to notice, though.

Back at the Bullocks’ home, Martha is folding and refolding the clothes she’s packed into her steamer trunks. Her husband comes to the door, staring intensely at her. “Whatever will let us live?” he asks (or says, he’s pretty monotone). Bullock takes both of her hands in his and presses them closely to his chest, murmuring, “As we are now.” She just looks at him but I think this means she’s going to stay.

There’s only one episode left in Season 2 and if Al doesn’t kill someone, I will be very annoyed. It’s still some of the best television I’ve ever seen, but all this politics, talking and scheming has been a little slow of late.

Next episode/previous episode

Monday, November 12, 2007

Heroes recap: “Four Months Ago” – airdate 11/12/07 (S2E8)

The dropping: We get some insight as to how Peter ended up in Ireland with no memories and no shirt, how DL died, why Nathan is haunted by a badly burned vision of himself, why the authorities are after Maya and Alejandro and just why Elle seems like such a scary little girl. The Haitian remains an enigma, however. Also, not a peep out of Hiro, Claire or Mohinder.

In that warehouse in Montreal, Adam tells Peter that the Haitian stripped him of his memories and that by juicing up on Adam’s healing powers, he can heal himself of his amnesia. Peter takes out the photo of himself and Nathan and stares at it, triggering a flood of memories. Cool – this whole episode is going to be a flashback!

Remember when Nathan grabbed Peter and flew straight up out of NYC with him, right after Peter defeated Sylar? Well, up there in the sky Peter explodes just as he pulls free of his brother. Caught in the blast, Nathan falls, burned and unconscious, until a sooty but whole Peter swoops him up and flies off with him. At the hospital, DL makes it through the surgery (did he get shot in the season finale last year? I can’t remember but that sounds right). Niki finds out that Bob has paid for DL’s surgery and he offers to help her with her “illness.” She doesn’t want to be away from her family to take the in-house cure so Bob offers her some drugs she can take at her own home, although he does warn that there are side effects. She’s so desperate to be rid of Jessica that she takes him up on it even so.

In the Dominican Republic, Alejandro is getting married and Maya is not that happy about it. The party is rockin’ though – great music. Maya thinks her brother should have known his wife longer than four months before marrying her. As I watch the bride sneak off with her ex-boyfriend, I think Maya might be right. Maya finds her new sister-in-law screwing her ex and she loses it, eyes filling. The whore bride and the guy fall down dead. Eyes streaming black, Maya staggers outside and – holy shit – the whole party is dead. Hundreds of people. That’s one scary-ass power. Alejandro runs up, asking what happened. Maya stammers that she thinks she killed them all and runs off. Peter brings a horribly burned Nathan into the hospital. He’s got Season 1 hair and it’s so funny. As he wanders the hospital corridors, Bob and Elle pop out behind him. She zaps Peter and he falls. “Did you have to use the full blast on him?” complains Bob. “He can take it,” smirks Elle.

Some time later Peter regains consciousness because Elle is giving him nasty little jolts of electricity. There’s a long scene with them, Bob and the Haitian whereby Bob promises that the Company is close to a cure for these powers. If Peter stays with them, they’ll give him a cocktail of drugs to suppress the powers until the cure is finalized. Peter’s a dope so he agrees and they lock him up. Elle is creepy and totally invades Peter’s personal space. Hands, hands! Kristen Bell does nasty quite well although she can’t resist a little scenery-chewing. Angela Petrelli visits her older son in the hospital and he is gruesomely charred. I can’t help thinking that an actual person (as in not a TV character) could not have survived such burning. Elle gives Peter his Season 2 haircut and feeds him the power-suppression pills, and then shocks him as she goes, promising him that he’ll start to like the pain soon enough. After she leaves, Adam introduces himself to Peter through the air vent between their cells.

Three months ago. Niki is completely stoned on the Company’s suppression pills at Micah’s birthday. DL promises her that it will all be worth it, she should just hang in there. Plus he’s distracted because he has a new job that will make Micah proud of him. It occurs to me that while I certainly enjoying no Mohinder in this episode, there’s too much Niki. Adam, who is quite good at gaining Peter’s trust, disabuses his neighbor of the notion that they are in a research facility: he himself has been in there for thirty years. He suggests that Peter try to get out of the facility if he thinks it isn’t really a prison.

Two months ago. Elle, wearing some fierce dominatrix stilettos, shows up for her daily Peter visit. He allows her to give him a little shock and she gets way too much enjoyment out of it. He asks what her story is, perhaps more than the “sadistic lightning thing.” She considers, then tells him: she burned down her grandma's house at age 6; she caused a four-county blackout at age 8; her 9th birthday was spent in a glass room hooked up to a lithium IV. She has lived in this facility for 16 years, is currently 24 years old and has been diagnosed as a “sociopath with paranoid delusions - but they were just out to get me because I threatened to kill them.” Okay, that’s funny.

Also two months ago. What is Mrs. Petrelli’s power again? I can’t remember and I think it may be important. In Las Vegas, Niki has a new job as a car salesman. Unfortunately, she dumped her meds down the drain before the last commercial break. Surprise! Instead of Jessica appearing in the mirror, it’s another personality – Gina - who takes over her body, trapping Niki back in the mirror. Gina’s heading to L.A. to play. Peter tries to get a visit with his family but Bob refuses all his requests. After Bob leaves, Peter’s on board with what Adam’s been telling him. Adam tells him that he wants to save the world: his blood has curative powers and he could help people. He proffers that he could heal Nathan of his horrible burns and that, my friends, is enough for our boy Peter. DL, it turns out, has become a firefighter. He rescues a little girl from a burning building and becomes this big hero, even though he carelessly he phases through a wall right in front of people. Micah is so proud of his dad! However, when DL gets home, he sees the note from his wife sayings she’s going to Los Angeles.

