Category Archives: T.V. Show

Top Ten Favorite T.V. Episodes of the Decade

**This list will contain mild spoilers for the shows and episodes herein.**

We live in an era of Peak T.V. This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because there’s enormous variety in shows and entertainment at our fingertips nowadays. But also a curse, because there’s so much television content out there right now that it’s hard to find enough truly great shows to chow down on. And I confess not being able to watch many of the critical favorites myself, (Succession and Killing Eve have sadly eluded me) but I still saw some amazing shows this decade.

This list consists of my absolute favorite episodes from shows that either debuted or achieved peak popularity/quality in the 2010s. And before we get started, there are some honorable mentions that just barely missed the cut still worth recognition.

Honorable Mentions:

“The Trolley Problem” from The Good Place, “The Box” from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “The Company” from Peaky Blinders, “Sic Mundus Creatus Est” from Dark, “Leslie and Ron” from Parks and Recreation, “Good For the Soul” from The Boys, “The Candidate” from Lost, “Take Me Back to Hell” from Lucifer, “Nationals” from Glee, “Modern Warfare” from Community.

Time to recognize some of the best that television had to offer this past decade.

#10: “YHWH”, Person of Interest (May 5th, 2015)

“I will not suffer. If I do not survive… thank you, for creating me.” You wouldn’t expect a text-only exchange between a human and a superintelligent A.I. to be so emotional. But with the help of Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine,” the season 4 finale for Jonathan Nolan’s overlooked sci-fi crime series does just that. By season 3, it was clear that Person of Interest had become much more than your standard procedural drama. And here, the conflict between the Machine and Samaritan is brought to such a bloody and beautiful head that it almost dwarfs the conflicts from earlier seasons. The full extent to which Samaritan is willing to manipulate humanity is finally unveiled as the so-called “Correction” takes place in its final moments. It expertly sets the stage for the final season while also providing amazing thrills, action, and drama.

#9: “The Ricklantis Mixup”, Rick and Morty (Sept. 10th, 2017)

Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, Rick and Morty has one of the worst fanbases for any show I can think of, and yes, it’s still a great show all the same. While most of the episodes are really great and worth watching multiple times, it’s the season 3 outing “The Ricklantis Mixup” (Or “tales From the Citadel”) that I find myself coming back to the most. Following a bait-and-switch cold open, we spend the entire time exploring a specific sect of this universe that had previously not been seen in-depth. As expected, the animation and sound design are on point as this is an episode where Justin Roiland largely just talks to himself. The intertwining stories work greatly to hold a mirror up to the current sociopolitical troubles of America while still doling out its unique humor, capped off by one hell of a reveal for an ending. And despite what some fans may tell you, you definitely don’t need an extremely high I.Q. to appreciate it.

#8: “San Junipero”, Black Mirror (Oct. 21st, 2016)

I’m not as big of a fan of Black Mirror as a lot of others are. It’s a really interesting anthology show with some creative ideas, but more often than not it feels like Charlie Brooker sacrifices meaningful commentary or emotion for shock value gut punches. San Junipero, one of the first episodes under its new Netflix home, offers a huge breath of fresh air by being surprisingly optimistic in tone. A simple yet emotionally powerful love story set against yet another piece of technology likely to happen, it pivots the bleak pitfalls of previous episodes by letting the characters breathe for once. Thrown in a gorgeous color palette and two excellent lead performances from Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and you’ve got yourself easily one of the most accessible episodes in the whole series.

#7: “Margate Sands”, Boardwalk Empire (Dec. 2nd, 2012)

I always felt like this show was a little underrated. It came right in the slot of time after The Sopranos ended but right before Game of Thrones really put HBO on the map. In any case, Boardwalk Empire is a great gangster show with some really amazing episodes, and this season 3 finale might just be the biggest highlight. Multiple threads are brought to a conclusion in a fulfilling way and “Margate Sands” turns tragic as we watch Nucky Thompson’s humanity fade away even further than before. We even get to see Richard Harrow as a one-man army like we’ve never seen before in one of the best shootouts in television history. If this episode had actually served as the series finale, it would have been an ultra-satisfying high note to go out on.

#6: “Here’s Not Here”, The Walking Dead (Nov. 1st, 2015)

The Walking Dead has had many ups and downs over its ten-season run, but it has still produced some truly great episodes. I could just as easily talk about the pilot, Negan bashing his way into the show in “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be,” or how “Bounty” reinvigorated the show after so many years. But it’s this small season 6 episode that shows Morgan’s journey that takes the cake. The closest the show has come to a “bottle episode,” it’s a great reminder of how deeply humanistic the show can be. I’ve always felt like Lennie James was underrated as Morgan and “Here’s Not Here” proves why, as we get to see him reckoning with pacifism and peace in world where violence is necessary for survival. It also features John Carroll Lynch as one of the greatest one-off characters in recent memory. If more people strove to think like Eastman, I’m convinced that the world would be a somewhat better place.

