Stranger Things S2 Ep 9, The Gate; Alt Title: RE-U-NITED…..


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Cold Open: Reunited and it feels so good….Reunited… Yep, El is back in the arms of Mike whom she’ll rip in half when she catches him cheating with some rando floozy in college. But for now,  Reunited and it feels so good….. Mike is all pissed at Hop and they end up hugging.  Awwww.  El meets Max and doesn’t shake her hand. Max is in a tough spot: on the one hand she has a psycho Carrie-esque whack job who wants to explode her and the other is a terrible trash household. Poor Max.  They believe El can close the gate, but there are 100s of Demagorgans in their way.

Cara Buono is taking a bubble bath and Ted is asleep downstairs.  Ted, you are sad…sad man.  Then, Mullet-Guy arrives and flirts with Cara Buono and I just had flashbacks to my High School years.  They weren’t all bad.

They are planning on taking El to close the gate.  They take E-Will to the cabin to burn the evil out of E-Will.  Later, Steve easily breaks up with Nancy.  Pretty Awesome!

Hop and El do some catching up and Hop explains that he feels like some kind of a black hole, sucking up everything and destroying it – I can relate.  They head into the distance to the Castle…. I mean government facility.  There’s a brief moment where Dustin gets Steve to put the Demagorgan into the fridge because I suppose they want to make stock later…. Pro Tip: Low and Slow with lots of sage!

Steve and the gang decide to head into the caves to enter the lab ….  Well, about Team Steve….. Mullet-Guy arrives and decides to beat up Lucas.  Then, he beats up Steve….A LOT, until Max puts a dart in his neck and Steve remains knocked out on the floor.  Poor Steve.

Joyce, Creeper, and Nancy arrive at the cabin and try to cook the monster out of E-Will.  He gets some black veins and tries to strangle his mom to stop the purification.

The Lab:  El and Hop arrive to do battle.   They find Reiser and he’s dying.  They go down further and arrive at the opening.  Hop goes in and shoots a bunch of Demagorgons.

Meanwhile: Steve leads the way down the caves.  There’s a bit of comic relief and they find the center of the caves and drench it in gasoline and torch it.

It’s all very smash cut!!!

The shadow leaves E-will and goes into the sky.

El and Hop go down into the bowels of the gate and face off against the Shadow Monster.

Dustin meets up with Dart again….Reunited and it feels so good….

El tries again to shut down the shadow monster’s gate, channeling her anger.  El digs deep and focuses her rage.  I would just think of the Seahawks v Patriots….Just give the ball to Marshawn for Pete’s SAKE!!!!!  El wins! We Win! The gate is closed and the shadow monster is dead. Woohoo!

The Lab is all locked up, shut down, and the government got embarrassed by the Bearded Creeper in the Bathrobe…yep that one.

Reiser got Hop a birth certificate for El.  The show ends with a prom of sorts and Creeper is videotaping.  I really hope no one looks on the other tapes. YIPE!

The prom is hopping.  Man, they must have quite the budget! Time After Time plays and Lucas and Max dance.  Dustin gets shot down….A LOT! It’s alright, Dustin. Nancy dances with him.  Hey Dustin, she has pretty low standards lately; you might have a shot.

The parents: Hop and Joyce hug quietly outside reminiscing and grieving the ones they lost.

El and Mike dance to The Police’s stalker song- I’ll be watching you.  Everyone gets kissed, except for Dustin.  The school spins upside down with the Shadow Monster looking down.  Maybe, it’s the Shadow Monster’s turn to be Nancy’s Boyfriend.

So, Gentle Readers….Thus concludes another Stranger Things season.  I’ll keep writing more in 2018 and not just in the fall. This has been a lot of fun and very cathartic for me.  Cheers and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! HAPPY HANUKKAH! And, I’ll even give a good year….this time.

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TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.8 “How It’s Gotta Be” (dir by Michael E. Satrazemis)


SPOILER ALERT!  DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW UNLESS YOU’VE WATCHED THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE WALKING DEAD!  SERIOUSLY, I’M NOT KIDDING!

Right now, I would say that 75% of The Walking Dead fandom is heartbroken.  The end of tonight’s episode has generated some very real angst among some people.

