Posts tagged: reviews

Buffy: “Lessons”

I may be a little late to this party, but while re-watching the episode “Lessons,” I wondered about the significance of The First taking on the appearance of each season’s Big Bads in reverse order at the end of the episode, and ending with Buffy. That is, it starts out looking like Warren, then Glory, Adam, The Mayor, Dru, The Master, and finally Buffy. So why end with Buffy? She was never the Big Bad, was she? But I have two theories:

  • Buffy is the first Big Bad because she’s a Slayer, and the Slayers were given demon power to fight the demons, so she is a Big Bad, in a way.
  • Buffy being a Big Bad could also foreshadow the events of Season 8, which saw the Slayers being seen by the general population as evil due to their power. I mean, this is also how people saw them in the past, owing to their demonic infusion.

Also, I think the final shot of Buffy in the season 7 credits is actually The First. I can’t place the shot, but if it is, why close on The First and not Buffy herself, the way the previous seasons’ credits did? If y’all have any thoughts, I’m interested in hearing them!

[Edit:] Thank you, the internet. You have provided Buffy fans with a way to collaborate and put together the entire list of clips used in all of the title sequences ever (like seriously there’s a separate one for “Superstar”). And I was right! The closing shot in season 7 is The First. So, why close on The First instead of Buffy? It doesn’t seem correct that it means that evil is now the star of the show, or that it’s taking over, or something. Hmm, but apparently the Buffy wiki page says that the closing shot of season 6 isn’t Buffy either, and it’s the Buffybot. Maybe Joss is just messing with us. That would be his way, wouldn’t it.

Body of Proof: “Going Viral”

Ah, a club. Perfect place for an outbreak. Hmm. Date rape drug?

I’m glad Peter has the sense to recognize the symptoms. But hasn’t he caught whatever it is, at this point, from holding Dani?

It is just too convenient that three new patients show up just as Kate says that there ought to be a lot more sick people. Or maybe I mean, the one person just showed up, but the other two were there before and happened to be in the same isolation unit? That should mean that they recognized the commonalities and did have more sick people — 4 total — and one more person does not suddenly an epidemic make, if 4 didn’t.

They can’t seriously be wearing that protective gear and still be letting their hair down! I mean, at least Kate’s hair is in a reasonable ponytail, but shouldn’t they look more like they’re in surgery, with caps?

Why doesn’t Curtis already see that Ethan has a point? He was Chief ME at some point, so it’s not like he’s some dumb intern or someone without medical training, like Peter.

I feel fairly certain that they don’t have an autoclave there under the bench (who puts an autoclave there?), and even if they did, autoclaves are not randomly portable that way. Seriously.

Kate brings her own blood to the analyst? Why would you let someone who’s potentially infected have the chance to swap out fluids for a negative test result?

“Remind me to never investigate a plague again” is the best line ever, hehe.

May I point out that not everyone on the team may want to be working in BSL-4? Like Ethan??

If the team’s been keeping the news of the deaths and outbreak quiet, how would Youtube know to send it to them specifically?

I wonder if they quarantined or otherwise screened the relatives of the deceased? Also, “will you please explain to him how the internet works?” is also a great line. Delivered just right.

How can Curtis tell Ethan to just relax? Ethan should keep calm, yes, but he should go fix his suit, shouldn’t he?

I am confused why the FBI guy doesn’t even ask for an ETA on the lab results to confirm meningitis before telling her “no we’re not confirming it before telling the public what we think it is.”

Is Kate taking off her gloves without exiting BSL-4? I can’t tell. But I do like the way she’s not telling anyone, trying to squeeze out the blood, looking for blood in her innermost glove, etc, because those are all fairly typical reactions.

I find the interrogation scene with the teenager somewhat unlikely, but his sarcasm is at least on the mark, and the reactions within it sensible and entertaining. And thank you for pointing out why it can’t possibly be airborne, because Megan never explained it to anyone and it didn’t make sense for her to just expect that the non-medical people would get it and believe her without an explanation.

How does being through decontamination guarantee that you won’t catch it afterwards? *raises eyebrow*

I sort of think that the eyes are much more evidently jaundiced than bloodshot. Also why wouldn’t patient zero be dead by now, given that the subsequent cases have all died? Either that or he’s probably recovered. What is the mortality rate on this, anyway?

Why isn’t Kate in on that meeting, anyway? And… the terrorist isn’t still out there, because he’s presumably either dead or recovered and no longer infectious, I would think?

Episode break!

Is the CDC guy not a doctor, and he’s just a researcher? There’s no way.

That sort of makes sense, the way they say it: first some internal bleeding, then more internal bleeding that shows some of the other symptoms they observed (like the purpura that they didn’t re-mention), hypotensive shock, and cerebral/pulmonary edema before death. But why did they make Kate look so shocked as she looks around the isolation ward?

Really? The FBI guy’s going to be the first one to figure out that the terrorist might be dead already?

Go Peter! Also, making progress with syringes, good. And yay Kate for noticing Trevino, because I, at least, find it hard to keep track of the number of days that have passed in a TV show.

It seems sooo unlikely for the terrorist to have somehow figured out a way to stay alive longer without some kind of trial-and-error testing, and for that you’d have seen deaths beforehand. But it is sort of awesome that Trevino is a “walking pharmacy” (on 17 different drugs for various reasons).

