Monday, November 30, 2015

November 2015 End Of The Month Report!

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November kicked the blog back into high gear with the release of Jessica Jones on Netflix and we were the first ones to review each individual episode! Our hits were nicely up this month thanks a lot to reviews of the new episodes of Doctor Who, The Flash, Jessica Jones, some fall release movies and Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

This month, we picked up several new followers on Twitter, but no new subscribers! We are always trying to get people to become regular readers and subscribe, so if you enjoy what you're reading, please subscribe by clicking on the right side of the blog to get updates with each posting. As well, if you read a review that really affects you, be sure to "share" it! PLEASE share a link to the blog, not the content of the article; this keeps people coming to the site and, hopefully, liking what they find once they are here! We're slowly growing our readership, so sharing and subscribing to the blog is an important way you can help! If you’re subscribing, please tell your friends about the blog!

In November, the index pages were updated every few days. The primary Index Page, which we try to update daily, lets you know what the featured review is and has an up-to-the-day tally of how many reviews have been reviewed in each category! Check it out and feel free to use that as it is a much more useful and organized index to the reviews I've written!

If you enjoy the reviews, please consider clicking on the links in the reviews and purchasing items. We really appreciate all the purchases made through the blog as that keeps us going. As holiday shopping picks up, if you're going shopping online, please come through the blog to to it. Thank you so much!

At the end of November 2015, I have reviewed the following:
538 - Book Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Fiction
Star Trek Books
Nonfiction
Graphic Novels
Magazines
912 - Music (Album and Singles) Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Music Reviews By Rating (Best To Worst)
Music Reviews In Alphabetical Order
2881 - Movie and Television Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Movies By Rating (Best Movie to Worst)
Movies In Alphabetical Order
Best Picture Oscar Winner Film Reviews
Television Reviews
The Star Trek Review Index Page (All Star Trek Reviews In Order)!
The Star Trek Review Index Page (All Star Trek Reviews From The Best Of The Franchise To The Worst!)!
The Doctor Who Review Index Page (All Doctor Who Reviews In Order)!
The Doctor Who Review Index Page (All Doctor Who Reviews From The Best Of The Franchise To The Worst!)!
222 - Trading and Gaming Card Reviews
Gaming Cards Reviews
Star Trek Gaming Cards Reviews
Star Wars Gaming Cards Reviews
The Lord Of The Rings Trading Card Game Reviews
Other Gaming Cards Reviews
Trading Cards Reviews
837 - Toy and Christmas Ornament Reviews
with specialized pages for:
Ornament Reviews
Star Trek Toys
Star Wars Toys
Lord Of The Rings Toys
Buffy The Vampire Slayer/Angel Toys
Comic Book, Movie, Television Toys
Plush and Other Toys
906 - Food, Drink, And Restaurant Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Drinks
Candy
Cereal
Cheese and Meats
Ice Cream
Other Food
238 - Pet Product Reviews
Cat Product Reviews
Dog Product Reviews
Rabbit Product Reviews
114 - Travel Reviews
Destinations Reviews
Hotels Reviews
188 - Health And Beauty Product Reviews
192 - Home, Garden, Appliance and Tool Reviews
99 - Electronics, Computers, Computer Games and Software Reviews
50 - Other Product Reviews

The Featured Review For The Month of November is my review of "AKA WWJD?" - Jessica Jones!
Check it out!


The month of November had a little movement within the month and was dominated by some new television reviews! For November, the Top Ten Reviews of the month were:
10. "The Zygon Invasion" - Doctor Who
9. The Top Ten Episodes Of Frasier
8. "AKA Smile" - Jessica Jones
7. "Enter Zoom" - The Flash
6. "Chaose Theory" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
5. "Among Us Hide" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
4. "Many Heads, One Tale" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
3. "Heaven Sent" - Doctor Who
2. Bleeding Heart
1. Jessica Jones - Season 1

I pride myself on being an exceptionally fair reviewer, but one who is very discriminating. I believe that most reviewers are far too biased toward both what is current and toward unduly praising things. I tend to believe most things actually are average and they ought to follows something around a Bell Curve. Mine is a little lopsided, but not as lopsided as most reviewers I know (who would probably have peak numbers between ten and seven)!

For my reviews, the current count is:
10s - 318 reviews
9s - 468 reviews
8s - 905 reviews
7s - 1005 reviews
6s - 932 reviews
5s - 1196 reviews
4s - 880 reviews
3s - 687 reviews
2s - 325 reviews
1s - 218 reviews
0s - 102 reviews
No rating - 101 articles/postings

While there was a decent amount of movement this month, the all time Top Ten remains unchanged. At the end of November 2015, the most popular reviews/articles continue to be:
10. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
9. Safe Haven
8. Oz The Great And Powerful
7. The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bone
6. Warm Bodies
5. Iron Man 3
4. Now You See Me
3. Tyler Perry's Temptation
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
1. Man Of Steel

Thank you again, so much, for reading! Please share links to the blog with friends and spread the word!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Sunday, November 29, 2015

All One Expects For The Price (With Friendly People!): The Quality Inn & Suites Airport Indianapolis Lives Up!


The Good: Affordable, Decent room size, Friendly staff, Wi-Fi
The Bad: Breakfast options, Cleanliness options
The Basics: The Quality Inn & Suites Airport in Indianapolis, IN is an inexpensive hotel option for those looking for a place to crash near Indy!


Like many people, my life has been full of change the last few years. I moved away from New York State, which is honestly something I never thought I would do, I revitalized my own business and I have more animals in my life than I ever expected to be happy with. Amid changes of life, love, and death, I've searched for some sense of normalcy and that meant this year for Thanksgiving, I spent the holiday on the road. There's an annual fan-run Star Trek convention in Indianapolis I used to do and I was surprised by how normal it felt to return to doing that show this year. But, as all things change, this year the convention was in a new location, so I had to find a new place to stay for the show. That led me to the Quality Inn & Suites Airport in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Quality Inn & Suites in Indianapolis is part of a small complex of hotels situated on the southwest side of Indy and it was over twenty-five dollars less expensive per night than the hotel for the convention and the others in the area.

After my stay, I had some pretty good ideas why.

Location

The Quality Inn & Suites Airport Indianapolis (IN158 in the Choice Hotels numbering system) is located at 2631 S Lynhurst Drive in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is a short distance from I-70, a major north-south route through Indianapolis. The hotel is easiest to access from the Sam Jones Parkway Expressway, which connects right with 70 near the hotel. Mapquest gives perfectly accurate directions to the address and there were actually no issues with finding the hotel when I arrived.

