Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Oh, Hai Batman!

So apparently Martin Scorsese— yes, that Martin Scorsese— is producing a new Joker origin movie for Warner Bros. (!). At one point Leonardo DiCaprio was rumored to star in the film (which makes sense, given Scorsese's involvement), but recently Joaquin Phoenix seems to be the frontrunner.

But hold on! Last week a new actor threw his hat into the ring. Tommy Wiseau— yes, that Tommy Wiseau— the writer, producer, director and star of The Room, announced that he's interested in playing the character!

That may be the best idea I've ever heard! Who the hell wants to see a Joker movie in the first place? It honestly sounds like a snoozefest to me, as the character was never meant to be the sole focus of a film. Casting Wiseau in the role would at least guarantee the movie would be interesting. C'mon, Scorsese! Make this happen!

Can you imagine? "You're tearing me apart, Harley!"

Even better: "I did not kill Robin. It's not true. It's bullsh*t. I did not kill him. I did nahht. Oh, hai Batman!"

:"Ha ha ha. What a story, Batman!"

Logo-A--Go-Go

This week the BBC revealed their new logo for the upcoming new season of Doctor Who.

Eh, I don't hate it. It's OK as logos go, I guess. It's a bit wide though. If I was designing it, I'd but the "Doctor" above the "Who." In my experience it's always better to have as square a logo as possible. It's easier to fit it on a page that way, and you can enlarge a square one more than a wide one.

Honestly I don't much care what the new logo looks like, as I'm done with the show. They can typeset it in Sanskrit for all I care.

Given what happened to the title character at the end of the 2017 Christmas Special, the BBC missed the most obvious design here...

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 11: Here I Go Again

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow, the series finally does its obligatory Groundhog Day tribute, in which the crew relives the same day over and over, and only one of them is aware of it so they can attempt to break the cycle.

At this point virtually every sci-fi and fantasy show on TV has done a variation on this same theme, including Buffy The Vampire SlayerCharmedEureka, Farscape, Fringe, Stargate SG-1, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Xena: Warrior Princess and The X-Files. And that's just off the top of my head! I'm sure there're many more I'm forgetting or just not aware of.

Despite the fact that it's hardly an original idea, I like the Groundhog Day Trope when it's done well. Unfortunately Legends Of Tomorrow drops the ball a bit with their attempt. First of all, they chose Zari— the least interesting character on the show— as the focus of the episode, and the one who's aware of the loop. 

As if that weren't bad enough, there's a big twist in the third act, in which we find out that the whole loop situation is a dream! Well, sort of. You'll see when you read the plot summary. So we have my least favorite character, combined with my all time most hated plot twist. Is it any wonder I'm not a fan of this episode?

Another problem with this "It Was All A Dream" reveal— it completely undermines Zari's big speech, in which at long last she learns to love her teammates and sacrifices her life for them. Why give us that scene in the first place if it's part of a simulation, and doesn't "count?"

Honestly I'd rather have seen the throwaway "offscreen adventure" instead— the one in which the Legends apparently impersonate ABBA or some similar group.

Also in this episode, Zari learns a valuable lesson about family, and how to work as a member of a team. Ugh... what is this, and Afterschool Special? I could swear they've already done this plotline with her character at least once before this season.


Man, with each passing week, I'm feeling Professor Stein's absence more and more. They need to bring in someone comparable to him, stat!

As I think I predicted a couple months ago, Wally West is joining the Legends. Good. Maybe the writers on this show will know what to do with him, and won't shamefully waste his character the way the creative team did over on The Flash.

Lastly, the past two episodes have felt really cheap, as the Legends have seemingly avoided using their powers as much as possible. This week's show was particularly low rent, as it was a bottle episode— one that takes place entirely inside the ship on standing sets.


I see why that is now. Next week's pirate adventure looks to be a big budget extravaganza, so the producers had to scrimp and save on Episodes 10 & 11! And they thought we wouldn't notice...

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Onboard the Waverider, Zari tries to convince Gideon to let her run a dangerous simulation while the other Legends are off on a mission. Gideon's reluctant to run the sim, as it looks for "loopholes" in time that'll allow Zari to hack history— much like she did in Helen Hunt. She's hoping she can use one of these loopholes to save her brother in 2042.

Suddenly the Legends return early, surprising Zari. She hurriedly runs the simulation, which shorts out Gideon and shuts her down. The Legends enter the bridge, dressed like members of ABBA (it's a long story). White Canary asks why Gideon's offline, and Zari sheepishly admits she accidentally fried her while trying to hack time. Canary's furious that she'd pull something like this, and the two begin arguing. Canary tells Zari if she can't follow orders, then she needs to get off the ship. Atom tries to calm everyone down, but trips and falls on his platform heels (Plot Point!).

Zari goes to the engine room to fix the ship. She pulls a tube out of a console and is splashed with some kind of glowing blue "time goo." Just then there's a rumble, and the entire ship explodes!

Suddenly Zari's zapped back onto the bridge, arguing with Canary. Disoriented, she leaves to fix the ship again, and notes that Atom falls off his heels a second time. Zari walks past the library, and overhears Steel and Vixen discussing the fact that they just had sex during a mission (AGAIN). She asks them if they've noticed anything unusual, and of course they say no. She asks Heat Wave and Atom the same, but they've not noticed anything either. She returns to the engine room, and the ship explodes again.