Really, are they going to go to a shot of an empty bed (presumably Trevino’s) during the terrorist call just because the ME’s office happened to call right then and name Trevino as their suspect? He’s in isolation! I get that the bar is near the hospital, but how do you expect him to have gotten out, seriously?

Why are they pointing at the two “electron microscope” images as if they indicate that the two samples are clearly from different people? And why do they then point at the images as they mention the interferon and how the one sample’s supposed to have more of it that clusters more or whatever?

Marburg is not the “bastard cousin” of Ebola. (I mean, calling it a “bastard” makes it sound like it’s engineered, doesn’t it?) Nor is it nastier, if I recall correctly. Also there are more than 3 filoviruses. Also also the mortality rate for Marburg is not as high as they’re making it seem with their “they all died!” statements every now and then. Also also also the symptoms don’t seem as bad as I thought they ought to be for Marburg. They’re definitely not as bad as the symptoms for Ebola, though at least Stafford (the CDC guy) said the words “unmentionable orifices” a little earlier.

That is sooo not adequate consent. True consent means that the subject actually understands the risks involved, and given how quickly Trevino is given the vaccine (behind Megan’s back during the few moments she takes to talk to Kate), it seems incredibly unlikely that he understands the risks.

Stafford’s explanation of why he picks Trevino is totally unreasonable: even if the biology made sense, the math wouldn’t. First of all, vaccines don’t “target virus particles” or anything. But even if they did, his argument that a higher viral load would make it “easier” for the vaccines to “target” the virus particles is only saying that more virus particles would be reached, but the percentage would presumably be similar and there would be more virus particles left at the end, still. And it’s a vaccine, which is preventative, so the earlier you get it, the more chance it has of working. Why does this not make it into anything?

Why is Peter not wearing gloves? I understand that the file is supposed to be clean, but I wouldn’t trust that, with Marburg on the loose….

Ah, closing shot of the terrorist watching the school, setting up for “he’s going to target the kids next! Oh no!” But I wonder what he’s really going to target, because an older, sick man would sort of stand out in an elementary school, and it’s not like kids all play on the same playground toy or anything.

Yay bed bugs. And haha, Megan looks all indignant as Johnson (the head FBI guy) brings Peter along to the hotel but not Megan.

Guys, if you shoot him his blood will aerosolize. (I was wondering, earlier, why Bud was carrying a shotgun when they stormed that abandoned warehouse.)

And now, because they’ve been trying to make us believe that Marburg has a nearly 100% mortality rate, they can’t just let Kate be one of the three out of four survivors (that’s what I recall Marburg’s mortality rate being, anyway). And I guess they’re going to play off the rest of the survivors as “they didn’t actually have Marburg”?

Yay for the inevitable happy ending, though Dani’s death at the beginning was quite a shock. I feel like usually TV shows put the shocking death in the middle or at the end of the episode instead of at the beginning, and I’m not sure whether putting it at the beginning is better (because that’s where you least expect it) or not as good (because you have the rest of the episode to distract you while your subconscious processes most of it for you).

Castle: “The Last Frontier”

The opening sequence is quite cheesy, as desired. Definitely reminiscent of Galaxy Quest.

Did I miss that Castle’s stuff was coming out in comics now? What did Castle mean by mumbling “how far they fall…”? And I’m entertained by Beckett’s “chests” plural, but I assume the trailing “s” was just because Castle had the best look of shocked surprise on his face. And yes, it is hilarious that Castle looked up.

He said “shiny”! Whoo Firefly!

I must assume that Alexis’ Princess Leia outfit was the white one from A New Hope, given that Alexis was little, and also what happens later in the episode….

Doc Ock and Spiderman! The Borg! Cylons! And yes, of course Castle would want it to be Number Six.

Here’s the best part: “I’m sorry — how is Nebula-9 worthy of all this? I mean, they were cancelled over a decade ago. After 12 episodes, which was 12 episodes too many [...] I’m a fan of good scifi: Star Trek, Battlestar, that Joss Whedon show [...]” — let’s see now: Firefly had 9 main characters, was a spaceship show, had 12 episodes (okay, not 14, but sort of close enough, according to the rest of the internet), aired over a decade ago (they had their 10-year anniversary panel a few months ago at Comic-Con), and totally counts as good scifi from “that Joss Whedon guy.” Also, “Max Rennard”? Can you say “Mal Reynolds”?

Oh, Perlmutter. Though I’m confused why he pointed out the lack of blood splatter, since the body could’ve been moved?

Aww, Beckett tries to cover up her fangirlyness about the fansite, but then totally gives it away when she sees Gabriel Winters. Max Rennard ~= Mal Reynolds. Eh? Eh? She is such a total fangirl as she walks up to him, and trying to hide her smile as he’s telling them about how the show was unjustly cancelled, modifies the show’s phrase “may fortune guide your journey,” and so forth. Though, she does seem a little off-put by his “Dismissed” comment at the end, and has a grumpy look.

Oh man, if only someone had been able to get the rights to the show after Fox was done with them. But I think it’s true that if someone had done webisodes of Firefly, I wouldn’t have wanted to watch them.

Aw, Beckett — and her multiple Nebula-9 outfits — got outed. Also, “frakkin’ awesome” — BSG reference?

Perlmutter: I love his “non-detective Castle” greeting in contrast to “detective Beckett.” And Castle’s clearly having some sort of orgasmic reaction to the appropriateness of the style of killing to the situation.

Commercial break! Aaand we’re back.