This is not a tourist area and it is not a scenic area by any means. The hotel has no grounds, just a wraparound parking lot, and a front lot filled with Semi trailers. Easy to find, the hotel has four stories and is reminiscent of an apartment building design, as opposed to a motel design. Rooms are accessed through central hallways, not from the outside.

The Quality Inn & Suites Airport Indianapolis is a multistory drab gray concrete building, but it is brightly lit, allowing visitors to feel very safe immediately. I had a room with a single king bed, nonsmoking, and the room was instantly available to me with early check-in on Thanksgiving morning.

Room Size

The room I was rented was actually a decent size, especially for the price. The room was a nonsmoking room and had no hint anyone had ever smoked in it. The room had a great sense of space to it with the king-sized bed not at all dominating the approximately 11 X 24 ft. room.

The bathroom was fairly small with a shallow bathtub and the curtain style that provides the illusion of space by having a bar that curves outward. The main room had a corner nook desk, bed, table and drawers; the television was mounted into the wall. The room did not feel cramped, which was nice because the view out the lone window in the place was terrible and having the shades constantly drawn, the room felt like it was a good size and not at all claustrophobic.

Cleanliness

The fundamental detraction against the Quality Inn & Suites in Indianapolis was its lack of cleanliness. The public areas in the hotel are fairly dank, though the lobby was clean enough to not alarm me when I entered. The stairwell had a sticky run - like fluids that had dripped out of a garbage bag - the entire three days of my stay. The walls had stains in the hallways and stairwells and the white paint on the ceiling is discolored in several places, leaving me feeling a bit unclean.

As for the room, the room was nonsmoking and was all right. The room was not quite as dirty as the rest of the hotel felt, but some of the linens had noticeable stains on them. The bedding was clean, though!

Amenities

This Quality Inn & Suites had the feeling of a place one passes through, not where one stays for real enjoyment. As a result, along with my own hurry to be on the road, I did not spend time at the pool, which was adjacent to the lobby and not very inviting (who wants to swim and be watched by strangers?!) and I the breakfast nook portion of the lobby was a disappointment.

There was a safe in the room, but by prepaying, I avoided the the usual hassle of having the $1.50 taken off the bill. The room was equipped with the usual Quality Inn shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, soap and coffee. The television in the room was of decent size with about fifty channels worth of choices. The heating unit worked fine. The room had a kitchen area with a little refrigerator and tiny microwave, which might have been the lowest power microwave I've ever used. The wi-fi in the room was solid, but slow.

The breakfast was served in a dining area in the lobby. The breakfast was especially unimpressive, even for an inexpensive hotel. For sure, few hotels in the Choice Hotel system have sausage gravy and eggs. But the eggs were powdered, the gravy was cold and unflavored and the sausage was overcooked and cold. There was the usual coffee, tea and the only juice option was apple juice, though there was an orange juice. The orange fluid was clearly from a mix, much like a camp's bug juice. There were a couple of cereal options, danishes, bread for toast, yogurt, and a make your own waffle station. I could not find any milk for the cereal. There was also fresh fruit in the form of oranges and apples.

Overall

Staying at the Quality Inn & Suites Airport in Indianapolis was good for the staff. They were friendly, knowledgeable and recommended a wonderful pizza place. Beyond that, the room was affordable and I got what I paid for . . . but it was hardly the most inviting or enjoyable hotel I've ever been to!

For other hotels in the Choice Hotels chain, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North - Comstock Park, MI
Quality Inn Niagara Falls
Quality Inn Brockton - Brockton, MA

5.5/10

For other travel reviews, please visit my Travel Review Index Page!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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The Hard, Fast, Fall Of Modern Family - Season Six!


The Good: The performances are fine . . .
The Bad: Not terribly funny, Uninteresting character directions, Reworking of prior plots
The Basics: Modern Family falls into a rut in its sixth season and tries to get out with some creative episodes that nevertheless fail to garner laughs.


Last year when the Primetime Emmy Awards were announced, perhaps what was considered the biggest surprise of the night was that Veep defeated Modern Family for Outstanding Comedy Series. I have not watched Veep since its first season (reviewed here!), so I was fairly surprised that it would beat the usually stalwart Modern Family. Modern Family Season 6 was the season that was represented in the latest Emmys and after finally getting around to watching it, it is far less of a surprise that the season did not take home the night's big prize.

Modern Family is, objectively viewed, pretty terrible. To wit, after starting the season on DVD and watching three episodes, it took me another two weeks to force myself to watch the rest of the episodes. The season is problematic in that it is not very funny and the characters almost all seem to be in ruts. Comedy is based on surprise and in its sixth season, Modern Family seldom surprises. To wit, when Alex is competing with her high school nemesis for the valedictorian position, he tells he "likes" her and when she tells her parents, they immediately suspect it is a tactic from the boy's very demanding parents. At that point, my wife turned to me and said, "Of course they're wrong; they are always wrong." And she was right. The whole season was like that.

Following the wedding of Mitch and Cam, the Pritchetts and Dunphys settle into their normal routines. Alex prepares for college, which leads to a lot of mixed feelings from Claire and Phil. Jay and Gloria deal with their language divide and Gloria's citizenship and Mitch and Cam begin to worry that Lily is a mean girl.

The season relies much more on gimmicks in its sixth season, with episodes where the entire episode is assembled from skype chats from Claire to the rest of the family when she is stuck in an airport and comes to believe that Hayley has run off to Las Vegas and gotten married or where Phil is determined to be present for Alex's graduation, so he is embodied in the episode as a tablet computer affixed to a rolling tripod (? where the hell did the family get the money for that rig?!).

The season continues the deadpan documentary style for most of the episodes and that generally works. Unfortunately, the show starts to show some serious wear. The farce "Three Turkeys" feels very assembled (good farce feels energetic and surprising to the characters, instead of scripted like it actually is!) and "Strangers In The Night" is painfully predictable. The insult to injury of "Strangers In The Night" is that the Alex plot in it is essentially a repeat of the Frasier episode "Frasier's Imaginary Friend." Christopher Lloyd, who was an executive producer on Frasier at the time of "Frasier's Imaginary Friend" was still an executive producer on Modern Family when "Strangers In The Night" was made. It feels intellectually lazy.