She pops back to the bridge, and realizes she's stuck in a time loop. She tries to tell the others what's happening, but they don't believe her and think she's gone nutty. Heat Wave grabs her and takes her to the medbay, where Atom sedates her. This happens over and over for several cycles, until she builds up an immunity to the sedative.

Zari escapes the medbay and finds Steel. She explains what's happening, and is amazed when he believes her. He says it's just like the movie Groundhog Day, which of course she's never heard of. He tells her if the loop happens again, to just say the name of the film to him in order to save time. Just then the ship explodes. Zari locates Steel, mentions the movie, and the two of them try to work out what's happening. They come to the conclusion that one of the Legends is causing the explosion (?), and decide to investigate everyone.

They sneak into Heat Wave's quarters, and are killed several times by traps he's rigged to keep people from snooping (!). Eventually they manage to open a suspicious trunk, and find a typewriter and a manuscript inside. Apparently everyone's favorite pyromaniac is writing a sci-fi romance novel (!!!). After a couple more cycles, they clear Vixen and Atom as well.

Atom's afraid Canary may be possessed by Mallus again, and is the one blowing up the ship. He shrinks himself and Zari, and the two of them follow Canary to spy on her. They're suspicious when she enters the jumpship, but then discover she's secretly calling Agent Sharpe to vent. Sharpe asks her out, but Canary makes some feeble excuse about being busy. She then spots the tiny Atom & Zari and for some reason thinks they're flies (?). She stomps on them just before the ship explodes.

Zari tells Steel she's tired of living through the loop and being powerless to stop the explosion. He tells her she should take advantage of the situation and have a "fun montage." She takes his advice, and begins playing pranks on her crew mates, eating whatever she wants and learning to play a Stradivarius that's in the ship's storage area for some reason.

She finally tires of the hijinx, so the next time she pops onto the bridge she tries to shoot herself in the head. Amazingly the gun jams, and she laments that she can't even kill herself right. This act of desperation finally gets to Canary, and she says she wants to help. Zari tells her what's been happening, so Canary orders the crew to look for a bomb.

They check each room of the ship, and finally discover clumsy Time Bureau agent Gary Green trapped inside the trash compactor. Heat Wave sees him holding a futuristic device, assumes it's the bomb and destroys it. Gary screams, saying that was the "chrono-repeater" that's been causing the time loops.

He explains that he got an alert that the Waverider exploded, so he tried to teleport to the bridge to save everyone. He ended up in the compactor instead, and the repeater has kept them alive in a loop ever since. Now that it's been destroyed, this is their last time through the cycle. Canary tells everyone they have five minutes to find the bomb, or they're all toast.

Heat Wave suggests the bomb may be in an 8-track tape he brought on board from their previous mission. Amazingly, he's right. Zari grabs the bomb, but before it can be diffused, she enters the study and raises a forcefield to protect the others. She then tells them all everything she's learned about them through her many times through the loop, and says she finally feels like part of the team. The others beg her to let them diffuse the bomb, but she refuses, and activates her powers to contain the explosion. The bomb explodes.

Zari wakes up in the medbay. A beautiful woman enters— one who sounds just like Gideon. She says she IS Gideon, and explains that when Zari was sprayed with the highly toxic time goo, she lost consciousness and was taken to the medbay. Yep, that's right— it's a goddamned dream episode, as all the time loops happened only in Zari's head. 


Gideon says that Zari's powers are crucial to the Legends defeating Mallus, so she couldn't let her leave the team. In order to make sure she stayed, she placed Zari's mind in her matrix, to show her she needed to work WITH the team or some such hooey.

Zari wakes up in the real world, and tells the Legends what happened while she was out. Of course they don't believe her, until she tells them all intimate details about their lives. Canary says maybe they can figure out a way to save Zari's brother after all. 


Cut to China, where Wally West is meditating in an outdoor temple (?). A twitchy Rip Hunter approaches him, and says he needs his help.

Thoughts:
• There's no opening narration again this week. I guess that's no longer a thing on the show?

• As I said earlier, I think I'd much rather have seen the offscreen "Waterloo Mission" than the one we got in this episode. Every reference to it sounds like a lot of fun, and it's too bad we'll never get a chance to actually see it.

I've tried to piece the mission together as best I can from the clues, but I'm still not entirely sure what happened. As near as I can tell, Napoleon Bonaparte was somehow brought to 1975, either by Damien Darhk or simply by accident. This caused history to be changed, as he wan't around to surrender at the Battle Of Waterloo. At some point Napoleon also got ahold of an 8-track tape of ABBA's Waterloo album. Fitting!

The Legends then went to 1975 to clean up this mess. This involved them wearing 70's era fashions and putting on some kind of elaborate song and dance number, in an effort to distract Napoleon long enough to get the tape away from him. After the big finish, they likely took Napoleon back to 1815, and history was restored. Heat Wave brought the 8-track back with him and smashed it.

As I said, that all sounds much more fun and interesting than the adventure we got!

There's an additional subplot in which we find out the Waterloo 8-track contained a powerful bomb. That part didn't actually happen though, as it was part of Zari's dream or simulation or whatever it was.

• Loved the Legends' amazing ABBA-esque costumes this week! Especially Vixen's.

