The Leftovers – “The Garveys At Their Best”

August 26, 2014

Season One, Episode Nine

the-leftovers-garveys-at-best

Grade: A

The Leftovers ended last week’s episode with a bomb, showing Jill walking through the doors of The Guilty Remnant and seeing Laurie’s expression. Leading up to this week’s episode, I was very excited to see where that was going to lead to and I was completely anticipating Kevin to go bat-shit crazy. But we don’t get that. Instead, we’re treated to a flashback episode that opened up brilliantly. Kevin’s jogging around town, sneaking a smoke from under a mailbox. He finally reaches home and walks into a beautiful, obviously expensive house. He has a conversation with a woman in the background deliberately blurred out. We know it’s not the Garvey house we’ve seen. It sort of looked like Nora’s house, since we know she does have a lot of money, but it’s not certain. Then as the woman comes into frame, we see it’s Laurie. We couldn’t have recognized her voice, but the reveal was great. And so I smiled and thought, it’s time for a flashback episode.

“The Garveys At Their Best” is such an interesting look at how things were just a few days before the Oct. 14 departure. Kevin Sr. is the police chief and he’s so respected that he’s won the Man of the Year award in town. But specifically focusing on Kevin Jr. and Laurie, their marriage is sure in a rut. It might not seem that way at first, but there is something off that’s not clear but is evident. That doesn’t stop them from loving their children. It was a delight to see Jill so close to her mom, and how Tommy was a huge part of the family. They looked like any normal family, doing things they don’t want, talking about adopting a puppy, driving to school, and saving their asses when one of them gets in trouble. They’re not perfect, but no family is. The Garveys are together and they’re your normal family.

After we’ve seen everyone smile a few times, we get into what this episode truly represents, which is how even before the disappearance everyone was still unhappy. Kevin and Laurie have obvious problems; Patti is seeking therapy from Laurie; Tommy is going through letting go his biological father; Nora is trying to get a job while dealing with her annoying children; and Kevin is all kinds of messed up. So what’s the point? Is the show saying that we’d rather be miserable with the ones we’re supposed to love, rather than be miserable alone? Is the worldwide event supposed to unite everyone? Or is it saying that before and after, you’re the same person. Whether you were the type of person to hide from the pain and suppress the feelings or the type that tackled it head on and did something about it, you’re the same.

And then there’s the deer, which holds more importance than simply a loose deer causing havoc around town. The chief wants to put it down but Kevin wants to save it. We’ve already had close-ups with deer from the show through Kevin. A deer tore through the Garvey kitchen and a pack of dogs attacked and killed a deer. So what’s the situation here? What does the deer represent? I think it represents the part inside him that’s afraid to break free from everything he knows. It’s the part that his dad talked to him about, his greater purpose and allowing the voices to dictate what he’s supposed to do. The deer keeps getting trapped inside of places, and while everyone else wants to shoot it dead, Kevin wants to save it and set it free. Will he stop trying to keep his inner demons hidden and soon let them free?

In a way, this was just as a depressing episode as any in The Leftovers. Seeing the way of life that every character misses: Nora with her family, Kevin with Laurie, Jill with her parents and Tommy, etc. And yet, all of these things that our characters miss, they all weren’t that great. And in those moments leading up to when 2% disappears, Kevin drives an out-of-towner to her hotel after she’s traumatized from killing the deer with her car. “Are you a good guy?” Kevin hesitates but answers, “No.” He knows it. So while he should’ve been by Laurie’s side at the doctor’s, she didn’t trust him enough to tell him the fact that she’s pregnant (though it seems like it might not have been Kevin’s).

Then we get to see the moment everyone disappears. We’ve already seen Reverend Jamison with his wife, and the woman who’s baby goes missing. But we finally see Kevin with the out-of-towner when she disappears. Jill and Tommy holding hands in a circle when a student vanishes, breaking their electrical charge. And the most shocking, the baby inside Laurie disappears (and likely without Kevin ever knowing about the child). It’s a powerful moment on The Leftovers. Needless to say, if this happened to us our lives would completely be turned upside-down too.

With one episode left to the first season, I’m excited to see what The Leftovers will leave us hanging with. Does Jill want to be a part of the GR or does she just want to speak with her mom? What is Kevin going to do now that Patti is dead? How will the community react when the GR pulls their latest stunt with the help from The Loved Ones? What is the next step for Tommy, Christine, and Wayne? Unfortunately, we have to wait two weeks.