One month ago. When Elle comes to give Peter his drugs, he tosses her on his bed and plants a big ol’ kiss on her. She gets totally turned on and sparks him with her lips. The kiss, electricity notwithstanding, is pretty damn hot. After she leaves, Peter spits out the pills (he’s been off the pills for the last five days) and he manages to phase into Adam’s cell. After the official introductions, they head out to heal Nathan, Adam holding onto Peter as he phases through the walls. Alejandro finally catches up to his sister in Venezuela and he’s brought a policeman with him. Maya freaks, killing the cop with her black eye-goo, but when Alejandro grabs her hands, he brings her out of it and they realize they’re connected in this power. They’re twins, right? I forget. DL finally catches up to Niki at some cheesy L.A. nightclub. She regains control of her body when he shows her a photo of their family and she asks him to take her home. Unfortunately, the skanky guy she was dancing with doesn’t like this and shoots DL pointblank in the chest, not giving him the chance to phase the bullet through him. And that’s how DL dies.

Three weeks ago. At DL’s funeral, Lt. Uhura tells Niki that she will help her any way she can. As the relatives leave, Bob walks up to the door and Niki nods at him. The Adorable Duo, Adam and Peter, sneak into Nathan’s room. Adam injects a syringeful of his own blood into Nathan’s IV and Nathan’s scars almost immediately begins to fade. Adam is anxious to go, however, knowing that Bob and the Company heavies will come to the hospital looking for them. Sure enough, Elle and the Haitian show up. Adam mutters the address of the Montreal warehouse rendezvous to Peter and they split up. Elle hits each of them with a bolt of electricity that catches Peter’s shirt on fire. So he takes it off - finally! He runs, ending up in a lot of cargo containers, the Haitian right on his heels. The Haitian punches Peter around, handcuffs him to the cargo container and then slips his own helix necklace over Peter’s head. The Haitian tells Peter that he is not taking him back to the Company and that he is helping him now because Peter’s mom once helped him when he was in need. He strips Peter of his memories and locks him in the container. Meanwhile, I wonder how Adam got away from Elle. They don’t show us.

Now the timeline is all screwy. Mrs. P walks into Nathan’s hospital room and he is fully healed and beautiful again, but with a haunted look in his eyes. Niki says thank you to Bob as she walks down a Company corridor with her luggage, but he is noncommittal and it is unclear whether she is leaving or just arriving. Maya, Sylar and Alejandro drive through the desert – which we’ve seen before. Nathan, in a downpour, arrives at what looks like the Irish pub where Peter met Caitlin, apparently on the trail of his missing brother. Then we’re back in the Montreal warehouse with Peter and Adam, Peter just having remembered all his past. “Shall we save the world?” asks Adam. Peter’s like, hell yeah.

Next week: Mr. Bennett shoots someone else – either Bob, Elle or Mohinder. I sure hope it’s not Elle.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Book review: A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt

Mr. Mouse totally poached this book from me. When I brought it home, he started eyeing it immediately. “That looks like something I might like to read,” he said, “Can I just take a look at it?” Next thing I knew, he was 98 pages into it and I had to wait until he fell asleep to pry it out of his fingers.

In A Walk for Sunshine – a 2,160 mile expedition for charity on the Appalachian Trail, we hike from Georgia to Maine along with Jeff Alt, as he walks to raise money for the Sunshine Home, the residential home that cares for his brother Aaron, who is severely afflicted with cerebral palsy. Hiking the Appalachian Trail (“AT”) is an epic accomplishment characterized by extreme weather, stunning scenery, the kindness of strangers and strength of body, not to mention the force of will it takes to put one foot in front of the other for over 2,000 miles. Thousands of people start the AT every year but only a small percentage of them finish: in 1998, Jeff Alt (trail name: “Wrongfoot”) and my own father (“Lowtide”) were two of the few who made it, giving them entrance into the elite club of “thru-hikers.”

Alt planned his AT adventure well, training with his backpack filled with 50 pounds of sand and preparing six months’ worth of meals in packages to be mailed to him at strategic locations along the AT to facilitate his re-supply. With a background in marketing and sales, his fundraising presentations went smoothly and he ended up raising $7,000 of his $10,000 goal for the Sunshine Home before even setting foot on the trail. His family dropped him at Springer Mountain in Georgia, the southernmost terminus of the AT and he started walking north on March 1, 1998. 147 days later, Alt reached the top of Maine’s Mount Katahdin, thirty pounds lighter, bearded, stinky and jubilant.

A Walk for Sunshine is the chronological narrative of Alt’s journey. The first half of the book reads almost like a journal, each chapter covering 1-3 days on the Trail. Alt includes some great anecdotes (the skunk that curled up on his sleeping bag for warmth one night, for instance) and does a good job of conveying the physical toll the AT demands. AT hikers walk all day, nearly every day, with 40-50 (or more) pound backpacks over brutal terrain and in all weathers. Early March is still winter, even in Georgia, and Alt found himself in rain, sleet and hip-deep snow for most of his first month on the Trail.

His trail name came from a rookie mistake: he inadvertently switched the arch supports in his hiking boots and ended up blistering both feet into hamburger by the end of the first day. Luckily, Alt was young and strong and pushed through the pain. He clocked impressively high mileage for his entire AT tenure, consistently walking around 10-15 miles each day, but often doing twenty miles and at least once getting thirty miles under his belt before day’s end.