Atom looked suitably goofy, and yet right at home in his stylish 1970s ensemble.

Canary definitely won the night though with her look. That feathered Farrah Fawcett hair, blue eye shadow and pink lipstick are all absolutely PERFECT to the period! Kudos to whoever came up with this look for her!

Heat Wave's the odd man out, as I guess he must have posed as the actual Napoleon at some point during their mission?

• And we have a title! As the ship explodes for the third or fourth time, Zari sighs and says, "Mama mia. Here I go again."

• So how many times did Zari live through the time loop? Eh, it's impossible to know for sure. I counted, and we see her go through twenty five loops during the course of the episode. But it's obvious she experienced many, many loops that we didn't get to see. 

For example, she learned to expertly play the violin by practicing an hour at a time. That had to take a ton of loops. She also read all of Heat Wave's book, which was a thousand pages long. That no doubt too a lot of hours as well.

Factoring in all those clues, it's likely she went through hundreds, if not thousands of loops!

• There's one thing about the time loop that doesn't make any sense. Well, there's actually tons of things, but there's one major one. OK, because of Gary's chrono-repeater, the Waverider experiences the same hour over and over. Due to being exposed to "time goo," Zari is the only member of the crew to realize she's stuck in a loop, and remember all her times through it. Fair enough.

I assumed this meant that Zari's body was caught in the loop, but her mind wasn't. Apparently her body is independent of the loop as well. Why? Because when the crew thinks she's crazy, they confine her to the medbay and Atom sedates her. After several trips through the loop, her body builds up an immunity to the drug!

The only way that could happen is if her body is somehow "out of the loop," like her mind. Which of course makes no sense, but there you go.

• Part of the appeal of a Groundhog Day episode is seeing the characters live through the same events multiple times, as the audience hopes, "Maybe THIS time they'll figure out how to get out of the loop." Usually such episodes take place over the course of an entire day, giving us tons of situations to repeat.

Unfortunately Here I Go Again's loop is only an hour long. That's not nearly enough time to work with, or to establish a set of repeatable actions. The only events we get to see play over and over are Canary bitching at Zari, Atom falling off his heels and Steel & Vixen arguing in the library. Yawn!

• Back in the Season 2 episode Turncoat, I complained about the fact that Steel and Vixen ignored their mission because it was more important to have sex in a tent instead. How heroic and inspiring.

Welp, they're at it again. This week the two of them were supposed to take part in the big Waterloo song & dance number during the offscreen mission, but missed their cues because they were backstage screwing. 

Jesus Christ! These two are ostensibly supposed to be heroes, but they consistently ignore their responsibilities just so they can have a roll in the hay. I honestly hope Canary finds out and throws them off the ship. Preferably in the Jurassic Period.

Don't get me wrong here, I have nothing against them fraternizing— as long as it's on their own time. Doing it during a mission is downright intolerable. It was wrong of them to do it the first time, but to repeat it... I'm actually starting to hate these two characters, and I'm glad Vixen's likely going to leave the show at the end of the season.

All that said, I did laugh when the horrified Zari stands outside the library as Steel & Vixen go at it. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of Steel, er, "steeling up," as well as Vixen summoning the power of a tiger!

• When Zari finally convinces Steel that the Waverider's caught in a time loop, he suggests they use the jumpship to escape. She vetoes that idea, saying, "Yeah, while you guys were out, I was running my own little side mission, which crashed Gideon, and with her down, the jumpship's locked into the docking bay."

Wow. That seems like some really, really bad engineering. The jumpship's completely independent of the Waverider! Part of its job is to serve as an escape pod. And it can't be launched when the main ship's computer is down? 

• When Canary's Skyping with Agent Sharpe, she thinks she hears a fly buzzing around in the jumpship. Sharpe looks concerned and says, "Did you say a fly? You have to kill it. You have no idea what year it's from. You could reintroduce the plague and have a whole other crisis on your hands!"

That actually makes a lot of sense! In fact, forget flies, the Legends probably place themselves at risk every week by traveling to eras filled with diseases to which they have no natural immunity. And vice-versa— they could easily infect the past with modern bacteria.

Maybe they regularly go through some kind of decontamination process whenever they travel to another time, and we just don't see them doing so.

• It's hard to tell, but I'm betting Steel just lost his foot here when he tripped Heat Wave's booby trap! Yikes!

• So Heat Wave regularly washes his own undies. Surprising! He seems like the type who'd go commando. Or wear 'em till they rotted off!

• It was also surprising to find out Heat Wave is actually capable of writing a novel! He needs to up his "hunt & peck" typing game though.

• Zari reads an excerpt from Heat Wave's sci-fi romance novel, which says, "As the twin suns of Dartayus set on the horizon, her heaving bosom undulated like the soothing waves of the bay. Buck swept her into his musky embrace."

Apparently over in the Marvel Comic Universe, "Dartayus" is the name of a planet in the Negative Zone. Shoutout or just a coincidence?