#5: “Chapter 1”, Legion (Feb. 8th, 2017)

This is the kind of series premiere that is so wild and so amazing that the rest of the show afterward never quite lives up to it. Regardless, the pilot for Legion is probably the greatest episode for a comic book show ever crafted, and this decade saw a lot of amazing shows in that genre. Noah Hawley sets up the tone and visual style with such incredible skill, really putting us into the wild and unpredictable mind of David Hall. And on top of that, and Dan Stevens’ excellent performance, it never really feels like a superhero show until the very end. That long take escape sequence deserves to go down as one of the most memorable shots in recent T.V. memory.

#4: “eps.1.7_wh1ter0se.m4v”, Mr. Robot (Aug. 12th, 2015)

See the source image

Given that this show is almost reliant on big twists and reveals every now and then, it can be hard to determine where the moment everything TRULY changed came about. For me, it’s simple: the 8th episode of the first season for Sam Esmail’s series Mr. Robot. In addition to introducing B.D. Wong’s fascinating character White Rose and the long-talked-about Dark Army, more of the show’s mysterious elements are explained in a shocking yet satisfying way. The full implications of Elliot’s unreliability as a narrator and the truth behind the show’s titular character are brought to light in stunning fashion. It was clear from this episode onward that this series would be more than just a typical psychological thriller.

#3: “Possession”, Penny Dreadful (June 22nd, 2014)

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Why was Eva Green completely ignored by the Emmys and Golden Globes for her work in Penny Dreadful? It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times over because hers is one of the best performances of any actor I’ve seen this decade. Penny Dreadful, my personal favorite horror show of all time, has many episodes where her brilliance is shown but nowhere near as devastating or convincing than in “Possession.” As its title suggests, the crew has to help exorcise Vanessa over 4 nights when Lucifer tries to take her over. It’s disturbing and heartbreaking as all of the characters, including Vanessa herself, contemplate whether or not to simply put her out of her misery. It’s a relatively simple episode, but one that provides immense insight into its characters and proves why John Logan is one of my favorite screenwriters working today.

#2: “The Winds of Winter”, Game of Thrones (June 26th, 2016)

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Regardless of your thoughts on the controversial final season, it’s hard to deny the overall quality of Game of Thrones. There have been many unforgettable episodes through its run, with “Battle of the Bastards” and “The Rains of Castamere” also being incredible. But there’s something particularly special about the season 6 finale, “The Winds of Winter.” It feels like the epic payoff to several seasons worth of buildup for many characters, especially Cersei and Arya. Numerous storylines are tied up in neat little bows while still leaving room for what’s to come, especially since winter has officially arrived. Ramin Djawadi also provides some of his best work ever with the opening track “Light of the Seven.” And that’s not even mentioning how it finally confirmed a fan theory that had long been held since the first book was published over 23 years ago. If only George R. R. Martin could finishing writing the damn series.

#1: “Ozymandias”, Breaking Bad (Sept. 15th, 2013)

The shootout with the Salamanca Twins. The ending of “Crawl Space.” Gus poisoning the Cartel. The train heist. Pick any episode you like from the last three seasons and it could have landed at this spot just as easily. But pretty much every fan of the show, myself included, will tell you that Breaking Bad reached the highest peak of television with its third-to-last episode, “Ozymandias.” With incredible direction from Rian Johnson and career-best performances from the whole cast, there isn’t a dull moment to be had as we watch everyone come to terms with the consequences of their actions. Its title perfectly represents the theme of Walter White’s empire, which he’s built over five seasons, crumbling before his eyes in a matter of minutes. You can even pinpoint the exact moment when Heisenberg dies forever and he realizes that it’s all over, making it so crushing yet rewarding to watch. In short, “Ozymandias” is just about as close to perfect as an hour of television can and likely ever will get.

And that’s that. Do you agree or disagree with this list? What was your favorite episode of T.V. from the 2010s? I’d love to see a comment or two on your opinions, and if you enjoy what you read here, don’t forget to Like this post and Follow my Blog.