Why does Castle have a life-sized Boba Fett in his bathroom?? Hehe, Castle’s trying to avoid insulting Beckett, and Beckett’s trying to keep her professionalism and not use the word “blaster.”

Fans!! Where do I begin? There’s an albino Wookie who has a face that more resembles a Tusken Raider and only speaks Mersatonain, a fan who’s “not that fluent” in Mersatonian, a woman with mysteriously adhesive leaves (oh, poor Javi looks like he’s going to pass out when she walks away with fewer leaves on her boob and his pen), and a girl who’s supposed to be speaking lingo from something else, I assume, but she doesn’t pull off the lingo the same way that Fray does; that is, when Fray speaks, it’s understandable with context and you can really believe that the English language has evolved over time, but with this fan, there’s only a few words that are different and the writers seemed like they were having a hard time figuring out what they could change while still making her comprehensible.

Yes, Beckett, I’m sure you have to interview Lt. Chloe and aren’t looking forward to it. Though, I feel bad for her when the actress totally slams the show, and she looks all queasy, and then rolls her eyes at the actress’ new cardboard cutoff figure with that stereotypical Hollywood pose of showing her backside and holding a gun.

Poor Castle! Alexis looks awesome, though (although I think her hair looks more messy than messy-glamorous). So while mention of “Princess Leia costume” in the context of a scifi con tends to evoke images of the slave Leia outfit from Return of the Jedi, this is why I assumed, earlier, that this was not the kind of Leia outfit Alexis wore when she was little.

“As you wish” — Princess Bride reference!

Poor Beckett, with Gabriel Winters calling the fans “lunatics.” And that he had “a burning desire to see his doctor.” Eww.

Yes, Ryan totally seems like the kind of guy who’d do tabletop.

Creavers! “Evil alien race from Nebula-9. Nasty creatures. They’ll eat your face off while you’re still alive, and then, serve your organs to their young.” Sound like reavers, anyone?

Armin Shimerman! Quark (and also Principal Snyder from Buffy)! And he’s wearing a “han shot first” T-shirt, hehe. “So what can I interest you in? A Klingon bat’leff, perhaps? Cylon laser pistol? A double-bladed lightsaber?” Castle is so excited about the double-bladed lightsaber, as am I. And Shimerman’s character says that Beckett has good taste for wanting a Thorian blaster.

Uh-oh, Castle wasn’t wearing protection when he fired the laser… oh noes, what about radiation? Poor Castle is all worried and “tingly.” Mentions of the Hulk, the Thing, the Leader, and Dr. Manhattan.

Anabelle made the show popular again, and so “they” were talking about rebooting the series, maybe even making a movie… well, I’m glad Joss got to make Serenity, and that some of the other stories (like Book’s) got told in comic form.

Aw, Castle is adorable, trying to imitate Patrick Stewart. And of course he would want to know if Beckett’s dreams of being in the Nebula-9 were sexy ones.

Beckett’s explanation of what the show meant to her is lovely and heartwarming.

Audrey is so short; how could she have stashed the body in the Oracle pod?

Given Winters’ calm and sarcastic reaction, he must know something about the blaster. And he does!

“Mark of Claderesh,” “Andorian empath,” “May fortune guide your journey.” But of course his “it’s a lot easier when the stunt guys do it” is hilarious. And Castle seems to have come around to Nebula-9, or at least appreciates rubbing in the cheesiness of of the show to the actress.

Beckett’s bait-and-switch is awesome. That is all.

Buffy: “Earshot”

I re-watched the Buffy episode “Earshot” today, and made two interesting observations:

  • At one point, Buffy is worried about getting infected by a demon, since Giles said “infected” and provided detail that she’d be getting an aspect of the demon. Well, Buffy, sorry to say, but you already are “infected” with demon-ness, given that your power derives from them. (See: “Storyteller” in season 7)
  • During Jonathan’s interrogation, Willow grills him on whether he fantasizes that people would notice him more, that they’d think he was super-awesome and such. Well, apparently he really does, or maybe he just got the idea to fantasize and eventually do something about it from this interrogation. (See: “Superstar” in season 5)

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street!

So for the past four nights I’ve been one of the backstage hands for MIT Gilbert and Sullivan Players’ production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (two were dress rehearsals and two were performances). I am a fan of the show, and this production has got me totally excited, and I’ve only listened to it (I’m planning to see it next weekend)! The cast is amazing; we’ve got some amazing singers in the group, and the acting ability points have been distributed properly. (I do, in fact, feel confident in making such comments about the show despite having not seen it with my own eyes, because I’ve hung around the cast and been there for enough of the tech work that I can tell. Really.) The lighting design is impressive, the set is spectacular (my, Sweeney’s chair…mm, mm, good), the costumes are lovely … what more can I say? I am incredibly psyched to see it, and y’all should be, too! I am very glad that I’ve been able to be a part of the production. We even have delicious meat pies during intermission, made from priest, fop, or vegetarians.

If you’re not familiar with the story, let’s just say that it’s  the furthest from the standard G&S repertoire as we’ve gotten since my time with the group. This is totally a production that I would recommend for a first viewing, though the version with Angela Lansbury and George Hearn (which you can find on youtube or in the MIT music library) is amazing (it was my first).

Anyway, I should stop rambling and tell y’all when the remaining performances are:

  • Thursday, August 12, 8:00 PM (*free* for MIT Students)
  • Friday, August 13, 8:00 PM
  • Saturday, August 14, 2:00 PM

I should note that the lights are more dramatic when viewed at night (meaning Thursday/Friday), and that next Friday is, in fact, Friday the 13th….