Last but not least:

- “Sometimes you just have to pretend.”
- Patti sensed that something big was about to happen, but when she asks if Laurie feels it inside of her, she says that she feels nothing.
- Kevin pulls off a balloon saying “It’s a Girl!” from the deer. If he only knew.


Fargo – “Morton’s Fork”

August 20, 2014

Season One, Episode Ten

fargo-mortons-fork

Grade: A-

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“Lester, is this what you want?”

That question haunted Lester for the final days leading up to his inevitable death. But let’s back up and discuss the events that unfolded during the finale of Fargo. It’s always tough for TV shows to deliver a great finale. Is “Morton’s Fork” a great finale? Probably not, but it’s satisfying and that’s never a bad thing.

Going into the finale, we had two main characters that really dug themselves into a lot of trouble. The downfall for both Malvo and Lester was that they believed they were better than everyone else, and eventually they paid for it. Malvo, the skilled killer that he is, never imagined he would be caught. He’s so good at what he does and always deals with people he knows he can handle, that even though he’s prepared he allowed his enjoyment for killing to get in the way. I’m not completely buying that Malvo would’ve just walked away after shooting Lester’s wife in the back of the head. But I can believe that he was playing a game with Lester, allowing him to scamper away just to even the playing field a little bit for one more day. Maybe Malvo was even tipping his cap to Lester, “Good one buddy. You tricked me this time.”

One question that bugged me was why did Lester bring this all to himself? Why didn’t he just let Malvo be in Las Vegas? It’s because just like Malvo, Lester thought of himself as smarter and better than everyone else around him. It’s quite the transformation from the Lester we saw in the beginning of the season, but that scared, push-over of a man was gone. This was now the man who killed his wife, framed his brother for it, got his high school bully murdered, banged his wife, and got away with all of it. No wonder he was tripping on a high, especially after receiving the salesman of the year award. And the great thing about Lester’s story was that again and again, he was able to go toe-to-toe with Malvo and outsmart him. All the way to the very end, by setting the bear trap and breaking Malvo’s leg, Lester won. He survived the evil that Malvo represented, but the one thing he never understood was that he, himself, was another kind of evil.

If there is anything that Fargo is trying to tell us, it’s that being a good human being does pay off. Just like the movie, the good guys triumph. Here, with the stakes high and the suspense turned all the way up, it’s Gus who puts an end to Malvo. The mailman and the guy who questioned his very duty as an officer when he let Malvo go that one night, yes that good ol’ Gus. He’s the one who spotted the red convertible and he’s the one who made the choice to make things right. This also leads to the scene where Molly finally gets her relief with proof that she’s been right all along. Her reaction when she listens to the phone call between Malvo and Lester is perfect.

Of course, this leads to Lester being trapped and quite literally, he finally falls through the thin ice he was standing on. The final shot of the season shows us Gus, Molly, and Greta sitting on the couch watching Deal or No Deal. Gus is given the credit for capturing and killing Malvo, but he knows that all the credit should go to Molly. In the end, the good guys win and this great family is safe.

Last but not least:

- One scene that I loved was when Greta joined Lou on the front porch with her BB gun. 

- Something that Fargo did very well was pointing out to us who the truly good characters were, while the bad characters were muddled. I wanted to like Lester, and I did in the beginning, but he transformed into a monster. And while it was obvious Malvo was a villain, it was hard to root against him in the beginning because he did everything with so much confidence and charisma, I didn’t think he would ever be caught. And who wants to root for the losing team?

- Budge and Pepper end up getting killed by Malvo. They weren’t the best of FBI agents, but they did provide us with a few memorable scenes.

- Bob Odenkirk telling Molly he’s stepping down and making her deputy was beautiful. I couldn’t help but think of No Country for Old Men and how he just couldn’t handle all the crazy in the world anymore. He just isn’t cut out for it. I hope Molly at least keeps him in charge for obtaining additional snowplows when needed.


My 1,000th Post!