“El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” Movie Review

This is the first “Original Film” by Netflix that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in an actual movie theater. I’m not quite sure yet if I’m “excited” to see it happen more with their forthcoming projects but a film like this definitely deserves the theatrical experience. This neo-western crime drama was released on the streaming service Netflix on October 11th, 2019. It also had a concurrent theatrical run in limited venues for one weekend only, presumably to qualify for awards season. Although it reportedly only made about $40,000, some sources have indicated that it likely would have recuperated its $6 million budget if it had a wide theatrical release. It’s also on track to air once again on AMC, the show’s original T.V. network, sometime next year. Written and directed by Vince Gilligan, the idea for the film had been in his mind for many years and didn’t share with anyone for a long time. It initially was thought of as a simple 10-minute short film and later evolved and grew into a two-hour feature project. Around the time that the 10th anniversary for Breaking Bad rolled around, he approached the former star about the concept, who immediately took to the idea. The project was put together and filmed in almost complete secrecy, with rumors about its existence only really popping up near the end of production. Picking up a few moments after the series finale “Felina,” Aaron Paul returns as Jesse Pinkman, a former meth cook turned fugitive. Having recently escaped from his neo-Nazi captors, he struggles to find a place to hunker down in and evade both the law and other interest parties. With a newfound drive for freedom, he sets out to take care of some unfinished business while also trying to escape his violent past once and for all. Let’s get one thing straight here: Breaking Bad is one of the greatest T.V. shows of all time, full stop. From beginning to end, it’s an absolutely incredible character study with a delicate balance of realism and emotional involvement. Better Call Saul was a worthy prequel/spin-off for this universe, but it just can’t get to heights of Vince Gilligan’s original masterpiece. Like many fans, I was always curious to know what happened to Jesse Pinkman after he blasts through that gate in “Felina.” I was a little worried that I wouldn’t want to see what would happen because that sort of slight ambiguity seemed perfect at the time. And while we could debate about it being essential or not, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie definitely proves to be a worthy continuation of this world and its characters. This movie acts more like an extended epilogue to the series rather than a real sequel to it. Whereas “Felina” acted as the conclusion to Walter White’s story, this film focuses almost entirely on Jesse’s last attempt at gaining real freedom. This forces him to reckon with his past, the people he has done wrong to, and whether he can rectify everything he wants to before it’s too late. And while it’s undoubtedly an exciting movie to watch , El Camino only really appeals to established fans of the show. Unless you’ve seen all five seasons of Breaking Bad from beginning to end, you’ll most likely lack the emotional connection to the characters and story, especially as it makes numerous callbacks to various episodes. But unlike a lot of other cinematic continuations of beloved T.V. shows, what might be considered “fan service” here also works in service to Jesse’s journey. I do hope, however, that newcomers can still enjoy it as a tense neo-western thriller on its own terms. Aaron Paul hasn’t missed a single beat since the end of “Felina,” as the character of Jesse Pinkman is still wholly his own. With a new added sense of maturity and world-weariness, his quietly brilliant turn is equal parts riveting and tragic. He has seen so much over the course of the story that at this point, he’s essentially desensitized to all of  it. We also see him in flashbacks with various characters, which really helps illustrate how far both the character himself and Paul’s performance as him has come. Charles Baker and Matt Jones return as Jesse’s best friends, Skinny Pete and Badger Mayhew, respectively. Although they’re not very bright and are quite oblivious to the full scale of his struggle, they’re also extremely loyal to him and won’t hesitate to help him in a tricky spot. These two are arguably the only real friends that Jesses had throughout the whole series, and seeing them give him support without batting an eye was heartwarming. In flashback form, Jesse Plemons reprises his role as Todd Alquist, Jesse’s captor and forceful boss. He’s as despicable and creepy as ever, which contrasts greatly with his polite and patient demeanor shown while keeping Jesse hostage. Watching what he makes Jesse do in these flashbacks is abominable, and makes his fate in the T.V. show all the more satisfying. Other supporting characters include Larry Hankin as an elderly junkyard owner always willing to help criminals, Tess Harper and Michael Bofshever as Jesse’s concerned parents begging for his surrender, Scott McArthur as a criminal welder Pinkman comes across on his journey, and Robert Forster as a vacuum salesman who specializes in making people disappear. Each one somehow plays a part in Jesse’s torment, salvation, or fugitive status and leaves an impression to be sure. Forster is particularly notable in his last film role before his death, which was sadly the same day as its release. Although he only has a couple scenes, there’s a wisdom and grace to his character’s understanding of the criminal underworld. And it’s clear that even though his calm and collected, he knows exactly what’s going on and how to deal with it. From a filmmaking perspective, El Camino highlights Vince Gilligan developing a distinct cinematic voice. Marshall Adams’ cinematography is as focused and tight as it was in Better Call Saul, with an added cinematic tinge. The steely color palette is perfect for the gritty and seedy nature of the environment Jesse must overcome to survive. There are numerous clever movements with the camera, such as when it rotates 360 degrees to show his confused and desperate mindset. This matches the editing job by Skip Macdonald, who cuts together scenes with a nice balance of grace and force. Several scenes feature long takes to give the actors room to breathe in their performances. Often times, it will feature a hard cut from the present day to a flashback or vice versa, and it works to grab the audience’s attention. Other instances are more subtle, possibly to show how much this particular event or exchange influences his decisions now. Dave Porter returns from the show to provide the instrumental film score, and his partnership Gilligan was sorely missed. Like the show, much of the soundtrack consists of dark electronic sounds and percussion. It’s very psychological and accurately represents the frantic pace with which Jesse’s escape represents. A couple of tracks even escalate like a tightening string on a guitar, waiting for something to snap. But as it goes along, it starts calming down a little, providing room for more contemplative tracks. The film also includes the song “Static On The Radio” by Jim White, which plays over the end credits. While at first it seems unusual, as it plays out it suddenly fits the tone and mood of the ending. Like Breaking Bad, it’s a relatively obscure song that fits perfectly in the story and demands to be heard more afterwards. El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is an excellent coda to an already perfect story. While it’s not necessarily essential to the experience, Vince Gilligan managed to craft an ending that still honors the show’s timeless legacy. Aaron Paul shows that he’s still got it as Jesse Pinkman in his (Supposedly) final outing with the character, and it was nice to see Robert Forster one last time. Even if he moves away from the Breaking Bad universe, I’m excited to see whatever Vince Gilligan makes next.

