Thursday, June 26, 2014

True Blood episode recap "Turn! Turn! Turn!" S5E1

What happened last time/season on True Blood?  Damned if I can remember ... oh yeah: Sookie broke up with Bill and Eric; Bill and Eric killed Nan Whatshername and a bunch of Authority vamps; Reverend Steve came back to visit Jason, this time as a vampire; Alcide killed Marcus the werewolf leader and saved Sam's life; Jesus is dead and Lafayette is a full-blown medium; and Tara got shot in the head during Sookie's confrontation with Alcide's girlfriend/jealous werewolf bitch Debbie, who also got shot in the head but more conclusively.  So, this season on True Blood:

We begin with some slight re-running of the events of last episode.  Eric cleans the mess he and Bill made with Nan and her soldiers while Bill leaves a message for Jessica, saying he'll be out of town for a bit.  Sookie walks into her kitchen and is confronted with an off-camera Debbie.  Both Bill and Eric notice Sookie's spike in fear and Bill is all, "Sookie!" while Eric, even better, is all, "Fuck Sookie! You heard what she said to us.  Plus, we gotta get out of here before the Authority nabs us."  [Paraphrased.]  But it's too late and the Authority nabs them, using silver nets, and stuffs them in the trunk of a car.  Back at Sookie's house, Sookie and Lafayette are wailing over the dying Tara.  Pam shows up, looking for Eric.  Lafayette begs Pam to turn Tara to save her.  "Turn her?  I don't even like her," Pam snaps, continuing, "I can't be the only one noticing she's missing half her head ... it's entirely possible she'll wake up fucktarded."  But Sookie says she'll mend fences between Pam and Eric plus still owe Pam one, so against her better judgment, Pam feeds Tara her blood.  Which should go over SO well since Tara hates vampires - some eternal self-loathing from her should be a treat.  [Sarcasm.]

Vampire Reverend Steve manages to glamour his way into Jason's house.  He is such a twit, even as a vampire.  Steve ties Jason up, erases his memory of what happened, and de-glamours him.  He then comes out to Jason - he's a religious gay vampire American!  And he's in love with Jason.  Jason, very diplomatically, says thanks but no thanks, as "this dog don't bark that way."  Steve gets a little cranky at that but before he can bite Jason, Jessica shows up to stake [heh] her claim.

The werewolves have surrounded Sam at his trailer.  One shifts back into human form and asks where Marcus is (they don't know he's dead yet).  Sam suddenly remembers he's a shapeshifter and shifts into a hawk, flying away.  He flies to Luna's house to warn her about Marcus's pack.  She's all, but Alcide killed Marcus so why are they after you?  Sam's like, Alcide helped me out and I'm not going to throw him to the, um, wolves [my pun].  The werewolves show up at Luna's and threaten her daughter so Sam agrees to go with them.  Meanwhile, Pam, decked out in "a Wal-Mart sweatsuit," has Sookie and Lafayette bury her with Tara for the turning.  She's not happy about any of it.

Through some shenanigans with an umbrella, Bill and Eric manage to poke a hole in the car's gas tank and blow it up, freeing themselves.  Luckily, one of the Authority vampires who were transporting them is Nora, Eric's "sister," upon whom he plants a big, wet, open-mouthed kiss.  Bill rolls his eyes.  Nora is working for the Authority, true, but she saw an opportunity to save Eric; the way they are brother and sister is through Godric, their shared maker.  The three of them go to ground in a shipping container for the day to wait for Nora's people who will get Bill and Eric new identities.  And by "go to ground" I mean Eric and Nora knock one out in spectacular fashion while Bill wishes he were anywhere else.  "We fight like siblings but we fuck like champions," Eric grins afterwards.