August 19, 2014

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Well it looks like I’ve made it to 1,000 posts! Honestly, that never crossed my mind when I first started this blog in 2007. All I wanted to do was jot down some ideas and opinions about movies and TV shows so I could look back somewhere down the line and relive them. I never thought it would become so much fun to the point I considered it a serious hobby of mine. And now here I am at one thousand posts. It’s an accomplishment I’m proud of and one that made me look back at all of my previous ramblings through the years. Here are a handful of my favorite pieces:

First Review: Veronica Mars Season 1 on November 14, 2007 (http://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2007/11/14/veronica-mars/)

veronica-mars01It all started with my first review, which wound up being Veronica Mars Season One. I remember hearing about this show when I was in college, but looking back now the only shows I watched during my college years were The Office and Arrested Development. After I graduated, I had a lot more free time on my hands and I recall thumbing through an Entertainment Weekly and the full-page ad for Veronica Mars struck my eye. I still had no idea what this show was about and because of the title, assumed it had to do with aliens of some sort, but something intrigued me enough to rent the first season and give it a go. And I never looked back. Though the first few episodes were a struggle, I’m glad I stayed with it because to this day Veronica Mars remains as one of my favorite shows ever.

Horror Movies Suck on October 29, 2008 (http://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/horror-movies-suck/)

horror-screamI love movies, but I’ve never been a fan of the horror genre. So around Halloween of 2008, I decided to express my opinions in a post I titled, “Horror Movies Suck.” I can’t say that this was one of my more-appreciated posts, but nonetheless it was a post I wrote with passion. While I still watch a horror movie here and there, I’m still not that impressed most of the time.

First Oscar Predictions Post on February 21, 2009 (http://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2009/02/21/my-big-oscar-post/)

oscar-statuesFor anyone who knows me or has read my blog, you know that I love the Oscars. While they don’t always recognize the best films every year, it’s without a doubt a celebration of film and the great work the men and women in front of and behind the camera do. The 81st annual Academy Awards was the first Oscars that I wrote about in the blog, and every year I have tried my best to do a better job.

The Top 6 Bands I Saw at Bamboozle 2010 on May 6, 2010 (https://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/top-6-bands-at-bamboozle-2010/)

bamboozle-girltalkAside from movies and TV shows, I love music and love going to concerts. Here is one of my favorite pieces I wrote, about my experience at Bamboozle in 2010.

Inception Explained on July 22, 2010 (https://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/inception-explained/)

inception02If you were anything like me, which was obsessed with Inception in 2010, then you most likely tried to decipher the many twists and turns of the complicated film. Well, I put all my thoughts into a post and it has become my most-read post.

My Top Ten Concerts of 2010 on June 22, 2010 (http://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/my-favorite-concerts-of-2010-part-2-10-1/)

bamboozle-gaslightIn 2010, I attended 30 concerts (19 of them in the last four months of the year), so I decided to list my favorites in a post. Even though I love every concert that I go to, these top ten most definitely will stay with me for a long time.

Blue Valentine and Match Point Made Me Lose My Faith on August 4, 2011 (http://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/blue-valentine-and-match-point-made-me-lose-my-faith/)

bluevalentine4You know when there’s a film that just stays with you long after the credits roll? Two films that did that for me were Match Point and Blue Valentine, and so I combined my thoughts into one lengthy post. This is definitely one of my favorite posts I’ve written.

High School Movies of 2012 on April 19, 2012 (http://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/high-school-movies-of-2012/)

21-jump-streetThere are always a bunch of high school movies every year, but in 2012 there were a particular handful that I enjoyed and wanted to compare. These included 21 Jump Street, Chronicle, Project X, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

The Finale for HIMYM on March 31, 2014 (http://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/how-i-met-your-mother-last-forever/)

himym-last-foreverOne of my favorite shows that I actually watched right from the pilot through to the finale ended this past year. How I Met Your Mother was a rare sitcom that balanced jokes and quirks with lovable characters and heart-felt story-lines. I must say that this show will surely be missed. And while not everyone shared my glowing reaction to the series finale, I think I have a very good case at my reasons why I loved it.

The Ultimate ’90s Kids Movies Bracket on April 7, 2014 (http://entertainmentblur.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/90s-kids-movies-bracket/)

90s-kids-movies-blogArguably the most tedious series of posts I’ve ever completed was the ’90s Kids Movies Bracket. What started out as a podcast idea among close friends, I decided it would be best to showcase our results in a series of posts. We started with 64 films and we narrowed it down to one ultimate winner.