Breaking Bad Movie El Camino Poster

“Stranger Things” Season 3 T.V. Show Review

**This review of Stranger Things 3 will remain spoiler-free, but I will be talking about the broad strokes of what happened in season 2.**

Most people in America use the Fourth of July to celebrate the birthday of the U.S. with fireworks and red-white-and-blue regalia. I use this time to binge watch a Netflix show in a different country. I won’t judge your personal forms of celebration if you won’t judge mine. The third season of this coming-of-age sci-fi horror show was released on the streaming service Netflix on July 4th, 2019. Highly anticipated, the streaming service claims to have scored astronomical views from customers all over the world. However, since the company never publicly discloses their numbers, there’s no telling how well it’s actually doing. But given the huge established fanbase and the positive critical reviews that it’s received from major outlets, it’s safe to say that a fourth season is all but guaranteed. After the big, if somewhat cool success of the second season in 2017, creators Matt and Ross Duffer took a brief break to figure out the next few steps for the show. Netflix had originally desired for the third and fourth seasons to be written and shot back-to-back, but the brothers opted to just focus solely on this next chapter instead. Although initial reports have suggested that this is the penultimate season for the hit show, Netflix and the Duffer Brothers have been mum on whether the next season will be the last or not. Set about six months after the last confrontation, the main kids in Hawkins, Indiana have settled back into normality once more, with Milly Bobby Brown’s Eleven fully integrated into normal civilian life. Many of the characters are indulging much of their summer vacation in the newly opened Starcourt Mall, which has also stirred up controversy with the town’s self-righteous mayor. Soon, it becomes clear that the Mind-Flayer, the primary antagonist from last season is still alive and well, hoping to slowly indoctrinate humanity into their will. On top of all that, a handful of residents stumble upon a conspiracy involving the Russian government wanting to reopen a gateway to The Upside Down. It’s been kind of incredible to see the sheer self-made phenomenon that Stranger Things has become. Like many who got hooked on the show, I’d hardly heard anything about it before finding it on Netflix, and immediately told everyone I knew to start watching it as well. And now, it’s become arguably the streaming service’s biggest flagship show. Because of this, seasons 2 and 3 have a bit of an unfair obstacle to overcome, as fan expectations were sky-high for both of them. The second one was mostly able to meet them, even with a few stumbles in the road that didn’t quite work in the way the showrunners wanted. And now with season 3, Stranger Things has focused up on what works best and gives use easily my favorite season yet. With just 8 episodes now instead of 9, there is less room for unnecessary fat, allowing them to keep the action on the central characters and relationships. With new developments for the ones from last season and spotlights on the brand new ones, the characters all feel the most nuanced, most relevant, and most human they’ve ever been. And even though the mythology and lore surrounding is expanded upon in really intriguing ways, the relationships almost always come first. That has always been one of the biggest strengths of Stranger Things, not just all of the nostalgia-inducing references to 80s pop culture. Sure, there is LOTS of product placement for Coca-Cola throughout and greatly improved visual effects, but that’s not the point of the show. And seeing that the Duffers haven’t lost sight of that is very encouraging for what the future may hold. All of the kids have grown up and evolved with this show in beautiful ways. Just look at how far Lucas, Eleven, Mike, Dustin, and Will have come since the first season; the actors have all grown naturally with their characters. Of particular mention is Joe Keery as bad boy-turned caring pseudo-adoptive father Steve Harrington. His character arc has always been one of the most engaging, as we watch him gradually evolve throughout the show in a positive way. Case in point, his new partner this season is Maya Hawke’s Robin, easily my favorite character of the new season. She’s funny, quick-witted, thinks on her feet, and never misses an opportunity to poke fun at her co-worker. But as the season progresses, she gradually lets her guard down, culminating in a revelation of a bathroom scene that virtually everyone has been talking about. The other big scene-stealer of the season is Priah Ferguson as Lucas’ little sister Erica, upgraded from the previous season. Although she clearly holds her brother’s friends in contempt, her bouncing off of Dustin is one of the most beautiful things the showrunners have come up with. She’s sassy, but also smart and resourceful and always manages to get some clever jabs at her companions every chance she gets. And technically speaking, Stranger Things has never looked so good or polished than here. The trademark cinematography is back with all the controlled movements and expert blending of practical and special effects. For this season, however, they’ve added brighter, more neon-tinged colors that really go well with the 4th of July setting. Whether it’s inside the Starcourt Mall or at the town’s Independence Day fair, there are many colors meshed together in a really cool way. And the pacing of this season is elevated by the editing department, which bounces from one storyline to the next. I was worried that one character or arc would overtake the rest, but I was thankfully wrong; they’re all intercut very well. As always, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the band Survive provide the musical score, and as always, they deliver a great soundtrack. Like the last two times, the soundtrack is composed largely of synthesizers and Theremins as an homage to old-school sci-fi flicks. But the most memorable track comes for the third episode, which mixes the Upside Down’s leitmotif with unique sound effects. With a heartbeat keeping tempo and noises that sound like squishing meat, it sounds deeply terrifying and disgusting. Other notable songs from the era used include an excerpt from Philip Glass’s Satyagraha Act II: Tagore for the end of the sixth episode and a wholly unexpected sequence involving the theme from The Neverending Story. Whereas the former created an extreme amount of tension as the villain’s plan comes into play, the latter is joyous and puts a smile on my face. Stranger Things 3 is a highly entertaining and neon-soaked continuation that pushes the series ever forward. By focusing and improving on what’s made the show great in the past and changing the formula up a little, the Duffer Brothers have delivered the best season of the show yet. And after finishing it all, I can honestly say that I hope rumors about it only lasting four or five seasons is true. Better to go out in a blaze of glory than fizzle out for decades.