The main characters in Modern Family Season 6 are:

Jay Pritchett - He works on potty training his son Joe, even though the toddler may not be ready for it and he quietly anoints Alex as his successor in looking out for the family in the future when he is gone. He tries to get one up on Gloria by bringing her to a dog show he knows she will hate so he won't have to get dragged to one of her family events. He pressures Phil into blowing off a car deal Phil made for Hayley's 21rst birthday gift and he bonds with Cam by subbing in at Cam's all-gay bowling team,

Gloria Delgado-Pritchett - At Jay's urging, she applies for U.S. citizenship and is dismayed when all of her studying proves to be irrelevant. She gets jealous of Manny's first girlfriend and comes around to the idea that Jay is not crazy when he tells her he thinks her sister is hitting on him. She becomes the object of interest for a peeping tom,

Manny Delgado - He pals around with Luke, but gets into plenty of trouble on his own. He gets his first girlfriend and proves predictably inept at football, which causes some problems in the family. With Jay's help, he confronts a bully, but in the process becomes one,

Mitchell Pritchett - He is dismayed when Cam shows up for one of his trials and Cam overshadows him for news coverage for an important case he wants to get publicity on. He is pressured into paying Jay back for the down payment he and Cam were given many years ago for their house, in the process squandering Cam's uncle's inheritance. He goes to work for a week with Claire and keeps the fact that he was laid off from the law firm from Cam long after the fact,

Cameron Tucker - His high school football team has an unprecedented winning streak . . . until he gets Mitch to come to a game and nearly ruins the streak. Always eager for attention, he upstages Mitch when Mitch starts pitching a story idea to a reporter while at a party. He takes Lily to clown school against Mitch's wishes and gets adult braces to upstage Alex at her high school graduation,

Lily Tucker-Pritchett - She gets mean for a while and turns out not to be gifted, which her fathers discover when a truly gifted child befriends her. She attends clown school and becomes vicious to Cam, much to Mitch's delight. She also goes through an especially stubborn phase,

Claire Dunphy - Tries so hard to become friends with Hayley on adult terms and have a romantic Valentine's day with Phil, though she has trouble accepting Hayley and becomes jealous of her own alter ego. She takes Phil's fun Halloween decorating and makes it into a house of horrors. She is particularly afraid when it seems Hayley as run off and gotten married without telling her,

Phil Dunphy - He becomes assertive after saving his whole family's lives when they narrowly miss a car accident. He becomes jealous of Luke when Luke suddenly becomes talented at everything he does and he takes Andy on as a protege. He and Claire get bothered by their new neighbors and he uses his father to get back at the obnoxious rednecks. He writes a song for Alex for her graduation and is forced to attend her graduation as a robot that people actually want to interact with more,

Hayley Dunphy - Her style blog takes off, largely because she doesn't know how to turn off her webcam. She gets a job with an influential fashion designer and tries to befriend Andy. When she actually meets Andy's fiance, Beth, she gets jealous and discovers she might have feelings for him,

Alex Dunphy - Has a predictably intense Senior year. She tours a number of colleges and is adverse to Cal Tech solely because of its proximity to her parents' house. She competes to be valedictorian and has multiple boyfriends for the first time in her life. As her graduation nears, she actually bonds with Hayley - getting drunk at a concert with her and having Senior Skip Say with her - and she figures out what direction she wants her life to take in the process,

and Luke Dunphy - He becomes jealous when Phil starts spending time with Andy and is horrified by Lily's interpretation of the sex talk. He is about to be left out of the school's awards day when Claire bribes the principal. He gets involved with a number of shenanigans, like attempting to make a jetpack with soda and mentos.

The sixth season of Modern Family has no truly extraordinary performances, though none of them are particularly bad. Ty Burrell continues to dominate the comedic moments with his deadpan and in the sixth season none of the rest of the cast steps up to be particularly funny. In fact, the performances are so mundane and the show is so unfunny in the sixth season that the moment of greatest elation I had while watching the twenty-four episode season was when Olive Platt appeared on-screen for a single episode.

That's probably the best place to leave such analysis; after five solid seasons, when Oliver Platt simply showing up is the high point, the series probably has jumped the shark.

For other works from the 2014 – 2015 television season, please check out my reviews of:
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 2
The Flash - Season 1
Orange Is The New Black - Season 3
Sense8 - Season 1
Grace And Frankie - Season 1
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season 1
Agent Carter - Season 1
Daredevil - Season 1
The Newsroom - Season 3
House Of Cards - Season 3
Doctor Who - Season 8
True Blood - Season 7
The Walking Dead - Season 5

3.5/10

For other television reviews, please check out my Movie And Televisin Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Wonder Woman: Bones Ends The New 52 Wonder Woman Story Well . . . Enough.

The Good: Renewed focus on Diana, Moments of theme
The Bad: Very basic plot, Artwork
The Basics: Wonder Woman: Bones resolves the story began when Wonder Woman was rebooted for The New 52.


As The New 52 concept ran its course, storylines that were planned and developed reached their natural conclusions and arguably the most ambitious single-character title in The New 52 was Wonder Woman. The series reached its peak with Wonder Woman: Bones, which picked up right where Flesh (reviewed here!) concluded.

Wonder Woman: Bones refocuses the long-running story of Princess Diana of Themyscira on the heroine, who was largely neglected in the prior volume. Whenever Diana has been promoted to a god, the writers seem to have trouble figuring out how to maintain the story. In Wonder Woman: Flesh, Diana's long arc was basically to accept the change that had come out of the prior volume. Having finally taken up the mantle of God Of War, Diana advances in Wonder Woman: Bones as she retasks the Amazons as warriors intent on usurping the First Born.

As the conflict for Olympus heats up, the First Born enlists Cassandra and her minotaur to defend his perverse recreation of the home of the gods. Diana decides to use the Amazons to wage war on the First Born and she begins the philosophical argument with her people to accept her decision. To try to heal her people and to get them to accept Zola ansd Zeke's presence on the island, Diana has the male Amazons return to Themyscira. Charging Aleka with defending Zeke and Zola, Diana defends Themyscira against the animalistic forces of the First Born before she is captured by the enemy.

The First Born rejects Cassandra and tries to convince Diana to become his consort. Diana rejects the new king of the gods and holds out until Zeke's true nature is finally revealed!