As for me, I’m actually feeling rather proud of myself because I predicted that all this would happen.  I predicted it way back on November 5th and I’ve even got the tweet to prove it.  But, before I go on, I think it might be good to consider the words of a song from 1965.  Here are the Poets with That’s Way It’s Got To Be:

See, it all gets back to what has always been the underlying theme of The Walking Dead.  Nobody is going to get out of this show alive.  It doesn’t matter how good you are.  It doesn’t matter how likable you are.  It doesn’t matter how much the audience loves you.  Everyone on this show is eventually going to die.  The only question is whether someone will be around to keep them from reanimating afterward.  Negan, Rick, Maggie, Carol, Daryl, Michonne, Eugene … none of them are going to get out of this alive.  Death will come for everyone eventually and tonight, it appears that it’s coming for Carl.

As I tweeted on November 5th…

Tonight’s episode featured a lot of Carl.  When Negan and the Saviors showed up at Alexandria and demanded that Rick be given to them, Carl is the one who offered to sacrifice his life so that the rest could live.  (And, of course, we now know why Carl was willing to do that.  He literally had nothing to lose.)  When the Saviors were blowing up Alexandria, we watched as Carl made his way through the flaming wreckage of his former home.  Throughout the show, we got flashbacks of Carl arguing with Rick about Rick’s harsh philosophy.  Tonight, we saw more of Carl then we’ve seen in a while and I spent the whole show assuming that meant that Carl was probably not going to come to a good end…

But still, it’s hard to overstate the emotional impact of seeing Carl there at the end, bitten by a walker and fighting to breathe.  As Chris Hardwick and Khary Payton stated at the start of Talking Dead, Chandler Riggs really did grow up over the past few seasons of The Walking Dead.  It’s always kind of been easy to make jokes at Carl’s expense.  Early on in the show, it always seemed inevitable that he would end up getting lost or picked up the by the wrong people.  Whenever I live tweeted those early seasons of The Walking Dead, I almost always suggested that the ideal solution to almost any problem would be to sacrifice Carl.  But tonight, Chandler Riggs showed why Carl has become a favorite of many fans of this show.  The episode ended with Carl still alive but fading.  Will he die?  I really don’t see how he can’t.  He’s been bitten on his side so it’s not like they can just chop off a limb, like they did with Herschel.  If the show is to have any integrity, Carl has to die and he will be missed.

Up until that final scene with Carl, tonight’s episode could have just as easily been called “Everyone Better Do What Rick Says.”  Darryl took it upon himself to crash that truck into wall of the Sanctuary, which is actually what Rick did not want him to do.  As a result, the Saviors escaped, were able to launch a counter attack, destroy Alexandria, and take over The Kingdom.  Carl, meanwhile, went off on his own, helped out Siddiq, and ended up getting bitten for his trouble.  From now on, everyone better listen to Rick.

Rick got the line of the night when he asked Negan, “Don’t you ever shut the Hell up?”  That’s something that I’ve been wondering for a season and a half now.  Tonight, Negan actually lived up to his fearsome reputation.  As for the other Saviors, Simon made me say, “Oh God, this fucking guy again…” as soon as he got out of that truck and Gavin came across like a teacher trying to control an unruly classroom.  I guess Dwight is officially a part of Rick’s group now.

This was sometimes a hard episode to watch, not because it was bad but because it literally took place in the dark.  All of the action played out at night and the show actually did good job of using the darkness to its advantage.  There was an eerie and horrible beauty to scenes of Alexandria burning to the ground.

But you know what?

In the end, all anyone is going to remember about this episode is that final scene with Carl.

That’s the way it’s got to be.

And with that, The Walking Dead is on hiatus.  Season 8 will resume in 2018 and so will our coverage!

Stranger Things: S2 Ep 8 – The Mind Flayer Alt Title: Bob, Try Swiping Left


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Cold Open: We’re back in the evil lab and the monsters are coming up to attack. There are three of them and they are breaking through the glass.  It’s very reminiscent of the pilot, but that was good.  Hop and the other lab people are fleeing and getting eaten… a lot.

The monsters cut the power off in the building and Bob the Brain really needs to learn how to Swipe Left.

Max’s parents have arrive and see that Max is gone, whilst Mullet-Guy puts cologne on his junk.  I realize that Mullet-Guy’s dad went to my father’s school of parenting.

The boys are looking for …. something and are arguing. Steve hears something.  Team Steve!  He’s actually interesting this season.  They realize that the Demagorgon went back to the lab.

The evil lab – Reiser, Hop, Joyce and the rest are trapped in the lab and need to reset the computers to unlock the door.  Bob aims to sacrifice himself and reboot the computers with his knowledge of Basic.  Poor Bob.  Bob is down in the basement and it’s mildly entertaining.  He gets the power back on, but it’s still locked.  They are really trying to build some suspense…trying.