“Game of Thrones” Series Finale Review

All good things must eventually come to an end, whether the corporate overlords like it or not. So if you haven’t yet figured it out from the title, this post is going to be filled to the brim with spoilers for the 73rd and final episode for Game of Thrones. If you are not yet caught up on the show, (Or simply don’t care) do NOT read this any further. Seriously, just stop where you are. Now I won’t hesitate to admit that I came relatively late to the hit HBO show. I had definitely heard about it beforehand, including some major events like the infamous Red Wedding, but I didn’t full jump onboard until about mid-2014. First, I made it a goal to read the existing books in A Song of Ice and Fire, then played catchup with the show itself. And first things first: for the most part, I’m okay with the changes that have been made to the onscreen adaptation. While I think some fans are justified in their frustration with the abbreviation of some storylines, (I really wish they had done Euron Greyjoy faithfully) ultimately the books are the books and the show is the show. And there are some plot points in these last few seasons that I could definitely see happening in The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. Now onto “The Iron Throne,” the last episode of Game of Thrones proper that we’ll ever get. While I could talk about the eighth season as a whole, particularly waxing lyrical about the sheer magnitude of the Battle of Winterfell in “The Long Night,” this last episode is all I really have time to discuss. First and foremost, I was surprised by how quiet the episode itself actually was. I had expected something of a calm after the destruction of King’s Landing, but the overall lack of dialogue made a certain impact as the surviving characters wandered the ruins. Which reminds me, say what you want about these last 6 episodes, the production value and filmmaking techniques have been so amazing. Whether it’s Ramin Djawadi’s immaculate score or the incredible production design, the below-the-line crew almost never missed a beat. The shot of Daenerys walking down the steps of the Red Keep as Drogon spread his wings was especially beautiful and symbolic. And when she throws Tyrion Lannister in the dungeons, he urges Jon to see what the Mother of Dragons has become and to do something about it. Now for the past three weeks, my friends and I have debated whether it would ultimately be Arya Stark or Jon Snow to deliver the final blow to Dany. Turns out, it was the former; Jon stabbed his love/aunt in the heart with a dagger, both swimming in tears. What really got me emotional in this scene was Drogon’s shrieks; they legitimately hurt and felt like they were in grieving for a mother. Then came something I wasn’t expecting: Drogon not only spares Jon’s life, but he completely melts down the Iron Throne in flames. If Dany couldn’t be able to sit on it, then nobody else could. Now that she was gone, who would rule the Seven Kingdoms? Should they even have a ruler? Well, as Tyrion points out to the remaining lords and ladies of the land, no one is qualified for the job other than Bran Stark. Because he’s essentially the living embodiment of Westeros’ memories, his stories of the past and present may give a good precedent for the future; and who better to serve as his Hand than Tyrion himself? But before any of it becomes set in stone, Sansa Stark asks for the North to become independent once more, thus making her brother Ruler of the Six Kingdoms for the first time in history. And with the brand new Small Council assembled, newly appointed Grandmaester Samwell Tarly presents A Song of Ice and Fire, a text documenting the events of the series in its entirety. Sidenote: I think it’s kind of hilarious that the maesters managed to finish writing A Song of Ice and Fire before George R.R. Martin managed to. We also get to see Sansa being crowned as Queen of the North, with the Lords and Ladies giving her a similar appraisal as they did Jon Snow. The biggest part of the finale I wasn’t too sure of was Arya’s resolution. She decided to give up her lands and titles to go exploring whatever’s west of Westeros, accompanied by a small crew and loads of maps. I don’t know why, but that felt the most abrupt of all the storyline conclusions here. And ultimately, the show ends in the same place where it begins: beyond the Wall. Since they can neither execute him nor let him go for killing Dany, Jon is sent to the Night’s Watch for the rest of his days. After an awesome reunion with Ghost, he, Tormund, and the last of the Wildlings leave for the woods beyond the Wall, presumably to settle back in after all of the commotions the last couple of seasons. And that’s it. 9 years, 8 seasons, 73 episodes, hundreds of hours, all come to a close here in “The Iron Throne.” From what I’ve read, I think one of the biggest reasons why fans are upset about it is because this is ultimately all we get. The HBO bosses have already confirmed that sequel shows are off the table, and I doubt the upcoming prequel show with Naomi Watts will really fill some holes that fans perceive. Personally, I do think that this season was rushed and could have benefited from having a couple more episodes to really wrap some things up. Weiss and Benioff claim to have known the ending for about 5 years now, so they at least seem to know what they’re doing. But I’m sorry, that petition to remake Season 8 is one of the stupidest fan campaigns I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen some really dumb ones in my time. If you genuinely don’t like the last season, that’s perfectly understandable and I get a lot of the hate, but in what realm of reality are fans entitled to dictate how a story should be told? To quote Martin himself, “Art is not a democracy,” so if you don’t like that Azzhor Ahai or Bran warging into Drogon didn’t pan out how you wanted, that’s your own problem to deal with. I don’t run this show and neither do you. And to be honest with you, I was mostly satisfied with where everything and everyone turned out in this last episode. There were a handful of outcomes that I didn’t quite see coming, the biggest of which for me was when Drogon utterly melted the Iron Throne. My favorite development, though, is undoubtedly when Brienne of Tarth became the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. She has completely and 100% earned it after everything she’s gone through, I’m so proud of her. And if we’re being honest, the overall outcome doesn’t sound too far-fetched from what has been intended by the author. I am genuinely curious to see how different the ending is when and/or IF The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring come out. Regardless of what you thought of this last episode or season, there’s no denying the fundamental impact that Game of Thrones has had on the television landscape. And I think it’ll be a very long time before any show reaches the scope and scale of this magnitude ever again. To quote one of my favorite characters in the show: Valar Morghulis.