Wonder Woman: Bones is better on the character front than on on either the plot or artwork fronts. The plot is very basic in the way it progresses and it neglects some significant aspects. For example, the males are returned to Paradise Island, yet Diana never actually interacts with any of them. There are no major male Amazon characters, which makes Diana's somewhat forced sociological progress much less personal or compelling.

The artwork is mediocre throughout and for a book filled with battles, Wonder Woman: Bones lacks a strong sense of movement. As well, some of the key moments are terribly misrepresented. For example, in a scene where the Amazons are talking about Diana behind her back - manipulated by Cassandra - there is a character who looks virtually identically to Diana!

Fortunately, though, Wonder Woman: Bones is moved forward enough by Diana and her character to make for a satisfying conclusion to the story begun when The New 52 reimagined the character.

For the rest of the New 52 Wonder Woman, please check out my reviews of:
Volume 1 – Blood
Volume 2 – Guts
Volume 3 – Iron
Volume 4 - War

5/10

For other graphic novel reviews, please check out my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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The Doctor Who Mood Piece Is "Heaven Sent" On Engaging The Viewers!


The Good: Mood, Performance, Initial cleverness
The Bad: Virtually devoid of plot, Character does not genuinely develop after the first revelation
The Basics: "Heaven Sent" takes a moody, philosophical approach that places The Doctor in a hopeless situation that mirrors his sense of loss.


As fans race to the end of yet another season of Doctor Who, many are feeling a bit stabbed in the heart by the events of "Face The Raven" (reviewed here!). Given that it is the first part of the story continued in "Heaven Sent," it is impossible to discuss the latest episode without some allusions to events in "Face The Raven." The climactic event of "Face The Raven" was, supposedly, the death of Clara Oswald. I write "supposedly" because the whole ridiculous notion of the Impossible Girl precludes a full and complete death of a Jenna Coleman character. When Clara Oswald became the Impossible Girl, she went all along The Doctor's timeline to save him from the Great Intelligence in The Doctor's past, present, and future. The only way for that to truly work would be for other versions of Clara to pop up from time to time. Perhaps, next week Clementine Ozark will save The Doctor's life on one of his many adventures through time and space. Regardless, just as Clara popped up in other iterations prior to The Doctor officially meeting her, the show would lack a certain symmetry if she did not surface again to keep guiding The Doctor through his adventures.

That, however, does not happen in "Heaven Sent."

Indeed, "Heaven Sent" reminds viewers that the climactic event of "Face The Raven" was not necessarily the apparent death of Clara Oswald, but rather the fact that Mayor Me had been employed by some heretofore unknown person or force to abduct The Doctor after cutting him off from his access to the TARDIS.

Opening with The Doctor materializing in a chamber that has Gallifreyan control panels set in what appears to be a castle, The Doctor vows to find whomever it was who abducted him, if they had anything to do with Clara's death. He then begins exploring the castle. The Doctor reasons that he is in the same time frame and only a light year away from where he was with Clara and Rigsy. There are screens throughout the hallway The Doctor finds himself in and he quickly realizes that they are transmitting what the wraith (or Grim Reaper without the scythe) is facing. Backed into a corner, The Doctor admits he is afraid and time appears to stop (as evidenced by the flies that precede the Wraith freezing in front of him). The entire castle reconfigures itself and The Doctor finds himself safe in a bedroom.

When the Wraith appears again, The Doctor realizes that his tormentors have read nightmares from very early in his life and they have planned this for a long time. Leaping out a nearby window, he goes to a safe place in his mind and constructs a scenario for surviving, diving into water below the castle. Leaving the water, The Doctor finds a room with clothes drying by a fire. The Doctor continues through the rooms of the keep, pursued by the spectre, interacting with an unseen version of Clara in his mind. He makes a few discoveries until he reaches an impenetrable wall, is zapped by the spectre and restarts the nightmare. And he just keeps going through it, chipping away at the wall.

"Heaven Sent" relies entirely on the performance of Peter Capaldi and he pulls it off. The Doctor mumbles to himself and gears himself up for a conflict before anyone or anything else appears to him. The result could be crappy and expository, but Peter Capaldi completely lands it as organic; his character working through his analysis and challenging his unseen adversary. Throughout "Heaven Sent," The Doctor is on his own and returns in his mind to the TARDIS; he interacts with the Clara in his mind to deduce what is happening to him. The chalk boards are instantly reminiscent of the way someone on the outside communicated with a sleeping person in "Last Christmas" (reviewed here!). The technique manages to stay fresh for the duration of "Heaven Sent."

The effects in "Heaven Sent" are decent, up to and including the music. "Heaven Sent" is a mood piece. The Doctor is living his nightmare as his fear of death and underlying insecurity about not being clever enough is expressed through conflicts with his own nightmares. The visual and sound effects help establish and enhance that mood.

The Doctor realizes very early on that the whole purpose of the place his is in is designed to frighten him. The Wraith pursuing him, the time loops that take him back to the beginning, they are all supposed to play upon his fear. He realizes this fast (where was that cleverness an episode earlier?!) and the rest of the episode is spent with him chipping away at the "diamond wall" where the Wraith catches him and sends him back to the beginning. The episode then is more about mood than plot and, for a change, the mood carries the episode well-enough to be watchable.

It says something about how low the bar has been set for episodes this season when that is enough. "Heaven Sent" eventually sets up the next episode, the season finale, but it takes a hell of a long time to get there.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Doctor Who - The Complete Ninth Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the sophomore season of Peter Capaldi as The Doctor here!
Thanks!]

5.5/10

For other Doctor Who episode and movie reviews, please visit my Doctor Who Review Index Page!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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The Ballad Of Luke Cage "AKA Take A Bloody Number!"


The Good: Decent performances, Good character moments
The Bad: Predictable plot
The Basics: A mediocre ramp-up to the finale, "AKA Take A Bloody Number" gives Luke Cage an understanding of what Jessica Jones went through with Kilgrave and gives viewers that battle they truly wanted to see.


This weekend, I am at a Star Trek convention as a dealer and I was put in the exciting position of having my opinion matter when the conversation I was having with some fellow dealers veered onto the subject of Jessica Jones. The person with whom I was conversing was up to episode seven and unsure whether or not she was going to finish the first season. As I round out my second viewing of the entire season, I find myself considering the question of, ultimately, was it worth it? The penultimate episode of the first season is "AKA Take A Bloody Number" and ramping into the conflict that has been building for the entire season, the episode's direction seems more obvious than audacious and in my conversation, I found myself advising the person to end on the high note of "AKA WWJD?" (reviewed here!) and just leave the season there if she was on the fence about bothering with the show.