By the time Alt reached Virginia, however, the book’s time gaps widen with sometimes up to ten days between chapters. At the end of the book, he allots only two chapters to all of New Hampshire and Maine, including the rugged White Mountains and gorgeous Baxter State Park (by comparison, Georgia gets seven chapters); I was disappointed that the beautiful and daunting 100-Mile Wilderness didn’t even get a mention. I think I understand the rationale, however. Much of walking the AT is dreary routine: get up, pack up, walk, set up camp, eat and go to bed. Repeat until you’ve covered 2,160 miles. At the start of Alt’s walk, everything was new and exciting to him. With only 330 miles to go, however, he’d moved past the novelty of it all and ended up writing only about the big events: climbing Mt. Washington, seeing his first moose, the final ascent up Katahdin.

A Walk for Sunshine is a quick read. The bulk of this second edition is straight narrative, with notes on fundraising (to date, the annual fundraiser inspired by Alt’s hike has raised over $100,000 for the Sunshine Home) and some inspirational thoughts as the closing chapters. Alt isn’t a particularly eloquent storyteller – he’s no Bill Bryson, but then again, Bryson didn’t come close to finishing the Appalachian Trail – but his words do bring you out into the woods with him, bug bites, blisters and all.

I was keen to read this book to see how Alt’s experience matched up with that of my parents (my mom, “Periwinkle,” also walked the AT in 1998 but had to come off for a couple hundred miles because of an injury; she rejoined my dad in New Hampshire for the last push). Wrongfoot may have been younger and faster than my folks, but the Appalachian Trail affected him just as it did them, instilling a deep appreciation for life outdoors, an affinity for simple routine, a profound respect for the body’s boundaries and pure joy at going for a long walk.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The mountain is open - let the shussing begin!

Mr. Mouse and I have started our ski season early: Sunday River's official opening day was yesterday. They were open for a few hours on Hallowe'en but I don't count that as the official start of the season - that was just a publicity stunt. Since there is no natural snow yet and temperatures have been fairly warm of late, they only managed to blow snow on a couple of trails and with the throngs of people on-mountain today, those poor trails were really crowded. But everyone was smiling and laughing, so happy to be skiing again. For those of you who like to keep track of such things, I did two runs yesterday (under the snowguns - loud and wet) and four today. A slow start, true, but it's a start.

P.S. With the advent of ski season, my weekend posting will fall off, simply because I will be on my boards, not on my keyboard. I promise to absolutely keep up with the regular recaps and do the best I can with the other stuff.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Deadwood recap – “Advances, None Miraculous” (S2E10)

The dropping: Everyone is really sad as they wait for William to die. Al, who doesn't like down-time, amuses himself with manipulating the imaginary Montana and all-too-real Yankton interest in the camp. You know, it's heart-wrenching and all, but I'm ready for some action. Al hasn't killed or beaten anybody in AGES.

We pick up moments after the last episode left off. Bullock has William in his arms. He rushes towards Doc’s, calling for Martha to join him. Everyone looks on, shocked. Cy tells his henchmen to “get that tub of guts [Mose Manuel] to Joanie Stubbs.” Hostetler and N.G., hiding in the livery, are scared that the white folks will string them up for letting the horse break free, even though the white folks in the camp have done all sorts of violence to each other. Hostetler suddenly lunges for his rifle, saying that he won’t beg for mercy. I think he may be looking to off himself before any whites come for him. N.G. wrestles the gun away and suggests the two of them ride out of camp.

Johnny and Trixie are updating Al on William’s status – Trixie is taking it very hard, somewhat surprisingly but I guess we’ve established that she has a soft spot for children – while Miss Isringhausen looks on. She still hasn’t signed the documents and Al is getting tetchy about it. Merrick stops by next, letting Al know that Commissioner Jarry arriving back in camp shortly, Merrick having snuck a peak at Jarry’s recent telegrams to Wolcott and Cy. Realizing that Yankton has sent Jarry to put move on Deadwood in the face of his Montana scam, Al sends Dan to fetch Adams’s sidekick, Hawkeye, and also Sol. (Why Hawkeye?)

Jarry has arrived and wants to see Bullock immediately. In a surprising show of humanity, Wolcott and Cy think that he might want to wait a while, what with the dying child and all. Jarry is all in a tizzy even tho’ Cy says the article was a fake. As the commissioner storms out, Wolcott rolls his eyes, “I am a sinner and do not expect forgiveness. But I am not a government official!” (I think that’s the sum total of humor in this episode.) Dan finds Sol keeping a vigil outside of Doc Cochrane’s cabin. Sol doesn’t want to leave, but Dan threatens to pick him up and carry him back to the Gem. Dan also finds Adams - Hawkeye is nowhere to be found. Jane is wandering the thoroughfare, searching for a bottle she may have hidden some time previously. Instead she finds Tom Nuttal who is crouched under a stairway, sobbing. He asks her if she knows whose horse it was and she hunkers down next to him, sympathetic.

In Doc’s cabin, Bullock asks for a prognosis. It isn’t good, obviously. William’s brain has been injured such that his eyes don’t sync up any longer, not to mention all the crushed bones and internal injuries. Doc says they should talk to the boy, and that it won’t hurt him to wipe his face. Martha can scarcely bring herself to touch her broken child. Sol finds Trixie in the Gem saloon and they snipe nastily at each other, both upset and frustrated. Sol doesn’t want to have to wait for Al to become available. Dan marches in with Adams and tells Sol that Al has to see Hawkeye first. “But that’s Adams!” Sol protests. Dan snarls, “I know who the fuck it is!” Okay, that was funny.