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“Stranger Things” Season 2 T.V. Show Review

*Fair warning: This review contains some spoilers from the end of the first season.  Please catch up so I don’t have to be the asshole who ruins it for you.

Since the creators of this show are treating this second season as more of a sequel rather than a straight-up continuation of the series, I will approach it in a similar fashion. With as much objectivity as a reviewer that I can muster, of course. The second season of this science-fiction coming-of-age horror series premiered all 9 of its episodes on October 27th, 2017, generating high ratings and a feverish anticipation. Following the surprisingly massive success of the first season from last year, the creators, the Duffer Brothers, stated that writing a followup was the hardest thing of their dual career. Set about a year after the first season wrapped up, we pick back up with the characters in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. Will Byers has escaped the Upside Down, but still is affected deeply by the experience, as are his friends and family. New faces come into town, and the gang tries to return to normalcy in time for Halloween of 1984. But there might be a brand new threat waiting for them in both the Upside Down and the government laboratory. Following up an impressive first season is difficult enough. But when that first season is for a show that has so gradually gained a rabid fanbase like Stranger Things, that’s even more difficult because you have to live up to the expectations of your fans. But the Duffer Brothers said this season acts more like a blockbuster sequel than a continuation of a television series. And that’s completely apparent because almost everything this time around is bigger and, in some ways, better than the first season. What I appreciated most about this season is that it dared to try different things than last time. The most obvious of these is the highly controversial 7th episode, which sees one of the characters take a detour away from the main action. Many fans hated it, saying it was unnecessary and pure filler. Personally, I thought it was delivering vital information and character development needed for that person, and in a way shows that there is a bigger picture outside of Hawkins. Could it have been done better? For sure. But the fact that they were willing to do the episode suggests new territory for them to travel through in the coming seasons. They tried something new and original, and for that alone, they deserve praise. By this point in time, all of the regular cast members have grown comfortable in their roles. Noah Schnapp is especially impressive as Will, always looking over his shoulder to make sure that the Demagorgon is never behind him. His personal arc is one of overcoming trauma and the repercussions of growing up afterward. David Harbour is great once again as Chief Hopper, this time more world-weary and cautious of his actions. He arguably has the best dynamic with most of the characters, particularly when he cares for Joyce Byers and a preteen Eleven, to whom he’s a close father figure. Some of the new characters were a mixed bag. 80’s stars Paul Reiser and Sean Astin were great additions, but Max and Billy felt a little out of place. Sadie Sink played Max well enough, but the way she was written felt like a typical young girl with unusual angst. Dacre Montgomery’s portrayal of Billy bordered on the edge of parody with a seemingly stereotypical high school bully. But the show-stealers this season have undoubtedly been Joe Keery and Gaten Matarazzo as Steve and Dustin. Their bromance was awesome and by far the most watchable part of the season. Meanwhile, this show continues to be a technical marvel. The steady camerawork by Tim Ives and Tod Campbell emulates films made by John Carpenter from the 1980’s. Not one single aspect of any scene is left unfocused or obscured by a shaky cam. Instead, it sustains a heavy and consistent atmosphere that this series has built so well. Also, the visual effects have been upgraded quite a bit. With the expansion of the world and the benefit of a larger budget, the Duffer Brothers got to be more creative. Some constraints are still noticeable, (This is a T.V. show after all) but the design for the new villain is utterly fascinating. Like if the ghost of H.P. Lovecraft had inhabited the mind and body of Stephen King and wrote a screenplay centered on a new monster in his universe. As with last time, the musical score for all 9 episodes is composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, also going by the band Survive. They continue to eschew the cliches of big boisterous orchestras in favor of synthesized melodies and beats. When it comes to the action scenes, they’re heightened and intense. But in the slower character-driven moments, it’s more emotional and subtle. At all times though, it feels like the unofficial soundtrack for a horror movie. Guys, it’s the same thing as last time. Stranger Things 2 is a worthy sophomore outing with an intriguing story and likable characters. Although I ultimately like the first season a little more, this followup is definitely worth a marathon or two on Netflix. I’m eagerly awaiting where this series goes in the future.