"AKA Take A Bloody Number" bears some blame for that advice. Going into a season finale, especially a first season finale, a show has to have an energy that drives the viewer to watch to the very end. "AKA Take A Bloody Number" lacks the essential urgency of the best penultimate episodes. Instead, "AKA Take A Bloody Number" follows immediately upon "AKA I've Got The Blues" (reviewed here!) and goes in the most predictable, Marvel Formulaic way possible. It's impossible to discuss "AKA Take A Bloody Number" without some references to exactly where "AKA I've Got The Blues" left off.

Following the destruction of his bar, Jessica Jones takes Luke Cage back to the Alias Investigations office to dry him out from Kilgrave's influence. Kilgrave is still alive and has his father, Albert, with him and they are attempting to create a serum that will boost the range and duration of Kilgrave's powers. Jones is convinced that Kilgrave is trying to up his mind-control strength in order to be able to control her once again. At the hospital, Trish is recovering from her ordeal well, when her mother comes to visit. Dorothy tries to get Trish to let her back in and sis rejected by Trish.

Rummaging through the hotel where Thompson was staying leads Jones and Cage to Zalk Labs for a drug that Kilgrave has the technicians making non-stop. Cage and Jones have a heart to heart where Cage forgives Jones for Riva's death. Back at Trish's apartment, Dorothy arrives with a file about the mysterious organization that Simpson was working for from her personal archives. It turns out that Simpson was made into a supersoldier by the same shadowy organization that paid Jessica Jones's medical bills following the car accident that killed Jones's family. Following a technician from Zalk leads Jones into a confrontation with Kilgrave that pits Jones and Cage against one another.

"AKA Take A Bloody Number" does what viewers who are invested in the characters of Jessica Jones have secretly wanted since Kilgrave's powers were verified on-screen. The episode puts the unstoppable force in conflict with an immovable object and the result is entertaining and predictably devastating. The Kilgrave-influenced Luke Cage is a terrifying notion and given that Jessica Jones's super-strength is not enough to stop him, it puts Jones in the difficult bind of trying to survive Cage and Kilgrave while trying to kill the latter and save the former.

On the character front, "AKA Take A Bloody Number" plays off an important, if subtle, moment from "AKA Ladies Night" (reviewed here!), where Jessica Jones deduces through observations just how important Luke Cage's bar is to him. Jones's observations are proven right in "AKA Take A Bloody Number" and without the anchor to normalcy, Luke Cage bounces between being Kilgrave's pawn and Jessica Jones's willing tool in her quest to take down Kilgrave. The episode also plays off the most interesting characterization of Kilgrave, which has him infatuated with Jones and threatened by any man who might take his place in Jones's heart.

En route, "AKA Take A Bloody Number" fills with a scene between Robyn and Malcolm that has the flaky upstairs neighbor setting Malcolm back on the path of virtue. Or virtuous enough to be a sidekick and moral guide to Jessica Jones. Malcolm intends to flee Hell's Kitchen for his parent's home where he wants to reconnect with what is important and, in that way, he has almost the opposite character arc of Luke Cage in the episode. Cage could have been of use to Jones by getting away and leaving any potential sphere of Kilgrave's influence; Malcolm learns he needs to stay to help and find purpose with Jessica Jones. It's a weird conduit that Robyn becomes to help him understand his own arc.

Krysten Ritter gives a decent performance in "AKA Take A Bloody Number," as Jessica Jones is forced on an emotional roller coaster through the course of the episode. Amid the fight scenes, Ritter emotes well. David Tennant does great with the material given to him, but in "AKA Take A Bloody Number" his character Kilgrave degenerates into a pretty generic Marvel supervillain lacking in the subtlety and intrigue that made him watchable and incredible only a few episodes earlier. Mike Colter exhibits enough range in "AKA Take A Bloody Number" to convince viewers that he can absolutely handle a spin-off if Luke Cage has a decent story to tell [hey, executive producers, if you're reading this - why not shake up the formula you've developed with Daredevil and Jessica Jones and have an established villain in place that Luke Cage finds wherever he goes and have him have to stop him there, as opposed to a similar story with an entrenched protagonist and a rising antagonist who takes several episodes to arrive on-screen for a big reveal?].

But, ultimately, "AKA Take A Bloody Number" is a set-up episode and it is vamping for time as viewers wait for the inevitable confrontation between Jones and Kilgrave that will cap the season.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Jessica Jones - The Complete First Season, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season here!
Thanks!]

For other works with Michael Siberry, please visit my reviews of:
Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)
House Of Cards - Season 1

5/10

For other film and television reviews, please check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Today We Are Thankful "There Is No Try!" (And Hallmark Made An Ornament Of It . . .)


The Good: Good balance, Aspects of the sound clip, coloring and sculpt
The Bad: Aspects of the sound clip, coloring and sculpt
The Basics: The last major Star Wars ornament to get reviewed is this year's diorama ornament: "There Is No Try" . . . . and it's all right . . . sort of.


The internet site I used to write reviews for ultimately asked reviewer to give an absolute "recommend" or "not recommend" in addition to a rating on a star-based scale. Many an hour was spent by many of the most prolific writers on that site belaboring that "recommend" or "not recommend" on a mediocre product. I often found the happy medium in the contradictions: the highly-rated product that I would not recommend or the lowly rated one that I would. The 2015 "There Is No Try" Star Wars ornament almost got me to create such a split decision here. The reason for that conflict within me is that so much of the ornament is done wrong . . . but, for a change, there is so much evidence of the effort that went into trying to make the ornament right!

There Is No Try is the standard-release Star Wars diorama Hallmark ornament. Released in 2015, it is a good bet it will be sold out by Christmas with the release of the new Star Wars film renewing the fan base.

Hallmark Keepsake has a line of collectible ornaments from major franchises, like Star Wars and Star Trek. From the Star Wars line comes the There Is No Try ornament. Fans of the Star Wars Trilogy will easily recall There Is No Try. For those unfamiliar with There Is No Try, it is a moment on Dagobah when Luke is training in the swamp and he gives up on trying to lift the X-wing fighter out of the muck with only the power of his mind in The Empire Strikes Back (reviewed here !). Oddly, the ornament uses the name and sound clip from several moments after the handstand pose that Luke is rendered performing!