So that’s 1,000 posts down and many, many more to come! For those who have been with me since the beginning, I thank you for reading my blog and commenting. For those who might have stumbled upon The Entertainment Blur, I hope somewhere within my 1,000 posts I have at least kept your attention for a few minutes. I will continue to strive for writing better posts and hope you all continue to take the ride with me. Once again, thank you!


The Leftovers – “Cairo”

August 18, 2014

Season One, Episode Eight

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Grade: B

After a few weeks without any major plot points regarding the Guilty Remnant, we get the biggest blow yet to the local cult in “Cairo.” Remember Kevin’s problem of blacking out? If you thought the dog bite was bad, he takes it to another level last night. Apparently after lying down in bed, he gets up, drives to the bar, talks with Dean, and while driving him home he spots Patti giving him one of her infamous “fuck you” looks, and then he just snaps. He jumps out of the car, attacks her, throws her in the truck and ties her up in a cabin he used to sneak off to when young. But he doesn’t remember any of it.

When he does snap back to reality, he’s appalled by what has taken place. At the same time, Dean is confused at the complete change of heart shown by Kevin and wants the “other guy” to come back to finish what they started, but Kevin is set on letting her free. That is until she claims she’s going to report him to the authorities and soon after he’ll lose his job as Chief of Police and likely will lose custody of his daughter. To Dean, there’s a very easy solution to all of this, but there is more conflict inside of Kevin’s head. This is the moment when he has to decide what kind of man he is.

This is as much as Jill’s episode as it is Kevin’s. Jill, the rebellious teenager that she is, certainly has it tough. Her mom has left her for the GR and her dad never has any time for her, being the Chief and all. So it’s no wonder she’s a damaged girl floating around town without much care to what happens to her. As proof with last week’s episode, she wanted to get into that fridge, not just to beat the record but with the slight possibility that she’ll disappear (or die). Just like Nora being shot in the chest with a bullet-proof vest on, Jill is hanging onto life by a thread. She wants to feel the moments leading up to her death, but when it becomes a reality she clings onto the last bit of life she can.

That’s why the relationship between Jill and Nora is so interesting. Nora has dinner with the Garveys and Aimee and naturally, Jill isn’t thrilled about her dad having his girlfriend over. Jill questions Nora about having a gun, and even looks inside of her purse with Nora’s permission. There’s no gun, but Jill’s not convinced. She winds up breaking into Nora’s house and discovering that her handgun was inside of a board game box in her daughter’s room. This causes Jill to break down and cry. At first, I wasn’t sure why she was so upset, but I think it’s because of how she can relate to Nora out of anyone else in her life. Nora lost her entire family to the events on Oct. 14; Jill has also lost her entire family even though none actually disappeared. Seeing Nora doing so well, and her father genuinely happy when he’s with her, was like an alarm going off in Jill’s head. Maybe it is possible to get past all the pain. Maybe it is possible to feel better from a never-ending hurt.

Except Nora still has the gun. Even though she doesn’t carry it with her, she still has it in the house, and that’s proof that she’s not entirely over her pain. And this causes Jill to cry because the one person who she thought finally had everything figured out ends up being a fraud in her mind. No matter how much Nora smiles and no matter how nice she seems, on the inside she’s still clinging onto the fact that her family is gone. It’s important to mention how Jill also fought with Aimee in the episode, because Aimee (unlike Jill) seems to be ignoring the great disappearance. But that’s who she is. She drifts wherever she wants to go; wherever she feels welcome. It’s just that Jill had enough of her bullshit. When you’re that depressed and going through so much, you can only relate to other people in similar situations. So Jill can’t put on a fake smile like Nora, she can’t pretend nothing is wrong like Aimee, and she isn’t as preoccupied as her dad. No wonder she entered the GR at the end of the episode.

This was definitely shocking, though not entirely surprising. Jill has no where else to go and thanks to Patti’s talk with Kevin, we get more of an understanding about the GR and what they represent. Do I completely understand? Like Kevin, I don’t. But they don’t want to keep living without constantly thinking about the great disappearance. They don’t want to pretend like they’re okay. They don’t want to move on from the incident. They want to live in its mystery, its fear, its desperate uncertainty. Could there be a more perfect place for Jill? I doubt it.