Paul Reiser tells them to go and he’ll stay behind and watch their exit.  Jeez, everyone is sacrificing themselves this episode; I wonder if I get to do something heroic in the finale?  Paul guides Bob, but a broom drops and the demagorgon gives chase.  Bob sees Joyce one last time, and then the monsters tear him apart as Joyce watches- helpless to save him.

They make it back to Joyce’s place and she’s a wreck.  They devise a plan to attack the hive mind leader.  My hope is that involves not renewing the show, but season 3 just got greenlit….so I’ll be doing this again.  They decide to put E-Will into a shed … as you do… because that will disorient him and leave E-Will to become susceptible to revealing the Shadow Monster’s weakness…for some reason.

They wake E-Will and has a conniption fit.  Joyce, Creeper, and Mike try to jog E-Will’s memory with a lot of boring stories so that his consciousness will emerge.  Then, they realize E-Will is using Morse Code.  It’s kinda cute and kinda boring- Coring TM.  A phone rings giving up their position.  BUMMER!!! The Demagorgons start to circle the party.  Then, one is thrown into the house …. dead. It’s El!! She’s back from the big city and all punked out.

This episode was like having a fling with an Ex.

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TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.7 “Time For After” (dir by Larry Teng)


This review of the latest episode of The Walking Dead is an example of better late than never.  This episode aired nearly a week ago but I’m only now getting around to watching it.  As I sit here watching and typing this review, it is 2 a.m., Saturday morning.  I’ve just returned from attending two Christmas parties.  I was actually thinking about getting some sleep for once, but then I suddenly realized that I still had an episode of The Walking Dead to watch!

That, of course, wouldn’t have happened in the past.  When The Walking Dead first started, there would have been no way that I would have waited a week to watch the latest episode.  That was before the show settled into its current glacial pace.  At this point, it typically takes this show so long to get from point A to point B that viewers like me spend entire episodes asking, “Are we there yet?”

For example, as I sit here typing this, I am watching Daryl, Michonne, Rosita, and Tara debating about whether or not they should attack the Sanctuary or if they should wait for Rick.  (Rick is currently being held prisoner by the trash people.)  Morgan just walked up and said that he’s tired of talking and he just wants to take action.  YES, MORGAN, YES!  For God’s sake, let’s end the debate and just do something!  No, we don’t need to hear about how Michonne “believes in Rick Grimes.”  We don’t need to hear about how everyone felt when they saw Sasha in that box.  We already know all of this because we’ve spent two seasons listening to everyone have this exact same goddamn conversation over and over again!  Just do something!

The episode is now over and, in all fairness to the show, it should be noted that Daryl did finally do something.  He and Tara crashed a truck through a wall of the Sanctuary, allowing a mass of walkers to enter and chow down on a few Saviors and, even more importantly, it forced the Saviors to waste their bullets defending themselves.  However, since Daryl took this action on his own as opposed to waiting for Rick to get out of the trash prison, the show still had to present it as being some sort of mistake.  The show has too much invested in presenting Rick as being a strategic genius to actually acknowledge that anyone else could actually have a good idea.

Watching the walking dead feast on his new Savior buddies was apparently enough to convince Eugene to (once again) declare his loyalty to Negan.  Despite his recent troubles, Negan still seems to be having fun.  Fortunately, the show’s writers seem to have finally figured out that Negan is more effective the less we see of him.  As for Eugene, well — he’s Eugene.  This episode featured peak Eugene.  If Eugene’s overly convoluted syntax occasionally makes you want to rip your hair out, you were probably bald by the end of this episode.  You have to respect Josh McDermitt’s commitment to the role.  Eugene may be annoying but McDermitt plays the Hell out of him.  Eugene’s ultimate loyalties, of course, still remain questionable.  He knows that Dwight betrayed the Saviors but he still hasn’t told Negan.  He showed some sympathy to Father Gabriel (who is apparently dying because he covered himself with intestines a few episodes ago) but he still declared that he was loyal only to himself.

As for Rick, he did eventually get out of the trash prison and convinced Jadis to join him in his fight against Negan.  Jadis was impressed when Rick killed a walker gladiator.  Jadis also wants to sculpt Rick.  How are the trash people not dead yet?

(Apparently, the trash people prefer to be known as Scavangers.  However, I’m going to continue to call them trash people because they annoy da fug out of me.)

Anyway!  This episode ended with Rick and the trash people rolling up on the Sanctuary.  Oh my God!  There’s a hole in the Sanctuary!  There’s no walkers!  Uh-oh, Daryl did something on his own!  Rick’s never going to let that go…

One more episode before The Walking Dead goes on its mid-season hiatus!  Who will die this Sunday?  My prediction: Father Gabriel.  The show’s never really figured out what to do with Gabriel so now seems like a good time to let him go down as a martyr.