Basics

The There Is No Try ornament recreates the Yoda and Luke on the Dagobah surface in solid plastic. The ornament, released in 2015, is Luke Skywalker in his Dagobah fatigues, performing a handstand while Yoda balances on one of his feet. The rocks molded into the ground nearby suggest that Luke is using the power of his mind to set the small one atop the larger one. This Dagobah diorama ornament is one of the largest yet made, measuring 5 3/4" tall, 2 1/4" wide and 1 5/8" deep. Hallmark charged $17.95 for the ornament originally and it seems to be an excellent price point for the potentially complicated or rich ornament. Sadly, it is neither.

The Hallmark There Is No Try ornament is made of a durable plastic and Luke upside down, his hands on the dirt ground, back straight. He is not yet performing the one-handed handstand that he does in the film and Hallmark did not make an effort to have the smaller rock actually appear suspended. The detailing - sculpted and colored - is excellent on Luke's pants and shirt and the ground. Luke's clothing is colored to look wet from sweat and the ground looks realistically textured.

Unfortunately, the rest of the There Is No Try ornament is colored in monotones. Yoda looks like an animated character - not a puppet or CG version of the character. Luke's face is hardly distinctive of replicating Mark Hamill's appearance.

Features

As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, There Is No Try has a sound chip but no light effect. When a button on the base is pressed, Yoda and Luke speak back and forth to one another with lines from The Empire Strikes Back. Unfortunately, the target audience of this ornament will recognize it for exactly what it is; it is dialogue cobbled together from the scene after Yoda falls and tries to convince Luke to get the X-Wing out of the swamp using only his mental powers. Sadly, much had to be cut to get the sound clip down under thirty seconds and the edit is hardly stirring or even relevant to the sculpt.

Balance

As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake There Is No Try ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Wars Christmas Tree, There Is No Try is a luxury and fits poorly with other Hallmark Star Wars ornaments.

This ornament has a steel hook loop embedded into the top of the ornament. From that hook, the There Is No Try ornament hangs balanced. It is perfectly level when hung there and the ornament sways when rocked, but otherwise sits stable in the right position!

Collectibility

Hallmark Keepsake began delving into the collectibles market in 1991 with Star Trek when it introduced the exceptionally limited edition original U.S.S. Enterprise ornament (reviewed here!). Since then, they have branched out into other popular franchises like Star Wars and The Wizard Of Oz. The There Is No Try ornament is not at all limited and has not appreciated in the secondary market yet, which makes sense because many Hallmark stores still have it on their shelves. One suspects as soon as The Force Awakens hits theaters, the shelves will be cleared of this ornament. Despite the serious issues with it, I'd bet on it appreciating in the long term.

Overview

Like most Star Wars ornaments, the There Is No Try has nothing to do with the Christmas holiday and ultimately, I recommend it to those who have friends who customize figures and ornaments. Buy it, take it to them and have them do what Hallmark should have done in the first place as far as enhancing the details (through paint or a painting/plastic shaving combination) and then the ornament would be truly worthwhile!

For other Star Wars diorama ornaments, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
2014 Cantina Band
2013 At Jabba's Mercy
2012 Han Solo To The Rescue
2011 Showdown At The Cantina
2010 His Master's Bidding
2009 A Deadly Duel

6.5/10

For other holiday ornaments, please check out the Ornaments Review Index Page!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Villains Multiply As Villainy Overcomes Everyone But Trish In "AKA I've Got The Blues"


The Good: Pacing, Generally good performances, Trish's character arc
The Bad: Diverges from the main plotlines to deal with a contrived subplot
The Basics: "AKA I've Got The Blues" has Trish's mother and Nuke taking center stage for the villain roles as Kilgrave goes into hiding following his most significant attack.


There are few shows that I have gone into with no real information that I still felt a great deal of anticipation for that I will go back to even if they let me down. The first season of Jessica Jones definitely met all of those criteria, though. I knew nothing of the protagonist, Jessica Jones, the Netflix previews got me excited about watching it and after a decent bit of rising action through the first few episodes, I was hooked. And then the season peaked with "AKA WWJD?" (reviewed here!) and it never quite recovered from the greatness it executed and the potential it revealed in that episode. "AKA I've Got The Blues" comes after that point, so it is when the season is on the downswing, laboring toward its obvious climactic battle between Jessica Jones and the villainous mind-controller Kilgrave.

"AKA I've Got The Blues" is set immediately after "AKA 1,000 Cuts" (reviewed here!) and there is no realistic way to intelligently discuss the episode without referencing some of the climactic events of the prior episode. Regardless of where "AKA I've Got The Blues" goes, it starts out in a wonderful way with a flashback that makes it perfectly understandable why so many people throughout Jessica Jones know the It's Patsy! theme song. If there is any significant tie-in between Jessica Jones and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is my sincere hope that when the inevitable meeting between Hellcat and The Avengers comes up, Dr. Banner, Tony Stark, The Falcon, and Ant-Man all start singing the It's Patsy! song to Trish. Odds are, though, whatever circumstance would unite the Marvel Cinematic Universe's disparate heroes, it would be a dark event. The longer "AKA I've Got The Blues" goes on, the more one has to wonder just how dark things have to get before an Avenger or two pops up to actually help the street-level heroes.

Opening with a flashback that shows how Jessica Jones woke up to Patsy being forced to take her in after Jones's family was killed, the episode flashes forward to moments after the biggest on-screen Kilgrave attack to date. The four survivors are confused and Jessica Jones tries to keep it together following Hope's suicide. Robyn even comes around to lying to the police about Kilgrave's attack, to protect the police who might investigate. Jones and Trish meet up and Jessica Jones insists on hunting down the local John Doe's at the morgues in order to find Albert, whom she assumes is already dead. Jones works herself to exhaustion searching for a corpse that does not exist, getting hit by a truck in the process.

Trish is visited by Simpson at the set of her show and she tells him off for being violent and scary the last time they met. Simpson lies to her about quitting The Program again, which leads Trish to abandon him and go to bring Jessica Jones back to her home. When the morgue calls in the morning, Jessica Jones discovers Clemons's body. Unfortunately, that leaves Trish vulnerable to Simpson's attack . . . which he does when his men come for him. That sets off a battle between Simpson and Jones that destroys the Alias Investigations office!