In the end, Kevin chooses to let Patti go and she’s surprised, but that doesn’t stop her from picking up a large piece of glass from the floor and stabbing herself in the neck. Poor Kevin. He does the right thing and admits he’ll turn himself in and face the consequences of the actions he doesn’t remember, and still he’s left with a bloody corpse in his arms. The more this happens, the closer he’ll get to believing his father. The big question is, what’s next? The Leftovers usually has a few weeks pass between episodes, but it seems like the Memorial Day plan for the GR is too big of an event to skip over. Which is good because I want to see how Laurie accepts Jill and what Kevin does immediately after Patti killing herself. And how will the community react from the GR’s stunt? I guarantee there will be violence.

Last but not least:

- More parallels between Kevin and his children: Jill takes a knife and cuts the dog loose while Kevin takes his knife to cut Patti loose.

- Patti confesses that Gladys’ death was planned, and how Laurie’s turn is coming soon. Since Patti has just killed herself, I guess Laurie’s the leader now? How long until she dies? Why would anyone want to be in the GR?!

- Meg throws a fit and attacks Reverend Jamison when he spreads more papers, this time targeting her mom (who died the day before the sudden departure). “Her grief was hijacked.” 

- Nothing from Tommy, Christine, and Wayne this week.

- With only two episodes left, I expect the penultimate episode of the season to be full of fireworks.


The Leftovers – “Guest”

August 4, 2014

Season One, Episode Six

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Grade: A

So far, The Leftovers has shown us two methods of telling its story. One, we see a day or so pass by while cutting in and out between different story-lines, characters, usually revolving around a central theme. Then we had the “Two Boats and a Helicopter” episode that focused on one character, which was Matt, giving great insight to his beliefs, flaws, and motivation. In last night’s episode, we get another episode centered around a single character, this time Nora Durst.

Nora has always been a favorite of mine. She’s an intriguing piece to the story since she’s the one person in Mapleton to have her entire family vanish on October 14. Her brother is the Reverend who still believes that everything happened for a reason. And although it seems like Nora has lost all hope, in reality she’s still clinging onto the thinnest strand of hope, but she hides it behind cynicism and sorrow.

That strand of hope is maybe that her family will return to her, or maybe she’ll be able to heal from the deep wounds the departed left inside of her. But everyday she copes with her loss and hides it through her routines (refilling the cabinets with children’s cereal, etc). And she also hires people to shoot her in the chest, which by the way was the best opening sequence of The Leftovers thus far. Nora is as broken as they come, but in “Guest” we finally get a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

What is possibly the most interesting thing about “Guest” is how things are changing. We’ve been bogged down by the bleak nature of Mapleton and its characters still grieving from the events of October 14, and honestly who can blame them? But by focusing in on arguably the most pained character and seeing her transform herself shows us that the thread of hope is worth fighting for.

Most of the episodes takes place at the hotel during the Departure conference. When Nora signs in, someone has already signed in as her and she is given a guest pass. At first, I didn’t think Nora would care as much especially since before she asked Kevin to travel to Miami with her so she can skip the conference, but it becomes clear this conference is more important to her than she wants to admit. This becomes a blessing in disguise when she meets Marcus, who invites her to live instead of suffering through the pain like everyone else at the conference. She accepts and for the first time in a long time she’s able to strip herself from Nora Durst, the woman who had her entire family taken away. She was “Guest” and she loved it. She was finally living.

This was the point when Nora realized she was capable of becoming someone more than just the sulking, lifeless form that she’s been the past two years. Towards the end of the conference she shares a conversation at the bar with Patrick, the author of “What’s Next” which tells the story of the people he lost. After a few minutes with the charming author, Nora calls him out on his bullshit, insisting he doesn’t know what real pain is. She winds up being correct, but it’s only clear when she follows the bald man to an apartment where none other than Holy Wayne awaits. What an incredible scene this ends up being. I’m still not convinced that Wayne actually has powers to take away the pain, but here Nora lets out her emotions and admits she doesn’t want to feel this way forever. She wants to get better and she wants to live again. And with Wayne’s magical hug, she’s a new woman.