Back at Sookie's house, she and Lafayette clean up the blood and Debbie parts splattered all over the kitchen.  Afterwards, she drives him back to his house so they can deal with Jesus's body.  But when they go inside, the body is gone - ostensibly because the actor had to go over to be a bad guy on Arrow.  Lafayette says good-bye anyway, in case his boyfriend's spirit is lingering.  In a storyline I care NOTHING about, Sheriff Andy Bellefleur and Holly get caught in flagrante delicto when her sons come home early from their hunting trip.  Over with the other Bellefleurs, Terry's Marines buddy Patrick is having breakfast with Terry, Arlene and the kids.  Terry is testier than usual.  Apparently Patrick is interested when he hears they lost their house in a fire.

In another storyline I don't care much about, Hoyt is still refusing to talk to his former BFF Jason because Jason slept with Jessica after she and Hoyt broke up.  Later on, Alcide stops by Sookie's house.  She's a little panicked that he'll figure out that she killed his girlfriend.  He tells her that Russell Edgington is not, in fact, dead but has dragged himself out of the concrete grave Bill and Eric put him in.  He's 3,000 years old, she exclaims, what were they thinking leaving him alive?  Alcide is all, you're in danger and you should come stay with me so I can protect you.  Sookie's like, you're not going to want me to stay with you when you find out what I did ... but Lafayette busts in before she can confess to killing Debbie.  He asks Alcide how the werewolf plans on protecting Sookie from an ancient pissed off vampire when all werewolves do is piss off vampires.  He's had enough of supernatural bullshit - vampires, witches, maenads and motherfucking werewolves - and tells Alcide to get the fuck up out of his face.  Alcide growls a little but doesn't press the issue.  Later he does call Eric to let him know about Russell, however.

On the other side of town, the werewolf pack is beating Sam to try to get Marcus's body's whereabouts.  Sam won't 'fess up though.  Marcus's mother Martha, a hard-lookin' woman/werewolf, comes in to talk with him next.  She says they need Marcus's body back to transition to the next packleader.  She promises to protect Luna and Ella if he takes them to the body.  "Let's go, "says Sam.  Over at Merlotte's, Terry is trying to enjoy a cigarette when Patrick shows up, telling him that he's been investigating a rash of fires that have been plaguing members of their squad - it's because of what happened "that night in Iraq."  Terry does NOT want to talk about it.  Patrick is looking for one particular member of their squad; Terry says he doesn't know where the guy is.

Jason busts in on a party Jessica is having with some college kids.  He gets jealous when she starts flirting with another guy but when one of the sorority girls offers herself up, he turns her down, trying to be a good guy for once since he's still hung up on Jessica.  He drives her home, saying "Do me a favor and put on that sweatshirt because you are in some kind of shape and I don't need to see that shit." Heh.

The werewolves dig up Marcus and are about to kill Sam for his murder but Alcide shows up, claiming the kill for his own.  The pack is all, you're the leader now and Alcide is like, um, no.  Then a bunch of the weres shift to wolf form and start eating Marcus's body,  Ick.

Over on the waterfront, Nora has just handed Bill and Eric their new identities when the Authority forces descend on them.  Oops.  Guess they won't be getting away quite yet.  Back at Sookie's house, Pam digs herself out of the ground, grumbling that there is dirt in her bra.  Did it work? Sookie asks and Pam's all, I don't fuckin' know.  Sookie digs frantically, uncovering Tara's face, but there is no movement.  Sookie starts crying.  Lafayette comes out of the house, takes in the scene and just stands there, disconsolate.  And then, because you knew this was going to happen, Tara bursts out of the ground, looming hungrily over the shocked Sookie.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mini movie review: Veronica Mars

A long time ago, we used to be friends, Veronica Mars television show and I.  And then it got cancelled.  And then Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas raised a ridiculous amount of money on Kickstarter and made a Veronica Mars movie, just for the fans.  When released this past spring, the movie only showed at one theater in my state, and that one about an hour's drive away ... so I waited for it to come out on DVD.  (I'm a fan but I'm not a crazed fan who's gonna drive an hour.)  I did watch all of S1 and S2, and several episodes of S3, of the original television show before I watched the movie so I could refamiliarize myself with the characters, quips and story lines.  I finally sat down to watch the little Veronica Mars movie that could and embraced it with open arms.  It was like getting together with an old friend: familiar and fun and friendly, but not exactly the same.  The dialogue was not quite as clever as in the t.v. show and the movie seemed like it was going through a checklist of everything it wanted to hit.  But still, spending time with Veronica - who is still as flawed as ever - and her cohorts was really a good time.