"AKA I've Got The Blues" is the closest viewers get in the first season of Jessica Jones of a heavy Trish Walker episode. Trish trades on her celebrity in order to get Jones access to the morgues and she has a solid arc from her past reluctantly rescuing Jessica Jones to the present where Jones has been her protector. "AKA I've Got The Blues" allows her to take the role of protector back and given how many crappy decisions Jessica Jones has made in the course of the season, it's refreshing to see someone else take charge. Trish is smart and detail-oriented, which makes her a nat ural private investigator, should the television incarnation of Trish follow her comic book source's lead, it will make sense.

Trish calls Simpson out on his bullshit, before she catches his slip-ups. She is a powerful character and Rachael Taylor plays her exceptionally well. Taylor makes Trish credible as a survivor of child abuse and someone who can hold her own with Jones and her bullshit. "AKA I've Got The Blues" helps prove that Trish can hold her own as a headliner; she need not be a sidekick only!

Krysten Ritter has one of her very few instances of breaking in "AKA I've Got The Blues," which is funnier than one might think to see. As Jones sings the It's Patsy theme song to Maury the elderly morgue guard, her eyes are cracking up and it's almost a delight to see Jessica Jones so simply delighted. If only it were a character choice . . .

The breaking is an unfortunate symptom of a larger problem. Director Uta Briesewitz gives Trish a good arc at the expense of some of the sensibility that has made Jessica Jones fly up until now. Simpson's science-altered body is regulated by three groups of pills - reds, blues, and whites. During the climactic battle, Simpson warns Trish against using the reds because without the blue pills, she will forget to breathe . . . before he tosses the pills away. In the time it takes for the paramedics to arrive while Trish's life hangs in the balance, Jones doesn't even attempt to find them! As well, when Simpson's goon friends arrive, they wait for him to take his pills and become . . . invulnerable? super strong? outright psychotic? (it's not entirely clear what the pills to to make him more soldier-y), which makes no real sense.

"AKA I've Got The Blues" does have a moment of truly impressive character and acting for Jessica Jones and Trish Walker. Elizabeth Cappuccino (who has to have one of the best names in show business EVER!) plays the young Jessica Jones opposite Catherine Blades (Young Trish) and for two young performers, they truly nail the instant camaraderie and quirks of reluctant friends finding common purpose. Cappuccino's delivery when she talks about the TV movie that would be made about Patsy is hilarious and unsettling, which is more than just the lines could have done.

Despite how cool the climactic battle in the episode is, "AKA I've Got The Blues" is yet another Jessica Jones episode that acts as more of a tangent to the main storyline, as opposed to an essential piece of the plot. The result is both an episode that is inherently flawed and one that fits into the overall narrative is a more awkward than organic way.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Jessica Jones - The Complete First Season, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season here!
Thanks!]

For other works with Mike Colter, please visit my reviews of:
Men In Black 3
Salt
Brooklyn Lobster
Million Dollar Baby

6/10

For other television season and episode reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for a listing of those reviews!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Carnage To Catharsis The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 Is A Dismal End!


The Good: Moments of theme and performance, Special effects
The Bad: Unlikable or under-developed characters, Plot oscillates between predictable and undeveloped, Resolution
The Basics: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 puts to rest a series that managed to get produced at the right time . . . but will not satisfy serious film buffs.


When it comes to The Hunger Games, the truth is, the franchise did not particularly grab me. I was pretty much repulsed by The Hunger Games (reviewed here!) and while I liked Catching Fire (reviewed here!) well-enough, Mockingjay - Part 1 (reviewed here!) pretty much lost me. I just don't care about Panem. So, I was in no rush to run out and see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2. But, with it being a holiday and me being on the road alone, I figured it was time to pay my Hunger Games dues and take in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2.

Right off the bat, I've not read the books upon which the films in The Hunger Games Saga were based. This is a pure review of the film and the movie confirmed what I suspected the moment I saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1: Part 1 should have ended the moment the rescued Peeta Mellark reached up and began struggling Katniss Everdeen. Instead, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 begins with the potential of a young woman literally finding her voice and then rising up to raise a rebellion; instead, it is a movie about a mediocre woman using violence to solve her problems. Katniss Everdeen is supposed to be the hero fans root for, but Finnick made more substantive leaps in exposing the corruptions of President Snow, tyrant leader of Panem, in the prior film. Katniss does not follow Finnick's example in using logic, truth, and helping to turn the people of Panem against the corrupt President; as in the prior films, she mopes around until she shoots her problems away with her bow.

Having rescued Peeta from the Capitol, the rebels in District 13 are horrified to see how he has been brainwashed into an animal, intent on killing Katniss. Katniss, however, fights to keep Peeta alive and she is eager to end the conflict with Snow by getting support from other Districts. Her first attempt to shoot a propaganda film amid revolutionaries and refugees ends up with her getting shot. With the rebellion apparently crumbling, President Snow starts to weed out those close to him who might be political rivals, using poison like Finnick previously revealed. Despite being loathed now by Peeta, Katniss tries desperately to save him and be close to him, even though he is still violent from the venom that was used on him by the Capitol.

After Annie and Finnick marry, Katniss joins the squad being sent into the Capitol to disarm the traps that Snow has set. En route to Snow's mansion, Katniss and her companions are beset by creatures, weapons, and obstacles - much like the victors of the Hunger Games encountered during the games - and from Peeta's inability to control himself or overcome his programming. But as the resistance nears victory, Katniss gets information that suggests to her that Snow might not be the only villain in Panem and when someone close to Katniss is murdered as part of political theater, Katniss decides she alone must end it.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 failed to do what I've been waiting for in all of the films in The Hunger Games Saga: it did not make me care about the characters or Panem. Yes, oppression is absolutely terrible, but Panem in the films of The Hunger Games is a fiefdom of Districts serving the Capitol at a cost of two lives per District per year (one for the victor's district). The system has been working for 74 years at the beginning of The Hunger Games and, substantively, it is analogous to an unrestrained Capitalist system with an authoritarian government, so it was a hard dystopia for me to get into or care about (we have it as bad in real life; we just get to go to the movies and get a new smartphone once in a while). The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 fails to make the viewer invested in the world of Panem.

Even worse, in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 it is almost impossible to care what becomes of the film's protagonist. There is no allegory in the film, so Katniss heals until she acts, mopes until she rages and the journey is unsatisfying . . . especially when one considers it without the "wow" factor of the special visual effects. Add to that, the love triangle where Katniss's heart is pulled by both Gale and Peeta is expanded in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, which feels like a time drain in an already packed film. The love triangle could have been left out and perhaps a scene could have been put in where Katniss sees evidence of the film's other primary villain, as opposed to simply taking other people's words for it.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 is notable in its underuse of performers Jena Malone (who, frankly, I can always stand to see more of in films) and Stanley Tucci. Elizabeth Banks plays Effie Trinket with less of an annoying quality than in the prior installment, so at least her talents are not as wasted this time around.