Upstairs, Al and Miss Isringhausen are still at their battle of wills – she even goes so far as to suggest that he orchestrated the scene in the thoroughfare so as to draw the sheriff away from her signing. When Adams comes in, she makes as if to sign but fakes her signature until Adams shakes his head. Beaten but unbowed, she signs the paper and then Al hands her a stack of cash, saying, “I wish I had five like you.” She takes her money and leaves. Jane has found her way to Joanie’s and they are commiserating as to why they are not keeping watch over William: Jane is an unlubricated drunk, which is generally unwanted, according to her; Joanie doesn’t really like blood. Just then, with perfect timing, Cy’s lackeys show up with the wounded and bloody Mose on a sled. She’ll have to get over her phobia pretty quickly. At Tom Nuttal’s saloon, Steve and Tom are getting rather drunk, bemoaning their parts in the scene. Steve is casting the blame square on Hostetler and N.G. – no surprise there. Tom tells someone to drag that infernal bicycle outside where he can’t see it.

Sol has finally made it upstairs where Al is weaving his web: due to Bullock’s current unavailability, he wants Sol to tutor Adams in enough Montana politics and lore to convince Jarry that Montana’s interest in Deadwood is real. Sol’s face is drawn tight but he agrees. Trixie is working on her own web: she goes to see Alma and asks if she’s going to marry Ellsworth. “If it’s fuckin’ him gives you pause, he’d never make you,” she offers. Alma is offended (of course) and replies that what gives her pause is the prospect of marriage without love, seeing how she’s done that once already. Trixie says that Ellsworth is waiting for her answer, whatever it is Alma is waiting for before giving it.

I’m just going to skip over all the detailed Montana information Sol gives Adams and Al. It’s all talking and too tough to recap. Doc is at Joanie’s, first examining Con (who ruptured his groin pulling Mose on the sled), and then Mose who isn’t moving much. Jane brings in three pitchforks and suggesting using them as levers to get Mose up onto the couch. Doc thinks their effort might be better spent if they just ran across the room and stabbed him with the tines. He’s going back to see to William, not wanting to attempt hopeless surgery on the fat man, but when he gets to his cabin he doesn’t go in, not wanting to intrude on the sorrow within. He tells Jewel to come get him if there’s any change. He’ll be at the Chez Amie, “operating on a whale.”

William is still unconscious, making little coughs and gurgles. His mother, crying quietly, says she wishes she’d stayed in Michigan, that she wants to take him home. Bullock gently reminds her that Doc says it’s better he’s not moved and she responds, “There’s no better about it.” Jarry is wandering the camp, trying to get someone to talk to him; Merrick locks his door and pulls down his window shades, hoping to move Jarry along to Al’s. It works: Jarry sits down with Al and Adams, the latter playing his role a little over the top for Al’s taste (unless they planned it so, which is entirely possible). Again, it works and Jarry buys their charade. He suggests that if Deadwood would wait on responding to Montana’s offer of annexation (there’s mention of $50,000 floating about, I’m guessing headed towards Al’s pockets), he’ll go back to Yankton and see if they would consider a counteroffer (and more money to Al). Al doesn’t have a problem with that. After the commissioner leaves, Adams turns to Al and asks what just happened. Al looks like a cat after a bowl of cream, pleased with the performance.

Hostetler and N.G. are camping out. N.G. talks about heading to Oregon but Hostetler wants to catch the escaped horse and take it back to camp, surrendering the murdering horse and apologizing for his part in the tragedy. And then, if he makes it out alive, he might go to Oregon and opening a livery with N.G. “Then let’s find that fuckin’ horse,” agrees N.G. Jarry reconvenes with Cy and Wolcott and relates Al’s story. Cy is skeptical but Wolcott is willing to play along since Hearst is so interested in the camp.
At Doc’s cabin, William’s breathing is getting more and more labored. His folks struggle to find words to say to him.

In the camp, everyone waits for word about the boy. Richardson prays as best he can. Sol takes coffee with Merrick and Blazenoff. Al paces the Gem and sends a sorrowful Trixie to keep Jewel company outside doc’s cabin. Aw – so sweet! - Mr. Wu brings Jewel a cup of tea while she waits, although she can’t hold it because of her hands. Sol and then Trixie come up and wait with Jewel. Inside, William takes one big, hitching breath, and then another one. I think he may be done with this mortal coil.

Meanwhile, Doc has enlisted both Jane’s and Joanie’s help with the bullet removal surgery on Mose, Con and Leon looking on ghoulishly. E.B. is chopping onions at the hotel when Andy Cramed (remember him from last season? The gambler who Jane nursed back from the pox) wanders in. He’s found Jesus and, knowing the camp has no preacher, was thinking to offer his services. Alma Garrett can wait in her room no longer. She sets Richardson on guard, in case Sophia wakes up, and runs out. Ellsworth comes up to her as she pauses on the boardwalk, not really knowing where to go.

A dazed-looking Bullock comes out of Doc’s cabin. Andy Cramed goes to meet him. Sol, stone-faced, turns and walks back through camp to the hardware store. Al, Alma and Ellsworth all see him. They know that it would take William’s death to get him away from his vigil (or, I guess, a summons from Al).