• At one point Steel tells Zari that since there are no permanent consequences inside the time loop, she should indulge her fantasies in a "fun montage." Here're all the things we see her do:

- Pigging out on whipped creme with Steel.
- Dressing up in Roman centurion armor and playing around.
- Throwing snowballs at Heat Wave (don't ask where she got 'em).
- Putting on Heat Wave's gear, trying out his flame gun and almost burning up the ship.
- Finding a Stradivarius in storage and sawing out a few scratchy notes on it.
- Putting on Steel's costume and prancing around.
- Reading Heat Wave's novel.
- Putting on Hawkgirl's mask and camping it up.
- Practicing the violin.
- Catching Atom when he falls off his platform heels for the umpteenth time.
- Practicing the violin some more, and actually getting good.
- Finishing Heat Wave's book.
- Doing a Love Actually tribute with cue cards as she stands behind Atom and Heat Wave.

• When the Legends find Gary in the trash compactor, he tries to explain himself by saying, "I took matters into my own hands, but because of my little portal mishap, I couldn't warn you about the bomb! But I could operate the chrono-repeater, which is programmed to start a one hour loop prior to the explosion, and I had hoped that would give you enough time to diffuse the bomb yourselves."

So I guess for reasons he couldn't use a Time Bureau portal to appear on the ship and warn them. Fine. But why couldn't he just call them up on the comm and warn them? Better yet, tell Agent Sharpe that the ship her girlfriend's on is about to blow up. She was just talking to Canary!

• When the Legends find the bomb, they try to figure out the best way to diffuse it. Heat Wave suggests burning it, which seemed like a really bad idea.

The writers missed the most obvious solution— have Atom shrink the bomb! Then when it went off, it'd make a tiny poof like a firecracker.

Of course in the end it didn't matter, since the whole thing was a dream or matrix construct or some such hooey.

By the way, I loved the fact that Heat Wave stuck his fingers in his ears right before the bomb counter reached zero. As if that would make any possible difference!

• Eventually we discover there is no time loop, and Gideon appears in physical form to explain that the whole thing happened in Zari's mind or inside a matrix or something equally dumb. 

This isn't the first time we've seen Gideon "in the flesh." Back in the Season 2 episode Land Of The Lost, a physical manifestation of Gideon appeared inside Rip Hunter's mind.

In both cases, Gideon's played by actress Amy Pemberton, who regularly voices the character. It sounds odd to hear her normal, unprocessed voice though!

• Last week in Daddy Darhkest, we were introduced to the concept of The Six— a group of mystical totem-bearers who are obviously being set up to defeat Mallus. So far we have Zari (Air), Kuasa (Water) and Vixen (um... Animals?). Vixen herself says they know of two others, Fire and Earth, but I have no idea who she's talking about here. That leaves one more elemental we've not heard of yet.

This week Zari comes up with a plan to hack time and prevent her brother's death. Amazingly, Canary says that's a good idea. 

I'm calling it right now— the Legends will save Zari's brother Behrad, and he'll turn out to be the sixth totem-bearer.

• This is some heavy duty nitpicking, but whatever. Late in the episode, Zari knocks on Heat Wave's door, encourages him to keep writing, and even gives him some constructive criticism on the end of his story.

The thing is though, when she knocks, a full half a second passes before it slides open and he sticks his head out. Was he really standing just on the other side of the door, waiting for someone to knock? What is he, a trapdoor spider?

Told you it was heavy duty!

• At the end of the episode, we see Zari pick up the Stradivarius and begin playing. Apparently all that practicing inside the time loop paid off, as she's pretty darned good! 

Of course this makes no sense, since the time loop wasn't real and she didn't actually relive the same hour over and over. Is it possible to practice an instrument in your mind? I don't think so.

Anyway, it looked like she was actually playing, to my eyes at least. I wondered if actress Tala Ashe really knows how to play the violin or not, so I did a little digging, and... turns out she does! Apparently she's been playing a long time, as she posted this photo of herself practicing on Twitter! Cool!

• We need to talk about Gideon's actions in this episode. She came to the conclusion that the Legends couldn't defeat Mallus without Zari on the team. When Zari was injured, Gideon took it upon herself to place her consciousness inside an elaborately constructed dreamworld, designed to traumatize her into staying on the team. In other words, this artificial intelligence decided she knows what's best and mentally tortured a member of the crew in order to influence their actions!

Naturally this is all glossed over by the plot and treated as comedy, but it's pretty darned scary when you sit down and think about what she did.

This Week's Best Lines:
Canary: "I said 'please.' And even if I didn't, bossing you around is part of my job as captain."
Zari: "Yeah, and it's really easy to take you seriously in that outfit."
Canary: "You know this whole apathetic cool girl thing? It's not as cute as you think."

Zari: (as the ship begins exploding again) "Mama mia. Here I go again."
(There are a TON of meta lines like this in the episode)

Heat Wave: (indicating Zari) "What's up with her?"
Atom: "Working theory? Cabin fever."
(TIME LOOP)
Atom: "Working theory? Space madness"
(Wow! A Ren & Stimpy reference!)
(TIME LOOP)
Atom: "Acute entropic dementia."
(TIME LOOP)
Atom: "Too many donuts."
(TIME LOOP)
Atom: "I mean, it could be anything."

Zari: "I have no idea why I'm stuck in this time loop."
Steel: "Time loop, you mean like Groundhog Day? You don't know Groundhog... All right, it's a movie about this guy who lives the same day over and over and over again until he learns to be a better person. I know it sounds totally hacky. However, it's very well executed!"
(Hey now! There's nothing "hacky" about Groundhog Day!)