Book Reviews!

So I’ve actually managed to read two books recently, and am going to review them (gee, really? I’d never have guessed from the title of this post), especially because I feel, at least a little bit, as though I’d not have actually been able to finish the books if our gracious Skinner hadn’t allowed me to check them out from the library.

First off, Next by Michael Crichton:

If you’ve ever seen “Crash” or “Love Actually,” “Next” follows a similar structure of interleaving story lines every which way, although with slightly more focus on a convergence of a few of the stories, towards the end. The stories are fictional, but they are nonetheless grounded in varying levels of fact; each story centers around some issue of the current state of some aspect of biology research. One story draws attention to illicit organ-harvesting. Another brings chimerism to the reader’s attention. (Here, I would link to the wikipedia article about chimerism, but frankly, it sucks.) Multiple stories revolve around DNA testing and gene patenting, which was most recently in the news when the patent on BRCA1 and BRCA2 was overturned. Gerard, a talking African grey (parrot), raises the animal research issues, as does the story of a transgenic ape, and the idea of manufacturing transgenic animals for use in advertising or as pets, which was also recently in the news (check out the gallery). And perhaps one of the most frightening storylines tells of a mother and her son who are pursued by a bounty hunter intent on forcibly harvesting cells from their bodies because her father’s cells produce cytokines that seem to fight cancer; because his cells were bought (arguably illicitly) by a company, they then argue that they have a right to repossess those cells wherever they may occur, including in the source’s descendants.

Personally, I enjoyed the book, despite its abrupt jumps from one plotline to another, because it explores so many of the controversies that surround the field of biotechnology in this day and age. Some of the imagined possibilities seem quite ludicrous, but when you look at the news, it is disturbing to realize the extent to which some of the possible situations delineated in the novel are actually taking place around us. While is it true that the stories center around biology and people interested in such may be more interested in this book, I think that it has value both as a thriller and as a mechanism for bringing many current bioethics issues to the public’s attention.

And now, Feed, by Mira Grant — hmm, I just noticed that both of the books have monosyllabic titles…anyway! — the review:

This book was amazing. Totally full of awesome, is what I’d say. When I finished the book, I was in denial that the book was over, so I kept reading into the question-and-answer section, where Grant answers some questions about the novel and its sequel (to which my reaction was “OMG there’s a sequel squee!”) and the excerpt from the sequel. Arguably, this was a mistake, because it’s gotten me way too excited for the sequel because I thought this book was phenomenal. (Sadly, Deadline, the sequel, is currently slated for a May 2011 release date.)

Anyway, at this point you’re probably thinking to yourself, “okay, so you claim that it’s ‘totally full of awesome,’ but where’s the evidence? What’s this book actually about?” Well, it centers around three bloggers in the post-apocalyptic world, circa twenty-five years after the emergence of a virus that takes over dead or otherwise vulnerable bodies and causes them to mindlessly aid in its propagation. Bloggers have gained attention in this world because they were the first ones to report on the zombie outbreaks when everyone else was still in denial about the existence of the virus.

The relationships between the characters and the mystery in the story are only the topmost layer of what makes this book as great as it is. I found similarities to Joss Whedon, superficially, in the naming of one of the main characters after Buffy of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” but more deeply, in the juxtapositions of heaping helpings of humor in the face of serious situations and the very serious and evocative descriptions of the stark reality of the world that make it all too easy to conjure up images of the destruction and death that have become familiar to our main characters. It is, in my opinion, an original idea well-executed.

Please let me know what you think of the reviews; I plan to submit them for posting on the MITSFS website in the near future.

Asian Artists in America

So apparently BoA released an album in Japan in February, and I didn’t even notice. It’s been two years since her last studio album in Japan, and she’s planning to release an album in Korea later this year, which will be five years since her last album there. The reason that she’s been (relatively) “inactive”1 in Asia? She released an album in the States early last year.

She seems to have stretched herself quite thin, working in at least three countries. She collapsed after an awards show in Korea and was generally suffering poor health around 2006, if I remember correctly, because she was working too hard, promoting both “Girls On Top” and “Outgrow” at the same time.

How successful are these crossover attempts, though? When Hikki (宇多田光, utada hikaru) was about to crossover, back in 2004, she pointed out that there aren’t really any Asian artists in the U.S. Her first album, titled “Exodus,” was not the right album to crossover with, though. The melodies she used seemed like they wanted to be expanded instead of squeezed into one song together, in general; for example, “Kremlin Dusk” featured four lovely melodies, but consolidated into one song, the song felt less cohesive. She also used lyrics that were sometimes not what her fans were used to (many of the songs centered around sex) or not what fans of the American music industry might be used to (might I point out the lyric “I need someone who’s true, someone who does the laundry too”).

Her second crossover album (but not second studio album — she released an album, “Precious,” when she was just 15), titled “This Is The One,” released March 14, 2009 (three days before BoA’s album). It was much more well-suited for American audiences, featuring more R&B melodies and catchy hooks, although a few of the songs were still a little on the Hikki-is-still-trying-too-hard-to-stand-out-and-be-unique side of things. The lyrics were also more toned down, less explicit, but still had enough of the sex appeal that I think Hikki was trying to capture in her first album as a change from her Japanese albums written for her Japanese audience. She remarked, in an interview, that she was surprised that people really liked “Apple and Cinnamon” as much as they did; apparently many fans informed her that it was their favorite song off of the album.