Carrie Coon absolutely shines in this episode with a powerful performance who step-by-step, heals in front of our eyes. And it’s the brilliance of The Leftovers that was able to keep her character in the loop but hidden from our knowledge. Why does she carry a handgun? Why does she work for the U.S. Department of Sudden Departures? We get answers about Nora and they’re more than satisfying. After having her grief taken away, the very next person she interviews breaks her streak for question 121. “Do you believe the departed is in a better place?” She’s the only person who kept on getting “yes” answers, but now that she has moved on she received her first “no.” What does this mean? Well, she isn’t restocking her cabinets with food she doesn’t eat, she’s not stalking the pre-school teacher, and she now has a date with Kevin. I think it’s safe to say she’s moving on.

Last but not least:

  • I loved the beginning with The Loved Ones commercial.
  • What The Leftovers continues to do well is make us suspect one thing and then spinning it around in the complete opposite direction. Such as the woman Nora followed into the bathroom, what Marcus’ job was, the interaction between Nora and Patrick, and then giving $1,000 to the bald man before meeting Wayne.
  • $3,000 to shoot Nora in the chest? That’s fine, but blasting Slayer during the process would put me over the top.
  • Was anyone else slightly turned on when Nora was kissing the corpse? No? Just me? Okay moving on…
  • Her brother is still apologizing to her, as we heard at the end of the episode on her voicemail. She might have moved on, but it was still wrong of Matt to tell her about her husband’s affair and she might need more than a hug from Wayne to forgive him.

The Strain – “Gone Smooth”

July 29, 2014

Season One, Episode Three

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Grade: B-

I haven’t completely gotten used to The Strain yet. The characters are still one-dimensional with very poorly written dialogue. There are cliches left and right. The pace of the show is being stretch so thin that it’s really not worth 100 percent of my attention. But I must admit that the third episode is the best of the series thus far, so I guess that’s a good thing.

There is a balance that The Strain is trying to keep level between its mythology, its characters, the mystery involved with the vampires and keeping it in the horror genre. That being said, the sequence towards the end of “Gone Smooth” with Eph taking down a patient-turned-vampire was very thrilling. Though I found it strange that Eph, Nora, and Jim seems more freaked out that they killed the patient rather that it turned into a vampire who was trying to kill them. But that’s just something I have to get used to in the world of The Strain. Character actions and reactions aren’t normal.

At least Eph is finally beginning to understand there is some sort of dark magic going on with the plane incident. And Nora was able to track down Setrakian, but isn’t completely sold at what he’s telling her about the infected. Maybe after being attacked by one she’ll follow Setrakian instead of Eph. This makes Nora a much better character than Eph already, especially since we don’t have to struggle through any type of family drama that she might have (but definitely won’t because this is obviously a male-centered world. Have you ever seen a sexier biochemist than Nora?). While this isn’t great news for the show, since Eph is supposed to be carrying the show like most main characters do, I’m at least invested in Nora and Setrakian, which is two more characters than I was invested in after the pilot.

I’m wondering why Setrakian isn’t telling Nora more of what he knows. He says that she isn’t ready, but she did track him down to learn more information so she’s obviously intrigued and somewhat believes he’s a credible source. He says they should’ve burned and destroyed the bodies, but doesn’t say why. Maybe he’s just old, but no one is going to follow instructions from a man carrying around a blade in his cane without good reason. Come on Setrakian, get with it!

As for the plane’s survivors, we see Ansel who has a bunch of reporters outside of his house looking for an interview. He’s going through the transformation and even drinks the excess blood from the steak lying in the fridge. Wouldn’t that be some kind of sign that there’s something seriously wrong with Ansel? Yes, his wife was scared but come on now, he even looks like a vampire! If those red eyes, pale skin, and sharpened teeth didn’t convince her enough yet, then drinking blood like it’s juice sure should! Meanwhile, Gabriel is still living like a rock star even though his hair is falling out and his penis falls off. Yes, the title of “Gone Smooth” hits it right on the nose here. But Gabriel barely gives it any thought. He better be completely turned by now because if he isn’t, then where was his WTF?! reaction to his dick falling off?

I get that The Strain isn’t trying to present itself as a highly intelligent, horror-thriller like I expected. It’s a campy and fun vampire tale bringing back the screams instead of the sex like in Twilight. But there has to be a line drawn that improves on the amount of cheesiness throughout every episode. And please, just minimize the stupid moments as much as possible and The Strain will become more than just bearable. This includes eliminating the family drama with Eph’s family entirely. If only.