Zari: "I have something to tell you. Hedgehog Day!"
(Steel stares at her blankly) 
Zari: "Damn it, you told me if I said Hedgehog Day you would know what I was talking about."
Steel: "Do you mean Groundhog Day? Why would I tell you to tell me about a Bill Murray movie?"
Zari: "I don't know, all I know is I'm stuck in this time loop."
Steel: "Like Groundhog Day! Okay, got it, okay."
Zari: "You do?"

Steel: (after finding out he's in a time loop episode) "It was only a matter of time before we did one of these!"
Heat Wave: "I gotta get my undies in the dryer before Haircut does!"

Atom: "Happy Captain..."
Zari: "Happy ship."
Atom: "Happy ship! Yeah! Well, I guess I guess my catchphrase is catching on in the future!"
Zari: (patronizingly) "Yeah, yeah, um, everyone is saying it where I'm from."
Atom: "Huh. That's cool."

Steel: "Why would Mick rig all these traps for a damn typewriter?"
Zari: "Maybe it's his criminal manifesto."
Steel: "Let me see this. This says "bosom" far too many times to be a manifesto."

Steel: "Zari's caught in a time loop and the ship explodes every hour."
Atom: "Oh, like Cause and Effect."
Steel: "What?"
Atom: "Star Trek: Next generation."
Steel: "It's Groundhog Day!"
Atom: "Fair enough."
(I'm with Atom here— I much prefer Cause And Effect)

Atom: (as they prepare to be miniaturized) "You ready?"
Zari: "Yeah, let's shrink, Ray."
(har har!)

Zari: (after being shrunk) "You sure she can't see us?"
Atom: "No, not when we're in stealth mode. Which really just means library voices and no sudden movements."

Atom: "If you wash your clothes inside out, it keeps them looking newer longer. Try it. Oh, I never see you wear this."
Heat Wave: "Stop touching my clothes!"
Atom: "I'm just saying it's a nice color."

Zari: "I can't do this anymore. I'm losing my mind."
Steel: "Wait, did you do the, uh..."
Zari: "Fun montage?"
Steel: "Yeah."
Zari: "Yeah, thanks for that."

Gary: "Well, uh, actually, I got an alert that the Waverider exploded at precisely 4:20 temporal standard time."
Canary: "What?"
Gary: (chuckling) "4:20!"
Canary: "Get to the point, Gary."
(Hmm. I would not have pegged Gary as a pothead!)

Heat Wave: (after discovering the bomb) "Burn it!"
Zari: "That'll make it explode. You know, for a guy who loves fire, you really have no idea how it works."

Zari: (to Steel and Vixen) "What you guys have is so special. I mean, the way you look at each other honestly makes me want to puke, but don't fight it. You're crazy about each other. Just don't have sex on missions."

Zari: (to Atom) "You know, when I first came on board, you were so nice and polite to me that I wanted to punch you."

Zari: (to Gideon) "What's happening? If you tell me I've been dreaming this whole time, I'm gonna kill you, real or not."
(I'm with Zari on this one. I HATE "It Was All A Dream" episodes!)

Zari: "One last question. Gary? Why even have him in the time loop, if he was just gonna be stuck in the trash compacter the whole time?"
Gideon: "Thought it'd be funny."

Zari: "I am terrified and in awe of you, Gideon. Who knew you were such an evil genius? And a bit of a perv."

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

"One Ticket, Please

This past weekend, two youths in California attempted to sneak one of them into a showing of Black Panther by disguising themselves as a really, really tall man. Sadly, they weren't successful. Despite the fact that the ruse has worked in countless cartoons and Little Rascals shorts over the years, the theater manager reportedly turned them away.

Silly kids! That's not the way to sneak into a movie! Everyone knows the proper way is to walk backwards into the theater while loudly commenting, "I say, that was an excellent motion picture!"

There's another sure-fire idea that'd be guaranteed to work in today's touchy-feely society, but it would require a third kid. Two of them would dress up in a pantomime horse costume. The third kid would dress normally and buy a ticket for himself. He'd then say he was brining his "emotional support horse" with him, and the other two kids could clip-clop into the theater behind him. It can't fail!

Friday, February 16, 2018

It's All You Can Do

Whew! It's been quite a year so far here in America. We're only halfway into February, and already there've been EIGHT school shootings in which a student was injured or killed. 

I realize how hard it is for our politicians in Washington and the country's Facebook users to constantly have to post their heartfelt responses to these constant tragic events, so I've come to the rescue. Below is my patented new Post School Shooting Thoughts And Prayers Generator! 

Just click one or both of the buttons to express your feelings, hit the submit button and Presto! You're done! It's so easy, it's as if you've done nothing at all!
Post School Shooting Thoughts And Prayers Generator
 Sending thoughts and prayers to the families and loved ones of the victims of this tragic event.

 Now is not the time to discuss meaningful gun control legislation.



That's it! You've literally done all you can do.

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5, Episode 5: Rewind

This week on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., we turn our attention from the future to see what Fitz has been up to in the past. Er, I mean the present.

Oddly enough, this is the first episode I've actually liked so far this season. That probably has something to do with the fact that it's set entirely on Earth (except for the last thirty seconds), and not in a miserable, dystopian space future.