We’ll see what happens!

Stranger Things S2 Ep 7 “The Lost Sister”, Alt Title: Peer Pressure


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Cold Open:  El is going into her brain damaged mother’s mind.  She sees the girl who is the same one from episode 1 of this season.  Her aunt tries to get Hop to help see El and it doesn’t work.  El flees to Chicago to track down her “Sister”.  El gets to meet her “sister”. What we get is a show that has sacrificed small-town claustrophobia suspense  for a wider world of boring plot devices.

She meets her sister on the set of every bad 1980s scifi film ever.  I guess the Duffer Brothers also liked a lot of 1980s garbage movies.  This season is like a relationship that has gone bad with hairspray.

“Sister” explains that her ability is to get people to see or not see things.   I wish she could make see season 1 again.  “Sister’s” acting is THE worst and I mean Rico Rodriguez shitty.

El goes to the imbetween and listens to Hop’s call to her, but she gets awoken by Sister who introduces El to her gang.  It really tries to be interesting, but it’s not.  She explains that they track down people from the government Modine program and kill them.  “Sister” works with EL to focus on her anger and El starts moving trains with her mojo.

El helps them hunt down one of the guards from the government and they give her a punk makeover.  El and her new gang knock over a gas station. Kids today….  They track down a guard from the government.  El decides to kill him slowly, but has a change of heart because he says- Martha.  El says, How do you know that name?!!!!  Then, they have a nosh.  JK, He begs for his life and Jane stops Sister from shooting him.  Sister has Evil Modine appear to El and does some manipulating.  El sees Mike panicking and Hop in danger from the previous episode and decides that she has to go back to Hawkins.

Finally, the police show up at their hideout.  I’m really rooting for the cops finish them off, but Sister uses her powers and they don’t.  You really can’t have it all.

El heads back to Hawkings.

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TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.6 “The King, The Widow, and Rick” (dir by John Polson)


Oh, the world of The Walking Dead.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

This season started with everyone finally standing up to the Saviors.  For once, Rick and his allies had Negan on the run and, regardless of what you think about season 8 overall, it was certainly satisfying to see the Saviors starting to get a little desperate.  Personally, I don’t think it was necessary to devote five episodes to just one battle but the Saviors are such a loathsome group of people that it’s definitely enjoyable to watch them get their asses kicked.

However, even with Rick and his allies declaring full out war, I knew that the action would eventually have to be interrupted by an episode of mourning.  Every season of The Walking Dead has at least one episode where everyone looks depressed and either thinks about a lost loved one or obsesses on whether or not there’s room for kindness and compassion in a post-apocalyptic world.  When the series started, the mourning episodes were a part of what set The Walking Dead apart from other shows.  (Remember when kindly old Dale Horvath was gruesomely attacked by a zombie?)  But, eight seasons in, it’s become a bit predictable.  Any episode where something big happens is going to be followed by an episode where not much happens at all.

“The King, The Widow, and Rick” is a mourning episode.  Everyone has returned from attacking the Saviors and now, with no bullets flying and several minor characters dead (and SHIVA!  I’m still sad about that…), it’s time to sit around and reflect.  This time, a bit more happened during the reflecting than has happened in previous mourning episodes.  Even if this episode still felt like it stretched things out a bit too much, it wasn’t quite as slow as some of the episodes that aired during season 7.

This episode opened like a Ken Burns documentary, with everyone reading letters about the war against the Saviors.  It ended with Rick naked and locked up in a shipping container and I was definitely okay with that.  Don’t get me wrong about this.  I do like Rick but occasionally, there is an arrogance to him that just strikes me the wrong way.  He’s a lot like Lost‘s Jack Shepherd.  He gives a good speech.  He is trying to do the right thing, even if he sometimes resents having to be the leader.  But Rick is always so sure of his ability to sway everyone over to his side that it was somewhat satisfying to see the Trash People respond to his latest speech by shrugging their shoulders and then locking him up.  I’m not sure why Rick felt the need to, once again, go over to the garbage dump.  The attack on the Saviors was a success without the help of the Trash People.  My theory is that Rick just can’t accept that not everyone wants to be a part of his alliance.