Fargo – “Buridan’s Ass”

July 29, 2014

Season One, Episode Six

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Grade: A

As I’m still catching up with episodes of Fargo, I’m doing my best to space them out as much as I can. I’ve never been the type to binge-watch television shows, and for the good ones I never want to. I need to be able to digest every episode and take the time to think about what’s exactly being said and done. With “Buridan’s Ass” I wish I watched this live because I definitely need a whole week to recover from such a great episode.

Up until this point, Malvo has been a great character that you didn’t mind rooting for even though you understand he’s bad. He’s a murderer and he’s darn good at it and rarely walks away from a sticky situation. He continues the blackmail scheme with Chumph and gets Stavros ready to deliver the $1 million. This is the episode when he turns from bad to evil. In a very calculated plan, Malvo stages a shooting from a house where he has taped Chumph up right by the door holding a shotgun. At first I was confused along with Chumph as to what exactly Malvo was staging, but slowly as it all became clear I simply shook my head in disbelief.

In addition to that, I tip my hat to Fargo for being able to turn a goofy character that I knew was going to die and really didn’t care about, to feeling terrible for the way Chumph went out. Those final moments when the police were breaking down the front door and seeing Chumph breaking the tape over his mouth were excruciating. The inevitable did happen and Chumph was shot dozens of times. It was a cruel trick that Malvo played on everyone and at the end of the scene I hung my head. Up until now, I didn’t mind Malvo’s vicious games but now I only want him to be caught.

Which brings us to our heroes, Gus and Molly. The two finally get together despite a nasty blizzard coming into town to share notes and ideas about Malvo. After Malvo is in the clear from the shootout that results in Chumph’s death, Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench track him down and engage in their own shootout in the middle of the blizzard. In case you’ve never experienced a snowstorm like this, the snow is so thick that you can’t see ten feet in front of you. After Malvo disposes of Mr. Numbers (through trickery yet again!), Molly and Gus appear at the scene. Molly trudges on after Malvo and Gus is steps behind after confirming Mr. Numbers is dead. With his gun out, Gus is shaking with fear (along with it being freezing cold) but his adrenaline is running high at the opportunity to finally snag Malvo at the scene of a crime. The moment he’s able to make out a body, he shoots. As the viewer, you just know this is going to end horribly, but that didn’t stop me from crossing my fingers that it was Malvo. Unfortunately, the worst occured and it was Molly who Gus shot.

I know! I swear if Molly is dead I’m going to find Malvo myself! But that’s not all! Lester is able to sneak out of his guarded hospital room to frame his brother for the deaths of his wife and the police chief. Now Lester has been a pretty likeable character (like Malvo) up to this point. It’s easy to sympathize with him because he’s always being taken advantage of and no one ever gives him any credit. He’s passing through life without a fighting bone in his body. Well phase one was snapping at his wife, which resulted in her death. Yeah, he over-did it, but it was good to see him break out of his mold. And now he concocted a very thought-out plan by placing the hammer, gun, and photos of his wife in his brother’s gun cabinet. But that’s not it. He also places an empty handgun in his nephew’s book-bag. Right?! Evil!

The perfect moment in this scene is after Lester places everything in his brother’s gun cabinet. He sees a photo of the smiling family hanging on the wall and for those few seconds, we believe he’s had a change of heart and isn’t able to go through with such a conniving plan. But no, the brilliance of Fargo flips that upside down. He stares at the photo because he realizes an additional angle he can frame the family that involves the child. It’s despicable, but I can’t imagine a scenario that his plan doesn’t work out. Oh Lester, you have changed and it’s not for the good.

What I loved about this episode so much is that as the viewer, I felt like I knew what was going on up until this point. I thought I knew that Molly and Gus were the heroes and they wouldn’t be touched; Lester was a pushover who made a mistake but is still a good guy; Malvo has morals and only focuses on people who deserve to get hurt and so on. But the opposite happens. We now have two legitimate villains in Malvo and Lester. Molly’s future is unknown and I don’t know if I have much faith in Gus to get things done by himself. And what was that about with the raining fish?! What a cruel turn of events for Stavros, who stashes away the money where he found it in the snow-pile. He thinks he’s doing what the Lord wants from him, and he’s rewarded by a freak event that ends up killing his son and bodyguard. In the world of Fargo, nothing is going the way it should… and that’s what makes this show so damn good.


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