Next episode/previous episode

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

DVD mini-review: Shall We Dansu? (1996)

My friend Kevin C. does a great job of introducing me to new things. So far he's:
  • loaned me the DVD set of Cowboy Bebop - to which I quickly became addicted and was heart-broken to find out that no more episodes were made
  • loaned me Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett - which I really liked
  • loaned me Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki - which was amazing, although I felt as though I really should have been stoned to truly have appreciated it
  • loaned recommended The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell - which I really liked (and I've borrowed the sequel, Children of God, from him, but haven't started it yet)
  • pointed me towards Casablanca Comics - which is a fantastic local store and I am now on their BTVS Season 8 subscription service, plus working my way through the Fables and Y: The Last Man trade paperbacks, as my faithful readers know

And now Kevin has done it again as I just finished watching his DVD of Shall We Dance? - the original Japanese version (not the Richard Gere/J.Lo vehicle of 2004). The story is of a Japanese man, bound by all the repressive restrictions of his society, who discovers ballroom dancing (of all things) and, in doing so, rediscovers himself. He initially attends the class because he has a crush on the distant, icy young instructor whom he saw through the window. But as the lessons progress, he finds new friends and, much to his surprise, finds he enjoys the dancing. This is not a complicated movie. It is sweet and funny, with great supporting characters. The young female lead, Mai, didn't do much for me although she does manage some character growth by the end of the film. The male lead, however, is quite charming and I thought the actor, Koji Yakusho, did a lovely job with him.

I can't wait to see what Kevin will loan me next - perhaps the movie version of Cowboy Bebop! As a point of honor, however, I do want to point out that this audio-visual and literary exchange has not been completely one-sided: I did, after all, introduce Kevin to Firefly.

Postscript - I forgot to mention that Kevin ALSO encouraged me to discover Battlestar Galactica (one of the Best Shows Ever!) and hooked me up with his Lost Season 1 DVDs when I fell behind.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Heroes recap: “Out of Time” - airdate 11/05/07 (S2E7)

The dropping: Peter takes a shower. We get to see several instances of life imitating Isaac’s art. Claire’s dad and Claire’s boyfriend are so very much not going to get along. Niki doses herself after ruining Mohinder’s pretty face. Parkman grows a pair. Kensei’s rejuvenating power appears to have a most excellent Fountain of Youth quality to it as well. And did I mention that we get to see Peter taking a shower?

Kensei is keeping Hiro stoned on opium and thus unable to freeze time and/or teleport himself, Yaeko and Yaeko’s father to safety. David Anders expositions that he’s thrown in with White Beard and will be given half of Japan to rule in exchange for his help. Cut to the Ukraine, where Mr. Bennett is photographing the series of Isaac paintings: Hiro vs. Kensei; the vial; Niki (I’m sure it’s Niki) pounding on the door; bandaged Mohinder with a gun; dead Bennett; and the one we weren’t shown before - a shocked Peter staring through a window that has a quarantine sticker on it. Bennett phones Mohinder and asks if he’s been given the gun yet. Nope, not yet. Mohinder is nervous and fluttery and says he doesn’t know whom to trust anymore. Bennett has no time for his wishywashiness - he hangs up and sets the paintings on fire. A siren is going off in the corridors of the Company: Bob is evacuating the building because Parkman and Nathan have arrived to tell Bob that Maury Parkman (good – a name) is coming to kill him. Cut to NYC, June 2008 where Caitlin is still annoying. Luckily, HASMAT-suited men soon arrive and jam gas masks over Peter’s and her faces, muffling her voice.

The Heroes eclipse is green. Ah, yes - NBC is green this week. Ooh, there’s also a trailer for The Mist, directed by Frank Darabont and adapted from the Stephen King short story. The guys at AICN are all excited about this one.

Claire wakes up to a text from West. He’s downstairs and has made waffles for breakfast. Claire is not all that psyched that he’s in her house and quickly hides a photo of her father before West can see it. Mrs. Bennett, however, seems thrilled to meet Claire’s new boyfriend. There’s a brain trust meeting in Bob’s office: Bob, Nathan, Parkman, Mohinder and Niki are all there. Nathan is skeptical about Bob’s motivations and is not really being all that helpful. Bob wants the Heroes to inject Maury with the Shanti virus (thus striping him of his ability). Then they’ll cure him with Mohinder’s miracle blood, allowing him to live but removing the dangerous bits. Also, Bob wants Parkman to cowboy up and learn more about his own brain abilities. Back to 1671 Japan: Yaeko picks the lock on her chains with a pointy stick (clever girl) and snaps Hiro out of his stupor. He teleports the three of them to safety.

SHOWER SCENE!! Peter – who is in good shape – and Caitlin are being hosed down in a decontamination shower. Caitlin is really skinny and really terrified. Peter rants and roars but for some reason does not get telekinetic or sparky. Eventually, some guy in charge explains to Peter (who is now unfortunately dressed) that the Shanti virus has wiped out 93% of the world’s population. The few survivors live in isolation, trying to find a cure. We get our first real life version of an Isaac painting as Peter looks through a be-stickered window into a warehouse full of plastic wrapped bodies. “It’s been a tough week,” says the guy in charge. Milo Ventimiglia does his best to look shocked and sad.

Parkman sits with Molly, who is still in her fugue state/coma, and practices telling her he loves her with his mind. In doing so, he gets a few jumps in her EKG (or whatever) machine and realizes that he may, in fact, have more tricks in his brain than just mind reading. He concentrates and transports himself to an ugly-ass apartment. Molly is there, awake and cogent: this is the prison where Maury has been psychically holding her. Mohinder and Niki stride purposefully down the hall to get a syringeful of virus with which to inject Maury. Just then, DL appears – to Niki only – and tells her she’s still a killer. It’s Maury, of course, giving her a taste of nightmare. Back in Bob’s office, Nathan peruses the wall of files, grilling Bob about "Adam Monroe" – the only name of the older generation of Heroes he doesn’t recognize. Bob says that Adam is the one pulling the strings to get Maury to kill the others. Adam is a visionary but has a bit of a god complex, apparently. Until recently, the Company had him imprisoned; since he broke out and is now looking for payback, they need to worry about him – a lot. Nathan wants to know why he should care. Bob says, “because of Peter,” and tells Nathan that his brother is actually alive. In 2008 NYC, the guy in charge brings Peter to see Angela Petrelli. Peter doesn’t know her, of course. Talk talk talk, she eventually somehow nudges him into remembering her at least, if not more of his memories. It’s not clear how much he gets back.