Three days after the release of Hikki’s second crossover album, BoA’s first crossover album hit the market. It was not as heavily marketed as it could have been, but her fans generated a lot of interest and roped in many new fans in the U.S. (I actually showed one of the “Eat You Up” music videos to my lab partner who then became obsessed with it, and later he told me that he and some of his frat brothers watched the video on the order of fifty times in one night.) Her album was placed in the “dance” section at music stores when it hit the shelves, and that is definitely what it was: all of the songs had a pretty solid beat and would make pretty good dance music at a club or dance party. Her pronunciation was better than I expected, even in interviews (it’s easier to pronounce words correctly when singing in a foreign language than when speaking in a foreign language), but it’s unclear to me whether it was good enough to impress the American fans she was trying to woo.

(Personally, I think BoA is amazing. One, she’s a good singer. Two, she’s quite a good dancer. Her Japanese dance teachers, who are known for their strictness, have praised her talent and hard work, and the choreographers that have worked with her have expressed amazement at her dancing ability. Three, she’s fluent in Korean and Japanese, speaks conversational English, and has some understanding of Chinese. Four, she’s really hardworking and dedicated to her career.)

Interlude over: I should point out that Hikki has some sort of accent, although it is not Japanese. She is bilingual, having grown up in Tokyo and New York, but she overenunciates her English, which makes her sound non-native despite the fact that she is plenty fluent in English. Anyway, BoA’s album was fairly homogenous in its dance genre, and didn’t have the variety that her fans expected and wanted. Her Korean- and Japanese-language albums have ballads, upbeat dance songs, jazzy songs, R&B songs, etc, allowing her to showcase her singing ability. I think many fans were disappointed that she didn’t show more sides of herself on this album, and she really didn’t give herself a fair chance, marketing only one facet of her many talents.

I’m not sure whether American pop culture is quite ready to accept Asian culture just yet. Here, I feel the need to refer to Maurissa Tancharoen’s “Nobody’s Asian in the Movies”, but this brings us, perhaps, to a slightly different topic than the one I started out with, and it’s late, so I will take my leave and possibly continue this in a linguistic analysis next week.

1 For BoA, “inactive” means that she missed a year in releasing albums, seeing as she’s released a studio album in Korea once a year from 2000-2005, and a studio album in Japan once a year from 2002-2008.

Big Bads in Buffy and Why We Love Them

One of the amazing things about Joss Whedon is the three-dimensionality of all of his characters. They are fairly consistent, multi-faceted, and most all of them can be related to by some subset of viewers. In particular, the Big Bads have certainly been more interesting than most Big Bads on other shows, in my experience. First off, then, a list of the Big Bads (as seen at the end of the season seven premiere):
Season 1: The Master
Season 2: Drusilla (Angelus/Spike)
Season 3: The Mayor (Faith)
Season 4: Adam (The Initiative)
Season 5: Glory
Season 6: Warren Mears (The Trio)
Season 7: The First (Caleb)

The Master, I will admit, doesn’t seem to have much going for him in terms of relateability. He’s gross-looking (fruit-punch mouth!), evil, and generally unlikeable. But let’s keep in mind that season one was a very straightforward period of Buffy, when there was little-to-no story arc that continued between episodes, and many issues were black-and-white. Joss hadn’t yet really started to explore all of the gray issues that don’t have clear good-vs-evil or right-or-wrong dichotomies.

Drusilla, Spike, and Angelus, on the other hand, are definitely much more interesting. The relationship that Drusilla and Angel have makes them just like any other couple, which obviously makes them accessible to fans. They’re crazy in love (and a little crazy, to boot), and their story is just like any other love story, similar to Bonnie and Clyde. Angelus/Angel, of course, are sympathetic characters, because we’ve gotten to know Angel and we know how much Angel cares for Buffy, while Angelus’ instinct to destroy that which was most dear to Angel is also a very common reaction; people try to hide their weaknesses from the world, and what better way to do that than by wiping all traces of those weaknesses from existence? After all, destroying one’s perceived weaknesses makes one stronger, right?

The Mayor and Faith also had a close relationship. Sure, the Mayor’s evil, no question, but he cared for Faith like no one else did. He left the magic gizmo for her, gave her an apartment, interrupted his all-important dark ritual because she was in trouble, etc. She was the only one he lost his temper over. She trusted him, and he was her father figure. The father-daughter relationship, or more generally, parent-child relationship, is one that people can definitely relate to.

Adam is literally a conglomerate constructed from many different sources. His naivete appeals to our sense of curiosity, and part of us wishes that we could go around taking part interesting things just to learn about them, like he does. However amoral he is, we remember that he is, in a way, a product of the Initiative, and a representation of all of their victims (the demons and people sacrificed to create him). He is only doing what he was programmed to do, as a lost child of sorts; he considered Maggie to be his mother, and when she died and he didn’t have anyone to guide him, he turned the wrong way. He was supposed to be a prodigy, and with the right guidance, he could’ve been that. I guess, in the end, he’s fairly monstrous and not so sympathetic, but he does have the naivete of a lost child, and his unfortunate circumstances are something to pity him for. And for Frankenstein fans, Adam is awesome, of course.

Glory had the girly thing going for her, and who doesn’t love a little bit of crazy? More seriously, though, all she wants is to go home (never mind if she unleashes hell on Earth in the process). She also has her counterpart, Ben, who is irrefutably human. They have some sort of odd relationship that I might call parent-child-like, because he is, in a sense, her guardian. And she is, of course, the childish bitch who absolutely needs to get her way lest she throw a fit and eat some brains.