We also see that Fitz is still suffering PSTD from his experience in the Framework. At first I was thinking, "Jesus, is he still going on about that? Get over it, already!" But then I realized that even though the Framework story happened months and months ago for the audience, it was just a day or so ago for Fitz! Sometimes it's hard to be aware of the timeline when there's so much time between seasons.


The Plot:
We flash back to the beginning of the season, as the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents gather in a diner for some rare downtime. Suddenly the lights go out and a Man In Black enters, accompanied by armed goons. The agents raise their hands and surrender. Just then the lights come back on, and everyone's gone except for Fitz. As he looks around in confusion, a squad of soldiers arrives and hauls him off.

Cut to Fitz in an interrogation room inside an undisclosed military facility. He's being questioned by Lieutenants Evans and Lucas, who ask where the other agents are and how he made them disappear. He tells them over and over he doesn't know, and finally demands to know who's in charge. The grim and icy General Hale enters, and tells Fitz he'd better cooperate or else he'll spend the rest of his life in a military cell. He's then thrown into a military cell.

Some time later, soldiers burst into Fitz's cell in the middle of the night and drag him out. He's hooked up to a lie detector and interrogated by Evans and Lucas. The detector confirms he's telling the truth, and Fitz offers to help the military find his fellow agents.

General Hale agrees to let Fitz help. He's given all the books he needs, plus a TV so he can watch soccer (aka football). Through the power of a montage, Fitz works on various theories as he tries to figure out what happened. He also talks his captors into letting him mail letters to his favorite soccer fanzine. Amazingly, the Lieutenants agree and send the letters.

After six months of this, Fitz comes to the conclusion that the agents were abducted by aliens. This doesn't sit well with the military, who don't believe him and think he's stalling. A very irate General Hale orders all Fitz's perks be taken away from him. Just then Fitz's attorney— who's really former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Lance Hunter— arrives.


Hunter orders the military out of the room so he can speak with his "client" in private. Apparently Fitz's soccer letters were actually coded messages, asking Hunter for help. Fitz asks Hunter how he plans on breaking him out of prison. Just then a wall explodes, and the two hurriedly run out of the cell. Outside they see a chopper approaching, and Hunter says it's their ride. Unfortunately the pilot, named Rusty, has no idea what he's doing and ends up crashing the chopper. 

Luckily Hunter has a Plan B, and he and Fitz escape in an old motor home. The military tracks the camper, but General Hale orders her men not to engage, as Fitz could lead them to the other agents.

Fitz discovers the camper's full of hi-tech equipment, and uses it to examine security footage of the diner disappearance. He notes that the agents were hauled off in a delivery truck that somehow eludes the cameras. He spots similar trucks in the area, but they all have different markings. Eventually he figures out that the truck had sophisticated camouflaging tech that could change its appearance. He's then able to track the truck to a suburban home.

Fitz and Hunter burst into the home, which is occupied by the Observer, er, I mean Man In Black, er, I mean Mysterious Man who abducted the agents from the diner. Fitz demands to know what's going on. The Man introduces himself as Enoch, and says he's a sentient Chronicom (whatever that is) from a planet orbiting a star in the constellation of Cygnus. He was sent here 30,000 years ago to observe humanity. He says he sent the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to the year 2091, in order to fulfill a prophesy.

Fitz and Hunter are skeptical, so Enoch shows them security footage of the agents being engulfed by a Monlith. This convinces Fitz, and he demands to know why he wasn't sent along with the others. Enoch says it's because the "Seer" decreed he wasn't part of the plan. Fitz insists that Enoch send him to the future immediately. Unfortunately Enoch says that's impossible, as he doesn't control the Monolith— he just knew when it would activate. He says the only one who knows when it will open again is the Seer. Fitz threatens Enoch and demands to be taken to the Seer.


Enoch takes Fitz and Hunter to a nearby park, where they see Polly Hinton and her daughter Robin. They're the wife and child of the late Charles Hinton, an Inhuman with the ability to see the future, who we last saw in the Season 3 episode Spacetime. Robin is also an Inhuman— one who rarely speaks, as she prefers to draw her visions of the future. Fitz introduces himself and looks through the various drawings Robin's made. One of them shows the Earth splitting in half.

Suddenly Robin speaks up and alerts Fitz and the others to a squad of soldiers approaching. Enoch hands out earplugs to everyone (including Polly and Robin) and activates a device. The soldiers, led by Evans and Lucas, suddenly stop in their tracks as Fitz and his group seemingly disappear. Lucas looks at his watch and notes that they just lost a half hour of time.

Enoch takes the group to a remote lighthouse near Lake Ontario— the same one we saw in the postcard back at the beginning of the season in Orientation Part 1 & 2. They take an elevator to a deep underground chamber, where Enoch says they'll be safe. When questioned, he admits he doesn't know who built the chamber or how long it's been there. Hunter asks why Enoch's helping them when he's just supposed to observe. He says he's allowed to interfere when it's to prevent an extinction level event, which doesn't sound the least bit ominous.

Fitz sees Robin drawing up a storm again, and asks her why she left him off the "future" list. She actually deigns to speak, saying she had him stay behind because her has to save the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Fitz and Hunter discuss how they can reach the others. Fitz doesn't see any way to help, as he'll be dead by the time 2091 rolls around.