Claire and West mack on the couch, each teenagerishly listening to one earphone connected to her product-placement cellphone. She tries to work up the courage to tell him about who her father is, but waits too long: Mr. Bennett comes home. West FREAKS out, at first thinking that Bennett has tracked him down. When Claire says, no that’s my dad, West becomes furious (rightfully so, may I add) and accuses her of trying to entrap him. He flies up, up and away just as Bennett comes outside. Back at the Company, Maury plays with Niki’s brain some more, again showing her DL and then making her think that Bob shoots him. She punches Mohinder in the nose, tossing him across the room – it’s awesome – grabs a syringe, and heads out to murder Bob.

Hiro decides that he must try to destroy White Beard’s guns and teleports into the storage tent. As he is pouring gunpowder over the crates, Kensei surprises him. They fight (we get live action painting shot #2), knocking over a lantern, and Hiro manages to disarm the Englishman. The fire quickly spreads and Hiro asks Kensei to take his hand so they can teleport to safety. Kensei refuses, citing betrayal, and Hiro finally gets out of there, alone, just as the tent explodes.

Bob is filling Nathan in on Peter’s current lost status but they are interrupted when Niki busts down the door. This would be the third live action painting. Nathan gets in between Niki and Bob and tries to talk her down; she ends up slamming the syringe into her own arm to break free of Maury’s hold. She collapses, tears running down her face. Trapped in the ugly apartment with Molly, Parkman works his new brain mojo and manages to suck his dad in there with them. Molly is not happy about this. Parkman and Maury shout and brain-bludgeon each other for a while until Parkman realizes he is no longer afraid of his father. He manages to get the locked door open and he and Molly scoot out of her prison. Maury lunges for the door, screaming “No! Don’t leave me! Don’t leave me alone!” but Parkman locks him in. Matt wakes up in Molly’s Company hospital room: his father is on the floor, locked deep in his own nightmare. Molly wakes up too, free from her Nightmare Man at last.

As future Peter and Angela Petrelli leave whatever warehouse it is they’re in, he spies Caitlin on the other side of a chain link fence, in line to be deported back to future Ireland. She grabs at his hands through the fence, begging him to save her, to get her out of this horrific future he’s dragged her into. As guards pull them apart, Peter starts screaming and manages to teleport himself back to now in that strange room in Montreal. He’s alone. He hasn’t brought Caitlin back with him – she’s lost in that bleak future. Oops.

Hiro wanders through the ruins of White Beard’s camp. There are charred corpses everywhere. He finds Kensei’s masked helmet and then teleports to the cherry orchard where Yaeko is waiting for him. He is sad for killing Kensei, but she says that she thinks it is he who really is the hero Kensei, David Anders having only accomplished what he did because of Hiro’s help and influence. She asks him to stay with her but he knows he’ll only mess up more of history/the future/whatever if he stays. He kisses her and then is gone.

Mohinder is giving Niki a transfusion of his own blood to wipe out the Shanti virus, but uh-oh! it’s a new strain of the virus and he is back to being useless. “I’m going to die?” asks Niki. (You know, I’d be okay with that. It’s not like she’s had a storyline (thank you!) this season or anything.) Hiro brings himself back to the present to visit Ando in his cubicle. Ando has to break the news that Hiro’s dad is dead. Mohinder tells Bob that Niki is infected with an incurable strain of the virus. An imperturbable Bob hands him a new file on Claire Bennett. Since Claire can regenerate, maybe some of her cells can help save Niki. Bob gives Mohinder his new gun and pretty much tells Suresh to do whatever it takes to get Claire into the Company. Mohinder, because he’s such a dumbass, tells Bob that he’s been allied with Bennett until now to take down the Company. Even Bob wonders why Mohinder thought now was the right time to confess this. But Mohinder is scared and his nose hurts, and he doesn’t think he can trust Bennett, isn’t sure who can he can trust at all. Bob plays him like a violin and Mohinder takes the gun.

In California, Mrs. Bennett spills the beans to her husband about Claire’s new boyfriend. He’s very unhappy about this as he downloads the digital pictures of Isaac’s paintings, including the one where he’s shot through the eye while Claire kisses a boy. Bennett confronts Claire about West and the drunken cheerleader’s story about flying boys. They have a huge fight and Bennett announces that California is no longer safe for them, they’re moving again. Claire snits that they’ll be moving without her then.

In Montreal, Peter tries to teleport/time travel back to save Caitlin. No luck. Upon hearing a noise, he fires off a bolt of electricity. A hand catches it, burns to a crisp, and then heals. David Anders pops around the corner: “Peter, what the hell was that?” Peter wants to know how this British guy knows who he is. David Anders replies, “I’m Adam. We’re going to change history.” Yay! We have our Big Bad and he’s so pretty! And, Hiro – because he mucked with history in 1671 – is the one who created this villain who now wants to destroy the world; if it hadn't been for Hiro's meddling, Kensei probably would have drunk himself to oblivion. You know, you really should never mess with the space-time continuum.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Deadwood recap – “Amalgamation and Capital” (S2E9)

The dropping: Martha has a change of heart with regard to both her husband and her husband's ex-honey. Al, Wolcott and Cy keep entrenching themselves deeper into the camp's politics. Trixie is really bad at math. Hostetler is proved right yet again when he thinks it's an inauspicious time for fixing wild horses.