Warren, Jonathan, and Tucker’s brother (er, I mean, Andrew ^_~): they definitely call out to the geeky, nerdy misfits in us. Jonathan had his earlier spotlights in “Earshot” and “Superstar,” while Warren had a spotlight in “I Was Made To Love You,” and we got to know Andrew throughout season seven. Seeing their paths to or from wrongdoing really allowed us to empathize with them. All they wanted, after all, was some recognition of their awesomeness as geeks/nerds. We always knew, though, that they were out of their depth as bad guys, which made them all the more pitiful. Warren was the power-hungry one, Jonathan was the one who just wanted to fit in, and Andrew was the poor kid who went along with whomever he thought was cool (in this case, Warren). Warren’s (near-)death and his terror leading up to that moment almost make you feel sorry for him (although not quite, perhaps), Jonathan’s continued abuse that he puts up with definitely causes “aww” moments, and Andrew’s story in season seven, especially in “Storyteller,”  shows what a scared little kid he really is on the inside, which is something he shares with so many of us.

(A short mention of Dark Willow: she just lost her love. Heartbreak, rage, desperation, non-understanding of why, sense of being lost…and honestly, who can resist yellow-crayon-breaky Willow?)

Finally, we’ve arrived at The First. The First is, first of all, awesome. Literally. How can anyone imagine such a primordial source of evil? Seeing The First take Buffy’s form, though, really brings out the similarities between the two, which gives The First some qualities that resonate with viewers. And Caleb…he’s the crazy, but the kind that we’re familiar with: a super-conservative radical.

In the end, though, I’m not sure that I can do the Big Bads justice with this post. Partly because I feel like more thought could be put into it, but more because you have to watch the episodes to understand the little quirks that make them special to us. Unfortunately, I would never actively push people to watch Buffy/Angel, because the time consumed is simply too great of a commitment to make. I will merely continue to passively comment on this-or-that aspect of buffyverse, and leave the decision to you….

Dollhouse: “Epitaph Two: Return”

My thoughts as I watched the episode, just because. Yes, this is pretty much just a dump of thoughts, all jumbled together.

The speculation in the jeep is interesting. Maybe they got hit with a blanket signal, maybe they were on a corporate retreat; who knows how they got here? The point is, a lot has changed, and there’s a lot that’s been made plausible by the huge time jump. It’s also reasonable exposition to remind viewers of the current state of things.

Hmm, are those guys possibly Echo’s crew? Ah, no, alas. They’re from Neuropolis. And haha, the term “Death Star” survived.

Wow, that guy is a disgusting pig. That shot could have been cut better, because Ambrose is clearly about to open his mouth and continue speaking, and he looks like he should’ve gotten more out of his mouth before Harding says “Watch it.” Also, it figures that the higher-ups would be trading in bodies and just using and disposing them, which is just terrible. I mean, you know he’s not going to keep his word on the elliptical.

I think that shot of Eliza Dushku getting ready to throw that punch from the POV of the guy she’s about to punch is such a great one ^_^

That kid is so definitely Sierra and Victor’s. Hmm, except they split up, in that flashback from “Epitaph One.” Well, we’ll see. And, “awww, there goes Joss and his strawberries, just like with Kaylee in Firefly, again.”

I’m not sure I think that’s the correct delivery of the line “Aren’t you?” from mini-Echo. She puts the emphasis on “you,” but I feel like the emphasis should be on the “aren’t.” Anyway.

Oh look, Firefly similarities again: “You will keep a civil tongue in {this house,that mouth},” or something like that. But the little-teapot-short-and-stout thing? So cute. <3 Topher.

“World still needs heroes, kid.” That sounds so much like something I’d hear from Firefly. The tone, at least. And I think it’s wonderful how everyone just bursts out laughing, like they really are family, like they really are who their characters are, the way that the Firefly cast was so comfortable around each other, the way that sometimes a scene would just cut to the laughing Buffy cast in the middle of an episode.

“She loves it when you’re corny.” *giggles* That’s so adorable. And true; that is, corny/dorky can be very cute.

So here’s what I don’t get: why do they all storm outside, without cover, when the thing that’s rolling into their yard is so heavily armored? Hmm, what an interesting language. And what interesting tech.

“Tech heads,” eh? Definitely believable from the episode when Victor went all hive-mind on them, and also because he took the extra fighting skills that Topher offered him in the last episode. And awww, Mag likes Kilo! Speaking of which: I’m glad Maurissa’s back. She’s all cute and tough, which is adorable. I don’t know how I feel about this scene with Kilo and Zone, though. He makes a snide comment about how apparently everyone likes girls, referencing his recent realization that Mag does, and there’s this exchange about the thumb drives. Sure, it explains how the tech heads work, but…the humor just doesn’t quite catch me, here, about taking out “mercy” to make room for the “weapons expert.”

It’s evident, though, that Tony loves Priya, despite that he decided to be a tech head against her wishes. Makes you wish you could help her to see, to understand, that.

What an interesting conversation between Paul and Echo, showing how their relationship has developed over the past ten years. I am somewhat amused at the line about how Echo’s got a bunch of people in her head but she’s the loneliest person Paul knows, because it reminds me of the conversation between Buffy and Faith, about how Faith thinks that Buffy is the one surrounded by family and friends, when really, she’s all alone because she’s the Slayer.