Enoch tells Fitz he may have a solution. He arrived on Earth in a capsule, which Fitz might be able to use to get to the future. Unfortunately the capsule's inside Blue Raven Ridge— the very facility they just broke out of. Fitz says there's nothing for it, and decides to break back in.

Fitz & Hunter show up at the Blue Raven Ridge gate, disguised as contractors. They tell the guard they're there to repair the wall that Hunter damaged during the escape. Fortunately a friend of Hunter's hacked into the military computers and forged their orders, so the guard lets them pass.

Inside they put on military uniforms, create a distraction and sneak into a warehouse. They easily find Enoch's capsule inside a crate. Hunter wonders how they're gonna lug the heavy capsule back to their truck without being seen. Fitz gasps, and says they won't be needing a truck. Hunter turns and sees Zephyr One's being stored inside the vast warehouse.

They drag the capsule into the Zephyr's hold. A group of soldiers arrive, and Fitz fights them off with ICEers while Hunter fires up the ship and flies out of the hangar (which apparently has a retractable roof). They zoom off toward the lighthouse.

Cut to General Hale, who debriefs Lieutenants Evans and Lucas. She says she's disappointed with their failure, and brutally shoots them both in the head! Jesus Christ!

At the lighthouse, Fitz stashes a bunch of gear into a small chamber in a wall. When Hunter asks what he's doing, he says he's prepping for when he wakes up. Hunter realizes the capsule is actually a cryo-sleep chamber, and Fitz is going to be frozen for seventy years or so. He tries to talk Fitz out of it, but it's no use. Hunter says he and Mockingbird will take care of Polly and Robin. Enoch summons a Chronicon vessel, and says he'll place the cryo-chamber in it and keep Fitz safely in orbit around a distant planet until he wakes.

Cut to seventy four years later. The chamber's timer goes off, and Fitz wakes up in 2091. Enoch's there waiting for him, looking exactly as he did in 2017. He says while Fitz was out, he came up with a plan...

Thoughts:

• There're a lot of callbacks in this episode, so here's a quick refresher:

Even though the whole Framework story arc seems like years ago to us, only a few days have passed for the characters. That's why Fitz is still freaked out by the fact that he was an evil, murderous mad scientist inside the Framework.

Fitz killed Jeffrey Mace inside the Framework, which made his body die in the real world. So technically, Fitz is guilty of his murder.

AIDA created a LMD of Daisy, which shot General Talbot in the head. The government thinks the REAL Daisy shot him, which is why they're after S.H.I.E.L.D.
A while back Daisy encountered an Inhuman named Charles Hinton, who could see how a person would die after touching them. He had a wife named Polly, and a daughter named Robin. Charles ended up dying, and Daisy vowed to take care of his family. This week we see that Robin is an Inhuman as well, with the ability to draw pictures of the future.


I think that catches us up!

• I guess I'm a bit slow— I just now realized why the space station in 2091 is called "The Lighthouse." Because it's actually the mysterious, underground bunker we see in this episode. The one located under the lighthouse in Lake Ontario, which was apparently blasted in one piece into space when Daisy destroyed the world. 

That doesn't explain why so many people were apparently living inside it when the world ended though. Maybe Hunter, knowing what was coming, invited as many people as possible into it?


• Fitz keeps track of how long he's in his cell by drawing monkey faces on the wall. Whaaa????

Apparently everyone on the planet's forgotten how to make proper hash tags— you know, four vertical lines crossed with a fifth diagonal one, to quickly indicate groups of five.

Barry Allen didn't know how to do this a couple weeks ago over on The Flash in The Elongated Knight Rises, as he marked his time in prison with five consecutive lines.

Rey did the same thing (to an even more ridiculous degree) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Four lines crossed by a fifth. It's not that hard, people!

• Fitz asks Lt. Evans if she'll mail his letter to Ballbuster Hooligans, his favorite soccer fanzine. Later Evans asks General Hale about it, saying, "It's a letter to a soccer fanzine. The least offensive part is when he calls the goalkeeper a Cro-Magnon Twit." Amazingly, General Hale approves sending the letter, saying, "Redact his name. Have it analyzed by our code-breakers. It'll keep him happy."

I don't think so. There's no way in hell a hard-ass like Hale would have approved sending out the letters of a man she's holding in a secret military prison. After all, she's not above murdering her own people when they disappoint her! So why the hell would she accommodate a prisoner request? But if she didn't, then Hunter wouldn't have seen them and rescued Fitz, and then the plot couldn't have happened, so...

• Hunter's finally back this week! Even though he and Mockingbird were discommendated or whatever they called it, and were never supposed to associate with any S.H.I.E.L.D. agents ever again. Best of all, this is the REAL Hunter! He's not an LMD or a Framework construct.

Funny how we only see Hunter though, and not Mockingbird. Why, if I didn't know better, I'd think she was off serving as second officer onboard a Union ship in the year 2419!

• Once Fitz & Hunter are reunited, they have the following conversation:

Fitz: "Hey, uh, where are we?"

Hunter: "You're in a secure military installation. One of those "doesn't exist" places. But the law's the law, so they had to let me in."

Yeah, that seems unlikely. This is a secret military prison. The military sends people there when they want them to "disappear" forever. There's no way in hell General Hale would let herself be railroaded by flowery rhetoric from an attorney and let him in to see Fitz. Heck, she'd probably shoot Hunter in the head for knowing Fitz was even being held there!