Morning at the Bullock household. The men of the house are enjoying a cup of coffee together. William is so cute, and Bullock is very cute with him. They talk about William’s father, Bullock asking questions since he didn’t know his older brother very well. Martha tiptoes down the stairs and watches them, Bullock’s obvious affection for her son warming her heart. When Charlie comes to fetch the sheriff for “camp bidness,” Martha hastens down the stairs and says good morning to her husband, which she didn’t seem likely to do as of yesterday. E.B., still suffering with his toothache, pays a call on Al, who instructs him to make friends with the new telegraph operator. “Of course I’ll befriend him,” says E.B., “I’m very fond of Russians.” Hee hee. Al goes on to say he is particularly interested in telegraph messages to and from Yankton. As E.B. leaves, Dan delivers the morning paper with Al’s “article” about Montana’s interest in Deadwood.

At the Bella Union, Cy is grousing about Al being behind this newspaper article when Bullock and Charlie come in. They’re here to see Mose Manuel about the shooting of his brother. At the hotel, Ellsworth (yay!) has brought some paperwork for Alma to sign: the safe for her new bank is arriving shortly, to be housed in the hardware store until the bank building is built. She gives him a letter to take to Al and, when he asks if there’s anything else they need to discuss (like his unanswered marriage proposal), she dodges that bullet by lunging for her barf basin. Convenient, that morning sickness! Joanie pulls up the curtains at the Chez Amie to see Jane leaning against the front door, asleep. Joanie asks her to come in several times, but Jane is not listening, rambling as she explains her encounter with Wolcott the night before. Finally Joanie says, “Jane! It’s nippy on my twat!” and Jane comes indoors.

Hostetler and N.G. are fussing with a wild stallion that N.G. has caught and brought into camp. The horse will need to be castrated before it settles enough that they can sell him. Hostetler says that he “can nut him, but the moon is wrong and he’ll take it badly.” N.G. doesn’t want to waste any time on the moon and insists on going forward. This horse looks like the one from the opening credits. Al comes downstairs to the Gem bar, reading his piĆ©ce de resistance in the paper. In a nice bit of continuity from last season, Dan grumps that the ball scores in Merrick’s rag are outdated. At the newspaper office, Merrick has just finished printing another one hundred copies of the paper – he’s jubilant. E.B. is there too, sucking up to Blazenoff. Just then Miss Isringhausen stops by to send a telegram; E.B. does his best to read over her shoulder but she is not having any of that, telling him to get the fuck away. E.B., thinking she’s actually a tutor, is scandalized by such language.

When Merrick stops in at the Gem, he and Al get into a shouting match but I’m not really paying any attention as to why. I’m more interested in the fact that Ellsworth has dropped Alma Garrett’s letter off in Dan’s care, warning that Al better not treat the sender ill. Okay, I guess that Merrick is concerned that what he printed was falsehood, but Al explains that it was all for the good of the camp in the face of the imminent annexation. Al pours Merrick some whiskey and they reaffirm their alliance against of what’s to come. E.B. pops in to report that Miss Isringhausen is sending a telegram and Al, after reading Alma’s letter to him, sends Dan to fetch her.

William has brought some sunflower seeds with him from Michigan and is planting them in his little garden. He tells Martha that he thinks Bullock might like the sunflowers as William’s father liked them. She helps him plant, and then he asks her if they might take lunch to Bullock at his store. She watches him, realizing how important it is for her son to have a father figure in his life. Since William is so adorable and sweet, it is at this point that I start to be certain that something horrible is going to happen to him. This is television, after all.

William’s father figure and Charlie are interrogating Mose Manuel as he disgustingly eats his own lunch at the Bella Union. Mose is not particularly interested in explaining himself. Just as things as things are starting to get a little tense (Cy fanning the flames as usual), Wolcott comes in to report to Bullock that his mining operation had to shoot one of the Cornish miners who was attempting to flee with stolen gold. Charlie rolls his eyes and make a reference I don’t recognize: “It’s all amalgamation and capital, eh, Wolcott?” As Bullock arches an eyebrow at his newly erudite deputy, Wolcott responds that he didn’t know Charlie was a student of Hume or a disciple of Karl Marx. Charlie doesn’t really want Wolcott talking to him about anything and begins to get a little chippy.

Bullock doesn’t like where this is heading and gets Charlie out of there. Charlie is furious: he tells Bullock that he has to leave camp to deliver Bill’s letter, and says that it was Wolcott who gave the letter to him. “Money must buy these bastards any fuckin’ thing they want!” he rants. Bullock wants to know if the letter was the impetus for Wolcott’s beating but Charlie says he’s promised not to talk about that. The sheriff then asks what the import of the phrase “amalgamation and capital” is and Charlie says that in some magazine interview with Bill, the reporter said that that’s what was changing things around out West. Bullock promises to keep an eye on Jane while Charlie is gone and Utter takes his leave. Martha and William walk up with lunch for Bullock. He’s pretty surprised to see them.