Faith: So, here’s the laugh riot. My whole life, I’ve been a loner.
Buffy: That’s the funny part? Did I miss something?
Faith: I’m trying to–
Buffy: Sorry. Sorry, go.
Faith: No ties. No buddies. No relationships that lasted longer than…well, Robin lasted pretty long. Boy’s got stamina.
Buffy: Principal Wood? And you? And in my…
Faith: Don’t tell me you two got wriggly?
Buffy: No, no, no no. We’re just…good friends. Or, mortal enemies, depending on which day of the– was that the funny part?
Faith: Okay, the point: me, by myself all the time. And looking at you, everything you have, and, I don’t know, jealous. Then there I am. Everybody’s looking to me, trusting me to lead them, and I’ve never felt so alone in my entire life.
Buffy: Yeah.
Faith: And that’s you, every day, isn’t it.
Buffy: I love my friends. I’m very grateful for them. But that’s the price. Being a Slayer.
Faith: There’s only supposed to be one. Maybe that’s why you and I can never get along. We’re not supposed to exist together.
Buffy: Also you went evil and were killing people.
Faith: Good point. Also a factor.
Buffy: But you’re right. I mean, I…I guess everyone’s alone. But, being a Slayer. There’s a burden we can’t share.
Faith: And no one else can feel it. Thank God we’re hot chicks with super powers.
Buffy: Takes the edge off.
Faith: Comforting.
Buffy: Mm-hmm.

(Last part is just there for the laughs. Yay Joss ^_^)

Oh, evolution at work, eh? Super-butchers! And that icky cannibalism thing again.

Ohh…Mag. Ohhhh…Paul. Crap. Also, that gunshot…didn’t it exit through his forehead? Aren’t exit wounds normally largish? Anyway, the way Echo tells Victor, “That’s all of us,” it is so much like the ending of Serenity, when Zoe tells the others that Wash isn’t coming. >_<

The way Alpha looks at Echo, off-screen, after she says “we lost him,” you can tell that he still wants her. I was thinking, “Damnit Alpha, he just died.”

Oh boy, rebels. But their logic makes sense. They’ve adapted to thrive in this new world, so of course they “like” it in their own twisted way, since they’re the ones who’re going to come out on top, eventually. Kilo calling Echo “sister” is so interesting — the dolls still recognize each other as some form of equals. And oh, Topher, he looks like a little chipmunk or groundhog or something, perched up like that.

Hehe, Alpha is always so verbose and hilarious. “Because we’re not freakshows. Well, okay, maybe I am. And, Echo. Topher’s a little off, but, Adelle: she’s a class act all the way.” And he can always tell when he’s about to lose his audience, and gets straight back to the point. Very good.

It’s interesting, what Victor says: “I know how good it feels. Skip learning the hard way. Skip the long hours, the sweat, the training. Just to feel the thrill of perfection. But if we’re going to rebuild the world, I wanna do it myself.” Let’s ask ourselves, then, if we had the choice of being able to acquire a skill without having to work for it, would we want it? Would we actually want it? Does achieving some level of perfection at a skill only bring that sense of satisfaction, of accomplishment, if you have to work for it, if you know that you struggled to get there?

Aww, Kilo’s line: “Oh God, she’s so cool.” So adorable. Maurissa is totally awesome in my book. She’s a groupie, just like she was in Dr. Horrible!

And Topher, again: so adorable, in his almost-childlike state. He’s so free, and bounces around, and is just…so innocent. Alpha, also, offers his personalized funny: “Eh, it spoke to the schizophrenic in me. Well, both of them, actually.”

This scene is wonderfully done. It’s wonderfully set up, because they forced us to ignore his death earlier, or, at least, didn’t give us enough time to process it. And the dialogue segues nicely, so long as you’re not metagaming. What she says is so true, for both her and Sierra, until she gets to the point where she says that he’s dead. And this is where Priya’s chance to rebuild her family also really hits: she’s got to see it, now. She’s got to take advantage of it. The monologue is wonderfully done because it sets you up, emotionally, to start thinking, “that’s right, stop moping and take advantage of the time you have left,” and then it hits you that there is no time left, because we’re not talking about Priya and Victor anymore, and instead we’re talking about Echo and Paul. There are a few parts where I dislike the delivery of the lines, because her intonation is slightly different from what I feel like it ought to be, but on the whole, the scene is still nicely designed and executed.

Topher’s feelings for Bennett, Adelle and Topher’s relationship…it’s all evolved the way one might expect, over the time that has elapsed since we last saw them. And when Adelle realizes that Topher’s not coming back, and Topher says that he didn’t want to cause any more pain…you kind of realize that Topher has realized just what he’s done with his tech, and he wants it to be buried with him.

Mm, good for Priya, that she’s come to understand Tony’s motivations, and that they can all be together again. They’ll make things work, I know they will. It’s like Echo said: they erased Tony’s brain time and time again, and he still loved her. It occurs to me, then: is this a commentary that there are certain connections between people that just can’t be explained, that simply are, and that there are people, or maybe a single person, out there, who completes you the way that Priya and Tony so obviously complete each other and belong with each other?

Mag and Zone have a hilarious relationship. “And you, stumpy, aren’t going anywhere. Except maybe down…” (referring, of course, to Mag’s liking Kilo). And then she rebuts, “Try not to have any influence on her of any kind.” Huh, a landscape architect? People really do change and adapt in unpredictable and amazing ways in the face of adversity, don’t they.