Meanwhile, at Hilltop, we had another one of those patented Walking Dead debates about whether or not people can survive the end of the world without losing their humanity.  Jesus was going out of his way to treat the Savior prisoners humanely.  Gregory said the prisoners should be executed.  Maggie responded by tossing Gregory in with the prisoners and then saying she would keep them alive so that they could be used for prisoner exchanges in the future.  Jesus said he was happy with her decision and … you know what?  I like Tom Payne’s performance as the character but I feel like an idiot whenever I call that guy Jesus.  Yes, he has a beard.  Yes, he’s kind.  BUT HIS NAME IS PAUL!  The whole “They call you Jesus” thing is so heavy-handed and kinda stupid.  Last night, one of the saviors said, “Well, Jesus, I’m no angel,” and I’m glad I didn’t have anything nearby to throw at the TV when he said it.

Anyway, I could have done without all the debate about how to treat the prisoners.  We all know that they’re going to end up dead, regardless.  The only prisoner that Negan might exchange would be Father Gabriel and, honestly, is getting Gabriel back worth the trouble?  Maggie should have just listened to Gregory.

Ezekiel was depressed, as well he should be.  SHIVA’S DEAD, DAMMIT!  Carol told him to stop feeling sorry for himself and to lead his people.  The best part of Ezekiel’s subplot was that Jerry was still standing guard, even though Ezekiel told him to go home.

Carl is apparently not dead.  Or, at least, he’s not dead, yet.  Instead, he ran off and spent some time hanging out with Siddiq, the man who Rick previously chased away.  They killed some walkers and bonded over shared pain.

And, of course, Rosita used a rocket launcher to blow up a savior.  That made me cheer.  Maybe Maggie should step down and let Rosita lead the Hilltop Colony.  There certainly wouldn’t be any debate about what to do with prisoners then!  However, for now, Rosita, Michonne, Daryl, and Tara are just doing their own thing.  Rick probably wouldn’t approve but Rick’s in a shipping container right now.

Anyway, this wasn’t a bad episode.  It may have been a mourning episode but at least it wasn’t just Rick sitting around in a catatonic state while Negan circled around him, giving a speech.  That’s the important thing.

Lisa’s Editorial Corner: 10 Things For Which I Am Thankful In 2017


Well, it’s that time.

Every Thanksgiving, I come up with an even-numbered list of things for which I’m thankful.  I know some people are saying that we shouldn’t be thankful for anything this year.  These are the people who say that, because they’re miserable, it’s somehow offensive that everyone else isn’t miserable.

But you know what?

Fuck that.

No one tells me what to believe or whether or not I can celebrate a holiday.  That freedom is something that I’m very thankful for!  Here’s a few more things that I’ve been thankful for this year:

  1. I’m thankful for this site.  Arleigh Sandoc founded Through the Shattered Lens in December of 2009 and, about four months later, I posted my very first review on this site.  A lot has changed since that first review.  New contributors have added their own unique perspectives to this site and I’d like to think that, on a personal level, I’ve grown as a writer since I wrote that first review.  But one thing that has always remained consistent is just how much I love doing this.  I’ve posted over 4,000 posts on Through the Shattered Lens and I’ve had a blast writing every one of them!

2. I’m thankful for our readers.  Seriously, you are the ones who make all of this worthwhile.  We currently have somewhere around 28,000 subscribers and to each and every one of you, I say, “Thank you.”  Thank you for reading and thank you for commenting.  Just as I hope I’ve introduced some of you to some new movies, quite a few of you have also inspired me to take a second and third look at some of the films I’ve reviewed.

3. I’m thankful for all of the brave women (and men) who have shared their stories in an effort to make this world a safer place.

4. I’m thankful that this was the year of Twin Peaks.  On this site, starting with the original series and extending all the way through the end of the Showtime revival, we shared our thoughts on everything Twin Peaks this year.  Years from now, we’ll still be debating why Laura screamed.

5. I’m thankful that this has been a great year for genre films.  While so many of the year’s “prestige” films fell flat, 2017 will always be remembered as the year of War of the Planet of Apes, Wonder Woman, The Lego Batman Movie, Beauty and the Beast, Split Kong: Skull Island, Get Out, It, Spider-Man, The Big Sick, Logan, and Thor: Ragnorak.

6. I’m thankful for networks like TCM, which introduce classic movies to new viewers.

7. I’m thankful for my friends in the Late Night Movie Gang.  Every Saturday night, we watch a movie.  Sometimes the movie is bad and sometimes, the movie is really bad.  But we always have a blast.

8. I’m thankful that, in just another few weeks, I’ll be able to see The Disaster Artist.

9. I’m thankful for the artists who, in this time of rampant conformity, are still fighting to maintain their own unique and individual vision.

10. I’m thankful for Chinese food.  Seriously, who doesn’t love Chinese food?

Happy thanksgiving!