Ultimately, though, the time is wasted. Who lives? Who dies? It doesn't matter, so long as there's an Evangelical-friendly scene to cap off the movie with utter denial of the initial characterizations of the characters the corniest summing up of the events of the Saga. That, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 absolutely has.

For other films currently in theaters, please check out my reviews of:
SPECTRE
Bleeding Heart
Hotel Transylvania 2

3.5/10

For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Jessica Jones Diminishes By A Death Of "AKA 1,000 Cuts!"


The Good: David Tennant's performance, Plot moves forward, Pam's character suddenly gets cool
The Bad: Gore factor, Terrible character choices, Pacing
The Basics: All of the characters, but Jessica Jones, suffer the consequences of Jones's decisions in "AKA 1,000 Cuts."


One of the films I have come to enjoy more and more over the years, that I never expected to, was the P.T. Anderson film Punch-Drunk Love (reviewed here!). In it, Adam Sandler takes on an uncomfortable dramatic role (one of his first) and illustrates a profound range that his comedy works did not allow him. I mention this at the outset of my review of the Jessica Jones episode "AKA 1,000 Cuts" because by this point in the first season, the "villain" Kilgrave is beginning to have a lot in common with Sandler's character from Punch-Drunk Love and David Tennant's performance as Kilgrave similarly deep. Like Sandler's character Barry Egan, Kilgrave has been screwed over by everyone in his life at this point and as "AKA 1,000 Cuts" opens, it is hard not to feel bad for him in some ways.

"AKA 1,000 Cuts" picks up at the climax of "AKA Sin Bin" (reviewed here!), revealing how Kilgrave escaped from his perspective and despite the direction the episode - and the season - is now taking Kilgrave in, those who only knew David Tennant from Doctor Who (season two is reviewed here!) have a lot to be excited by from his performance. Unfortunately, the character's peak of greatness has been corrupted and Jessica Jones has replaced the deep version of Kilgrave with an obvious, villainous character who develops now down the Dark Side in "AKA 1,000 Cuts." Kilgrave was betrayed by Jessica Jones and his own mother in "AKA Sin Bin" and that made it difficult to root for any of the supposedly "good" guys in that episode.

Opening with Kilgrave fleeing the room Jessica Jones had him captured in and asserting his power over Hogarth, Kilgrave heads to a doctor. Back in the facility, Trish tries to get a bullet into her head until Jessica Jones helps her get through the command. Jones realizes she is now immune to Kilgrave's influence and Dr. Thompson reveals that Kilgrave's power comes from a microvirus. He and Trish head off to try to make a vaccine against Kilgrave's power, while Jones hunts Kilgrave and Detective Clemons cleans up the crime scene. While Wendy is patching up Kilgrave, Kilgrave stumbles upon Hogarth's secret regarding Kilgrave's unborn child and her plans for it.

Kilgrave gives Wendy her chance to get revenge on Hogarth, while Simpson arrives at his safe room and discovers the post-Kilgrave carnage. When Pam rescues Hogarth, things go terribly wrong. Returning home, Jessica Jones finds Malcolm helping Robyn put posters around for her missing brother. Kilgrave offers Jones a trade: exonerating Hope Shlottman for Kilgrave's father. Malcolm accidentally outs himself to Robyn at the Survivor's meeting and she becomes enraged to motivate the survivors to turn their wrath on Jones. Trish encounters Simpson and realizes that all is not right with her former lover, while Robyn's move puts all of the survivors and Hope Shlottman in a precarious position that forces Jones into an untenable decision.

David Tennant is once again amazing in "AKA 1,000 Cuts." He plays Kilgrave with a delightful, hapless quality that moves the plot forward brilliantly. It is Kilgrave's frustrated utterance that leads him to the knowledge that he impregnated Shlottman and Hogarth has the embryonic tissue and Tennant plays the key moment effortlessly. He makes it seem like it is the first take! Tennant plays Kilgrave as confused and authoritative and full of vengeance, alternately. The flashback scene with Jessica Jones and Kilgrave is good for revisiting the matter of perspective that is otherwise dulled in "AKA 1,000 Cuts."

The enemies multiply in "AKA 1,000 Cuts" as Simpson takes a leap down the rabbit hole and becomes his supersoldier alter-ego Nuke. Nuke has serious crossover potential with Daredevil or the forthcoming Netflix series The Defenders, but in "AKA 1,000 Cuts," Simpson still has a somewhat reasonable motivation. Simpson wants to kill Kilgrave to stop the threat he represents and to that end, Simpson will take any means necessary. In the process, he becomes a monster on par with the one he wants to stop.

"AKA 1,000 Cuts" marks the final appearance in the first season of Pam, Hogarth's legal secretary and lover. In saving Hogarth, Pam is able to become her equal and she squares off against her partner perfectly. Unfortunately, it is in the quick conflict during which Pam saves Jeri that the viewer realizes for the first time that Susie Abromeit and Rachael Taylor were cast way too closely. Given that Hellcat usually appears in the comics as the redhead she is alluded to in Jessica Jones from when she was a child actor, it seems odd that two skinny blondes were cast. In "AKA 1,000 Cuts," there's a double-take the viewer has to do to realize that it is Pam, not Trish, saving Hogarth. Abromeit is good in her character's final moments.

As the name of the episode might suggest, "AKA 1,000 Cuts" is a bloodbath and the climax of the episode forces Jones in a different direction and moves Jessica Jones down a much darker, far less heroic, path. It's hard not to watch "AKA 1,000 Cuts" and just think "if Jones had just worked for more than one day to rehabilitate Kilgrave none of this would be happening!" Given the graphic natures of the multiple deaths in "AKA 1,000 Cuts," it makes it very hard to like Jessica Jones at this point, much less the season.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Jessica Jones - The Complete First Season, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season here!
Thanks!]

For other works with Clarke Peters, please visit my reviews of:
The Best Of Me
John Wick

5/10

For other Marvel movie, television season and episode reviews, please check out my Marvel Cinematic Universe Review Index Page for a listing of those reviews!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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