Hmm, Alpha’s planning to revert? Is he really going to be wiped back as cleanly as everyone else is, back to the killer that he was (after all, the Dollhouse recruited him from a prison), or will he retain some of his Alpha personality, and have evolved? That would be an interesting story to watch unfold, or speculate on.

Here’s a terrifying thought: what if they timed their emergence into the world too early, so that the butchers slaughtered them before Topher could set up and set off the explosive? Anyway, that shockwave from the building reminds me of the watchers being slaughtered.

I wish Zone had smiled a little more. It felt a little insincere, the way he said it. A little…cynical? As if Boyd were saying it, but he had some hidden agenda, or didn’t mean it, or something. Maybe even sinister, in the case of Boyd.

And now, we finally get to see what’s underneath all of the memories in Echo’s head, behind the scenes that pop out of the screen and leave behind… Echo and Paul. So here’s my question: what version of Paul did Echo get, exactly? Did she get the Paul that loved her before Alpha damaged his brain so that Topher had to rewire him without the fond memories of Echo? If so, was he told that ten years had passed, the way the Victor was apparently expecting to awaken with extra fighting skills in the last episode? Or maybe she got some version of Paul that had evolved inside Alpha over the last ten years, and the favor he’d wanted was from Topher, to help him dump that Paul onto a drive for Echo?

Lastly, this is kind of silly, but watching Echo take a jump-step into her pod, I am vaguely reminded of when Felicia Day “stepped” off the stage in Dr. Horrible, but in reality, it was a six-foot drop or something.

All in all, a reasonable wrap-up to the show, I think. Rather hurried, sure (I’d have liked to see them spend more time on Boyd’s history instead of just blowing him up last episode, and I’d have liked to see more a lot of the other development as well, although that’s more easily extrapolated), but on the whole, it really did wrap things up nicely, and gave some amount of closure to many of the story lines that I think a lot of fans were hoping for.

Dollhouse S2E12: The Hollow Men

Mistah Kurtz- he dead.

The Hollow Men

A penny for the Old Guy

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us – if at all – not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.
Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer -
Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.
Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms
In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long
Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

All right, so for those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, this post is about the latest (and penultimate) episode of Dollhouse, so: SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. (There are also other Buffyverse spoilers, obviously.)

I watched the episode for the first time with Ian on Sunday night (Monday early morning, I guess), and I couldn’t help but notice similarities to what has happened in Joss Whedon’s other works (as well as other random things), so I thought I’d note them and also ask if other people saw other references or were reminded of other things. Here goes then:

“Caroline, you are definitely interesting. At least on a microscopic level.” This line reminds me of Dark Angel, when they try to pull some bullcrap about how Max’s DNA is special because “there is no junk DNA.” Uh, what? What the heck is considered “junk DNA”? What about telomeres? We don’t even understand the regulatory role that many segments of what was once thought to be “junk DNA” — it’s possible that none of us have any “junk DNA” (which, for this argument, I’m interpreting as “superfluous DNA that does not affect the phenotype”) for all we know. But going back to Dollhouse: I was thinking, there’s not going to be something just amazingly special about Caroline, is there? That would be … special. A stupid plot device. You get the idea.

(I’m sorry, but I need to take a moment to comment that Adelle looks totally badass with that automatic rifle.)

“But if I turn evil, shoot me.” Angelus, anyone? When they remove his soul, he tells them that Connor (if I remember correctly? It’s possible that he says this to multiple people) is in charge of killing him if he gets loose and/or something else goes wrong. And Cordy tells Angel something similar during one of their training sessions as well. I think the dialogue is along the lines of, “So what do I do after [disabling move]?” “Oh, you don’t need to know that. That move will hold the attacker long enough for me to get to you and save you.” “What if you’re the one I’m fighting?”

“What did you do with her?” “I guess I just sort of evicted her.” TOTAL SPOILER FOR ANGEL. This is just like what happened to Fred; Illyria pushed her out of her body.

(I have to take another moment here and say that Ripley (of the Alien series) is awesome. Also, I have a question: did Topher really take the time to reprogram Anthony’s personality with both new fighting skills and new memories so that he knew that he was supposed to come out the other end enhanced with those fighting skills?)

“You’re here ’cause you’re my family. I love you guys.” Barney, I think. “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family….” Yeah, um…this was totally cheesy and Boyd’s line felt so fake.

“Look at you, Topher. Risking your life for the cause, choosing morality over self-preservation.” This vaguely reminds me of Anya, because she ran away at the end of season three, but stayed for the apocalypse at the end of season five, as well as season seven.

(Taking another moment: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. It makes no sense that Mellie is able to override her sleeper protocol.)

“The entire process is designed to extract your spinal fluid without killing you.” That extraction device is definitely similar in design to the device that was used to extract blood from humans in the alternate reality that was in “The Wish” (and “Doppelgangland”).

(Last aside, maybe: Why the heck is there more blood on Ballard’s face when he runs into Boyd than there was immediately after he got splattered with Mellie?)

Overall: This episode was less good than the last few, and I’m really not sure how I feel about the explosive ending (in that I don’t buy it, not that I’m not sure whether it was the “right” thing to do or anything). I am still excited to see what happens in the final episode; I’m hoping that it will connect some of the flashbacks from “Epitaph One” and show us what happens when Echo and Ballard return to the dollhouse to save everyone.

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