I understand the plot couldn't proceed unless this happened, but... it's still pretty unrealistic.

• When Fitz examines the security footage, he sees the Agents were abducted by a Benderry Ale truck. That's the brand Hunter and Mockingbird were drinking when they were discommendated back in Parting Shot.

• When Enoch first appeared at the beginning of the season in Orientation Part 1, I said he looked exactly like one of the Observers from FringeWelp, I wasn't wrong! This week when Fitz asks Enoch who or what he is, he says, "I was sent here 30,000 years ago to observe and record the evolution of your species. What you would call an anthropologist."

See? An Observer!

Seriously, virtually everything about Enoch and the Observers is identical. Both are thin and bald. Both wear generic black suits & ties. Both have an affinity for unusual foods— in Enoch's case it's coconut water, and heavily seasoned raw meat for the Observers. The only notable differences are that Enoch appears to be wearing a human skin suit, while the Observers lacked eyebrows.


Honestly I'm wondering how Marvel's getting away with this, and why Fox hasn't sued them over this character. Maybe there's no point, since Disney's actively trying to assimilated Fox, just like the Borg.


Some fans have suggested Enoch is actually a budget-friendly Recorder, a character from Marvel comics. They travel the galaxy recording and documenting important events for their builders, the alien Rigellians. Recorders first appeared way back in 1966 in Thor #132.

I guess it's possible Enoch's a Recorder, since it sounds like he's doing exactly what they were made for, but eh... I don't think he is. If we was a Recorder, why not just say so? Why say he was sent to observe instead of record?

• I can't remember if any of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have mentioned what year they're in. For the record, in this episode Enoch says they were sent to the year 2091.

• After meeting Enoch, Fitz asks why he didn't send him to the future as well. Enoch replies, "You weren't part of the Seer's prophecy, Mr. Fitz."

Note to the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. writers— you need to find a different way to word that line. It probably looks OK on the printed page, but in dialogue it sounds like the characters are saying "Sears."


• Fitz takes a look at one of Robin's prophesy drawings, which appear to show two ominous looking aliens threatening... Daisy and May? It's not really clear. It's also not clear who the black-clad aliens are. They don't have blue faces, so they're probably not supposed to be Kree. Are they a race we've not seen yet?

• This is some heavy duty nitpicking, but whatever. This week Fitz and the others travel to a plot-important lighthouse on the shore of Lake Ontario (which eventually becomes the orbiting Lighthouse space station in the future). 

When I first saw this, I wondered if there are really any lighthouses on lake shores. Aren't they usually a seaside thing? They're to keep large, ocean-going ships from crashing into shore, right? Are there a lot of those sailing around in lakes?

So I googled "lakeside lighthouses," and sure enough, they actually exist! In fact there are a number of them around Lake Michigan. Color me surprised.

• Fitz & Hunter break back into Blue Raven Ridge to recover Enoch's capsule. At the main gate, Hunter tells the guard their names are Rusty Peltzer and Jimmy Futterman.

I think that might be a Gremlins reference, but I'm not sure. In the movie there're two characters named Billy Peltzer and Murray Futterman.

• Fitz and Hunter search the military warehouse for Enoch's space capsule. As they poke around, there's a very familiar looking crate at the top of the frame...

The crate looks a lot like the one that housed the Ark Of The Covenant. I guess after those "Top Men" studied the Ark, they stashed it inside Blue Raven Ridge! Oh, Disney! You're so funny!

• I'm assuming the military warehouse must have had a retractable roof, since it didn't look like the Zephyr One smashed through it in order to escape.

• Once Enoch's capsule is recovered, Fitz climbs in and is flash-frozen for seventy years or so. You know, I feel like I've seen something like this before, but I can't quite figure out where...

Oh yeah. Now I remember!

• As Fitz climbs into the capsule, Hunter tells him goodbye by saying, "I love you." Fitz replies with the only acceptable response, saying, "I know."

I get the Empire Strikes Back reference, but all through the episode Fitz and Hunter seem like long lost pals. Were they ever friendly back when Hunter was still on the show? Maybe it's just my faulty memory, but I don't remember them ever talking to one another much.


• At the end of the episode, General Hale decides she's tired of Evans and Lucas' constant failures, so she coldly and brutally shoots 'em both in the head. Yikes! Talk about a bad boss!

Confession time— when I was a kid, I'd occasionally watch TV shows in which a boss told an employee they were fired. In my little tiny tot mind, THIS is what I thought that meant! I honestly thought "fired" meant killed!


This Week's Best Lines:
Hunter: (as he starts the rundown motor home) "Now, Rusty kitted this thing out with all sorts of bells and whistles."
(engine backfires)
Fitz: "Is one of those bells an engine?"
(engine finally starts) 
Hunter: "There we go."
(engine belches a huge cloud of smoke) 
Hunter: "See? It's even got cloaking."

Fitz: "How are things with Bobbi?"
Hunter: "Good. Yeah. We're 100% compatible 50% of the time."

Fitz: "Release the ferrets.”

Hunter: "They're stuck 70-odd years in the future, and our world's about to end. The odds, my friend, are not in your favor."
(I guess since Mack's not in this episode, someone has to handle the pop culture references)
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