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“The Defenders” T.V. Show Review

Talk about a one-off show that tries its most damn to be the best it can be. Some things worked and others didn’t. Let’s divulge it all. This highly anticipated crossover superhero T.V. show premiered all of its 8 episodes on Netflix on August 18th, 2017, receiving high viewership figures from the streaming services subscribers. But it was also followed by a historical drop in people watching it week-by-week. A culmination of the previous Marvel/Netflix collaborations, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, it’s believed that there won’t be a second season for it at least for a long time. And after watching the series, I can understand why. Following the events of each series, our titular protagonists are brought together by the secret organization known as The Hand. While dealing with their enigmatic leader, played by Sigourney Weaver, they must also investigate what their plan is for New York City. With the help of Stick and handful of side characters from the other shows, they must unite to stop evil from destroying their home. Daredevil season one, back in 2015, was, in my opinion, the best live-action superhero show ever made. And although I didn’t love season two as much, I still really enjoyed it for how it introduced The Punisher. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage were equally amazing, giving us some relevant drama with intriguing action. And for those of you who hadn’t been Following my blog earlier this year, Iron Fist is one of the most disappointing T.V. shows I’ve ever seen in my life. A bland protagonist, underwhelming action sequences, a horribly unfocused story that went on for far too long, redeemed somewhat by good side characters. And after that trainwreck, I was actually really nervous about The Defenders series and if it would deliver. None of the advertisements really grabbed me like previous shows did and not enough compelling information was released in order for me to truly get invested in it. But alas, I’m a sucker for tempered expectations. Make no mistake, I have some legitimate issues with this series, but for the most part, it stuck the landing. Getting it out of the way, all four of the titular heroes work well together. I like how each one had their own motivation for joining the war on The Hand. Daredevil wants to quit his life of crime-fighting but feels compelled to help his old mentor. Luke Cage has an obligation to the people on the streets as their protector. Iron Fist believes it to be his destiny to take down The Hand. Jessica Jones only comes along because she’s on a case. Charlie Cox, Mike Colter, Finn Jones, and Kristen Ritter share convincing chemistry in their scenes together, especially the dramatic ones. Danny Rand still comes off as an annoying, whiny punk, but he’s given more to like about and is far less insufferable than he was before. Meanwhile, the inimitable Sigourney Weaver shines as the main antagonist of the series Alexandra. A mysterious, wealthy woman, she isn’t just some mean bitch or wants to destroy New York because she’s evil. She has a motivation, and you can see how desperate she is to keep her organization alive in the modern era. Her counterparts in the Hand are pretty uninteresting overall, but they were serviceable to keep the plot running. Action sequences have been a mixed bag for the Marvel/Netflix shows. Whereas Daredevil was lean and gritty, Luke Cage and Iron Fist were underwhelming. But for the most part, they keep it fair and balanced here, with the third and fifth episodes having great setpieces involving all four heroes. But it does fall into the trap of dark corridors with hyperactive editing to conceal obvious stunt doubles. That doesn’t happen often, though. Through the nice camerawork and some rousing music from John Paesano, we are thrown in and made to care for the people present. As far as the story goes, The Defenders is pretty inconsistent. It has the cliche of immediately trading off action sequences for extended scenes of exposition and backstory. Most of it is delivered through the character of Stick, played masterfully by Scott Glenn. As much of a badass as he is, I think he may have oversold the magnitude of their war against the Hand. Because in the last two episodes, when their true plan is revealed, it seems almost inconsequential to the rest of New York City. It felt as though the writers had bigger plans, but they had to find a way to condense it into 8 episodes in order to satisfy Marvel. Another thing of note: I understand that you want to bring over supporting players from the previous shows to have a big crossover effect. But that doesn’t change the fact that some of them were just flat-out useless here. Maybe they’re setting up for character arcs in later seasons of their respective shows, but for now, it felt distracting. Far from any television masterpiece but still entertaining enough to get you through to the end, The Defenders is a mostly satisfying blend of superheroes grounded in the urban streets. It still feels like a prelude to a bigger story, as each episode implies a bigger picture of what’s going on. But for now, it’s a bit of intriguing and fun entertainment. I cannot wait for The Punisher coming this Fall.