Veronica Mars is definitely a movie for its fans.  We got to see almost everyone from the show: Veronica, Keith, Logan, Wallace, Mac, Dick, Weevil, Gia, Sacks (poor Sacks), Cliff, Vinnie, Leo, Madison, Celeste Kane and Piz.  There were definite shout-outs and call-backs: Leo said he thought he'd heard that Veronica was working for the FBI (which had been the idea for a possible S4, with a time jump); Dick asks if Veronica has had work done because her boobs look bigger (she retorts that his boobs are bigger - but Kristen Bell's really are because they filmed not long after she gave birth); Dax Shepard (Bell's real life husband) has a cameo as a sleezy guy trying to pick her up at a club; Veronica and Logan still have hawt chemistry (Team Logan, btw); they use the original theme song from S1 and S2.  I'm sure there are more but you'll have to pick them out for yourself.

It's really an impressive little bit of a movie, blatant fan service aside, but there were a couple of things that distracted me (and should have been easy to catch/fix). The uniform that Logan wears when he meets Veronica at the airport is way too big for him and should have been tailored - he looks ridiculous.  Keith gives Piz some grief for not sleeping on the couch when he comes to Neptune ... and yet Piz and Veronica are apparently living together (and have been for some time) in NYC when the movie starts so I find that objection unrealistic.  Finally, Veronica has apparently just finished law school and is preparing to take the bar exam.  But it's also ten years after her graduation from high school.  This would make her 28 years old.  Graduate from high school at 18, four years of college (22), three years of law school (25).  Even if she takes a year to study for the bar, or if she took a year off after transferring from Hearst College to Stanford, I still find it highly unlikely that someone as driven as Veronica would just now be taking the bar exam and interviewing for jobs - the timeline doesn't sync up for me.

But that's not why you watch the Veronica Mars movie.  You watch it because you loved the television show and want to spend more time with these clever, complicated characters.  And when it's all over, when they've teased you with where they could go if they ever did another one, you sit there, crossing your fingers and hoping for more.

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's like history, only better

What's the best way to gear up for a long hot summer?  Watching the over-the-top violence, nudity and "history" of the final season of Spartacus, subtitled: War of the Damned (on DVD).  Glibness of that first sentence aside, I think this show is far better than it gets credit for - yes, it is a soft-core gore-fest but it follows the basic history, the characters have meaningful arcs and act how they should act (with one notable exception).  The acting has gotten better, the violence is exquisitely choreographed, and damn if I haven't gotten to care about Spartacus, Crixus, Gannicus, Agron and the rest of those sweaty, scruffy, muscled guys.  The showrunners are smart too: by this final season, with the inevitable, fact-based conclusion just around the corner, both sides, rebellious slaves and Romans, are well-rounded.  The Romans, clearly posited as the villains of the series, are not all bad; the former slaves are not all in the right as they do some horrible, cruel things.

That said, I have not liked Naevia's character arc this season.  After Crixus rescued her from the mines, she learned to fight and took her vengeance on Ashur at the end of S2.  In S3, she has completed transformed into a single-minded, unpleasant warrior.  She has changed so much that she does not resemble herself at all (and I don't mean the recasting).  She is unceasingly angry and shrill and goads Crixus incessantly.  I don't have a problem with the character retaking her agency and not being a victim any longer but she has become an entirely different person and it's jarring.

The Naevia thing is a minor quibble, however.  Over the course of this series, the three straight Spartacus seasons plus Gods of the Arena, I have really come to like this show - in War of the Damned Gannicus vaults over a horse, knocking its rider off and then splitting the guy's head open; that's entertainment! - and I will be sad to see its end.