Jane asks Joanie if she’s planning to “restock and reopen” the brothel. Joanie demurs then asks her new friend if she would stay with her for a while, as Joanie’s guest. Jane nods with a grin, “I get top fuckin’ dollar!” She goes back to the freight office to pack up her stuff. Charlie is there, asking if there’s a new saloon in town and that’s why he couldn’t find her at her usual haunts. She tells him that she’s moving into Joanie’s place. Daring to be hopeful, he asks how the two of them are getting along, if they’re friendly or if it’s a business relationship. “Yeah,” she scoffs, “I’m gonna be Queen Hooker.” But Charlie is pleased and relieved, wishing Jane luck and asking her to relay his regards to Miss Stubbs. Jane shakes her head: “You’re not only a pain in the balls, Charlie, but also the strangest fuckin’ person I ever met.” “No argument here,” he answers. Aw, Charlie is such a sweetheart and Dayton Callie is just outstanding in his portrayal of him.

At the hardware store, William watches Trixie work her numbers. “3 and 3 is 6,” he points out politely. She grimaces, “Sometimes I just put ‘9’ to amuse myself.” Me too, Trixie - I hate math. Bullock, Sol and Ellsworth are struggling to put the safe into place. Martha suggests that maybe Alma might like to be invited to the opening of the bank. Bullock’s eyes bulge, Trixie tenses and Ellsworth reluctantly goes to fetch his boss lady. Trixie runs after him, asking what the fuck is going on between Bullock’s two women. Ellsworth has no idea whatsoever. He also has no answer when Trixie asks how his marriage proposal went over. “What the fuck is her fuckin’ problem then?” she spits. “You’re a worthy enough fuckin’ candidate, given all her fuckin’ givens.” “Warm endorsement,” Ellsworth grumbles. Hee hee.

Al tells Miss Isringhausen that Alma wrote to him saying she’d tipped her hand to the former tutor. Al figures that she knows it was Al who told Alma who Miss Isringhausen worked for, and that her recent telegram was most likely to her Pinkerton bosses saying that Al had thrown in with the widow and could not be trusted. Miss Isringhausen doesn’t dispute it. Al then goes on to threaten her, saying she’d best sign everything he has for her to sign, take the $5,000 he is just now offering her and disappear, severing her connection with the Pinkertons. Otherwise she’ll end up dead. To her credit, Miss Isringhausen doesn’t even blink, instead asking to see the $5,000. She further says that she wants Bullock to witness her signing Al’s documents (without the sheriff being privy to their contents) and also to escort her from Deadwood. Al thinks that can be arranged.

Tom Nuttal drops by the hardware store to ask Bullock what he discovered with regard to the Manuel brother’s shooting. Bullock resignedly reports that since there were no witnesses, the accident stands as is - accidental. Tom is dismayed at this most recent violence to occur in his saloon. When William asks him how the bicycling is going, Tom replies by asking if William can assist him with calibrating the Boneshaker’s handlebars. [At this point, Mr. Mouse notes that Leon Rippy, who plays Nuttal, has a great voice. It’s true: rich and gravelly and a nice rolling sound to his chuckle.] Martha gives her permission and the two bicycle enthusiasts head off, grinning ear to ear.

Ellsworth delivers the invitation to Alma, who snootily thinks she might just head over to the hardware store and see what Martha is up to. Ellsworth picks this moment to ask if she’s made a decision as to his proposal. She snaps that she’s not made up her mind yet and does he really want to push her right now? Bad timing, Ellsworth. At the hardware store, as Martha, Bullock and Sol are eating lunch, Johnny comes to fetch Bullock for Al. Bullock tells him “not now” and Johnny cools his heels on the boardwalk, afraid to return to Al without the sheriff in tow. When Alma arrives, decked out in her finest, Martha goes straight up to her and holds out her hand, sincerely wishing Alma good luck with the new bank venture. Surprised, Alma meets her eyes, reading the sincerity there, and shakes Martha’s proffered hand, in turn giving her support to Martha’s schoolteaching aspirations. Everyone else in the room – Bullock, Ellsworth, Sol and Trixie – breathe a HUGE sigh of relief.

Tom and William have adjusted the bicycle and Tom gets ready to ride again. William wishes he could ride too and Tom encourages him to grow his legs just a little longer. Steve (the guy who tarred N.G.’s shoulder a couple episodes ago) comes upon the bicyclists and genuinely smiles to see their fun. At the bank meeting, Trixie hands over a gold nugget to be the first depositor. Johnny asks again if Bullock will come with him to the Gem, promising it will be brief. At the Bella Union, Mose Manuel is getting a blowjob under the table as he plays faro. Wolcott and I are both completely disgusted by this. Mose gets himself worked up into a frenzy and ends up getting shot by Cy’s thugs. Wolcott seems twitchier than usual (I think he’s nervous about Bullock’s supposed Montana interests and how they might affect his boss) and tells a lackey to find Bullock before fetching the doctor for Mose.

Back at the bank, Alma wishes to sign Trixie’s receipt since it’s the first one. Everyone is smiling and happy and ... uh-oh. Twanging music has started up, ominously getting louder, and we start rapidly cutting between several scenes: Steve trying to lift William up onto the bicycle as Tom rides past and then circles around for another try; Hostetler and N.G. preparing to castrate the furious, flailing horse; Cy’s lackey searching for Bullock; Miss Isringhausen nervously reading over the paperwork as Al and Bullock wait for her.

Suddenly, the distraught horse breaks free from the livery, dashing headlong down the thoroughfare, neighing wildly. The horse startles at seeing Tom on the bicycle and lunges away, trampling Steve and William and sending them flying. Bystanders shout and cry out – Bullock, hearing the uproar, leaves Al’s office before Miss Isringhausen has put pen to paper. In the hardware store, the assembled group hears the noise outside but doesn’t know what to make of it. In the thoroughfare, a horrified Tom jumps off his bicycle and runs to William’s side. We pull back into an overhead shot: William is sprawled on his back, limbs outstretched, not moving. It looks really bad for this sweet little boy. I told you this would happen.

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