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“Lost” T.V. Show Review

*Mild spoilers spread throughout. Certain plot points are hard to discuss without getting in-depth.*

What’s the point of a slow movie week if you can’t use this time to review an epic series like Lost? I know going into this that I’m going to say everything I have to say. I have a LOT to say about this show. If I forgot, feel free to mention it in the Comments. On that note, here we go. This supernatural fantasy mystery drama series ran for six seasons on ABC between 2004 and 2010, gaining wide critical acclaim and high Nielsen ratings. A heavily serialized show, it begins as a commercial airplane, Oceanic Airline Flight 815, crashes on a mysterious deserted island in the South Pacific during a trip from Sydney to Los Angeles. 48 people survived the crash, and now have to figure out their next move, while discovering the mysteries of The Island. Created by Jeffrey Lieber, Damon Lindelof, and J.J. Abrams, each episode also features a flashback sequence that reveals more about a specific survivor’s life before the crash. In all honesty, Lost was a very important and groundbreaking T.V. show. It was one of the first times that an episodic medium could tell an overarching story over the course of several seasons. It also managed to keep audiences emotionally invested in the fates of the individual characters, despite its large ensemble cast. Each member of the group was almost always likable, but they all had an episode or two where it was just them. Unfortunately for  Ken Leung, Miles’ episodes were in the last couple of seasons, when things got REALLY confusing. I’ll talk more about that later. I still remember the first time watching this series. For many shows afterward, it was clearly evident that they had borrowed some elements from Lost. But Lost, at the time, was one of the most mind-blowing things I had ever seen on either television or film. A dark, gritty tone set against the beautiful backdrop of the Hawaiian Islands, where it was filmed, was unheard of for me. And just when you think you can pinpoint certain characters, a curve-ball is thrown to sway your opinion. John Locke and Sawyer were arguably the most complex among the ensemble. Both appear one-dimensional at first but their backstories unveil two men’s pasts full of tragedy and conflict that makes you root for them so hard. The worst character, for me, was Michael. He just came off as annoying, self-interested and disregarding to the rest of the group, not just in season 1 but throughout most of the run. But the show wasn’t perfect and began making mistakes as early as season 3. They introduced the couple Nikki and Paulo, who were almost completely useless to the plot. The fact that they had their own central episode just frustrated me. Thankfully, they’re written out of the show rather quickly, and aside from a few mentions, you don’t have to worry about them anymore. Every character introduced to the cast afterward is handled in a much smarter way. They work because they’re actually relevant to the overall story and character development. And it’s not as intrusive or forced. I’ll tell what exactly made Lost hard to follow in the later seasons. The thing that keeps this show so intriguing is that you don’t know all of The Island’s secrets, and it’s arguable that the writers had similar corners to get themselves out of. Not only in season 3 do they rearrange the flashback formula, but they also shoehorn a love triangle between Kate, Jack, and Sawyer. The chemistry between the three actors is fine, but the way it was written made their arc feel cheesy and sappy. And with every big revelation on or off The Island, it was difficult to keep track of everything that ties together. The final three seasons have a complete change in tone and setting, and the fact that they are shorter than previously doesn’t quite give us enough time to understand. The writers then introduce elements as absurd as time travel, CGI monsters, resurrections, and then boom that’s the end. You may think that I just spoiled everything in the show; trust me when I say that I REALLY did not. Speaking of the end… we have to touch on the finale. Never in my entire existence have I seen a series finale that was so polarizing that it somewhat overshadows the quality of the rest of the show. I’m trying to keep it vague, but at the beginning of the final season a storytelling format is changed. It sparked many fan theories about the true nature of The Island and how the series would come to a close. They kind of played on the biggest theory but also attempted to umbrella the whole story under this revelation. You see how hard it is for me to talk about the ending without actually spoiling anything? Ultimately, you’ll walk away from Lost with more questions than answers. We still don’t know why there were polar bears in the first episodes, we still don’t know how old The Island truly is, The Numbers are completely ambiguous and the origins of the Dharma Initiative are still very vague. Though honestly, it’s a bit more fun to interpret these mysteries at your own discretion, and maybe it was intended that way. I know it may sound like I hate this show; quite the opposite. I love Lost from the bottom of my heart. I just had to get out my gripes about the series’ ending. Spanning 6 seasons, 121 episodes, a myriad of diverse characters, and an intriguing overarching story, Lost will go down in history as one of the best T.V. shows of the Second Golden Age.

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